Archive for the ‘Eco Reads’ Category
It’s not often we get to see what we eat outside of our homes and the grocery store. In September, a few of us had a chance to get up and personal with our peppers and onions during a tour of the beautiful Grindstone Farm in Pulaski, New York. Many Smock employees have CSA shares from Grindstone, and it was enlightening to get a good, hard look at what goes into creating our tasty, organic produce.
We spent a long time talking with Vic and Dick de Graff about what it’s like running a small organic farm in the snow belt of upstate New York, where snow comes early and often, and the local food movement is just catching on. They have adapted to the weather over the years by growing many of their vegetables in hoop houses, like the one featured above, in order to extend the growing season into November.
While Grindstone farm may look like an idyllic place to live, farming is anything but easy. One mistake, like forgetting to cover the lettuce before a potential frost, can ruin an entire crop for the rest of the year. As a farmer, your backyard is your home office, and there is always more work that should be done. But just like our love for creating beautiful, sustainable letterpress goes beyond the normal 9-5, the farmers at Grindstone choose this life because of a passion for growing and providing food for friends and neighbors, and because they want to spread the idea that feeding the world can happen one small plot of land at a time.
Interested in finding a farm like this near you? Check out localharvest.org for CSAs, U Pick Farms, Farmers Markets, Grocery Co-ops and more! Want to see more photos from our trip to Grindstone Farm & our CSA pick-up spot here at Bella Figura? Check out this slideshow!
Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan is an incredible resource, explaining how to mix up your own eco-friendly household cleaners from everyday ingredients you likely already have at home. It’s the Smock Eco Read pick of our office manager, Carrie, who shares with us a bit more about one of her favorite eco reads…
I love this book! Karen’s recipes for cleaners are effective, fun to make, and a pleasure to use. I cleaned houses for a while after my son was born and used only these products, and everyone for whom I cleaned begged me to make some for them to have. This book really breaks down the benefit versus harm of cleaning agents used in the home, with an eye to the long-term effect these different chemicals have beyond our home environments into the environment we all share. Making your own cleaning solutions is greener in every way, and an easy habit to adapt as part of the journey toward living sustainably in today’s world. I read that book three years ago and continue to this day to use the cleaning solutions found here!
Good is an eco magazine, one of my favorite eco reads. Subscribe to this magazine and 100% of your subscription is donated to nonprofits doing good. And if that isn’t convincing enough, this magazine has amazing photography and really cool graphs (“the most used subways in the United States and the world, showed in graphic form”), as well as inspiring profiles of people who are helping change the world for the better. Though I wish they trusted their readers to have a longer attention span (lots of short 1/2 page or 1 page articles), it’s a thought provoking read that nudges you to live your life better – not in the self-development sense (10 ways to look better, etc.), but living your life in a way that helps others and the world. One of the most recent issues was devoted to transportation, and by the end of it, it was hard not to say “okay, okay, I’ll ride my bike more, I’ll look at bus routes differently, okay, I’ll do it!” This issue included drawings from grade school students on transportation of the future (including “traveling legs’), a neat article on “casual carpooling” in the Bay Area, and the cool buses of Bogota. Good is just that, good, and one you should definitely check out.
Smock co-owner, Debbie Urbanski, is an avid lover of nature and the earth as well as a lover of literature and the written word, so she was thrilled to pass along her first recommendation for this week’s installment of Smock Eco Reads. Debbie shared a bit of insight into The Wall, a 1962 novel by Austrian author Marlen Haushofer that she recently read and I know I personally can’t wait to read this novel after her review…
So I’ll admit that the premise of this novel did not sound mind altering or gripping – something happens in the world to pretty much everyone, some kind of catastrophe, and this woman becomes trapped in the mountains behind an invisible wall with only a dog, a cat, and a cow for companions. There really aren’t any other people, other than the narrator, in the entire novel. And let me get this out in the open: though I love the world, the planet, and I’m a vegetarian, I’m not a pet person. I don’t really get pets. So a book about a woman whose major companion is her dog? I spent a week with this book on my nightstand, staring at the cover, wondering if I was ever going to get past the first page. But when I started reading, I found a book that was beautiful, moving, gripping, sad, quiet, and amazing.
It’s not a “hit you over the head” environmental book, but it does suggest the devastation and violence that people bring to each other and the landscape. And it does show how a quiet simple life in the middle of nowhere can be filled with complexity and beauty. And it also shows how small humans are, and how big the “other” is – the animal world, the natural world. And it has some of the best descriptions I’ve ever read of mountains — how they’re mesmerizing and menacing and jaw-dropping and scary and gorgeous. But in addition to this, it’s just a gripping read. There is hint of a tragedy that’s finally revealed in the last few pages and I couldn’t take the suspense–I had to read ahead.
The narrator is a meditative soul that I missed the moment the book was finished. It’s been a month or two since I closed up the Wall, and I still miss the book, and I really haven’t been able to get into another novel since. The one small tragedy of this book – I haven’t met anyone else who has read it, let along heard of it (I found it in a great list book called 500 Great Books by Women). So pick this book up, read it, and then pass it on to a friend. It looks like it’s out of print, but you can buy it used or find it at your library, which is more eco anyway.
I did some digging around and it looks as though there are a few used copies of The Wall available on Amazon as well as on Half, including some rare first edition prints. If you end up picking this one up, make sure to let us know!
Today we are excited to bring you the latest feature to Smock’s blog, our new series Smock Eco Reads. At Smock we recognize that green living extends beyond pretty letterpress stationery so we are thrilled to be sharing some of our favorite eco reads, the places where we gather inspiration and insight into all things eco. First up, two blogs I count among my personal favorites – Inhabitat and Inhabitots!
Naturally, Smock’s love for great eco design extends far beyond our own eco-friendly letterpress stationery and letterpress wedding invitations so it should come as no surprise that I am completely in love with both Inhabitat and Inhabitots, a duo of eco blogs centering on sustainable design. Covering a range of projects, products and inspiration from architecture and interior design to toys, games and clothing that are as child-friendly as they are eco-friendly, the team of Inhabitat/Inhabitots are always providing fresh insight on new ways to make your life increasingly green. From the serious to the playful, you are sure to walk away feeling educated and inspired to adapt real changes in your lifestyle for the greater good of the environment.
A couple of my favorite recent posts include these adorable upcycled umbrella raincoats for dogs, designed by industrial designer Taryn Zychal. I wonder if she can make one large enough for my full grown black lab?
And, seriously, how much prettier are these beautiful Easter eggs colored with natural dyes than the garish fluorescent colors you get with one of those grocery store egg dye kits?
I love the mantra of the Inhabitat crew that good design and green design should be one and the same and with Inhabitots they take it a step further, setting out to prove that becoming a parent does not mean having to sacrifice good style nor true sustainability. And if you ask me, they do a brilliant job at both. What can I say? I’m a huge fan.