Tuesday, June 28, 2011

We've Moved!

We're excited to announce that the blog has moved! Please put 

in your browser's bookmarks. It's your one-stop site for the blog and all information related to Heirloom Gardens, Sustainable Food Denver, and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Urban Homesteading."

The older content will remain archived on this site, and you can use the google search box in the upper right corner to look for recipes, photos, and articles.

Pop on over to the new site and check it out!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Join us for a TweetChat, and Ask Your Urban Homesteading Questions!

Thursday, June 23rd
12:00 MST
search #AskCIG on Twitter to participate

In a world that is turning to more sustainable living techniques, the practice off urban homesteading has been increasing. Sundari Elizabeth Kraft, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide® to Urban Homesteading (ISBN: 9781615641048, June 2011, $18.95) will be available via live TweetChat Thursday, June 23 at 12:00 pm MST to discuss the benefits of urban homesteading as well as how to start a garden, no matter the yard situation. She will also talk about:

·         - How to grow organic foods and preserve them
·        -  How to keep your garden healthy
·         - Reusing water and water collecting
·         - How to prevent weeds in a garden
·         -  Other items that can be made sustainably, like soap and household cleaning products

Log on to Twitter and search #AskCIG to participate. This TweetChat will be monitored by @CIG_Lifestyle. Sundari’s Twitter handle is @EatWhereULive. Please include #AskCIG in all questions.

Sundari Elizabeth Kraft (Denver, Colo.) has been a dedicated urban homesteader for nearly a decade. Currently, she homesteads in Denver with her chickens, goats, and organic front yard garden. She organizes a group of community members to grow vegetables in city yards, then sells and distributes the produce in the neighborhood. She sits on the Denver Food Policy Council and works with a number of local urban sustainability groups. Sundari teaches classes in backyard chicken and goat keeping, urban gardening, canning, and cooking.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Urban Homesteading
ISBN: 9781615641048, June 2011, $18.95
Author: Sundari Elizabeth Kraft (Denver, Colo.)

Recipe: Double Garlic Soup


3 fat bulbs green garlic, root and green parts trimmed, outer layer removed *

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cups sliced garlic scapes (about 3/4 pound)

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, more for garnish

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

Ground black pepper to taste

1 large Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced

1 quart chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup half-and-half or whole milk

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

Freshly grated nutmeg.


1. Chop green garlic. In a soup pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add green garlic and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add scapes, thyme, salt and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes.

2. Stir in potato and broth, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until scapes and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add half-and-half, and purée soup with an immersion blender or pour into a regular blender. Stir in the lemon juice and season with more salt and pepper. Garnish with nutmeg and thyme leaves, and serve hot.

Yield: 4 servings.

*If you're not finding green garlic in the market anymore, you could improvise with a few garlic cloves and a handful of a pungent spring green like arugula or watercress.

Time: 45 minutes

Recipe: Melissa Clark, New York Times, June 18, 2008


As found on the Serious Eats blog. http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/06/the-crisper-whisperer-what-to-do-with-garlic-scapes-recipe.html

Photo from Fresh 4 Five blog.


Recipe: Vegan Garlic Scape Pesto


3 garlic scapes, rinsed and chopped a few times to break up

1 ½ cups of my 3-minute parmesan cheeze **

Juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon (approx 2 tbsp)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

handful of fresh spinach

Directions: Make the 3 minute vegan parmesan cheeze, by toasting 1.5 cups of sesame seeds in the oven until lightly golden in colour and then throw seeds, nutritional yeast, and salt into a blender. Process for 30-60 seconds. Parmesan cheese is complete! Remove cheese from processor and set aside.

Now throw in the garlic scapes and fresh lemon juice and process until fine. Add the vegan parmesan slowly in 1/2 cup increments, alternating with the extra virgin olive oil. Process until smooth or desired consistency.

As a final step take your rinsed spinach and throw in and process. It will turn into a lovely green colour. Serve and enjoy!

** Can also use Parmesan cheese.

Makes 1 ½ - 2 cups.

Recipe and photo from Oh She Glows blog.


