Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Changes (resisting stealing from David Bowie)

© 2010 Joshua Stark

Though I love Bowie, I just couldn't bring myself to title my post what it was screaming to be titled.

Anyhoo, I want to point out some changes I've made to this blog, and some changes to my blogging, in general.

First, notice that you can subscribe to my blog, so if you are comfortable with that sort of thing, go right ahead and sign up.

Next, although I'm going to keep it on my blog roll for awhile (so people may still access old content), I'm actually not going to post to my 'Lands on the Margin' blog separate from this one.  Now, I love that blog, and it's difficult to stop posting, but as a good friend suggested, I can easily roll posts about marginal lands into Agrarianista here, especially considering what I've come to realize about urban homesteading in California.

In California, we have a long, distinguished history of effective foraging, hunting and fishing.  We have more plant varieties than all other states in the U.S. combined.  We have a fairly close proximity to a huge variety of climates and microclimates, and the elevation changes (here around Sacramento, we are less than three hours from coast to alpine climates) provide a gigantic range of seasons (we pick elderberries from June through September).  Historically, as Brian Fagan points out in his book, "Before California", for 12,000 years our region had no need for agriculture, and by the time the first Europeans arrived,  California housed ~350k, all from foraging, hunting and fishing (including ~ 60K tons of acorns per year).

With the arrival of us Europeans came other forage-able species:  Blackberries, mustard, fennel, and many roadside weeds and ornamentals (like rosemary), often highly prized in culinary circles, are had by simply sloughing off one's pride and stopping at the abandoned lot with a paper bag and a knife. 

So for me, urban homesteading in California definitely involves a lot of foraging.  Besides, I know the edgelands better than I know how to coax squash out of my backyard soil, and I'm able to trade, from time to time, for those wonderful cup-&-saucers and other squashes we love.  The trade of things one has made, including one's store of knowledge, for others' well-wrought expertise, is the cornerstone of homesteading; it builds the community people realize they crave when they find it. 

Soon, I'll also set up some stand-alone pages:  "How to start homesteading"; and compilations (w/ additional materials) of two occasional series from my 'Lands' blog, "Edible and Useful Plants of California's Edgelands", and "Marginal Reviews:  Gear for California's Edgelands".

"River Nature Tours" (already up), is a page on my guiding service around Central California.  If you are interested in getting an up-close look at our local river habitats, please check it out and shoot me an email.  Soon, I will post information on an upcoming weekend getaway on the Sacramento Delta, with guided trips for birdwatching, learning some basic California edgeland foraging (there's more than just stuff to eat, too!), and some local flavors, both literal and figurative.

For those of you who have found some interest or entertainment here, please pass along my blog to people you think may be interested.  Also, please feel free to comment with tips, questions, suggestions, disagreements...  I'm very interested in hearing which have been helpful, what you might like to read, and the expertise you have for me and others who are also interested in urban agrarianism.

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