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Heather Hansman's Posts


Stands And Deliver

Farm stands turn your backyard kale into cold, hard cash

Becky Warner

One Saturday morning a few weeks ago, my friend Caitlin texted me an odd message. “My neighbors are having a really weird yard sale,” she wrote. “You should come check this out.” She’d walked out her front door one weekend morning in the Seattle neighborhood of Wallingford and found a table full of beets and chard set up in her neighbors' front yard. It was much like a roadside produce stand one finds in rural America -- except it was smack in the middle of a 3.3-million-strong metropolis. Turns out it happens every Saturday from May until Thanksgiving: Her neighbors are running a farm stand out of their front yard.

There are peas growing along the sidewalk, compost bins stacked along the side of the house, and raised beds in the back. On a table in the front yard lie bunches of spinach and fat radishes. Becky Warner, one of the farmers, stands on the sidewalk in muck boots and flannel. A guy walks up with a chubby Scottish terrier to pick up his CSA share. “Hank the tank!” Warner greets them. When a farm is this local, apparently you know your farmer and they know your dog.

Read more: Food, Living


joy buzzer

Put a bee on it: Portland “bee dork” makes hives with pollinators in mind

portland bee geek
Bee Thinking

Matt Reed is driving through Portland, Ore., with 20,000 bees in the back of his truck. This morning, someone tipped him off to a swarm of wild bees and he set off to catch them. He does this a lot this time of year, when wild swarms start to come out in the spring. Tomorrow morning he’ll move them to one of the hives he keeps in a local community garden.

Reed’s hives aren’t the usual stacks of white, blocky drawers, however. He builds “top bar” hives. Pared down, locally sourced-and-built, and often standing on stilts, they’re designed to mimic how bees build hives naturally. They’re in line with Portland’s trademark artisanal-everything lifestyle, but -- or maybe because of that -- beekeepers from New York to Nebraska want them.


The big leafy

What “kalegate” taught us about New Orleans and food


It started with an off-hand snub in a New York Times travel story about New Orleans, and how minor celebrities like Solange Knowles (Beyonce’s younger sister) and the guy from the band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes are moving to the city. Halfway through the story, Dutch actress Tara Elders down-talked the availability of produce in the city. “New Orleans is not cosmopolitan,” she said. “There’s no kale here.”

Turns out, you can insult New Orleans about its inability to do anything on time, or its culture of indulgence, but if you talk bad about its greens, the locals get up in arms.

Read more: Cities, Food


Wish you could fertilize crops with pee? Urine luck

Seth True of Best Septic Service, LLC, pumps urine from a 275-gallon tank for transfer to the farm. A family of three can produce this much urine in eight months.
Abe Noe-Hays, Rich Earth Institute

“When are you going to start bringing pee out to the farm?” Jay Bailey, a local farmer, asked Abe Noe-Hays when they ran into each other at the hardware store in Battleboro, Vt. “Um, how about now? Noe-Hays had just teamed up with Kim Nace to form the Rich Earth Institute, an organization that separates out pee to use as fertilizer for local farms --  "peecycling" to those in the know. All they needed was a test field. “[Using urine as fertilizer] is such low-hanging fruit in terms of sustainability,” Nace says. ”There’s so much energy wasted at fertilizer plants …

Read more: Food, Living