Recipe: Asian Salad with ponzu ginger dressing and wasabi peas


5 ounces Spring Lettuce Mix --baby green and red romaine, tango, baby green and read oak, lolla rosa, baby green and red leaf, and baby green and red butter & red swiss chard, mizuna, tatsoi, baby spinach, and baby arugala, frisee, and radicchio

1 cup wasabi peas

Ponzu Ginger Dressing:
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grated freshly peeled ginger
1 scallion, thinly sliced
(Makes about 1/2 cup of dressing)

In a small bowl whisk together all dressing ingredients.

In a large bowl toss together lettuce and wasabi peas. Add dressing to taste and gently toss. Serve immediately.

Recipe and photo from Simply Salads cookbook by Jennifer Chandler.

Recipe: White Bean and Radish Salad


4 radish, sliced
1 cucumber, diced
2 spring onion, chopped
8oz cannellini beans, drained (about half of 15.5 oz. can)
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups salad greens, chopped


¼ cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. stone-ground mustard
¼ tsp. each salt and pepper

Combine salad ingredients in a medium bowl.

Place dressing ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and buzz until the dressing is
emulsified; or, combine in a bowl and whisk until mixture thickens and blends. Pour dressing over salad ingredients then toss.

If desired, add 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled, on top.

Makes about 4 light servings.

***I brought this salad to a party on Saturday and we loved it so much that on Sunday I made another batch into a dip by zipping all ingredients (except lettuce) in the food processor.

Recipe and photo from Cold Cereal and Toast blog.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Let's Say "Thank You"

(To jump to the sample emails, look for the Action Alert below.)

Well, we did it! Last night the new Food Producing Animals ordinance passed City Council with a 7-3 vote. No amendments were added.

I know that there are lots of questions about the specifics of the new ordinance, when it will take effect, and how people can go about applying for the new, simple Animal Control license for FPAs. These are all great questions and I promise to address them very soon, but first things first.

We need to say "thank you."

We know that there was overwhelming support in the community for FPAs, a tremendous turnout at the public hearing, and considerable precedent for the ordinance set by other cities. Happily, City Council listened to all of this, and so the public process went the way that it's supposed to. However, in passing the ordinance, City Council did have to stand up to the NIMBY folks, and established neighborhood groups who opposed the changes.

Let's take a moment to express our gratitude to the members of City Council who voted for the ordinance, and so eloquently shared their reasons for doing so during last night's Council meeting. Plus, it's important for us to remember that as news of the ordinance's passage spreads, Councilmembers may be receiving angry notes from sustainable food opponents. Let's give their in-boxes a little balance, shall we?


I'm going to provide a choice of 3 sample emails, depending on whether you already own FPAs, are planning on getting FPAs, or don't want FPAs but still support the ordinance. Of course, you can feel free to modify the sample emails in any way you'd like, or write your own from scratch.

Regardless of which sample email text you use, please copy and paste the following text (including commas) for the "To" field of your email:

paul.lopez@denvergov.org, charlie.brown@denvergov.org, chris.nevitt@denvergov.org, judy.montero@denvergov.org, jeanne.robb@denvergov.org, michael.hancock@denvergov.org, linkhartatlarge@denvergov.org, doug.linkhart@denvergov.org, sustainablefooddenver@gmail.com

Subject line: Thank you!

If you already own FPAs

Dear Mayor-Elect Hancock and Councilmembers Nevitt, Lopez, Brown, Montero, Robb, and Linkhart,

I am a resident of Denver, and I want to thank you for your support of the FPA ordinance. I believe that this ordinance will be a positive step for Denver (as similar ordinances have been for other cities) and will allow our residents better access to healthy, safe, affordable, and ethically-produced eggs and/or dairy.

As someone who currently owns FPAs in Denver, I can attest that it is absolutely possible to raise these animals in an urban setting without creating a problem. I pledge to continue being a responsible FPA owner, and to raise my animals within the reasonable guidelines set forth in the new ordinance.

(your name)

If you are planning on getting FPAs

Dear Mayor-Elect Hancock and Councilmembers Nevitt, Lopez, Brown, Montero, Robb, and Linkhart,

I am a resident of Denver, and I want to thank you for your support of the FPA ordinance. I believe that this ordinance will be a positive step for Denver (as similar ordinances have been for other cities) and will allow our residents better access to healthy, safe, affordable, and ethically-produced eggs and/or dairy.

