Get growing! Our annual Fall Home & Garden issue tills the creative soil of locals—on the farm, in the garden, in the living room, and beyond.
Love Them Apples
Get Baked: Solar Ovens
Feng Shui It
Taking Gardening to New Heights
You, Your Garden, Your Food
Seven Tips for Your Fall Garden
Seven Household Tips for Fall
Love Them Apples
Cynthia Sandberg of Love Apple Farm leads the pack of biodynamic agriculture in Santa Cruz
Biodynamic agriculture may sound like something straight out of The Jetsons, but in reality it is a time-tested method of farming organically. Cynthia Sandberg, owner of Love Apple Farm in Scotts Valley has been using this particular approach to gardening since 2006. Not only is biodynamic agriculture good for the environment, but it yields particularly succulent fruits and vegetables worthy of any gourmand’s palate.
However futuristic it may sound, biodynamic agriculture has actually been in existence for nearly 100 years. Developed by the Austrian philosopher, social thinker, architect and esotericist Rudolph Steiner as a way to resuscitate European farms after the destruction caused by World War I, the concept of biodynamics consists of a self-sustaining farm, or what Steiner referred to as a “farm organism.” This term simply means that everything used on the farm should be produced on the farm without bringing in outside influences—for example fertilizer from animals on the farm should be used in the soil and animals should be fed from ingredients grown on the farm. It is a natural, holistic approach that stresses the interconnected relationship among soil, plants and animals. It is a unique method of farming that uses fermented herbal and mineral preparations as compost additives and an astronomical calendar to determine the time for planting and harvesting. It was only after seeing the lush and vibrant results that a biodynamic garden can produce that Sandberg decided to incorporate this style of agriculture on her own farm in 2006.
It may sound like Sandberg was born with a green thumb, but she has not always been a gardening maven. Before she started Love Apple Farm she worked as an attorney. It was only after she took a horticulture class at Cabrillo College that she realized gardening was her new passion. “I got very interested in growing plants, but in my first vegetable garden there were a lot of mistakes that I made,” she explains. “So I wanted to learn as much as I could about it and then I just fell in love with gardening.” She started small, growing and selling tomatoes and tomato plants at a roadside fruit stand. But it didn’t take long before Sandberg realized that gardening was her new passion and she wanted to make it her new career as well. Love Apple Farm now includes 21 acres of what used to be a winery on Vine Hill Road, scattered more than 300 different kinds of fruits, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. Everything at Love Apple Farm is grown exclusively for the renowned Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos, where award-winning chef David Kinch creates sumptuous French and modern Catalan dishes using ingredients harvested that very day from Sandberg’s farm.
Biodynamic farming is not all a bed of roses—it takes patience and dedication. Steiner concocted nine different preparations that assist in aiding fertilization. Two consist of burying cow horns stuffed with either manure or powdered quartz at very specific times of the year, and the other seven preparations are made from various herbs, including chamomile blossoms, oak bark and dandelions. In theory, plants grown biodynamically are pest- and disease-free because the methods used in biodynamic agriculture keep them strong, healthy and balanced. But theories don’t always apply in the real world. “Pest control is the most challenging aspect for any organic farmer and really to any backyard gardener,” Sandberg says. “It’s difficult to get a handle on the pests organically. You can spray the heck out of it with pesticides, but the reason most conventional farmers are not organic farmers is because of the difficulty with pests. Another significant challenge is keeping the soil healthy.”
In addition to providing the fresh produce for Manresa restaurant, Sandberg teaches a myriad classes at her farm throughout the year. “All the classes are garden related,” she says. The classes, workshops and events span every gardening related topic under the sun, including gopher control, canning, cheese making, chicken keeping and irrigation. Also offered are cooking classes in collaboration with Manresa restaurant.
“I really enjoy being able to teach people how to garden well and seeing the fruit of that,” she says of the classes that she offers. “I see people that tell me how well their garden is doing and how close it’s brought them to their families. So many people take my classes and then start a vegetable garden in the backyard. They tell me that it’s a family thing and they eat more healthfully. The kids are out there pulling weeds and planting seeds. It’s an interesting side effect that I did not expect.” Another unexpected surprise is the amount of media attention this small, local farm has garnered from around the country. The biodynamic approach of Sandberg’s Love Apple Farm has been featured in publications far and wide, including the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Saveur Magazine.
