Chicken Goes to Hollywood

Homegrown Neighbor here.

On Thursday Mr. Homegrown and I escorted my chicken, Peckerella, to her first public appearance. Peckerella was there to assist author Terry Golson, who has written a wonderful children’s book called Tillie Lays An Egg. The book has adorable pictures of her flock and features the adventurous Tillie, who likes to lay her eggs everywhere except her nesting box.
Ms. Golson is currently in Los Angeles to share Tillie’s story with children and chicken aficionados of all ages. Since her chickens reside on the East Coast, Peckerella stepped in to play ambassador. ‘Pecky’ as she is often called, did a wonderful job and was very well behaved, allowing many children to pet her and sitting patiently during the book reading. Her next appearance will be at a reading of Tillie’s story at Chevalier’s books in Larchmont Village this Sunday, August 9th, from 11-1. If you are in the area please stop by and say hello. Peckerella loves to meet her adoring fans. Sorry, Chickenzilla doesn’t fit in the cat carrier so she won’t be able to make it.

Make Mag

Readers of this blog will really enjoy the current issue of Make Magazine.

“Volume 18: ReMake America! These challenging times have presented us with a rare chance to try out new ways of doing things. The opportunities for makers are terrific — we can start at home to remake manufacturing, education, food production, transportation, and recreation. In MAKE Volume 18 you’ll learn how to make an automatic garden, heat your water with the sun, monitor and share your home energy usage, and more.”

Here’s just a few of the many exciting projects:

  • Chicago comrade Nancy Klehm tells you how to compost human waste.
  • Homegrown Evolution has an article on how to install a drip irrigation system in your vegetable garden.
  • Eric Muhs tells you how to collect rainwater to use for flushing your toilet (very clever!).
  • Celine Rich-Darley tells you how to vermicompost in your apartment.
  • Michael Perdriel explains how to make an off-grid laundry machine.
  • Limor Fried and Phillip Torrone hook up a electricity monitor to a computer to twitter their energy usage.

You’ll have to buy a copy or subscribe online to see all this wonderfullness, but the magazine is well worth a subscription. Thanks to editor Mark Frauenfelder for including us and for sending a stack of back issues. I can’t say enough good things about Make’s high tech/low tech synthesis, DIY attitude and humor.

Thank You Chicago!

Some unfinished Chicago business:

Thanks again to Nancy Klehm for hosting me. If you aren’t familiar with Klehm’s work you can read her articles at Arthur Magazine (note especially her take on the swine flu), view some video of a foraging walk she conducted, or take one of her classes.

Also, thanks to Chicago Reader reporter Martha Bayne for writing a nice article about me. Bayne’s also the force behind Soup and Bread, a pot luck which takes place during the winter at a tavern. Folks bring soup and everybody chips in a donation that benefits a Chicago food bank. It’s a Depression 2.0 idea that needs to be cloned in other cities.

And, of course, thanks to the Green Roof Growers, who prove that you can grow food without a yard.

Altadena Heritage of Abundance

Our backyard last week (some ugly stuff framed out of the picture!)

We’ll be doing a talk tomorrow morning as part of a sustainability series in Altadena, CA. We’re going to talk about self irrigating planters, chickens, bees and vegetable gardening. Here’s the 411:

Saturday, May 30 from 9 to 11 a.m at the Altadena Community Center First in a series of events, workshops, and home tours on sustainable living. Reserve your place at this free series kickoff event for members ($5 non-members). More info here.

To RSVP, please leave your name, email or phone contact, number of reservations, and event name at [email protected].

Greywater Workshop at Good Magazine

We’ll be doing a greywater workshop at Good Magazine this Wednesday May 27th from 7 to 9 p.m. Directions and RSVP info are here.

We’re going to focus on what I consider to be the easiest way to reuse your greywater: hacking your washing machine. We’ll take a look at a couple of approaches including our surge tank, pictured above, which we just got around to elevating with scrap lumber to get a gravity assist. We’ll also look at Art Ludwig’s direct “laundry to landscape” system.

Topics will also include:

  • Greywater compatible detergents
  • Choosing the best plants for greywater
  • Creating mulch basins
  • Greywater dos and don’ts
  • Plumbing parts
  • Water conservation and efficiency
  • Greywater cocktails (just kidding)

Hope to see you all tomorrow!

