Off the Grid on a Homemade Island

Floating off the coast of Vancouver Island, a 45-minute boat ride to the nearest town, is a sustainable island fortress complete with a dance floor, art gallery and garden. For artists Catherine King and Wayne Adams, this is home: a labor of love 24 years in the making.


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Building your own Hawaii minimal house for a vacation’s cost



Kristie Wolfe spent $5000 to build herself a tiny home on wheels in her hometown of Pocatello, Idaho. It started off as a yearlong experiment in simple living, but she liked it so much she decided to keep living small, not only in Idaho, but she began looking for land to build a tiny vacation home.
She bought a plot of land in Hawaii sight-unseen for $8000. A year later she bought a plane ticket, packed her bags full of tools and with the help of her mother, began to build a bamboo “treehouse” that to fit the surrounding jungle (though rather than using trees for support, she built it on stilts). After two months of building every day “from dawn to dusk” and an $11,000 investment, she had a second home.
For Wolfe, the fact that it’s small- 15’ by 15’ or 225 square feet- is an asset. “My original house was 97 square feet so that was really tiny so this feels huge… I think small homes are beautiful because it fits with my lifestyle. I think having a lot of stuff mentally weighs you down even in ways that you don’t realize.”
Building her own home meant that Kristie was able to design everything custom: from a toilet-sink to save water (she’s not only off-grid, but she relies on rainwater capture for water) to an indoor/outdoor shower with cork-bark tiling. Whether she ever moves here permanently or simply moves on to building yet another home, she now knows she can build her own shelter.

Filming credit: Ivan Nanney –

Kristie’s blog:

Original story:…

Global Carbon Dioxide Levels Break 400ppm Milestone

Here’s my take on the bottom-line from the references below:

Ideology matters.

The more conservative the politician, the more likely the believe man is not responsible for the continual rise in global temperatures. The more conservative one’s beliefs, the more likely the commitment to the notion of fiscal austerity, that is, reducing government spending is seen as vital to restoring the economic health of this country, even at the expense of those in financial need. Conversely, the more progressive the politician, the greater the belief and concern over climate change (not only that it is real, but also real serious) and the strong opposition to the politics of austerity as posing a direct threat not only to the poor but the general economy, as well.

Here’s my question to the republican members of Congress: Your economic and climate change positions are outside the academic and scientific mainstream. In particular, to the potential threats posed by climate change, what if your ideas turn out to be wrong?

“Reaching 400ppm as a global average is a significant milestone,” said Pieter Tans, lead scientist on Noaa’s greenhouse gas network.

“This marks the fact that humans burning fossil fuels have caused global carbon dioxide concentrations to rise more than 120ppm since pre-industrial times,” added Tans. “Half of that rise has occurred since 1980.”

Liberal Democrats Overwhelmingly Say Solid Evidence Global Warming is Occurring; Most Conservative Republicans Say There is Not

“A majority of economists surveyed in 2012 by the University of Chicago found that, despite Republican demands for austerity, the $831 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 stimulus legislation significantly reduced unemployment. Every Republican in the House voted against the bill on Feb. 13, 2009, as did 38 of 41 Republican senators on the same day.”

Farmer Cartoonist Loses Job Over Cartoon

Longtime Farmer Cartoonist Loses Job Over Cartoon

How long do you have to work for a company to earn their loyalty?

Apparently, when you work for Farm News, a small Iowan publication that is part of a larger conglomerate Ogden Newspapers Inc. —21-years ain’t squat when it comes to the interests of their advertisers.

According to the Des Moines Register, Rick Friday was fired by Farm News because his latest cartoon mentioning 3 large agribusiness corporations angered one of those three advertisers, enough to pull their advertising from the publication.

Drawing upon real facts, Mr. Friday depicted two farmers in the field talking to each other. One bemoans the difficulties of making a profit in farming. The other farmer responds to the effect, no, farming is quite profitable, stating: “the CEOs of Deere & Co., Monsanto Co. and DuPont Pioneer made more money than 2,129 Iowa farmers last year.”

