Description: What grows in your yard, naturally? Where does the sunshine, and where does the wind blow in? My podcast guest this week, Bettylou Sandy, reminds us to get to know our land spaces in as much detail as we can. Plants that are naturally present tell us about the condition of the soil. What food sources can you place in the landscape? She says: “Observation is the key for the best results.” Bettylou gives us many practical tips for adding edibles to our landscape. Have fun, explore, and experiment. Spring is here. We’re raking, cleaning garden beds and planting cold crops before things heat up. Tune in for many practical how to’s and tips.
About My Guest: Bettylou Sandy is an organic garden educator and consultant. She oversees the Spruce Street Community Garden and plays a major role at the Cheney House in Manchester Ct. And she has private clients.
Transcript: Bettylou Sandy
The tiny Hummingbird is having a huge impact on my life today. I revisited an African tale highlighted in my recent blog post, watched a youtube story about Wangari Maathai’s vision for replanting her neck of the woods in Kenya, Africa. Her story and daily actions inspire me to do more, one step at a time.
What does the hummingbird mean to you? This little bird delights us with her flying ability and how she stores food in early fall. These birds seem to migrate south based on shortening daylight. The hummingbird finds its primary nutrition in insects. They especially love baby spiders. Nectar gives them instant energy for their high metabolic needs but the fat, oils, minerals for their overall needs come from insects they find while flying or in the flowers they seek for their nectar. And contrary to local lore, they do not suck nectar through a “straw” but grab the sweet droplet of energy with a tongue.
In my dream work with animal totems, I found that the hummingbird is associated with air (intelligence, higher thought, the ability to see the bigger picture.) They seem to be constantly in motion, rapid wing beats that represent persistence and a feeling on endlessness or infinity. Many cultures in the Americas believed the hummingbird represents rebirth. They also represent joy which can be a fragile thing as we are witnessing today. Spring is here and Hummingbirds will be back in the NE soon.
For a more comprehensive look at Hummingbirds, I suggest this site: World Birds by Garth C. Clifford. I enjoyed his many tips and photos for attracting and supporting these little creatures in our yards.
“Hummingbirds in the U.S. and around the world have the benefit of being garden and backyard favorites. Many people put out hummingbird feeders or grow flowers that attract hummingbirds in the warmer months that allow these birds to refuel during their long migratory journeys. What’s insight is often in mind, and many fans of hummingbirds are doing what they can to keep every backyard, park, and garden a friendly place for these beautiful birds.”(quote from Defenders of Wildlife )
And, here’s a trivia fact: “Percentage-wise, the hummingbird has the largest brain of all birds (4.2% of its total body weight).”
The hummingbird like many species is suffering the loss of habitat. We can provide a suitable habitat by placing flowers and trees, shrubs and vines that will attract them. This link from Bird Watching showcases 28 plants to attract Hummingbirds: flowers, trees, shrubs and vines listed as possible additions to your garden this year. The site includes zone hardiness for each plant and the best growing conditions. The flowers tend to range from orange to reds with trumpet type shapes.
Persistence, knowing I am enough, and knowing I am doing enough at this moment are great personal, daily reminders. I would like to suggest that we spend a few moments today contemplating this marvelous, tiny creature. Spring is here in New England and soon these delightful birds will be back showing off their shimmering iridescent wings. One more question: do you dream of hummingbirds? What do they mean to you?
I hope Wangari Maathai’s folk tale and her work in creating the Green Belt in Kenya are inspirational and motivational. The isolation we are under gives us time to reflect and be in our yards and with our realtime. I welcome your stories and your sharing. Sending Blessings to all. Judith
Description: My podcast guest, Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at MIT, has devoted twelve years to trying to understand the role of toxic chemicals in the deterioration of human health. She has devoted efforts to understanding what has been skyrocketing autism rates in the US and around the world. When COVID-19 pandemic began she considered whether glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) might play a role.
Join us for an engaging look at her research and how pesticide use is playing a role in our health.
About My Guest: Stephanie Seneff is a Senior Research Scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. She received a B.S. degree in Biophysics in 1968, the M.S. and E.E. degrees in Electrical Engineering in 1980, and the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1985, all from MIT. For over three decades, her research interests have always been at the intersection of biology and computation: developing a computational model for the human auditory system, understanding human language so as to develop algorithms and systems for human-computer interactions, as well as applying natural language processing (NLP) techniques to gene predictions. She has published over 170 refereed articles on these subjects and has been invited to give keynote speeches at several international conferences. She has also supervised numerous Masters and Ph.D. thesis at MIT. In 2012, Dr. Seneff was elected Fellow of the International Speech and Communication Association (ISCA).
