Thursday, April 7, 2011

Novella Carpenter

The author of Farm City was an engaging speaker at Cuesta College's Book of the Year event yesterday. She's as funny in person as she is on the page.

She started her flock with a meat bird assortment from Murray McMurray that included chicks, ducklings, goslings and a turkey poult. She's now an enthusiastic poultry person on her Oakland urban farm. She's raising money to pay for a Conditional Use Permit, $2,500, to allow her to keep her poultry and rabbits.

She learned from keeping two pigs that small livestock is preferable in a city setting. She continues to dumpster dive for food for her livestock. It sounds funny, and her presentation is entertaining, but it's got tough issues at its heart: at least a quarter of the food we produce we throw away. Retrieving it and putting it to use reduces the amount of waste in the landfills as well as saving the time, money, effort and resources -- read oil -- that goes into producing it.

I wrote about a town in Belgium that gives chickens to its resident for exactly that reason, to reduce the amount of solid waste it sends to the landfill in BioCycle magazine last year.

I volunteered to arrange for the annual Friends of the Elephant Seal fundraiser to be a Zero Waste event. That means finding ways for "all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use." It has turned out to be more difficult than I expected, but I have found a person who has worm bins at local community gardens and would welcome the food waste from the event. With luck, he'll have a worm-bin-on-wheels available by the September event. We can use recyclable dinnerware. I'd heard of compostable dinnerware, but that turns out to be compostable only under certain conditions, which are not available in this county.

Poultry rules.

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