Normandy AldenBlog

Comments 36

    1. Alanna Rose

      So, I am obviously a bystander, but from what I have seen on Garth’s plate I can say things look good. What was breakfast? Kabocha squash with kale, eggs, and duck breast prosciutto. Oh my!

  1. Burgandy Alden Smith

    This feels exciting! There is so much for us (the readers) to learn – be exposed to – think about. Thanks for putting your efforts out there!

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  3. Christine Baker

    Hi Ed, the strawberry and frozen yoghurt look delicious!

    However, that’s not why I’m writing. I’ve been following the discussion of Cowspiracy and now I can’t find it! Searching the blog gives me nothing. I can’t find any other old posts either. Do you delete everything after a few weeks?

    Hope you’re feeling better soon,


    1. Post
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  6. Terence Flynn

    Hello, I am a Teacher with a family who needs a change in life. Are you ever looking for people to work for you on your farm. Thanks for your time.

    1. Garth Brown

      Thanks for checking out the blog! In the future we hope to have some way to accommodate interns and/or WOOFers, but right now we don’t have the facilities or a workable program for doing so.

      1. margaret werenchuk

        I read about the root cellar you made and said you were having trouble with the freezing temperatures later in winter, also with vegetables going soft. We have a root cellar we built ourselves the same as yours. We had to close the vent as it was too cold. BUT I have discovered that I put the potatoes in 45 gallon drums (just because I have them) and layer with a lot of DRY sawdust. Starting with a good layer of sawdust on the bottom of the barrel and then a layer of potatoes – more sawdust etc all the way up to the top and a good layer on the top. They keep very well. Firm and no sprouting, no mold. One year we had a huge crop of potatoes and they kept so well, right until June. Just beautiful. We have done this now for 30 years. The sawdust acts as an insulator against the cold OR if it’s warm, against the warmth. Carrots I layered in sand in apple crates. With the vent in the root cellar closed, it’s gets humid in there and also it’s in a bad place with water seeping in, so hence the sawdust came into play. Works like a charm.

        1. Garth Brown

          Thanks for the idea. This past year confident the problem was some sort of disease, since the majority of the potatoes rotted in the hill before I dug them. It wasn’t late blight, but I’m not positive what to blame instead. Hopefully it won’t happen again!

          1. Bryan Barefoot

            Garth, if you will start to plant garlic, onions, peppers and sunflowers in and around your potatoes you will stop having problems diseases. State following gardening companion planting and you will see what it can do for you.

  7. Carly

    Awesome, I love these stories as this is what I want to do but pretty much as a permanent thing. The only things I’ve ever kept in the past was chickens for laying so it will be a huge challenge and a bit scary so reading blogs like this is inspiring.

    1. Edmund Brown

      “…pretty much as a permanent thing.”

      Wow, you’re even more committed than I am! Going 90 or 95% would be pretty fantastic too, and it would allow for a little more freedom in what’s available day to day. We’ve been building up to this point for a while – big garden for five years (bigger each year), cows, chickens, and pigs… Chickens are a good gateway, that’s what I started with over a decade ago. I hope once you’re ready to take the plunge you keep a blog so I can check on your progress.

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  9. Ross Worthington

    This seems like a great undertaking! I’m certainly going to follow along as this is kind of my eventual goal. I’m already ahead of the game because I’ve already given up chocolate and coffee. I’ve gotten used to it and actually feel physically better. Anyway, best of luck on your adventure!

    1. Edmund Brown

      Thanks Ross. It is great sometimes, and other times it is less great. At dinner tonight my wife and I were just talking about how many gardeners try to increase the amount of food they grow for themselves by a small increment each year. Next year, having gone all the way to 100%, I will get to find the sweet spot of balance between highly nutritious garden veggies and the occasional treat from “away”. I think even going 90/10 or 95/5 would be much easier long term than trying to maintain 100%.

        1. Edmund Brown

          Permaculture is a big topic. The short answer is, “yes” we use some of the principles, but nobody here is super-duper invested in the system. There is a lot of good stuff to be found in permaculture. I have a friend who knows a lot about it and teaches classes, but I’ve never taken a class. I did read the handbook (textbook really) about a decade ago.

