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Friday, November 28, 2014

How Can You Use Seabuckthorn Plants Before They Fruit?

Seabuckthorn Leaves

Once your plants get going, you can dry or use fresh leaves in tea, drinks and many other food preparations.  Why?  The health benefits could be a valuable as those found in the juice and oil of the berries.  

Sea Buckthorn Leaf Tea Analysis

Sea Buckthorn leaves contain most of the biological compounds found in the berries.  In fact they contain more of some things like protein.  The leaves are 24% protein.  There was a time when a lot of attention was paid to the development of a process for producing leaf proteins.  It never really caught on.  Lately pea protein is a favorite among vegetarians as a supplement.  Is there a market for Sea Buckthorn protein?  Back to the analysis of Sea Buckthorn leaves.

All you need to do is dry some leaves and you have your green seabuckthorn tea.  For a more detailed description of how to process seabuckthorn leaves into a slightly less green and a toasted complexness added see this previous post.  

Nutrients and Antioxidants Present in Sea Buckthorn Leaves

Alpha-tocopherol -a form of vitamin E
Amino acids - contains 18 amino acids the body needs.  Here are some I could verify.

  • Serine - important in metabolism, precursor to many amino acids
  • glycine - protein precursor, especially to collagen 
  • aspartic acid - participates in gluconeogenesis, controlling blood sugar lows
  • threonine - helps provide energy to cells through the citric acid cycle
  • alutamic acid - difficult to research, best guess is a neurotransmitter, could be a good thing
  • lactamic acid - similar to lactic acid, a biologic middle man for metabolism
  • phenylalanine - needed for epinephrine, dopamine, norepinephrine, melanin 
  • proline - critical for connective tissue

Astralagin - flavinoid
Beta carotene - Vitamin A
Boron - 
Calcium - bones, teeth, neurotransmitter, muscle contraction
Catechins - phenol, antioxidant + wow! lots more
Copper - facilitates iron uptake
Ellagic acid - antioxidant and may prevent DNA binding to carcinogens
Ferulic acid - antioxidant with anti-tumor characteristics
Kaempferol - wide range of biological activity, a real powerhouse compound.  Benefits including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer, cardioprotective, neuroprotective, antidiabetic, antiosteoporotic, estrogenic/antiestrogenic, anxiolytic, analgesic, and antiallergic activities.
Iron - nice to have if you have blood circulating
Isorhamnetin - anti-oxidant
Manganese - one of the oldest trace minerals in living things.  Involved in many processes.
Magnesium - lots of uses in the body, ex: treating ADHD, Lyme disease, migraines and more.
Niacin - blood lipid lowering properties. 
Omega-3 - anti-inflammatory, reduced risk of dementia, vital for normal metabolism
Omega-6 - precursor to prostaglandins
Pantothenic acid - important to energy metablolism in the cell
Potassium - brain and neuron function, osmotic balance
Quercetins - antiviral, bronchodilator, anti-inflammatory,
Riboflavin - wide role in intermediary metabolism
Salicylic acid - pain and fever reduction
Tannins - antiviral, antibacterial, and antiparasitic
Vitamin C - antioxidant, immune system support, anti-histamine.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Indiegogo Campaign Launch 11/14/2014

Icelandic Chickens: 

For the Sustainable Permaculture Farm

Please join our Indiegogo team.  Just send an email to
 “New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.” -Vonnegut 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

There are Places We Will Always Go

Quick Update on Foxgreen Farm, LLC

It has been a whirlwind of work here putting all the pieces together to bring our lives closer to a full endeavor focused on the farm, the woods, and sustainability in the wilderness of Maine.  Not unlike a starving artist or actor, diversification of operations on a farm is very essential.  Craig and I have been working on making it all happen.  An early winter storm nearly trapped us deep in the woods until spring.  We were able to chainsaw our way over the 6 miles of deep wood roads after many trees were weighed down so much they snapped and fell across the road.  Just a little more snow and the job would have taken days. 

