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Seeing Up and Forward

I was looking for something in my email this morning, and took a look at this post from Seth Godin. Seth is one of those people I look to for inspiration on entrepreneurship. Here’s a quote from the post.

“In the fast-moving world of ‘up’ is also the promise of possibility, the freedom to innovate, the requirement to be generous in your work. Out isn’t nearly as important, it turns out, as forward.

Soccer is a zero-sum, winner/loser finite game. But life, it turns out, is a magical opportunity for up, and for forward.”

For those of you that follow my posts, you’ll know that the words that stood out to me are ”possibility”, “freedom”, “innovate”, “generous”, and “opportunity”. What really caught me was his characterization of Life. A “magical opportunity”, Godin called it. These days, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the sound and fury of the modern world. Our brains have evolved to see the negative so much easier than the positive. Our unconscious reactions tend to be that the world is headed down the highway to Hell at breakneck speed. But we have a choice in joining that race or not.

It takes some training, Strong Intention, and a daily practice to choose what Godin calls “up” and “forward”. Intentions of being positive (or Life-affirming or whatever phrase works for you) helps you begin to see possibilities other than the worst case scenario. Training in Compassion, Empathy, and Equanimity, especially toward yourself, opens new ways of being on the world. And daily practice puts those Intentions and that training into the world. We change the way we see the world, and so we change how we experience the world. In essence, we change the world.

Here’s what I’ve been doing lately. Whenever some of that worst case scenario thinking comes up, I stop and say, “OK, THAT’s enough.” That keeps me from dwelling on it. Then I think of something good that’s happened in My Life. It works best for me when the new thought has absolutely nothing to do with the self-criticism. Yeah, that’s pretty simple, and it takes a LOT of practice. By itself that probably wouldn’t work for me. Combining it with My Intentions, revising My Personal Mythology to have a more positive worldview, and a strong Yoga Practice is what really works best. ALL of these practices work better together.

“I don’t have time for all that touchy-feely crap”, I can hear you saying. I can hear it because I said it myself. That’s certainly a choice. All I can say is that “all that touchy-feels crap” saved My Life, and is how I Create My Life going “up and forward”. The time I spend in practice adds to my Creativity and Vitality. It’s how I build things from the “magical opportunity” that is Life.

We have the possibility to innovate our way to freedom. Life generously gives us this opportunity. The choice is ours.

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for 5/28 – 6/2, 2018

This is a holiday week, so it’s a short one for The Successful Gardener. As we enjoy this weekend, let’s remember to take some time to pray for Peace, both worldwide and in our own lives. That’s the best way to honor those we lost to war.

This week’s tip

Raising good, fresh food can feed your soul while feeding your body. The time spent outside in a garden can be a place to decompress after a long day on the job. When I worked in politics during the Reagan years, the garden was the place that I went to find a sense of Peace and Calm after a hectic day of campaigns. The fresh food I put on the table was a source of satisfaction to me. And it was during that time that I began to have a deeper appreciation of ornamental horticulture. Or maybe a better phrase is a deeper understanding of all the color, contrast, and textures of a home landscape. All of these things contributed to nourishing the mental, emotional, and spiritual parts of my humanity.
There are as many ways to do this as there are people, but I find that simply sitting in the garden, especially in morning mist or the last rays of sunlight, are the times I enjoy the garden most.
So what’s the “tip” this week? Take some time to enjoy the garden, whether it’s the mess of tomatoes you harvested or the peace and quiet of a sunset. See your garden as a place that can give more that it gets. Add a bird feeder or a bird bath. Plant some flowers that attract butterflies and even bees. Put a chair or a stool or even upturned bucket in the garden and just sit for a spell. Have some time to just be in the garden, instead of always working in the garden. That’s when I started to really enjoy my gardens.

Where I’ll be this week.

Monday & Tuesday, May 28-30 Personal Time
Patrick County VA & Matthews, NC

Thursday, May 31 Matthews, NC Sustainable Ag 102 600-900PM
Lomax Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Registration is closed for this session, but Sustainable Ag 103 begins July 26. Details here.
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for hot, humid weather. Closed toed shoes are required on the farm. This is a hands on class. Be prepared for most of the class to be in the field. Your own water bottle is recommended, as is sunscreen and a hat.

