The Hunger Game

IMG_1213“Globalized industrialized food is not cheap: it is too costly for the Earth, for the farmers, for our health.

IMG_2288The Earth can no longer carry the burden of groundwater mining, pesticide pollution, disappearance of species and destabilization of the climate.

IMG_2290Farmers can no longer carry the burden of debt, which is inevitable in industrial farming with its high costs of production.

IMG_2318It is incapable of producing safe, culturally appropriate, tasty, quality food.

IMG_2303And it is incapable of producing enough food for all because it is wasteful of land, water and energy.

IMG_2309Industrial agriculture uses ten times more energy than it produces. It is thus ten times less efficient.”
Vandana Shiva 

IMG_2307A small reminder of the crossroads we find ourselves at in these times of ecological destruction.

IMG_2306This was something I was discussing with those attending last Saturday’s workshop and how we can all grow something, no matter how small, to add to our daily diets.

IMG_2301The old concept of growing food to the end of it’s lifespan and harvest is no longer considered the only way.

IMG_2312Micro-greens, that is, growing until a small, but perhaps more nutritious harvest is produced and continues to produce, is now considered to be a viable option.

IMG_2311In this way, we can all grow some of the essential nutrition we need for health.

IMG_2310The way to use these small harvest can be as simple as a salad, or even a stir-fry, (one of my favourite meals this year!).

IMG_2298The essential thing is to move away from corporate “hunger” food as much as we can manage.

IMG_2297Hunger food is what is passing in the western world as food, which it is quite patently, not!

IMG_2296This mass-produced, processed stuff is causing us to be both ill and dangerously overweight.

IMG_2295We know it, yet are almost paralysed to extract ourselves from the catastrophic loop! IMG_2294There has never been as much food available or as much prescription medicine doled out!

IMG_2293It’s not difficult to connect the dots!

IMG_2292It is also not difficult to grow food, even without a garden, balcony or even window box. IMG_2291Sprouted beans are incredibly nutritious and can be added to any diet.

IMG_2314Seeds and grains can be added to the simplest of dishes…seeds are easily saved, even from nettles! Foraging in hedgerows and wild areas can produce nutritious add-ons to most diets. I often foraged in small wild areas when living in London. Alys Fowler, among many others, has written some excellent books on the subject. Solving a big problem begins with small, manageable steps!

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Supporting the work of Bealtaine Cottage all across social media can be as simple as buying the book…

https://bealtainecottage.com/a-cottage-and-three-acres-the-bealtaine-story/

My Wildest Dreams

IMG_0096Bees are declining all over the world, for multiple reasons.
The most serious one in my estimation is habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation…in other words… Homelessness!
IMG_0097This is not a problem at Bealtaine Cottage, as Bee habitat and food source creation was implemented in the early years of the Bealtaine project.

IMG_0087As a direct consequence of this, the gardens at Bealtaine Cottage are thriving!

This is a part of the new Lughnasadh Garden, created especially for the bees and butterflies.

IMG_0046One only has to plant it and they will come! One only has to be a little untidy and they will create a home!

IMG_0085Sadly, many gardeners are not aware of the ways in which habitat and food source can be secured and managed for wildlife.  Here I’ve planted Blueberry bushes, and heaped mulch around them…a possible habitat! The flowers are pollinated by bees and in return I get masses of fruit!

IMG_0098However, some time spent observing Nature can be very empowering and planting near the cottage means I get to sit and watch the bees and butterflies as well as discover more about their feeding habits.

IMG_0089 In planning and planting this new garden, I observed a quiet respect for “nooks and crannies,” …stones, logs, small mounds…all areas of potential habitat. When cutting back the Jostaberry, above, I stacked the cut wood underneath the bush as potential habitat. Some species of Butterflies can over-winter, (leaf piles are particularly good!) and guess what…I got to see two butterflies in the garden at the end of March!

The sight of new and first butterflies in spring is a joyful, reaffirming vision of hope.

IMG_0080Water availability, layers of plants, trees, shrubs, a succession of flowers for the majority of the year…and much more was taken into the planning and planting of the garden. Habitat and food are the main drivers in my planning and planting.

