February 2011 Archives


Friend, neighbor and fellow beekeeper Kelly York and I have created a social club for the lady beekeepers in NYC. We're really excited about the opportunity to connect with other female beekeepers in the area, make friendships and share urban beekeeping anecdotes with one another. Monthly meetings will start in April and will consist of casual meet-ups and hope to eventually involve speakers and social events!

This group is open to aspiring beekeepers as well, and we'd like to note that while our goal is to foster community among female apiarists in the city, we would never turn around a gentleman that wants to participate in learning about beekeeping and sharing ideas. Just don't come around looking for a date, ya hurd?

Please check out our Facebook Fan Page and give it a follow, or just check in here to find out when and where our first meet-up will take place!

<3 M

I'm an Urban Homesteader!

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If you are reading this right now, you've probably gathered as much. I live in Brooklyn, grow vegetables, fruits, keep bees on my rooftop and raise a small flock of hens for eggs. I compost, grow mushrooms, make pickles and can, organize meat shares from local farms with my neighbors and food swaps with my community members. It's a way of life that places emphasis on self-reliance but more importantly it exemplifies a true sense of community and the spirit of generosity.

There is a family in California who apparently doesn't see that side of the movement and has trademarked the terms "Urban Homesteading", "Urban Homestead" and "Freedom Gardens" among others. Boy, howdy are urban gardeners, livestock enthusiasts, beekeepers, home-cooks and farmers across the land PISSED! Letters similar to "cease & desist" have been circulated to organizations, bloggers and writers forcing them to remove those terms from their work and have even suggested alternative nomenclature (Ballsy!). A simple google search might help you locate it. It's shocking and sad and negates all of the good work this family has done.

If this seems ridiculous to you and you want to find ways to fight this trademark, join the Facebook page Take Back Urban Home-steading.

I also encourage folks that are moved to act against these trademarks to do so in a mature and constructive matter. Name-calling, shit-slinging and threats are unnecessary so just don't do it.


That being said, let's take it back! "Urban Homesteading" for ALL!

<3 M

We try to grow as much of the food that our small Brooklyn backyard allows us, but there are limits to what we can produce back there. Livestock beyond chickens and perhaps rabbits for meat production are definitely out of the question for obvious reasons. Fortunately for us, it pays to be friendly with neighboring farmers.

This week, each household in our four unit building got together to order a whole 50 lb. pasture-raised lamb to share from Spring Lake Farm in Delhi, NY. Ulla Kjarval, who blogs at Goldilocks Finds Manhattan, helped to organize the delivery, as she is the daughter of Icelandic-American farmer Ingimundur Kjarval who has owned Spring Lake with his wife Temma and their daughters since the 80's. Ingimundur and family produce some really wonderful grass-fed beef, lamb, pork and boar. I've had the pleasure of sampling some of their lamb before and was really excited to have the opportunity to buy some, straight from the source.

springlakefarmlamb.jpg (Photo by Ulla Kjarval)

Today, Ulla and her father came by with boxes filled with the locally butchered and cryopacked cuts of lamb as well as some pork and beef that we had ordered. My neighbors and I enthusiastically divvied up the meat and now I'm pleased to say that four households in Brooklyn have enough grass-fed protein to keep us fed for the next few months.


If you are interested in buying large quantities of pastured and humanely-raised meat locally, check out the NYC Meatshare. You can co-ordinate with other grass-fed, local meat lovers to purchase directly from sustainable farms in the region. It's a great way to help support local farms and get a great product while you're at it.

<3 M

I feel like one of the luckiest people in all of NYC. I've managed to (quite accidentally, I believe) find myself in the fortunate position to be making a living doing something that nearly everyone I know thought was a little wacky and unrealistic.

None of what's been going on in my life recently could have come to pass without the generosity of the folks surrounding me. The kind people in the NYC food and agriculture community have a remarkable way of not only elevating themselves through their work, but also those around them. All it takes if for your name to get dropped one time to the right person and it's game on! Once you've been referenced to others a few times like I have and the gigs start rolling in, the inspiration to grab a few good people by the jacket sleeve and take them for a ride bubbles up fast.

Ladies like Annie Novak, Leda Meredith and Stacey Murphy have been my fairy godmothers of good fortune. Between the three of these women, I've been thrown more bones than I'd ever be able to bury myself, so I've begun to enlist the help of some inspired neighbors to give me a hand with a few things in exchange for a chance to learn.

Patricia and Nicole are my first beekeeping "apprentices". I get a lot of people asking to shadow me for a chance to learn about beekeeping. It's a totally sensible way to go about learning, so I understand why I've gotten such inquiries. I prefer hands on learning to a classroom setting, too. The problem is that a lot of these folks don't really know what sort of commitment apprenticing with someone requires and also don't know how to listen, and it puts me in an unpleasant position most of the time. I can't tell you how many times I've been stood up or I've told someone to wear light colors when working with the bees only to have them show up to my place looking like a mall goth. They always get stung halfway through an inspection. Without fail. Guard bees don't care that black is makes you appear dark and brooding or makes your ass look small. You just look like a bear to them and you're sweating like a pig on my roof, so listen to what I tell you next time! Please! I don't know everything, but I know some things. Bees seeing black as clear as day and perceiving a threat happens to be one of them.

Patricia and Nicole get this about me. They are committed. They listen. They are truly eager to learn. I can work with people like Patricia and Nicole. In fact, I enjoy it. I'm glad to have their help this season and I'm pleased that next year they will have the confidence to keep some bees on their own.

IMG_20101023_122233.jpg (Patricia with the Jewel Street bees)

This is Patricia Maples. She's a trained pastry chef that focuses on raw, vegan and gluten free foods. She makes easily the best raw, vegan pumpkin cheesecake in the world and is totally wellness-minded which I find to be a good influence on me. She's a nice southern woman with a soft spot for animals and she's currently working on her own urban farming project where she will be able to keep some bees of her own.

me2.jpg (Nicole, conjuring her inner varmint)

Meet Nicole Lane Fulmer! She's a Greenpoint resident just like me. I met her when she signed up for my Beekeeping Bike Tour last summer. She fearlessly handled frames of bees for the first time that day, so I suspected she'd make great beekeeper material. Nicole also has a great interest in growing her own food and has even gotten some good practice growing some veggies in her backyard. She's also quite a cook and makes really delicious ice cream that keeps my boyfriend's addiction to the frozen treat going strong.

Welcome to the fold, dear ladies! I couldn't be more happy to have the opportunity to share what I know with the two of you and I hope that I can be as helpful to you both as others have been to me.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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