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June 10, 2009

Event: Palo Alto, CA. - Backyard Farming -- CANCELED

NOTE THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED

There is an event coming in Palo Alto, CA that you might be interested in attending.
June 18, 6:30 pm., $10 if you say you heard about it through Commonweal Institute.
Cubberly Community Theatre, 4000 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto.

Speaker: Katie Tamony, Editor-in-Chief, Sunset Magazine

"You can't get much more local than your own backyard. In an area about the size of a medium suburban backyard, Sunset magazine grew 30 different crops for an end-of-summer feast. Staff raised chickens for eggs and bees for honey, made their own wine, beer, cheese and vinegar, and pressed olives for oil. Come hear about this amazing journey."

For more information: e-mail info@commonwealinstitute.org

June 8, 2009

Sunset Magazine Open Weekend – Yuppie Paradise

Yesterday I visited the Sunset Magazine Open Weekend for the first time. I was looking forward to gardening tips and suggestions on green living and although there were a few, I also felt I was bombarded by extremely expensive yuppiness.

Does Sunset think that anyone interested in green living or backyard farming has a huge amount of disposable income? Or is Sunset Magazine a creation that came out of living in a rich and yuppified area? Which came first – the backyard farming chicken or the egg? I can’t answer that question.

Take raised beds, for example. When I think of raised beds I think of railroad ties or redwood planks nailed together in an attractive way, not the $200 sanded, sculpted, lacquered and altogether ridiculously cutified raised bed side-walls that were on display. It’s not that I’m against attractive garden accoutrements, I am just disappointed that the exhibits lacked grass roots, down to earth suggestions that better fit this economy.

Now that we are on the subject, another pet peeve I have is the ‘outside kitchen’ idea that Sunset keeps pushing. All I see is an incredible waste of resources, from the kitchen counters of which I imagine most people have inside their houses already, to all the wood that keeps being burnt for no reason except to make pizzas for the already well fed.

Another peeve is the reccurrence of the second house. Again, in my experience, this is for the upwardly mobile - or maybe just the already up there. Isn’t one house enough? Even though they present the second house as a green cabana, cottage or what ever they want to call it, it is still for those with excess resources, and a waste of resources as they are only used for vacationing. What about green tips for people renting houses because they can’t afford to own one house? I suppose that showing people how they can build their dream extra home in a green manner is less bad than not building it in a green manner. But my point is that not that many people ever build an extra house at all, so how about green tips for the rest of us?

O.K. I admit I did not stay and watch the many seminars on gardening. Maybe there was an arsenal of tips on how to use items straight from the recycle bin – but I didn’t stay to listen.

My last word is this. When every back yard in the US is paved with sand colored flagstones, and we all sit outside entertaining our friends from our outside kitchens, after which we warm ourselves by the outside hearth, where will Sunset lead us then? And what’s more, do I want to go there?

I think I'll just go out to my garden now.

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