Fun, Fun, Friends and Warmth in the Frigid Central Maine Highlands :-}

Like the stone carried on the river
Like the boat sailing on the sea
We keep on
We keep on

Plant update-  Pre-sales are brisk.  At this time there are a total of 2500 available and half have been pre-ordered.  So if you are wondering where to buy Sea Buckthorn plants for planting in the spring of 2015, we encourage you to reserve yours today.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Making a Dream Last

The Body of the Earth Surrounded by Sky

So far away from where you are 
These miles have us worlds apart 
And I miss you, yeah I miss you

Why would a post about Sea Buckthorn, Agroecology, and Permaculture start out with a Hallmark card to my best friend and partner in adventure over in  Afghanistan?  I hope you all have someone or two or three people who you have a strong connection.-- like the body of the earth has with the sky.

Our travels through life can be wonderful without such fortune yet so much more fun when sharing life, both the good times and the challenging times -  a friend is the most valuable gift on the planet.

The wilderness, the land, the plants and everything that growing things offer, share a gift with us as well. We can witness life in real time.  As you know, farming, especially Agroecological farming is a matrix of relationships with nature.  It is challenging, rewarding and full of personality.

Having said that, keep your eyes open, sometimes even the most unlikely combinations of people end up to be the most vibrant companions.  I appreciate my hero friend every day and look forward to his return home.

In Spite of Ourselves, We'll End Up a'Sittin' on a Rainbow

Meeting to plan and preserve access, the environment, and community in the "over the hill" area of Seboies Plantation, Maine

Foxgreen Farm is located in a sparsely populated area.  You might think that would be limiting and, fact is, it is not.  Think of it this way.  Most people living in more populated areas don't know their neighbors or even the person living in the apartment literally next door.  No so here.  People depend on each other and watch out and help almost always without even being asked.  If there were to be a problem, it is likely my neighbors know more about me than I know about myself.  Of course that is not always accurate, yet when a community has traits of an extended family, life is good. It is where all the pots of gold are stored and a rainbow isn't merely colors out of reach.  

I Thought With Something I Felt

Farming – where are we going?
Foxgreen Farm, now Foxgreen Farm, LLC is a farm carved out of the wilderness.  There are lots of very good advice books about how to choose farmland and this would not be the place.  Who looks at a hillside full of immature trees and imagines a field?  I did and it has worked well.  Sure, the expense and work of the transformation from forest to field has been a ton of work.  The result, however, is something unique.  Where else is there a "virgin" farm?  It is a clean pallet and will be protected by geography for a very long time.  The last part of the stumping out of the 5 of the 50 acres of forest is underway.
After the stumps have been pulled, shaken and moved to the edge of the field, there  is still work to be done.  Rocks, wood to be removed and leveling take time and sweat.  My machinery is limited, nearly non-existent for this type of work so I'm left with handwork.  There are many daunting tasks and a belief in one step at a time and "you don't have to get their fast, just have to get there" keeps me appreciating every rock moved and each square foot readied.
Work progressing- looking east

Looking west, cabin at top
In this area, similar to the first cleared area, my interests are first to the soil.  Sea Buckthorn is not a very picky plant when it comes to soil.  Just about the only type of soil it does not like is poorly drained or soggy areas. This area may be better suited for a combination of swales and rotational grazing combined with a poultry free range environment.  I have some planning to do.  In the meantime, I have planted an annual ryegrass for stabilization and 2 varieties of clover for a more lasting and soil building beginning.  The micro climates need to be assessed as well. 

Farming will always be intrusive upon the environment, but its purpose is to efficiently provide food that is an essential of life.  As global populations grow so does the demand for food. As time advances we will progressively become better at producing yields in this particular area.  Keep following along and I am sure some of the lessons we learn optimizing the balance of farming and the impact on the environment will be interesting. 

Stay Tuned......

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Icelandic Chickens - Save the Breed, Spread the Word! Sustainable, Permaculture, Viking Birds!

Please help by being a Team Member on this Indiegogo Campaign! 
..... ......

