October 22, 2011 – Higher Ground

It’s not often a colleague publishes a memoir, writes a screenplay based on the memoir, gets a film made, film gets selected for Sundance, and then gets picked up by a major studio! The creative writing teacher at Marshalltown Community College did just this. The movie stars Vera Farminga (Up in the Air) and Joshua Leonard (Blair Witch Project).

We went to see it the night Carolyn made comments and asked questions, and then dragged our daughters and others the following week. I’m guessing while it is a heartfelt exploration of faith and personal choice, it might not last long at the box office as the movie relies as much on non-verbal cues as the script itself and does not contain explosions or full frontal.

October 19, 2011 – More Oxfam Pictures

A while back I posted some pictures from some international visitors brought to high hopes by Oxfam.  They had a professional photographer with the group and following are some of the pictures taken by Ilene Perlman. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves (except for one that needs some explanation).

This type of water pump handle was familiar – it was interesting to see this woman “pump” the handle up and down, like I remember the pump on my grandfather’s farm.

one year ago…”Signs of the Times”

October 18, 2011 – Fall Color

Here’s the little tree we planted in the front yard – growing up quite nicely.

We planted an ash, maple, and oak along the north side of the driveway many years ago to grow up to replace the old spruce, and two maples.  With age and all the wind of late, the spruce tree blew down this summer, and one maple is down to about 25% of its original branches from storm damage.  So, it looks like these trees might add some meaningful shade on the south side of the house by the time the other trees are gone.

one year ago…”Mini-van Driver No More”

October 17, 2011 – Tomatoes Won’t Stop

OK, this is it. The final tomato harvest of the year – frost is forecast in the next few days.

The plants loved the dry late summer and fall. It was an epic tomato canning year – our final tally ended up to be 97 quarts and 37 pints canned – even for us, a lot! So, we are ready in case there is a crop failure next year – we’re good for a couple of years for chili, minestrone soup, red hot dish and whatever else we can use our summer canned in a jar.

one year ago…”In the News”

October 16, 2011 – World Food Prize/Oxfam Visitors

Once more this year, we were fortunate to host some amazing folks who were in town for the World Food Prize Symposium.  This year’s event was much smaller than last year’s, but just as interesting.

Many of the folks who stopped by were international visitors who are used to living in rural areas, and were thrilled to get out to the country after spending a week in hotels downtown.  One of my favorite moments is when one of the visitor’s eyes light up when they see or smell something familiar to them – whether it be the aroma of a fresh herb in the air or seeing and old standard-breed chicken.

Mrs. Silas Samsom Buru

Here Linda speaks with Mrs. Silas Samsom Buru, a farmer from Ethiopia.  Although she had never traveled more than a few miles from her village in her life before this trip, she was on a panel at the symposium panel with VPs from Wal-Mart, Kraft Foods, and NGO Director Generals and was a natural at expressing her viewpoints.  She spoke about a new crop insurance program that pays out not based on an individual farmer’s crop loss, but instead if average yields fall below a certain level in the region.  Farmers can pay with cash, or improve their long-term farming sustainability by soil organic matter improvement to make the soils hold more water through droughts.  She said the program has the possibility of improving the lot of the next generation so they will not need so much outside food aid.

Nelly Velandia

The woman in front of Linda is Nelly Velandia from Columbia.  Nelly practiced civil disobedience by setting up a farmer’s market in towns where they were not prohibited, on the steps of the government building.  The markets were a huge success and the rules were changed.  In Bogotá, she even convinced the mayor’s office to help cover the cost of setting up markets in parks and public squares.  The markets offer poor rural farmers a much more profitable return and urban residents cheaper, more nutritious food.

It was uplifting to share stories among these women of their efforts to improve their corners of the world.

one year ago…”Oxfam Event at High Hopes Gardens”

October 15, 2011 – Claire’s In the State

At least I think she is – she came home late Monday night/Tuesday morning and then used the one of the high hopes rental fleet and drove to Des Moines for the week for the World Food Prize activities.

Here she is on a shopping mission to Wal-Mart, a place she seldom if ever steps into, so she made sure to learn from the now famous Wal-Mart fashion tip she read on the internet:

Claire had a week of volunteering and attending events.  She marveled at the new Hall of Laureates, which saved the old Des Moines downtown public library from the wrecking ball.

The building hopes to meet LEED Platinum standard – among other things, it maintained the character of the old building and new by covering the roof with solar panels, invisible from the street.

one year ago…”Claire Back in Town for World Food Prize Events”

October 14, 2011 – High Hopes Blog Slowing Down

Since Feb 13, 2005, I’ve committed to daily posts on the High Hopes Blog and have done that for the most part, except for periodic computer breakdowns – my WordPress dashboard tells me I have 2,439 entries. The blog now receives clicks from about 150 visitors a day, 55,000 visits last year, 170,000 visits in the last three years and the highest number of visitors on any one day is 1,066. However, as much of an advocate for sustainable and self-sufficient living that I am, a post that has nothing to do with this topic remains the most popular post – the picture of Claire’s home-made duct tape Homecoming dress is far and away the single most visited post!

One astute observer refers to it as my “electronic scrapbooking” as the blog chronicles the farm and family. We often look back on it when we can’t remember when something happened, or how old an animal is.
With some of the farm activities winding down, there will be less material – so I am no longer committing to daily posts – instead, when something happens I will still post – it might be once or twice a week, we’ll have to see.

A big thanks to all who have and continue to keep up with the goings on at High Hopes Gardens and its denizens.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #229″