The trending emphasis, when it comes to bee-decline, seems to be on bee-keeping rather than bee-habitat…the latter being something that each of us can do something about.

bees and peas at bealtaine cottageFor my part, I don’t keep bees…they keep me…and all are wild and free!

A Cottage and Three Acres…the book, available now.

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The cost of the book is 21.00 euros, plus 5.50 P&P for addresses in Ireland, 6.50 P&P the rest of the world.

Thus books posted to Ireland, total cost 26.50 euros

All other countries worldwide, total cost 27.50 euros

I am happy to inscribe and sign your copy.

To order and pay, use this button…

Microbeads…A Call To Action!

dsc03454You may never have heard of them…

Microbeads.

dsc03460Microbeads are tiny particles of plastic that have been added to possibly thousands of personal care products sold around the world.

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Microbeads are hardly visible to the naked eye and flow straight from the bathroom drain into the sewer system.

www-bealtainecottage-com-0261Wastewater treatment plants are NOT designed to filter out Microbeads!

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You may have heard of the Plastic Soup swirling around the world’s oceans?

Well, Microbeads make up a large proportion of that TOXIC brew!

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Sea creatures absorb or eat Microbeads.

These Microbeads are passed along the marine food chain.

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Since humans are ultimately at the top of this food chain, it is likely that we are also absorbing Microbeads from the food we eat.

cymhlcewkaaqkrwMicrobeads are NOT biodegradable and once they enter the marine environment, they are impossible to remove!

So, what can we do about this growing environmental disaster?

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You may want to begin by visiting http://www.beatthemicrobead.org/en/

My approach is a very simple one…use natural care products…meaning, create simple solutions at home!

Not too difficult with a little research and will save loads of money!

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Post any small solutions you may have in the comments section below…

Let’s get moving on this one…

Easy Family Food Vegan Style

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This is a photo blog of food…Vegan food made especially for my family, yesterday and today.

dsc03180dsc03182The recipes are all simple and easy…like this Sweet Potato and Caramelised Red Onion Pate!

The food in the first photo consists of a dsc03194Green Salad with Olive Oil and Basil dressing; dsc03190Spicy Roasted Veg., dsc03197Bulgar Wheat and dsc03196Ginger sauce…all home made in a short space of time…a delicious lunch!

dsc03184I hosted a dinner party on Sunday, dsc03183for my grandson who is off to Canada tomorrow, (Tuesday). dsc03176And baked some very easy bread! dsc03178dsc03179Then baked the same recipe again today!

dsc03175I also made a lunch for family today.

 I will post the recipes in the Recipe Section of Bealtaine Cottage Good Life, tomorrow. dsc03193

Home Grown and Home Made Food

 

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The cost of food has risen and the overall quality has dropped.

Much of the fruit and vegetables being sold in the supermarkets may look good, but the taste is somewhat lacking. Considering these issues, it is fair to say that there could not be a better time to grow your own food, as well as make, cook and bake your own food!

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Today I have been harvesting potatoes and clearing the beds for the next planting or simply for mulching down with cardboard and straw.

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The compost heap is growing by the day as the beds are cleared and tidied.

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Elsewhere in the gardens, the burgeoning beds await their turn to be harvested.

This Golden Oregano will dry nicely and ensure tasty tomato sauces all winter!

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This is a sheltered part of the fruit gardens to leave the potatoes in the ground for a while to come.

Those at the back of the picture will stay where they are.

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You may remember how I mulched this ground last Autumn, using cardboard, straw and shreddings…now you can see the value of this exercise.

The earth is in good condition and any weeds that did grow were very easy to pull.

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This gives you some idea of how permaculture works…a forest garden with lots of shelter, biodiversity and ultimately, resilience!

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Lots of leaf drop feeds the soil, building a much needed fertility.

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Meanwhile, indoors, one of the few electrical items I own is ready to do a lot of sewing.

I also have a hand sewing machine for less labour intensive tasks.

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And in the kitchen I’ve been baking bread and making Houmous Dip.

There really is no comparison to home made and home grown food!

From the Fringe…

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 001The start of the week in this sacred place, where edges meet and overlap…a cooling, calming morning. 

