Anne Pratt

master pollinator
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since Apr 10, 2020
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Retired last year, living in Vermont with partner, 3 chickens, 1 aged Chihuahua, and lots of gardens. A baby food forest underway. Perennial vegetables. Berries planted. Plenty of flowers!
Vermont, USA
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Recent posts by Anne Pratt

Sorry, my daughter is 31 and has a 2-year-old of her own!

There are some outstanding schools around here.  The school population is quite small, so class sizes are small and the teachers are very engaged.  I don't know how it is in other school districts; probably like everywhere, some are better than others.

Currently, due to the pandemic, various districts are handling things differently.  But in normal times, there is a school where your children will attend.

I am farther from my daughter and family than I would like to be - it's over 3.5 hours.  But it's certainly close enough for a weekend trip, and they come up here to see Grandma's chickens and nearby farms, as well as hiking and museums and other wonderful attractions.  I just love it here.
5 hours ago
I lived in nearby Massachusetts in a small city, and moved to rural Vermont.  I think the most important factors are (1) proximity to family/loved ones/support network, (2) cost of living (weighed alongside your ambitions toward frugality, intent to grow your own food, and such), (3) climate, soil, privacy, and some less tangibles like the political climate.

My state has a high cost of living, a brutal climate, rocky but otherwise pretty good soil, and great communities.  But, I have always loved Vermont.  We vacationed here when I was a child, and I brought mine to vacation here in more recent years.  It feels like home.
13 hours ago
I have no experience in selling what I grow.  <--- immediate disclaimer

Last week, when I harvested my garlic, I vowed that if I were ever to grow food for money, garlic would be part of it.  So. Freaking. Easy!

In the past, I have looked into planting saffron crocus.  The University of Vermont has done a study about whether it can be a profitable crop here in Zone 5.

I've read that microgreens can be profitable easily, even in the basement!  I have discovered ground cherries, a relative of tomatillos that cost a FORTUNE at the coop (health food store) but grow like weeds and self-seed here.  I harvest them literally out of my lawn.

Are you required to sell the products that the grant-maker wants, like providing certain foods to a specific market?  Or can you grow what makes sense for you?

I get it, though.  I'm 67.  My joints and muscles won't put up with much more gardening than I'm already doing.  Working in accommodations (there's a thread discussing aging homesteaders and we've talked about higher raised beds, a goal of mine).  Did you want a high tunnel anyway?

I think this deserves some research - essentially a business plan.  Do you have an existing market as part of the grant, or do you have to find buyers too?  Check prices.  Make estimates of how much you can grow, choosing the crops for profitability.  Add  a percentage for failed crops.  Do you have enough water if there's a drought?

Choose a non-labor-intensive method (lasagna/wood chip/other) and estimate the cost needed for labor for the initial setup, planting, and harvest.  This requires some hard work with a calculator and spreadsheets, I fear.

Best of luck.  I wish you and your husband well!
Hi Jason -

I just watched Paul's hugelculture microdocumentary (I "won" it on the kickstarter; not sure where you can find it) and they made a big, south-facing, horseshoe-shaped hugelculture raised (big) bed.  In the cradle of the horseshoe shape, it would stay much warmer through the winter.  They also used large rocks to absorb heat and give it back slowly overnight.

There are other techniques to creating microclimates.  Up against the southern wall of your home, for example.  The sun's heat will keep that wall warm, and the warmth of the home would lend some heat overnight, too.  There are also a lot of articles about protecting a tree over the winter.  I'm looking at fig trees with longing here in Zone 5!

15 hours ago
Thanks for drawing this to our attention!

I found other articles on the subject, including this one:  Inverse article on PFAS in food containers

This is dreadful.  Almost-pristine Vermont has a problem with these pollutants and it's really hard to get rid of them.
1 day ago
I once grew an enormous flower garden on the site of a previous 5-vehicle commercial garage.  I didn't want to plant food in it right away.  (I bought the land with a deep hole where the foundation used to be.  They claimed to have tested the soil but they weren't the most ethical people I've ever met.  I made soil by dumping leaves there for a few years, so the soil was uncontaminated and fairly deep.)

I started trying a few plants - cherry tomatoes, lacinato kale, cucumber, and pepper.  The property was in an area where many people walked on their way to the bike trail.  The immigrants always asked me why I didn't plant food!  (Permies!)  Once, after explanation, someone asked me, "What's that gorgeous plant?"  Answer:  kale.  Lacinato has a blue tint, is upright, and very handsome!

Once I saw a landscape designer's yard that had a huge rhubarb sitting all by itself in a nook near the edge of the trees.  Everyone always asked her, "What's that gorgeous plant?"  Away from a food garden, it was hard to recognize!
1 day ago
It has helped me to avoid starting "advice arguments."  No reason to explain to everybody who suggests something unusable that you're not going to follow their advice.  Just thank them.  Or, thank them and mention that your sandy soil, pure clay, tropical location or whatever, prevents you from taking their otherwise helpful advice.

I often feel the need to explain, but I also hate stepping on peoples' toes or hurting their feelings.  So the above advice is something I remind myself of every time I feel those toes beneath my feet.

John F Dean wrote:Excuse  me. That should be 30 two ft tall

Yeah.  I was thinking that going up and down the ladder all the time could create a different kind of risk!  ;-)
1 day ago
I once wrote an article for (the very early) Mother Earth News!  Then 35 years flew by, and . . .

I recently retired from my job, which involved a lot of sitting while driving, sitting while at the computer, and sitting in a courtroom waiting to testify.  In the last year, I've spent my time gardening, wielding a pitchfork to move wood chips around, and generally climbing around my steep property.  And in the off-hours, I'm at the physical therapist, in the Pilates class, or getting a massage.  All of those years of sitting, followed by all this activity, brings on a whole lot of pain.  I'm going to have a cart to move those wood chips soon, because hauling them up steep hills in a wheelbarrow seems like less of a good idea.

I bought a house with a first-floor bedroom and bath, and we built a big garage.  I think this place will see me through, and I belong to the Aging in Place Committee in town.  The new coop will be built to ergonomic standards!  I might also start raising the raised beds - good idea, Jay!
2 days ago
Hi Frank -

The software seems to know who you are, so you might be lucky and get this response!  Not that I have the faintest idea about your pump.

Welcome to Permies!
2 days ago