In the real world, money talks and Rick Friday loses a job for essentially telling the truth in a humorous fashion which is what cartoonists—good cartoonists— do.

There is a silver lining in all this. His provocative cartoon is reaching a far larger audience than it would have otherwise.

And it looks like Mr. Friday may already be moving on to greener pastures.

Postscript upon further reflection:

Something was still sticking in my craw about this story. Here are my suggestions, duly noting that it would not fit the world we live in today:

  1. Why was the cartoonist fired in the first place? If anyone where to be fired, how about the person who made the decision to publish the cartoon in the first place?
  2. Why not call up corporate and bring in the big guns for support? Ogden Newspapers Inc. owns newspapers in cities around the country. Their parent company also owns magazines. Farm News should tell their corporate parent, please fire that fucking advertiser, we can not afford to have our integrity impugned no matter how much advertiser dollars may be at stake.
  3. Have Farm News and Ogden hold an emergency sales meeting and tell their entire sales force, “get me that (sonofabitch) advertiser’s number 1 competitor and I don’t care what you charge, I want them signed up in replacement across our entire publication chain even if it means we sell at cost!! YESTERDAY!!!”
  4. Have a low level Ogden executive call the advertiser and tell them their money is no longer needed across the entire Ogden empire. The advertiser can figure out another way to reach their dedicated readers across whatever number of umpteen states with a combined reach of just shy of a gazillion eye balls that collectively their publications reach.

With all due respect to Bernie Sanders, that would be a revolution!

10 Tips for Transitioning Fingerlings to Your Aquaponic System

So you’ve ordered your fingerlings or picked them up from a local supplier. Here are some steps to receiving, acclimating and caring for your new little aquaponic fin-friends.

Mozambique Tilapia Fingerlings – 25

  1. Be ready to receive your fish shipmentFingerlings that are shipped are
    packed with an oxygen supply. This only lasts for a short time (maximum 18 – 24 hours often less), so it’s important that you are available to receive your fish and get them acclimated into your system within a few hours of arrival. This is just as important if you pick up fish from a local supplier as they often don’t use pure oxygen when bagging fish for local transport.
  2. Take a picture of your new fish – As proud new parents, we can’t help but to enjoy seeing their cute little fins and faces. Really this picture is to get a good count of your fish. It also helps to look back and remember how tiny they were and how fast they have grown.
  3. Float the bag – Your fish need a chance to acclimate to your water temperature. bag floatingFloating the bag in your fish tank will help adjust the temperature. Check the temperature of the fish tank water and bag water to ensure that the fish aren’t shifting more than 2-3 degrees. Don’t let the oxygen out of the bag or it won’t float.
  4. Checking pH – Once you feel that the temperature between the fish tank water and the shipping water are similar, it’s time to open the bag (secure it to the fish tank with a clamp so it won’t sink or let shipping water into your tank). Check pH in each container, using an API test kit, digital pH pen or dip strips. pH shouldn’t be more than .2 – .4 different between to the two. If pH is dramatically different, add some fish tank water into the shipping bag. Let the fish acclimate to the change in pH for 30 minutes or more depending upon the amount of change. Add a small air stone to the bag since the oxygen will be released.
  5. Practice safe water handling – Water used to transport fish is usually from a clean supply, however it is never sterile. While there is no intention of sending along any issues, transport water can potentially carry different bacteria, plant spores, organisms, and plant or fish pathogens. Some vendors will transport fish using various salts, medication or calming agents. For all these reasons, it’s a good idea to avoid introducing transport water into your aquaponic system.
  6. Transfer your fish – Using a small net, carefully scoop your fish out of the bag IMG_3114and into your tank. This is the time to get a good look at your little fishies, since once they are in the tank, you may not see much of them depending on the color and size of your tank and water clarity. Its a really good idea to secure a net over the top of your tank to avoid issues with fish that think they can fly.
  7. Don’t feed right away – Fish can survive several days without eating. Don’t feed them for a few days to give them time to acclimate and ensure that the nitrifying bacteria are ready for the fish load. Once you start feeding, go slow, starting with only a small amount and see how they respond. Scoop out any uneaten food after 5-10 minutes.
  8. Monitor water quality – Test the water in the fish tank for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, starting the day you introduce fish, and about every 3 days there after. Ensure that ammonia level stays below 3ppm, and nitrite below 1ppm, nitrate is relatively safe. Perform 1/3 water changes (remove 1/3 of the fish tank water and replace with new, de-chlorine/de-chlorimine, similar temperature water). Chart your water quality to ensure that you system is properly cycled and performing optimally.
  9. Ready for food – After a few days, if your ammonia and nitrite levels are low, then you can start feeding 2-3 times a day. Use a good quality floating extruded IMG_7799fingerling food with at least 45-50 % protein. If the feed is too large, grind it down into a powder.
  10. Enjoy your fish – Now it’s time to work on keeping them healthy and happy. Ensure consistent temperature appropriate for your fish species and always provide adequate aeration. Check that you fish feed well, and watch for health issues. Remove sick or dead fish as soon as possible. Monitor water quality and watch them grow.