Yesterday was a day of visits and creating bouquets to take with me.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 002The gardens are flourishing and birthing beauty all around me, so there was much to gather and choose from.

This is the tenth year using the roll of cellophane bought for me by my eldest daughter all those years ago as a leaving London present!

Small investments can and do go on giving!

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 003Walking the gardens this morning, after the rain, with the earth scents rising all around me, it was a delight to see the apples well on their way to a grand harvest.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 004I continue to drink the apple juice saved as frozen juice from the harvest last year.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 005The “poor” land here has given me more food than I can cope with…a continuing surplus builds year on year.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 006In this tenth year, it is no longer a surprise that the main stream media has steered clear of permaculture, for the truth of biodiversity undermines the huge Agri-business pushed by governments and those in power.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 007Permaculture has been pushed out to the fringes of society by ignoring the outcomes of such an approach.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 008This is why I write and photograph and film and keep putting it out there.

I don’t mind being ignored, but Mother Earth WILL have her voice heard and those tuning in are rising in numbers to a point where the mainstream media will have to take notice or end up being overtaken.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 010The compost heaps continue to rise toward the sky, dropping back down to earth as they bio-degrade.
Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 011Newly planted beds promise a rich return all Autumn and well into the Winter.
Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 012Natural Spring water flows in abundance from an aquifer that is unabused by demanding “flush it away,” toilet cisterns.

There is no away and besides which, water is sacred!

Why use clean water to flush our human waste into the rivers and oceans…no way, there is no away!
Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 013Taking care of people means taking care of the Earth…how simple is that philosophy to put into practice?

Not if you are a corporation or a politician on the make and take, for there is no money in caring, just an abundant, real economy!

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 014Our abiding relationship is with Mother Earth.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 016It is the only physical relationship which surpasses all others in this life.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 017If we imagine our world as a tapestry, then where are you on the stitching?

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 020Where do you want to be on the weave?

Here’s a thought: one of the biggest and most powerful supermarket chains in the UK and Ireland spent a small fortune on creating this advertising slogan, “Every Little Helps!”  

Own it!

 

 

Angels and Animals in an Irish Cottage on Christmas Eve

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Christmas Eve at Bealtaine Cottage.

Snow has fallen.

The air is cold and a bitter wind blows.

It rained hard last night and the streams are in flood.

The blackbirds are hungry and have taken to stealing cat biscuits from the bowls on the veranda!

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The blackbirds are clever creatures and have watched both cats enter the lodge through the cat door, where they now sleep away the day, their bellies filled with food and milk.

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Jack stays by my side, in and out of the cottage, as I work.

Jack looks out for me and is a wonderful friend and guardian angel!

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This is a difficult Christmas for many who are without basic necessities.

I am thankful to have a well stocked pantry and woodpile.

For many, food and heat are major problems in their everyday lives.

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 It’s good to give thanks for a warm home and a full plate.

May you all enjoy both this Christmastide…

www.bealtainecottage.com 003An Irish Christmas Blessing

The light of the Christmas star to you
The warmth of home and hearth to you
The cheer and good will of friends to you
The hope of a childlike heart to you
The joy of a thousand angels to you.

Happy Christmas!

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This will be my last blog for a little while as I am taking some time out.

Blessings to you all X

Winter Solstice Gathering at Bealtaine Cottage

winter solstice 2012 at Bealtaine Cottage

Fires are lit and food prepared for this, the longest night of the year…the Gathering at Bealtaine Cottage.

Loved ones meet again to join the celebration from as far away as Canada, London, Belfast and Dublin.

Missy, the solstice catA night to gather around the fire and light the candles around the home.

Missy has found her warm spot and will not be moved…we celebrate around her!

The Solstice Feast at Bealtaine CottageAs preparations for the winter feast are under way, we join together in toasting the year and the time to come.

In Latin, solstice means sun set still. This is the still night, the silent night, the longest night of the year…

The turn of the wheelWinter Solstice is the great stillness before the turning, as the days grow longer.

yuletide tree decked with lights at Bealtaine CottageThe cottage is small, so the tree stands on the veranda outside the window.

