Friday Homestead Dispatch

Esteemed Prepubescent Dumplings

Many of you have seen/read the New York Times article on our very own Don Guerra of Barrio Bread here in Tucson. He is known for baking exclusively with grains grown in southern Arizona, and the northern Mexico/Sonoran region.

According to the article, “In 2014, Mr. Guerra joined a campaign to revive the grain led by Native Seeds/Search, a seed bank in Tucson whose offerings are collected from the Southwest region. Mr. Guerra helped persuade Arizona growers like BKW Farms (located northwest of Tucson in Marana) to give it a chance by promising to buy part of the harvest for Barrio Bread.”

Just a bit about Native Seeds/Search: Since its founding in 1983, they have been dedicated to conserving the rich agro-biodiversity of the arid Southwest. Preserved in their seed bank today are nearly 2,000 varieties of crops adapted to arid landscapes extending from southern Colorado to central Mexico, many of them rare or endangered. The collection represents the cultural heritage and farming knowledge of over 50 indigenous communities, as well as recent immigrants like Spanish missionaries and Mormon homesteaders. They also conserve a number of crop wild relatives, wild ancestors of domesticated plants.

But back to bread…as much as we enjoy Barrio Bread’s offerings, our favorite is the pain au levain from Time Market. The crust is chewy and the inside is perfectly fluffy. According to their website, “We make bread the traditional way, using just three ingredients- organic flour, water, and salt. Each loaf is hand shaped and slow fermented for 24 hours, allowing it to develop complex flavor and texture. Baking with a high heat stone hearth results in a caramelized crust with a moist and tender interior.”

“And their pizzas are the best in town,” said our taste buds repeatedly.

I know skinny jeans are all the rage.

But skinny houses are starting to show up in areas where real estate is at a premium. I love the idea, and most of the architecture, and I’d be jumping all over this twenty years ago–BUT THE STAIRS! Oy.

Yes, we have lunatics in positions of power in Washington, DC; Ted Cruz defended Nazi salutes and Tom Cotton stormed out after screaming at Merrick Garland to resign and demanding that he investigate the activists who followed Sinema into a bathroom (hmmm, how could he investigate the bathroom incident and resign…).

Speaking of Merrick Garland, the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday produced some GOP Theatre of the Absurd moments, including Chuck Grassley who exclaimed that Garland created "a task force that includes the department’s criminal division and national security division to potentially weaponize against parents. This kind of looks like something that would come out of some communist country expansive definition of national security." As Lee Papa says of Grassley, he’s the Senate's crabbiest piss elf.

Papa went on to say, “But, at the end of it all, what you come away with is that the GOP is trying to protect its base, the violent assholes trying to silence or run out of office officials they disagree with. It's of a piece with the reduction of January 6 to a mere protest than a riot of savage fucks bent on keeping Donald Trump in office. It's of a piece of screaming that mask and vaccine mandates are brutal government control of bodies rather than a public health measure. They want the assholes to keep threatening elections officials and school board members, driving them away, allowing the assholes to install their asshole leaders in positions of power.”

Anderson Cooper has turned out to be a pretty good journalist. Check out his take on the hearings.

Terraformation is the name of the organization Former Reddit CEO Yishan Wong founded to reforest three billion acres. Hey, if it takes a billionaire to get his ass off the beach because it’s too hot to do something about climate change, I’m all for it. In an article published yesterday in the Guardian, Wong said, “We’ve already done the R&D. A trillion trees has a very, very strong possibility of solving the [climate] problem.” Reforestation is “immediately scalable”, he said, adding that the world cannot afford to wait until carbon capture technologies are ready for large-scale deployment: “You’re accumulating debt, the planet is warming in the meantime.”

This is an optimists view as many scientists have refuted that planting trees is “the most effective solution to climate change to date.” Sassan Saatchi, a senior scientist at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said “One type of solution is not going to fit all,” said Saatchi. “We need to do the calculation for each region differently.”

But Wong insists that his group will “listen to and co-author with the local community” and will focus on restoring native ecosystems rather than planting monoculture species, which can harm the environment. “If you restore native species where they were, they grow back way faster than you expect.” In addition to his projects on Hawaii Island, Terraformation has partnered with individuals and organizations around the world who share their vision with partners worldwide from Uganda, Tanzania, Ukraine, Ecuador, and about 20 others in the pipeline.

You can read more here about seed banking, a powerful tool to preserve and reintroduce threatened species into degraded ecosystems.

In the midst of our monsoon last July I posted about the photographer Sebastião Salgado and his efforts to do the same in a smaller portion of Brazil, in the farmlands in the small town of Aimorés. He hired a forestry engineer named Renato de Jesus, who worked for the controversial multinational corporation Vale, to help him revive the land. According to Smithsonian Magazine Salgado said, “We are not radicals. We’re not in an ivory tower. We need everybody: companies, governments, mayors. Everybody.” They secured a donation of 100,000 seedlings from Vale’s nursery and also went to governments and foundations worldwide to secure another key input: money. When the rains returned in 1999, they worked their way up the valley, placing the seedlings roughly ten feet apart, 2,000 trees per hectare. Fig species, long-leafed andá-açu, Brazilian firetrees and other legumes were meant to grow fast and die young. This first phase would provide shade, trap moisture, give shelter to birds and insects—and help heal the soil by restoring depleted nitrogen.

And now…