My family has been interested in owning FPAs, but we were not able to do so legally because the former process was so cumbersome and expensive. We look forward to the healthy, sustainable food that our FPAs will provide. We understand that owning FPAs is a big responsibility and not to be taken lightly, and we pledge to follow the reasonable guidelines in the ordinance and raise the animals in a way that is considerate of those around us.

(your name)

If you are not planning on getting FPAs, but still support the ordinance

Dear Mayor-Elect Hancock and Councilmembers Nevitt, Lopez, Brown, Montero, Robb, and Linkhart,

I am a resident of Denver, and I want to thank you for your support of the FPA ordinance. I believe that this ordinance will be a positive step for Denver (as similar ordinances have been for other cities) and will allow our residents better access to healthy, safe, affordable, and ethically-produced eggs and/or dairy.

I personally have no plans to get backyard chickens or dwarf dairy goats. However, even though I won't be doing it myself, I support the ability of my neighbors to have a sustainable, healthy source of food. I believe that the ordinance is well written, and I trust that it will facilitate the keeping of FPAs while protecting neighbors from negative impacts.

(your name)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Info on City Council Final Vote Tonight

Tonight the Denver City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed Food Producing Animals ordinance. We had a fantastic turnout at the public hearing last Monday, and I'm hopeful that all of the wonderful testimony will have an impact on tonight's decision.

There are a few options for viewing tonight's vote:

1. If you have cable, you can watch the meeting live on Channel 8.
2. You can stream the meeting live through your computer at the City Council website.
3. You can come down and watch the meeting in person. It will held in the same place as the public hearing: City & Building (14th & Bannock), room 451.

My understanding is that there will be no opportunity for the public to speak during tonight's vote. The City Council meeting starts (as usual) at 5:30. According to the City Council secretary, the only way to be assured of seeing any particular vote is to come at the start of the meeting, since the format can be a little unpredictable. However, when I look at what's on the agenda before the vote, it seems to be that it's unlikely the FPA ordinance will come up before 6:30 (but, again, there's no guarantee).

We've all done great work together to get the ordinance to this point. We've done everything we can, and now we just need to hope/trust that City Council will make the sensible decision and pass the ordinance!

Channel 4: The Upcoming FPA Vote

A story from Channel 4 reporter Jane Monreal about the upcoming Food Producing Animals vote. This story aired last Tuesday, the night after the public hearing. The final City Council vote is this evening. (And, by the way, when the anchorwoman says that "most" of the 53 people testifying at the hearing supported the ordinance, that's correct -- the exact number was 49 in favor, 4 opposed.)

Great Points on the Environmental Benefits of Backyard FPAs

Stephen Fischer is a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado, and a supporter of Sustainable Food Denver. He testified at the City Council public hearing on the environmental benefits of backyard Food Producing Animals. A number of the people sitting around me expressed an interest in what he had to say, so I asked Steve for permission to post his testimony on our blog. Thank you, Steve!

My name is Steve Fisher, I live in the West Highland neighborhood, and I’m going to talk about some of the environmental benefits of backyard chickens.

Denverites consume about 418,000 eggs every day.1  Where do all these eggs come from?  About 90% come from Colorado according to the Colorado Egg Producers Association.2  Nearly all these eggs are produced in about four confined animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, the largest of which can have up to 1.3 million hens, and produces about 1 million eggs a day.3  Can you imagine what that many eggs, chickens, and associated infrastructure looks like?  Now think about the manure.  A chicken egg CAFO of this size generates about 163 tons of chicken manure every day, basically in one large waste stream at a single location.4  By the way, the CAFO regulations start to apply to operations at just 30,000 hens.5 The chicken manure can degrade aerobically, resulting in concentrated releases of nitrates to the land and surface- and groundwater. Or it can degrade anaerobically, producing methane, which has about 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

In fact, the whole operation typically makes intensive use of hormones, antibiotics, energy, and water because it’s a factory.  And factories a) use resources, and b) pollute. The backyard chicken, in contrast, lives off of our household food waste, which helps divert a methane-producing waste stream from our landfills.  The chicken manure, at the household scale, is not a threat to human health but, in fact, can make for wonderful soil.  Every single backyard egg will displace demand for a factory egg.

