Tag Archives: Back-to-Eden

Morning Devotions: 1 Peter 1:22 — 2:12

1 Peter 1:22-23 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere love of the brethren, love one another earnestly from the heart.  You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;  rs

What does it mean to “purify your soul”? To purify is to wash, to make ready for a special event or service. Purify points us back to the Levites who served the Almighty in the temple. They had to be physically clean from the dirty world we live in. Peter is telling us we need to do this to our soul.

The Toy Box Suburban Farm September 2015 We use both SFG and BTE. Though we are making a transition to the majority of the growing areas being BTE, Deb is not ready to just stop doing BTE. That is our neighbors house towering over our chicken yard.

The Toy Box Suburban Farm September 2015 We use both SFG and BTE. Though we are making a transition to the majority of the growing areas being BTE, Deb is not ready to just stop doing SFG. That is our neighbors house towering over our chicken yard. The SFG in this picture is filled with early winter food that does not need to be coverd, Brussels sprouts, Kale-etts (kale flowers, a brussels sprout-kale highbred) and something we are growing for the first time, collards. The framework on this bed held support for the peas that grew here in spring.

The soul is a difficult word to translate. Usually our word study tools tell us that it is what makes a living, breathing animal or man alive. It is different than spirit, which is a gift we receive when we are born again. I have read that the soul has to do with the DNA that is written into every cell of our body. The DNA or soul is where our life is written by God and it is what will be judged at the end of time. Is this what Peter tells us to purify? How do we purify what we cannot see? Peter teaches us that it is by obedience to the truth. (doesn’t that hit you like a ton of bricks!) If your soul is your DNA, if the soul is who you are, then it is possible, according to Peter, that it can be purified by obedience to the truth.

Jesus said to him, “I am The Way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. John 14:6

From my father-in-laws estate. Ray gave the old windmill a paint job that reflects our current farm but the sound of the blades in the breeze reminds us of where we come from.

From my father-in-laws estate. Ray gave the old windmill a paint job that reflects our current farm but the sound of the blades in the breeze reminds us of where we come from.

Jesus is The Truth. Obedience to him is how Peter tells us to purify our soul. Am I telling you that if you work hard enough at being good then your soul-DNA will be pure when it is judged at the Bema Seat (the judgment at the end of this era). In a word, NO. You must be born again. Hebrews 9:22 tells us that according to Torah (the Law) everything is cleansed by blood and without the shedding (pouring out) of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. Your own blood can only pay for your own sin. But there was NEVER any sin on the soul-DNA of Y’shua/Jesus for him to pay for, so he did not shed his blood for his own sin. Therefore the Almighty accepts his blood for our sin. Is this for everybody? It is for everyone who believes. What is it that we are to believe? That God loves the World and gave his only begotten son, and whoever believes will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). You must be born again. But what does that have to do with our soul, our DNA? If we have been born again, isn’t that enough? The answer is both yes and it is no. The reason we learn to walk in The Way is to learn to live in obedience to the truth. Truth sets us free from who we were (John 8:32), and cleanses our soul-DNA. Is that important?

September 2015 at the Toy Box Sub-Urban Farm.

September 2014 at the Toy Box Sub-Urban Farm.

Paul taught us that it is at the Bema Seat that we will give an account of our lives to God. How we love one another (our brethren, fellow believers) is an important element of judgment. (Romans 14:10-12) What we do while living in our bodies will be judged, both the good and the bad (2 Corinthians 5:8-10). The Bema Seat of Christ is only for believers (those whose name is written in the book of life. Revelation 20:15) so it is not for salvation, but is a judgement, in part, of how well you treated others according to the truth that purifies your soul.  Therefore, with Peter, I say to you…

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 1 Peter 2:11 nasu

and from this week’s Psalm,

Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Psalm 2:11 kj

What you do with your gift of Salvation is up to you.
Mrs. Hagerty, September 16, 2015


Leave a comment

Filed under Bible Study, The Way, Urban Farm

Back to Eden (part 3) The back 40 (feet)

We are subsistence farmers. We did not start out that way. A great family wage job kept us more then comfortable for years. Then the factory left town. With only a few years left until retirement we had a dilemma. Early retirement income and a wage from a small Christian school that brought in less a year then we once spent for a month from the factory left us feeling uneasy.

