Wednesday, February 22, 2006

secrets of bordersgroupinc

as some may know, I am now a part-time employee of borders here in burlington - of primary concern to the group is customer happiness, loyalty which is generated by way of customer service

the secret to delivery of customer service is constituted by myriad managerial procedures and employee tasks - for example, behind the register (a position which a cashier is not to abandon, physically, which of course translates into a hyperbolic metaphysical drive to "please help the next customer in line") an employee, when asked by a customer the location of a book, must call "customer assistance to the front desk" with a walkie-talking, so that a "seller" can personally escort this customer to the book - to get the book "in hand" -

after about 12 hours behind the register, i have watched several would-be customers, people, shrink and even cringe when that walkie-talkie is pulled out - the would-be customer meekly mumbles, "uh i don't mean to be a bother, i'm sorry to cause so much trouble" - i remember the days before i had penetrated the inner workings of borders how i really DID NOT want someone to come help me, i just wanted a gentle pointer in the right direction

so, hm, what's customer service, for josh and i, in terms of OH? - for now, i think it's just doing what we do - and seeing who and what surfaces in our stacks

also, I hereby resolve to NEVER TELL someone that the lindor balls are only 3 for a dollar


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

this thing I was forgetting

at the end of the last post I was trying to remember something and it was this: my sister asked me whether it was ok to use plastic bags to scoop her dog's poo, in reference to Rachel's posts about how we hope to use no new plastic bags for packaging of things. If you are thinking about it I think "reduce, reuse, recycle" is a good mantra. It goes in that order. Obviously one has to throw out one's dog's poo. Someone might have an idea for how to do that sanitarily with non-plastic, and they should definitely comment (I dare yet again) but you could also go to the grocery store, many have a plasic bag recycle place as you walk thru the door: take 100 of those or so.

Relatedly, I just started using bar soap for shaving. It's a specially formulated one that is supposed to go in your mug and with a brush you lather up. I've always hated buying those cans that at best u recycle. For whatever reason, I couldnt get out of my frame to figure out how to get rid of those cans until I moved to Vermont and had forgotten mine in New York and was about to shave and . . . so I used some nutragena soap which worked ok, but figured someone must make this old-timey product, and there it was in every store, for a good deal cheaper too. I think it probably saves a good deal of energy not having to construct the can. The ingredients don't seem too all natural, titanium oxide, but I'll check around and surely somewhere in Vermont . .

Sunday, February 19, 2006

beets, share prices, soaps & other tidbits

this picture of beets should brighten things up. I thought about a nice tomato one but it seemed almost mean, after all there are still lots of nice beets around, this picture rachel took in the middle of pickling a jar or two.

also brightening things up at our house are some soaps given to us by a friend of rachel, from Adirondack Soapworks. The friend, Scott, is the brother of the soapmaker. The two kinds we got were carrot & calendula, and a peppermint scrub. I used the former and really enjoyed it, not scented except for the little that the essential oils themselves give off. She does make slightly more smelly soaps, but I think stays away from the super-parfum that kinda makes you smell like a potpourri dish. here is the link to the site:

In share news, I'm working on the brochure and in the process firming up those details that pop up when you are trying to give people the details. For instance, the price of a share of vegetables grown at Open heart Farm will cost $410. That share will start the first Friday in June to mid-October. The brochure, which you can email for (the address is, and is always atop the sidebar), will have a full listing of what crops we expect when, and other details. We are still sorting out where exactly the drop off will be, but I think we have a good idea for the time (tho of course open to suggestions): 3pm to 7pm on Fridays.

We are also working on a way to have a soap share with the Adirondack Soapworks and in the next few days may have even a few other add-ons for those who are interested.

I feel like i'm forgetting something. If you are wondering what that share price reflects: beside being the lowest Rachel and I thought we could go and still maintain the OHF as a working entity, the hope is that member will be getting ALOT of veggies. I suppose it must be said that part of the CSA is being part of the risk, but I can say that the seeds have certainly flowed into our house, and it looks like we're planting close to one hundred varieties, including herbs (which we maybe be able to give either dried or fresh). Anyways, I'm sure I'll remember the second I leave, and should there be any questions don't hesitate to comment.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Regarding OHFarm NOT certifying


Since the passage of the 2004 Organic Certification Act, the term “organic” has been essentially gutted by multi-national corporations such as Monsanto and Dow, who have lobbied to have organic standards tailored to fit their ecologically-destructive persticides, fundicides, herbicides, and seeds. For example, a farmer can use any of a number or quantity of broad-spectrum, soil-sterilizing chemicals on a farm and still have their produce labeled “organic.” The term “organic” is no longer an indicator of a farmer’s commitment to the health of the soil and the health of the organisms that support soil ecosystems (and ultimately the health of the people who eat the products of that soil). “Organic,” while it indicates that a certain amount of attention has been paid to certain standards set by the USDA(ones that allow the application of over 200 chemicals, including petro-chemicals, onto the soil), says nothing about a farmer’s commitment to the stewardship of the land.

