You’ve read Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver. You’ve watched Jamie Oliver and vowed to eat healthier, organic and local food. You want to make some changes, but where do you start? The Urban Farm Handbook Challenge, of course!
Twelve months, eleven challenges and one reflection month, all on your schedule and at your level of ease.
How can you say no? Throughout the Urban Farm Handbook Challenge we walk you through a year’s worth of change from grains to dairy to vegetables to protein. We offer you both simple and crazy ways to get you on the bus. But now it’s time to get real. That bus is coming for you. Will you get on it?
To help convince you, we’re rounding up other inspiring bloggers to host monthly challenges. And I’ve got to say – I’m super excited about these hosts and challenges and I think you will be too. Let’s check them out:
February: Soil building. It’s too early to garden outdoors in most parts of the country but we can ready our soil. We’ll learn about worm bins, green manures, composting, biochar and amendments with some fun prizes thrown in for random winners.
- Challenge: Soil building (Hot Composting, Cover Crop and Homemade Fertilizer)
- Soil Building with Small Livestock and Worms
- Diary of an Urban Soil
- Soil Building Podcast
- Passive Composting: the Lazy Method
- The Beauty of BioChar
- Soil Building for Container Gardens
- Soil Building Challenge Linkup and Prizes
February prizes from our sponsors:
March: Home Dairy. Andrew from I Make Cheese and Eating Rules and Jennie Grant with the Goat Justice League will be your hosts. You don’t need goats or a cow to get started with home dairy. We’ll be learning about simple cheeses, yogurt, buttermilk and creme fraiche.
- March Challenge: Home Dairy
- The Mozzarella Cheese Challenge by Jennie Grant of the Seattle Goat Justice League
- A Cheese Making Challenge by Andrew Wilder
- More Home Dairy Challenges
- Matsoni: The Easiest Yogurt You’ll Make by Jenny at Nourished Kitchen
March prizes from our sponsors:
- Bulgarian yogurt starter from Cultures for Health
- Buttermilk starter from Cultures for Health
- Mozzarella and ricotta kit from Ricki Carroll of Cheesemaking.com
- Home Cheesemaking Book from Ricki Carroll of Cheesemaking.com
- Copy of The Urban Farm Handbook by publisher, Skipstone
April: Gardening. It’s time to start sowing seeds indoors, outdoors, and in containers. Wherever you are you have room for something! Erica with NW Edible Life, Willi Galloway of Diggin Food and Jessi Bloom, author of Chicken Gardens will share all the dirt.
- April Challenge: Gardening!
- April Gardening Challenge Round 1: Seed Starting
- April Garden Challenge Round 2: Pest Prevention
- April Gardening Challenge Round 3: Vertical Gardening
- April Gardening Challenge Round 4: Chickens in the Garden
- April Gardening Challenge Round 5: Be Lazy
- April Gardening Challenge Round 6: Share the Bounty
- April Gardening Challenge Roundup: Show us your stuff and WIN
April prizes from our sponsors:
- V Garden
- Vegetable start subscription from Cascadian Edible Landscapes
- Copy of The Urban Farm Handbook by publisher Skipstone
- copy of Free Range Chicken Gardens
- Copy of Food Grown Right, in Your Own Back Yard by the guys at Seattle Urban Farm Company
- Copy of Growing at the Speed of Life
- Children’s chocolate garden from Chocolate Flower Farm
- Original garden broom
- Copy of Grow, Cook, Eat
- Two herb markers and a $10 certificate from the Weed Patch
- May UFH Challenge Round 1: Humble Superfood
- May UFH Challenge Round 2: Mushrooms
- May UFH Challenge Round 3: Forage for Dinner
- May UFH Challenge Round 4: Forage for Dessert
- May UFH Foraging Challenge Link Up: Show us Your Stuff
May prizes from our sponsors:
- Hank Shaw’s new book, Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast
- Langdon Cook’s book Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager
- Jennifer Hahn’s book Pacific Feast: A Cook’s Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine
- Mushroom plugs for you to innoculate in your own yard
- June UFH Challenge Kickoff
- June UFH Challenge Round 1: Homemade Hydrosols
- June UFH Challenge Round 2: Herbal Infusions
June prizes from our sponsors:
- A garden balm hand treatment from Nichols Garden Nursery (my absolute favorite seed and gardening house.)