Because of its complexity and stringent time requirements, biodynamic agriculture may not be for everyone. But for those who desire to grow the healthiest plants in an extremely environmentally conscious way, this method is well worth the effort. | Leslie Patrick
Cynthia Sandberg of Love Apple Farm leads the pack of biodynamic agriculture in Santa Cruz
A Better Garden, Cynthia Sandberg’s Top Three Tips
1. Add compost to your soil. Compost. Compost. Compost. A healthy garden is all about fertility.
2. Pay attention to the bad bugs; don’t let them get out of control.
3. Don’t over water your garden. That’s one thing that most people tend to do.
When L. Roxanne Evans moved into her home at 1147 East Cliff Drive in Seabright six years ago, her backyard was in shambles. But the brave soul decided that not even her tangled knot of six-foot tall blackberry bushes, morning glory and 100-year-old vines, could deter her from having a garden to call her own.
What Evans quickly realized, is that gardening is no fun without someone to share it with.
So, she enlisted the help of 15 neighbors and friends to help her reclaim the space that had been lost in time. By August 2008, her overgrown 50 by 50-foot plot of land had been buried in sheet mulch and was transformed into the TerraGnoma Community Demonstration Garden.
“There was a lot of blueberry pancakes and beer that got this place off the ground,” jokes Evans.
For the last two years, neighborhood volunteers, including students from UC Santa Cruz and local high schools, have met at the garden every Friday from 1-5 p.m. to plant, learn and build community. Since Evans’ home is a rental property, nothing built in the garden is permanent and anything can be disassembled at the landlord’s request.
Whether they work in the greenhouse, feed the six chickens in the coop, seed the garden or help harvest, every volunteer is given a job that they enjoy doing, followed by a homemade vegan or vegetarian dish provided by Evans.
“It’s the best meal I have all week,” says volunteer Samantha Knock, who received two quarters of school credit for working with TerraGnoma and has continued volunteering ever since. “I get to use everything I learn here in my own garden at home.”
Evans’ primary mission with TerraGnoma is to educate the community about sustainability, ecological life practice, vegetarianism, fostering economically achievable products, the possibility for community gardens in urban settings and the importance of being localvores.
“People are beginning to think of their own private space as a resource,” says Evans. “We’d love to see backyard demonstration gardens in every neighborhood.”
Over the years, TerraGnoma has partnered with different organizations like the ROP Green Careers Program and the Community Studies Department to train interns in urban gardening. And while all of their internships have finished, the majority keep coming back.
“This is a place where I feel purpose,” says two-year volunteer Andrea Horvath, who was TerraGnoma’s first intern and has been a key organizer since day one. “We’re not just gardening, we’re teaching and inspiring people to support our local economy and community.” | Jenna Brogan
To volunteer at TerraGnoma, RSVP with Roxanne Evans at 421-2843. Details at terragnoma.wordpress.com or search for TerraGnoma Community Demonstration Garden on Facebook.
1. Plant for Wildlife: Recognize the importance of pollinators (i.e. bees) and beneficials (i.e. ladybugs) and plant what attracts them. Bees like herb species, whereas ladybugs like plants such as dandelions and marigolds.
2. Sheet Mulching: You can control any wild area with enough arbor mulch, cardboard and people. Reclaim space in this simple way that suppresses weeds and retains moisture.
3. Invite a friend: Find someone to garden with. Don’t be isolated; it’s fun to work together and share your discoveries.
Gail Madison Goodhue wants to get inside your head. The Santa Cruz interior designer attributes this to the fact that, at one time, she was on her way to becoming a psychologist. And although her career path took a different route (landing her in the high tech industry before meandering to design), she never lost the desire to probe into the minds of others in an attempt to help them.