          Some so called “permies” are opposed to importing rock dusts and minerals. I think that is silly at best. Some soils are deficient or completely lacking in essential minerals. Sure they’ll grow plants, but those plants won’t yield well or support maximum human/animal health until the soils are amended appropriately.

  10. Mike

    Hi guys, congrats on your decision, and thanks so much for sharing. I think what you guys are doing is fantastic. I bought 56 acres of land last year with the plans to develope it and sell of lots for my retirement, but have recently been speaking with a couple of my sons that would like to live off the land. this property being a farm about 25 years or so ago, I think that it could possibly be retransformed into usable growing land. so I am seriously re-considering my initial plan and let the boys work the property. I wish that I could do this myself, but the property is 400 KM from my home. so we will see how it all plays out. again, congrats on your personnal chalange. best of luck.

    1. Edmund Brown

      Thanks Mike. Where is your land? I’m curious to read other peoples’ experiences doing the same thing I’m doing but in another climate. I think a Mediterranean climate (assuming you had access to water) would be pretty sweet. I’d love to get some olives.

      A dry tropical climate could be interesting too… Mangos are delicious.

  11. Shari Due

    I’d like to at least grow all my vegetables (and maybe fruit)–possibly milk and cheese. Getting all my eggs from hens for the past few years and built a hoop house last year, but still working out when to plant and how much to plant to eliminate gaps. Also, this is in a yard space (.22 acre) with a house on the space too and limited to 8 chickens and 2 Nigerian Dwarf goats per city code. Will also need to grow extra to trade for meat if I want to eliminate spending money on food. I can get most things locally. Every year I do better with growing and preserving and my harvest lasts longer, but still figuring out if this is possible. Great to read about your experiences but would love to see someone doing this in a suburban yard, because it is more likely to be doable for the masses. The coffee and chocolate? I’m with your wives on that one.

    1. Edmund Brown

      I also would like to read somebody’s experience of doing this project in a suburban yard. There’d be similarities and big differences. I actually have an essay mostly written for a future month where I go into some detail about what I consider an ideal “foodscape” for the northeastern US, since that is the region I’m most familiar with. Summary version – what I’m doing is not really something I believe everyone should aspire to.

      I don’t know where you’re located, or how strict you’re goal of self-sufficiency is… If you’re trying to raise all your own food (are you the only human subsisting on this plot?) and everything for 8 chickens and two goats on .22 acres minus a house footprint I’d think it would be very tight. What about shade from neighbor’s trees? Neighbor’s houses? Lack of sunlight could take out a huge chunk of potential calories.

      Have you read Steve Solomon’s,The Intelligent Gardener? Or Micheal Astera’s, The Ideal Soil? If you’re going to grow a lot of your own food it is worth every penny getting the soil roughly right so your veggies are as nutritious as possible. Only organic matter doesn’t make for the very best vegetables in most cases.

      1. Judy Kennedy

        I agree. I’ve been attempting to replace my summer grocery vegetable purchases with what I grow in six 4’X 8′ raised beds, and compost and manure alone fell short of our two adult household requirements. However, the addition of the suggested application rate on the package of Carbonatite volcanic rock dust tripled my yield of tomatoes and beans last summer. My root veggies still need some help, so I’m always looking for advice as to what I could do to increase their size, quantity and quality.

        1. Edmund Brown

          I recommend either of the books in my above comment. They both will hold your hand through soil testing and amending for superior quality. My go-to gardening book is Steve Solomon’s Gardening When It Counts. It is by far the best book on gardening I’ve ever read, not that I agree with everything 100%, or do things precisely the way he advises. Still, it is very, very good. The Intelligent Gardener, I have yet to read, but I trust that it too is top-shelf material because I participate in a yahoo group (called soil and health) he moderates.

  12. John

    I see a new section since last I visited….HOW IT WORKS! Alas, SALES!!!

    And many new pix too…..The kids are growing up! Please, not too fast.

  13. John P Grabouski

    Do I detect HORNS coming from Edmund’s head in the COLD EXPOSURE photo. Hmm, and your brother STILL outlasted you when the rubber hit the road. [or was that the skin hit the snow?]

    I could ask about a serious lack of entertainment at the farm, but clearly, you do have the internet, and a bit of entertainment of your own. My best to all. [We had a total of about 6 inches of snow for the entire winter here. And the farmers are complaining!]

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