The area that will become the Hantz Woodlands. Photo by Joseph Murphy/Bassett & Bassett.

The area that will become the Hantz Woodlands. Photo by Joseph Murphy/Bassett & Bassett.

In the past few years, more cities have been creating community vegetable garden plots and even urban “food forests” of fruit and nut trees. Now an entrepreneur in crumbling Detroit is applying that idea on a large scale. While it’s not without controversy, a 140-acre forest/tree farm is a lot better than 140 acres of abandoned properties.

The Bullitt family has done a lot for the environment in the Northwest over the years. Their latest achievement is creating the Bullitt Center in Seattle as a building that is not just green but almost sustainable — capturing and purifying rain for water, covering the entire roof in PV panels, eschewing a parking garage in favor of bicycle storage and more. The New York Times has an interesting story about it. Be sure to click on “more photos” link to see all 13 photos showing its cool features.

A lot of consumers think they are doing a good thing by buying cage-free eggs. And they are. Supporting growers who provide more humane conditions for their chickens is a positive thing. But if you conjure up a vision of chickens pecking in a pasture when you reach for that carton of cage-free eggs, think again. Cage-free does not mean chickens roam freely, or even that they have access to the outdoors.
This article about the largest egg producer in Oregon expanding cage-free to 8 percent of its total production offers a good examination of the issue. Check out the photos of a cage-free henhouse teeming with some 40,000 chickens.

Buy Fresh Buy LocalThe Buy Fresh Buy Local plan connects farmers and consumers in direct marketing. This is another excellent step in expanding the local food movement in Central Oregon.

Mr. Moon and his chickens on his farm.

Mr. Moon and his chickens on his farm. Photo courtesy of Thomas Osborne.

Safeway is taking a step in the right direction with its certification requirements for humanely produced eggs (see this Seattle Times article). But we’ll continue to buy our eggs from John Moon, an eightysomething farmer in Terrebonne, OR who produces free-range eggs, honey and vegetables on his farm near us.

Here in the Northwest, we love salmon and work to protect our salmon runs. Wild salmon could potentially be threatened if GMO farmed fish escape, not to mention the unknown effects on human health. The possible benefit of somewhat cheaper salmon is not worth the enormous risk. Sign this petition to let the FDA know you won’t eat genetically modified fish.

Lots of communities have restrictions on what homeowners can do. Our rural neighborhood bans poultry. In the town where I grew up, you can’t park an RV in your driveway. One homeowners’ association in nearby Bend, OR bars residents from hanging laundry to dry outdoors.
But Orlando’s law against having a sustainable vegetable garden in your front yard, reported in this interesting story in the New York Times, is the epitome of stupidity!

If you have any doubt that the investment of a little extra time to cook your holiday dinner fresh from scratch is worth the effort, check out this side-by-side taste test judged by a group of firefighters.

You don’t have to live in the High Desert to know that conserving water is a good thing, but it is especially important in this arid climate. I was glad to see recently crews working on replacing some street median plantings in Bend OR with native plants and rock mulch. At my own place I continue to work on crafting an attractive landscape with native and other drought-tolerant plants, and I see more and more homeowners adopting the principles of xeriscaping too.
If you have a good-looking landscape that uses drip irrigation, or native/drought-tolerant plantings, or greatly limits turfgrass, enter this photo contest. You could inspire others to do likewise.

The smoke from the Pole Creek fire is finally clearing out now that it’s 75 percent contained, skies are sunny and even the overnight lows are still in the summer range. But Indian summer could vanish at any moment in the high desert. The chimney’s been swept, propane tank is full, firewood is ordered for delivery next month. We’re ready for winter.

Mount Bachelor ski area, Bend, OR

Mt. Bachelor runs beckoned in this photo taken with my iPhone on April 8, 2011. It was an awesome powder day!

The final step, if I take it, must be completed by Sept. 30: weekday season pass at Mt. Bachelor. To buy or not to buy?


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