“I studied commercial design in school and I kept not following my bliss, I kept doing what I thought I should,” she says, adding that she soon was introduced to designing residences. “I realized that was where my true love lied, talking with couples and families about how they want to live and feel in their home. That satisfied my quest to be a psychologist—working with this whole psychology of making a space, a nurturing, calm environment that feeds your soul.”
After 15 years as the owner and sole employee of Madison Interiors, Goodhue’s favorite part of the job remains the initial meetings with new clients—the “getting to know you” part. She starts them off with a questionnaire and some homework assignments. “A lot of people don’t really know what their style is, and I don’t want them to tell me in words anyway,” she says. Instead, she looks at everything from what they wear to where they work (and if they enjoy it), and where they vacation to what music they like.
“It’s a relationship,” she says. “It takes time and trust in order to have the best collaboration. The more that they share with me the better their home turns out. It’s as good as you allow it to be for yourself.”
Goodhue is versed in everything from small-scale projects, like simple color consultations, to full-blown remodels. “One thing that differentiates me is that I have the knowledge to do a significant remodel, but I also really enjoy the smaller projects,” she says.
Her designs can be found in homes beyond Santa Cruz, but she finds that Santa Cruz clients in particular have values that line up with her own—namely eco-consciousness. “The nice thing in Santa Cruz is that people aren’t trying to create showcases, there are trying to create usable homes,” Goodhue says. Increasing numbers of her clients want to incorporate green design and are concerned with minimizing their ecological footprints. It’s a sign of the times, says Goodhue, as well as a blessing. “Coming out of the recession, that’s what we’ll find,” she says. “Rather than 10 years ago when everyone was in acquisition mode and buying more homes than they could afford and wanting larger homes than they needed.”
This new minimalist mentality matches well with Goodhue’s trademark style. “I don’t know that I really have a look, but one thing that goes across the styles is a certain simplicity and maybe a minimalism—less is more, quality over quantity,” she says. Her portfolio shows that homes with Goodhue’s touch are often classy and clean, and that she can swing seamlessly from contemporary to vintage to beachy. She also brings in elements of Asian, Belgian, and urban design.
But what really defines her style? A knack for manifesting the client’s tastes and personality in their new home interiors. “When you really nail it and someone at the end says, ‘This [home] is us, how did you do this? We didn’t even know this was us!’ It’s the best feeling.” Visit madisoninteriors.com. | Elizabeth Limbach
1. Determine your budget. “It’s a guiding point,” says Goodhue. “From that figure, professionals are able to give [the client] an idea of what they can get for that amount.”
2. Think long-term. “People looking to remodel should ask themselves how long they think they will stay in the house—do they have aspirations to move?” she says. “I can help work with them as to how much would be prudent to put into the home.”
3. Hire the right designer. You’ll be working closely together (sometimes for up to two years on a big time remodel), so it’s imperative to have a good relationship.
4. Discover your tastes. “Look through books and magazines, open your eyes, and become aware of what your tastes are,” says Goodhue.
5. Identify your needs. Why do you want another room? What works for you functionally? What is it that isn’t working now, and what is?
Get Baked: Solar Ovens
Back in the day, “baking in the sun” meant working on your tan. Slather on the coconut oil and burn, baby, burn. Today, the phrase can refer to baking food, where the oil of choice comes from olives and the chances of burning are slim to none.
Introducing the solar oven, where it’s all about star power.
You can bake cookies, chicken, lasagna, veggies, beans, pizza, turkey and more. The list goes on and on. And it’s all with a little ol’ box that lets you walk away and let the sun do its thing.
When Lana Sumati wakes up each morning, she checks to see what the weather is doing outside. Not to decide what outfit to wear, but to see what kind of cooking she’ll get to do. She’s not a master griller on the barbecue, she’s a Santa Cruz solar chef and instructor (Lanasumati.com). And she’s not alone. With solar ovens bringing the basics of solar panel technology to the kitchen table, people are exploring these alternative, portable devices to lower their energy bills and heighten flavors.
