Shirley's Award Winning Container Garden
Whether on one-story structures or on skyscrapers, rooftop
gardens are havens with a charm of their own. For the owners, they provide
private worlds in which to grow plants and escape the bustle of city life.
All this, of course, is made possible with soil brought in and carried
to the top of the building for the pots and boxes that comprise the rooftop
garden. If you have ever seen a penthouse garden, you know what a feeling
of space it gives, especially if the building is high. It is like being
on a mountain top, with a panoramic view that on clear days seems limitless.
In 1987 my rooftop garden won the New American Garden Contest Special Merit
Award from the National Gardening Association which featured a 6 page article on my container garden. (other
articles about my rooftop garden: April 1988 issue 'Up on The Roof' -
and also in the Futurist Magazine March-April 1993 'Gardens in the Sky').
For 8 years I grew a wide variety of fruits and vegetables such as grapes, corn,
apples, tomatoes, cabbages, blackberries, and much more. Everything was
grown entirely in containers on the rooftop of my Hollywood apartment building.
By the 5th year, my container garden produced over 1500 pounds of organically
grown fruits and vegetables per year.
I'd like to give credit to Rodale's
Organic Gardening Magazine for a wonderful source of information that helped me learn about
gardening. I read that Rodale was forced to spend a fortune in legal fees to
defend his right of free speech regarding the health benefit of organically
Views of my rooftop container garden in Hollywood, April 1988
Sustainable Agriculture explores the ambitious program Cuba embarked on during the ten
years subsequent to the collapse of the Soviet Union, a program which fed the
country's population. By 1999 Cuba's agricultural production had recovered and
in some cases reached
historic levels. While rural farms and farmers contributed greatly to this success,
a key component was the emergence of urban farms and gardens as the principle
source of fresh produce in cities.
How would you like to have fresh, organic vegetables always available to you
without costing a cent? The vegetables you buy from supermarkets may look bright
and fresh but did you also know they are constantly sprayed with strong chemicals?
These chemicals are dangerous and who knows what they might do after years of
exposure. I know for sure that I'm not going to expose myself or my children
to these chemicals, you shouldn't either! Now... You don't have to!
In a 1993 experiment, Dr. Job Ebenezer, Director for Environmental Stewardship
and Hunger Education also demonstrated how fresh, healthy vegetables can be
grown in abundance and inexpensively in containers virtually anywhere.
Growing an Organic Garden Can Help Your Health and Budget
Shirley tending her Rooftop Garden above -
You probably know already that organic foods are good for you. The major
problem most people have with organic food is the expense. However, there are
several different ways to reduce the cost of your food. Growing your own is
probably one of the best, and can be very satisfying. Organic food now represents
a $14-billion business in the United States. Unfortunately, the quality and
meaning of the organic label is declining as fast as the popularity of organic
is growing. Sadly, you are actually being ripped off by much of the organic
food you buy. Many people have realized this, and as food prices have risen,
so has the increase in private backyard vegetable gardens. Few things can compare
to the pleasure of picking guaranteed fresh, in season ingredients for your
dinner right out of your backyard.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 60 percent of herbicides,
90 percent of fungicides, and 30 percent of insecticides to be carcinogenic.
Pesticides are also notoriously hazardous. Commonly used pesticides have been
linked to health problems such as:
* Disruption of your endocrine system
* Immune system suppression
* Male infertility and reduced reproductive function
Shirley Harvesting Grapes on Rooftop
eating organic and avoiding eating contaminated fruits and vegetables, you’re
not only protecting your long-term health by reducing your body’s overall chemical
load, which can have a significant impact on your level of health, but you’re
also consuming far more nutrients in the same amount of food. On average, conventional
produce has only 83 percent of the nutrients of organic produce. Studies have
found significantly higher levels of nutrients such as vitamin C, iron, magnesium
and phosphorus, and significantly less nitrates (a toxin) in organic crops.