In recent years, Dr. Seneff has focused her research interests back towards biology. She is concentrating mainly on the relationship between nutrition and health. Since 2011, she has published over two dozen papers in various medical and health-related journals on topics such as modern-day diseases (e.g., Alzheimer, autism, cardiovascular diseases), analysis and search of databases of drug side effects using NLP techniques, and the impact of nutritional deficiencies and environmental toxins on human health.
Transcript: Dr. Stephanie Seneff
Dr. Seneff’s published article: Connecting the Dots: Glyphosate and COVID-19
How would you like to have a food forest patch in your yard? Maybe dedicate an 8×8′ square bit of land, ideally removing some lawn? Imagine adding small fruits, food, medicinal plants right in your own back yard? One of the basic tenets of permaculture is to create a ‘food forest patch’ in our yards. What is that and how can I plan a ‘forest patch’ with food in my own yard?
When I hear the word forest I think of trees, lots of them, maybe pine needles and old leaves on paths. Understory trees and shrubs fill in that landscape sometimes making the area appear dense with foliage. Other times these lower story plants line a pathway. How can I mimic this system on a smaller scale in my front or back yard and include food?
My podcast guest this week, Micheal Judd, talked about creating a ‘food forest patch’ in our yards. Before I describe what he suggested I would like to remind all of us about the importance of our forests from a permaculture perspective. Let’s look at some facts:
“Forests are life ( from permaculture news)
- Forests are home to approximately 50-90% of all the world’s terrestrial (land-living) biodiversity — including the pollinators and wild relatives of many agricultural crops (Source: WWF Living Planet Report 2010)
- Tropical forests alone are estimated to contain between 10-50 million species – over 50% of species on the planet.
- Rainforests cover 2% of the Earth’s surface and 6% of its landmass, yet they are home to over half of the world’s plant and animal species.
From these basic facts, it should be evident that forests themselves are synonymous with life, biodiversity, and fertility. Where life gathers, complex and mutually beneficial relationships are created between organisms; natural harmonious communities form, and life forms multiply and proliferate.”
Forests are the best of life and offer ways for us to live in harmony. They provide food and are great examples of how species work together. Yet, we continue to tear down our forests for the sake of development, our thirst for lumber and other byproducts made from trees, and the need for fields for mass monotype agriculture and farming.
Michael suggested that we take (where possible) a small patch maybe 8′ by 8′ and plant a fruit tree. He includes nitrogen-fixing plants such as lupines, blue indigo in the same area. Add other perennials to the mix all planted within this 8×8″ space. Spreading mints can be added too. I had the chance to visit and be on one of his yard tours in MD. Mints were all over the place but didn’t give me the feeling of taking over. He chops and lets the plant material drop. Very easy and very cool.
As you cut back these companion plants, you leave the plant material right there which continues to build mulch. All of this adds beauty and diversity to your landscape. Check out pawpaw, juneberry, black currants, Aronia’s. Aronia or chokecherries are native to our continent. There is much to choose from.
Dedicate an 8 x8′ patch for new plants.
Add 8″ compost, layering the materials and leave over winter.
In the spring: Select a fruit-bearing tree appropriate to your region.
Add leguminous plants when you plant the tree; lupines, peas. Around the outer edges add more plants.
Michaels’ book shown above has great detailed ‘how to’s’ and photographs to illustrate his ‘food forest patch’. I highly recommend his book. I personally refer to his ideas over and over. Think about the gardeners in your life. This book is a great addition to any gardener’s library.
So, what would you do? Can you take away some lawn and create a’ food forest patch’? Let me know if you do. All comments are appreciated. Enjoy. Judith
Description: I love folks who make the best use of their land spaces, incorporating trees, shrubs, flowers that increase habitat, and also food. My guest this week is one fantastic gardener who does just that. Michael Judd is the author of Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist: How to have a yard and eat it too. Join us for an engaging and practical discussion about creating mulch, adding small fruit trees, plant diversity, and more.
About My guest: Michael Judd, the author of Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist, has worked with agro-ecological and whole-system designs throughout the Americas for nearly two decades, focusing on applying permaculture and ecological design. His projects increase local food security and community health in both tropical and temperate growing regions. He is the founder of Ecologia, Edible & Ecological Landscape Design, and Project Bona Fide, an international non-profit supporting agro-ecology research.
Transcript: Michael Judd
Vindana Shiva is one of my heroines. Courageous, intelligent, an “environmental feminist,” activist and defender, a female warrior against the propaganda machine of Agri farming run by corporations, is also tough and resilient like the seeds she is saving in her country and even around the world. Organic seeds can handle the storms and trials of farming, conserve water resources and build soil. She has had to be tough against ridicule and accusations. In standing up and creating solutions to devastating problems in her country she has made positive healthy changes. She has decreased farmer suicides in India by creating seed banks, saying no to patented seed products and putting real seeds back in farmer’s hands.