Happy Fish Rearing!

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Farm To Fable: Is That Food Really Local?

Farm To Fable- Is That Food Really Local?

If Florida’s Tampa Bay turns out to be merely the tip of the iceberg, good luck finding locally sourced fresh foods in your neck of the woods. In this “Farm To Fable” Tampa Bay News investigative report, food critic and part-time farm detective Laura Reiley, “visited every Tampa Bay outdoor market, recording all vendors and analyzing the data”. What she discovered was often claims by restaurants and farmers market vendors that were untruthful about where their food came from and sometimes (in the case of certain fish) the actual food they claimed to be serving their patrons.

Farmers markets have grown exponentially over the recent years, and as this report clearly shows in Tampa Bay, opportunists have stepped in and are misleading the unassuming public about the food they sell.

The same goes for area restaurants that have jumped on the band wagon of the local farm to table movement and who are stretching the truth about the true nature of the food on their menus.

What’s important about this 2-part report is not only the specific nature of the findings themselves and the bad actors involved, but whether this is indeed representative of a wider problem that extends to other cities and areas of the country.

While individual farmers markets may do a better job of vetting their farmers without an established set of state (and federal) rules to prohibit and monitor such behavior, when it comes to establishing the true provenance of a food in these types of situations, it’s up to the individual consumer to be vigilant and to ask the right questions.

The same can be said for restaurants that claim their ingredients are local, as well.

Along these lines, included in the report, is a consumer guide to help eaters identify the right questions to ask and how to spot obvious signs of misrepresentations. There’s also a list of the restaurants that were sited in the report for engaging in deceptive practices.

The Complete Farm To Fable Series

Also check out this ProPublica podcast, an interview with Laura Reiley, the author of the report:

100 Days Of Food

The 100 Day Project: Food

Day 12 - Figs - 100 Day Project- Rebecca Gerendasy

Day 12: Figs

I recently joined a group on Instagram who are creating something everyday for 100 days, fittingly called The 100 Day Project. I’ll be posting my “day 15” drawing later today. Everyone chooses some type of action, mine is drawing, (some choose to volunteer for a 100 days or create a food recipe, etc.) and use a relevant hashtag that describes what’s being done. I’ve decided to draw food-related items and use the hashtag #100daysoffoodbyrgerendasy.

Here are a few examples so far:

Day 14- Bittersweet Fruit - 100 Day Project - Rebecca Gerendasy

Day 14: Bittersweet Fruit

Day 4 - Walnut - 100 Day project - Rebecca Gerendasy

Day 4: Walnut

Day 10 Avocado - 100 Day Project - Rebecca Gerendasy

Day 10: Avocado

Elle Luna and a friend decided to start the annual project on Instagram in 2014. It was inspired by a workshop that Michael Bierut led at the Yale School of Art.

Day 2 -Ritz Crackers - 100 Day Project - Rebecca Gerendasy

Day 2: Ritz Crackers

If you use Instagram and would like to see what evolves during the next 85 days, please check out my page: @rgerendasy.