Higher nutrient content naturally means greater health benefits. A 2003 study
in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry concluded that organic foods are
better for fighting cancer. And in 2005, scientists found that, compared to
rats that ate conventional diets, organically fed rats experienced a variety
of health benefits.
Fresh, healthy chemical-free fruits and vegetables can be grown in abundance
and inexpensively in containers virtually anywhere.
Growing High Yields of Vegetables
Experiments on the rooftop parking lot of the office of The Evangelical Lutheran Church
in Chicago have proven the feasibility of growing high yields of vegetables
in children's plastic wading pools.
In 1993 Dr. Job Ebenezer, Director
for Environmental Stewardship and Hunger Education at the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in Chicago has proven that the use of low-cost containers such as plastic
children's wading pools is an easy, affordable means by which to produce safe
and nutritious food. The hope was that the rooftop garden would serve as a role
model for creative use of urban space throughout the country. The need for such
a project evolved out of issues of food sustainability and several global trends:
urban population growth; farmland and forest land loss due to development; creative
use of wastelands in urban areas; recycling of food wastes in cities, and a
burgeoning community gardening movement that empowered poor people to grow their
own food in their own neighborhoods.
The demonstration garden has proved to be highly successful. In 1997, gardeners
harvested 984 pounds of vegetables from 38 pools in an area measuring 1,625
square feet. One pool alone yielded an average of 22.5 pounds of tomatoes, cucumbers,
bell peppers, zucchini and a variety of greens. This is equivalent to about
26,800 pounds. per acre, which far exceeds that of commercial yields in the
state of Wisconsin and even the national 1996 average yields.
This project demonstrates how fresh, healthy vegetables can be grown inexpensively
in containers virtually anywhere -- at the edges of parking lots; along railroad
tracks; on back porches; on rooftops; in patios; in driveways; in vacant lots
between buildings; in brown fields or areas where there is a concern about soil
pollutants; in areas where soil nutrition is lacking -- just about anywhere
there is a bit of space, sun and access to water. These gardens use much less
water than the amount needed for conventional row planting in open fields.
An Urban, Hydroponic Garden in your Window!
Window Farm. An urban, hydroponic garden
in your window!
Inner city dwellers can grow their own food in their apartment
or office windows throughout the year by means of these elegant, inexpensive,
vertical, hydroponic vegetable gardens made from recycled materials or items
available at the local hardware store. The first system produced 25 fresh live
vegetable plants-- lettuce, herbs, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, peppers, kale,
small squash, edible flowers, and many more in mid winter in a dimly lit 4’
x 6’ NYC window. The plants are grown from bottles connected vertically and
watered by a small fish-tank pump. Share your space year-round with a vitamin
rich living harvest and a lush trickling fountain-like curtain. You have to
see this to believe it.
Wheat Grass, Barley Grass and other Greens: Wonder Healer Foods for People and
It's easy to grow wheatgrass and other greens at home, indoors or outdoors.
Wheatgrass juice is the nectar of rejuvenation, the plasma of youth, the blood
of all life. The elements that are missing in your body's cells - especially
enzymes, vitamins, hormones, and nucleic acids can be obtained through this
daily green sunlight transfusion.
If you don't have space for a vegetable garden or if your
outdoor space doesn't provide the necessary elements to produce the flower garden
you've always wanted, consider the possibility of "container gardening." A patio,
deck, balcony, or doorstep can provide enough space for a productive, attractive
display. If you live in an apartment with limited outdoor space, you might consider
doing a little indoor gardening. By using sunny window sills, you can grow a
number of herbs.
Will Allen is a pioneer in the urban farming movement and the founder of
Growing Power. His programs transform the lives of low-income families by providing
high-quality jobs and healthy affordable foods for all residents in the community.
Allen has a simple but life-changing goal: to grow food, to grow minds, and
to grow community. By synthesizing a variety of low cost farming technologies,
Growing Power produces vast amounts of food year-round on two acres of land
in the inner-city of Milwaukee. Allen considers quality food to be a civil rights
issue and has been determined to challenge the disparities in food access and
quality in our country and across the world. Growing Power has farm sites nationwide
and leads workshops to teach its methods to people around the world.