This is the celebration of the silent night, a sacred time of rest before the awakening, and the slow build toward longer days.

solstice treeThe human race has observed the solstice for millennia.

This night is a continuation of that sacred tradition.

Inside the cottage Tomorrow we are past the dark and facing into the light.

The ascent to Spring will begin once more.

Happy Solstice Everyone!

Growing Freedom

Growing freedom is manifesting in the new mass movement of allotment holders and people turning their oil-hungry lawns into edible gardens.

Freedom and choice is what happens when you decide to grow…whether it’s in a window box or on a half acre smallholding, or more.

The mindset of producing food in growing, foraging, making and storing induces a sense of liberation, as well as a feeling of well-being and harmony with the Earth.

Freedom of choice begins to manifest before your very eyes, for free.

Food: organic or not; how much and what kind; for storing or for selling; food to share, food to give; the choices go on…and as this happens, personal knowledge grows immensely!

Storing and making and baking and cooking and creating…

Growing food , whether it be you actually doing it or simply enabling others to grow by buying surplus, locally produced food is of great benefit to the new scheme of things…cutting down on air miles, pollution and supporting local economies.

Creating small food communities by locally sourcing, helps to grow communities, encouraging interaction on a natural level.

Selling or sharing a surplus is a positive social networking ingredient!

The choice is yours.

Isn’t that a great word, “choice?”

A Life in the Country ~ Cottage Living

Living in a small cottage in the west of Ireland is easy enough!

Irish dresser in the cottage kitchen at Bealtaine CottageIt’s small…very small…two tiny bedrooms, one sitting room, a kitchen, shower room and porch. 

Bealtaine Cottage before Christmas 2012It’s old…ish, and built from stone in the vernacular style and all local stone!

Midwinter mist at Bealtaine CottageBealtaine Cottage, for that is it’s name, nestles nicely into three acres, now mostly set to trees and ponds and permaculture!

The best place to seek God is in a garden.

You can dig for him there.

 ~George Bernard Shaw

Bealtaine Cottage Midwinter GardenPermaculture means planting, planting and more planting!

Plant for your life!

The Earth needs trees and cover and food and fuel…lots and lots…and Abundance follows!

Oregano grows wild here, through the gravel, around trees and all over the tunnel and bees love it.

I think it annoys God if you walk by the color purple in a field
and don’t notice.
                                                                                   – Alice Walker
From “The Color Purple”

The Barn at Bealtaine Cottage, midwinter 2012Garden writing is often very tame, a real waste when you think how opinionated,
inquisitive, irreverent and lascivious gardeners themselves tend to be.  Nobody
talks much about the muscular limbs, dark, swollen buds, strip-tease trees and
unholy beauty that have made us all slaves of the Goddess Flora.  ~Ketzel
Levine’s talkingplants.com

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture midwinter 2012Secret Garden…Adagio…beautiful… Click on the link to watch and listen!

http://youtu.be/nNL9Lole-iE

Permaculture Cottage ~ A Summer Feast on a Wet Evening

Lots of Parsley and loads of eggs…yes, it’s summer and the food is in plentiful supply here on this Permaculture smallholding.

An easy way of preserving food for the leaner times is to use it to cook and freeze, or bottle or…anyway, you know what I mean…just don’t let it go to waste!

Here is one of my favourite fast foods, devised by Rose Elliot, my favourite Vegetarian Cookery writer…Parsley Burgers.

I made these on the Cook and Dine Evening I hosted on Monday evening at Cleen Hall, Knockvicar, and, they were very well received!
Anyway, here’s the recipe…
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2 eggs / 6 heaped tablespoons of breadcrumbs / 1 small onion, chopped / 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley / salt and fresh ground black pepper / oil for shallow frying.

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Add the breadcrumbs, onion and parsley to the beaten egg and season to taste.

Pour oil into pan to cover the base thinly and heat.

Spoon the mixture into the pan and fry for about 3 minutes on either side, until crisp.

Drain on kitchen paper and serve with salad or baked beans!

