Monday, June 20, 2011

Sustainability project in Madrid, Spain

Hi all.

A friend of mine mentioned this a while ago, about a project he is working on in Madrid, Spain.

This is the translated version in Babel Fish, but if you read Spanish, the website is likely a more accurate interpretation compared to the Babel Fish translation.

So if you are ever in Madrid, go say hello to Diego for me! or buenos dias.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Birds on Bikes and the Like

Howdy folks!

Greetings to you all from Peterborough, where Garrett and Kristi have just been gardening all morning... we were then rained out by a thunderstorm and now it's peaceful and sunny again.

Things are rolling along behind the scenes, with Garrett hard at work on the website. (New and improved with all the videos and info we gathered during PEDAL Part One!) And route planning is underway for PEDAL Part Two, after a successful and reflective meeting involving all past PEDAL participants. Even Lucas joined us via Skype from Oregon!

Garrett hard at work on the website

I also wanted to draw your attention to an amazing (and closely linked) project that some friends of friends will soon set off on... It's called Birds on Bikes. They are leaving Vancouver on June 1st (soon!) and heading all the way to Baja California. And their goal dovetails nicely with our own... They are planning to visit small scale, grassroots, sustainable community organizations along their route. They are going to document their trip using film, blog and pen!

It sounds like an amazing journey and we are surely going to connect with them soon to see how we can collaborate! You'll probably hear more details about them in the future as we learn more.
Till then, here is a link to their blog: Birds on Bikes Blog

Sunday, May 1, 2011

PEDAL Futures and TranscanEAUda

Hey folks!

Just a quick update from your friendly PEDAL crew. Plans are in the works to set out on part two of PEDAL Across the Americas in September 2011, starting from San Fransisco and ending up in Costa Rica! There may even be a side trip to Cuba to explore all the sustainable agriculture they have going on there. Exciting stuff!

And this weekend a group of PEDALers past and future got together to reflect on ways to make the second half of the tour even greater than the first. New and old members are joining forces to visit a whole new set of amazing sustainable initiatives. And we are about to undertake a full website update on all that we learned the first time round.

I also wanted to share with you an awesome-cool website about a group of youth who are currently paddling across Canada to encourage watershed conservation. Please do check out their amazing website!

The Transcaneauda crew!
Happy spring PEDALing!

The PEDAL Crew

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gentle Landing

Hello Friends and Family,

Thanks to everyone for reading, commenting, supporting, and to Justin and Garrett for posting.

So, if you remember about a week and a half ago I traveled to visit and document RidgeCrest Farm that is an off-grid fledgling community working towards being largely self-sufficient with large vegetable gardens that run in terraces along the mountain side, ponds for growing rice, solar and wind power and blueberries for sale to the public.  I had the chance to witness many of these systems in action, however the storming on top of the mountain was so unrelenting that I didn't end up taking many pictures.  Below is a photo of my friend Cayce who I met at the farm.  He and I worked amidst the winds, snow, hail, rain and everything else nature through at us while helping at the farm.  In the end, we ended up helping refurbish a stone house that to our delight we used to dry ourselves and our things that were perpetually becoming sopping wet.

Cayce in stone house with freshly scrubbed floors and walls, and a refinished fireplace.  In contrast to the wailing storms outside, the tiny house was warm and dry!

I spent a week at RidgeCrest and then took my first opportunity to descend from the mountain top, which led me back to Santa Cruz.  I spent one hour on at the local library, and then within 20 minutes of being at the Farmer's Market, the first person I spoke with offered me a place to sleep for the night.  Thank You Isaac for the warm welcome!  Sometimes speaking to people is just more effective than computer communication.

As it turned out Isaac lives at the SuperFoods Co-operative, which is one of the many Co-ops in Santa Cruz focussing on alternative communal living.  Naturally, I was stoked.

Isaac gave directions to the Co-op, and said to look out for the bus.

"For the benefit of all beings, this bus runs on free recycled vegetable oil." The bus parked at the SuperFoods Co-op.

What a beautiful bus to discover.  This paint-job depicts a village scene with hand-dug canoes and the crashing waves of the ocean.
Front side of the bus.

But SuperFoods Co-op is not just a bus!  They also have a main house and two smaller resident buildings in their backyard.

Living room at SuperFoods Co-op with products stacking the shelves, and Harley, a customer who purchased some Spirulina.

The Co-op sells all kinds of foods recognized as nutritiously 'super', and uses the income to support resident livelihoods.  Examples of foods for sale include those listed above as well as many others such as raw organic cacao, jungle peanuts, mesquite, and local raw honeys. 

I interviewed Ben Goodwin, the founder of the Superfoods Co-op.  A business school graduate, he said the original vision for the Co-op was to bring together progressive people - cheifly young entreprenuers and artists - and use the Co-op as a networking hub for skill-building and projects within the alternative movement.

The Superfoods Co-op operates also as a networking and resource hub.  The Library at Superfoods includes Native American History, Yoga Anatomy, Spiritual Growth literature, Edible Plants and more.  The poster on top of the bookshelf is by Alex Grey, a New York-based artist especially popular with the neo-spiritual culture.

The Superfoods Co-op in Santa Cruz bred a family of other Superfoods Co-ops in California, with the most fruitful offspring located in San Francisco, and Berkeley.  The main challenge the Co-ops have faced, as Ben related to me, is that the earth-friendly alternative people targeted by the Co-ops haven't always been able to uphold the work-ethic necessary to keep the Co-ops functioning as originally envisioned.  Reflecting on this predicament, Ben quoted a Zen saying:  'Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.'  Fair enough!  The full audio recording of the Superfoods interview will be available later.

