Starting today, Erica Neal of Yellow Swing Garden will be sharing a four-part series on suburban homesteading, cultivating community, and nourishing sustainability. Erica's compassionate and experimental approach to living lightly on this earth—by caring for herself, her family, and her home—has truly inspired me. Herewith, Erica's first column. 

Life is wrapped in story—history, fiction, social media—it’s all a form of narrative. From cave paintings to films, humanity has used words and images to capture, communicate, and inspire life for millennia. On a personal scale, we aim to live lives that offer good stories in our golden years.  Whether grand or modest, we are creatures that crave a plotline.  
You might be wondering what this has to do with homesteading or environmental stewardship.  When you or I think about our passions and the good work we hope to accomplish, even that is a form of storymaking. Romance, resistance, reconciliation; regardless of the motivation, something sparks a desire within. However we set out to pursue that goal is the story. Yet we don’t typically think of our desires and decisions from the perspective of being a personal narrative. In the moment, we don’t always consider that our choices are writing our stories every day. And we should; because a powerful thing happens when we do.
When we set out to accomplish a goal with story in mind, we set intentions. We envision progress and challenges along the way to a stunning destination. We generate or gather imagery and language that invokes passion.  And most importantly, we create a space in our memory that can recall these vivid dreams when our hope needs help. Even a dream as simple as sustainable living deserves the support of a vibrant, intentional story.  
This is where our family started—looking forward, and imagining a story about our future. Before we had any idea of what reality would actually look like, we painted the broad strokes of the life we hoped for.  It was the talk that bubbled up over coffee on a Sunday afternoon, or drifted across the table during a casual evening out. In those loose, non-plans, there were seeds of conviction, beauty, and bigger-than-us ideas. I’m sure you know these types of conversations. Listen to yourself. Hear your friends. The things we discuss in those moments—be they joyful or conflicted—deserve our attention. That’s our heart speaking. That’s our protagonist quest.  
Our story was inspired by a passion for food quality and equity, green space, creativity, and family. Those were the adventures that called us; and we nearly had to draw our own map.  In 2007—2008, one in our immediate circle was talking about homesteading, sustainable food culture or pursuing a slower pace of life. We were all in our mid-twenties, battling burnout and working to establish ourselves in one field or another. So we had to find other sources of information, support, and ways to do fulfilling work. I left a toxic career for creative nonprofit work, moved into an even smaller studio apartment, and started scouring the internet for blogs or articles about sustainable living. We stepped outside of our immediate circle to find volunteer opportunities and reconsidered our buying and eating habits.  Each of those choices—the life changing and the lunch changing—were the growth of earlier ideas, the product of our personal narrative.
Even today, with the widespread knowledge of threats to our environment and communities, organizations dedicated to each of them, and the connective power of social media, it’s possible to find yourself without an immediate support system. Your family and friends might think of building sufficiency, or living lighter as completely backwards, or just a passing trend. You too may need to draw your own map and step outside of familiar environments to find the way forward. In 2017 that first step might be curating your social media feed(s), and being more mindful of the content you consume on a daily basis. Make new connections within and beyond our physical communities. Whatever the means, establish influences and outlets that feed your goals.  

The next elements are patience and adaptability. Living is a creative process, not a “To Do” list.  Therefore, we’re not likely to move along a path, reaching each checkpoint free of obstruction.  So brace for interruptions and breathe in patience. Patience makes it possible to persist when life demands immediate responses in place of our story-driven choices. And while that waiting time may feel like a pause or lack of progress, it’s actually a point in the journey that creates space for reflection or new ideas. Allow yourself to be frustrated. Then adapt, edit, edit and get moving again. We can repeat this process as many times as necessary, as long as we don’t give up.
Finally, we set intentions, craft visions of beautiful futures, and keep moving forward. Take full advantage of the present.  It can be tempting to go from story as inspiration to story as trap.  “When I get to X place, I’ll do Y.  When we have Y, we can do Z.” There are too many pathways on the way to sufficiency to ever truly be stuck. If you don’t have space to grow your own food, learn to preserve, ferment, or bake from scratch. If you can’t build a tiny house just yet, cultivate skill through volunteer construction opportunities. Support an organization you believe in until you can start your own.
One of the most revolutionary components of building sufficiency and living sustainably is that no one can actually stop us. No regulation, setback, HOA, or government administration can completely stop us from making choices that will create positive impact in our lives and the world.  The only thing that can stop us, is us. And risk of quitting increases without an established mission and motivation… without a powerful story.   