As they freeze really well and there is a glut of all the ingredients here at Bealtaine, I have made dozens of them to freeze and save as a fast food…

AN UPDATE ON THE GRAPEVINE…I planted outdoors…it’s doing really well, so far!

It had over-wintered at Bealtaine and endured being frozen in its pot for weeks on end, survived well and is now set to be a successful outdoor grape…

A Forecast for the Winter Ahead…

Lots of logs continue to be stockpiled for what is going to be a very cold winter indeed.

Seriously, now is the time to prepare!

If you live in the British Isles, try to get hold of a wood burning stove now and start your woodpile.

Ash can be burned without seasoning!

Saturday Morning in the Permaculture Garden

These are the pears in one of the orchards this morning, continuing to develop. Good rainfall has helped enormously and the days are healthily damp!

The No-Dig Method of Growing.
It is possible for one woman as myself to look after 3 acres of poor land and make it productive, using the No-Dig method which is in itself an integral part of Permaculture.

Mulching…the Magic!
Making compost…the most important work you can undertake in the garden, for whatever you don’t want growing will be turned into this rich food for all you want to encourage. Start a compost heap today, don’t wait! I practise the cold-composting method, which is the easiest one to do…just heap it up!

Easy Potatoes…
These were planted onto a thin layer of cardboard that was placed directly onto grass. However, you could dispense with the cardboard, as I have done in the past and it works perfectly well! Used straw from the hen run is spread on the top.
As the potatoes push up compost is added on a weekly basis…I have 4 huge compost heaps, so no shortage of good organic food!

Animals and Bedding
I keep 4 hens. Their bedding is barley straw. This is changed often and regularly, giving the garden a continual supply of nitrogen impregnated mulch and fertilizer. I also spread generous amounts of barley straw around their outdoor runs as they love to scratch and I continue to collect the used straw. It’s a good method and works very well for me!

Mulch to Grow, Mulch not to Grow!
Srtaw is placed on the top of cardboard as a way of excluding growth and preparing the ground for the following year. This can also be planted into and is super for trailing plants such as pumpkins!

Weekend Permaculture Tree Planting at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland.

 

Blossom on the Plum and Cherry trees continue to develop at Bealtaine Smallholding.

As I type this blog on a calm and warm Friday evening I am amazed at the continual good weather experienced here in the west of Ireland since the middle of March. The climate is changing…that I know.

Peach blossom covers the tree in the tunnel and all the seedlings are growing well. The bottom line is that food is very easy to grow. A small warm space is all that’s needed to get seedlings up and ready for planting out.

The Fairy Dell is now covered in green growth. Primroses, Mosses, Violets and Ferns are all competing with hundreds of other species to grow. The scents emanating from the warm earth below my feet as I walk the woodland are nothing less than intoxicating!

This is the willow wreath made here in December. I will strip back the winter foliage of Larch and Ivy and re-dress the willow base for the Easter celebrations. This Willow wreath will keep for several years and can be dressed for seasonal celebrations.

The leaves on the Amelanchier tree are out and making colour in the garden.

The weekend is here and I have another five trees to plant. These are all pot grown from seeds, so can be planted at any time of the year as long as they are kept well watered!

Ecosystems, Stability, Wild Orchids and Cuckoos @ Bealtaine Permaculture Smallholding, Ireland

Working in the tunnel this morning I heard the first Cuckoo of the year calling from the hill behind Bealtaine. This is extraordinarily early to hear the Cuckoo…usually in May, or at the earliest, very late April…the seasons are coming earlier here in Ireland.

The flowers on the first Wild Orchid of the year are opening. I noticed a second Orchid beginning to open further along the bank.

Biodiversity is more than an elastoplast sticking plaster on the skin of Gaia…it is the CURE!

I would go so far as to say that it has been the introduction of biodiversity here on the 3 acres of Bealtaine Smallholding that has allowed such incredible harvest of food to manifest.

Permaculture plantings aim to create and sustain as many food webs as possible, as this gives stability and strength to the environment.

The structure of an ecosystem is represented by food webs and the more cmplex the ecosystem, the greater the stability. It is unfortunate that even Organic farms are not home to complex enough ecosystems, as many of the crops are grown in a monoculture, uniform row, type way.