While at the Co-op, I've had the chance to meet all kinds of interesting and kind people - the vision of a networking hub seems realized to me! - and also found out that due to the excessive storming in the area sections of Highway 1 South, the highway I intended to walk, have fallen into the ocean.   My intended trajectory from Santa Cruz was to walk to Big Sur, roughly 70 miles south, however with news of damaged highway, I've decided to also break from the P.E.D.A.L. project for the time being, about two weeks sooner than I originally planned.

So, again, thanks for all the support and wonderful stories along the way.  You are all beautiful beings, and it has been a wild and illuminating trip from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where I started on bicycle almost five months ago, to Santa Cruz, California, United States, where I am now.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Justin's Life

Dear PEDAL blog readers.

I have been spending my time at home in Sutton, Ontario, since November 2010. Ever since I rode the train home from Vancouver, BC, I have been working on all sorts of projects inspired by my time with PEDAL Across the Americas.

Oh and here is my home, with lots of snow:

A home built home:

I'll start with the most recent project. Maple syrup production. This is inspired by the idea of DIY, which we learned a lot about during the bike tour, especially when you have a small budget with a lot of time!

I have been thinking of making my own maple syrup for a long time. This year was a perfect time to try it out since around the month of February and March my schedule is not as busy as the warmer spring months when I begin to work outside more. My local aunt and uncle have made syrup before using some handy metal buckets and spouts, then boiling it down in a big cast iron pot, so I went to visit them for advice and some materials.

Here are some pictures to describe what I did.

I used a drill with a half inch bit size to make a hole for the spout. It depends on the spout size of course. I drilled deep enough to insert the spout but not too deep to damage the tree. It has to be drilled on an angle so that the sap can drip down. the spout that I have has a handle to hold the bucket, then we made some lids to prevent dirt and rain water from entering. Be careful that the wind does not throw it off!
The sap runs quickly some days. I sometimes check morning and evening! It tastes nice as a drink too.
I collected it in 5 gallon buckets. Here is more then 30 gallons ready for the pot!
My Mom and Uncle helped watch. The tripod was made with cedar poles and tied with metal wire at the intersection point. You need enough wood around to keep it going, it needs to be tended to quite often. As the liquid boiled down I added more sap until it all fit.
This is near the end after several hours of boiling. It started to taste very sweet!
Voila! We put it into jars. Makes a good gift and also for pancakes!

Some reading material. Also check out
 Oh and Pie! I used some of the syrup for this:

Mystery Cream Cheese Pecan Pie
The other project I have been working on with my dad recently is the building of a workshop and garage. It is so good to learn how to build. Wood framing is such a simple and quick building method. Some of the wood was locally cut and milled!

You can even build in the winter!
There is going to be a loft on top, the roof trusses have yet to be put on.
The plywood went on within a few days.

It was built in the location of an old greenhouse which we have been taking down for the past 9 years or so. A lot of the glass is stored and saved. Hopefully in 10 years we can build one again.

This used to be in operation.

It a bit grown in.
A good indoor project when it is cold outside is making a chicken tractor. (mobile chicken coop, with wheels!) Just design it to fit out the workshop door. We barely got it out!

I used old wood from the old greenhouse above! Reuse, reuse, reuse! The 3 R's

I am also working on a design for a Edible Forest Garden. Here is the start of the plant selection:

These are 4 Butternut trees started from seed/nut. Garrett helped prepare the nuts 2 summers ago. We had to file (with a metal file tool) them down which makes it possible to germinate. I found them growing where they we planted this spring surprised to see the survival rate. 4 out of 8! The nuts from these trees are tasty, but there is a disease that affects the species. I hope these grow big and strong.

A saved cardinal that flew into our window. It survived!
That is all for now. Stay sustainable! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Free Wheelin Farm

Hey folks!

Thanks to Steve for that awesome update on your walking journey! Check out Steve's latest blog at this link.

I wanted to post a link to an awesome, bike powered farm the PEDAL crew has run across. Free Wheelin Farm is in the Santa Cruz and San Fransisco area, and provides food shares delivered by bike! They run a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) program, where folks buy a share at the beginning of the season and receive weekly veggie and fruit deliveries.

Check out their website:

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Road to Mount Madonna


Just a quick update about what's going on.   On the 16th, Jordan and I walked from Boulder Creek through the colourful towns that dot the mountain side south to Felton.   Here we met John and Ariel in front of a New Leaf supermarket and they welcomed us to stay at their place.  The next morning John showed us the way through the woods that leads to Santa Cruz.

Sweet John who, with his partner Ariel, warmly hosted us in Felton.  He regularly sports bare feet walking from his home to work.  (He tells me his work doesn't mind.)   John also hasn't been in a motorized vehicle for four years!  Impressive perseverance John!

When we reached Santa Cruz, I met with Noah who operates RidgeCrest Farms near Mount Madonna of the Santa Cruz Mountain Range.   He's off the grid, and drove me way up the mountain side - 2800 ft - to his spot which is where I'm staying now.  RidgeCrest focuses on Organic Blueberry production, sadly for me not in season currently.
RidgeCrest Farm's yurt and power generation.

Snow storms up here today, so we're tucked away inside trying to keep warm for the time being.  Will be in touch when more is transpiring.   Take Care,