From interviews with revolutionary agroecologists to immersive herbalism guides, Loam: Permaculture in Practice is both a celebration of sustainable living and a call to radical action. Searching for strategies to embody hope? Want to learn how to eco dye? Eager to build a thriving garden? Consider this luscious issue of Loam a vital resource in your pursuit of love-filled and world-building experiences. 

We are SO excited to share this gorgeous issue with you all, loamy loves! Flipping thru this work of art brings me wild hope and joy. Our contributors—from Adriana Moreno of Moonshadow Goods to Saqib, Jocelyn, and Sita of People's Kitchen Collective to ceramic artist SiouxBean—have helped give life to a truly special guide to arts as activism.

Snag a copy today to support artists and activists making waves in the environmental movement(s). There is so much power in the people. 


We are so excited to share that the latest issue of Loam is now available for pre-order. We're exceptionally proud of this magazine, and in awe of the many activists, artists, makers, and movers who have contributed their fiery spirit, radical art, and ideas for building a better world to Permaculture in Practice

This issue of Loam is particularly rich in stories of resilience, herbal how-tos, and strategies for sustainable living. From exclusive content from the folks at The Tiny Mess to an interview with local food advocate (and professional surfer) Cyrus Sutton to a vibrant photoessay on the People's Kitchen Collective, our magazine truly is a toolkit for radical change in the guise of a work of art. We hope that this baby "book" will be something you can treasure for years to come, as we work together to cultivate a resilient environment and heal our precious earth. 



Joy doesn't betray but sustains activism. And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated and isolated, joy is a fine act of insurrection.

Rebecca Solnit

Rad author and activist Rebecca Solnit is inspiring to me for a million and one reasons. But I'm especially grateful to her because reading her words from Hope in the Dark gave life to my mantra for 2017: relentless joy.

Like many of you, I'm wracked with anxiety about our planet and our politics in the coming year. The last few weeks, I've felt afraid to celebrate, to adventure, to embrace, because it's too damn sad to be wildly in love in this world when I'm so worried about losing her. I know, I know—it's stupid. But lately my turbulent heart has craved mindless distraction. 

Reading Rebecca Solnit's words reminded me that existing numb and neutral to the world isn't where it's at. I can't fight Trump, can't do the good work that needs to be done to heal our earth, if I'm spending my evenings curled up inside. I want to be a body in this world, baby! I want to be full of joy and daring and dreaming.

So my mission for the new year is to fearlessly pursue happiness. I'm going to throw a feast for friends for my birthday next week and travel to snow-kissed hot springs with my beloveds and plan an epic hike on Inauguration Day to counteract all that sadness with relentless joy. This isn't a call to pledge blind allegiance to happiness because it's healthy—hell, it's necessary—to experience anger, frustration, and sorrow too. Rather, it's an opportunity to give myself permission to celebrate the thousand and one beautiful things that are growing gorgeous in this world even in spite (or maybe because of) all the shittiness. 

Relentless joy is a radical act right now. How are you, sweet creature, going to party? 



The cold, dark winter months are beautiful & blue. I love the frosty chill and snow capped mountains but I also find myself craving green. That's why planting an indoor windowsill garden with starter plants is such a comforting project to dive into. With sufficient sunlight, love, and water, you can cultivate a healing farmacy of your very own in just a few short weeks. 


1  15’’ x 6’’ x 4’’ Planter Box

Cilantro, Sage, Thyme & Basil Starter Plants

Organic Potting Soil Mix



  1. Layer the base of your planter box with rocks. This will help with drainage and provide a strong foundation for potting soil mix.

