It’s Like Riding a Bike (To Work!)

This summer I spent a hunk of change on fixing up my old bike.

What a great decision!!!

I wanted to do this because sometimes I feel like I am all talk, and don’t take enough action in living a sustainable life. I wanted to do more. So, I opened up Google Maps and selected bike routes. I mapped out a nice, safe bike route to work. Was I surprised to find how absolutely glorious the ride to work could be when I’m not sitting in traffic. I have passed so much wildlife, gotten the opportunity to smell the flours, and just immerse myself in nature.

Now, my car ride was only about 15 minutes, and the bike ride is 45 minutes. But I no longer have to take time out of my day to workout, because the ride is my workout!

Not the best quality photo. If you look closely, though, you’ll see two little deer crossing the bike path! I see these guys regularly.

Biking has many obvious benefits, from lowering emissions and saving money on gas, to getting in your exercise. I was kind of surprised to find that the greatest benefit was just that I FEEL good about doing good. A bit selfish, sure, but I love feeling like I am contributing even just a little.

So, this is your sign to see if this transition is possible. You might grow to love the longer commute, because you’re getting your exercise in and always trying to beat your last ride time. I realize this might not be realistic for all (especially on those rainy days!) but for some I bet this is a change you can make. It might be a little challenging at first. I know it was for me.

Okay! That’s all.

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Why I Love Soil

I love soil. Soil is the foundation of all life. Without soil, we would have nothing. Even aquatic requires soil for life to bloom.

We don’t often consider the dirt beneath our feet. We take it for granted. Yet, plants, animals, oil, or TVs, this laptop, your kitchen table, everything you see is derived from soil.

Earth is one of the ancient elements, next to air, fire and water.

Earth is probably a favorite element of mine, because all of the other elements rely on earth.

Soil provides sustenance. All living things find their nutrients from soil’s capabilities.

Soil is alive. There are trillions and trillions of little microbes that make soil a living, breathing thing. Just in the same way that there are billions and billions of little microbes in our own bodies that make us living things.

Soil is home; soil is Earth; Earth is home.

Soil is our medicines. Soil regulates Earth’s temperature – creating livable conditions for us. Soil holds waste, then turns it into nutrients like magic. Soil holds history, from dinosaur bones to lost civilizations.

I believe soil is the most valuable resource on our planet. It is a resource that we have immense control over, too. When we love our soil and steward it properly, the benefits are endless. But, when we carelessly plow our soil and let it degrade into the abyss, we also plow our own civilizations over and erode society.

When soil is good, we are good.

I love soil. Soil is life.

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

B Corporations – What are those?

Ever hear of B Corporations? What are they and why do they matter?

Here is the official definition of B Corporations (B Corps) from B Lab:

Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.”

I like to think of these companies as for-profit, nonprofits. They have a social and/or environmental mission. They consider profits AND people.

To be a B Corp, a company must undergo significant assessment to prove that they actually aim to accomplish good, not just make money.

B Corporations are focused on creating a sustainable economy, a sustainable environment, a sustainable society. A sustainable world.

The official B Corporation certification logo

When you see this label above, you can be sure that the company and product are better impacting the world in some way, whether that be for workers, consumers, government, environment, or community.

Here is a link to B Corporation so you can get a detailed look at what companies must do to get certified and more about the movement.

There are a ton of B Corporations you can support with quality products. You might be using some already! While there are many lists you can find by a simple Google search, here are some of my favorites:

  1. Thrive Market – a one stop shop for groceries.
  2. Navitas Organics – need a superfood powder? go here.
  3. Traditional Medicines – I love their teas.
  4. Athleta – quality sports clothes.
  5. Tillamook – my favorite ice cream!

That’s all for now!

As always,

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

What If… Street Garden Edition

What if the streets were filled with fruit and vegetables along with plants of beauty.

I’ve always imagined a world where the sidewalks were lined with herbs, fruit trees, and tomato plants instead of half-dead grass. Could you imagine if restaurants and cafes went to their back lot to pick the cilantro for your salad?

Community gardens could take place alongside roadways, and anyone could help themselves. If we grew and cultivated a community of gardeners, I bet hunger would decrease substantially. Although, I realize it might take time to get to a point of self-sufficiency like with building compost/soil or saving seed reserves.

This idea is not original to me. In fact, this is taking place in select parts of the world. One of my favorite examples is of Detroit. Check out this link to read more about the journey and success to make this “what if” a reality.

If you see a vacant lot, or a barren street, I hope this post inspires you to at least plant a seed there!

As always,

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens – a Book Review

Okay, guys. This book is seriously detailed. I learned a ton!!! If you are interested in raising chickens, this is your book. You’ll learn everything from hatching chicks to growing birds, to processing to how to boil an egg or cook chicken wings.

I’ve been working this past summer on a farm that raises broilers and layer (meat chickens and laying hens), and I am so much more well-versed in what needs to happen now. I feel more confident in observing if something is wrong and then what to do.

The book starts off with choosing what types of chickens you want. There are sooo many varieties, so I would definitely take this part seriously before purchasing. It didn’t quite make sense why the author chose to start about breed types, but as I went on, I realized that picking the best breed for what you plan to use them for is important. Some birds stay small and so you wouldn’t want to use them for meat, others are really aggressive, and you would definitely not want them around your kids.

Author Gail Damerow touches on everything, in detail, too. From what to feed them, how much, where to buy feed and chickens, what to avoid, housing, environmental control, overall health management and diseases, marketing, and more.

