Take The 2012 Urban Farm Handbook Challenge

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.

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 prizes from our sponsors:

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 prizes from our sponsors:

May: Foraging. Hank Shaw from Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook and Langdon Cook from Fat of the Land will be challenging you to find food on the fly.

May prizes from our sponsors:

June: Botanicals. Laurie from Common Sense Homesteading and Sharon from Woodwife’s Journal will be looking at herbal oils, teas and tinctures to keep you glowing and healthy, both inside and out.

June prizes from our sponsors:

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 prizes from our sponsors:

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.

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.

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.


89 Responses to Take The 2012 Urban Farm Handbook Challenge

  1. I’m up for the challenge!

  2. I’ll do it!

    Would anyone be interested in getting together for monthly or weekly “study groups” to help each other through some of these challenges? Sometimes activities like making cheese are more fun and less intimidating when done with others, and it would be good to meet more neighbors who are working toward the same goals. In particular, I’d be interested in getting together with other aspiring urban farmers in the Capitol Hill/ Central District/ Madison Valley area. Let me know if you are interested! miadevine[at]hotmail.com.

  3. Just finished your book! Nicely done. I’m in for the challenge too.

  4. Pingback: Books: The Urban Farm Handbook | Food in Jars

  5. I’m in! I’m really looking forward to this!

  6. Love this! Hope I can keep up.

  7. this sounds like a challenge i can get into!
    and i’ve missed writing, i’ll be glad to get back to it!

  8. I’m very interested in the challenge, as I’ll be trying my hand at gardening in my new home in sunny Alaska this spring/summer. Unfortunately, we rent so I can’t garden much at all where I actually live, but someone 10 minutes away is renting me a 10×20 plot. Given my space limitations, I’m really curious how to begin the February challenge (composting etc.). I do make a lot of kitchen scraps and have access to unlimited rabbit manure, but I can’t make a unenclosed pile due to concerns like moose, bear, and voles/mice in our garage/house. I know you can’t address every situation, but I hope to glean some useful information from the February post!!

    • Sarah take the worm bin challenge! Or you could take the fertilizer challenge. I think something there should work for you. Have fun!

    • Joshua McNichols

      In the city, we don’t compost kitchen scraps anyway in unprotected bins, as it attracts rats. We do that in a green cone. A worm bin in a plastic tub in the garage – raised on a stand with slick walls so rodents can’t get at it – might be just the ticket for you. If you have newspapers around, you wrap each evening’s table scraps in a layer or two of newspaper, then bury them just like that in the worm bin.

      Are those bears, mice and moose attracted to rabbit manure? If not, I’d take advantage of the free resource. I suggest you place simple compost bin in your garden. A 3 foot tall cylinder of 1/2 inch galvanized hardware cloth – with a diameter to fit inside a galvanized garbage can lid (to protect it from too much weather) would be well worth the space it takes. It can compost in place there. Fill it full of manure – to the top – put the lid on and leave it until rotten, then spread out and dig it into the garden, maybe when you dig in a cover crop or plant a new crop. You could do this at least twice a year.

  9. I would like to join in.

  10. I am in and sure going to try this challenge…..it might be a bit dicey living in a villa with a HOA but sure up for it!

  11. I am so ready for this challenge. I already garden, compost, dehydrate, and can, but there is so much more to learn. I am particularly interested in cheese making and raising chickens. I actually raised rabbits for a while. Hopefully there will be a seesion on keeping groundhogs and deer out of the garden.

  12. Ive just stumbled across this, its sounds great (maybe not the worm part!) I only have a small garden but I would love to join in, am I too late?

  13. Oh this sounds amazing!!! Count me in : )

  14. OK – I’m totally in. I’ve already started my seeds and while I have a worm bin, it has been languishing in a corner of the yard because I need to clear out some space in our garage for it (gets way too hot in the summer for worms to be outside).

  15. I will be joining in, I will look forward to seeing what the different idea’s are and how it all goes..

  16. I’m in. Just ordered the book. I’m not sure that I can do everything, but I will do as much as possible.
    Sorry that I missed January.

  17. Add me to the list! I come from a family of farmers and I look forward to reconnecting with my inner dirt girl:-)

  18. I love the idea of a challenge that seems (at this point at least) manageable with a busy life.

  19. Hey Annette — I’m all in :) . Looking forward to the effort, and linking from my woefully inactive blog.

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  21. I want to do the challenge, too!

  22. Pingback: My Favorite Urban/Homesteading Resource: The Urban Farm Handbook

  23. This is a great idea and I can’t wait to learn from everyone over the coming year! Sign me up!

  24. I think I would like to do this!

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  27. I just got the book and read it. I will do the challenge too!

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  29. Pingback: I’m Taking the Challenge! « sittingonpumpkins

  30. I am in! We just follow along here?

    • Annette Cottrell

      Rose yes! I have one more post to do and then I’ll put up a linky each month at the end of the month so everyone can share what they’ve done. We’ll use that linky post to calculate randomly drawn prize winners. I have a lot of announcing to do still! Next month should be much more organized. :)

  31. Just picked up the book this weekend. I’d love to work with others on this challenge!

  32. I’m in! Been wanting to do a proper vegetable garden for years and this seems like a great way to keep me on track.

  33. Pingback: Composting for the Feb Challange | Just another Day on the Farm

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  35. Pingback: Urban Farm Handbook Challenge – Soil Building | Angel's Homestead

  36. I’m interested!

  37. Am I looking in the wrong place to find the March challenge info? I’m excited to get started, but don’t see what the challenge is yet.

    • Annette Cottrell

      Hi Elizabeth – you are not. I just haven’t been able to update the page yet, my family has had the flu all week. The first challenge is < a href="http://www.sustainableeats.com/2012/03/01/urban-farm-handbook-march-challenge-kickoff-home-dairy/">here.

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  39. I know I’m really late but I’d love to join in on this! I have the book:))

  40. Pingback: How To Make Mozzarella — Eating Rules

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  45. Pingback: Take the Challenge! Lemon Herb Cheese « get your yummy back

  46. I just posted about making the Lemon Herb Cheese on my blog – LOVE it! Thank you for the inspiration!


  47. Pingback: New Post: Mozzarella « Made by Jayne

  48. I’m 4 months late, but i just put the book on hold and im in, lol.

    Well, i already make my own milk kefir and cultured buttermilk, so I guess i have technically participated in the March challenge and I am poised to get my container balcony garden going for the April challenge! YES!

  49. Pingback: Cheese Making – Made Easy | Angel's Homestead

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