PicsArt_1439263377112

Seed Bombs are clay balls embedded with seeds,

in this case, milkweed for monarchs!

Milkweed = Baby Food for Monarch Butterflies

Milkweed = Baby Food for Monarch Butterflies

Artists, Activists and Kids love seed bombs,

and here’s how to make your own:

Step One:

Step One

Step One

Step Two:

Naughty or Nice?

Naughty or Nice?

Step Three:

Harvest milkweed seeds from a real

milkweed plant, OR, buy locally,

from,  Seed Geeks, who you can find

at the Tower Grove Market.

Go Local

Seed Geeks

Mix the clay with water, and a few seeds,

until you get the consistency of cookie dough.

Play with mud

Play with mud

Step Four:

Mix into mud, adding more clay, water or seeds

as needed.  You can also add some compost from your garden.

Mix Well

Mix Well

Step Five:

Roll into balls, allow to dry, and harden (which may take a few days).

Bombs Away!

Bombs Away!

Then go bomb a vacant lot.

Next spring,

Milkweed and Monarchs show up!

And that’s how to make a Seed Bomb.

PicsArt_1439259372158

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2014-08 Know Your Farmer

It’s getting harder and harder to find family farms to visit, but it can be done, and here’s one way to do it. You can visit Windcrest Dairy, the only makers of homestead yogurt in our area, conveniently located just 40 minutes east of the Arch, in Illinois.

Here’s the link to the farm, along with a map, and here’s the address to the farm:

Windcrest Dairy

14898 Old Trenton Road; Trenton, IL 62293

 

(Be careful with your GPS device, as it seems to want to divert to Wing Crest)

2014-07-17 Windcrest cows in the barn

Here’s Farmer Kurt, third generation farmer, with a broken rib.  Thank goodness farmers don’t stop farming just because they have broken ribs, or because it’s frightfully cold, or because it’s blisteringly hot outside — because we love to eat!  Call up Farmer Kurt anytime, and organize a field trip; afternoons are best.  Here’s his phone number: 618-910-346four.

Do you know this farmer?

Do you know this farmer?

Farming is hard work, and harder still due to economies of scale and “Get Big or Get Out” farm policies.  Milk is a commodity, so bigger producers have a competitive advantage over the little family farm, yet Windcrest Dairy has found a way to stay in business by making yogurt. 

 

When you go, ask them what “homestead” yogurt means.  Small farms are little businesses, and thus they need to be very entrepreneurial; making yogurt is known as a “value added product”, and has made a big difference for this family-owned farm operation.

2014-08-06 Windcrest  (59)

You can buy Windcrest Dairy yogurt at Schnucks, Straubs, and local foodie establishments; Wash U uses Windcrest Dairy yogurt in their yogurt parfaits.  It’s nice to “Know Your Farmer”, and it’s important know where your food comes from. Heck, do you think a factory farm would let us visit their operation with little girls in tutus?

2014-08-06 Windcrest Tutu (36)

If you visit the farm at 4:30, you get to see the cows get milked at 5 pm.  Otherwise, there are lots of cows, pigs, ducks, geese, donkeys and miniature horses to pet or maybe feed.  Depending on the composition of your group, ask to milk a cow!

2014-08-06 Windcrest  milking (51)

Of course, the stars of the show somehow turn out to be the barn cats. And sometimes toads.

2014-07-17 Windcrest Barncat

A bit of mischief and misadventure always seems to present itself on Green Spiral field trips, as these are true adventures and not sanitized experiences; thus we were surprised, but not surprised, when a big goat jumped up on our yogurt tasting table.

 

Don’t park under the shade trees, as tempting as it might be, unless you want a goat on the back of your car, reaching for the tasty leaves.  Needless to say, goat hooves are not kind to car paint, and I feel badly about that.  Hey, it’s a farm!  What else can we say about that?

2014-08-06 Windcrest Sally and the goat

Green Spiral brought about 34 people, which was just about the right number, although a bit crowded in the yogurt making room.  A better number might be around 24.  Be sure to ask what makes Greek Yogurt different.  One answer is that it has more protein, which makes it a “superfood” for growing kids. 