She reminds me again that this planet is built on biodiversity. The more diverse our landscapes the healthier is the soil, the plants and ultimately the food we consume. In general, diversity creates harmony in ecosystems with natural checks and balances.
Seed freedom is related to food freedom. The right to know and chose is a part of a democracy. Uniformity and separation are the qualities of a dictatorship. She suggests that maybe the food/seed/pharmacy industries have created an “intellectual dictatorship” and are creating monopolies that hinder, obstruct our basic rights to grow and produce healthy food.
We’re catching on, we are mobilizing to have our food labeled, and we are signing petitions to stop the insane use of applying more and more pesticides as an answer to a problem created by pesticides in the first place. We are waking up to the connectedness of each other and all species and kingdoms that exist on this planet. We are diverse. We are connected.
So many of us believe that patenting seeds, designing food without seed so we cannot save that seed is wrong on so many levels.
Farmers noticed at the beginning of the introduction of Bt corn done in the early 1990’s, that livestock and wild animals refused to eat that type of feed. Cancers, deformities, miscarriages increased and have been reported. I have reported in previous posts the work of current scientists who are proving that pesticide injected seed and application in fields is contributing to the increases in serious diseases on our planet.
Patenting our seeds creates uniformity, creates scarcity, and limits diversity and eventually freedom while meeting the needs of the corporate bottom line in the form of royalties.
In India, Vindana and her organizations have created farming diversity which has improved health and decreased the alarming rate of farmer suicides. Incomes have improved. She calls this “health per acre”.
I invite you to check out her programs, especially navdanya.org, vital and necessary not only for helping the nourishment of a country that admits to poverty but they are also guiding lights for the rest of us deeply concerned that Big Agra is allowed to get away with patenting our food, controlling our seed bank, increasing pesticide use all which contaminates our food supply and eventually deteriorates our health. I include all life in that statement; our livestock, insects, water, and air etc.
Please join me in signing petitions that let our lawmakers know we’ve had enough and we have the right to know. There is a lot of fear out there about our ability to feed ourselves. Sometimes the stats are daunting. We live on a planet that can hold 2 billion of us but we are now a planet of 7 billion.
I think her reminder to shift our focus from “lack of” to “abundance” is worthy and necessary now:
“Full Earth, an abundant earth and a generous earth”, Vindana Shiva, environmental feminist, in GMO-Summit.
Vindana Shiva inspires me to keep writing and getting the word out in any way I can. I sign petitions, contact my lawmakers, support organics too. She is an author of several books on this important issue. Inspiring women are changing the world. Did you enjoy the video? I hope so. Share your thoughts. All comments are appreciated.
Seeds of Abundance:
Spring is a time of planting, of sowing seeds. As a noun, which is defined as an entity or a concept, for example, we can hold a seed in our hands and marvel at how something so tiny contains the entire structure of its future form and its essence. Whether a species in all its complexity or a food with all its nourishing properties, we marvel at the creative source contained within the seed.
Lao Tzu says: “To see things in the seed that is genius.”
As a verb, we use the word to describe something that causes or stimulates growth or development. We “can seed clouds with solid particles to convert water droplets into ice crystals in an attempt to produce precipitation.” Some plants will seed late in the fall.
Earth Day started as the seed of an idea back in 1970. It was planted at the right time, the soil of our collective need. The watery nature of emotions, whether civil rights, women’s rights, the Vietnam war, environmental pollution, all helped this seed take root and grow. The winds of change were perfect too. Not too strong to uproot it but just right to foster growth.
Together the climate of those early years and a deep need to create awareness that our Earth is valuable was renewed, was born into our consciousness. Earth Day has blossomed so strongly like the “tree of peace” into our national awareness.
It’s the seed though, that inspires me today. Seeds, precious containers of a life force, some tinier than the head of a pin and some like sunflower seeds easy to hold, will be planted in our gardens soon.
“At the ecological level, we know that in a small seed lies the potential for producing thousands and millions of seed. And in each of those seeds lies the potential for thousand and million more such seeds. This is abundance.”
Vandana Shiva is my earth day heroine. She has started seed banks in her country and continues to inspire the world on the value of our seeds. She says her farmers when planting a seed pray: “May this seed be exhaustless.”
A single seed reminds me that the Earth, this place we call home, is abundant. And in sowing a single seed we plant immeasurable possibility and unlimited potential.
( I gave this speech at the UUFSB fellowship, Stony Brook, NY on April 13, 2014)
May you feel the bounty and abundance of our earth not just today but every day. In gratitude, Judith
Sustainable and edible landscapes capture our attention and our creativity. Sustainability is a buzz word. It’s how we conserve resources and protect our environment. Yet we seem to favor unsustainable practices in managing our landscapes, our yards, our municipal lands. What’s the difference?
