Love Your Vegetables, Even In The Front Yard

Why do I put all our flowers out front and shove my veggies out back, out of sight?

This was the question I asked myself earlier this spring when my husband and I started planning our garden.  Our house is on a small lot so our space for a dedicated vegetable garden is limited. Since we took out our front lawn last year however, we found we still had quite a bit of available soil in our front, landscaped yard.  Inspired by the urban farming craze happening here in Portland, I resolved to plant nothing new in  my yard this year, front or back, that wasn’t edible.

And why not? Vegetables are beautiful!  Soft curly lettuce leaves, rich purply salad greens, crisp spinach and stately broccoli stems line the rocky garden path. Tiny carrot seedlings encircle the hydrangea. Tomato and tomatillo plants cover a small earthen mound we had yet to landscape.  Onion starts dance merrily around the rose bushes.  Squash and cucumber vines will wind around below our landscaped native grasses.  Four blueberry bushes planted last fall are in full bloom and mark the boundary between the street and our yard.  We haven’t turned our front yard into a suburban farm. In fact, you’d hardly notice the vegetables between the tulips unless you were looking for them. But I feel the pride of a suburban farmer.

Our backyard vegetable box is getting good use too. Snap peas, bush beans, brussel sprouts, garlic, and leeks are growing in nice neat rows. In our backyard flower beds we planted a raspberry start, peppermint and spearmint plants, and the strawberries are coming back in full force. Cilantro is popping up from seed in a container on the deck. We aim to grow 3-4x what we have harvested in the past and, by using 3-4x the space we’ve planted in the past, we should be able to do just that.

Can you find the hidden vegetables in these shots of me and Grace in our yard?  Hints below.

Photo #1

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Photo #2

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Photo #3

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Hints:

Photo#1: Purple lettuce leaves along the path in front of Grace. Spinach growing on the other side of the path.

Photo#2: Onions to the left of Grace. Broccoli growing around the petunias to the right of Grace. Lettuce just beyond the tree stump.

Photo#3: Onions in the foreground, broccoli just beyond, then lots of lettuces and salad greens in the distance on opposite side of path. Yes, I am using sluggo in my yard. Those slugs devour my veggies if I don’t, and supposedly it’s non-toxic, biodegrades, etc. I certainly hope so.

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Something To Put A Smile On Any Face

This delightful act of pure joy took place at Antwerp, Belgium’s train station at 8:00 am on a recent weekday. It was a promotional stunt for a local TV show but the message is still clear. Do something fun, joyful and surprising for a stranger (or for hundreds of strangers) today. I always wanted to live inside a musical…

Sunny Spring Trunk Show!

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Twice a year I voluntarily turn my house topsy-turvy. The toddler toys are scooped up and replaced with tables and racks of Bambootique‘s best.  Pretty spring purses, soft cotton scarves, hip messenger bags, glittery beads, delicious fair trade snacks and more all help transform my home into a global shopping bazaar. Each time I wonder “will anyone come?” and every time the crowds of happy shoppers swoop in. Last Saturday over 50 of you came and it was so much fun!

Thanks to each of you who came to support fair trade and pick out great gifts for yourselves and people you love! Thanks also to the vendors who donated snacks and drinks for us to enjoy – Strictly Organic Coffee, Numi Tea, Slo Chai, Theo chocolate, and Honest Tea and also to Food Front Cooperative Grocery who gave our first 25 shoppers free reusable cloth shopping bags. Thanks also to my mom who baked mouth-watering fair trade chocolate chip cookies we all enjoyed! Thanks to my wonderful helper friends – Katie, Karin, Lorie, Megan, Karen, Mary Lee, Connie and Kristin. And finally thanks to my husband Steve and daughter Grace for putting up with it!

Do you want to make sure you don’ t miss the next trunk show? It will be in November 2009. Contact me to be added to the invite list!

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Celebrate Earth Day, Shop Fair Trade This Saturday: Bambootique’s Spring Trunk Show!

silk-bags-fair-tradeEarth Day is Wednesday April 22nd, but lots of folks will be celebrating our planet this weekend at all kinds of events across the globe.

If you’re here in Portland, head on over to Bambootique’s Spring Trunk Show and Inventory Clearance, all day Saturday (10am-4pm). You’ll find a huge array of fair trade products, all as good for the planet as they are for people. You’ll find bags made from bamboo, jewelry made from recycled soda cans, handmade paper journals, candles made from vegetable waxes and dyes, plus hundreds of other purses, jewelry items, soft toys, and more, all made by hand which means a very low carbon footprint.

What: Bambootique’s Spring Trunk Show and Inventory Clearance (10-75% off throughout)

When: Saturday April 18th, 10am-4pm (open house – drop in anytime)

Where: My home in Tualatin, OR. Email me for address/ directions or call 503-781-3244.

Who: You and all your friends, family, anyone you’d like to bring to shop fair trade!

Oh, and did I mention free chocolate chip cookies, homemade by my mom with fair trade chocolate chips?

Useful Updates In The World Of Fair Trade

A few various bits and pieces of interesting fair trade news have come my way in the last couple of days thanks to Green America. Here are the businessseal-lg-greensoundbytes for your enjoyment/ enlightenment.