So, if this ordinance passes, you will be thanked. First by a sizeable number of residents for making the backyard egg more achievable. Second, by the City’s Greenprint Denver program, for accelerating their goal of a 10% per capita greenhouse gas emission reduction by next year.  The backyard egg could reduce emissions at a rate up to 1.5 lbs of carbon dioxide equivalent per pound of egg.6  And third, the State of Colorado will thank you for doing your part to reduce the risk to our water quality and environment because they enforce the state’s CAFO regulations and federal Clean Water Act discharge regulations.

As leaders and decisionmakers that are called upon routinely to weigh potential risk against potential benefit, hopefully my talk and those of others tonight will give you a clear choice.

2.        La Junta Tribune Democrat. 2010. Ag Day at the State Capitol: Egg producers fly under the radar. March 26.

3.        Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE). 2011. Personal communication.

CDPHE. 2011. Personal communication.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Half off Heirloom Seedling Sale this Saturday -- June 18th!

Our gardens are all planted, and we need to find homes for our remaining garden seedlings. Everything was grown by us. They are heirloom, non-GMO varieties, and organic. Seedlings have been hardened off for a while now and growing on a patio in full sun -- they're tough little buggers!

Saturday, June 18th
Highland Farmers Market in NW Denver
16th & Boulder Street (in front of Lola)
look for the Heirloom Gardens tent, with the green banners!

We are offering tomatoes, winter squash, eggplants, and cucumbers. Click on the link for each variety to see a photo and description.

Tomatoes = now $2.75 (4.5 inch pots)
Squash, Eggplants = now $2 (4.5 inch pots)
Pickling Cucumbers = now $1.50 (2.5 inch pots)

Pink Accordian
Plum Lemon
Snow White
Mortgage Lifter
Pink Oxheart
Fox Cherry
Pink Henderson
Cherokee Purple

Winter Squash:
Pink Banana
Connecticut Pumpkin

Listada de Gandia
Ping Tung

Boston Pickling

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Recipe: Parmesan Spinach Cakes

12 ounces fresh spinach (see Note)
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese or
low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese,
plus more for garnish
2 large eggs, beaten
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Pulse spinach in three batches in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add ricotta (or cottage cheese), Parmesan, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper; stir to combine.

Coat 8 cups of the muffin pan with cooking spray.

Divide the spinach mixture among the 8 cups (they will be very full).

Bake the spinach cakes until set, about 20 minutes. Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and turn out onto a clean cutting board or large plate.

Serve warm, sprinkled with more Parmesan, if desired.

Note: 12 oz trimmed mature spinach = about 12 cups raw

Recipe from EatingWell: September/October 2008

Recipe: Radish Tops Antioxidant Smoothie

1 cup radish greens, packed

1 banana, ripe

1/2 cup pomegrante kernels, frozen

1 cup strawberries, frozen

1/8 teaspoon stevia *

1 1/4 cup pure water

Pour the water in the blender. Then add the rest of the ingredients with the frozen fruit on top. Blend until smooth.

Serves 1 - 2.

*The leaves of this small, green Stevia rebaudiana plant have a delicious and refreshing taste that can be 30 times sweeter than sugar. http://www.stevia.com/

Recipe from the Smoothie Handbook website.

Photo from Lovely Morning blog. http://www.lovelymorning.com/

Video: Watch Monday's FPA Public Hearing

This is really worth a look, if only for a few minutes. Check out the packed room -- citizens who showed up to participate, to speak (or just support with their presence) a cause they believe in.

If you'd like to watch the wonderful, incredible, inspiring testimony from the people who spoke at Monday night's public hearing in favor of the FPA ordinance, click on the link below. The city staff presentation about the nuts and bolts of the ordinance begins at around 1:36, and the public testimony starts at 2:01. The council secretary tried to alternate speakers who were pro and con, so most of the anti-FPA people are in the beginning. However, since the final tally was 49 speakers in favor and 4 opposed, the testimony soon becomes consistently pro-FPA.


Also, I wanted to share a photo of Monday night's youngest presenter. He is seven years old. He was one of the last people to speak, which means he waited patiently about 4 hours for his turn to talk. His family owns chickens and dwarf goats, and he talked to City Council about how he likes having goats because they eat the weeds (so he doesn't have to pull them) and he likes to drink their milk. Photo is shared with permission from his mother.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Last Night's Public Hearing, and the Upcoming FPA Vote

I want to say a big, big thank you to everyone who showed up for last night's public hearing. Though it was looong (and hot in that room!) I found the whole thing very inspiring. How wonderful to hear so, so many people speak passionately on behalf of self-sufficiency, ethical animal care, and creating a sustainable urban food system.

