Living like a Locavore


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A workshop focused on defining what a locavore is, and how to live a more sustainable life through eating locally grown food. Also touched upon composting and how to 'grow your own'. Check out for my garden portfolio.

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  • The term ‘sustainable’ is something we hear a lot of lately. What exactly does that mean? And how can you do the best you can while balancing your life?

    It can be overwhelming, but I think that the best way to approach it is to take baby steps and make sure the changes we make are incorporated into our lives.

    My name is Linna the Locavore, and I have chosen to make my ‘sustainable steps’ in the area of food.

    Today we are going to talk about three ways you can bring ‘sustainable food practices’ into your life:

    Living like a Locavore,
    Turning Trash into Treasure, and
    Growing Your Own
  • Food drives our bodies, food drives my passion. I love eating it, growing it, cooking it

    I hope to give you the curiosity and drive to learn more, to think about your food in a different way, and to consider making a change and adopting a habit in your life.

    Today I am not going to give you the answers or the perfect plan to be sustainable in regards to food, but a way to become more aware, and ways to start making your food habits more sustainable.

    I may talk
  • Since food is such a part of every person’s life, it plays a major role in living a sustainable life.

    I don’t like having to listen to the latest recalls, to think how long my food has traveled or to taste a mealy and bland tasting vegetable.

    Have you ever thought about how your food was raised, where it was raised, what are the inputs that were used to get your food to you?
    Is eating strawberries in December unsustainable? Is organic better? What is grass fed beef and is it any better for you? All really good questions…..

  • Americans put almost as much fossil fuel into our refrigerators as our cars

    We consume 400 gallons of oil a year per citizen, about 17% of our nation’s energy use (tractors, combines, harvesters, irrigation, sprayers, tillers, balers, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides)

    Most of the use if by MOVING our food, on average our food travels 1,500 miles

  • So what is a locavore? A scary creature? A fungus?

    Definition: People who value local as their primary food criterion are sometimes referred to as locavores. The term "locavore" was coined by Jessica Prentice from the San Francisco Bay Area for World Environment Day 2005 to describe and promote the practice of eating a diet consisting of food harvested from within an area most commonly bound by a 100 mile radius. With such excitement and momentum building in the local food movement, the New Oxford American Dictionary chose locavore as its word of the year in 2007.

    While local is certainly a flexible term, the basic concept is simple: local foods are produced as close to home as possible. Buying local supports a more sustainable food system because true sustainability goes beyond the methods used in food production to include every step that brings food from farm to plate.

    Is it an all or nothing? Are there ways to gradually move into this lifestyle? Does it make me crunchy? Can I still shop at Costco?

    To me it means I now think differently about food …..

  • To me it means eating with the season. Easy to not know what really is ‘in season’ since food is so abundant. So start paying attention.

    I tried eating one year totally ‘local’ and it was hard! Winter meant apples and greens, and more greens….

    BUT IT ALSO MEANS READING THE LABEL, realizing where you food comes from…. Making smaller changes

  • How many people have tried a friends garden tomato and was ‘wowed’ by the taste?

    How many people knew that tomatoes comes in all different sizes, shapes, and textures?

    How many people have eaten a store bought tomato that tasted mealy and empty?

  • AS OF 08/04/10: USDA Announces that National Farmers Market Directory Totals 6,132 Farmers Markets

    Some open on weekend, all year, seasonally … so ask!

    Amazing when you relate a face and person to your food – it becomes more important to you, there is a connection.


    Resources include:
    Farmers market; CSAs; Buying clubs; Wholesale buying; Food Co-ops
    CSA, U-pick, roadside stands, even health food stores (not chains)…… shows local options
  • Its starts in your brain …. You start thinking about it more … realizing what is around you … where you food is coming from … your neighbors growing a few tomatoes ….

    You hear the news, you wonder what is in your fridge ….
  • Adjust your cooking style --- instead of focusing on a recipe you find, focus FIRST on the vegetables you have available.


