Recently in mycology
It's been a while. We're in the throes of the most productive time of year at the farm, harvesting tons of heirloom tomatoes and greens (among other things) and preparing for the quickly approaching autumn growing season. We've been hustling to get all of our farm goodies sold and distributed to CSA members but in my scarce free time I've been working on migrating Brooklyn Homesteader over to a new website that is no longer specific to Brooklyn since, well...I no longer live there.
So, as a result I created a page dedicated to the projects I'm working on, including teaching and farm events. The book I have been working on for an eternity will be out soon! Next season, I'll be tackling management of the farm by myself so it should be quite a ride! Please consider adding the new blog (which I've imported most of the content from this site to!) and following me on this crazy journey.
p.s. Big ups to McKenzie over at Oliver and Abraham's for designing my banner and buttons!
This holiday season, give the gift of a badass essential skill! Brooklyn Homesteader is now offering gift certificates for any of our online or farm-based workshops! We've been teaching for nearly 4 years at institutions like The New York Botanical Garden and 3rd Ward. We've taught private workshops during that same time as well!
We're offering classes on beekeeping, sustainable gardening, backyard poultry, and more! We're adding new classes every week! Classes on mushroom foraging and cultivation, raising dairy goats and intro to herbal medicine! Year-long passes ($225/ 12 months) and couples certificates (half off yr partners!) available as well!
All of our classes utilize strong visual presentations, hands-on activities and take-home references for continued study!
So help support the farm and give your friends and family members the gift of living a more sustainable, hands-on life!
Never in my life have I ever felt more confident in my ability to teach. After nearly 5 years of delivering instruction on various DIY/ backyard farming subjects, I am really starting to come into my own. It all started with beekeeping, teaching that first class at 3rd Ward, then other more academic versions of my beekeeping and gardening courses at The New York Botanical Gardens popped up with a little help from friends. I felt I was out of my league in those classrooms, but I made it through those first sessions and I resolved to get better at it. Sometimes some enthusiasm and a little bit of know-how can make up for raggedy presentation.
Fortunately for my students, my presentation has improved. I've taught classes online, which require presentation to be seamless Urban Beekeeping 101 and Intro to Gardening Small Spaces have done well, giving folks outside of the New York City metro area a chance to learn about homesteading topics wherever they are. The classes are even recorded for playback convenience. Pretty spiffy, huh?
My favorite method of teaching though, is through hands on demonstration. Most recently, we hosted a mushroom workshop here at the farm and it was easily one of the best classes I've taught. We spent hours combing through the nearby woods, meandering the trails and talking about fungi and farming. We came home with arms full of mushrooms that we cooked and ate for lunch with a spicy salad from the garden and fresh goat cheese. It was glorious. At the end of the day, students left with mushroom log kits, and bags full of hens, chickens and blewits. It was a great day and I feel as though everyone left with knowledge and a perspective they may not have had before. It made me feel really proud and exceptionally glad to be in a position to share what I know.
I'm hoping to ride that high into our next class on the schedule: Homesteading Bootcamp on October 27th. This is a day of intense introduction to all manner of homesteading activities. It's one of my favorites, and quite frankly at $100 a ticket I think it's a steal.
Here's how this bootcamp goes down:
Students arrive for a tour of the farm at 9 am for coffee and pastries. Introductions are made and everyone gets comfortable, allowing time for anybody taking the ferry to arrive.
Once that is out of the way and everyone is settled, it's down to business. There's a lot of information to cover in one day. We'll start with Gardening basics; finding a location for your garden, types of garden beds and cultivation techniques, crop selection and planting schematics. After that, composting and a bit of foraging for wild edibles (mushrooms are in season in a big way around here!) We'll move on to raising livestock like chickens, rabbits for eggs, meat and manure, and there will be a very brief intro to dairy goats. We'll go inside for a bit to make some yogurt and chevre from our recently harvested goat milk. We'll eat a vegetarian lunch and then get back in the saddle, moving onto fermentation (sauerkraut, hot sauce, pickles) and canning. A beekeeping presentation will take place in my living room, so prepare yourself for cuddles from my fat cat Myra.
There will be some time at the end of the day for Q&A, feel free to bring a libation of choice if you'd like.
Classes like these are what will keep this farm operational during the winter. It's the only product I have to sell to keep the animals fed and cared for and to keep a roof over our collective heads. There is no consulting, no beekeeping, no honey during the cold months of the year. Just me peddling my big mouth. I'm shaking what god gave me.
Come spring, we'll have our CSA up and running, markets to attend and even more hands on workshops for DIY enthusiasts to participate in with more expert speakers (think intensive dairy goat workshops, shellfish farming, agroforestry, hunting, etc), but right now, it's never been more important for my readership to come and support the farm. So, if any of these classes seem intriguing to you, consider signing up. My online workshop calendar is going to be filling up with more topics all winter long so keep checking for new workshops HERE!
On of the things that I an always count on to lift me out of a funk is a meandering walk in the woods. It's fortunate that I now live alongside a 750-acre wooded park with trails of varying difficulty. I've been taking the time to walk as many of them as I can justify the time for. Most times, the justification for time spent is the search for food. Namely, mushrooms. This isn't to say that I don't also benefit from the quiet time alone. It's been helpful during all of this upheaval and loss.
I feel really at home in the woods. The smell of damp leaves and rich soil and the way the light streams through the canopy of treetops for me is akin to a warm blanket, a fire and a purring cat. It does the same thing to me. It removes all wanting and longing. I am here now. I am happy for it. There is no other place I want to be.