Rose (4)
We are a people who pray. Maybe that was why Paul Gautschi’s Back to Eden documentary got our attention from the first watch. He made his garden an extension of his belief in the creator of heaven and earth. God was given the glory in the fruit…. and vegetables of his labor.

We are people who pray. We believe that God speaks and speaks clearly to those who are willing to listen. The story of how we came to live in Everett is a Beauty for Ashes story, a “seek and you shall find” event. We knew that if we were to loose everything we would still have treasure in heaven. We have not lost anything but income, the adjustment is not easy but we serve a patient and loving Abba! The first order of business for us is, Thank God in ALL things and for all things.

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying, but test everything; hold fast what is good, abstain from every form of evil.   1 Thessalonians 5:16-22

Our oldest son, Chris once said, “Poverty is a state of mind, not a reality.” I do not think he knows how much that spoke to me. Ray and I prayed. Getting work from someone else does not seem to be the will of God for our lives today. Can we live on about one-twelfth of our former income? With God, all things are possible. Time to walk the talk. I smile every time I see my favorite TV reality stars quack about knowing that if they lost everything they would still have each other and they would be ok. It is true, but it ain’t easy.

The very back of "the farm", once a pain to mow, now becoming fertile for fruit.

The very back of “the farm,” once a pain to mow, now becoming fertile for fruit.

In part 2 I mentioned the difficult first step of laying down a layer of bio-degradable weed block. Used newspapers and grocery bags have always been our first choice (paper not plastic… no mater what the wall street boys say about the plastic bio-degrading!). To convert the back garden to BTE would not only involve a substantial amount of recycled papers, it would also need a still day and possibly a team of Toy Box labor just to keep all those newspapers in place while we covered them with chips. A daunting task!

The solution? Inexpensive rolls of untreated paper from a Big Box construction store. Paul had suggested it in one of his clips. Repurposed paper is great for a small area but for the full back garden, rolled paper was the best way to go! This made it possible for the primary work to be a one man operation. Chris and I were happy to help, but we were not always home during work hours. Very simply the paper was rolled out to the area Ray was working on. A potted plant (we have lots of those) was set on each corner of the paper to hold it in place. The paper was just heavy enough to walk on and run the wheel-barrow over. Chips were dumped on the paper and spread out. He finished whole rows of garden in less time then it took to lay that many newspapers.

Square Foot Gardens meet BTE (transition)

Square Foot Gardens meet BTE (transition)

In a single afternoon Ray had finished laying chips. If nothing else it made a beautiful mulched paths around our square foot gardens. Square Foot Gardening and four city hens kept us well fed for the first two years after KC left Everett. At that time Ray was going to school with a KC + government grant for re-education. He earned his degree but that did not translate into a job. We needed to ask more from our tiny hobby farm. Things were getting real!

There was a time when we could have been properly labeled “foodies.” We would have rejected the label, but looking back, that is exactly what we were. We grew unusual vegetables, why grow what you can buy? We enjoyed traveling for peaches and pears in fall, lavender products in summer and asparagus in spring. Now we cannot afford the trips for the things we cannot grow and need enough potatoes and beans to put up. Square Foot Gardens are great for a little extra fresh food. I can even coax enough beans out of them for canning. It was a great way to garden on a lot that had really nasty soil. The main problem with SFG is the expense. Even with our former large income we only put in two to three new boxes per season. It was simply too big of an expense to put in more then that, as much as we love the method. Without an income, it is impossible for us to expand the number of boxes.

August 6 The Tomato Pole. 8 plants tepe style on one pole.

August 6 The Tomato Pole. 8 plants tepe style on one pole.