  • Green America (formerly Co-op America) has just released their latest Guide to Fair Trade. It’s a comprehensive resource guide for all things fair trade including interviews with leaders in the industry, a run-down of various fair trade product categories, and a fabulous directory of hundreds of fair-trade companies for just about every kind of product you think of (including, of course, Bambootique). The guide is available for free as a pdf download or you can order paper copies at a low price.
  • I wrote a few weeks ago about Cadbury’s chocolate in the UK going fair trade, but not here in the USA.  Now there’s an organized effort to thank Cadbury (owned by Hershey’s in the US) for their efforts and encourage them to pursue the same ethical model in America.  I signed Green America’s letter to Cadbury’s CEO and so can you. Go here and spend 10 seconds to show that American chocolate consumers are as socially concerned as our friends across the water.

Strictly Organic Coffee Is Strictly Delicious

“Dark. Rich. Beautiful. Delicious.”woman-picking-cherries_thum

Response to a bar of chocolate perhaps? Nope, those are the words uttered by my coffee-loving husband as he ground fresh beans from Strictly Organic Coffee for our morning brew.  We’ve been sampling a different roast each morning for the past week and we’re in coffee bliss.  As I type I’m enjoying a deep, dark cup of Ethiopian Harar, one of my all-time-favorite varieties of coffee and especially exquisite from Strictly Organic. We’ve also loved their Organic Papau New Guinea blend and Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. Each type is perfectly roasted and I have to admit to even snacking on a few plain beans. They’re that good.

Strictly Organic roasts 100% organic, 100% fair trade certified beans at their roatery in beautiful Bend, Oregon. They have  a great little cafe as well as delivering their freshly roasted beans by bicycle to various retailers and restaurants around Bend.  The company reminds me of a central Oregon version of Portland’s favorite coffee roaster, Stumptown. Besides all the good things listed above, the company also pays health insurance to all employees.

Strictly Organic sent me the samples I’ve been trying for the past week and they’re sending up sample bags for EVERYONE who attends Bambootique’s Spring Trunk Show and Inventory Clearance next Saturday (April 18th).  Other great fair trade products on sample will include Theo chocolate, SLO Vanilla Chai Latte, Noble Coffee and Numi teas.  I hope to see you there!

Ah Spring, Thank You For Visiting

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Now please stick around, just for a little while?

Happy Holy Week

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“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:11

We’re now in the week leading up to Easter, the greatest celebration of the year for followers of Christ. Yesterday was Palm Sunday and our local paper ran an interesting article about fair trade palm branches. I had no idea unfair palm branches were an issue but, like so much that we use and buy without thinking twice, something joyous to us can be painful to others. Knowing the truth is a good thing.

Many of the palm branches churches order for Palm Sunday are harvested using unsustainable farming practices and workers are paid less than living wages. The Presbyterian Church has launched the Eco-Palms project to work with famers in Guatemala and Mexico. Farmers are paid 5-6x what they were previously getting, and the focus is on quality rather than quantity (typical  harvest of palm fronds can result in up to 50% being discarded because of trying to get the greatest volume possible).  The project also ensures the palms are harvested sustainably, meaning that the trees are not killed in the process.

This project seems like a wonderful idea and they are definitely getting the word out. This year over 600,000 palm fronds were sold to US churches through the project, up from 5000 palm fronds just 4 years ago when the project launched.  My church was even more creative. We didn’t use any palms at all, but instead used sword ferns harvested from members’ yards. Sword ferns are a native plant in Oregon so not only are we celebrating with our local version of palm fronds, no fossil fuels were burned to get them to us from far away.  Consider one of these options for your congregation next year!

While we’re thinking about integrating justice into Holy Week, don’t forget to look for fair trade chocolate goodies for any Easter baskets you get to fill. Why support child labor, slave labor, or ecological damage in the sweet treats you buy?  Check your local natural foods store for their selections of fair trade Easter chocolates. Yum!

Spring Trunk Show And Inventory Clearance – Saturday April 18th

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Twice a year I open up my home for a Bambootique Trunk Show, where all Bambootique products are available for purchase in person and, for the first time, it’s ALL on sale.

If you haven’t come before, why not make this year the first? I have full_circle_messgr_bg_pnkoverstock from Christmas I need to move plus with the way the economy is, we’re all looking for a deal. Everything will be 10-75% off web prices. On top of that, I’ll have dozens of new products and trunk show exclusive products not available online. Like what you say? Gypsy bags from Honduras, woven baskets from Rwanda, and finger puppets from Peru to name a few.

It will also be your chance to grab one of our brand-new messenger bags from South Africa. These babies are literally flying out the door and I’m afraid there may be a waiting list soon. A new shipment is (fingers crossed) arriving from South Africa just days before the trunk show. If a messenger bag is on your trunk show shopping list, I advise you to arrive early.

The trunk show is not just a chance to shop, although a lot of shopping will go on. It’s a great social event and a chance to introduce your friends and family to the world of fair trade, even beyond Bambootique. Everyone will get a free sample bag of Strictly Organic Coffee (roasted in Bend, Oregon) and I’ll have samples of Theo chocolate,  not to mention my mom’s popular fair trade chocolate chip cookies, fresh-brewed fair trade coffee and organic Numi teas. Wear comfy shoes, grab your best girlfriends, and drop on by!img_5000

Mark your calendar!

What: Bambootique Spring Trunk Show and Inventory Clearance (10-75% off)

When: Saturday April 18th, 10am-4pm

Where: Bambootique Founder Beth Sethi’s home in Tualatin, Oregon. Email me for the address (I prefer not to post it online, but everyone is welcome!)

Why: Because shopping is so much more fun in person than online, especially when it’s all on sale!  If you don’t come April 18th you’ll have to wait for (gasp) the Christmas trunk show.