MY NEW ROUTINE DURING THIS REGIME

WORDS & IMAGE: KATE WEINER

The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling—their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability [...] Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing. 

Arundhati Roy

The world is very different than it was a little more than two weeks ago. Because of Trump, our environment, our communities, and our bodies are infinitely less safe. 

We need to cultivate daily routines that bring self-care into balance with radical collective action. These are challenging times, rife with the threat of catastrophe, but they are also a liberating opportunity to be ungovernable, to really put the power back into the hands of the people. I'm scared. I'm angry. I'm determined. And I am striving to take small, strategic actions that reflect that.

Herewith, ten things I'm doing every week (sometimes every day) to resist, rebuild, and renew. Share what strategies you are integrating into your routine in the comments! 

CALL CONGRESS

Every morning I wake up, nurse a nourishing mug of golden milk, and call Congress at (202) 224 3121. Check out 5 Calls for suggestions on who to call and scripts for what to say.

EARTHING EXERCISE

Spend time in nature every damn day. Take a hike with friends, soak up the sunset, settle into a sitspot. Love for our one and only home is what will sustain us during the hard fight ahead. 

TUNE INTO A STRATEGIZING SESSION

MoveOn hosts weekly strategizing sessions (more than 25,000 people tuned into their first call) that help you prioritize where to direct your energy as an activist for the coming week. 

SIGN UP FOR ACTION ALERTS

Action alerts via text from the Sierra Club, MoveOn, and the Citizens Climate Lobby have helped me focus my energy the last few weeks as well as remind me to reset and resist in the middle of my workday. 

SET UP MONTHLY DONATIONS

I have set up monthly donations to 350, NRDC, Food and Water Watch, Citizens Climate Lobby, and Yes! Magazine. There are so many incredible organizations who need our support and it doesn't take much shifting in your budget to find the money to invest in people who are working fiercely on the frontlines to create meaningful change. 

RALLY EVERY WEEK

I've been traveling the last few weeks and haven't had the opportunity to participate in as many rallies as I would like. But I've been buoyed by my friends from across the country who have been showing up in the streets and at their Senator's offices several times a week. Dedicated protest is our new norm. 

VOLUNTEER

I've been volunteering with Be Zero for many months but my work for this awesome organization has never felt more important. Plastic is oil and I want to inspire people to divest from fossil fuels by rethinking their relationship to waste and redefining their real needs. Find a cause you care about—regenerative agriculture, animal welfare—and carve out two hours a week in your schedule to volunteer for a relevant community organization. There is tremendous power in the local. 

INVEST IN RENEWABLE ENERGY

I've made it my mission to sign up one person for Arcadia Power every week, a clean energy company that makes investing in renewable accessible to everyone. I am also working with my apartment complex to install solar panels. If every one of Loam's 22,000 readers were to commit to inspiring just one community or complex to support clean energy, our impact would be huge! Trump's climate policies are terrifying. But as consumers, the power is with us. If you want clean energy, do your part to support clean energy. This is true of everything we want for this world.

HOST HUDDLES

Make time to break bread and share ideas with those you love. Create the grounds for collective art; make a game plan for mobilizing change. We are not alone in this, no matter how panicky some days can be, and we are not without power, not ever.

 

I have never been angrier in my life but I also have never been more suffused with love for the world and committed to protecting her. I am reaching out more to old friends, extending love to my sweethearts, practicing abundance, exercising gratitude—and this renewed interest in unapologetically living the life I want to live is bringing me hope in the dark. This is a wake-up call to fight harder and love freely and I am working, every day, to rise up. 

 

 

THE GRACE OF SLOW CHANGE

WORDS: LILY MYERS

IMAGE: KATE WEINER

I walk the same route to work each morning, trailing my boots over the grey sidewalk. I’ve seen this same patch of sidewalk go from sun-lit, to leaf-strewn, to snow-piled, all in the span of several months. Each day I feel pretty much the same as the day before, and yet below my feet the earth demonstrates its ongoing change. Slowly, one day to the next, everything shifts.

Change is on everyone’s mind this time of year. We’ve made resolutions, we’ve opened our fresh planners, we’ve created goals for 2017. That’s the fun part: counting down among fireworks and swearing we’ll be different this year. But now that we’re a few weeks into January, how do we actually enact that change?