    Since supermarkets truck in food from around globe, use your farmer’s markets as a guide to what is growing.

    A NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR NEW COOKBOOKS! Look how mine are organized differently…….. By the food, not by the type of food
  • Look at the label .. Start with region, then state, then even country. Think of concentric circles, start with home grown, items in your town, your county, your state etc.
    Ask questions if you can
    Look for signs that promote local (Wegmans)
    Connect with friends who are into the ‘local scene’
    Consider what you prefer- local vs. organic
  • So now we know how to begin to use our food dollars to increase our health and variety and environmental impact ….

    Did you know that you can begin to turn your trash into treasure?

    Yes, that funny term COMPOST. Amazing how such a term can conjure up so many different feelings and images.

    It is not surprise that the typical response is: I DON’T COMPOST BECAUSE IT IS SMELLY AND I DON’T WANT TO ATTRACT ANIMALS TO MY YARD.

    Well compost doesn’t have to be smelly and it doesn’t have to be a ‘magnet’ for animals…..

    It CAN BE a great way to reduce your input into the landfill, and an efficient way to make amendments to your soil

  • It is called black gold.

    If you take all of your organic food scraps (consider it green material) , mix with other carbon materials (brown material) , add some microbes and VALIO, this magic stuff.

    Will give your flowers wonderful blooms and make very healthy vegetables …..

    Did you know every table spoon of soil has xxxxx
  • So I can tell you are interested …. And you can tell it is a good thing…. But what is stopping you?

    Getting over the fact that it is smelly! It is not!! Be a part of this closed loop system that LITERALLY TURNS TRASH INTO TREASURE.
  • And they provide an excellent start if you decide to do our next topic…. GROW YOUR OWN!
  • The compost process is really quite simple:

    Need to figure out a container – based on HOA and where you live this will drive the style you get. LOTS OF STYLES

    Have the right mixture … (4) carbon to (1) part nitrogen

    Time – and a little attention based on how fast you want the ‘gold’
  • Now this is a BIG topic, one that YOU CANNOT STOP ME FROM TALKING ABOUT.

    If I were to boil the basics down it would be to:

    SET YOUR LEVEL OF SUCCESS: Figure out what you really want to accomplish? Grow a few herbs, have some tomatoes for a salad, provide veggies for supper, preserve for the winter.

    Are you committed to doing abit of online research? Willing to water plants?

    Willing to start small and build your confidence?

    Be open to creative techniques.

  • Here is the garden I grew when my son was first born…. Not bad!
  • It is not a myth that 35 lbs pumpkins can grow 7 feet in the air….. The catch is, you have to train them…….

    Vertical supports include metal conduit and plastic netting

    Not all veggies go up, the ones that do are:
    Pole beans
    Summer squash
    Winter squash
  • Note the room to mow…..
  • Note the room to mow…..
  • Note the room to mow…..
  • So know that we know one another, let’s get into the goal of this presentation, HOW TO SQUARE FOOT GARDEN!

    By using the five Ws I hope to show you how you can leave tonight and get gardening!
  • So let’s start with Mel. Mel Bartholomew. He is the founder of this concept. This is his story, in 1975 he retired from being an engineering consultant. He moved to the North Shore of Long Island and decided to take up gardening. He attended a lecture on composting at a local env. Group but the teacher never showed up. He then asked the group to stay, talk about their experiences, and then they formed a weekly gardening club. Mel then got a community garden established, which initially flourished with energy and gardeners. They plowed, spread manure, planted rows of veggies…and by midsummer it was a disaster of weeds. Mel thought THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY.

    Why do we fertilize the whole garden when you walk on a large part of it?
    Why do plant long rows of single crops?
    Why do we spend so much time weeding?
    Why do we walk on our most precious resource, our soil?