“Anything that takes a long time in the conventional oven cooks really well in solar ovens and even tastes better,” begins Sumati, who especially loves cooking soups and squash. “Plus, I’m a woman of convenience. I’d rather have only 10 minutes of prep time and let the oven do the work. I just throw the food in, and in those two to three hours while the solar oven is cooking outside, I can do a lot of errands, and then come back hungry!”
Another solar oven aficionado, Solar Mike, aka Mike Arenson of Arenson’s Solar (Solarmike.net), built his first solar oven 34 years ago out of a cardboard box and aluminum foil. He still cooks with a cardboard cooker he’s had for 10 years. One of his favorite things to cook, that always makes a good impression, is pork ribs.
“I would encourage people to give it a try and even make a cooker for free out of everyday materials,” Arenson suggests. For those DIYers out there, there are lots of design plans and instructions online at Solarcooking.org/plans. The key is to have a glass window that lets sunlight enter an insulated box while highly reflective aluminum panels direct the natural energy straight toward your favorite fixings.
For those wanting an insta-solar oven, there’s the popular Sun Oven, available at Greenspace for $290. Weighing about 20 pounds, the compact Sun Oven is 1.5 feet by 1.5 feet, reaches temperatures of up to 400 degrees, and has metal panels that collapse for convenient storage. It takes minutes to set up and put away.
Solar Mike stores his solar oven in the closet and says that when it’s time to put it to work he simply puts it “in the front by the street where I get best sun—and the dogs and the passersby don’t do anything to it.” That is, aside from ask him “What’s cookin, Solar Mike?” (He now puts labels on the outside of the cooker telling the curious what he’s got brewing inside.)
He maintains that in addition to the usual environmental incentives, solar ovens are just plain better all around. If it’s a hot summer day, he says, “it helps to not heat the house up because you’re cooking outdoors. Also, the food is cooking at a lower temperature, which is reported to retain vitamins more, and everyone says it tastes better.”
“Solar cooking gets people excited, enthusiastic, and inspired,” Sumati sums up the natural, low-tech approach to cooking. “It’s not just a novelty, it can be an everyday way of life.” | Linda Koffman
Learn more about solar ovens at solarovens.org. Sun Ovens are available at Greenspace, 1122 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Call 423-7200.
Feng Shui It
Your life is in chaos. Your boyfriend just broke up with you. You haven’t had a raise in four years. And so on. All of life’s disruptions can bring you down, and they can also bring down the quality of your living environment. It starts with dust bunnies piling up. Then the bathroom goes downhill. Mold shows up. Piles accumulate everywhere, life (and your home) become cluttered. It’s a Feng Shui disaster. Just ask local Feng Shui consultant Megan Montero about such a scenario and she’ll admit that household clutter is often a reflection of clutter in one’s personal life.
“Through this work, everything in your home affects your life, so if you have a home that has principals of Feng Shui, it makes you feel good there, and there’s a sense of comfort and peace, and you’ll do better in your life,” Montero explains. “If there’s a lot of stress in your home, and things like cutter, it ties up people’s energy for other things.”
Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese art that has to do with the way the energy flows through a space, and how that affects your living space, and your personal life. Montero is an expert at this art, having studied professionally with a grand master of Feng Shui. She specialized in what’s called Black Sect Tantric Buddhist Feng Shui. According to Montero’s website, windandwaterblessings.com, “BTB Feng Shui retains the essence of traditional Feng Shui but has been developed … to meet the needs of modern people.”
When a client hires Montero, she’ll tackle a space and find more creative solutions for an unfriendly space by way of practical means like relocating furniture, using mirrors and colors, and such. She also can provide ceremonies for cleaning a space, which involves things like incorporating prayer and rice into the ceremony.
In addition, according to Montero’s website, she adds that, “My practice of Feng Shui includes looking and listening to the place and listening to the client on different levels. On the mundane level, I take into account things like the furnishings and the structure of buildings, i.e. doors, windows, walls, stoves, beds, desks, shapes. These are things I can physically see on site or on a floor plan. On a transcendental level or spiritual level, there are unseen factors that come through only on a feeling level or through intuition. At this level, not only do I depend on a grounded understanding of the fundamentals of Feng Shui, but also on my connection to spirit and my clients’ stories and situations.”