Then what’s all the fuss about organic this and organic that? Basically, the Monsantos and Dows and Earthbound Farms of the world have realized that there’s lots of money in a niche market of products sold with the label “organic,” or “natural.” The fact that there are now govermental standards for “organic” gives these agri-giants leverage in a marketplace in which small, locally-based farmers generally can’t compete (because, when done on a smaller scale, the price of a head of organic lettuce is just more than when that same head is grown on a 1000-acre, fully mechianized factory farm). At Open Heart Farm, we are bowing out of the competition. We are not interested in cashing in on the fraudulent use of the term “organic” at the expense of the health of the land, local foodsheds, and our own communities (and to the benefit of the agri-monsters currently destroying the planet). We believe that to attach the “organic” label to the vegetables and flowers we grow would be to validate the harmful business and farming practices common to what are essentially the conventional, mono-crop, petro-guzzling, worker-exploiting farms that the Organic Movement was once trying to shake into consciousness.

At Open Heart Farm, we believe in the power of representation! The images and messages that constantly surround us play a powerful role in what choices we make on a day to day basis. By being farmers who just say no to playing into the USDA’s claim to ownership of a word (“organic”), we’re hoping to develop a community of farm members and local buyers interested in truly affirming the values of land stewardship. As a member or buyer of Open Heart Farm, you can be assured that what you eat and smell and touch from our farm will nourish you and the soil it was grown in. We do not apply systemic fertilizers, fungicides, or pesticides. We use compost teas and lots of compost and hand cultivation. We are committed to growing healthy land and relationships to it, not 800-pound pumpkins or 20 pound cabbages. By choosing your food mindfully (stopping to think before quickly picking whatever is labeled “organic” off a shelf) you will be saying no to participation in the ruin of what was once a community-based movement to create a new sense of partnership with the land, including its use in growing food. By sidestepping the niche “organic” market, you make room for a new generation of locally-based genuinely ethical growers of food, who can provide you with a true link to your surroundings and to its weedy, buggy, tasty, and nutritious health.

see weblink:
for a breakdown of just what's been happening

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


just a call out to readers tech-savy: why is the sidebar so low, can you help us?

Monday, February 13, 2006

here's a quick nat'l geo story

here's a national geographic story that has some info re: plastic bag use

Plastic Bags

I'd like to explain an aspect of Open Heart Farm that we haven't really said much on as of yet. I speak for Josh and me both in saying that not only are we interested in creating a space (cyber, geo-political, agri-poetical) that is not only organically rich and diversified (haven to beetles, birds, worms, bats, and bees in addition to docks, nettles, dandelions, pig-, stink-, and jewel-weeds) but is also able to work with what is deemed non-organic and sometimes even as "trash." I consider my exposure to the methods and structure of CityFarm in Providence, RI to have been seminal in my having developed a deeply rooted interest in making use of what's in front of us. CityFarm grosses something like $20,000 a year on less than an acre, using biointensive farming methods and using an approach that is basically scrappy and unorthodox. They grow in bathtubs in old TVs and in broken wheelbarrows.

I should also mention the affinity between CityFarm's methodology and that of Mina Loy, who lived out her last days in a ratty apartment on the Bowery and made sculptures and lampshades out of trash.

To this end, Open Heart Farm is committed to openness to color, brokenness, partialness, half-ness. We aren't partial, we're just open.

Also, Open Heart Farm is committed to never buying plastic bags of any kind. We are committed to re-use and recycling. So, if you decide to become a CSA member, remember this when your goodies come in different shapes and sizes and colors of packaging. We don't think this is a crazy kooky ideal. It's a simple shift of perspective, a little turn of the steering wheel that will save you and us money, and will save some dump-foraging birds and beasts their stomachs.

things going on

so, while ive been working at vermont teddy bear, which I am off to do one last time, other things have been going on pretty farm related, which I am going to relate to you.

