Category Archives: Urban Farm Challenge

2012 Challenge Wrap Up

We made it! A little bit late true to style. I want to thank everyone who made it all the way through the 2012 challenge, the co-hosts and the sponsors. It was a whirlwind of a year and I enjoyed reading the posts that I managed to follow. I have to admit I was so busy orchestrating and trying to get this farm off and running that I didn’t manage to read all your blog posts in full.

So what I would love to do is have you comment and tell me what the biggest changes you managed to make were. What were the biggest roadblocks? Do you think you have made lasting changes?

I want to hear! And once we take a week to do that then we’ll start looking at 2013 and address some concerns or challenges you had this year.

If you are new here and want to take the monthly challenge you can find them all in the archives here and play along at your own pace. I will finally this year be able to take the challenge myself so you’ll see at least one post per month.

So now…spill the beans – how did you do?

Nearly Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

After a few rounds of house guests (and the prerequisite house cleaning), general holiday endeavors, a round of furious knitting and furniture refinishing, end of year crunch accounting and cheese making and other classes I’ve been offering this winter, I will be coming up for air and resuming the not-quite-completed Urban Farm Handbook Challenge.

I realize now that I don’t have time to both blog and round up co-hosts and prizes as well as teaching myself to play the piano and accomplish my other personal objectives, work, garden, breed and milk goats, raise and process meat chickens, turkeys and rabbits, plug away at turning this property into a profitable farm and manage the bulk produce buys this year SO…

I will be revisiting each monthly challenge and invited you to partake and hopefully finding time for me to partake this year as well! Sadly that means no prizes and a more loose format but I hope you will still play along and continue to challenge yourself to learn one new skill set each month as you work your way towards independence from store.

So tune back here in early February as we revisit what we learned in 2012 and plan for a successful 2013!

December UFH Challenge – Show Us Your Stuff!

December’s challenge was an attempt to turn Christmas on it’s head – to make you stop and think about how gift giving could be done differently. Could you make all your gifts? Could you buy them all from small, local stores, or artisans?

From the song the Twelve Days of Christmas, some of the most popular gifts from days gone by revolved around something truly precious – food. From a partridge in a pear tree right on to eleven maids a milking. A legal ban on indentured servitude needn’t stop you from giving the gift of food but you’ll have to leave off the eleven maids.

Nor do you need to stop at food – but thinking of crafting something, or carefully choosing a themed combination of things, or giving someone an experience instead of something material all help out your pocketbook and your local economy and provide something even more special for the recipient.

Show us your stuff to Win!

{Note} The Bob’s Redmill giveaway is limited to US and Canadian participants – sorry!

Please share with us things you’ve made, experiences you’ve gifted or other non-commercial treasures. Do this by posting to your personal blog, a facebook page, tweeting, and leave either a link below to your blog or facebook page or comment below. Doing this will throw you in the running for either a copy of Amy Pennington’s Urban Pantry, or The Salvage Studio by Amy Duncan, Beth Evans-Ramos and Lisa Hilderbrand. And if the winner of the November grain challenge does not contact me by prize-drawing time one of you could also win the unclaimed $25 gift certificate from Bob’s Red Mill.

Please only leave one comment or link up one time since doing so is what enters you into the random drawing for prizes. I will leave this challenge open until Sunday, January 6 and then reply to commenters in this blog entry, or by email to those who linked up that won the random prize drawing. Good luck!


December UFH Challenge #4: Small Business Christmas

I realize you may have the bulk of your shopping done (I hope) but if you are looking for some last minute ideas and to plant a seed for next year...please consider supporting local, small businesses. If you have never taken the time to stop by small local businesses near you, you don’t know what you are missing!


I stopped by this little gem in Carnation, Miller’s, originally a country store servicing the town of Tolt which you know as Carnation.

I was amazed at the thought that went into the selection of wares – heavily favoring local artisans and natural materials, with a bent for retro, kitschy and rustic farm life.


Who wouldn’t want a hand crocheted chick potholder set?

They have a wide selection of fun metal and wooden toys, science experiments, and toys from simpler times. What a wonderful way to foster innocence in these crazy times!

Gorgeous hand-knitted hats, scarfs, and mittens!

Fun and kitschy hostess gifts – too many to choose from!

Next time you are happening by a local gift shop near you I encourage you to check them out. Some other of my favorite local small businesses:

City People’s Mercantile with their tastefully chosen garden and household goods
French Girl Knits with their gorgeous patterns and body care products. They are truly one of a kind!
Village Green Perennial Nursery has another thoughtful selection of gifts and perennial plants, including heirloom roses and hard to find perennial vegetable starts.

Glad Jul!

December UFH Challenge #3: Last Minute Pull Togethers that Mean Something

It always happens that I come down to the week before Christmas and realize I have holes in my gift plan. Hostess gifts, neighbors, mailman. Sometimes it’s an even bigger gift that I realize I missed. These are some favorite last minute gifts that you can pull together with not so much know-how,money or time. Remember that when bundled or packaged in a creative way, even tiny gifts can become special.

For the Gardener

Wooden birdhouses fit in to any garden. Make the entrance hole bigger and they can also be a clever place to store garden gloves or shears.
Gift basket with heirloom seeds, new gloves, and a seed saving book (I like Edible Heirlooms: Heritage Vegetables for the Maritime Garden
by Bill Thorness.

For Her
Sachets aren’t just for lavender any more. You can find pre-sewn bags at fabric and craft stores and use dried herbs or flowers to fill them. If you are handy you could whip up some really special looking sachet bags on your own.
Tub teas paired with a fragrant candle or neck beanie make a great gift for someone who needs to relax.
Homemade lip balm, a cute hand clutch (my version would be embellished with chickens), and a neck scarf are all thoughtful and fun.

For Him
A shoe shine kit with brush, polish and soap would always come in handy.

For Kids
Monster mittens and felted finger puppets are simple to sew but bring smiles.
Fish (or other small toys) in soap would be fantastic, as would this crocheted hacky sack.
The The Dangerous Book for Boys, it’s predecessor The American Boy’s Handy Book: What to Do and How to Do It, Centennial Edition or The Daring Book for Girls.

Enjoyed by All
A basket of scone mix, jam, granola and backyard eggs makes a fun breakfast kit.
Tins of cookies, baked goods, caramel corn or spiced nuts.
Homemade marshmallows in unique flavors
A basket of crackers, cheese and fig or quince jam along with a small cutting board and bottle of wine.
A basket of biscotti and coffee, cocoa or tea

I hope you have fun coming up with your own last minute round up gifts – and I would love to hear what they are!