Sustainable Food Denver coordinated 25 citizens to speak on behalf of the ordinance (go, team!). There were additional citizens that stepped forward to speak in favor of the ordinance, as well as fantastic representatives from Grow Local Colorado, Slow Food Denver, and the Colorado Director of the Humane Society of the United States. District 1 Councilwoman-Elect Susan Shepherd spoke in favor of the ordinance, and we also had speakers read letters from Denver Urban Gardens and a local goat veterinarian. Capitol Hill United Neighbors, West Washington Park Neighborhood Association, and the College View Neighborhood Association sent representatives to convey their organization's support for the FPA ordinance (Stapleton United Neighbors and La Alma/Lincoln Park RNOs sent letters in support of the ordinance).

All in all, the final count was 49 speakers in favor of the ordinance, and 4 opposed. It was an overwhelming show of support for an improved, sensible Food Producing Animals ordinance for Denver.

City Council technically has 13 seats, and it takes an "absolute majority" -- or 7 votes -- to pass anything. City Council currently has 2 vacant seats (Councilwoman Madison passed away, and Councilwoman Sandoval stepped down), and last night 3 additional councilmembers were gone. So, with only 8 councilmembers present, the Council President made the decision that it was more sensible to delay the vote for a week, when all remaining 11 councilmembers would be present.

The final vote on the FPA ordinance will be held:

Monday, June 20th
meeting starts at 5:30 (not sure yet where the vote falls within the agenda)
City & County Building, room 451

I don't believe there will be an opportunity for further public comment at the meeting on the 20th -- the councilmembers will simply be discussing the issue among themselves, then voting. However, the meeting is open to the public, so anyone who's interested is welcome to attend and be present for the result of the vote!

Update: Humane Society Clarifies Their Position on FPA Ordinance

Jamie with her Nigerian Dwarf goat, Kosi.
The Colorado director of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recently weighed in on the proposed Food Producing Animals ordinance with this letter to City Council, sent last Friday. On Monday, she sent a follow-up email to the Denver City Council to clarify the HSUS position on the FPA ordinance. (Ms. Tarry also attended the public hearing on Monday night, and spoke in favor of the ordinance.)

Dear Council Members,

I’m writing to clarify The HSUS position on the ordinance you are considering.  We are not opposed to this ordinance.  We have been active in several efforts to allow urban egg-producing hens in other cities and have developed our position on that issue well.  Our letter on the topic was aimed at raising important welfare considerations for chickens.  Our position on urban goats is far less refined.  It’s an issue that raises several questions for us but we have not developed guidelines on urban goat care nor researched successful attempts to house urban goats and use them for food.

Since sending our letter I’ve been in touch with Sustainable Food Denver and learned many details about urban homesteading.   I understand this issue to be well researched by SFD and, in many cases, already in practice.  In short, I think our letter posed questions that have long since been satisfactorily answered by the progressive, professional and well-organized sustainable food movement in Denver.  Most importantly, I understand Denver animal control to be in favor of this ordinance.  I hope their support will weigh heavily in this debate- as the enforcing agency their support is a clear sign of a broad-based community effort.

I am grateful for the relationships that have resulted from our involvement in this issue and thankful for SFD’s effort  to bring people closer to their food and further from factory farmed products that cause animals to suffer immensely.  I apologize for any insinuation that The HSUS is opposed to this ordinance.

Thanks so much for your time.

Holly Tarry
Colorado Director, State Affairs

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Response to the Humane Society's Position on Food Producing Animals

On June 10th, Holly Tarry (the Colorado Director of the Humane Society of the United States) sent the following letter to the member of Denver City Council: click here to view. [The link will take you away from this post. Just come back to us after you've finished reading the letter!]

The following is Sustainable Food Denver's response, sent to Ms. Tarry and cc'd to the members of the Denver City Council:

June 13th, 2011

Dear Ms. Tarry,

Thank you for the work that you do with the Humane Society of the United States. The Humane Society is a wonderful organization, and it contributes many valuable things to our communities.