I actually skipped a few parts because I didn’t so much care for them, like how to boil an egg, incubation, and showbirds. It was nice that some of these parts were included, but you might also want to skip some parts. If you don’t plan on raising meat chickens, just skip that part.

This informative book is about 300 pages of pure knowledge, and I am happy to have read it. Storey’s Guide has a collection of other titles, like how to raise goats, pigs, beef, dairy cows, and more.

Overall, 9.5/10

That’s all for now.

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Creating Life. – aka Composting.

Composting can be a little bit intimidating if you’ve never done it before. You may be worried about the smell, the labor, attracting pests, or simply not doing it right.

Well, there is a way to avoid all of these worries, and it’s actually pretty simple!

I believe composting is more of an art than science. So, just have fun with it.

The Basics

Composting involves the combination of “brown” and “green” materials. Here’s a list of what these materials actually might be:

Brown = Bark mulch, dried plant waste (leaves, stalks, stems), household paper (napkins, paper towels, mail, newspaper), straw or hay, wood chips or branches.

Green = Manure (chicken, cow, horse, sheep, goat), coffee grounds/tea leaves, food scraps, garden waste (except diseased or seed), grass clippings, seaweed/kelp, eggshells.

Don’t get too worried about the ratio of brown to green. Some resources say you need a really specific ratio. Again, this is more of art than science; it doesn’t have to be perfect. To speed up decomposition, add more green. If it starts to smell or get slimy or wet, add more brown.

Here are some things to avoid = Pet waste, animal/fish products, glossy paper like some magazines, bones, hair, large pieces of wood, or seeds.

Finally – Just add water & air. Your compost is a living, breathing thing. You’ll want to give it water every so often when it is looking dry. You’ll also have to turn it with a pitchfork of shovel to allow air into the compost to help it breath. I highly recommend a compact compost tumbler like this one from Home Depot. This will be the best for easy turning and keeping away uninvited pests. It also is small enough to be used on a small property or patio. I, personally, just an old storage container and kick it around or give it a big shake every week or so. You can also just dig a whole or build a three-bin composting station. The bins are for (1) stockpile product, (2) building up a pile, and (3) finished, usable compost.

Compost is really low maintenance, requiring only 10 minutes a week of attention.

Thank you to bqlt.org for the image, and Acadia Tucker’s Growing Good Food for the composting information.

The benefits are endless, from your own property’s health, and also impacting global climate.

Do you compost? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!

As always,

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

What If… Highway Windmills Edition

I was driving down the highway a few weeks ago and found myself checking out the light posts.

There’s gotta be hundreds of thousands of light posts on the highways.

Then an idea hit me. What if every light post had a wind turbine attached near the base?

Cars FLY by the posts, creating a burst of wind as they whiz by. This wind can be harnessed.

One of the difficulties with wind turbines is that they are not easy to maintain due to their extreme heights. But having them low to the ground would be much easier access. Plus, they wouldn’t have to be excessively large.

What problems do you see with this? Do you think this could be put into reality?

Let me know below!

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Eat Your Veggies & Have a Meatball

I can’t be the only one who excitedly buys a bunch of veggies only to come back to the fridge after a few days and see them starting to wilt.

They’re a little mushy, definitely not crisp, and definitely not very flavorful.

You might be tempted to throw them right in the trash, but there’s another solution for the waste!

So here’s the tip:

Use your leftover, on the edge veg for meatball add-ins. Just chop them finely or grate them, and give those meatballs a little extra bulk and nutrients. Much better than having your money go straight into the trash instead of your stomach where they belong.

Let me know if you try this out 🙂 the soil that grew those vegetables will thank you.

That’s all for now.

As always,

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

A Cabin In The Woods

This Labor Day weekend I’ve had the pleasure of spending time in Northern Wisconsin with my family. My stepdad has a perfectly lovely cabin right on Chain O Lakes.

Here’s a few things the stars, trees, water, and crisp air have taught me:

Keep your head up and shoot for the stars. (Yeah lame, I know. But true.)

Be grateful for what holds you up. The ground has always got your back.

Calmness is exuded from trees. Be near trees.

My personal favorite- We all have a little kid in us. Don’t forget to let that part of you let loose once in a while. Your adult self will thank you for canon balling into the lake for the fifth time.

We all succumb to the grind of life. That’s okay. But when we take time to watch the stars twinkle, we remember we are just little mini life forms hanging out on a giant marble.

Are you the type of person who gets happy looking at the sunset?

That’s all for now!

As always…

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

All Magic Has It’s Price

I had a conversation with my mom the other day, and she was telling me about a documentary she watched that slammed renewable energy like wind and solar.

I’ve written before about all of the issues with renewables. They are definitely not perfect. Yet, neither is conventional coal or natural gas by ANY means.

Energy works like magic. It gives the ability to do the once unimaginable. All magic has its price, and all energy has its price, too.

I don’t know if we will ever find an energy source or system that does not cause negative ramifications in some way.

Water energy impacts aquatic life immensely, natural gas hydraulic fracturing impacts our water table, solar electric requires lots of land and extraction resources, and coal and oil pollute the air and waterways with all sorts of toxins. I really can’t think of a 100% no mess energy system that exists. Even biofuels impact our soil quality.

Anyways, just thought I’d share this experience and thought process.

If you could design the energy system, what would it look like?

As always,

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany