Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rainbow over DC...

photo Martin-Lane Cochran

Epicurus (341–270 B.C.) writes in his letter to Pythocles:
The rainbow arises when the sun shines upon humid air; or again by a certain peculiar blending of light with air, which will cause either all the distinctive qualities of these colors or else some of them belonging to a single kind, and from the reflection of this light the air all around will be colored as we see it to be, as the sun shines upon its parts. The circular shape which it assumes is due to the fact that the distance of every point is perceived by our sight to be equal; or it may be because, the atoms in the air or in the clouds and deriving from the sun having been thus united, the aggregate of them presents a sort of roundness

Friday, June 13, 2008

Conscious Party

Aimee Dominic, an event planner, Jay Premack, a photographer and I have had many conversations about events, waste and our individual commitments to conducting our lives and businesses in the most sustainable manner possible. We have discussed how conscious decisions in entertaining usually result in a more luxurious event- think just picked local peonies and a menu designed around produce in season from small local farms. For me the pleasure of the party is enhanced by incorporating the best elements available combined with the knowledge that you are working in concert with our earth.

Aimee, Jay and I work individually in this manner every day. In my case with flower arrangements I use local flowers, many grown in my own city garden, whenever possible. When I cannot use local flowers I find sources that grow exceptional flowers sustainably and have outstanding labor practices. With food I focus on both origin and taste of ingredients.

Recently Aimee, Jay and I had the opportunity to work with a couple on their wedding who felt as strongly as we do about having a celebration that was as environmentally conscious as possible.

Care was taken to reduce consumption and waste that is usually synonymous with traditional entertaining- some of the details included……

-electronic save the dates to reduce paper use
-invites printed on recycled paper with soy based ink saving --trees saved and reduction of ink toxins used
-no escort cards or favors were used and the couple used the saved money to donate to organizations supporting reforestation and conservation
-flowers were local many were home grown and native reducing transportation miles and supporting biodiversity
-all flower vases were returned to be reused
-buses were used to transport guests which cut down on emissions
-the bride and groom traveled in via Eco-Limo, a company that uses both hybrid and bio diesel vehicles
-local products such as beeswax candles, locally brewed beer, local cheese, Sticky Fingers vegan wedding cake were used which cuts down on transportation costs and supports local businesses
-3Citron, catered using locally grown and organic produce with a menu that was primarily vegetarian, care was taken to recycle after the event
-music was provided by MyDeejay a locally based DJ service with environmentally conscious practices
-lighting by Frost Lighting, a company that operates in an environmentally conscious manner
-carbon credits were purchased through the Carbon Fund to offset guests transportation and hotel stays

Similar small conscious steps can be taken daily in different aspects of our lives.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Planting with my friend Allison and her family-

I plant container gardens and small city gardens. In most of these gardens we incorporate herbs into the plantings. Often there are some vegetable plants, fruit trees and this year we did a decent sized plot of corn close to a beautiful swimming pool.

I use a huge variety of plants in gardens all over the city but I get really excited when I plant something that is both beautiful and useful. Nothing satisfies like harvesting something from your own garden to eat.
(In a recent article Michael Pollan articulates the intense benefits of planting a productive garden.)

My own city garden is a densely planted space and everything in it is usable. I harvest thousands of stems for my flower business and grow fruit, vegetables and herbs for both business and personal consumption. Since I do live in the city my productive garden is central to our home, we work, dine, play, relax and reap the fruits of the garden. This practice of gardening brings us pleasure. Recently we started worm composting which takes up very little space, produces a large amount of fertilizer and is tended to by my 9 year old daughter.

All of the gardens I plant are in spaces that are limited in size and need to be used for many purposes. They also need to be aesthetically pleasing. It seems that every year in each of the gardens I plant we use more space for producing plants and less for plants that are purely ornamental. I guess others besides me are finding pleasure and beauty in the practice of productive city gardening.

In my friend Allison’s garden we have taken it to a new level. Allison lives in a beautiful row house with her husband, two year old and teenager. They have a brick patio that is very much part of their home. The family uses the space to eat, read, relax and play. Since there is no place to plant in the ground last year we set up lots of pots and plants. Immediately the space became warmer, more welcoming. This winter Allison started asking me about how they could farm in their charming urban garden…. We located and ordered planters that fit in available sunny spots making sure to leave enough room to enjoy the patio. We talked about what the family would actually like to eat and out of those desires what was actually possible to grow in the space. We got a worm farm started so they could compost and use the fertilizer for their new crops. We coordinated schedules so everyone would be there on a day that the moon was in a beneficial place to plant….then we planted.

They have all taken a part in planting, caring, watering and composting. Already herbs have been harvested, lettuces are nearly ready to be eaten, tiny figs and tomatoes are ripening. Sustaining this garden is now part of the families play, practice and pleasure.