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Alicia Bayer

pollinator
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since Oct 13, 2017
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homeschooling kids purity trees books cooking
I'm a writer and a homemaking, homeschooling mother of 5 kids (ages 6 to 19). Our family does a lot of foraging of wild foods, organic gardening, homesteading and preserving. I am also the author of several books about foraging and nature studies, and I run a number of blogs and Facebook pages about foraging, homeschooling, natural living and living well on less.
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Recent posts by Alicia Bayer

Thank you all for such good info and advice!  I'm off to look at links.  :)
5 months ago
I tried searching the forums but didn't see a topic about this.  I'm looking for the warmest socks that folks recommend (especially from small and sustainable companies).  We live in Minnesota and I have a blood condition that leads to poor circulation and painfully cold toes in the winter time.  I frequently have to take scalding foot baths during the days just to warm them up, as they get so cold the pain distracts me from anything else and they turn white or purple.  It also keeps me from enjoying winter sports like ice skating and sledding with my kids because my toes start to ache so quickly even with layers and good boots. Now I'm recovering from covid several months ago and even though it's summer I can't get my feet to stay warm even with socks on (this thing can affect your circulation, blood vessels, blood pressure and more for months).  I am not looking forward to fall if my toes are this icy when it's 90!  I'm also doing all I can to improve my circulation but it's not making a big difference.  I'd love to hear recommendations for brands, materials, etc. of socks that work really well.  TIA!
5 months ago
I'd be interested in testing too.  I tried to click on the link to read the rules but it said I didn't have access.  
5 months ago
We live in town but have a fair bit of perennials that we eat from our land.

Mainstays:

asparagus (some on our land and lots that we forage and then freeze, up to 60 pounds a year)
lambsquarters (use it like spinach, in smoothies, soups, casseroles, etc.)
nettles (used in smoothies, soups and casseroles, also as tea during sickness -- we mostly forage these and get them from my daughter's yard)
elderberries and elderflowers (used for medicine but also baking, wines and liqueurs, elderberry lemonade, elderflower fritters, etc.)
acorns (we forage ours and I would also add that you typically need to soak for far longer than 24 hours to get rid of tannins or do the boiling water method)
mints and herbs
cherries (tree and bush)
rhubarb
greens of all kinds
wild onion
maple sap and walnut sap
walnuts (from the streets in our neighborhood and parks)
apples for applesauce
pears for canned pears
some seeds, though they're not typically favorites and I usually just grind them and add them to gluten free flour mixes and crackers in small amounts

If you have access to cattails, they are great eating all seasons and different parts of the plant are good for different things.  We particularly like the young bottoms of the shoots in early spring, simmered and then served with a bit of butter and salt.

If you're just talking veggies, our standards are greens, asparagus, wild onions and herbs.  Acorns are a big part of our diet though, especially as they are so versatile (I have an acorn foraging book and cookbook that I've written, as we love them so much).  We use acorns for everything from polenta to tortillas to cookies to porridge to veggie meatballs to pie crust to an utterly delicious hot drink (racahout, an acorn based drink, was the original hot chocolate).  Fruits are other mainstays, especially elderberries (I have a foraging book and cookbook for elderberries and elderflowers too).  

Despite having a yard full of hostas and daylilies, I've still not tried cooking those.  I'm not sure why I can't get past the mental block but next year those are on the list to try.
6 months ago
I'm a long-time gardener for spring and summer gardening and have quite a few perennial crops on our property, but I'd really like to plant a fall garden this year, especially as I missed out on some spring crops because we were sick this year.  We're in zone 4 Minnesota and I know to look for really short season stuff at this point and for things that can take some frost.  

Anybody experienced with planting fall gardens in similar climates who has favorite crops to plant?  TIA!
I stumbled onto this resource while researching nature study topics and wanted to pass it on.  It's a free 110 page PDF on how to build rain gardens.  It's designed for schools and organizations and goes into very precise detail with step by step plans, a glossary, pictures of all kinds of rain gardens (at the end), planning info and lots more.  Here's the link.

Hope it helps someone!
9 months ago
I have never had success growing potatoes this way.  I used to use grass and clippings, and I just didn't ever get much yield at all.  Then I read a garden book this year that said it was so important to use soil if you want a good potato crop.  I think if you're trying to make a new bed and will just be pleasantly surprised by a few potatoes, this is a great plan.  I'm tired of sad potato results though and will use good garden soil for mine this year.  I usually have great success with anything planted in our good Minnesota soil.  We'll see what happens.

PS The best way I have established new beds is by putting kiddie pools in the yard for the kids to play in all summer.  Come fall I put away the kiddie pool and underneath is a perfect circle of nothing but dirt.  I plant there, edge it in large stones, and then keep making it bigger as the stones kill the sod underneath.  With five kids and limited time, I have slowly converted much of our grass to permaculture gardens this way over the years.  :)
10 months ago
Wow.  That's a lot of money.  To be frank, I'm a little worried for you.  I have never used a publicist or agent, but I also haven't sold $9,000 worth of books (though I'm getting up there).  My biggest advice would be to ask for proof that he's done this for other people.  Who has he made moderately rich and famous with his services?  Ask for some success stories and some references that you can contact.  Otherwise, it just feels like this could be a really expensive lesson.