- A copy of Basic Herb Cookery by Rose Marie Nichols McGee and N.P. McGee from Nichols Garden Nursery.
- A culinary herb poster from Nichols Garden Nursery.
- Four ounces of dried rosemary, four ounces of dried lavender, and four ounces of dried calendula for infusing or cooking, from Mountain Rose Herbs, my favorite place to find supplies for making infusions.
- More to come! If you are interested in donating more botanical plants or seeds, or supplies for soap or lotion making please contact me.
July: Seed Saving and Winter Gardening. Bill Thorness, author of Edible Heirlooms will share how to save your own seeds from the garden or farmer’s market and get you on your way to winter gardening. It feels strange to think about winter in July but you need to!
- July UFH Challenge Kickoff
- July UFH Challenge Round 1: Winter Garden! Bill Thorness has some wonderful advice, as well as a fall and winter planting schedule.
- July UFH Challenge Round 2: Plant Carrots. Just do it.
- July UFH Challenge Round 3: Save Seeds. Bill Thorness breaks it down for you.
- A floating row cover from City People’s Mercantile
- A copy of Edible Heirlooms by Bill Thorness (July’s host.)
- A copy of The Urban Farm Handbook.
- An annual subscription to GrowVeg.com, an online garden planning software that I found invaluable when first designing my subsistance garden.
- A certificate for a free copy of Bill Thorness’s upcoming book (out in early 2013), Cool Season Gardening: Extend the Harvest, Expand Your Skills, and Plan Ahead for Vegetables Year-Round.
August: Preserving. From eating seasonally and cellaring to fermenting with Wardeh of Gnowfglins.com and canning with Marissa McClellan of Food in Jars, there will be something for everyone this month.
- August UFH Challenge Kickoff
- August UFH Challenge Round 1: Small batch canning. Marissa with Food in Jars will show you how to get creative about coming up with flexible recipes that you can personalize. (Hint: these will make great barter gifts next month!)
- August UFH Challenge Round 2: Fermentation. Wardeh of GNOWFGLINS will help you get started bubbling.
- August UFH Challenge Round 3: Cold Storage (ie Cellaring.)
- August UFH Challenge Round 4: Simply Eat in Season. Think it’s impossible? It’s actually the easiest method of all.
- August UFH Challenge Round 5: Create an Eating Plan. This will help you plan for success and stay on track throughout the year.
August prizes from our sponsors:
- A copy of Food in Jars – Preserving in Small Batches Year Round by Marisa McClellan
- A copy of The Complete Idiots Guide to Fermenting Foodby Wardeh Harmon.
- A copy of Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning from Chelsea Green Publishing.
September: Bartering. Kate Payne, the queen of food swaps and author of Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking will walk you through the process and Rachel Turiel of 6512 and Growing will show you how to make a late season concoction, perfect for bartering in case you don’t have any extra home canned goodness come barter season.
- September UFH Challenge Kickoff: Bartering
- September UFH Challenge Round 1: Barter! Kate Payne will show you how to get started.
- September UFH Challenge Round 2: Create your own custom vinegar for bartering.
October: Protein. Choose your own challenge, from hunting with Tovar Cerulli to backyard meat and eggs to purchasing a whole animal to growing your own beans or making your own tofu. Find out how to make responsibly-sourced protein affordable.
November: Grains. With temperatures dropping and holidays on the way, it’s time to put on a few pounds with baked goods and homebrew. We’ll be baking with whole grains and brewing with all grain mash. No processed flours and malt syrups here!
December: Handcrafted holidays. Drop out of the ultimate commercial machine. We’ll look at home crafting gifts and simplifying the holidays. Slow down and celebrate the reason for the season.
January: Reflections and wrap ups. We’ll share our triumphs and failures in a highlight format. This will be your chance to shine or come clean and develop your personal 2013 goals.
This challenge will be what you make of it – the ultimate in crazy or just dipping your toe in. So join me, won’t you and take the pledge now? Add a little more urban farm to your life in 2012 by taking the challenge.