Just like the earth does. Slowly.

It often feels like we’re stuck in these dreary winter months: the days of January and February are long, grey, nearly identical. But even when they feel endless, they do somehow end. Somehow we get to the sun-filled days of spring. And how does this happen? Oh-so-slowly, one day at a time.

We get frustrated with ourselves when it feels like we’re not changing fast enough. We haven’t mastered our resolutions. We’ve fallen back into old habits. But look back to two years ago; five years ago; ten. Weren’t you vastly different then? Haven’t you picked up new habits, new routines, new rhythms since then? Huge change did happen. It just happened so slowly that it was nearly imperceptible.In nature, growth is imperceptible.

Each morning you look no different than the morning before, yet somehow you’ve grown from an 8-pound newborn to a full-grown adult. Each day a tree looks no bigger than the day before, yet where did our gigantic oaks and towering cedars come from? Seeds. The tiniest beginnings.

That’s why my motto for 2017 is “direction, not perfection”. I’m not looking to enact all my changes at once. I didn’t begin all my new habits on January 1st. I’ve tried that in previous years, and it only leads to frustration and guilt, because we don’t work that way. We’re animals living on planet Earth, and we grow just like any other animal does. Yeah, you guessed it: slowly.

“Direction, not perfection” means it’s more important where I’m aiming than how fast I’m getting there. It doesn’t sound flashy or exciting, but actually, I take this as very good news. Unlike strict rules and timelines, it allows for spaciousness. It allows time, patience, room to really develop into our new selves. It allows time for strong foundations to be built, time for us to really understand why we’re making this change. And it also allows room for setbacks and mistakes. If we know we’re heading in the right direction, than a hiccup or a tumble doesn’t matter. We still know where we’re going.

Ironically, the resistance to slow change often stops us from moving at all. Often, I’ll put off beginning a project or task because I know it’s going to take soooo long. So I don’t start it at all, and then it ends up taking even longer. But if I take just one step forward in the process, just one tiny micromovement, the process begins to look easier. One micromovement leads to another, and to another, and before you know it you’re six feet tall. Your sapling has grown. We’ve made it to spring.

I employ this micromovement trick with anything I’m resisting. If I don’t want to clean the sinkful of dishes, I’ll just clean the first one. If I don’t want to go on a run, I’ll just put on my running shoes. If I don’t want to start a writing piece, I’ll just open up a blank Word document. The first micromovement has been made; the journey has begun. From there, it becomes manageable to take just one more micromovement. Pick up one more dish. Step outside the front door. Type the first word.

Yeah, but doing it that way will take so long, the complainer in my head says. Yeah, I retort, just as it should. Just as everything here on earth grows. Out of a billion micromovements.


It’s cold here in the middle of January. But I know that each day as I walk the same city block, the air is getting infinitessimally warmer. The days are getting infinitessimally longer. I know that one day, I’ll look down and see cherry blossoms.

THE CONSCIOUS KITCHEN: MORNING TONIC

WORDS & IMAGE: HOLLY LOWERY

Recently my partner and I decided to give our bodies a little break. We’ve been running around like mad and the stress of that combined with the lack of time to cook at home has led to a lot of quick meals and take-out. While this yang energy has been fun, our bodies were definitely ready for a breather. 


So for the next ten days, we set out to cook all of our meals at home (or at least as often as humanly possible). We prepped soup and salads and snacks. We basically took Sunday afternoon to set ourselves up for the chillest week of cooking ever. 


Because I’m always looking to take the next step (sometimes to a fault), I wanted to add a little something extra to kick off this week of home-cooked food. I’m lost without my tea in the morning, and I love the idea of hot lemon water regularly, but I always feel rushed to drink that and my tea before I head to work. I wanted something that would literally jump start my body without requiring a lot of time to make, eat, or drink it. 


Enter, my new morning tonic.


