Start Your Urban Homestead for One Dollar

...The Lyth Cottage in Buffalo, purchased for $1. Photo: Buffalo Rising. Want to move to Buffalo, New York? If so the city has an Urban Homestead Program where you can get a house for a $1 plus closing costs. The rules–you’ve got to: Fix code violations. Live in the house for at least three years. Have $5,000 in the bank for repairs. Too cold a climate for me, but you can read more about the program and see some success stories at Bu...

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Urban Homestead Wins Book Award

Our book, The Urban Homestead just won a gold medal in the Independent Publisher Awards. To celebrate we’ll throw in a back issue of Ripples magazine for the first twenty folks who buy a copy of our book off of this website. Ripples is, “A Revolutionary Journal of Seasonal Delight” published by the nice folks at www.dailyacts.org. Now that’s enough tooting our own horn. We’ll get back to posting when the dust settle...

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What We’re Going To Do About That Lead

...? These are the options: Radical remediation: Remove all the soil in the yard and replace with new soil. Cover the contaminated soil so that it doesn’t give off dust, and so people can’t come in direct contact with it, e.g. lay sod, cover the yard with concrete or decking, or lay down a thick layer of mulch. Grow ornamental plants only Grow all food in raised beds Attempt phytoremediation (grow plants that uptake lead, pull them an...

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Lead Update

...eek I thought I’d do a series of posts about soil and heavy metals beginning with a few more details about the possible lead contamination situation in our backyard. Two weeks ago Darren Butler, who is teaching a vegetable gardening series at our house, led a class project where we took four samples from different locations in the backyard, mixed them together and sent them off to Wallace Laboratories, a local soil testing lab with an inter...

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The Original L.A. Urban Homestead

You know that band you saw play at your local dive bar back in the day that is totally popular now and playing in arenas? Well, the L.A. Eco-Home is kind of like that. Long before glossy magazines were doing “Green” issues, before hybrid cars and composting became hip, Julia Russell had been giving tours featuring the environmentally friendly aspects of her home and garden. Julia is pictured here in front of her Gordon apple tree wh...

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Summer Urban Homestead Failures: Exploding Beer Bottles

Somehow in last week’s roundup of the summer’s failures I blocked out of my memory the most exasperating: exploding beer bottles. I think I may have had a contaminated siphon hose which passed on some nasty, yeasty bacterial bug to every single bottle of two batches of beer I had made this summer. Three of those bottles over-carbonated to the point that they became beer grenades and exploded. One blew up on the kitchen counter and...

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LA ecovillage: self-reliance in a car-free urban homestead

Johnny, who shot that nice video of us for faircompanies.com just made another video about our friends at the LA ecovillage. It’s well worth a view. Some of the most amazing folks in Los Angeles live there. And I like that fact that’s it’s an ecovillage smack dab in the middle of my beloved hometown. Make sure to also check out Johnny’s blog Granola Shotgun....

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Erik Thoughtstylin’ in Urban Farm Magazine

Photo by Graham Keegan. Yes, those are medlars in the background. On the back page of Urban Farm magazine’s most recent issue–Sept./Oct 2011–Erik is asked to answer the question, “If you can only do one thing to boost your sustainability…” His answer follows. He was in high guru form that day. I hope Urban Farm will forgive me for lifting the whole quote: The action at the top of the to-do list on the...

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Testing the Lead Testers

...d us an email at [email protected] or leave a comment. We’re attempting to reconcile slightly different lead results from three different labs and I’d like to be able to write about soil testing methods. Two of the labs we sent samples off to (UMass and Timberleaf Soil Testing) use inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP) to test for lead. Wallace labs uses an extractant, AB-DTPA (ammonium bicarbonate Diethylene Triamine...

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