Clearly, one of the key elements in this type of work is basically, removing clutter and junk from your household. The fact that Americans own way too much stuff is something that Montero is clearly aware of. “Our culture is telling people to buy and so we get duped into thinking that we are our stuff. … People sometimes feel like they’re doing better in life if they have more, but I find that people, myself and others, are happier when they have less and they’re not weighed down by having to keep track of so many things. It frees the energy up to have more relationships and more money coming in, and more fun.” | Christa Martin
Learn more about Feng Shui consultant Megan Montero by visiting windandwaterblessings.com, e-mail [email protected], or call 420-1074.
1 Clear the clutter.
2 Get rid of things that you don’t need.
3 Make sure the front door is visible from the road or street.
4 Keep pathways clear.
5 Keep things bright and open.
6 Keep your desk clear, and make sure it’s not facing a wall. Have it in the command position, where you can see the rest of the room.
7 Keep your bedroom free of clutter.
8 Don’t keep things under your bed. That can create sleep difficulties.
DIG: Taking gardening to new heights
Is not having enough land keeping you from planting your dream garden? If so, Cara and William Meyers, owners of DIG Garden Nursery on Water St., have an easy solution: go vertical.
According to the couple, who met in the Cabrillo College Horticulture Program, there is no need for a traditional flower bed if you don’t have the room or the time to maintain it.
Instead, they suggest bringing your backyard or living room to life with a Woolly Pocket, a Succulent Wall or a Hanging Bubble Terrarium.
This is not your grandmother’s garden.
Made of 100 recycled plastic bottles that have been industrially felted, Woolly Pockets are flexible, modular gardening containers with built-in moisture barriers to help protect furniture. While they are made to withstand the elements outside and can make any blank fence attractive, they work just as well indoors and won’t stain your wall. Simply mount the pocket on the wall, pour in the soil and fill it with full-sized plants.
“It’s an unconventional way to look at gardening,” says William, who has been a horticulture enthusiast since age 17. “When people have little space it works out really well.”
With three types of indoor and outdoor Woolly Pocket sizes to choose from—an indoor “Wally One” costs $49—there’s something for every gardener, novice to expert.
For those of us with black thumbs, DIG offers an even lower maintenance option to gardening from the ground, up: Succulent Walls. These outdoor vertical planters allow you to design with water-retaining plants and create patterns or geometrical shapes that function like living art pieces.
While some prefer to purchase a Vertical Succulent Wall Planter ($90) for 2 inch rooted plants that you simply insert into the slots and mount on the wall, others opt to take an introduction class. For $179, anyone can attend a Succulent Wall workshop at DIG that includes a box frame, cuttings, plants and soil. During the class, participants learn how to construct their own in DIG’s community classroom and six to eight weeks later, their plants are rooted and it’s ready to mount.
Though everyone loves a blooming rose bush, the Meyers’ recognize that few people in our fast-paced society have the energy to keep up plants that require a lot of care. As a result, “Magazines are really moving away from English floral gardens to plants that are minimalist in structure, form and texture,” says William.
Hanging Bubble Terrariums are evidence of that movement and another trendy way that DIG is introducing nature to the modern gardener’s living space. For an eye-catching addition to your room, the Meyers’ suggest filling glass terrarium orbs with prehistoric-looking tillandsia air plants (5 for $20) and hanging them from the branches of a small tree. Native to Central and South America, tillandsia doesn’t require soil and generally only has to soak in water for 2-3 hours every two weeks.
“We have a variety of plants that are super easy to maintain and are drought tolerant,” says William. “And we always try to source eco-friendly materials.”
Though the Meyers’ have owned Hidden Gardens Nursery in Aptos for some time, they opened their downtown location last November in the hope of reaching out to urbanites. Their six employees work between the two locations and promote the idea that gardening and urban farming are possible for people of all walks of life and in all living situations.
“The whole urban farming thing used to be something only hippies did, but it’s really not anymore,” says Cara, who offers weekend classes in jam making, backyard chicken keeping, terrarium constructing, biodynamic gardening (composting) and fall vegetables at DIG. “We sell chicks, teach people how to grow their own food and educate them about preservation and canning.”