I figured I would combine my love for (and enormous supply of) kombucha, with some other next-level ingredients, and what better way to get it in my bod than in the form of a shot?
So here’s what’s in it & why I chose to add these ingredients:

  • Kombucha (1c)- As you will soon find out, I am a fermentation nerd, and kombucha is my favorite form of probiotic. Currently my brewing partners and I are working on brewing some pretty large batches so the supply is abundant.
  • Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (1/3c)- Many people report having experienced decreased inflammation, better digestive function, and a stronger immune system after regularly drinking this stuff in the AM. If you can get past the taste this is an amazing addition to your daily regime. 
  • Ginger Root (2 thumb size pieces) - Ahhhh Ginger. So many amazing properties I could write about. But to keep it short and sweet, I chose this for its anti-inflammatory & digestive properties. Bye-bye bloating! Well, assuming I’m also treating my body with respect and all the good vibes.
  • Turmeric Root (1 thumb size piece) - Turmeric is trendy; this we all know. But seriously, there’s a reason. Turmeric is like the queen of all the roots. And she, combined with ginger, is like having the royal couple over for dinner. Turmeric contains tons of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and again anti-inflammatory properties. She is said to be the “Anti-Cancer root”
  • Dandelion Root (1/2-1 thumb size piece) — My partner and I went foraging for the first time together a few weeks ago and came back with a handful of this stuff. Not sure what to do with it right away, we dried it and set it aside hoping to find a use. Thank you, tonic idea. After some research I found that dandelion is actually a mild laxative, which would explain why the first few days my partner and I were, um, more than regular… This is not something I plan to drink all the time, but is a great addition to all the healthy whole foods & other herbs we are eating this week.
  • Gingko (2 tbsp)- This is an herb I’d heard of for a while but had no idea what it was for. So naturally I bought it because I knew it was “good for me” and it sat in my pantry for 6 months before I did anything with it. But this herb really is great and I wish I had started using it way before now. Gingko is amazing for blood flow, and is often used to treat neurological disorders. It’s a great herb to start the morning with to get that brain of yours ready to crush the day ahead. 
  • Black Pepper (1/2 tbsp) - This one is simple but little known for its medicinal properties. Black pepper has some pretty great antibacterial properties, and is also great for immunity and digestion. It’s so easy to find, so there’s no excuse not to toss it in the pot!
  • Clove (1/2 tbsp) - I usually keep this on hand for homemade chai, but it also made a great addition to this tonic. Besides the fact that it tastes lovely, clove offers up antimicrobial properties, which in layman’s terms just means that it helps fight microorganisms that may be weakening your immune system. It is also great for headaches, which often times I get when I change what I’m eating or drinking a bit. 

TO MAKE THE TONIC:

  1. Bring 4-5 cups of water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and put ginger, turmeric, dandelion root, black pepper and clove into water. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes. 
  2. Turn the water off and add the gingko. Let sit for another 5-10 minutes.
  3. Strain and transfer the liquid to a new jar and let cool to room temp.
  4. Add the kombucha and raw ACV to the tea, cap and store in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.
  5. Enjoy before eating in the morning- preferably when you’re in a clam headspace.

xoxo
Holly

WHAT'S COOKING IN THE CONSCIOUS KITCHEN?

Preserving Seasonal Rituals

 

SUBMIT TO PERMACULTURE IN PRACTICE

Loam is accepting submissions for Spring 2017: Permaculture In Practice. Slated for release in early March, this carbon neutral print issue seeks to celebrate diverse makers who are bringing the principles of permaculture to life through creative channels. 

Permaculture is a holistic approach to farming that merges landscape design, sustainable agriculture practices, and ecological philosophies to nourish thriving ecosystems. As Christopher Shein writes in "The Vegetable Gardener's Guide To Permaculture," the twelve principles of permaculture are:

  1. Observe and interact
  2. Catch and store energy
  3. Obtain a yield
  4. Apply self-regulation and respond to feedback
  5. Use renewable resources
  6. Produce no waste
  7. Design from pattern to details
  8. Integrate rather than segregate
  9. Use small and slow solutions
  10. Use and value diversity
  11. Use the edges
  12. Creatively use and respond to change

For this issue, we're interested in stories, visual art, prose, non-fiction narratives, photo ethnographies, and poems that reconsider the ways in which diverse individuals and initiatives are applying the principles of permaculture to their work. It's not just about permaculture as a farming practice—it's about permaculture as a way of life.

We will be accepting submissions through December 10th, 2016 (photographers, just note that we only accept hi-resolution images).  Send your final work and/or any questions that you may have to Nicole and Kate at connect@loammagazine. We're so looking forward to checking out your gorgeous work!