I would like to respond to your letter addressing various aspects of Denver’s proposed Food Producing Animals ordinance. I was happy to see you mention the many benefits of backyard chickens. I also appreciate your recommendations regarding best practices for urban chicken care. As you may know, Denver’s Animal Care and Control department is planning on putting together information regarding suggested care for Food Producing Animals, which would be distributed to new chicken and dwarf goat owners with their license following the passage of the new ordinance. I’m sure that they will take your recommendations into consideration. Of course, the ordinance itself does not contain all of the details you included regarding animal care (in the same way that Denver does not legislate best practices for the care of dogs or cats). Nonetheless, the proposed Food Producing Animals ordinance does contain space requirements for the animals that go above and beyond anything that is legislated for other pets, as well as above and beyond what some other cities with Food Producing Animals ordinances have mandated.

I am not sure I understand your request for permits and annual license fees for individual animals. A one-time Food Producing Animals license accomplishes two main goals: 1) It provides Animal Control with the opportunity to present citizens with both the requirements of the ordinance and suggested best practices for animal care; and 2) It allows Animal Control to know where Food Producing Animals are being kept, in the rare instance of an animal escape or other problems. There is no benefit in Animal Control knowing whether a specific home has 6 hens or 8 hens, as long as the owner is complying with the guidelines of the ordinance and not creating a nuisance. Additionally, there is not a need to use annual licensing fees as a way to raise funds. Other cities with progressive Food Producing Animals ordinances have not reported an increase in enforcement costs as a result of the keeping of chickens or dwarf goats. Dogs and cats require a license renewal as a way to document rabies vaccinations; backyard chickens and goats in Colorado do not require a comparable vaccination to protect the public health.

I take considerable issue with your statement that including dwarf goats in the proposed Food Producing Animals ordinance is leading Denver into “unexplored territory.” Seattle and Portland allow the keeping of 3 dwarf dairy goats without any sort of permit. Oakland and Chicago place dwarf goats in the same category as other pets, and they’re allowed without any sort of permit or special regulations. In addition, there are several other cities across the country that have some type of urban goat ordinance.

Because of their compact size, dwarf goats can (and do) thrive in urban backyards. In mandating a minimum space requirement for the keeping of dwarf goats, Denver is going above and beyond the ordinances in Seattle, Portland, Oakland, and Chicago (which have no minimum space requirement). In addition, if an animal is being abused, neglected, or mistreated, Animal Control has the ability to intervene, even if the owner is meeting the minimum space requirement for care.

The risk of parasitic infection in dwarf goats relates to the condition of the goats’ pen, not its size. If a dwarf goat owner is concerned, they can use an herbal de-wormer to further protect their goats.

Goat diseases are typically region-specific. Soremouth (orf) is not highly prevalent in Colorado. If the disease was to transfer to a human, the consequences are mild (the symptoms resolve themselves in 6-8 weeks without requiring treatment). I think we run the risk of losing perspective when we point selectively to the zoonotic disease potential of certain animals. Let’s remember that our cats and dogs can potentially transfer the following disease to humans: rabies, toxoplasmosis, hookworms, roundworms, dog heartworms, cryptosporidium, campylobacteria, helicobacter pylori, bartonellosis, lyme disease, ringworm, and sarcoptic mange. And yet, they exist successfully in our cities.

I am disappointed that you spoke so eloquently about the benefits of backyard chickens, but neglected to acknowledge that identical benefits (reduction of suffering in factory farms, increased appreciation for the animals, greater compassion, etc) exist with the keeping of dwarf goats. Please remember that dwarf goats are already legal in Denver, and there are many people who are raising them successfully. The proposed ordinance does not seek to legalize dwarf goats (or chicken and ducks); rather, it streamlines a bureaucratic and unnecessarily expensive process, while adding some common-sense guidelines for the keeping of the animals that did not previously exist.

I appreciate the mission of the Humane Society, and I hope that we can work together in the future to encourage the sensible, responsible keeping of backyard Food Producing Animals. The continued increase in urban residents obtaining their eggs and/or dairy from backyard animals will result in a decrease in the consumption of factory-farmed animal products, and a concurrent decrease in animal suffering.