Tom (that's me) has worked for the past fourteen years carving out a farm in the central highlands of Maine.  
Craig is in Afghanistan risking everything to protect people and make the world a better place. He will be home early next year.
Together we will be sharing with the world a newly rejuvenated breed of chicken and create an educational research retreat deep in an ancient wilderness.
We both know the best route to a better world begins with enough food and water. Icelandic chickens are uniquely special yet they are at risk of extinction.  Please help preserve these wonderful animals and help provide and superior ancient breed for permaculture farmers around the world. 
Icelandic Chickens: 

For the Sustainable Permaculture Farm

Icelandic Chickens (Viking Chickens) are self-reliant and prefer open space to being cooped up. They forage first and only rely on purchased food a very small amount of time. Harvey Ussery, in a recent issue of Mother Earth News recounted a flock of these birds managed by his grandmother. She rarely needed to augment the diet of her birds..  Their quest for wild food was nearly all they needed. Her flock provided for her, improved the landscape and did it all for free! 
While foraging, Icelandic Chickens help with the home chores, controlling insects, making compost and tilling cover crops. They are foragers first!
Icelandic Chickens, as a breed, are in danger of being lost forever. Iceland was one of the Norse Viking's destinations.  Circa 700 A.D. the Vikings brought these birds with them to Iceland.  Nearly extinct in 1950, there are only @3000 birds left in the world.  These bloodlines are in extreme danger of being lost due to interbreeding with modern species which have had their survival skills bread out of them.  Modern birds are able to survive with intensive, artificial and inhumane intervention. Not so these "Icies".
All the birds still alive are descended from a very small group of fowl saved in the 1970's. The Icelandic chicken is significantly different genetically than modern chicken breeds. According to an interview with the former president of the Icelandic preservation association (Júlíus Baldursson), a 2004 study of blood samples from the Icelandic chicken, done in Britain, revealed that 78% of the DNA of the Icelandic chicken was unique and could not be found in any other chicken breeds in the world. 

We will not keep any other breeds of poultry. We wish to insure the purity of the Icelandic chicken genetics. We hope to provide a premier poultry resource for other sustainable agriculture farmers, large and small. 

The average factory farm chicken house cost is over $420,000 and produces a huge negative impact financially and environmentally to the farmer and the earth.  We have every finger and toe crossed a vision of sustainable, healthy poultry production will emerge from this project.  Help us multiply the knowledge we gain from our experience, improving the lives of thousands of people and the birds they care for

The Smell of a Beet (and other things)

They (beets) don't taste like dirt.

Just for fun and to prime you for a discussion on Sea Buckthorn aroma.  Beets get their earthy flavor from geosmin, an organic compound produced by microbes in the soil.  Geosmin gives off a smell like freshly plowed earth or a field after a rainstorm.  Human noses are very sensitive to geosmin. Other foods high in geosmin in include spinach, lettuce, and mushrooms.  That's a little primer for the chemical relationship to smell and food. 

The Aroma of Seaberries

The University of Turku in Finland completed an exhaustive scientific study of what aromas there were in different species of Sea Buckthorn Berries.  I read a ton of these type of papers on various topics and, believe me, unless you are a science wonk, they are difficult to digest.  Lucky for you, I am such a wonk and enjoy trying to summarize the good parts and make them interesting.  The last part of this post has to do with chickens.  Will I still be talking about odors? You'll just have to read on.  
Back to the aroma analysis of Sea Buckthorn.....  Taste has a lot to do with flavor as you well know so this is important stuff.  Of the four types of seaberries evaluated,  two were from Mongolia ("Avhustinka", and "Trofimovskaja"), one from Russia ("Raisa"), and one wild strain (subspecies ssp. sinensis).  Good to note here that the seeds and plants we offer here at Foxgreen Farm, LLC and on are of the wild strain (ssp. sinensis) variety.
How were they evaluated, what was the criteria?  Glad you asked.  
  • Total odor intensity
  • Green odor intensity
  • Fresh/Sweet odor intensity
  • Pungent odor intensity and
  • Fermented odor intesity
The cause of odors in general are, of course chemical compounds.  Are these good for you?  I'm sure there has been an analysis done on the subject but you have a nose and taste buds for a reason and I'll bet it has more to do with health than pleasure.
There were a total of 91 compounds detected as factors in Sea Buckthorn aroma.  The most were found in the wild sinenes strain. (smile)  The wild type differed most overall.  The intensity of fermented odor was stronger, it was least pungent and had a type of sweetness which was mellower.  
The study is much more detailed and explains the levels of many volatile compounds and their associated odors like sweet, strawberry, fruity, sour, even odors like mushroom, fertilizer, plastic, compost and coconut etc.  The discussion of odors separate from taste is unusual, but important in many foods.  Sea Buckthorn berries, leaves, bark and root products are in their infancy yet there has never been a more gifted plant with such potential.  So will the analysis of the odors from various types be helpful?  I think it already has since it appears the most wild and natural version of the plant seems to be the most diverse. 

