Nourishing life, community, family, home.

Posts tagged ‘garden’

Omnivore…full circle

Rabbits. They are touted as nearly the perfect permaculture animal. I love them. They are simple to keep, quiet, produce amazing manure, and eat many of my weeds.

As a person with autoimmune issues, I physically feel and function better when eating meat–so it was only natural that we would begin raising rabbits as part of our commitment to eat meat we knew had been ethically cared for. So, mini-lops (not now considered a meat breed) joined our very small herd of angora rabbits.

Taking an animal from conception to maturity and then death and consumption is not an easy thing. Over and over I thought, “My foremothers wouldn’t have any compunction about this. My grandparents raised rabbits for meat. Where are they now? Why is this so hard?”

Raising the rabbits was really a lot of work, but also very fun. The first two litters were handled and spoiled. We favored the broken colored ones–and found ourselves giving them names. The second set of litters, we tried not to become as attached to.

The day came when it was time to butcher the first set. All the well-meaning people that offered help when we described our project scattered like leaves in fall when we contacted them about help with butchering. My daughter and I butchered one rabbit on our own, but we were overwhelmed. I think the poor thing died more out of pity for me than any skill I had. Finally, we found a family in another county through a 4-H program that helped to butcher the rest of the first two litters. Watching them work together in well-practiced unison reminded me that this kind of activity is often a community one. Happy that the deed was done, I packed the carcasses into bags in the cooler and brought them home to freeze. So far, so good.

Then came the stopper. After months of waiting with this intent. After learning the butchering process. Now it was time to cook the meat we had raised. Into the crock pot went the rabbit, vegetables, and seasoning. The smell was very tempting after a few hours.

The family sat down for dinner. Everyone with portions of the meal. Carefully I made sure that there were no bones in my husband’s portion. My children and I ate with tentative bites at first, but then enjoyed it very much. My husband couldn’t bring himself to take the first bite.

If, after all this, the people I am doing this for cannot share in the harvest, am I willing to put myself through it again? I don’t know. For now, I am going to focus on tending my fruits and vegetables, harvesting angora to spin, and enjoying the company of my rabbits.

Neighborhood Garden, Community Project

Bright, hot, cloudy, rainy, spring, summer, and fall I had the pleasure of teaching and co-teaching workshops in a neighborhood garden. The Green Acres Neighborhood Garden. It was a sweet and nourishing experience.

Together, Nathan Harman and I, led participants through the work that needed to be done to plant and improve and harvest and tend the GANG. The garden was set up by an amazing woman, Ann Kreilkamp; and was tended this past year by children after school, by retired neighbors, and by interns and students from Indiana University.

Last year the garden was set up by Keith Johnson, longtime permaculture educator and gardener, who taught a series of workshops with the garden as laboratory. This year, Nathan and I came in and worked to improve the soil, tweak the original design, and bring the space more to life. The thing that surprised me most was the rhythm of working with the participants throughout the year. Used to my own garden’s rhythms and doing the work alone, it was a real joy to come together with others (always a slightly different group) to accomplish so much in such little time.

The concept of the neighborhood garden is a worthy one. My hope is that all of the neighborhoods in my community (and communities everywhere) develop them and use them to increase food security and community life. Imagine a city of neighborhood gardens that acted as focal points for educating and experimenting and celebrating together. And that the participants then went home to their own gardens and put what they learned into practice. As I prep my garden beds for winter and sit down with a cup of tea, I’m holding in mind the last workshop: the chatter, celebration, exchange, connection, and appreciation we all shared.

For more on the last workshop and the Green Acres Neighborhood Garden, visit Ann’s blog about it: http://tendrepress.com/2010/11/2010-gang-workshop-6-putting-the-garden-to-bed-and-potluck-celebration/

Enjoy!