Let’s look at Sustainability: Sustainability means using our resources with the intent of replacing them better than when we began, so we leave something viable for the next seven generations, as my elders would say. One of the primary areas we can change today is the use of our personal yards, front or back, and create, bring in more diversity to improve the overall picture of global warming’s effects. That means we need to rethink lawn. And rethink how we approach nature. Is she something we use regardless of consequences? Or can we see nature as an intelligent entity, that has had 3.8 billion years to refine and define operating systems, so she thrives? How do we fit in as humans managing her resources and gifts? In the big picture, we are a young species.
My podcast guest this week, Dr. Jean Shoinoda Bolen, an activist for women’s rights, mentions Wangari Maathai is her book: Like a Tree. Intrigued I looked up this courageous woman and felt inspired to share her story with all of you. The above movie portrays Wangari Maathai’s vision. She started the Green Belt Movement in Kenya and helped plant thousands of trees turning barren land into a verdant landscape that rebuilt soil, improves water conditions, and gave the community pride and dignity. More importantly, she took one simple action to her community and made a difference.
Sustainability is a vital and invaluable component of getting back to creating holistic environments.
As you look through garden and seed catalogs, rethink your spaces. Research an edible shrub or tree to add food for you and wildlife. Plant a few different native plants to keep our wildlife thriving.
I hope you feel as inspired as I do by one person;’s vision and action that changed her community and left a wonderful legacy. Together we can create a sustainable world and enjoy the journey. We love hearing from you and hope you’ll share your stories with us. Thanks. Judith
Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Dr Jean Shinoda Bolen, Psychiatrist, Jungian Analyst, Activist, Author
Description: It’s a privilege to introduce you to Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen world-renown author, and speaker. Dr. Bolen, a psychiatrist, a Jungian analyst is known for her contributions to our understanding of archetypes, symbolism, and goddesses/gods as well as her activism working for women’s rights globally.
Her book, Like a Tree, How Trees, Women, and Tree People Can Save the Planet began with personal experience, one that led her to discover ‘tree people and tree huggers’. She weaves their stories within the life of trees: how trees contribute to our environment and more importantly to our culture as one of many species living on this planet. Dr. Bolen relates deforestation to the many waves of abuse women still suffer today.
Join us for a deep and timely look at culture, the COVID-19 virus, trees and us.
About My Guest: Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., is a psychiatrist, Jungian analyst and an internationally known author and speaker. She is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, a former clinical professor of psychiatry at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, University of California Medical Center and a past board member of the Ms. Foundation for Women, the International Transpersonal Association, and the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. She is the author of thirteen books in over one hundred foreign editions. She is a NGO Permanent Representative to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women from the Women’s World Summit Foundation (Geneva), also represents Pathways To Peace, The Millionth Circle, Earthchild Institute, Women’s Perspective, and the International Public Policy Institute. She is in three acclaimed documentaries: the Academy-Award winning anti-nuclear proliferation film “Women – For America, For the World,” the Canadian Film Board’s “Goddess Remembered,” and “Femme: Women Healing the World.
Transcript: Dr.Jean Shinoda Bolen
Silence. Prayer. Contemplation. Mindfulness. These practices seem to rise when we are faced with a crisis. And that’s a good thing. To reconnect with our inner selves, our inner truths. Crises tend to push us into something more.
Today we are faced with a pandemic that has rocked not only our country but the world. We face fears of our mortality and wonder why? how this could happen? A virus that began in one country affects all of us. Whether we get sick or not I would bet that we all know someone on the front lines in some capacity whether city workers, lawmakers or first responders on any level maybe a restaurant worker, meal deliverer. Maybe you have lost a loved one. Regardless, we are all affected because more than at any other time in our history we are coming to realize we are connected.
Folks I value and teachers I follow have created prayer circles, rituals, services online to keep us connected. We are so fortunate that we have lights, the internet, heat and that our structures are okay for the most part as we deal with “sheltering” as Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen so aptly put.
I offer this prayer, Franciscan Journey_Canticle of the Creatures_Cosmic Version also known as Brother Sun, Sister Moon from St. Francis of Assisi. This version was gifted to us Rev. Br. Mark Gregory D’Alessio, this week’s podcast guest. Being grateful is holy work.
As Caroline Myss reminds us in her book, Entering the Castle: Finding the Inner Path to God and Your soul’s Purpose: “Silence, prayer, contemplation are traditional practices. . .You do these practices in the life you have now. They will enhance your life and the life of every person around you.”
During this pandemic, we are forced to stay home, walk in a nearby woods or forest. Whether by ourselves or with family we have some time for silence, contemplation, mindfulness, and prayer. Sending blessings, love, and deep gratitude to all of you. Remember all comments are appreciated. Judith