Here are some ways you can ask people to support you and help make this book successful without spending any of their own money.  You have such a big following here that I would hope you could get some big responses along these lines even for people who can't donate cash.  People who want to help can:

~ Sign onto Goodreads and make an account.  Once there, either rate the book, better yet review the book, and possibly add the book to lists so people will see it when they're looking for related books (click on lists, and then search for topics like permaculture, etc.).  It's also helpful to friend people there, because the more friends you have, the more people will see the books you've rated.  That's not nearly as important as just getting the numbers up there and getting good quality reviews up there.  

~ Ask your library to carry the book.

~ Post on social media about the book, with a direct link to it.

~ Review the book on Amazon.

~ Recommend the book to groups, websites, etc. with similar values.  Always post a link when you do so.  People are lazy. :)

~ If you can't buy the book but buy anything else on Amazon, click through one of Paul's links so he gets a commission and support him that way.

~ Share social media posts about the book.  If you're on Twitter, Facebook, and especially FB groups about related topics, post about it.  Also forward posts/ads about it.


Here's where a good social media post can really help.  You can make them for free on Canva.  There are templates and graphics to make it easy.  Here's an example of a social media post that I made last week for a children's nature poetry book I just published with one of my children (she did the art).



Then ask people to share it, and share it yourself anywhere like-minded folks hang out.  Be sure the post has relevant information and a call to action ("please share!" or "Ask your library to carry it!" and so on), with a link to buy the book (make it an affiliate link and say so, to increase profits).  (Here's the post and what I wrote to accompany it on my author page).

You may also want to look into offering your book for review at NetGalley, where librarians, bloggers, booksellers and other reviewers access ARCs (advanced reader copies) for free in exchange for reviewing them on the site and on sites like book blogs, Goodreads and Amazon.  That's also how many librarians and booksellers find out about new titles to order.  NetGalley has become a rather important way of promoting books in today's market.  It costs more money than I'm willing to pay ($400 or $500 maybe?) but at the scale you're looking to sell at, it could be a good move.  That's probably one of the routes your publicist is planning on going.

I have never paid for advertising, but that could also be helpful for the numbers you want.  Sponsored books on Amazon seem to do well and start at a very low cost.  The way it works is that it suggests it to people who search for similar books or search words.  

I have never used a publicist or agent and have only used word of mouth and this sort of thing but I have sold quite a few books (my elderberry book is by far the best seller, though my acorn foraging book and nature study books also do fairly well).  Part of that also is because I do a lot to help people online for free with my free nature magazine, foraging help, blogs, etc. and so people tend to want to support me.  You have that going in spades, which can really help.  I realize you are looking for much bigger numbers of sales than my little books, but I hope that's some help.  I would be happy to create a social media post like mine for you at no charge if you want to email me and give me a basic outline of what you'd want on it.  I believe strongly in helping others for free, which is probably why I am not the type to hire a publicist and balk at anybody charging you that much.  :)  It may be a smart move, but I wouldn't count out word of mouth and karma in helping to bring good sales your way at much less cost.

Good luck either way!

10 months ago
My husband uses Google maps to map foraging spots too, and he has it color coded and by season, too.  He wrote a blog post about his system on our family foraging and green living blog here.



He has a pretty easy system that works really well and has added a lot more wild edibles since then that might be hard to keep track of otherwise, so we know where there's a great site for wild asparagus in May or where to find wild grapes in late summer, etc.

I personally try to stay away from Google these days, but I'm a cranky old thing.  ;)

11 months ago
I don't think I've ever posted this here and I'm not sure why, but I wanted to pass this on in case anybody found it helpful.  

Starting in January of 2019 I've been putting out an ad-free nature magazine online for kids.  



It's in PDF form and can be read online or printed out.  It's usually about 16 pages and has information for kids (and their grown ups) about foraging, fun things to do outside, ways to help the environment, etc.  Each month has two botanical coloring pages from Elizabeth Blackwell, a fantastic artist who created some of the best botanical illustrations ever done as a way to free her husband from debtor's prison a couple of hundred+ years ago (I teach about her in the first issue).  There are also seasonal nature poems, weather trees (color in a leaf for each day to keep track of the day's weather), foraging record keeping pages, nature study records and more.

I have tried to include information for folks in the Southern hemisphere but I must admit there is a slant towards foraging and nature study in the Northern hemisphere as I live in Minnesota and I'm just not as familiar with foraging in places like Australia as the U.S.    I have included some and have tried to make it useful for all though.

Here are a few of the covers from past magazines.









And here is this month's magazine.



You can view them all on the Wild Kids website and download them or read them there.  You don't have to sign up for anything or do anything at all to download it.  It's just a project I do to try to do some good in the world.  

I have not decided if I'm going to continue into 2020.  I originally committed to doing one year and said I'd take it from there.  My family is encouraging me to stop as it's a lot of time every month and we have a busy life with 4 kids still at home, and it costs money as so many people download it that our little website charges us an overage fee.  But I believe strongly in this subject and it's a bit of a "Miss Rumphius" project of mine (in the picture book Miss Rumphius, an elderly lady spreads lupines all through the countryside because her grandfather has taught her that we all must find something to do to make the world more beautiful).  

In any case, I'm strongly leaning towards continuing it into the new year and thought folks here might like the magazine or know a child in their lives who might.  Feel free to pass it on to anyone you think might benefit, and if you'd ever like to contribute any content (or know a child who would -- my kids have written some of the content) feel free to do that too!

1 year ago