Our Back to Eden garden is in transition. We are told that it takes a few years to really be ready to plant, so for now we have left all the SFG’s in place. However, there is a corner of the garden that we did plant directly into the ground instead of into a SFG. At the far north east corner of the yard are my compost bins. We like to use hog-wire cylinders for the walls of the compost. When it is time to turn the pile the cylinder is lifted off (sometimes it is a little tricky to work it off) and the pile is forked back into the cylinder. Over the 5 seasons we have lived in Everett we have developed a very fertal patch of ground about 10 feet long and 4 or so feet wide just by moving the pile. The ground is soft, thick with earth worms and apparently well healed compared to what it was. When we first moved to Everett from our home in the Mountains, I tried to start a small garden in this area. Pushing a shovel into the ground was very much like trying to dig into a large bag of peat-moss. It was resistant to my work. The only thing that grew was a big thistle, not that the vegetables I planted didn’t try to grow. They just came up stunted and weak. That soil was the reason we fell in love with square foot gardening despite the start-up cost. Meanwhile we started the compost pile to feed the gardens.

All because of the healing power of home-grown compost.

All because of the healing power of home-grown compost.

The difference compost makes on really bad soil is dramatic. Back to Eden is basically a huge system of mulch and compost. The soil critters seem very happy, and when the worms are happy, the plants produce abundantly and I am happy.

The drama of the lone pear in the front garden is not our only evidence of the healing power of BTE. It is true that the green beans and the tomatoes we planted in the green chips of the garden out preformed the beans and tomatoes in the SFG’s, but as I mentioned, we had the rich, healing compost in that area so we wondered if it was really a fair comparison.

August 6 (6) By early August we were harvesting baskets of tomatoes almost weekly. It was the hottest, driest summer (2014) that either of us can remember. We often get a heat wave in late August, early September, but this time it started in late May with only two rains until early October. The SFG’s were thirsty. The only water the Back to Eden areas got was over-spray in a few places. Even so, the espaliered apple tree we have growing in back showed no sign of stress. I was stressed about the tent caterpillars that I daily plucked off and tossed over the fence, but the tree held up very well. My small patch of Logan berries and Marian berries are still looking nice as of November 16 (today). Always before, at the first sign of hot drought, they would start dying back. We actually got a little tired of picking them. The abundance was unexpected. A patch of purple asparagus came back thick and strong. I had Ray cover it up because the soil, despite the compost, was producing only a few spindly spears. We did not notice that new spears came up until they began to fern out, but the spears we saw were as thick as Ray’s thumb. The man has huge hands.

Fuji apples. The upper apple is on my tree, the one in my hand is from a neighbors tree (it was getting dark)

Fuji apples. The upper apple is on my tree, the one in my hand is from a neighbors tree (it was getting dark)

Is it worth all the work? There is still only one season of Back to Eden at The Toy Box. I keep repeating that it is too early to really know. Here is what I have seen in a year that was unusually hot for Everett… abundance! Not just your everyday abundance. Lush, almost obscene voluptuous fruit in abundance. This picture of apples was my ah-ha moment. Living in the city, I walk my two terriers most evenings. We walk past many pretty yards. A few of them have fruit trees near the sidewalk. One evening I picked up an average size Fuji apple laying near the sidewalk from a neighbors tree. I wondered how it compared to my Fuji branch. Between Ray and I, we had neglected to thin our apples last spring. They just grew as they were. We were led to believe that the fruit would be small and hard if we neglected to thin the fruit. I brought my stolen apple home and held it next to my own apples. What a difference! By the time I ran to get my camera I was loosing light, so maybe it is difficult to see what I saw. My unthinned Fuji was large, lush, clinging to the unstressed branch. The apple I picked up had already started dropping apples. They covered the lawn where the tree grew. By the way, it was a well watered and fertilized, green lawn that the stressed tree was growing on. All six of the varieties on my little tree were just as abundant as the Fuji. There were no tiny apples on my tree like there were on the neighbors trees. In yard after yard the fruit the neighbors were producing were all small and hard. The only difference that I can see is that my tree was growing in a Back to Eden garden and theirs were growing on well watered lawns. Amazing.

The view from my office window.

The view from my office window.