2014-08-06 Windcrest  (41)

Sharing food builds community. We all got to sample different flavors of yogurt. Here’s a yellow cucumber from Schlafly Gardenwork seeds, along with a simple recipe to inspire a cool summer treat made with greek yogurt and mint:

2014-08-06 yellow cuke

2014-08-28 Cucumbers

You can also just show up at Windcrest by yourself or with a small family group, as dairies are always open, and cows still need to milked, twice a day, even on holidays. There is a “store” where you can buy yogurt, and even buy frozen yogurt not available at your local grocer.  Remember to bring your cool pack or cooler for transport.  An indoor restroom facility is available on site.

2014-07-17 Windcrest windmill and horse

This is a fabulous field trip for any age and you can pretty much wear anything you want, including a tutu. Every adventure teaches us something new, and from here on out, everyone is encouraged to wear batman capes and tutus to future Green Spiral field trips!

2014-08-06 Windcrest  Elisha and tutus

You’ve been on the field trip, and now here’s your homework!  It’s important to take time to reflect on your experiences and integrate what you have learned into your framework of understanding. You can respond in the comment section below.

2014-08-06 Big Red Barn

Homework: 

  • Got milk? Do you have a basic understanding of how milk gets to your table? Does it matter?  What if you lived in China? Would it matter then?
  • Patronize your local farmer’s market and help grow the local food ecosystem (every dollar makes a difference!)
  • Share recipes and food to help build community. (Remember, the best place to store food is in other people’s bellies!)
  • Ask your own special magic question.  You will know you have found the magic question when you just have to find out the answer!
  • Inventory books in your personal, school and public libraries.  Do they include The Omnivore’s Dilemna by Michael Pollan or Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver?  Do your children’s books present an accurate picture of how food gets from farm to table?
  • Ask children where milk comes from.  Then ask them what cows eat.  Write down funny answers for later.
  • Know your farmer!  Visit a local farm, or better yet, lead a field trip to a local farm! Take kids.
  • Buy Windcrest Dairy yogurt, if you live in the Saint Louis area.
  • Blog! or use social media to show what you know.  Here’s a blog called Magpie at Heart which has particularly nice photos from our field trip: http://www.magpieatheart.com/dairy-farm-adventure/
  • Vote! Amendment One is a constitutional amendment that gives the courts, not the voters, the authority to decide about future farm practice disputes. In general, this is probably a long term win for those with deep pockets, such as  puppy mills and factory farms. For more, here’s a non-partisan link to Ballotpedia.

As with many things in life,

the trick to picking strawberries

is to begin with the end in mind:

2014 Index Begin with End

 

The end begins in the kitchen, for a short trip to the strawberry fields can leave you with long hours in the kitchen, when you might rather be napping.  Start with a simple recipe and work backwards from there.

insert recipe here

 

Located near Creve Couer Lake off Page Road and the Maryland Expressway, Thies Farm is a long favored Green Spiral strawberry picking destination, and it’s nice to watch their eco-tourism business grow.   It’s important to “Know Your Farmer”, and strawberry picking is a good first step in building eco-literacy in children.  The best age to pick strawberries seems to be from “The Magic Years” (pre-school) until second grade.

 

Miles of Smiles

Miles of Smiles

 

Thies Farm now has three locations; here is the GPS location for the strawberry fields in Maryland Heights as well as the phone number: 314-469-7559.  Call before you head out to make sure the strawberry fields are open. Farmers live outdoors, and they’re getting better at using technology, but the phone beats Facebook on most days.  Green Spiral almost never cancels a trip due to weather, and neither should your adventure group, but do know that strawberry picking is one of the few things you can’t do in the rain. The fields open at 9 am and you will want to get there early to beat the heat.

2014-05-31 Jack Shuff

You will get hot, and you will get dirty.  Children’s clothing will get strawberry stained, and so will your knees.  Take a sunhat or hoodie, and a bottle of water per person.  Short rubber boots are nice for kids.  The strawberry window lasts for about two or three weeks, and it’s easy to miss during the busy month of May.  Strawberries need sunshine to ripen, but when starts to get hot, know that your strawberry window is beginning to close fast.