And since a number of the products that DIG sells—Woolly Pockets, rare orchids, decorative moss balls made out of cattail flowers, biodegradable flowerpots, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, palms and a whole slew of contemporary gardening books—have been raved about in publications like Sunset Magazine, it’s safe to assume that the Meyers’ know what they’re talking about.
“We’re really trying to pull in a younger generation of gardening hipsters,” says Cara, “You used to have to go all the way to the city to find contemporary plant shops like this.” | Jenna Brogan
To learn more about contemporary gardening and to sign up for classes, visit diggardensnursery.com, call (831) 466-3444 or stop by the DIG store at 420 Water Street, Santa Cruz.
You, Your Garden, Your Food
It’s garden mania right now. So, with a cornucopia of fresh veggies out there this fall, take note of two upcoming garden-related events worthy of your attention.
FOOD WHAT?! DINNER EVENT
This extraordinary event offers a real farm fresh dinner that is grown, cooked and hosted by the Food What?! Youth Crew over at UC Santa Cruz’s dynamic Life Lab. Food, What?! is a youth empowerment program for local teens using organic agriculture and the culinary arts as the vehicle for leadership development and personal growth.
If that’s not delicious enough, not only will the youth crew serve the meal, they offer hope as they share their own compelling stories—from personal growth to leadership development through organic farming and cooking.
This is a super benefit that will support fall youth stipends at Food What?! Beyond that, you really can’t beat the delicious local organic meal on a beautiful farm—run entirely by local teens.
INFO: $50 each seat (100 percent of proceeds supports a real job/job training for youth this fall and is fully tax deductible). Reserve a space at foodwhat.org. From 5-7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 2 at Life Lab on UCSC Campus.
MASTER GARDENERS’ 13TH ANNUAL TOUR
What you get here are gardens featuring backyard farms and citified landscapes. This gardening extravaganza showcases gardens of Santa Cruz, Capitola and Aptos in a self-guided tour that includes seven gardens, clustered together for ease of viewing and minimal traveling. Many of the gardens feature the “urban farm” concept, demonstrating the practice of growing edibles alon side ornamentals. The Masters Tour has garnered a reputation as a gardening event focused on sustainable, water-wise gardening. This year’s Tour will continue this educational component. Can you say “dry-farmed tomatoes?”
Take note: On-the-hour “Thumbnail Tutorials” will be given in the gardens on the following topics: raising chickens and bees in the urban garden, the use of succulents in the garden, and planting an herb or veggie garden. The gardens also model the practice of incorporating sustainable design and plant material. You’ll see beautiful displays of Mediterranean plants, native/drought tolerant plants and succulents, and food-producing beds filled to the brim with organic edibles. Chickens and bees are also part of the routine of these “backyard farms.”
Since Fall is the new spring, this is the time of year when gardeners should be putting in new ornamentals. The winter rain will ensure strong roots and water conservation since home irrigation is minimal.
Other highlights: A bookshop featuring gardening books and a marketplace with gardening fine art, used tools/furniture/gewgaws, and artisan food products. Hundreds of plants, propagated by Master Gardeners, will be for sale.
INFO: Monterey Bay Master Gardeners is a volunteer organization and a registered non-profit 501(c)(3); all proceeds from fund-raising activities, including the annual tour, are used to fund Grants for School Garden Projects. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25. Tickets are $20 for the Tour, $15 for the luncheon with tea. Tickets may be purchased at most local nurseries or online using PayPal at montereybaymastergardeners.org. Take note: You’ll exchange the voucher for a ticket at any of the garden locations printed on the voucher. The voucher also includes a map to help you plan your route. You can also use an online mapping service.
Seven Tips for Your Fall Garden
1. Prune and Primp
Fall is the time to prune for good blooms and foliage next spring. Consult your local nursery if you are thinking of ambitions pruning such as trees, because some have different growing schedules than others. Pruning is essential and extremely beneficial to shape and stimulate spring growth. Cut back annuals for healthy renewal, trim hedges and borders. Here is a handy site: plantamnesty.org/PRUNING/regional_Guides.aspx
2. Compost, Compost, Compost
Composting is easy and very beneficial to a thriving garden.