Sundari Kraft
Sustainable Food Denver

Saturday, June 11, 2011

New York Times: When Food Kills

This editorial by Nicholas Kristof presents a compelling argument against factory farming -- our standard means for producing eggs, dairy, and meat in this country. The horrendously dangerous practices used in factory farming are yet another reason why our culture would benefit from an increase in urban-appropriate Food Producing Animals in our backyards.

Strangely, some of the most virulent opponents of progressive Food Producing Animals policies are supposed animal-rights vegans. Yet, as Kristof points out, the dangers of factory farming don't only affect those that eat eggs, dairy, or meat. The recent E. coli tragedy in Germany was traced back to organic bean sprouts, and the alarming increase in MRSA affects us all.

"We would never think of trying to keep our children healthy by adding antibiotics to school water fountains, because we know this would breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It's unconscionable that Big Ag does something similar for livestock."

This is a must-read -- click here for the full editorial.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

City Council Public Hearing & Final Vote on FPA Ordinance

City Council Public Hearing and Final Vote
Monday, June 13th
Meeting starts at 5:30; public hearing begins after initial Council business is over
City & County Building (14th & Bannock)
Room 451

This is it! After two years of community members asking for changes to our existing rules regarding the keeping of backyard Food Producing Animals (hen chickens, ducks, and dwarf dairy goats), Denver's City Council will be holding its public hearing and final vote on a new proposed ordinance. If you're not familiar with the proposed ordinance, click here to read an outline.

If the proposed FPA ordinance passes, it will be a wonderful thing for our city. It will remove the current confusing, expensive, and unnecessarily bureaucratic process, and replace it with something that makes much more sense. The proposed ordinance contains protections for the animals and for neighbors, while allowing individuals to keep small numbers of FPAs in their backyards for healthy, affordable, sustainable food production.

Please set aside time to attend the public hearing. It is very important to show City Council how much support there is in the community for this issue. A few details:

Parking: There is street parking with meters (though you only have to pay for your spot through 6pm) and paid parking lots. Finding parking can be a bit of a challenge, and you may have to walk a few blocks. There is a Light Rail station at 16th & Stout, about 8 blocks from the City & County building

Entering and security: If you arrive after 5:00, the only open entrance is the one in the northeast part of the building (facing Civic Center Park). You will need to allow time to go through security.

Staying for the duration: If at all possible, we need everyone to stay until the public testimony has finished. There will be an opportunity for everyone in the room who supports the ordinance to stand, so your presence will be noted by City Council. We're not sure how long the hearing will take (we may be there until 7:30-8:30). You may want to bring a book and a snack.

We'll see you on Monday night! Thank you for your support of sustainable food in our city.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's Here! -- The Complete Idiot's Guide to Urban Homesteading

The book is available! I'm excited to announce that "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Urban Homesteading" has been released, and can be purchased online

Last August I was approached by the editors from Penguin Publishing, who oversee "The Complete Idiot's Guide" books. Despite their goofy-sounding titles, I've always been a fan of the Idiot's Guides. I like the way they're structured, and I feel like I'm getting comprehensive information when I read them.

The editors asked me if I would write the book, and what followed was a period that was both challenging and immensely rewarding. I'm pretty proud of the result. The goal was to make the book accessible to beginners, but also provide a depth of information for those that have been homesteading for a while and want to expand their repertoire. Just to give you an idea of what's inside, here is a listing of the book's chapters:

Part 1: What It Means to Homestead in the City
Ch 1 - What is Urban Homesteading?
Ch 2 - City Considerations (lots of information about zoning, and how to change your zoning code)
Ch 3 - The Life of an Urban Homesteader

Part 2: City Farming
Ch 4 - Growing Without a Yard (container & rooftop gardening, sprouts, mushrooms, etc)
Ch 5 - Growing in Your Yard (bio-intensive growing*, succession planting, yard-to-garden conversion, etc)
Ch 6 - Growing on Someone Else's Land (community gardens, land-share agreements, guerrilla gardening)
Ch 7 - Seed Starting in the City
Ch 8 - Keeping Your Garden Healthy
Ch 9 - Enjoying Your Bounty (harvesting, extending the harvest, sharing/selling)
*Appendix C contains a detailed plant information chart, sample garden map, and sample garden planning chart

