• Certification Dept. ... You Mean, I Passed??? The other day I got one of those uncomfortable-looking certificates via snail mail. You know, the kind that seems fake and worthless but is authentic and meaningful. It came from the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) and it “awarded” me the title of “Professional.”

    No kidding, this is an empowering and joy-filled moment in my life. For if I had not passed the 100-question test, I might have had to close shop and pursue an entirely different line of work. Fortunately for me (one of the worst test-takers on the planet), the process included a two-day prep class and an open-book test. Oh, and we got three months to take the thing.

    Kidding aside, ARCSA is an excellent organization filled with virtuous people doing plenty of great work. I encourage anyone interested in water harvesting as a profession to check them out: http://www.arcsa.org/ .

  • Welcome Terrapins! Please welcome Backyard Digest's two new mascots! Inspired both by the concept of "gradual greening" and by one of my favotite album covers (Grateful Dead's "Terrapin Station"), they are the creations of George Lawrence, Harvest the Rain's awesome illustrator.

    Please suggest names for these happy creatures! I'm imagining the terrapin using the rake being female and thinking the terrapin carrying the shovel could be male. What do you think?

  • Victory for Water Harvesters! I just sat down with Matt O'Reilly (Director of the Land Use Department), Wendy Blackwell (Division Director of Technical Review), and Michael Purdy (Division Director of Inspections and Enforcement) of the City of Santa Fe’s Land Use Department, and they all agreed to amend the water harvesting permit checklist to allow people with other licenses (not just plumbing licenses) to install cisterns! Email me (nate@sfpermaculture.com) for more information.

  • Trees of Green? Every December I struggle with the age-old Christmas tree question, but this year I think I finally answered it!. Artificial? Live? Cut? Fake trees emit toxic phthalates into your Yule-tide-cheer-filled home but can be reused forever. Live trees can be transplanted, but they often dry out in a warm living room and if they don't die, you'll still need a place to plant it. Cut trees around Santa Fe often benefit a local charity, but they are trucked in from an unorganic farm in Oregon. Even when we walk the thing home, the carbon footprint associated with this tannenbaum is gargantuan. Fortunately, cut trees let you compost their acid-laden needles, and that’s good news for our alkaline soils.

    When we didn’t have kids, a sprig of rosemary worked great for a tree, but two little boys later the question becomes, “What’s a non-Grinchy daddy to do?”

    This year we carpooled with some friends, paid $10 for a permit, and drove up the eastern slope of the Pecos River. Their front-wheel-drive minivan needed chains for the last half-hour of the climb, but pretty soon three grown-ups and four kids all piled out, suited up, and headed upslope armed with a short bow saw and some hand pruners. Not only did we have an awesome time communing with nature, we found two fabulous trees --not “perfect” but packed with the kind of character that towers over perfection every time.

    Sometimes we have “Eureka” moments. I suppose this one was more of a “Hallelujah!”

  • Water Harvesters of the World Unite! I’m flabergasted by the City of Santa Fe’s decision to ONLY allow plumbers to “conduct” water harvesting projects. When I asked a plumber friend if he would pull a permit or three, “Sure," he paused, deep in thought, “but…how do you get water from the canale to the cistern? Is it gravity?”
    Water harvesters of the world unite! We MUST get the city to QUICKLY change its tune!!! Plumbers know water harvesting as well as marines know bicyles!


The final frontier.

These are the musings of an engaging enterprise.
Its thirty-year mission:

To create a greener planet.

To seek a better life in our lumbering civilization, and

to slowly go where we are all are headed anyway.


Is an unproven system for generating wide-spread sustainability.

it asks for 10 minutes a day for a year. At the end of the year, it asks for 10 more.

So in the second year, you spend just 20 minutes a day, in the third year, 30 minutes.

If you keep up this pattern, 27 years later you spend over 4 hours per day being extremely green.

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Describe your attempts At a sustainable life.