For a simple and informative beginner’s guide, go to: http://eartheasy.com/grow_compost.html
Compost is made from table scraps and garden cuttings. Not only are you cutting down on methane emissions in land fills, you are nourishing your garden and saving on store-bought potting and compost mixes.
3. Plant Bulbs
Every nursery in town has bulbs available. Take a Sunday afternoon and put in twenty or thirty tulips or daffodils.
There is nothing more thrilling than watching the shoots peek through in the spring, and then reveling in a showy explosion of color. The effort of planting is rewarded ten fold, and you will get repeat blooms for several years.
4. Plant More Food
Hearty greens like chard and bok choi will hold through heavy frost, and are delicious steamed, sautéed, or baked. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower do well in winter also, just to name a few. Be sure to fortify your soil before planting your winter crop. Inquire at your local nursery to learn more about crops to plant in the fall. Ecology Action has online tips on biointensive farming, large and small. ecoact.org
5. Grow Herbs Indoors
Michael Pollan has initiated us to the amazing nutrition in herbs. There are thirty four identified antioxidants in a leaf of garden variety thyme. Place herbs in well draining pots in an east or southeast facing window. Sage, thyme, rosemary and chives, to name a few, will do well indoors, and are also green and fragrant. Pinch some off for roasting, simmering or in fresh salads all during the winter months. For starter ‘how-to’s, try: http://herbgardens.about.com/od/indoorgardenbasics/a/GrowingIndoors.htm
6. Stay on It
Gardening is a work in progress, and there is always something to do, even in cold months. Raking and weeding are therapeutic, and a clean, orderly garden is immensely pleasing. Your efforts will be well rewarded when the growing season starts, and you won’t feel overwhelmed when spring rolls around.
7. Feed The Birds
Winter is the time of the larges bird population in Santa Cruz County. There are many sources for feeders from Ace Hardware to Lowes to the Garden Company. General Feed sells bird seed in bulk. Its so much fun to watch birds come to your garden all winter long (or all year long, for that matter…) Treat yourself and the birds, too. | Lorri Kershner
Lorri Kershner is the owner L Kershner design, lkershnerdesign.com.
These days, we’re constantly being told to reduce our carbon footprint, but few people actually know how to do it. For Lydia Corser, certified green building professional and owner of Greenspace in Santa Cruz, an eco-friendly home and business can make all the difference when it comes to quality of life.
“For aesthetics, health and completion, moving on to green finishes help us feel great about living in our spaces,” says Corser, who started her own green interior design business, Eco Interiors, in 1995.
Not many people can say they have built an entire kitchen out of green materials, but Corser can. So what’s her secret?
For one, the most eco-friendly houses and businesses save energy and water. “Insulating or replacing windows and doors with more energy saving and eco-friendly ones (not vinyl) and repairing and maintaining heating and dryer ductwork, all have far more impact on the betterment of the planet,” she says.
While the Certified Kitchen Designer’s work has been featured in “Better Homes and Gardens” in addition to a textbook called “Good Green Kitchens,” and won the second-ever Green Building Award by the City of Santa Cruz—her project received 130 points, far exceeding the 40 needed to win—her knowledge about eco-friendly design increased slowly over time.
“When I first started calling myself a green designer, everyone was so confused; they thought I only worked with the color green,” she laughs. But along with the publicity she received for her all-green kitchen and the launch of Greenspace in 2006, came her credibility as a trusted green advisor. “My goal used to be to have at least one green aspect in every project, but now it’s how green can we go?”
There is no limit to how eco-friendly your home or business can become. There’s flooring options that range from hardwood to cork, and bamboo or all-natural carpet, or a baby department with green bedding and linen, non-toxic balls for pets and No-VOC paints.
“Non-toxic paint is a really easy way to go green,” says Corser. “It’s great quality, about the same price as your average paint and it doesn’t have to air out as much.”