2014-05-31 Evelyn Ryan

People want to know if it’s okay for kids to eat strawberries in the fields, and Farmer Dave once told me, (Jessie), that it was okay.  That said, there’s a big difference between a toddler nibbling on one precious strawberry, and a teenager mowing through dozens of strawberries that belong to someone else (the farmer).  Obviously, the important thing is to teach children about reverence and respect, for food, the farmer and for each other.

100_3676

Real Food Comes from Sunshine, and Dirt.

Strawberries are on the dirty dozen list, and many people ask if Thies strawberries are organic.  They are not, as it is difficult to grow organic strawberries at scale.  The best way to get local organic strawberries is to be first in line at your local farmer’s market, or to grow them yourself.

Thies Farm is often spotted hanging out with EarthDance Farms, which is a stamp of organic approval.  Here’s what Farmer Dave has to say their IPM (Integrated Pest Management) practices. https://www.facebook.com/notes/thies-farm-greenhouses/integrated-pest-management/281999848483956

Thies Farm

Now in three locations!

Strangely, when researching the topic of eating strawberries fresh from the fields, it turns out that the greatest danger from strawberries comes from people “fingering” the strawberries in the grocery store, which is why strawberries now come in those clam-shell containers.  Gross!  As they say “dirt is not dirty, people are dirty;” so fear not the  strawberry in the field, and be polite by not switching strawberries from container to container with your fingers at the grocery store.

That's me, Jessie, and Virginia

That’s me, Jessie, and Virginia

 

As a nature teacher and mom, I encourage you to study the many complex issues surrounding the simple act of picking strawberries. In my estimation, the experience of picking strawberries as children is so indelible, and so important, that it might well be considered part of a “true core curriculum”.

 

2014-05-31 Kevin, Miles, Amanda, Evelyn Ryan Family

 

Put strawberry picking on your bucket list, and make sure kids don’t grow up without picking strawberries.  Begin with the end in mind,

 

Strawberry Zentangle

Strawberry Zentangle

 

 

After one of the coldest winters on record, Green Spiral families ventured forth on a warm day in April to visit the famous “Chicken Ranch” in Kirkwood.
Fresh Eggs!

Ranch Fresh Eggs!

The Chicken Ranch is simply the fun name that Bill and Joan Ruppert have given their backyard hobby and chicken house — the complex is big enough to hold 50 chickens, and includes a second story look-out post! It’s quite famous in chicken circles, and if you ask to be on Bill’s email list, you’ll get an informative email about chicken happenings about town from time to time.
Let's go see the chickens!

Let’s go see the chickens!

It was super fun for the kids to feed the chickens, mingle with the chickens and even collect some eggs. After a mink came through a few years ago (yes a mink) and wantonly killed many of the chickens, the Rupperts are in the process of rebuilding the flock, now numbering about 23. They have all sorts of chickens including Americanas, Speckled Sussexes, Barred Rock Plymouths and Rhode Islands.  They also have a rooster, called Ike, who came with a hen called Tina. See if you can spy Ike, the fancy white rooster below:
So many chickens so little time

So many chickens so little time

Fond childhood memories of rural chickens was a theme and the link between generations; who will keep backyard chickens in the future without fond childhood memories to draw upon?  Would a factory farm allow Green Spiral Families to tour their chickens?  How exactly to you check a chicken to see if it’s about to lay an egg in time for dinner?  These are the kinds of questions that rise up when you join an adventure learning group together.
checking the chickens

checking the chickens

Many Green Spiral field trips involve something unexpected. Sadly, or not, there was no misadventure associated with this trip; only a pleasant outing on a warm spring day. The only surprise was that we got to buy fresh eggs at the end of our field trip!

Each a different color.

Each a different color.