    This method is actually best for beginners, not experts, who seem to have a hard time accepting the method. In an hour or two, you can have the basics down and begin the process of starting your garden. So your first hour begins here!
  • To get you inspired, let’s look at some examples.

    While we look, let’s realize that they all have their own character, their own look, their own purpose.

    With so many options, this must mean that this method is well suited for ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE, all ages, all physical abilities.

    This covers our WHO.
  • This means you don’t even need a backyard! You can be on a balcony, patio, deck……. And this makes it possible for all ages to garden.
  • Add ‘flare’ … a birdbath, a sun catcher, whatever you want!
  • Did you know that an average home garden is 20 x 35 feet long which equals 700 sq feet. To grow the same amount with SFG, you only need 20% of that area, you need 140 square feet.
  • Note this is sitting on a patio ….. Not on existing soil … this is a precursor to a later topic.
  • Live in a city? No problem!
  • Live in a warzone? No problem….
  • Location is a deal breaker, if you don’t have the following items, you can’t have a SFG, or any other food garden.

    Make sure it is:
    Close to home
    6-8 hours sunshine
    Careful of shade from trees and bushes
    Area should not puddle after rain
    Don’t worry about existing soil, you aren’t using it!
    Access to water

    Once someone knows they can have a food garden, the typically wonder how many boxes they will need to feed their family, the book gives some general calculations you can use. I started with 2 4x4 boxes for a family of 3 and had plenty left over!

  • Do example of cutting room down…… compared to single row gardening, you only need 20% of the area to grow the same amount of produce.

    Be creative with your layout, but remember to leave room so you can access the boxes from all angles…. Line things up, make a rectangle, make an L shape, do whatever will make you happy and get you into the garden. Add in chairs, a bird bath, anything that will make this an inviting space. Remember this not only can provide your family with food, but also is a retreat and stress reliever.

    Remember, you can put bottoms on your garden boxes and put them on your patio or deck. So if you don’t have a yard, or room to spare, that is ok with the SFG method!

  • Why boxes?
    Neat and tidy
    Organizes your planting
    Holds special soil mix ‘above ground’
    Add protective features …. Or extend season

  • So you may notice some similarities in the example gardens you just saw…… primarily they were all :
    had planting grids
    plants seemed to be thriving,
    Not a lot of visible weeds
    All shapes and sizes!
    The box makes all of this happen!

    The box is your basic element of the SFG. It can be 4x4, 4x6, 4x anything! It keeps things organized, makes sure soil stays where you put it, and limits the ability for someone to walk on it! The 4 foot rule is so you can reach every part of the garden without stepping on the soil.

    Recommended lumber size is 1 x 6 for economical, low traffic garden or 2x6 for sturdier boxes. DO NOT USE PRESSURE TREATED LUMBER. Use cedar, raw rood, composite, or vinyl.

    One of the key things to note is how DEEP the box is, you only need 6 inches of soil! Yes, you heard me right. You will be creating soil, not using your own.
  • Boxes also allow you to add protective elements on top of a box! If you have a problem with rodents, build a barrier!

    You can also put the wire underneath the box to keep out moles, voles, and gophers.
  • You can even turn your box into a ‘cold frame’ or ‘winter hoop’.
  • Aisles are so important to allow you to move around your garden, to enjoy it, to work in it etc. It is recommended to have 3-4 ft aisles

    At first this may look huge, but once your garden fills in, and overflows the edges, you will be happy you gave yourself so much room!

    The aisles can be grass (and those wide aisles allow you to mow them), mulch, whatever you choose!
  • Note the room to mow…..
  • Use whatever you have on hand
  • This is your MOST IMPORTANT ASSET! Your soil dictates if your garden will survive (some think you need to have a green thumb, you just need good soil!)

