Five Lessons We Learned About Lead in Soil

...log may recall, we did some soil tests last year that revealed elevated levels of lead and zinc in our backyard. The cause? Most likely, paint from our 92 year old house and nearly a hundred years of auto exhaust and dust from brake linings. Applying a little alchemy to turn lead to gold, I think the most productive thing I can do is to help get the word out about lead soil and how common this problem is in urban areas. Towards that end I though...

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Nominate Your Favorite Complainer

...at most complainers are lonely, clinically depressed people seeking attention. Or perhaps bureaucrats justifying their jobs in a recession. So the competition might give our complaint athletes just what they want: to be noticed. But on this blog, a yearly complaint competition would give us a way to organize and round up the most outrageous complaints. With urban homesteading activities on the rise there will certainly be more of these unfortunat...

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Pascal Baudar: Rock Star Forager

...Los Angeles is home to a new rock star of foraging, Pascal Baudar. Originally from Belgium, I met Pascal through the Master Food Preserver program. Pascal teaches some amazing foraging classes in the Los Angeles area that you can sign up for via his meetup group: Los Angegles Wild Edibles and Self Reliance. He also has a website, Urban Outdoor Skills. What makes Pascal different from may other foragers is that he has collaborated with his partner...

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Clicker Training Chickens

...so, using hens takes away the potential mind games that occur between dog and trainer. Free of that distraction, the trainer learns the correct rhythm for training. It’s pure stimulus-response–reward. Here’s a video of a chick learning the basics. You can find others of this sort on Youtube: You might be able to find a chicken training seminar in your area, probably under the banner of dog training. With the rise of urban chic...

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A Review of Williams-Sonoma’s Agrarian Line

Last week upscale retalier Williams-Sonoma announced an urban homesteady line of goods they call “Agrarian”. A number of Root Simple readers responded to the news after I linked to a Wall Street Journal article about the Agrarian line. One reader likened the “Agrarian” items to Marie Antoinette’s 18th century cosplay mini-farm. Another hoped that mainstream acceptance of things like chicken coops and beehives might...

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Introducing Nancy Klehm With Tips on Growing Jerusalem Artichokes

Photo by Ann Summa We’re very proud to welcome to the blog our good friend Nancy Klehm. Nancy is a radical ecologist, designer, urban forager, grower and teacher. Most importantly, unlike Kelly and I here in Los Angeles, she lives in a place subject that odd meteorological condition called “winter”, namely Chicago. We asked her to write posts for us for on gardening in a four-season climate and to add her expertise to...

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Goat Worship: A Halloween Exclusive!

...earing his Altadena booster shirt. Altadena rocks! And Gloria is in her Backward Beekeepers sweatshirt, which is the fashion statement of choice in these parts. Why keep goats? Why operate a home dairy? Why should you keep goats? Well, for the milk, of course. And the cheese–which is milk’s higher purpose.  In an urban area (at least in this part of the world) it can be nigh near impossible to lay your hands on fresh, organic raw...

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Seeking Opinions for a Cargo Bike Review

A Christiania trike I’m reviewing a few cargo bikes for Urban Farm Magazine and I’m interested in hearing opinions from you, our dear readers. Leave a comment or send me an email. Let me know what cargo bike you have and what you think about it. What do you haul? Did you give up a car? Note: I’m not reviewing trailers, just cargo bikes. I have an Xtracycle that I’ve used for years and am very happy with. But the...

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Greywater Workshops in Los Angeles

...will cover: Ecological Sanitation – waterless toilets and urine harvesting – can save water, protect the environment, and create free fertilizer around the world. Learn the “how and why” of composting toilets and urine reuse, see projects from Mexico, China, Sweden, Zimbabwe, and the United States. Learn about options for homescale composting toilets from urban to rural applications, operation and maintenance needs, and co...

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Upcoming Classes: Edible Gardening and Vermicomposting

...egrating the worm bin into the wider ecosystem of yard and  house, such as: * How to combine vermicomposting and thermacomposting in stepped systems* How to integrate vermicomposting with a dry toilet or pet waste composting system* How to best use your castings in the garden* Tips for the apartment dweller* What to do with all those extra worms… And more! Nancy  Klehm is a long-time urban forager and grower, ecological system  designer, ar...

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