Organic Garden Blog is
a creative Journey: sharing thoughts, ideals, and valuable information for health
"In the early 1990's a strong urban agriculture was born in which thousands
of people produce food using organic methods that help supply basic foodstuffs
to urban families," said Dr. Funes. "The effectiveness of organic techniques
in urban gardening has been clearly demonstrated, and it is here that we are
possibly closest to the ideal of sustainable agriculture, due in part to the
prohibition of the use of chemicals because of the proximity to dense human
This is a story of resistance against all odds, of Cuba's remarkable recovery
from a food crisis brought on by the collapse of trade relations with the former
socialist bloc and the tightening of the U.S. embargo. Unable to import either
food or the farm chemicals and machines needed to grow it via conventional agriculture,
Cuba turned inward toward self-reliance. Sustainable agriculture, organic farming,
urban gardens, smaller farms,
traction and biological pest control are part of the successful paradigm shift
underway in the Cuban countryside. In this book Cuban authors offer details-for
the first time in English-of these remarkable achievements, which may serve
as guideposts toward healthier, more environmentally friendly and self-reliant
farming in countries both North and South.
Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba
includes the contribution of thirty-two of Cuba's leading agriculture researchers,
plus three American experts on Cuba agriculture, including Dr. Peter Rosset,
the co-director of Food First. It also includes a prologue by Professor Miguel
Altieri of the University of California at Berkeley, and an epilog by Professor
Richard Levins of Harvard University.
"To understand Cuban agricultural development we must first look at the richness
of detail in this volume. Then we have to step back and squint to capture the
truly novel pathway of development that Cuba is pioneering. And then once again
we have to focus in on the details, and glimpse the processes through which
Cuba is creating something truly new and hopeful for all of humanity." -Professor
Richard Levins, Harvard University School of Public Health
Solar Cookers International
Solar Cookers International assists communities to use the power of the sun
to cook food and pasteurize water for the benefit of people and environments.
Many poverty-stricken families worldwide spend 25% or more of their income on
cooking fuel. Sunlight — solar cooker "fuel" — is free and abundant. Money saved
can be used for food, education, health care, etc.
Solar cooking is the simplest, safest, most convenient way to cook food without
consuming fuels or heating up the kitchen. Many people choose to solar cook
for these reasons. But for hundreds of millions of people around the world who
cook over fires fueled by wood or dung, and who walk for miles to collect wood
or spend much of their meager incomes on fuel, solar cooking is more than a
choice — it is a blessing. For millions of people who lack access to safe drinking
water and become sick or die each year from preventable waterborne illnesses,
solar water pasteurization is a life-saving skill. There are numerous reasons
to cook the natural way — with the sun.
Thirty thousand families in eastern Africa have added solar cookers to their
kitchens, freeing women from fuel gathering and fire attending. Projects are
typically 6-8 years from start to local sustainability through local businesses.
Widespread public awareness, quality consumer education and local adaptation
and production of attractive, affordable and accessible cooker supplies are
essential project components.
There are hundreds of millions of people around the world that could benefit
greatly from solar cooking and solar water pasteurization skills. Perhaps a
few million people already do.
Solar Cookers International
team of global volunteers — along with a small, dedicated staff — is working
diligently to hasten the spread of vital solar cooking technologies
Fulvic Acid nature's own best medicine for plants, animals, humans, and the Earth itself
Most soils have produced food for hundreds of years. The minerals in those
foods were eaten generations ago. Now depleted, the produce grown is less nourishing
and healthy. Fertilizers may increase growth rates, but the produce has become
a hollow food. In addition, synthetic fertilizers may convert mineral ions into
insoluble complexes, making it difficult for the plants to absorb these essential
minerals. Pesticides and herbicides may kill or greatly inhibit the micro-organisms
in the soil responsible for solubilizing minerals so the plant roots can absorb
them. Literally, the minimal amounts of minerals left in the soil may become,
to a large part, insoluble and unabsorbable because of modem agricultural practices.