    Since soil varies, Mel created a recipe for a consistently perfect soil. He calls it Mel’s Mix and is made of 1/3 blended compost, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 Vermiculite.
    By making your own soil you:
    Don’t need to dig
    Don’t need to till
    Don’t worry about weed seeds
    Don’t worry about nutrients

    Try to use 5 different kinds of compost to get a wide array of compost

  • Building Soil:
    Vermiculite- mica rock that has been heated and popped like popcorn
    Peat Moss- light, friable, holds water
    Compost- Note that SFG is an ‘organic’ method of gardening as you don’t need to use chemical fertilizers, the compost is doing all the work!

    In the book there are volume calculations based on how many boxes you are building.

    When making this soil, you pile it all on the tarp……and fold over, like making a large cake! Use abit of water to keep it moist….

    Why does this soil rock?
    No weeds
    Chock full of nutrients
    Ability to hold a lot of water
    Ready to plant IMMEDIATELY!

    Note on average people say it takes 7 years to turn your soil into good soil.

  • Essential Tools:
    Trowel to move transplants….add compost….
    Pencil to plan your garden, and poke holes to plant seeds
    Scissors to thin plants, cut off diseased areas, harvesting lettuce and greens

    Although there are huge catalogs on gardening tools, you don’t need them.

    More tools ≠ Better garden

    I know this concept is hard to grasp- but most all of you already have what you need!

  • If you don’t have a grid on your boxes, it is not a SFG.

    Grid provides specified space for each plant, keeps things organized, allows you to know what you are planting. It must be a fixed feature on your garden box.

    SFG recommends using wood lathe
  • By using a grid, this is what you can get from one 4 x 4 box…..
  • Garden care and weeding seem to be a chore that is synonymous with food gardening.

    Using the SFG really reduces the need for both of these activities …..

    Care requires watering and checking your garden for disease and pests. Since it should be close to your house, this shouild be something easy to do.

    Weeds? Not an issue. Since your soil started weed free, and anything that grows ‘flew in’, should be easy to pull out.

    Weed barrier on the bottom helps ensure nothing sneaks in
  • Why? Why not!
    Saves space
    Looks cool
    Grow better crops
    Use in tandem to grown cool weather crops
  • It is not a myth that 35 lbs pumpkins can grow 7 feet in the air….. The catch is, you have to train them…….

    Vertical supports include metal conduit and plastic netting

    Not all veggies go up, the ones that do are:
    Pole beans
    Summer squash
    Winter squash
  • Each square has optimal room for a specific number of plants ….. Either 1, 4, 9, 16

    Since you have a prescribed number of seeds to use, you don’t need to waste any! If they all don’t come up, you know where they didn’t’ come up, and you know where to replant

    Transplants are a good way to get a jump on the growing season

    Don’t forget to plant flowers with your veggies. They will not only attract pollinating insects, but will also help with disease (e.g. marigolds)

  • A visual on the planting technique
  • Water. We know plants need it, but how much, how little?

    SFG recommends ladling out a cup of sun-warmed water from a bucket that can be left in the sun.

    Best to water at base of plant, keep away from leaves, and get the roots soaked.

    You may think this takes too long, but if you currently water from above, you are actually wasting water…. and promoting fungal disease. By watering by hand you get water to where you need to. Note, with Mel’s mix you cannot overwater….
  • Benefit is that with SFG, you don’t have to harvest a huge row at one time, you control what you want to grow.

    Make sure you visualize your harvest, and plant just what you think you will need.

    Plant variety, and you will harvest variety. You can also easily replant once you have pulled a square.

    Crop rotation is not needed, but still a good idea for pest and disease control

  • So here are some best practices to fix the biggest offenders.

    We try to make sites as simple as possible. Too many choices at once confuse users, but through a combination of removing, hiding, grouping and displacing features, we can make them less complex.

  • So here are some best practices to fix the biggest offenders.

    We try to make sites as simple as possible. Too many choices at once confuse users, but through a combination of removing, hiding, grouping and displacing features, we can make them less complex.