THE CONSCIOUS KITCHEN: PRESERVING SEASONAL RITUALS

To Transition from Growing to Preserving: The Lost Art of Seasonal Rituals

My partner and I just finished our last batch of canning this week. Many hours spent over a hot stove, boxes upon boxes of canning jars, a bounty of homegrown goods and lots of wine later- we have a fully stocked pantry for the colder months to come.

Most of us in the "West" have 24/7 access to the grocery store, so one might ask why on earth we would spend our limited warm weather time in the kitchen when we can just hop in the car and get everything we need right down the road. 

When we first began this ritual, I found myself asking the same question, especially since my time has become even more precious as of late. The answer was far from obvious, but when I realized what was underneath this seemingly tedious task, my soul settled into a new found contentment.

Below, my six favorite reasons for why I love to explore canning, preserving, drying, dehydrating and freezing our summer bounty.

1. Kitchen work is meditative

Think about when you draw out your favorite cutting board and your best knife. You tie your apron on and pull your hair back, signaling that it’s time to get to work. You take your basket of tomatoes out of the fridge and begin to rinse them, one by one under the cool water, ridding them of any bits of earth that decided to make the journey from the garden. These beginning steps of preparing a batch of canned tomatoes are so simple, which is what allows us to quiet our minds. Canning is like yoga in that it matches simple, repetitive motions with the breath. If you can find the tie between the two, you’ll begin to notice how relaxing this work can be.

Give it a try next time you’re in the kitchen. Slow down. Match your breath to your work. And take notice of where your mind goes and how quiet it becomes.

 

 2. We grow closer in the quiet

I have never had a partner as loving, adventurous, giving and supportive as the man in my life now. I am so grateful that we connect on virtually every level. We do most everything together, which is fantastic. But. I have always been one who needs my time alone. Most of the time we end up doing this work together in silence. We never intended for this to be our “quiet time,” but because the work is inherently meditative, and we both know what we’re doing in the kitchen (this helps immensely!) we don’t have to exchange too many words to be connecting in this ritualistic moment.

 

3. The harvest [almost] never goes to waste

How many times a week do you throw away fruit and veg because it has sat in the bottom of the fridge crisper too long? If you garden, how many times do you end up giving boxes of food away because you grew too much? Or worse yet, letting it rot on the vine. As a culture we end up throwing away so much food. Because we try to can, dry, freeze and dehydrate as much as we possibly can we have dramatically decreased the amount of food waste in our household. You can do this not just with homegrown foods, but your CSA or store bought groceries as well! Is your spinach on the verge? Freeze it for smoothies. If your apples are bruised and not quite as crisp, cook them down in a crockpot to an apple sauce and pressure can them. 

 

4. Physically preparing for winter is one of the oldest forms of signaling the body for seasonal change

Ancient civilizations have always had different ways of preparing for the colder seasons; in Native American culture it was very common to have week-long celebrations with dancing, singing and feasting to welcome the change in seasons, in addition to repairing their homes and sun-drying and smoking as much food as possible. Because of our modern technological advances we aren’t forced into preparing as much for the winters; we still have access to food unless a natural disaster occurs. Or if you live in Upstate NY and are buried under 10 feet of snow!

That physical preparation isn’t just done out of necessity; it is a cultural tradition, one that also prepares us mentally and spiritually for a quieter, colder, more yin time of year. By stocking up and spending that time getting ready to transition, our bodies and spirits are better able to adapt to the change when it does come.

 

5. It allows us to eat locally even when we can’t eat seasonally

One thing I’ve been focusing on this year has been to eat closer to home. I made a vow not to visit the grocery store this summer since we were growing so much from home, getting a weekly CSA and regularly visiting the farmers’ market. While that vow was definitely broken more than a few times, I did manage to eat a lot more local food than I have in years past.

Eating locally and seasonally is somewhat easy to do in the warm months when the harvest is abundant. But with about 4 months of frigid weather coming my way, thinking about eating locally seems next to impossible. I know I won’t be able to eat quite as locally for the next few months, but knowing that some of the frozen and canned veggies came straight from my garden will be a comforting thought to hold me over until spring.