Rachel and I went to the Nofa VT conference (for info on the org as a whole check link off to the side there), and it was pretty fun, altho we had to be off for our respective jobs before the second half of the day started. I went to a biodiesel thing, how to make it. The keynote speaker (forget his name but editor of . . . oh I remember) James Kunstler, painted a gloomy picture not to be saved by french fry oil but rather by farmers as hall monitors. That's right: contra dancing enforced for the rest of you (while I hopefully get to sit by the lemonade and brownies and make sure there isn't too much public smooching). Anyways, even the biodiesel guy adminted that as this becomes popular the cost will quickly equal that of reg fuel, tho still i guess have the environmental benefits which isn't bad if even only usable in pockets hey what's wrong with that. And Rachels session was about bees that aren't honey bees which maybe she'll tell you more about but sounded like she enjoyed and was cool. The food, as at any event like this, was to die for. In this case made potluck style. I limited myself to 2 and thirds deserts. Lots of the intervale farmers were there. People were talking to each other. We met a few of them.

Oh there are other things like our first meeting wiht a grocery store buyer. Its a whole world out there in the food industry, but I'll get back to it tomorrow cause its to the world of teddy bears for me.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

rd's up

Josh, the blog is superb, thanks for all of your work.

Speaking of work...everything I write today starts out like a dirty joke and that has quite a bit to do with I suspect our having watched a full hour of them courtesy of Bryan. Thanks Bryan! Gilbert Gottfried brightened up my afternoon yesterday as I ironed my shirt for work last night. (Bryan sent to us a media influx from Amazon - more Lenny Bruce, one deep and dark marriage of pathos and laffs, and the Gilbert Gottfried dvd.)

The Aristocrats! Get it!?!?

Kitty and I got our pictures taken today for the first time in our first Burlington home. Maybe they'll get on the site soon. Not my department today.

Am humming. I slung stuffed steaks and salmons the past 36 hours straight, a triple double plus shift, and am enjoying a worky hangover, simply feel muscly and clean and cozy and cash-flush (no drinking involved in this one). Josh and I discovered Myer's Bagels on Pine Street and took advantage today. Yummy goods and coffee, quote unquote Montreal-style bagles. Whatever! Yums.

Could I be more inane? I FINALLY SAW TODD HAYNES' SUPERSTAR! YEA! Who cares? Well I must recommend it, but good luck finding it out there in TV land.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

photos and more . . .

here are some picture of rachel and I last year:

Today: reading about building coldframes.

Friday, February 03, 2006

contact info

for anyone wanting to reach us, whether it be to buy a share of the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) [note: CSA has become a noun], or who is interested in volunteering at the farm itself, or you name the reason, our email address is, and it is probably the best way to get in touch with is re farm stuff. Also you shouldn't hesitate to engage the blog, which as I might have mentioned is wide open for commenting, are you wanting to know when the cucumbers are ready, what about something else. I don't know what you want to know but I sure want to know what you want to know and surely any other viewer of the blog might too, and might even have an answer if I didn't. Let's just say there's a lot of possiblities.

Oh! I forgot to bring pictures of Rachel and I doing farm work at Quail Hill, the CSA we worked at for three years on Long Island, so next time.

If you were a fan of Pink Clouds sorry for any repeated info.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Open Heart Farm is a CSA / Market Operation in Burlington, Vermont. A crop list is coming soon, for those interested or just those curious or those who like to make comments etc. I will inevitably be working out the kinks in the old blog for a while, like how to get the pictures where I want them, or get them to show up at all. That is an old story, for those of you familiar with the first incarnation of this: Pink Clouds Farm.

Yesterday night our logo was developed, tho some final touches are still on the way, I suspect.

There are some hopefully helpful or fun links there on the side, surely Rachel and I will add as we find more.

I hesitate to do too much here, in this first post, in the way of total explanation, -
Sufficient to say we got our seed orders from Johnny's and Kitazawa today. Kitazawa is providing some of the exciting asian greens (chrysanthemum, mustard, boc choi, napa cabbage), along with other veges such as millionaire, a variety of asian eggplant
, suhyo long cukes, and many others. We will be having many of the classic heirlooms too, worry not!

More later, as the library is about to close and I want to publish this.