Other Greenspace tips include switching from marble or granite countertops to a material with lesser environmental impact like Vetrazzo or Trinity Glass and purchasing furniture that is created from ethically harvested and reclaimed woods with low-toxicity finishes. Pesticide and formaldehyde-free mattresses and pillows are a smart choice for the home, whereas recycled content office and school supplies can help “green” your business.
But Corser doesn’t simply put any product that claims to be eco-friendly on the shelves of her store. Every item is what she calls, “pre-screened green,” or researched to find out just how environmentally responsible it is and what the conditions of the workers who created it are like. She also gives preference to locally made goods.
“We’ve discontinued lots of products that are unsavory and don’t meet our standards,” says Corser, who has no problem recommending that a customer visit another store if their desired product is manufactured unethically. “There’s no perfectly green product out there, but we give people different choices and let them know how green each one is.”
Although Corser believes that most people really do want to help the environment, she recognizes that in recent years, the words “eco-friendly” and “green” have come to represent dollar signs in their minds. She hopes to set the record straight.
“There are many ways to go green that are very cost-effective, you just have to know what your options are,” says Corser. “My philosophy is that you should save up for what really works, is good quality and will last a long time — that’s being green.” | Jenna Brogan
Greenspace is located at1122 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-7200, greenspacecompany.com. For details about Eco Interiors, visit ecointeriors.biz.
1. Natural Linoleum: Chose Natural Linoleum over vinyl, which is filled with bad chemicals. Linoleum is resilient flooring that comes in a host of colors and patterns, is very cost effective and can last about 40 years.
2. Tile: A lot of tile is made up of 25-40% recycled content and is extremely durable. With easy maintenance required, it’s perfect for floors, counter tops and showers.
3. Seagrass: Seagrass is a natural fiber that grows around water and it doesn’t stain. It’s perfect for walk-off mats in entrances and lasts a long time. At $20/ square yard, it’s very cost effective and can be installed in place of carpet too.
Seven Household Tips for Fall
1. Get Organized
Fall is a good time to take stock and get rid of clutter. There are some nice weekends left to have a garage sale. You are going to spend more time indoors in the cold months, and the holidays are looming. Having organized drawers, closets and cupboards makes it easy to look forward to holiday entertaining without being overwhelmed.
2. Practice Winter Readiness
Now is a good time to get the furnace serviced, make sure you have replaced as many light bulbs with efficient fluorescents as you can, caulk cracks and weather strip the doors, and generally check for energy efficiency since you will be using more in the winter months.
Be sure to unplug appliances when not in use!
Fall weekends are great for simmering soups from all the beautiful squashes and greens available. Make stocks and soups and freeze them for later winter months.
4. Warm Your Nest
Fall is a time of change and slowing….make your home warm for the season with fragrance and color. Fall is a time to tuck in and enjoy being inside with warm drinks and redolent spices. Indulge in a big arrangement of pumpkins and gourds on your dining room table or porch. Celebrate color with fall flowers; marigolds, mums, and other fall varieties. Bulbs are available now that you can grow indoors for extra pleasure when the cold months set in.
5. Go Original
Your home is your personal sanctuary, and it needs to reflect you. Forget Pottery Barn and honor your own identity and sensibility. October is Open Studios in Santa Cruz, and offers an amazing variety of original art in all price ranges. Treat yourself to an original piece you can afford, pair it with a favorite object of your own from travels or family or the flea market, and start collecting from the heart. ccscc.org is the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County website, and information about the tour, as well as where to pick up catalogues.
Fall reminds us that winter chill is near. Donate blankets and used clothing from all your organizing and fall cleaning to those in need. Contact Second Harvest Food Bank thefoodbank.org and find out how you can donate food.
Fall is a time to give thanks and celebrate the abundance of our natural environment, the beauty of where we live, and the advent of holidays. Enjoy your local Farmer’s Market and indulge in the bounty of our local harvest. Invite friends and family in to enjoy the warmth.
Lorri Kershner is the owner L Kershner design, lkershnerdesign.com.