Friday, June 1, I’m available for home and Farm consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, June 2, 2018 9AM-12PM, Matthews, NC
This time of year I may be at Renfrow Hardware, working at the Farm, or simply enjoying a coffee at Brakeman’s. Regardless of where I am, you can always stop by and find out more ways to enjoy your garden. Come see me!

Remember, my next Successful Gardener class, “More Food From Less Space”, will be June 12, 630PM. We’ll meet at the Farm on Charles Street in Matthews, NC. Details are here.

How can I help you?

Spring is a great time to take stock of what’s going on in the garden and landscape. As new growth sprouts all over, new ideas do, too. But you may not know if they will work. That’s where I come in. I’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested in a home landscape consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener! Hope to see you sometime this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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The Reactionary Times

I let other folks make me very angry the other day. It affected a lot of my work throughout the morning, and into the early afternoon. That anger just simmered the rest of the day.

I didn’t understand what was going on until later the next day. And I’m having trouble writing it out now. It seems to be a trouble with reaction. I’m reacting to everything negatively. Even with all of the work I’ve done on this, it’s really pushing hard against everything else. So much so that my Creative Energy is being tied up by dealing with reactions.

It’s happened again. Yesterday I was working on a home repair project, and things weren’t going well. I reacted to this by letting myself get more and more frustrated. Which led, of course, to my getting more and more angry. This time I can tell you exactly where all this reaction came from. My need to do everything perfectly the first time and every time. (Yes, I know that perfection isn’t possible, but you tell that part of me that. I’ve been having that inner discussion for years.)

I’m more aware of all this reaction because I began to cultivate Equanimity in My Life a few weeks ago. That sense of inner calm, even in the midst of all the sound and fury of modern life. Uncertainty is rampant in Life these days, as reactionary forces tear at the fabric of the social contract constructed for US citizens (and people coming here, yearning to “breathe free”). Navigating this uncertainty successfully is more about your mindset than about circumstance. A Peaceful mind is essential to this. Which led me to Equanimity.

To this point, cultivating Equanimity is like plowing new ground; a lot of unexpected stuff gets turned up in the process. What’s turned up in my case is every mistake I’ve made, every regret I have, and the pervading sense of failure that I’ve had to deal with all my life.

While these are difficult things to face, it’s actually a positive thing. I have the chance to deal with them now. They aren’t buried deep in my unconscious anymore. They haven’t been easy to deal with, especially in a year as busy as this one. Because to deal with them, I have to look at how I see the world, and how I see myself. All this anger and frustration comes from My Personal Mythology, the stories I tell myself about me and the world. How do I do that? Ultimately, by changing those stories. Not to lower standards or to lessen the quality of My Life, but to replace emotional reactions with Creative energy.

It’s surprised me to realize that a lot of that calmness I’m looking for comes from Unconditional Love. When you Love someone or something without expectation, with no attachments, and no excuses, there’s no need for reaction. Things are as they are. People are the perfectly imperfect beings they have always been, including me. There’s an old gospel song with the line, “The sweetest words I ever heard was I forgive”. I’d add to that, the sweetest words you’ll ever SAY are I forgive, especially if you’re saying them to yourself.

Here’s the point. In order to Live a Peaceful Life, we start within ourselves. All of the attachments, expectations, and experiences that have gone into creating our Personal Mythology needs to be recognized for what it is. Is it Love or is it fear? Does it Create or does it react? Is it Life or is it simply sound and fury?  Forgiveness is a practice that can help you answer those questions.

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for May 21-26, 2018

I’ll be at Lomax Farm in Concord,NC twice this week. On Tuesday morning, I’ll be checking out the latest organic farming research. Thursday, I’ll be teaching folks how to grow good food organically. Details are below.

This week’s tip

Last week I gave you the basics of growing more good, fresh food in less space. This week. I’ll share with you a couple of harvest-increasing practices you can use. Both of them are common-sense ideas that I have learned in over 30 years of gardening.
First is a type of companion planting that lets you “stack” crops in a space. Europeans learned this from Native Americans over 300 years ago. It’s a planting technique called “the three sisters”. Corn, beans, and squash (pumpkins) were planted in the same space. Corn is planted first, then beans are planted at the base of the corn plants when corn was about knee-high. Squash was planted close behind the beans in order to offer a living mulch. You can do the same by using a tall plant, a vining plant, and a running plant to cover the ground.
Another way to increase yields is an accelerated succession planting. Plant your next crop just before you harvest the current crop. This is especially helpful when you’re planting a cool season crop in late summer.
Want to know more? Sign up for my next class, “More Food From Less Space”. The class will be at Renfrow Farm, 630PM, on June 12. Details are here.

