Wednesday Webs: Things I’m Learning in January

The books I'm reading right now

I just came home from a morning yoga class. Ah, there’s nothing like an hour of sun salutations with friends to chase away the winter blahs. I’m energized. I’m motivated. I’m itching to do something constructive with January instead of watching it blow by from under my quilt.

In yoga we’re reminded to ground our feet deeply before rising our arms toward the sky. As my teacher Sunshine says, we must set our roots before we can grow. How applicable that is, especially while our New Year’s sense of renewal still lingers. Even if nothing’s growing outside, I’m using this month for personal growth, as in learning new things. And I’m using online education as roots for that growth.

Here’s what I’ve been clicking into this month for some great coaching and tutorials. They’re free. I listen to them while I work. There are no excuses!

 

Dreaming of Fresh Food in Freezing Wisconsin?

seed catalogs and starter trays

Just so you know, that’s not a studio backdrop in this photo. It’s snow outside my window. Actually, this is a rather oxymoronic image in that it doesn’t fully convey the blistering-blue cold we’re braving these days, with temps far below zero and wind chills 20 degrees even further still. But the earthiness of seed catalogs and starter trays makes winter hibernation a warm and tolerable thing. Yep, I’m planning my garden and dreaming of fresh food.

I was motivated into a gardening mood yesterday after talking with new client Jane Hansen, who is coordinator for the Wisconsin Local Food Network (WLFN). WLFN is a collection of people and organizations that work to build sustainable, equitable and resilient food systems throughout the state. To put it simply, in their words, “We help local food businesses (whether a farm, a processor, a distributor, a restaurant, a farmers market, or a grocery store) thrive!”

As Jane and I discussed local food here in Wisconsin, we targeted some of the challenges both producers and consumers face. On days like today, it’s obvious that Wisconsin’s short growing season puts a freezing halt to the availability of fresh and local food. Yet, as Jane says, in the summer we have a wealth of produce—sometimes too much, which results in waste in the fields, in distribution and in the kitchen. These are just a few of the issues WLFN deals with as it helps local food producers connect with consumers.

On January 30-31, the WLFN is hosting its 9th Annual Wisconsin Local Food Summit in Wisconsin Rapids. The event is in conjunction with the Wisconsin Farm to School Summit on January 29. So if you’re interested in a 3-day weekend of food networking, education and a much-needed break from winter, this is the place to go.

In the meantime, I’ll be busy writing a promo piece for the WLFN. For such a worthy and purpose-driven organization; this will be an honor.

Planning Ahead for a Colorful New Year!

Easter Egger rooster

This is Cornwallis, our Americana rooster. Isn’t he gorgeous?

Americanas are also known as Rainbow Layers or Easter Eggers because they lay eggs in beautiful hues of green, blue or pink. They’re not a recognized breed but I don’t worry about such formalities. I’m planning ahead for when these young’uns surprise my Easter guests with colorful eggs—one of the many exciting things I’m looking forward to in 2015!

Easter Egger Rooster

We normally don’t raise roosters except for meat, but Cornwallis somehow slipped past us. Since he’s just so doggone pretty, I mean handsome, I decided to keep him. The other day I gave my poultry pets leftover holiday rolls, (baked from scratch, mind you) and Cornwallis carefully took them from my hand and gave them to the ladies. He’s such a gentleman.

Yep, he knows I’m talking about him.

Americana chickens

Normally my chickens are hard to photograph. They have super sensitive hearing and as soon as I open my camera, they shoot me the moon.

My Americana rooster, Cornwallis

Except Cornwallis. He stands there cocking his head from side to side while I tell him how handsome he is.

Easter Egger rooster crowing

And then he puffs himself proudly and gives a big cock-a-doodle-do. Just so you know, at this time of year cock-a-doodle-do is cockerel lingo for Happy New Year!

Have a blessed New Year everyone. Hope we can work together in 2015!

Wednesday Webs: The Gales of November

turkeys

November is well upon us. What is it they say, the gales of November? I think of this on my morning walks when the air feels dark and the wind has sharpened. On a cozier note, November also initiates the season of togetherness. We tuck ourselves in, light a fire, and begin planning for the holidays.

A Recap of Fermentation Fest 2014

Adunate's design work for Fermentation Fest

Six months ago when I traveled to Sauk County to meet Donna Neuwirth and the Fermentation Fest planners, winter was only beginning to leave the land. Everything was stark, barren and brown. Back then we were just planting seeds of ideas for the festival’s promotional materials and the fruition of this project seemed so very far away.

Two weeks ago, I was once again in Sauk County, this time for the big event. As my husband and I drove through the countryside I couldn’t help contemplating this full cycle of seasons. Just as I’d seen my Fermentation Fest project from start to finish, so I was seeing Sauk County’s agricultural season from start to finish. I feel really blessed to be part of these rural rhythms.

Fermentation Fest Corn Maze

This year, my husband and I did the Fermentation Fest Art D’Tour,  a 50-mile, self guided extravaganza through the winding backroads of Sauk County. Along the way was this corn maze, complete with meditative phrases to serve as guides. We wound our way through the field to a lookout with an over-the-corn view of the scenic hillside.

Fermentation Fest Corn Maze

I did say meditative, didn’t I?

Tractors at Fermentation Fest

For many people, a lineup of tractors is beautiful art. There was a great exchange of stories going on at this stop.

“Is that an F-20 over there?” I overheard a woman ask. “I learned to drive on one of those.”

Drift, Fermentation Fest

Drift is a large-scale floating sculpture that, according to the artists, “functions both as an autonomous intervention in the landscape and a site for exchange with residents and visitors.”

Standing inside this gently rocking raft and looking to the sky through its pieced seams was quite mesmerizing. I started thinking I’d should lay down and float through the dreamy pond just like Lady of Sharlott (or should I say Anne of Green Gables).

Frermentation Fest food vendors

We’d be driving along and suddenly out of nowhere a Roadside Culture Stand would appear. These mobile food stands are works of art in themselves. So are the products they were selling.

Harvestore Bandshell, designed by John Shimone

A Harvestore silo turned serendipitous stage—is this cool, or what? The Harvestore Bandshell was designed by photographers John Shimon and Julie Lindemann, and staged a variety of Pasture Performances. We missed Shimon’s We Go From Where We Know, but enjoyed hearing this guitar trio instead.

What a beautiful day to stand in a farm field and listen to music!

Invasive Species, Fermenation Fest

As the afternoon wound its way down, our last stop was this old, abandoned farmhouse. It’s part of the artwork called Invasive Species, by Isabelle Garbani. Her colorful leaves crocheted from plastic shopping bags are shown creeping along this beautiful house. They’re “slowly choking it with their invasive growth,” according to the artist’s statement, just as our world is being invaded and choked by synthetically produced plastics.

You can’t see it here, but this house has great architectural lines and original character. I was so happy to see a building permit in the window and signs of restoration work inside.

The best way to wrap up an inspiring Art D’Tour is a dinner at the Food/Drink D’Tour. Which we did. What a tasty evening of culinary delights, put on by the finest foodies the region has to offer.

This is something I want to do all over again next year. Sauk County in spring—I’ll be back!