are humic substances? They are the sum total of all once living organisms,
mostly plants, disassembled by nature’s brilliant decomposition and recycling
processes, then highly refined by millions of species of beneficial soil-based
microorganisms. Ultimately, microscopic plants such as yeast, algae, mold, fungi,
etc., finish up the process. These tiny beneficial plants refine, purify, combine,
and re-refine, until tons of once-living matter are converted to pounds and
ounces. Yet miraculously, when it is all said and done, the end product is not
inert basic "dead" mineral elements, but is transformed into the world’s most
complex and ultra-compact molecules. Even the nucleic acids, RNA and DNA, of
the earlier life-forms remains intact. The molecules are ultra-condensed and
highly functional, rolled up into tight little balls that are supercharged biochemical
and phytochemical powerplants, similar to storage batteries or fuel cells. Where
did this supercharged power come from? It is sunshine light energy captured
during plant photosynthesis, and through decomposition it is converted and stored
within the interior of the world’s most refined and complex molecules.
Humic substances are considered nature's own best medicine for plants, animals,
humans, and the Earth itself. This lowly soil substance has the ability to clean
up the Earth’s environment, neutralize radiation and deadly toxins, heal the
agricultural lands, fuel the spark of life in living organisms, disarm and kill
infectious pathogens, destroy the deadliest viruses, prevent most, if not all
diseases, and even cure and restore diseased and damaged tissues and organs
in plants, animals, and man.
Humic substances consist of an immense arsenal and array of powerful phytochemicals,
biochemicals, supercharged antioxidants, free-radical scavengers, super oxide
dismutases, nutrients, enzymes, hormones, amino acids, antibiotics, antivirals,
antifungals, etc. Humic substances are found in rich humus soil in trace amounts.
They are also found in massive ancient plant deposits, never truly fossilized,
still remaining completely organic.
Nature has a way of processing and refining minerals called the Fulvic Acid
Phenomenon. Organic Fulvic Acids are created by micro-organisms in the soil,
for the purpose of transporting minerals and nutrients from the soil into a
plant. From there, complex photosynthesis reactions produce the components of
all the various parts of the plant. Muco-polysacharrides (complex carbohydrate
sugars) flow throughout the plant for nourishment. Some is returned to the roots.
There, the micro- organisms are nourished and produce Fulvic Acid to complex
with minerals and nutrients to restart the cycle again.
Fulvic acid is a Humic substance or extract. Fulvic acid is the end product
of nature's Humification process, which is involved in the ultimate breakdown
and recycling of all once-living matter, especially plants. Fulvic acid contains
all of the phytochemical protective substances, amino acid peptides, nucleic
acids, etc., from the original plant matter, highly concentrated, refined, transformed,
and enhanced by the actions of innumerable microscopic plants, such as fungi.
The Humification processes prevents the original phytochemical protective components
from completely breaking down and turning back into basic mineral elements or
gases. Even small strands of RNA, DNA, and plant photosynthetic materials still
remain intact. Many of the original components become complex enzymes, which
have seemingly miraculous function.
The majority of research and experimentation that has been done on fulvic
acid is in relation to plants. Yet human beings have been ingesting fulvic acid
complexes regularly for over 60 years in supplemental form, and for thousands
of years from natural food and plant sources. Accumulating testimonials continue
to show that the beneficial properties related to plant studies and cell hold
true in relation to animal and humans as well. Clinical research on animals
and humans is currently underway, and updated information will be forthcoming.