 Where I’ll be this week

Monday, May 21
I’m in Patrick County, VA, working on personal projects

Tuesday, May 22 CFSA Farm Field Day 830AM-12PM
Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Register here
From the website: “Join us to learn about the new research study being conducted at Lomax farm, Evaluating the Efficacy of Organic Pesticides. We will also be delving into practical applications for cover crops in small scale vegetable production. Finally, we will discuss safety procedures for using certified organic pesticides, including inoculants for legume cover crops. Lomax is a certified organic incubator farm located in Concord, NC. We will have the opportunity to learn about the farm, educational programs and tour the facility. This field day is approved for Pesticide Credits D : 3, N : 3, O : 3, X : 3.”
While I won’t be presenting at this Field Day, CFSA’s work has informed mine for years. I’ll be there to keep up on the latest research on organic pesticides.

Wednesday, May 23 Renfrow Farm and environs
I have several projects I’m working on, so if you need me, it’s best to contact me and confirm where I am.

Thursday, May 24 Matthews, NC Sustainable Ag 102 600-900PM
Lomax Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for hot, humid weather. Closed toed shoes are required on the farm. This is a hands on class. Be prepared for most of the class to be in the field. Your own water bottle is recommended, as is sunscreen and a hat.  Before you register, call me and let’s chat about about your experience. Details and registration here.

Friday, May 25, I’m available for home and Farm consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, May 26, 2018 9AM-12PM, Matthews, NC
This time of year I may be at Renfrow Hardware, working at the Farm, or simply enjoying a coffee at Brakeman’s. Regardless of where I am, you can always stop by and find out more ways to enjoy your garden. Come see me!

How can I help you?

Spring is a great time to take stock of what’s going on in the garden and landscape. As new growth sprouts all over, new ideas do, too. But you may not know if they will work. That’s where I come in. I’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested in a home landscape consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener! Hope to see you sometime this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for May 14-19, 2018

For those of you in the Charlotte, NC area, this week starts a new session of Sustainable Ag training at Lomax Farm. I’ll be sharing knowledge gained from 30 years of experience in growing good food organically. Details are below.

This week’s tip

Most folks have small areas for growing food for their families. With just a little planning, you can increase the amount you harvest without increasing the area you cultivate. It all starts with what your family likes to eat, really. Think about all of the fruits and veggies that you buy. What are your families favorites? I’m not talking about all those foods that are “good for you”. I mean, what foods does your family eat “by the handful”. Make that list first. Now it’s time for research. Will those foods grow here? If we’re talking mangoes, better move on to something else. What about strawberries? Now, you’re talking! How much space do they take up? Quite a bit, over the years. How many berries do you get per square foot? It varies with type, the weather, and frankly, how good you are at gardening. Regardless, the season is very short, so set that aside for a bit. How about tomatoes? Of course! Tomatoes have a long season, produce a lot of fruit, and have lots of nutrients for your family. The kids love grape tomatoes, and you like a good slicing tomato. There’s the first part of your garden!
After you make your selections, it’s time for some priority setting. Get a garden calendar, and determine when each of your selected veggies will grow. In NC, we essentially have a cool season for vegetables, then a warm season, then we repeat the cool season again. With our mild(ish)winters, often you can let some plants overwinter. Are there opportunities for multiple crops from the same space? If so, you just increased your harvest.
There are lots of ways to increase your harvest even more. I’ll write about some of them next week. You can also sign up for my next class, “More Food From Less Space”. The class will be at Renfrow Farm, 630PM, on June 12. Details are here.

Where I’ll be this week

Monday, May 14
I’m in Patrick County, VA, working on personal projects

Tuesday, May 15 600-90M Sustainable Ag 102
Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Register here
NOTE: After this first class, we will resume a regular schedule of Thursdays at 600PM.
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for hot, humid weather. Closed toed shoes are required on the farm. This is a hands on class. Be prepared for most of the class to be in the field. Your own water bottle is recommended, as is sunscreen and a hat. Details and registration here.

Wednesday, May 16 Renfrow Farm and environs
I have several projects I’m working on, so if you need me it’s best to contact me and confirm where I am.