So, that is our story. If there is a part 4, it is yet to be written. There is a terraced slope on the south side of the yard we are working on. Ray and Chris recently had a look at our property lines and realized that we are paying taxes on quite a bit of land beyond the back fence where the ground slopes steeply to the park below. We hope to add more fruit trees on the hillside. We talk about enlarging the front food forest where the journey began. We are happily dreaming of more fruit trees.

Speaking of taxes, ours have gone up (along with insurance, which is all one bundle at our bank) by $200 a month. If nothing else changes then we are about to have even less income for food. On top of that, next season is the Sabbath year of rest for the land. We have no plans to plant in 2015. That should give our BTE areas more time to settle in. Are we afraid? Golly, there are moments when we feel fear creeping into the corners of our mind. Our God has yet to let us down. We will trust him. And if he keeps us in Everett until 2016, we will plant again, thanking him that it is not by our own hand that we thrive, but by his smile on our lives. Joy!

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. Proverbs 31:25


Leave a comment

Filed under Back to Eden Garden

Season 5 Begins

Season 5 begins.

Season 5 begins.

2014 at the Toy Box Sub-Urban Farm began with a whisper of snow. Creation is encouraging me to rest a while longer. The Snow Moon has faded into darkness, the Worm Moon is a waxing crescent glow somewhere beyond the clouds. No one told the storm that the time for snow was gone. Even so, the clock in my heart is ready to experience the scent of dirt, the kiss of the breeze and fresh green seedlings.

Greens, parsley and onions

Greens, parsley and onions

While the days were still short I started vegetables on a heat mat in the kitchen before moving them to our little greenhouse. Onions and leeks, artichokes and salad greens are all defying the winter chill. Broccolis, cauliflowers (the season 5 challenge) and more salad greens were started in soil blocks. Each of them have their 2nd sets of leaves. I worried that they were in the kitchen too long. Each variety has different sprout times. Since they were all in one flat, some became “leggy” in the kitchen window while waiting for their cousins to wake up. I am happy to report that after a month in the green house I have not lost any to weak stems (so far). I do not use grow lights, a luxury I have in the Pacific North West. We are famous for our rain but those clouds keep our winter nights mild.

Have you ever scene a rhubarb root?

Have you ever seen a rhubarb root?

There is more to season 5 then green house plants. One of the SFG (Square Foot Garden) has fragrant garlic and shallots coming up under a poly cover. A brand new rhubarb is sending up the first amber leaves in the front SFG. Peas and fava beans have already been pressed into the ground in other gardens. Because I am a belt and suspender gal, there is a back-up tray of peas planted in soil cubes in the green house, just in case some critter feasts on fresh pea sprouts growing unprotected outside. My fear of critter feasts are not strictly imaginary. All our kale and over winter broccoli have been eaten down to stumps. I suspect raccoons.

Herbs in the green house; Tarragon make a comeback.

Herbs in the green house; Tarragon make a comeback.

The fruit trees and blueberries are being moved to the front garden. Inspired by Back to Eden, Ray has built a boarder and is filling it with chipped wood for a perma-culture food forest (forest may be a stretch, it is more of an alley). My plan is to put the artichokes in this garden while the fruit trees, a multi-cherry, a multi-pear and an Orcus Pear, are still small. I am hopeful that there will be room for the pie cherries I would like to add to my dream of an orchard-forest.

The Pantry and Freezer are still comfortably full but I sure am looking forward to the first salad of baby greens.

Bomber and nuggets, Lil'bit, Stella and Birtha

Bomber and nuggets, Lil’bit, Stella and Bertha

March 6, 2014, Everett, Washington Showers turning to rain (do they say that anywhere else?) We are under a flood watch. The Toy Box Suburban Farm sits high on a bluff far from the river, even so, the ground is a squishy sponge.  A high of 56 F and a comfortable low of 47 F. Steady SSE wind of 10 mph gusting to 20 mph. More of the same for the rest of the week. 11 hours, 18 minutes of daylight (rise 6:41 AM, set 5:59 PM)

Leave a comment

Filed under Fresh from the garden