 

Of course, the real prize was getting to talk to Bill Ruppert in person.  As a purveyor of wholesale plants, he’s an expert in horticulture and a major player in the movement towards native landscaping; he’s recently worked on the Citygarden, Novus International, and the MICDS projects.  If you get a chance to hear him speak, I would recommend it. Here’s Bill, plus a few links:

Here's Bill

Here’s Bill

About the Ruppert Chicken Ranch: http://www.nnpstl.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/home.showpage/pageID/7/index.htm

Best Plant Ideas: http://www.nnpstl.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/plants.main/index.htm

Bill’s Speaking Calendar: http://www.nnpstl.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/calendar.main/index.htm

More chickens!

want more chickens!?

In the future, you can tour the “Chicken Ranch” by watching for it to be featured on the annual Sustainable Backyard Tour:

http://www.sustainablebackyardtour.com/grassrootsgreenstl.com/Tour.html

Chain of Rocks Bridge

Chain of Rocks Bridge

Okay, this was more of a scouting mission than a field trip, but here’s the scoop on eagle watching at the Chain of Rocks Bridge during the annual Eagle Days celebration:  basically, if you want to see eagles, wait until it’s really cold outside, cold enough to make the rivers freeze, so that the eagles are forced to small pockets of open water, in this case the chain of rocks in the water that parallels the bridge for easy viewing.  Bundle up, pack some hot chocolate in a thermos, bring your own high powered binoculars or spotting scope, come early in the morning and watch the eagles fish.

Where eagles dare to fish

Where eagles dare to fish

If you want to enjoy Eagle Days, on the other hand, pick a nice warm January afternoon, consider it a pleasant walk in the sunshine, and enjoy the festivities.  You will see one or two eagles in the far distance, but the fun will be had at the re-enactment camp, at the live eagle tent, and with all the happy people enjoying a cheerful walk along the bridge.  Even if it is a relatively warm day, take care to bundle up, as the bridge is exposed, and the wind chill will get to your bones.  Remember, children have smaller body masses and get into thermal trouble very quickly.

Take a walk on the wild side

Take a walk on the wild side

Eagle Days is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation, and happens around MLK weekend each year. It’s growing in popularity, so you can’t count on prime $5 parking.

Plan to be funneled into one of the free satellite parking lots, and instead of waiting for the shuttle bus, just start walking along the bike path because you will beat the shuttle bus which sometimes has a 40 minute wait.  It’s about a 20 minute walk, which is nothing for a stroller, but probably too far for a toddler or small child.

Walk, don't ride

Walk, don’t ride

To get to the parking areas from Saint Louis, approach from 270 heading east to Illinois and get off at the last exit (Riverview Drive) before you go over the bridge into Illinois.  Turn right after you exit the highway, and the parking lot will quickly appear on your left, very visible and well marked.

Bring your own snacks, as the food offerings run along the lines of what I would call “carnival food”.  Restroom facilities are porta-potty style.

Funnel cakes for everyone!

Funnel cakes for everyone!

The walk will be your major activity, punctuated by chances to peer into the spotting scopes set up by the rangers along the bridge.  One lone defunct firetruck served as a popular jungle gym, for obvious reasons.  Kids like to climb things.

Climbable Sculpture?

Climbable Sculpture?

The Lewis and Clark re-enactment camps are always fun and interesting, but there is not much for kids to actually do, really, except look and learn. The giant eagle nest photo opportunity is nice, but even better, encourage kids to construct their own giant “eagle nests” in your own backyard upon return.  Obviously, for liability reasons, the MDC can’t have a bunch of kids running around with giant sticks, trying to build eagle nests.

Lewis? or Clark?

Lewis? or Clark?

Scoping out the scoop

Scoping out the scoop

Missouri is one of the best spots in the country to view bald eagles, and the story of the returning bald eagle is a positive message that should be purposefully transmitted to future generations.

Recall that Rachel Carson, the “grandmother” of the environmental movement, first sent up the alarm about the dangers of DDT in her landmark book “Silent Spring” in 1962.

Along with hunting, DDT was responsible for decimating the eagle population, which put eagles on the endangered species list with only 3,000 nesting pairs left in the wild during the 1960/1970s.