Thursday, May 17 Matthews, NC
I’ll be working ON my business as opposed to IN my business.

Friday, May 18, I’m available for home and Farm consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, May 19, 2018 9AM-2PM, In the Greenhouse at Renfrow’s!
Renfrow Hardware, 188 North Trade Street, Matthews, NC
More info here.
Come see me for all your gardening needs, from fresh transplants, great products for the garden, or the best selection of seeds in the Charlotte region! Got a problem? Bring it to us. Need to understand a soil test recommendation? We’ll interpret it for you. Come see us!

How can I help you?

Spring is a great time to take stock of what’s going on in the garden and landscape. As new growth sprouts all over, new ideas do, too. But you may not know if they will work. That’s where I come in. I’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested in a home landscape consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener! Hope to see you sometime this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for May 7-12, 2018

Organic gardening and farming are on tap this week. I’ll be teaching “Organic Gardening 101” at Renfrow Farm on May 8, starting at 630PM. It’s a primer on organic gardening techniques and philosophy. You can sign up here. Beginning on May 15 is “Sustainable Agriculture 102” at Lomax Farm in Concord, NC. This is a series of classes based on organic principles. You can join us even if you didn’t take 101. It’s a hands on course that will definitely get you grounded in organics. Here’s more info.

This week’s tip

Organic gardening is all about creating. Creating healthy soil, creating habitat for beneficial insects, and creating plant diversity. This week, I’ll offer some tips on plant diversity. If you look at an unmanaged meadow or patch of woods, you’ll see all kinds of plants. Annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, and even some vines. Sure there may be a certain plant, or maybe 2 or 3, that predominate, but usually, plant populations are quite varied. They “work together” to create a habitat protects its plant members by spreading them out. We can do the same thing while creating our organic garden.
In a small garden, if you’ve added the flowers and herbs I talked about last week, you’ll be well on your way toward creating diversity. Another thing you can do is to spread your vegetable plants around in the garden. There are several ways to do this. First, don’t plant all of a certain crop together. If you plant 3-4 tomato plants, plant them in different beds. At the very least, don’t plant them side by side. A second way to create diversity is to split larger crops, like beans, into several plantings. This gives you second and third chances for harvest, even if you have a pest problem. For instance, plant a smaller crop of green beans, wait 2 week’s, then plant more. Green beans can be planted every 2 week’s until a month and a half before frost. And last, move your annual crops from place to place each year, creating different groupings of plants. This confuses the pests and pathogens that cause so much havoc in our garden. Oh, there’s another way to have a more diverse garden. Planting different varieties of the same crop helps plants resist pests and disease. A real benefit of this approach is a longer harvest. For instance, tomato harvest dates range from 55 days to 80 days or more.
All of these techniques create an environment of health and diversity. Combined with the rich soil you create by composting, cover cropping and mulching, plus the wide variety of herbs and flowers that attract so many beneficial insects, you are well on your way toward creating an organic garden that feeds body and soul.

Here’s where I’ll be this week.

Monday May 7, I’m in Matthews, working on my business, as opposed to in my business.

Tuesday, May 8, Renfrow Farm and environs
I’ll be around the farm most of the day, preparing for class.

Tuesday, May 8, 630-830PM Organic Gardening 101
Renfrow Farm, 409 West Charles Street, Matthews, NC.
Ever wonder exactly what “organic” means? Come join us for a primer on how to create your own organic garden. Sign up here.

Wednesday, May 9, On the road

Thursday, May 10, 2018 6:00-9:00PM Sustainable Agriculture 101
Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC Sustainable Ag 102, Field & Greenhouse Management, begins May 15. Sign up here.
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for wet, cold weather.

Friday, May 11, I’m available for home and Farm consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, May 12, 2018 9AM-2PM, In the Greenhouse at Renfrow’s!
Renfrow Hardware, 188 North Trade Street, Matthews, NC
More info here.
Come see me for all your gardening needs, from fresh transplants, great products for the garden, or the best selection of seeds in the Charlotte region! Got a problem? Bring it to us. Need to understand a soil test recommendation? We’ll interpret it for you. Come see us!

How can I help you?

Spring is a great time to take stock of what’s going on in the garden and landscape. As new growth sprouts all over, new ideas do, too. But you may not know if they will work. That’s where I come in. I’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested in a home landscape consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener! Hope to see you sometime this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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