Archive for category Homesteading
A brief, playful overview of famous cooks, farmer, foodies and homesteaders who may be recognized for public, scientific, political or other achievements, but often not for their interest in farming, sustainability, food and cooking.
Richard Branson (1950 – )
On the Ninety Acres Culinary Center web page, you’ll find the words, “Farm to Table is one thing; we are a Table at the Farm.”
Richard Branson’s Ninety Acres Restaurant is situated in Somerset County, New Jersey. The vision for this magnificently restored estate was to secure more than 80% of the foods it serves from local sources, and this it does. In fact, much of the kitchen’s stock comes from the on-site farm.
The vision does not stop there, however. In the future, there may be a farmers’ market right on the premises. And even this is not the end of the road, for Branson also envisions a culinary school and luxury resort.
Upon exploring the splendid website, you will learn that, “Ninety Acres is an epicurean oasis that upholds the agricultural authenticity of the surrounding environment.” The words “Impeccably sourced ingredients” also stand out.
Branson is the founder of more than 400 businesses. His first business was a magazine called Student. He was only 16 at the time. It is interesting to note that one of the world’s best known businessmen actually did poorly in school, perhaps partially due to dyslexia. But, as you know, we always counterbalance our frailties and this is often how our greatest strengths emerge. Branson is living proof. His business savvy is undeniable.
Clearly, one of the planets’ richest businessmen, and one who created a telecommunications empire and has been in space and back still retains deep roots in the land and its fruits. A vicarious epicurean? It takes a vision to plot a garden, any garden, and sowing takes on many forms, including sowing ideas.
Read other entries in Portraits of Cooks & Farmers
Lately, I’ve been getting sidetracked browsing the internet for images of rooftop and balcony gardens. It must be spring. There is something about the angular architecture and business of the urban landscape and the flamboyant, free-spirited flow of the lush terrace garden that I find reassuring. It says something powerful and poetic about nature’s persistence.
While many leave the city to establish homesteads, farms and gardens in the country, many others enjoy the urban lifestyle and choose to find ways to incorporate nature, even sustainability, within the confines of apartment balconies and condo rooftops; proving, quite naturally, that this is not an all-or-nothing world at all.
Gardening is not just for the countryside or suburban backyard, nor is it limited in any way. We grow flowers in pots all the time, don’t we? All that is required are a few proper ingredients, tender care and dedication. This last condition turns out to be quite effortless, for the moment we begin a relationship with a garden, no matter how large or small, it is natural to feel a sense of devotion.
By proper ingredients I also mean proper equipment. A small space can yield an interesting crop. For those who are completely new to gardening, it makes sense to start with a proven system and well spelled-out instructions.
Take the UrBin Growing Kit, for example. It provides endless organic vegetables by facilitating growth through a mixture of the Square Foot Gardening method, all natural soil amendments, and a unique self-watering reservoir. This is good for the gardener with a hectic schedule who forgets to water the plants once in a while (ho! Gosh!), but it also ensures consistent and optimal moisture for your crop. This clever system includes seed trays, for those who wish to start from scratch, but seedlings from a trusted supplier can be used as well.
One of the great advantages of the container gardening method is that it diminishes the incidence of plant disease. Also, when the plants remain healthy, you can reuse the same soil mix for subsequent crops by top-dressing it with a bit of compost. This contributes to a very healthy environment for the plants since, over time, the soil mixture builds up beneficial microbes that contribute to highly efficient nutrient absorption.
With a well-designed growing kit, it is easy to get the children involved with gardening. You know how they love scientific exploration games they have to put together and that allow them to see results over time. Container gardening offers plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning and quality family time.
I love clever systems that use little space and lots of common sense, and that save money and contribute to a wholesome lifestyle on top of this. Simplicity is always in season, after all. I’ve even heard of people who move their UrBin Grower indoors in winter to grow different varieties of edible plants, such as herbs. I think they’re hooked!