Since then, due mostly to public pressure and awareness, eagle numbers have grown to over 10,000 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states, and our national symbol is no longer on the endangered species list.  It’s important to keep building awareness, and keep bringing kids out to see the eagles.

Success stories lend courage to the environmental movement, so share the eagle story freely, (along with closing the ozone hole), because painting a positive vision of the future is our primary responsibility as parents and teachers actively cultivating future stewards of the earth.

Teaching children to love and honor our wild creatures is a cultural value that must be directly taught by adults, (usually parents); the kids won’t get it by osmosis, or necessarily from school or friends.  Books, field trips and videos can help, but nothing beats a field trip or the chance to see a real live eagle up-close and personal.  Send me your photo of the live eagle in the interpretive tent and I’ll upload it here: _______

As a note, I’ve also had good luck watching eagles at Riverlands, or simply by driving along the Great River Road near Grafton, where you can see the spectacular free-fall dance of courtship that eagles do in the air.

In vain search of the courting dance, I found this cool video called “aerial ballet” that shows multitudes of eagles along the Mississippi River in Illinois if you don’t want to burn the carbon to get out near the river this year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-n8myR1uXf4

Weds Nov 13, 2013

Let's have a party!

Let’s have a party!

(#6) Red Solo Cups are not really recyclable, which is so sad, because the Red Solo Cup song is really fun.  Here’s the “bad boy” version of the song, in case you’ve not seen it:

Now, what we need to do is create a good green cup, and make up a great new song to go with it!

At 22 million views, “red cup living” is culturally drubbing those of us drinking from the “good green cup” — it’s just so much more fun to be naughty than nice! At some point, however, we’ll going to have to learn to be nice to ourselves and to our mother earth.

Yet, I digress from the central topic of green and sustainable field trips in the Saint Louis area.

Here’s a terrific field trip for teens, scouts, and greenies of all ages (except for little kids) — a trip to the recycling facility at Resource Management Company in Earth City.  Ask for Gary Gilliam. 314-770-9898, or send him an email at Gary_g@rmcrecycle.com.  Gary’s happy to offer field trips at any time, as field trips are good for growing the recycle business.  And here’s the really good news, not only is this field trip quite interesting, it’s absolutely free!

Many people are surprised to learn that Saint Louis has one of the most progressive recycling ecosystems in the country, and Gary is one of the “solutionaries” who helped figure out how to do it.

"All Together Now"

“All Together Now”

The short answer to recycling success is the rise of the “single stream” process, which means “throw it all in and let the recycling facility sort it out later”.

Gone are the days of sorting bottles from cans into little blue bins. Volume makes the economics work, and switching from little blue sorting bins to big green carts on wheels brings enough volume into the recycling game to make recycling sustainably profitable.

Less than 30% of Saint Louis households currently recycle their trash, so every field trip to a recycling center builds “customers,” thus bringing all of us, earth’s creatures included, into ever greater stability, success, and sustainability.

The original cave man

The original cave man

Our waste stream is valuable; and Gary is emphatic about it:  “There’s Treasure in Your Trash”!  While it’s important to understand the economics of sustainability from a macro-view, most people on this field trip will want to know exactly what can be recycled, and what cannot.

Here’s a link to the Saint Louis County Health Dept ‘Recycling Becomes Me’ website.  Download it, bookmark it, Facebook it, or pin it so you can find it when you want it, as these reference guides can be surprisingly hard to find.

2013-11-13 Recycling Becomes Me graphic.pdf

http://www.recyclingbecomesme.com/

When it doubt, throw it in.  That’s the beauty of single stream!2013-11-13 Whats in your Trash Infographic

Back to the economics for a minute:  aluminum cans are “infinitely recyclable”, and represent lots of ‘embodied energy’, thus they are the most valuable of recyclables. Metals like aluminum foil and tin cans are the “treasure in the trash”.  Because aluminum cans are made from bauxite, a finite mineral  strip-mined from the earth’s crust, it’s especially important to recycle them always.