Preliminary findings show that the most prominent diseases and health problems
of our day have been dramatically effected in positive ways by supplementation
or treatment with fulvic acid and other preparations enhanced or created with
acid has proven to be a powerful organic electrolyte, serving to balance cell
life. Fulvic acid readily complexes with minerals and metals making them available
to plant roots and easily absorbable through cell walls. If the individual cell
is restored to its normal chemical balance thereby turning its electrical potential,
we will have given life where death and disintegration would normally occur
within plant and animal cells.6 Fulvic acid has the outstanding ability to accomplish
this objective in numerous ways.
Fulvic Acids greatly enhance the bioavailability of important trace minerals.
Regenerate and prolong the residence time of essential nutrients in the cells.
Modify the damage or toxic compounds such as heavy metals and free radicals.
Enhance the permeability for digestive, circulatory, and cell membranes. Increase
the metabolism of proteins contributing to RNA and DNA synthesis. Increase the
activity of a multitude of enzymes. more
Soil And Health Library
Health begins in the soil; Healing begins with hygiene; Liberty begins with
freedom. This is a free public library offering a tightly focused collection
of books on holistic agriculture, holistic health, self-sufficient living, and
personal development. Most of the titles in this library are out of print. Some
can be quite hard to find; many of these books are old enough to be public domain
materials. Yet all are still of great relevance. Grasped as an inter-related
whole these books constitute a self-guided course of study or curriculum that
connects agricultural methods to the consequent health of animals and humans,
shows how to prevent and heal disease and increase longevity. There are also
smaller collections about homestead-based lifestyles and about why globalized
society is resistant to changing its food and health systems.
Composting With Red Wiggler Worms
Recycling the organic waste of a household into compost allows us to return
badly needed organic matter to the soil. In this way, we participate in nature's
cycle, and cut down on garbage going into burgeoning landfills. Worm composting
is a method for recycling food waste into a rich, dark, earth-smelling soil
conditioner. The great advantage of worm composting is that this can be done
indoors and outdoors, thus allowing year round composting.
Sewage Sludge...A Dangerous Fertilizer
What's in Sludge?
According to researchers at Cornell University and a report of the American
Society of Civil Engineers, the following substances are typically found in
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
- Chlorinated pesticides—DDT, dieldrin, aldrin, endrin, chlordane, heptachlor,
lindane, mirex, kepone, 2,4,5-T, 2,4-D.
- Chlorinated compounds--dioxin (TCDD) dichlorobenzene, trichlorobenzene,
tetrachlorobenzene, chloroaniline, dichloroaniline, dichloronaphthalene,
tetrachloronaphthalene, trichlorophenol, pentachlorophenol, chlorobiphenyl.
- Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons—chrysene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(k)fluoranthene,
benzo(a) pyrene, perylene, dibenzo(a,j)anthracene, indo(1,2,3,c,d) pryene.
- Heavy metals—antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury,
nickel, selenium, thorium, uranium, vanadium and zinc.
- Bacteria, viruses, protozoa, parasitic worms, fungi.
- Miscellaneous—flame retardants (asbestos), petroleum products, industrial
solvents, iron, gold, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium
Good Nutrition must include Sufficient Minerals
Laboratory test prove that the fruits, the vegetables, the grains, the eggs
and even the milk and the meats of today are not what they were a few generations
ago. (Which doubtless explains why our forefathers thrived on a selection
of foods that would starve us!) No man of today can eat enough fruits and
vegetables to supply his system with the mineral salts he requires for perfect
health, because his stomach isn’t big enough to hold them! And we are running
to big stomachs.
No longer does a balanced and fully nourishing diet consist merely of
so many calories of certain vitamins or a fixed proportion of starches,
proteins, and carbohydrates. We now know that it must contain, in addition,
something like a score of mineral salts.
It is bad news to learn from our leading authorities that 99 percent
of the American people are deficient in these minerals, and that a marked
deficiency in any one of the more important minerals actually results in
disease. Any upset of the balance, any considerable lack of one or another
element, however microscopic the body requirement may be, and we sicken,
suffer, shorten our lives.
This discovery is one of the latest and most important contributions
of science to the problem of human health.