  2. Fill planting box with potting soil. Make sure to leave a little space between the surface of the potting mix and the side of the box.

  3. Plant herb starter plants per the instructions on the packet. 

  4. Water thoroughly after planting. With regular sun and water, you should see leaves unfurling in just a few weeks!


The Healing Kitchen  Holly Bellebuono

Container Theme Gardens  Nancy J. Ondra


P.S.: Want something super simple? Check out the Garden-in-a-Can goodness from rad food start-up Back to the Roots






Not sure how to turn your anger into activism? Celebrated organizer Esperanza Pallana shares six strategic steps you can take today to begin building a better world. 

Like many of us, I was horrified and deeply saddened by the election of Donald Trump. While I have been open to hear the many reasons people chose to vote for Trump, I cannot accept that his is a platform based on hatred of others and this was not rejected. My friends and family are now living in an even less safe world. In response, it is our duty to find our strength, focus our grief, pain and anger, organize and act. Here are some first steps I believe we need to take:

1) Assess what your resources are and what you are willing to invest. This goes beyond financial but also time, expertise, and networks.

2)  Identify opportunities in community to connect, talk, unify and strategize work and volunteer opportunities to address key demographics and issues targeted by the Trump administration. Consider how to go beyond online petitions, social media, and protest marches. Ask how you can invest yourself more deeply. Be practical about what you can and cannot do.

3) Keep a quick access list of local, state and federal elected officials that you can communicate with on issues. Don’t be afraid to call! Jamming phone lines remains an impactful way to convey our mass concern. Be respectful so you can be heard.

4) Your first duty is radical self love. Take care of your body, your mind, your inner life. Foster your strength and remember our collective journey. As Junot Diaz so eloquently wrote: “…we know that by fighting, against all odds, we who had nothing, not even our real names, transformed the universe. Our ancestors did this with very little, and we who have more must do the same. This is the joyous destiny of our people—to bury the arc of the moral universe so deep in justice that it will never be undone.”

5) If you don’t identify as a demographic targeted by the Trump administration, but rather as an ally: A) Consider that in truth, until we can all live without oppression and violence on any part of our society, freedom does not truly exist, and even you are at risk; B) Learn what allyship is! Learn about privilege, power, humility and leadership rooted in love and respect.

6) Never give up.



We cannot settle for the language of compromise. Not when lives are on the line. Not when we're faced with a white nationalist President Elect whose policies would poison our planet and our people. Every time I read a new story about Trump's plans—be it to appoint a climate change denier to spearhead the EPA or bring Stephen Bannon on board—I feel like I'm wandering through a fresh nightmare. We can't allow the recent slew of hate crimes to be our new normal. This is not normal. This is fucking insane. 

During times like this, it is important to remember that there have always been times like this. For the next forever, Loam is going to be vigilant about sharing strategies for direct action with you all. We'll interview everyone from activists working on the frontlines of environmental justice to anarchists in action. Our hope is to provide you with viable blueprints for building a more just, loving, and generous world. 

What's one thing you can do today to fight Trump? Call your Senator or Representative to voice your concern. Many politicos with knowledge of the system have said that calling your Senator or Representative is far more impactful than sending an e-mail. We have to let our representatives know that their constituency is not going to accept Trump as our President. We must encourage those we've elected into office to consider civil liberties and our environment's health as fundamental to their policy decisions. I've been frustrated by Democrats who have sought to accept this horrific election and move forward "together." No. We're going to fight to keep this monster out of office and if he is sworn in, we're going to fight to ensure that his garbage team cannot parcel out public land, unjustly deport immigrants, force Muslims to register, normalize transphobia, destroy our environment, or threaten Black lives. 

Below is the directory for our representatives. Make a call to your local representative today. State your name and why you are calling. It will take five minutes of your time and you might be talking to an answering machine but know that your voice MATTERS. 

Directory of U.S. Senators

Directory of U.S Representatives



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!