Wednesday, May 30, 2007

going native

i have written about this before, over at sewgreen.  but i feel very strongly about it, and feel it bears repeating.

our mid-century modern home in the san fernando valley sees the summer temps rise to an average of 95F (35C). and last summer we set a record going for 21 days straight with temps over 100 degrees fahrenheit! while our average annual precipitation sits at 18 inches. (the national average is about 39 inches.) it sits in the middle of a long block of manicured lawns.  where sprinklers run at dawn and dusk to maintain this green symbol of prosperity and success.

it is estimated that the average southern california family uses 500 gallons of water a day. (500 gallons!! i think that is about 1900 litres. just think of all those milk jugs lined up...) 30% of that in the house. that leaves 70% going to watering the lawn and filling the swimming pool. i am told the figure for outdoor use is likely higher in the valley, where we receive less precipitation, and the mercury rises higher. i cannot fathom that amount of water being poured onto the ground. besides that, think of the run-off, and pesticides and fertilizers it is carrying out to the pacific ocean.

i like green.  really i do.  but this just seemed a little much.

so, our goal this summer is to tear it out. cap off our sprinkler system. and go native. (plus some raised veggie beds.) socal native plants are adapted to winter rains and summer drought. once established, they should need very little water other than that provided by mother nature. and we should see a considerable decrease in our water consumption.  we are also involving the kids, by using a model established by the national wildlife federation.  their backyard wildlife habitat program encourages the use of native flora, to (naturally!) attract native fauna.  by providing food, water, and shelter we are will hopefully bring some welcome wildlife to our yard.

so we are at the beginning of the journey. we have developed a plan, and already purchased a few plants off our list. (a list culled from a great resource here - just put in your california zip code and go!) pointers are always welcome!

and i'll let you know how it goes...

inspiring me...
california native plant society
edible estates los angeles
l.a. county dept. of public works : how to save water outside the home

theodore payne nursery
las pilitas nursery

Monday, May 21, 2007

American baby

Over the weekend I was searching for a baby gift for friends and stumbled into an American Apparel shop. I knew a little bit about American Apparel – their products are made in America, they are based in downtown Los Angeles, they pay fair wages, the products are 100% cotton. So I bought a cute little onesie and moved on. But doing a little more research later turned up the fact they also have a line of organic baby clothes. I love this idea for a gift.

Ideas to try:
Order online a onesie for each day of the week and have them shipped to the lucky newborn without having to leave home.

Head over to Etsy and pick up a customized, and extremely cute, version. Here are some of my favorites:

Mind Alphabet, Turtle Onesie - Organic Cotton, Non-toxic Ink

Fox and Winston, Brian the Red Rooster

Rock Paper Scissors, rock star baby organic cotton onesie

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Food for thought

Did you know that the minimum distance that North American produce typically travels from farm to plate is 1500 miles? I didn’t. When Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon discovered this they decided to try an experiment. For one year, they bought or gathered their food and drink from within 100 miles of their apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia. To find out more, go to their website, The 100 Mile Diet. There is also a nifty tool on the website where you can map your own 100-mile radius.

Buy Local

I've noticed in my own local supermarket signs advertising locally grown produce. I've also for the first time started noting where produce is grown. Apples from Washington state or Chile? It makes choosing between all those different kinds of apples easier.

Here are some other ideas to try:

Shop at a local farmers market. We are lucky here in the Los Angeles area to have so many.

Make a day of it and visit a local farm to see what they have to offer.

Prepare a 100 Mile Diet meal for family or friends.

Try the 100 Mile Diet for a day and discover what challenges it brings.