I made a beautiful mistake and I am so glad that I did because I learned so much! When I was adding materials to my garden bed I didn’t pay enough attention to the carbon/nitrogen ratio, so now I am struggling to bring my bush beans back to their beautiful green color. Plants need nitrogen to grow and when they don’t get enough, their leaves can turn yellow. Nitrogen can be added in the form of green stuff like grass clippings, or urine, manure, blood etc. I am currently using an amendment derived from dead sea birds and I am slowly seeing my plants regain some color. I have been spoiled in the past with really great soil to begin with, so I don’t have experience building soil from scratch. I am fortunate to have this opportunity because it gives me an appreciation for the complexity of soil life. I am noticing that without the right balance, my garden is void of the variety of bugs that I used to see in my old garden and I don’t have mushrooms! My plants are also not as big as I think they should be at this time of year. I’ll keep trying and learning and let you all know what happens!
Being a bug farmer is not what I had in mind when I said I wanted to be a farmer. Perhaps I should have been a little more specific when I prayed to the universe, but I kinda like that the universe surprised me and helped me find my niche. Bug farming isn’t glamourous, but it is wonderous and beautiful in its own way. When I peer into the bin full of mealworms, I see a microcosm and I feel as connected to the ecosystem as I would if I were farming chickens or vegetables.
Any type of farming is like a marriage and requires a deep level of commitment. Healthy, regenerative farms are born of great effort, but I am nervous about this whole endeavor. I am struggling as I explore my relationship with commitment and have a lot of fear towards committing to a great many things. I am afraid of being responsible and depended upon because what if I fail? What if I am not good enough? What if the grass is greener on the other side? What if I am vulnerable? What if the deepest purest expression of myself is not met with love? When I actually get these worries out of my head they seem commonplace, but I spent my twenties feeling the crushing enormous weight of these worries and now have only begun to let go and commit to what I love despite fear. Scott Peck, a psychologist said that “love is effortful.” It just occurred to me that having my own personal ceremony where I commit to being a bug farmer and entomophagy educator may be a powerful way to solidify my commitment. It sounds silly, but as with a marriage commitment, there’s a sense of security that goes along with it. As long as I put forth my best effort and keep trying no matter what, it’s okay to fail and it’s okay to not be good enough. I am ready to inspire, educate, and learn; come what may.
So with that said, allow me to introduce you to my tiny friends!
I ordered them online and had them delivered to me through the mail. Following directions I read in a book and online, I put them in the refrigerator to slow them down while I prepared their new home which is a plastic 20-gallon container. I poked holes in the lid with a screwdriver which was really easy, and then I filled the bin with rolled oats that I ground up in a blender. This apparently gives them more surface area to live on. After this, I put them in their new home with some fruit and veggies and Matt and I stared at them for a while which was actually quite interesting and fun! I planned on keeping them warm with a heat lamp, but I didn’t feel good about leaving it on overnight due to heat lamps being fire hazards:( So now they live in the bathroom next to the heater which keeps them at the low end of their preferred temperature at 70 degrees. I hope that as it warms up they’ll be happier and friskier and will make more babies! Now I am just waiting for magic to happen. In a week or so they will morph into beetles who will then make babies that will turn into mealworms and start the whole process over again. I’ll keep you updated on this entire adventure as it unfolds.
P.S check out the receipt for everything I needed to set my farm up and the mealworms only cost $11.50.
As a person with a passion for simple and sustainable living, the act of eating insects resonates with me and gives me so much hope for humans. Our planet isn’t able to support us all if we (especially Westerners) continue to rely on beef, fish, and poultry as our main source of protein, B-12 and DHA/EPA. The farming of insects requires WAY less water and other resources to produce the same amount of nutrition, if not more. I am excited about it because anyone can farm them! Unlike a regular farm, insect farming is accessible to people with a low-income, people without access to land, and people who don’t have the physical abilities that most farms demand. After specializing in sustainability education in Graduate school, I wandered around trying to find my place within the sustainability movement. I thought that getting involved in the earthen housing movement would be an effective way to help people reconnect with the earth and help them understand the burden conventional housing places on the planet, but the more I got involved the more I realized that access to land is an obstacle that most people cannot overcome. I could get involved in helping people learn how to garden using permaculture principles, but what is the point if more and more people don’t have access to dirt? Having an eco-hostel and farm is still a dream of mine, but until I can find a way to acquire land, I want to make a difference and give back to the earth and my community all that I have learned.
In the permaculture world, people often say, “the problem is the solution.” I have wanted a hostel for so long because I wanted people to have a real life example of what it means to be living in a reciprocal relationship with nature. My problem though has been that I do not have access to land. But that is my solution!!!!!!!! I didn’t realize that until recently. I don’t have access to land and neither do most other people. I feel that leading other people into the world of entomaphagy is a way for me to do the greatest amount of good, with the smallest amount of resources. By farming insects in my own home, which is currently a greyhound bus, I can give people a real life example of what it means to be living in a reciprocal relationship with nature. I don’t need land to teach that.
I will keep you posted as a become an insect farmer:) I have taken the first step and have purchased the equipment I need to begin, now I just need to order my Mealworms. (I am starting with Mealworms because unlike Grasshoppers, they can’t escape as easily!).
The title of this post is “A Leader is Simply the Person who Goes First.” Even though I am not the first person to embark on the adventure of insect farming and eating, I am the first person that many of you know to do such a thing. The western world just needs people like me to show them what the rest of the world already knows to be true: that insects are economical, EXTREMELY nutritious, good for the environment, and very delicious.
I am trying to be a human being today. For the moment I am succeeding. I am writing my blog and I am in the moment and there is no where else I am thinking about going. There is no one else I am thinking about becoming. There is nothing else I am thinking about doing. I am just me doing my thing. This morning was a different story though. I woke up inside of my to-do list, and started thinking about all the things I want to do to be the person I want to be. I rode my bike right over the Rogue River thinking about my destination instead of its beauty. The Rogue River! It is one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever seen and I rode over it and past it’s offer to help me simply be a human being and not a human doing. I will not get frustrated with myself though, mindfulness is a practice, so I will keep practicing and notice and feel gratitude for moments of grace like the one I am in now.
Every day I see or hear something that more or less
kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle
in the haystack of light. It was what I was born for – to look, to listen,
to lose myself inside this soft world – to instruct myself over and over
in joy, and acclamation. Nor am I talking about the exceptional,
the fearful, the dreadful, the very extravagant – but of the ordinary, the common, the very drab,
the daily presentations. Oh, good scholar, I say to myself, how can you help
but grow wise with such teachings as these – the untrimmable light
of the world, the ocean’s shine, the prayers that are made out of grass?
~ Mary Oliver ~
Ah, not to be cut off
not though the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars
The inner- what is it?
if not intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.
Rainer Marie Rilke