Follow your nose.

Myself (Tom) and Craig, who is still in Afghanistan are about to launch a Indiegogo campaign.  We would like your help.  The Icelandic Chicken or "Viking Chicken" may be one of the most endangered and most useful chicken to temperate permaculture farms.  Please become a team member on the project and share the effort with the world.  If you would like to join our team on this project please fill out the form here.  Thanks !!!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Edge of Endless

Foxgreen Farm and jiovi Agroecology

As you can see, if that's nowhere, Foxgreen Farm is in the middle of it.  Fourteen years ago, while looking for a place where infinity was the rule,  I threw three stones at the stars and the whole sky fell right here, our edge of endless is in the middle of nowhere.
The wilderness has its wonders and challenges.  Seaberry production seems to be a successful choice for wilderness locations.  The 500 plants were planted 15 months ago in a newly created field in the middle of the wilderness.  Just to recap a bit.  This particular forest was clear cut about 30 years ago. It is regenerating nicely and the baseball field shaped field was created about 6 months before the Seaberry plants found their new experimental home.

What existed before the field was a jumble of trees which sprouted from the cut bases of the original and much larger hardwood trees.  It was a thicket of thin trees, tightly spaced and in desperate need of thinning or, in this case, cut, chipped and recycled into a new grass habitat.  A grass based habitat for many species including male and female Seabuckthorn Plants!
Initial Seabuckthorn planting May 2013

Part of the wilderness Seabuckthorn Orchard experiment is to see how the plants integrate with the existing plants, animals, microbes and insects.  So far, so good.  Last year I talked about some damage from grasshoppers and Japanese Beetles.  This year there was nearly no damage at all from those pests.  A couple of likely reasons.  One is that the plants are settling in and less stressed.  Stressed plants send out chemical signals which turn make the chewing insects think they are smelling BBQ or lobsters boiling and they feast on those leaves sending out the stress signals.
The other likely reason is there has been a number of wild turkeys feasting on grasshoppers and beetles.  They have eaten thousands and thousands of them!

The moose have not bothered the bushes at all.  There are deer in the area as well and they have not chosen to browse the bushes either.  It could be the thorns that are providing the protection or maybe they just have not yet figured out this potential food source.
Taken on the farm a week ago
As part of the ethics of Permaculture, caring for the earth is a big and important goal.  Craig and I are investigating "companion" uses for the permaculture/seaberry farm.  Sadly the roadkill of mother moose leaves orphaned baby moose in a difficult situation.  

 We are investigating including a wildlife rescue for these animals.  Our 100+ acres of wilderness would be a perfect transition place for these saved baby moose.  Stay tuned.

About Us

My Photo
Craig and Tom have become soul-mates of sorts and will be engaged for a long time connecting the wilderness, ourselves, and others in a new pre-oil agroecology. We promise, as we build this newer way of living, to experiment and explore, share and invite, smile and embrace, and support each other, the land, and we invite you to come along with us. Good people, gardens, nature, wilderness, exploration, sailing and art are all #1 with us. "If you want to sing out, sing out. If you want to be free, be free." Learn something new everyday and life is good.