Tuesday, November 4, 2014

trees-- growing to the sky

daughter.  and plums.

I was working in the backyard last week with Hunter, a fellow blogger- whose blog has also gone partially dormant.  We were making cider from apples he had foraged from around town, and the last of a batch that I had gotten from an orchard near Le Sueur.  We had a lot of apples to work through and it took most of the afternoon.

It was a pretty much perfect fall day- golden sunshine, a little chill in the air, but not enough to make a jacket really necessary.  The smell of apples while we worked.  A little breeze.  A few clouds.  Smell of some smoke from a neighbor's fire. 

While we worked we both noted that the blogs that we've followed for years- the ones dealing with peak resources and climate change adaptation and global economic stuff seem to be falling by the wayside.  Going dormant like ours.  And why is that?

Are things really different this time?  Are trees going to grow to the sky?  Will the Dow reach 40,000 and the Singularity dawn upon the eastern horizon?  Why shouldn't everything we want to happen, just happen because we want it to?

Because of gravity.  And those laws of physics and stuff.

About which I am not an expert.

I am an expert, of sorts, on plants though.  And I don't know of any trees that do grow to the sky.  

The hard limits which have always been there, are still there, and printing money hasn't changed that.  Of course, I do have a job at present, and that makes my worldview reasonably rosy- and I'm working on starting a business, which makes it rosier yet.

But part of the reason behind that business- is the creation of resilience- moving into an industry that is needed- or at least wanted- during the best and the worst of times.

Right now- my desk job- my real job- is as a landscape architect.  I learned a lot about design and planning and theory and plants while in school, and now I mostly design sidewalks and parking lots.  Not a necessary profession in a world where few things are being built.  The recession of 2008- the last time that people suddenly needed fewer things built- hit people in my profession hard, and many haven't returned.  Those that remain are worked harder, sometimes for less pay.  It's not a pretty picture, but one that a lot of people have learned to live with.

I don't know that it will get any better either.

Now- take the area  I'm moving into- manufacturing wine, cider and mead.  Making alcohol.  That's a product that's always in demand.  Using ingredients from city trees, or surplus from agricultural production or distribution moreover.  It's resilient in the way that a job designing parking lots isn't. 

The decentralized supply chain is a central part of it.  This year so far, we've picked apples from trees half a block off of Lake Street in Minneapolis, plums from a lot just across from downtown St. Paul, organic apples from a cabin in western Wisconsin and the previously mentioned organic apples from a small farm in Le Sueur.

We've juiced them all and they're fermenting in our basement right now.  The trees they came from won't grow to the sky, but they will produce fruit every year- so long as the sun shines and the soil is alive. 

So long as the climate doesn't change too quickly or too radically- those trees will provide us with the raw material to make something delicious and potent- the way they have for thousands of years. They are the real source of wealth.   They won't grow to the sky- but who can pick fruit in the sky?  I'd rather have the fruit on the ground.
In that vein- if you would like to support our effort to start Urban Forage Winery and Cider House, take a look at our kickstarter video.  I've posted the link below.  If you like what you see, consider making a contribution.  Even a small one helps. 

Thanks for continuing to read eighth acre farm even as I post less often and put a greater amount of energy and time into this new venture.  I appreciate it.


Urban Forage Kickstarter link here


  1. Yum!

    My blog is not entirely dormant yet. I commented on the last election, such as it was. America will not grow to the sky either.

    Good news, those apples we juiced are fermenting. And I gathered 2.5 bushels after that, but those will be for cooking and eating through the winter. Blessings,


  2. A conversation with an Australian lead me to Google Minnesota bananas which lead me to your blog. A perfect way to spend a snowy New England Saturday. Thank you.

    1. Thanks B! I've not been writing much lately, but I'm glad to hear that there's still interest in the archives. I'll have to post again soon about what I'm up to these days. Life is busy!

  3. JZ: Your observation seem real to me.
    Your photographs are delightful. As for alcohol, I think it a more difficult entry to these groups of producers than might be imagined, but far be it for me to discourage anyone, I believe in "small beginnings."
    Check-out our local Mead producer.