  • Living like a Locavore

    1. 1. Living Like a Locavore >>> Linna ‘The Locavore’ Twitter: @LinnaFerguson
    2. 2. Living Sustainably can take many forms … We are going to talk about (3) ways to bring sustainable food practices into your life: 1. Living like a Locavore 2. Turning Trash into Treasure 3. Growing your Own
    3. 3. Food is my Focus. Food drives our bodies, and food drives my passion.
    4. 4. Food is a constant in all of our lives. Since food is such a part of every person’s life, it plays a major role in living a more sustainable life. This is a view of my main garden area.
    5. 5. FACT ABOUT OUR FOOD If every US citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meat and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil EVERY WEEK. That’s not gallons, but barrels. Small changes in buying habits can make a big difference.
    6. 6. Now that I have your attention ... Focus on making small changes in your life. It all begins by being more aware about your food.
    7. 7. People who value local as their primary food criterion are sometimes referred to as locavores. The term "locavore" was coined by Jessica Prentice from the San Francisco Bay Area for World Environment Day 2005 to describe and promote the practice of eating a diet consisting of food harvested from within an area most commonly bound by a 100 mile radius.
    8. 8. Local eating does mean change and adjustment. Adjust by learning and eating what is in season …. And reading labels so you know where you food is really coming from.
    9. 9. This change has benefits too ... Local food may be initially harder to find, but once you find it, you will fall in love with the flavor, the varieties, and the superior nutrition.
    10. 10. Speechless. A picture of one of my harvests. Gorgeous.
    11. 11. Look at the colors. Pictured here are many types of tomatoes, Delicata squash, and Boston Marrow.
    12. 12. Makes my mouth water. Growing your own food impacts all of your senses.
    13. 13. Pure goodness. One hour of picking from my tart cherry tree. This will provide me cherry jam and pie all winter long.
    14. 14. Find a farmer. Find someone you trust to raise your food. Make a connection. As of 8/10 the National Farmers Market Directory recorded 6,132 Farmers Markets.
    15. 15. Fresh food in the office. Bring change. I helped pilot a CSA at my company. Look at those smiles!
    16. 16. Find a farmer. There are so many tools out there to find local food. I really like
    17. 17. The change and awareness is happening!
    18. 18. Did you know … A typical carrot has to travel 1,838 miles to reach your dinner table. Farmer’s markets enable farmers to keep 89-90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer. One study shows that each dollar spent with a local grower is worth $2.50 for our community.
    19. 19. The first step is ... Thinking about food, realizing what is around you, realizing the role food plays.
    20. 20. Next start with your plate. Try adjusting your cooking style. Instead of planning a meal around a recipe, plan around the vegetables that are in-season or in your garden.
    21. 21. DO IT YOURSELF preserving Preserving food doesn’t just have to be canned….all types of ways to use local food all year round. Here are some fruit roll-ups being dehydrated.
    22. 22. There is an easier way …. One of my favorite books.
    23. 23. Make it a family ‘thing’ Get the kids involved! Look what fun she is having!
    24. 24. Putting thoughts into ACTION. • Look • Ask • Support • Connect • ConsiderWays to get local food into your diet.
    25. 25. Favorite Books.
    26. 26. Many people think compost is smelly and gross….they don’t know what compost is. It is black gold and smells sweet and is ‘magic’ to your plants.
    27. 27. Do you recognize this? Black gold. The result of composting your organic scraps.
    28. 28. Be part of the food cycle We know it is a good thing, and it isn’t hard, what is stopping you from composting?