There's a funny thing about these foraging walks. I only ever really leave with a prize once I've resolved that I am not going to have any luck this time around and that I should just enjoy the path. I stuff my roll-up tote bag into my pocket along with my utility knife and with acceptance, I continue down the trail, occasionally deviating for something that catches my eye. Without fail, just as I begin the journey back home, I walk right into what I've been hoping to find.
Isn't that just how life is? There's a lesson in here, isn't there?
It's been a busy time, everybody! We're getting prepped for outbuilding construction next week. It'll be a mad dash to get everything built over the next couple weeks. Goats come at the end of the month! All of the critters need proper lodging before the temperatures drop. So it goes. Time to get'r done!
Here are some snapshots from the past week, which has been pretty glorious.
(Still finding at least one huge Chicken every day in the woods behind the farm. I've recently taken to making mock Chick-Fil-A sandwiches with them (because they won't ever get another cent from me, the bigots!) by breading the mushrooms in a paprika and sriracha mixture and frying them in my cast iron. Add a toasted buttery potato roll, dill pickles slices and some salty chips and boy howdy is dinner freakin' served!)
Got lost in the woods during a foraging walk. Found this guy in the leaf litter at the base of an old oak. Picked "him" up and carried him down the hill in my arms. About 10lbs of mushroom, easy.
My arms are tired, but I'm going to enjoy eating him (or part of him, at least) for dinner tonight.
How would you prepare this Chicken of the Woods mushroom?
Hey there, readers!
It's pretty weird to think about, but I've been blogging here at Brooklyn Homesteader for over 3 years and readership has grown steadily over that period, getting hundreds of hits daily. It's quite a change from when I first started. I meet people often that tell me they read the blog and it always floors me. It's an honor to have the opportunity to share my experiences with you all and I hope to continue to do so for a long time.
Anyway, as a result of our growing audience Neil and I will be modifying the website this fall to reflect the changes that have taken place here recently...namely the move, the inclusion of Michael's contributions and also opportunities for local businesses and friends to support the new farm via sponsorships, CSA shares, class enrollment and purchases of non-perishable farm goods. (think beeswax candles, dried herbs and tinctures, salves, goat milk soap, honey, etc.)
For now, I'll be offering a limited number of very reasonably priced 125×125 banners to select businesses, blogs, and organizations at 6 month or yearly rates or for barter (think farm supplies)! We've already got a few of my favorite Brooklyn-based businesses on board so far (come Sept, you can click and visit them!) so please get in touch and I'll gladly send some information your way.
Thanks so much for following me on this journey!
After 2 years of doing Backyard Homesteading Bootcamp from my tiny Brooklyn apartment and backyard I'm super stoked to be able to offer this all-day workshop in a more spacious, comfortable and downright gorgeous setting----here at Seven Arrows! We're just an hour away from the city. You can reach us by Seastreak ferry (recommended), by car or by New Jersey Transit which is totally awesome and super convenient.
Not much has changed in terms of the lesson plan (see below) but we've got access to amazing foraging, a great garden space, a bigger kitchen and lots of critters to work with. Believe me when I say it's going to be awesome.
Check out the description on the EVENTBRITE PAGE and sign up! Support the farm by taking classes with us!
"Ever wanted to learn how to grow, make and preserve your own food in a small space but need some hands-on guidance to do so?
Join Meg Paska, the "Brooklyn Homesteader", on her own turf as she teaches you how to raise chickens, keep bees, grow a garden, compost, forage, can, pickle, preserve and homebrew all from the Homestead at Seven Arrows, a new farm she manages an hour outside of NYC.
Coffee and homemade donuts will be served in the morning before the class commences.
It will tentatively go as follows:
- Planning and Starting a Vegetable Garden (with an emphasis on fall gardening)
- Chickens & Rabbits 101
- Food Preservation (Freezing, Drying, Canning, Fermentation)
- LUNCH ON THE BBQ
- Beekeeping 101
- Wild Edibles
- Homebrewing basics
- DIY Home and Body Care
- WIND DOWN with local beers at the cottage!
Attendees will get hands on experience in all aspects of the above mentioned topics and will leave with care packages of assorted goodies! (Samples of honey, wild edibles and DIY home care products)
Please email Megan with any questions."
For more info, click the link above!
Now that we are nearly settled into our cottage (pics to come) I'm teaching my first workshop at Seven Arrows! We'll be tackling a timely topic: Mushrooms! Cultivation of fungi and gleaning the forests and fields for them!
"Mushrooms are amazing! They cleanse the soil. They help to create by aiding in the decay of organic matter. They give incredible flavor to our meals. Some mushrooms even promote wellness in humans and animals. Best yet, they are easy to grow and easy to find growing wild, with a little guidance and good sense.
In this all-day workshop taught by Brooklyn Homesteader's Meg Paska, we will learn the basics of mycoculture...what fungi are, what they do and why we should appreciate them. Presentations will accompany this talk. We will then break for lunch and then jump headlong into a series of mushroom related projects:
-Growing oyster mushrooms in coffee grounds
-Log stump cultivation with maiitakes (each participant will leave with a mushroom log of their own.)
-Grain, straw and sawdust spawn cultivation
-Foraging for mushrooms safely
At the end of the day, students are invited to book accommodations at Seven Arrows for the night (see "weekend ticket" for pricing), and we will make a supper of mushroom risotto and braised greens before winding down on the front porch overlooking the Navesink River.
Overnight visitors are encouraged to hike in the adjacent Hartshorne Woods Park on Sunday to test out their foraging skills, though all mushrooms must be brought back to the farm for proper identification!
Seven Arrows is a 20 acre shorefront retreat and farm located in Monmouth County, NJ just 45 minutes from New York City. We are launching a CSA featuring pastured eggs and nutrient dense, sustainably grown produce in early 2013."
Please help us raise funds to build infrastructure for our new learning farm!