NeighborWoods – free trees for your Austin home!

urban_trees   Austin Energy has partnered with the Austin Urban Forestry Department to increase the tree canopy over Austin neighborhoods.  This program is intended to reduce energy costs (especially in summer) by using trees to cool homes and reduce the urban heat island effect, reduce street and water runoff system maintenance costs and increase property values.  TreeFolks staff and volunteers will be evaluating neighborhoods to determine the best placement of trees.  If your yard qualifies for a free tree, they will place a flag in your yard and put an order form on your door.  You can also contact them at the link above to request an evaluation.  TreeFolks delivers the trees with planting and care instructions.  I wonder if the uptake of this program would be greater if they did the planting themselves, as I can imagine many elderly or disabled homeowners who would not be able to do the planting themselves, or lower income families who would not have the required yard tools.  But regardless I hope that many homeowners who are eligible take them up on the offer if their yard is eligible.

USDA nation farmers market directory

cropped-farmers-market-veggies.jpg   I'll bet you didn't know there was one!  Most people don't but they do have one.  You can search by location, payment accepted, products offered and whether they are open in the winter.

USDA to announce organic and local farming program today

farmers-market-veggies   The program will direct $52 million to regional and local endeavors such as farmers markets, and will fund research on organic farming.  This is great news, however, I think the research portion would be better spent on subsidizing organic farming similar to how large-scale nonorganic farming is subsidized.  Is more research at all necessary at this point?  This program is the first to come from the Agriculture Act of 2014, signed into law in February.  The total funding provided by the act is $291 million.

Make your own nut butters and milks

You'll need a food processor but if you are fond of straightforward nut butters and milks, this technique (presented in excellently simple graphic form) could save you significant money and avoid fillers or preservatives that may be present in store-bought products.

Productio Ad Absurdam now on Tumblr

Supposedly, this will now auto-post to my Tumblr blog, formerly known as "First Parish East of Long Island" because it was originally the photo chronicle of my trip to Ireland this summer.  If you go over there now, you can browse the photos and posts about that.  Posting here may be slow for a while but I still have twenty-one draft posts from Ireland that I need to write up and post.  But you won't be sorry you did, I promise!
Update:  the titles are being cross-posted, but not the body text.  I've posted in their support forum (and a pox on whoever came up with ideas of 'help forums' (where actual help is rarely to be found) to replace an actual person or team dedicated to providing technical support.  Cheap, lazy bastards.

Chicken rental

mobile coop   No, seriously.  Have you ever thought about backyard chickens, but weren't certain enough to make the commitment?  Then rent a coop!  The Chicken Renters in Austin are here to help.  Rental covers a portable coop, two laying hens, hippie-type feed, and instructions.  For an additional fee, you can get more hens.  1 month, 3 month and t month rentals are available.  And if it turns out you and your hens are birds of a feather, you can purchase your coop at any time.  They welcome requests for consultations.
As Joe Najmi and Kendrick Norton say on their website:

"We want to share the experience and joy of raising chickens and gathering eggs with others.  Chickens don't only reward you with fresh eggs, their quirky personalities provide endless hours of entertainment and companionship.  We want you to experience this opportunity for yourself.  Whether you are a fair weather farmer, or decide keep your chickens year round, we are here to help!"


Kentucky opens a public gas station

You read that right.  Somerset, Kentucky has opened a municipally owned and operated gas station.  The purpose of the gas station is two-fold:  first, to ensure gasoline is affordable to Somerset residents.  Currently the town's location near popular tourist are of Cumberland has caused gas prices to spike as much as 30 cents per gallon on weekends.  And second, the lower cost of gas in Somerset may entice those tourists to fill up there instead of in Cumberland, driving business to local stores and restaurants.  Somerset does not expect to make any profit from the station, just to cover the wholesale cost of gasoline and operating expenses.

Seattle issuing fines for food waste

homefood600_130409_006_-300x240   Under the new rules, households will be fined $1 if their trash contains more than 10% food waste, and businesses and apartment buildings will be fined $50, beginning in January of next year.  The city does provide food and yard waste containers to residents, so it's not up to the residents themselves to figure out what to do with it (which would be logistically difficult to impossible for many apartment dwellers and businesses).

Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance online auction

auction   The auction is currently up and running.  Included for bid are stays at various farms and ranches, dinners at local restaurants, a nutritional assessment, and more.  The auction ends on October 3.    

Farmers in Brittany set fire to tax office in protest

Apparently, vegetable farming in Brittany is becoming increasingly unsustainable, but the Russian embargoes due to the crisis in the Ukraine were the final straw.  This is a very important market for these farmers and they are making their feelings known.  I wonder if they dumped the artichokes, manure and cauliflowers deliberately to obstruct the firefighters, or if they just didn't give any thought to the consequences.
Policies have consequences, but its the unintended consequences that can do the most damage.