 

6. There is nothing quite like having a bite of summer in the brutality of the winter

Do I need to say much more? Cracking open a jar of homegrown tomatoes in the dead of January is about as close to summer as you can get. While those tomatoes aren’t quite as delicious as the warmth of the sun on your bare skin, they do a decent job making the winter months a little more bearable.

 

Happy harvesting, preserving + transitioning!

Holly

 

MEET HOLLY

Holly is a health coach and personal cook. Through her creative work, she motivates women who have a fierce desire to get healthy by asking the tough questions, provoking accountability and sharing her *mad* skills in the kitchen and around the home.

Her passion for sustainably raised and home cooked food has fueled the quest for improved health and wellness for both her and her clients. If she’s not in the kitchen whipping up a new dish, you can usually find her rocking her most recent cooking workshop, brewing excessive batches of kombucha beer, creating content for her clients, playing in the garden or eating veggie tacos over a glass of red wine with her favorite humans.

If you’re into getting creative with real food and drink, gardening, fermenting, simplifying your spaces, connecting with your local community, getting weird with nature, creating space in your life for the things that really make you light up, and being an all-around badass at living a more organic life, tune into her new column for Loam, The Conscious Kitchen. 

To find more of Holly’s creative work check out:

How to Create More Space in your Busy Life [For the Sh*t that Matters]

Stick Your Tongue Out at your Inner Critic [Facing Fear]

Food Prep Tips for the Type B Personality

Instagram

 

 

GRAVITY AS A SITE FOR INTUITION

WORDS & IMAGES: MARIANA ROJAS

What does it mean to listen to your intuition? This has been the question on my mind for the last two months while I made new friends and faded away from past friendships. Transitions are difficult. Especially, when you are juggling a new job, a new home, and new people. This process dances around nostalgia—where our past becomes heightened by our telescope memories and we begin to feel guilty of perhaps leaving something behind that might have been necessary. Melancholy approaches—unnoticed and at times unforgiving. Before I moved to Utah for a wilderness therapy guide position, I felt change coming. I was fervidly sensing a new wind. I felt the transition happening before it started—or maybe I started it. I was spending all my time in the forest, sometimes hiking 12 to 15 miles a day to spending most of my nights at a climbing gym in New York. 

 

One day I intentionally gave a visit to my intuition. I am moving to the desert, I told myself. I will be surrounded by rock and dry heat and the wind at times will be relentless. Was I ready for this element to turn my life towards new directions, hailstorms, new bonds with people, confusion and displacements of comforts? Yes. So, I moved. I picked up my ukulele, my tarot cards, my journal, and gear. I told myself, “the time has come to devote time to climbing, writing, and waking up to horizons during dawn.” Was I scared? Yes. This fear is always present in some shape or form. It was present when I was teaching in Ghana. It was present when I moved to Dominican Republic. It was present when I was hitchhiking Mexico. And it is still present today every time I throw a harness on ready to climb. This dialogue took place intuitively. I was reading the signs all around my campus. I was picking meditations to clear my vision in all the graduate, theoretical books I was reading. I was gathering energy from backpacking trips that were all pointing towards me. I took a chance and trusted myself. I began to focus on/in my heart—I considered the heartbreak and abandonment. I wanted something different, I needed something different. 

 

I started my journey towards self-compassion when I landed on the desert. Utah’s warm wind and inviting people confirmed that I was in the right place for this spontaneous and small fork in my life. Instead of choosing a direct path towards my long term goals, I trusted the interval, the mid-way, that in-between space, the bridge. And I was right, this is the marker of contemplation for a young, adventurous, intelligent, and beautiful woman. This is where my critical thought will be put into practice. This is where I will begin to shift my long-time rooted ways that need change. And I knew this change was not arriving politely. I will have to harness all of my strength to coexist with divergent winds. I was warned about the spirit of the desert and people were right. 