After metals, plastic is the second most valuable material for recyclers, especially #1 (PET) and #2 (HDPE), which are recycled into furniture, playgrounds, puff clothing, and carpeting.

Now here’s where things get complicated, because I can’t help throwing children’s health into the economics mix. I think it’s so interesting that the most valuable recyclables, plastic #1 and #2, are also the safest for food. We don’t know much about plastic in our food supply, but what we do know isn’t good.  Of course true blue greenies reading this post will have been drinking from glass or metal containers for years.

Avoid plastic #3 PVC (sometimes called the ‘poison plastic’) as well as #6 and #7.

Back to that naughty red solo cup, which is polystyrene #6, a kind of styrofoam. Styrofoam has been listed by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen, and when it melts into your soup or coffee, you can taste the plastic.

Eco-Mama says: “Don’t drink plastic, kids”!  Try to avoid Styrofoam as graciously as possible so you don’t turn into one of those weird people with all sorts of annoying food rules that are impossible to follow.  Beyond health considerations, styrofoam is not recyclable.

The red solo cups, and other styrofoam pieces, are optically sorted out of the single stream process, and disposed of as true waste. Technically, red solo cups ARE recyclable, but you’ll have to organize your own field trip to find out for sure.

Do NOT throw grocery bags into the single stream receptacle (although the recycle facility will indeed sort them out later.)  Return your grocery bags to your friendly grocery store, or bring your own shopping bags to market, to market, to buy a fat pig.

Here’s a photo of a superior collapsible shopping “bag” you can buy at Schnucks for about $5.  As a bonus, the baggers in the check out line find the boxes much easier to load than bags, and if you keep to your grocery list and within the limits of the box, you will significantly reduce impulse purchases.

A box for your bagger

A box for your bagger

And to help you remember that plastic grocery bags have nowhere to go, here’s an amusing “mockumentary” about what happens to the “majestic plastic bag” as it searches for a home during it’s long lonely life:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLgh9h2ePYw

If you sneak a peak inside your own recycling bin, it comes as no surprise that paper and cardboard comprise the bulk of recycling waste stream by volume;  paper gets bundled and shipped to Iowa or deadheaded to China.  Bring on that dream of a truly paperless society!  Don’t make me upload pictures of clear-cut old growth forests turned into direct mail envelopes.

Enough about what to recycle, here are your tips for hosting a recycle field trip: A group of about 20 – 30 people seems to be the right number for this field trip; a smaller group works just as well.   It might be nice to team up with another organization to maximize numbers and enjoy the synergistic effects.

The first half of the field trip is a lecture by Gary in a nice conference room with video cameras, and the second half is a tour of the plant. Plan on spending about two hours, plus travel time to Earth City. The location is well marked on GPS maps: Resource Management Company; 4375 Ryder Trail North, Earth City, MO; 63045

Again, here’s the contact information for Gary Gilliam: 314-770-9898, Gary_g@rmcrecycle.com.

It’s fun to watch the bulldozers and dumpers come in; count the dumpers and turn it into a math exercise on volume.  Count the number of workmen pulling pieces from the line and make some calculations; labor is a big expense for recycling companies.  On the other hand, it also represents job creation in the new “green economy.”

Study each machine to fully understand its job, and challenge yourself to make a map of the assembly line after you come out.  Notice that the plastic grocery bags that have no place to go.  Look for red solo cups. Ponder the magnitude of our waste stream and wonder where it all comes from and where it all goes. Ask about the odd things that find their way into the recycle center. (hint: lots of eyeglasses and TV remote controls, which get recycled along with the newspapers!)

And for those of you who can’t make it out for a real field trip, here’s a nice arm-chair “film” trip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vf-cOs9JZc4

Again, there is something life-changing about real life experiences as opposed to watching video, so go in person if you can. If you go, be aware there is broken glass everywhere, and that a fine plastic dust fills the air; if you have asthma or are sensitive to respiratory issues, this may not be a good trip for you.  Bring sturdy shoes and maybe a N95 face mask.  The footing is fine, you will be walking on stairs with grates, sometimes covered with broken glass; but this is definitely not a place for high heels or fancy shoes.