Part 3: Raising Animals for Food
Ch 10 - Livestock in the City (zoning issues, barnyard basics, neighbors, fitting animal care into a busy life)
Ch 11 - Chickens Coming Home to Roost
Ch 12 - Getting Your (Dwarf) Goat
Ch 13 - Raising Rabbits
Ch 14 - Bee Busy
Ch 15 - Aquaponics: Raising Fish and Plants Together

Part 4: A Homemade Life in the City
Ch 16 - Small Batch Food Preserving (canning, fermenting, drying, root "cellaring," etc)
Ch 17 - Preparing What You Harvest (cheese, yogurt, butter, stock, herb infusions, etc)
Ch 18 - The Finer Things (soap, shampoo, lotion, spinning yarn)
Ch 19 - Cleaning Your Home, Naturally (cupboard ingredients, recipes, etc)

Part 5: Making the Most of What You Have
Ch 20 - Energy-Wise Living (powering down, getting off grid, getting around town, etc)
Ch 21 - Water is Precious (conservation, rainwater harvesting, recycling water, etc)
Ch 22 - Turning Waste Into Gold (composting, worms, etc)
Ch 23 - Foraging in the City (fruit trees, wild plants, discarded items, etc)

Appendix A: Glossary
Appendix B: Resources
Appendix C: Garden Planning Guides

The book was enriched greatly by the wonderful people (almost all of them from Denver!) who gave me feedback on the chapters, and who are thanked in the acknowledgements. I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to the wonderful 2010 Heirloom Gardens urban farmers, who kept things going when I was working on the book.

The book is available at various places online and at bookstores. However, if you'd like to purchase it, I'd love it if you ordered it here (there's no shipping cost). By ordering the book through Heirloom Gardens you're helping to support urban farming and sustainable food advocacy in Denver, and it allows us a much bigger slice of the "pie" than if you purchase the book somewhere else. Thank you!

Recipe: Radish Greens Soup

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Large Shallot, finely chopped
2 Cups radish greens, roughly chopped, packed
2 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 Tablespoon Fresh Mint, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
Sea Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Fresh Chives for serving

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; add finely diced shallots.
Sauté, stirring often, until shallots are soft and translucent.
Add the radish greens and wilt, then add the stock.

Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add the chopped parsley and mint. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Remove from heat; purée with an immersion blender or in blender, in batches.
Top with freshly chopped chives just prior to serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe & photo from Vegan Visitor blog.


Recipe: Spinach and Orzo Salad


8 ounces orzo pasta


1/4 cup pine nuts

6 ounces feta cheese, roughly crumbled

2 ounces Kalamata Greek olives pitted, roughly chopped, about 1/2 cup (about 20 olives)

4 ounces baby spinach

1/2 cup chopped red onion (about half a red onion)

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar (can substitute white vinegar or lemon juice)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Pinch dried basil

Pinch dried tarragon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1 Cook the orzo pasta. Bring to a boil a pot with 2 quarts of water in it. Once the water is boiling, salt it with a couple teaspoons of salt. Once the water returns to a boil add the orzo to the pot. Leave uncovered, cook on high heat with a vigorous boil. Put the timer on for 8-10 minutes, or whatever your pasta package says is appropriate for al dente (cooked but still a little firm). Drain. Rinse with cold water to cool quickly.

2 Toast the pine nuts by heating a small skillet on medium heat. Add the pine nuts and stir occasionally until the pine nuts are lightly browned. Pay attention or you'll burn the pine nuts.

3 Take half of the spinach and purée it in a food processor or blender, adding one tablespoon of the olive oil. Roughly chop the other half of the spinach. In a large serving bowl mix the spinach purée olive oil mixture in with cooked orzo until the pasta is well coated with the purée. Then gently mix in the remaining spinach, the red onion, feta cheese, pine nuts, and the Kalamata olives.

3 In a small jar, combine the remaining olive oil (2 Tbsp), balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, mustard, dried basil, and dried tarragon. Put a lid on the jar and shake to combine. (You can also just whisk together these ingredients in a small bowl, but the jar method works great to get a good emulsion.) Pour over orzo spinach mixture and gently mix in until well incorporated.

4 Chill for at least an hour before serving.

Serves 4.

Recipe & photo from Simply Recipes.