On the Southwest Chief to Chicago


I’m heading to Chicago aboard Amtrak’s Southwest Chief this evening for a series of workshops. Hope to see some of you in Chicago.

When I get back to Los Angeles, Mrs. Homegrown and I will be leading a greywater workshop at Good Magazine on the 27th of May. Details to follow.

In Altadena on May 30th I’ll be doing a talk, “Living Simply, Living Abundantly” at the Altadena Community Center 730 East Altadena Drive from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

And, god help us, we’re twittering (so much for living simply). Follow our twitter feed along the right side of the blog–just above the ad for our favorite greywater detergent. And folks, please buy some detergent so that we can get a sleeper car next time!

Introducing Lora Hall

Please put your hands together and welcome Homegrown Evolution guest blogger Lora Hall. Lora is a neighbor, owns Los Angeles’ largest hen, Southern California’s largest rhubarb plant and is currently finishing a graduate degree at Cal Poly Pomona. Her master’s work involves the use of vermicomposting to break down a variety of materials (maybe we can get her to explain this!).

You can meet Lora in person and pick up some seedlings and fruit trees at the Highland Park farmer’s market (map) where she runs a booth with Trisha Mazure every Tuesday from 3 to 8 pm. When we visited her at the market last week Lora had a bunch of interesting plants including purslane, tomatoes, tomatillos as well as a selection of fruit trees appropriate for our warm climate.

In the LA area and want some fruit trees for your backyard? Some gardening advice? Contact Lora at [email protected]. Lora will be posting as Homegrown Neighbor.

Homegrown Evolution in Chicago

Chicago’s Green Roof Grower Heidi Hough

Homegrown Evolution is heading to Chicago for two events:

MAY 20
How to Make a Sub-Irrigated Planter (SIP) Heidi Hough, Bruce Fields & Erik Knutzen
6-8pm $50
Wicker Park close to Blue Line
Register with: [email protected]

Join Chicago’s Green Roof Growers and LA’s Homegrown Evolution for a fun class on how to make a sub-irrigated planter (SIP) out of two buckets. As a bonus, meet Homegrown Evolution blogger and author Erik Knutzen, who will be co-teaching the class and signing copies of his book The Urban Homestead.

Bring some gloves and learn how to make and plant your own SIP. Leave with everything you need for a summer of fresh heirloom tomatoes–all you add is about 6 hours of good sun per day in your yard, balcony, or roof and enough water to keep the reservoir full. No weeding, no mulching, no worries.

You’ll go home with:
–Plant-ready two-bucket sub-irrigated planter (SIP).
–Enough potting mix, organic fertilizer, and powdered lime to plant your tomato.
–An organic heirloom tomato plant, from the Green Roof Growers seed-starting group
–Comprehensive understanding of how SIPs work and how to plant yours once you get home.

MAY 21
HOMESTEADING 101 with Erik Knutzen
7-9pm $7-10 (sliding scale)
Experimental Station 6100 South Blackstone, Chicago
Register with: [email protected]

Erik will lead an informal presentation on Urban Homesteading in Los Angeles – focusing on his and his wife’s homegrown systems of adventurous experimentation of chickens, growing, greywater, brewing and more – some successful, some not so much!

Copies of The Urban Homestead will be for sale.

Many thanks to Nancy Klehm for arranging these events! See her website Spontaneous Vegetation for more info on other events and workshops.

Austin’s Rhizome Collective Evicted

Buy our book The Urban Homestead on Amazon and you’ll get a message that you may also enjoy the Toolbox for Sustainable City Living: A do-it-Ourselves Guide by Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew. I own a copy of this wonderful book and I strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the topics on this blog or in our book. Kellogg and Pettigrew are co-founders of the Rhizome Collective, an innovative intentional community in Austin, Texas. Sadly, it seems the Rhizome Collective has been evicted from their land due to code enforcement issues.

On Tuesday, March 17, 2009, the Rhizome Collective, including both the individuals and organizations that have called 300 Allen St. home, was barred from the building due to the City of Austin Code Enforcement declaring the building unsafe. This is a tragic loss and has been traumatic for the people who have invested so much in the space, from long nights of hard work repairing bikes and mailing off books to days of tending the garden to evenings of laughter in the kitchen.

The Rhizome collective is asking for donations on their website, www.rhizomecollective.org. I would also suggest buying a copy of their book directly from them. We hope that the Rhizome Collective can find a new home as their work is vital in our uncertain times.