I personally would not bring little kids on this field trip, due to the broken glass and air quality conditions.  This is a good tour to do when it’s too hot, or too cold, for comfortable outdoor adventures.  The work area is exposed; it was a cold day when we visited, and we were cold.  If you visit in summer, you will be hot.

I urge you to take a moment after the field trip to reflect on what you’ve learned, integrate it into your learning, and share that with those around you through blogging, Facebook, Instagram, graphic visuals, funny videos, etc.   Let me know if you go, by posting what I forgot to mention in the comment section below, thus helping future adventurers.

I leave you with this green coffee cup video by those smart and funny med students at Washington University:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bj-J9aryVTA

 

Postnote 2014:  Want to supercharge your recycling efforts?  Look what IDEO is doing:

http://www.openideo.com/challenge/recycle-challenge/research

2013-10-06 Stinger fishpond with kids

Here’s a magical field trip anyone can put together:  a visit to see Joy Stinger’s urban micro-farm in the shadows of the highrise buildings near downtown Clayton.

Joy is somewhat famous, and widely known among urban chicken circles in Saint Louis.  In her backyard she has 20-30 chickens, nine beehives, a gazebo of songbirds, an upstairs greenhouse, a koi pond as big as a swimming pool, and two rambunctious Portuguese Waterdogs.  Downstairs, she has a workshop for processing honey and making specialty beeswax candles which she sells at farmer’s markets and local shops around town like Schnaars Hardware and Winslows Home.  You can find Joy at the Clayton Farmer’s Market every other Saturday.

2012-06-01 Stinger Farmer Market

You can see by the photo above that much is written about Joy by major publications; here is a particularly nice posting by local blogger “Recycled Goodness” that includes some very beautiful photos of the downstairs workshop:

http://goodnessrecycled.blogspot.com/2011/02/joy-stinger-beeswax.html

Something interesting always happens on every Green Spiral field trip, and the weather always plays tricks on us; it’s part of the Green Spiral formula about teaching children the power of resiliency by enduring hardship, boredom, and the weather.  In this case, the temperature dropped 30 degrees overnight, and tons of people turned out unexpectedly, making people have to wait their turn to see the chickens, the songbirds, or whatever.

Those who hung around in the workshop got a treat in the end; Joy took us on a tour of her house to see the indoor fishpond, the cookie molds in the kitchen, the exotic kites hanging in the living room, the handmade quilts in the bedroom and the art studio on the third floor.  Joy has had multiple careers of creativity, including that as graphic designer, furniture maker, painter and quilter.  Here are some of her many beautiful quilts, hanging on the stair railing, just above her indoor aquarium:

2013-10-06 Stinger quilts

Joy is happy to host tours, in exchange for selling honey.  When you go, take about 12 – 16 people, (not over 40 as we did), and ask for a honey tasting lesson in the basement; you’ll get to taste three kinds of honey.  Spring honey is the lightest color, as the bees are limited to mostly clover in the spring.  Summer honey is darker in color, as the bees have more food choices, and fall honey is the darkest honey, as the bees diet changes once again and sugars become more concentrated as the days become shorter.  In the workshop, Joy will also show how honey comb is harvested, how honey is processed and how to make candles from beeswax.

 

You can find Joy Stinger and chat with her at Farmer’s Markets and other festivals about town, or buy her honey and look at the label which includes her address and phone number.  Call her up, but don’t bother looking for her email, as Joy doesn’t do email.  When you see her backyard and workshop, you might wonder: who has time for email anyway?

 

2013-10-06 label

Speaking of email: the Green Spiral Field Trips are announced by email, and debriefs are posted on this WordPress blog.  If you sign up for this blog, it doesn’t mean you are on the field trip list, and vice-a-versa.  Send me (Jessie) an email if you want to be on the field trip list, and sign up through WordPress if you want to follow the Green Spiral debriefs, which are posted about once a month, after every field trip.  The debriefs are nice if you are looking for your own ideas for field trips.  The email to get on the field trip announcement list is: GreenSpiralTours@gmail.com