“Bear in mind,” says Dr. Northen, “that minerals are vital to human metabolism
and health—and that no plant or animal can appropriate to itself any mineral
which is not present in the soil upon which it feeds.
“We know that vitamins are complex chemical substances which are indispensable
to nutrition, and that each of them is of importance fro the normal function
of some special structure in the body. Disorder and disease result from
any vitamin deficiency.
“It is not commonly realized, however, that vitamins control the body’s
appropriation of minerals, and in the absence of minerals they have no function
to perform. Lacking vitamins, the system can make some use of minerals,
but lacking minerals, vitamins are useless.
“The truth is that our foods vary enormously in value, and some of them
aren’t worth eating, as food.
“Some of our lands, even in a virgin state, never were well balanced
in mineral content, and unhappily for us, we have been systematically robbing
the poor soils and the good soils alike of the very substances most necessary
to health, growth, long life, and resistance to disease.”
We know that rats, guinea pigs, and other animals can be fed into a diseased
condition and out again by controlling only the minerals in their food.
A 10-year test with rats proved that by withholding calcium they can
be bred down to a third the size of those fed with an adequate amount of
that mineral. Their intelligence, too, can be controlled by mineral feeding
as readily as can their size, their bony structure, and their general health.
Place a number of these little animals inside a maze after starving some
of them in a certain mineral element. The starved ones will be unable to
find their way out, whereas the others will have little or no difficulty
in getting out. Their dispositions can be altered by mineral feeding. They
can be made quarrelsome and belligerent; they can even be turned into cannibals
and be made to devour each other.
A cage of normal rats will live in amity. Restrict their calcium, and
they will become irritable and draw apart from one another. Then they will
begin to fight. Restore their calcium balance and they will grow friendlier;
in time they will begin to sleep in a pile as before.
Many backward children are “stupid” merely because they are deficient
in magnesia. We punish them for our failure to feed them properly.
Certainly our physical well-being is more directly dependent upon the
mineral we take into our systems than upon calories or vitamins or upon
the precise proportions of starch, protein, or carbohydrates we consume.
It is now agreed that at least 16 mineral elements are indispensable
for normal nutrition, and several more are always found in small amounts
of the body, although their precise physiological role has not been determined.
Of the 11 indispensable salts, calcium, phosphorus, and iron are perhaps
the most important.
Here’s one specific example: The soil around a certain Midwest city is
poor in calcium. Three hundred children of this community were examined
and nearly 90 percent had bad teeth, 69 percent showed affections of the
nose and throat, swollen glands, enlarged or diseased tonsil. More than
one-third had defective vision, round shoulders, bow legs, and anemia.
So it goes, down through the list each mineral element playing a definite
role in nutrition. A characteristic set of symptoms, just as specific as
any vitamin-deficiency disease, follows a deficiency in any one of them.
It is alarming, therefore, to face the fact that we are starving for these
precious, health-giving substances.
The minerals in fruits and vegetables are colloidal; i.e., they are in
a state of such extremely fine suspension that they can be assimilated by
the human system.
Sick soils mean sick plants, sick animals, and sick people. Physical,
mental, and moral fitness depends largely upon an ample supply and a proper
proportion of the minerals in our foods. Nerve function, nerve stability,
nerve cell-building likewise depends thereon.
[Dr. Northen say,] “Soils seriously deficient in minerals cannot produce
plant life competent to maintain our needs, and with the continuous cropping
and shipping away of those concentrates, the condition becomes worse.
“A famous nutrition authority recently said, ‘One sure way to end the
American people’s susceptibility to infection is to supply through food
a balance ration of iron, copper, and other metals. An organism supplied
with a diet adequate to, or preferable in excess of, all mineral requirements
may so utilize these elements as to produce immunity from infection quite
beyond anything we are able to produce artificially by our present method
of immunization. You can’t make up the deficiency by using patent medicine.
Do you have a question about Natural Health or need assistance?
Call 323-522-4521 or 323-989-3372