    29. 29. Compost Types. SPOT CompostDid you know there are so many types of composting?
    30. 30. Beauty in my eyes. Another type of composting, worm composting!
    31. 31. Five Uses for Compost 1. Mulching new plantings 2. Enriching potting mix 3. Fertilizing summer vegetables 4. Creating a seedbed 5. Giving transplants a good start
    32. 32. Where do I start? • Find a Bin • Collect scraps • Pay ‘a little’ attention • Let time pass
    33. 33. First decide what your goal is. Make it achievable. Grow a few herbs, grow some tomatoes. Point is to be successful so you will DO IT AGAIN.
    34. 34. In my (2) Square Foot Boxes: •Cucumbers •Tomatoes •Onions •Cantaloupe •Parsley •Dill •Broccoli •Marigolds •Bush Beans •Lettuce •Spinach •Pole Beans •ScallionsMy garden when I lived in the suburbs. So much food!
    35. 35. Grow up not out Think about creative ways to grow your food. Vertical gardening produces amazing results.
    36. 36. Even if you have no yard or porch at all. You can grow you own food even if you have no yard at all!
    37. 37. Topsy What??!!
    38. 38. Topsy What??!! I grew all types of vegetables in Topsy Turvey’s.
    39. 39. Veggies can grow ANYWHERE! Look how beautiful it is. I mixed kale and lettuce for autumn hanging baskets.
    40. 40. One of my favorite techniques to talk about.
    41. 41. WHAT is SFG, and WHY does it work? Mel Bartholomew, founder of this concept.
    42. 42. A backyard transformed- before To get you inspired!
    43. 43. A backyard transformed- after
    44. 44. Versatility- patio boxes
    45. 45. Create your own style
    46. 46. | Allen | Hamilton As big or as little as you want it to be
    47. 47. | Allen | Hamilton They come in all shapes and sizes
    48. 48. Garden even on the rooftop!
    49. 49. Garden in some of the most unlikely places- Iraq
    50. 50. Now I have your attention... SFG Top Ten
    51. 51. Make sure your garden is close to home, has 6- 8 hours of sunlight, and you have access to water.
    52. 52. Be creative with your layout….make it your own.
    53. 53. Boxes are neat and tidy, holds special soil mix, and you can add all types of protection to the box.
    54. 54. The basic SFG Six inches of soil is all you need.
    55. 55. Six inches … really!
    56. 56. Protect against critters Build these cages to stop squirrels and bunnies.
    57. 57. Garden all year round Turn your SFG into a coldframe!
    58. 58. Grass aisles One option is to mow and weed whack.
    59. 59. Be creative
    60. 60. Don’t use your own soil, make a near perfect soil-less mix. Mel’s Mix.
    61. 61. Building soil Mel’s mix is equal parts of vermiculite, peat moss, and compost.
    62. 62. Tools: Pencil Trowel scissors Essential tools Essential tools are trowel, pencil, and scissors.
    63. 63. Without a grid, it is not a SFG.
    64. 64. Harvest from one 4x4 box • 1 head of cabbage • 1 head of broccoli • 1 head of cauliflower • 4 heads of romaine • 4 heads of red lettuce • 4 heads of salad lettuce • 5 pounds sugar snap peas • 8 bunches of Swiss chard • 9 bunches of spinach • 16 small ball carrots • 16 beets • 4 bunches beet greens • 16 long carrots • 32 radishes
    65. 65. Vertical gardening saves space, looks cool, and grow better crops
    66. 66. Grow up not out Looks so cool!
    67. 67. Best to water at base of plant, keep away from leaves and get the roots soaked.
    68. 68. Plant a variety and you will enjoy a mix of veggies all season long.
    69. 69. As we conclude…. Isn’t this beautiful?! Check out my garden portfolio: ; on twitter @locavore_linna
    70. 70. Simplify! Create positive first impression Relate to target segments Provide top tasks up front Resources - planning Loudoun Locavores Kitchen Garden Planner Sites-Gardeners-Site/default/Link-Page?id=kgp_home Planner Tool garden-planner/vegetable-garden-planner.aspx
    71. 71. Simplify! Create positive first impression Relate to target segments Provide top tasks up front Resources - seeds
    72. 72. This is who I am, this is what I do.