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey – here or there! Have an idea for a food-related item for me to draw? Just let me know. 🙂

Celebrating Our Mothers

May is a month for fresh and new beginnings, for growth, for changing seasons and celebrating our Mothers. Mother Earth is moving in a new direction, making the day length longer and bringing warmer temperatures. For some of us in more northern latitudes, this is a blessing to thaw from the cold of winter and enjoy how spring blossoms. For those in the south, this is the time to enjoy a few more cool nights before the heat of the summer sets in. Celebrating Earth Day helps remind us, that we only have one planet, and we must all help take care of her.IMG_7786

We celebrate Mother Nature and her ability to connect things together into interdependent ecosystems. As aquaponic gardeners and farmers we are given so many learning moments as we try to play the role of mother nature when growing indoors. Often our abilities are just no match for the knowledge and capabilities in each seed, each fish, or each tiny bacteria. We are often reminded of our inexperience and are given so many opportunities to learn from our success and failures.

We celebrate mother fish and their ability to reproduce and provide us with more food (we can celebrate the daddy fish with Dad’s in June). We celebrate the seeds and cuttings that have come from mother plants to carry on their power to grow. And of course we celebrate our human mothers. People who have given life, nurtured, loved and lived through so much to grow children into responsible, healthy and happy human beings.

One of my greatest joys as a mother of 6 year old twins and a 9 year old, has been to watch them grow right along with Flourish Farms, our community aquaponic

Kiddosgreenhouse. They have planted seedlings, helped out at farmers markets, participated in community events and fed the fish since they could crawl. They eat kale like little rabbits, they know how to gut and clean their own fish, and they won the science fair demonstrating the benefits of aquaponics and its importance in growing nutritious food by mimicking a natural ecosystem. As a mom, it means so much to be able to teach and share these valuable life lessons of self-reliance, wellness and environmental stewardship. Not to mention how proud I feel when my kids prefer salad over french fries, and can tell the difference between store bought veggies and ours fresh picked from the aquaponic system. As a mom, that feels like success.

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Chef Nathan Lyon and Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Unite

Chef Nathan Lyon and Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Unite Watch the video

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch App puts sustainability at our fingertips

Chef Nathan Lyon and the Monterey Bay Aquarium team up to deliver an important message: you can find out if the fish you intend to buy is sustainable. From their website: “Emmy-nominated Chef Nathan Lyon will be sharing tasty recipes and Seafood Watch #sustainableseafood tips on TV shows across the country this year. First up is Cleveland, OH, on Wednesday, May 4 (Live on Lakeside WKYC). Keep an eye out for more on World Oceans Day in June and beyond!”

The idea of eating more sustainably caught and farmed fish is resonating across the country (and beyond) with chefs and eaters alike. As vast and as great as the oceans are, they are in serious trouble and many fish populations are in dangerous peril. What do we do? Do we eat less fish? Do we throw up our hands and wait for government regulators to figure out a solution? Do we simply ignore the problem, it’s too big an issue for any one individual to do much about?

No. I mean, hell no! 🙂

As eaters, we have choices in the foods we eat. We can decide that some fish like bluefin tuna should never be eaten because their populations are too seriously in decline. We can choose to eat less shrimp and look to alternatives like sardines that are high in nutrition but are in relative abundance and can be sustainably harvested.

And as Chef Lyon tells us in the video, there’s a simple Seafood Watch App that provides a wealth of accessible information for buyers, including:

  • Type: Which ocean a type of fish is found.
  • Location: A more precise location, for example, “California”.
  • Method: How the fish was caught, such as, bottom trawl or farmed, etc.. (generally, the bigger the fishing vessel and the larger and deeper the fishing area that it’s nets encompass, the greater the likelihood and amount of habitat damage, and excess by-catch caught that inflicts harm to unintended fish.).

The App provides specific recommendations based on many factors and describes in simple language why a particular choice is better or worse from a health and sustainability perspective. It also shows a picture for each fish and where’s it’s from and let’s us know the options available, whether there are domestic, imported, farmed, or wild species available for purchase. We can also use our GPS location to find seafood markets that are nearby.

Get the App, go fishing, and check out Nathan’s new show…

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