 

The unapologetic wind came. I currently find myself searching for a new job, healing from a very loving, but confusing energy, familial scars, and past experiences that still find themselves trapped in my dreams and imagination. I am making new connections, not all so stable, but with enough mobility to accept that I might be just passing by. During this transition, I’ve done some crying, solitary-evaluations, reconsiderations of my path, but more than anything my appetite for the outdoors has increased. As a writer and backpacker, the wilderness is a sanctuary, a place where no explanation of who I am is needed. I can hike for hours (with pauses of course) and nurture one subject to its deep potential. This skill has helped me cope, find solutions, see things from more than just my own perspectives, and mostly, I’ve learned to enjoy my silence—listen with intention and care. This keen occupation with my silence is part of my new compassion for my hurting, for my questions. The desert has left a bruise; the winds have come and go so rapidly that I find myself shifting my internal compass everyday. Even my sleep schedule has changed. This is more than the affects of Mountain Time, something told me. I’ve felt a connection with Utah long before I moved here. I felt a calling. I heard my heart saying, “go there, go there, go there.” Sometimes, I would wake up in the middle of the night in New York and start laughing, my cheeks would bleed with blush at the uncontrolled feeling that something filled with love was waiting for me—I just needed to get there. This urged me to ask for an extension on my thesis, pack my bag, and say goodbye to my grandmother whom watched me get in a taxi with an ocean of tears falling at her feet. 

 

This calling was a soulful calling—one that lives in the intuitive spaces of our bodies, this archive of sensuous hearing and vision. The intuitive is a site of imagination, the dwellings of our strongest layers of skin. Sometimes the intuitive gets blurry like the idle rain hovering outside our windows. Sometimes, the intuitive is unintelligible, nebulous in its personality. We could find ourselves questioning every choice we make to doubting every good feeling we surface. It’s okay to reconsider choices. It’s okay to revisit past winds, past deserts, past bruises. The lessons are still there. The messages are still there, waiting to be received. Transitions are crossings, mediums of knowledge, wells of concentrated information that our journeys have registered. Last night, my friend Kevin spoke to me about gravity, how every object in space exerts a gravitational pull on every other—how this force can cause any two objects in the universe to be drawn to one another. Thus, gravity influences the paths taken by everything traveling through space-it keeps the moon in orbit around the earth and it is adhesive to holding together entire galaxies. I find transitions inevitable, like gravity, and this gravitational pull keeps us in orbit with the intuitive. Maybe there is a centerpiece somewhere, like the middle of our galaxy pulling us all in, but this venue of the self and personal and the intimate does find itself alone sometimes. It is difficult to ignore the connections we make and decide to take off like some spaceship on a mission. It hurts to feel like no one is taking off towards you. But is this what we should be mourning? That authentic substance of certain happenings that have no name to its causations. 

 

Whether love with someone takes a different path, it doesn’t mean gravity despises you. Whether you find yourself reorganizing your financial situation because the current one does not fit your long-term goals, it does not mean gravity despises you. With this in mind, I’ve learned to understand that revisiting old sites of hurtings, past experiences, or unexplainable backward [wander]ings, it means that gravity did not neglect you. It means that our north and south poles are going through their cycles. It means that the sun is shedding light on planets in your galaxy that need to be seen when the time comes. So, I am seeing it through now. Yes it is difficult to see a connection disappear in an instant (a love or career connection) and accept that you have nothing to do with it (it would be easier to accept it is your fault because then you can fix it, but gravity does not work that way). Yes it is difficult to accept absences, but the probabilities pay no favors to our struggles, they offer a variety of pullings and tuggings that orbit us. So, yes, I’ve decided in all of my crying to continue to love myself because to do that means to exist in my own flawless state of rotations. 

 

As much as transitions call us to flee and escape all wounds, we must not. We must stay in our rotations, exist in that gravitational pull with the intuitive and trust that though transitions feel very big and incomprehensible, they are very small in the surpassing of size and density—sometimes uncaptured by our telescope eyes. So I have decided to sit here for a small bit of this pull, make conversation with this gravity that holds me together in an odd imbalanced way, and wait for that next shed of light. 

MEET MARIANA

Loam is excited to welcome Mariana Rojas into our community! Mariana is a traveling graduate student at the University at Buffalo in New York. After getting back from her six month backpacking/research trip in Mexico she began to write her thesis dedicated to her love for essay writing and poetry. She is a lover of the backcountry, rock climbing, backpacking, gardens, anything with constellations, and jazz. If she were an instrument, she would be a saxophone.

Mariana currently lives in Utah working as a wilderness field guide, wooing her fears through climbing and connecting with her dark musings. She loves questions, bright colors, and quiet mornings—the recipe for a thesis in process. You may find her alone most of the time doing her favorite ritual—contemplating. She is inspired by her solo travels through soundscapes, long hikes, and steep peaks. Writers/poets such as Tracy K. Smith, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, and Ana Mariella Bacigalupo inspire her critical and creative thought. Mariana envisions a life of travel and an interdisciplinary doctoral degree. 

For more of her work, check out the following links:

After "Miss Celie's Blues"

On Leaving

When Leaving Is Best

P.S.: Stay tuned for WATER THAT SOUND, Loam's new podcast series that will be hosted by Mariana and Creative Director Kate. 

HOMEMADE WITH NIKITA: CONTAINER GARDENS

WORDS & IMAGES: NIKITA ANDERSON

These days, many of us live in small spaces.  We flock to cities and more densely populated zones in the name of finding success, whatever that may mean to us.  While we thrive intellectually, we lose our connection to the earth, to gardens and farms and the glory of dirt underneath our fingernails.  It’s an easy thing to miss in a city.  I was living in Moscow (18 million people, one room apartments stacked on top of each other), when I reached a crescendo in missing the earth.  My partner and I tried our hand at growing an indoor edible, sorrel.  It was scraggly, over-crowded, and under-lit (I had no idea what I was doing), but it was ours, and I loved it.  Since then, my skills as a container gardener have grown immeasurably, but I’ll always be grateful to our little sorrel plant for guiding the way. 

The great thing about a container garden is that you can work with what you have, any time of the year.  It’s never too late to start growing indoors, and it’s still a prime time to grow a container garden on your balcony.  No matter what amount of space you have to work with, you can grow something edible and something to be proud of.  I have a balcony, and for my outdoor plants I tend to follow the guidelines for my area (you can find a list of what to grow when depending on your geographic region here).  These guidelines are generally due to the temperature, so bear in mind you can move your plants into the shade if need be (I have some kale and carrots in the shade on my balcony now, although they’re way past the standard season for Boulder), or even grow them indoors.  Virtually any time of year you can grow a wonderful bounty of lettuce, herbs, root vegetables and tomatoes in a sunny window indoors.    

In growing food, it’s important to remember to limit the amount of plastic that comes into contact with the plants.  A lot of more affordable, first-hand planters are made of plastic, but mixing sun with plastic is inviting all the petrochemicals into your soil!  Instead, get creative with what you use.  Greens and herbs grow beautifully in old cans. 

  

For larger plants, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots, use old rice sacks, canvas shopping bags, old holiday popcorn tins, or bathroom trash cans.  You can often find these second-hand, or perhaps have them sitting around somewhere unused already.  With any found/second-hand container, make sure you hammer a few holes into the bottom for drainage.  It also helps to ask for advice at your local nursery or farmers’ market.  Tell someone what you’re planning, and seek advice choosing the right seeds.  A lot of plants have heirloom, miniature varieties, like cucumbers, squash, carrots, tomatoes and more. Knowing which seeds do best in small spaces will really help you maximize your yield.

Some tips for potential problems:

1.     This may seem obvious to experienced gardeners and farmers, but spacing is your friend!  I have made the mistake more than once of trying to put more plants than can reasonably fit into a container, hoping for a higher yield.  This is a frustrating mistake and you’ll end up with weak, scraggly plants (my peas were over-crowded this year, and the results were disappointing.), and your yield will be minimal.  Most greens and herbs do well with one plant per can.  Keep peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes, etc. in their own rice-sack-sized container.  You’ll be glad you did. 

2.     Even on balconies, birdies come to munch on your garden!  After Kale Devastation 2k16 (it was almost entirely eaten by birds one very noisy, chirpy morning), I took some shiny wrapping paper I’d saved from a gift, cut it into ribbons, and tied it along my balcony.  When it flutters in the breeze, it shines in a way that keeps birds away.  

3.     Grow food from old food!  There are a few that have quick turnaround, like tomatoes, potatoes, celery, and onions.  Others require more patience, but if you plan on having a potted plant for several years, it’s perfectly reasonable to sprout an avocado pod or grow a pineapple plant from an old pineapple head.

Right now I am growing two tomato plants, two cucumber plants, lavender, kale, carrots, basil and an avocado pod.  It’s simple to get started, and watching plants grow from seed right in your sunny window is so satisfying.  Get planting, container farmers!