Turn a laundry basket into a strawberry planter!

If you have a spare plastic laundry basket/hamper sitting around somewhere, why not put it to good use and grow strawberries in it? Here’s one way you can do that, though of course many variations are possible.

You’ll need –

  • laundry basket/hamper
  • soil
  • plastic trash bag, burlap, or weed mat
  • strawberry starts (look for small ones without a lot of greenery yet, or bare root)
  • other plants for the top (optional; you can also just plant more strawberries there)
  • scissors

The first step is to add some drainage holes to the bottom of your basket. We used a drill, but if you don’t have one, you could cut some slits with a razor blade, scissors, etc.

Next, position your plastic trash bag inside to keep the soil from falling out of the holes in the basket. (Alternately, you could use burlap or weed mat, in which case you’d just line the sides, no need to line the bottom.)  We cut holes in the bottom of the plastic bag that lined up with the holes drilled in the bottom of the basket.

Then you’ll need to add about six inches of soil to the bottom of the basket.

Now you’re ready to place the first round of strawberries. You can place them about six inches apart around the perimeter at the soil level. Just poke a hole into your lining material (plastic/burlap/weed mat) at each spot where you’re going to place a strawberry plant, and carefully place the plant with roots inside and foliage outside in each opening.

Add another 3-4″ of soil and repeat the process of planting, staggering this row of plants from the first row. Continue until you near the top of the planter. You can finish the project by planting more strawberries on top, or another crop like lettuce, kale, etc. Trim the liner material an inch or so above the soil line.

A note about watering – especially if you’re using a tall laundry basket/hamper, you might want to consider including a way for water to reach the center/bottom of the planter better. One way to do this would be to use a 2 liter soda bottle, cut off the bottom, take off the lid, poke several holes in the sides, and sink it upside-down into the top of the planter until the cut-off base sits right above the soil line. When it’s time to water, add water into this reservoir to encourage it to make its way all the way down to the center and bottom of the planter, ensuring that water reaches the roots of the lower plants, not just those on top. (We didn’t have any large soda bottles so we used the base of a plastic mango container from Costco… something longer and skinnier definitely would have worked better though.) You could also accomplish this by using a length of PVC pipe with holes drilled into it.

Here’s the finished planter, with about two dozen strawberry plants around the sides, and lettuce and kale on top.

If you attempt this project, please let us know how it goes!

Connecting during COVID

Greetings,

We hope you are as safe and secure as possible during this time of crisis. If you have any needs that we might help with, please visit the Cooperation Humboldt COVID-19 Community Response Needs Request page.

For those of you in a position to volunteer during this time, we have several specific invitations to collaborate and/or engage with Cooperation Humboldt and our COVID response activities.

Mini Gardens

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 Our food team’s primary focus this season is installing as many mini-gardens as possible for low income residents of Humboldt County. This project is just ramping up, and we’ve installed 18 so far, with almost a hundred more households requesting this service to date. We have a great need for garden installation volunteers – folks who have at least some gardening experience, and who can work semi-independently to deliver and install small (3′ square) garden beds and fill them with soil and plants. Volunteers can take on as few or as many gardens as they like, and of course Cooperation Humboldt will cover all costs. 

If you’d like to help, but are unable to be an installer, we also welcome help in any of the following ways:

  • Donate plant starts (we’re focusing on crops that are easy for beginners to grow, including lettuce, kale, strawberries, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, etc.)
  • Build planter boxes
  • Loan a truck for an installation volunteer who doesn’t have one

To learn more about how you can get involved with this effort, contact Tamara at tamara.mcfarland@cooperationhumboldt.com

Little Free Pantries

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During this pandemic, our Little Free Pantries are being utilized like never before. If you want to help with that project, contact Casey Jo at pheonyx31@gmail.com. And of course, you’re invited to donate non-perishable food and personal care items to any pantry, any time.

COVID Response – Eureka

We are also looking for someone able to take an active role in assisting our COVID response in Eureka. This involves helping to match needs requests with volunteers. If you are interested in learning more, contact David at david.cobb@cooperationhumboldt.com.

Mask Making

Want to join our mask-making team? Have materials to donate? You can sew from home, or come to our physically distanced office space in Bayside (which is sanitized before/after each use) and use a donated sewing machine. Contact Kait at kaitangus@gmail.com.

Learn/Engage

Curious about Solidarity, but isolated? Join us for a video conversation about the concept of Solidarity Economics generally, how Cooperation Humboldt applies those concepts in tangible ways locally, and how you can get involved – next Wednesday, May 6th at 2:00 pm on Zoom. Advance registration is required  click here to register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

EcoNews Feb/March 2020 – ‘Exploring Ecovillages with Cooperation Humboldt’

This article by Tamara McFarland was featured in the February/March 2020 issue of EcoNews.

Image result for ecovillageThe average size of a new house in the United States has doubled since 1960, while the average number of household members has dropped from 3.3 in 1960 to 2.6 today. As our physical footprint per-capita has risen, so too have our nation’s carbon emissions and our rates of social isolation.

One in five US residents report feeling lonely or socially isolated, and this lack of connection can have serious effects on physical health, with researchers reporting that loneliness can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The US Department of Health & Human Services reports that “As a force in shaping our health, medical care pales in comparison with the circumstances of the communities in which we live. Few aspects of community are more powerful than is the degree of connectedness and social support for individuals.”

At Cooperation Humboldt, we understand the critical importance of human connection and interdependence, both for individual quality of life, and as an important way to transition to a sustainable and regenerative way of living with one another and in harmony with the planet. One of the ways we’re currently working to build the world we need is by incubating one or more Ecovillages in Humboldt County.

An Ecovillage is a community with the goal of becoming more socially, culturally, economically, and ecologically sustainable. e idea is to create living arrangements that have a positive, regenerative impact on the natural environment through ethical sourcing of building materials, physical construction  and design, and behavior choices.

The Ecovillages we envision will foster mutual support and meet residents’ inherent needs for autonomy and connection with the natural world. They will also provide important economic benefits to residents by empowering them to build equity if desired, and to participate in a democratic process to help make decisions on the issues that affect their lives and housing.

With support from Cooperation Humboldt, we expect that each Ecovillage will be designed by a group of potential residents who would likely coalesce around some kind of theme or shared interest – permaculture, arts/culture, folks with young kids, etc. Over time, we envision creating a local network of ecovillages, each with its own theme and culture.

Each Ecovillage will include features like renewable energy, water catchment, grey water, and edible landscapes – but beyond that, each village is likely to end up looking quite different. Some could be more urban, while others may be more rural; some villages will be made up of completely separate fully featured homes, while others will include tiny homes with larger central shared facilities (or any number of other
combinations of physical features).

Because the specifics around our first project will depend so much on who is going to live there, and what their skills and passions are, we are now in a process to convene one or more groups of folks who would actually want to live at the first Ecovillage. Cooperation Humboldt will offer resources, support, and capitalization, and we require direct participation now from future residents so that we can build this first ecovillage to fit their needs and aspirations.

If you’d like to learn more or join us in this process, please visit cooperationhumboldt.org/ecovillage.

Tell the City of Eureka – We Need Clean Solutions!

According to an article in the Tululwat Examiner, Eureka city staff plans to apply for grant funding to purchase a generator for use at a warming center that can accommodate up to 2,400 people during future blackouts.

While we wholeheartedly support the desire to create centers to care for our community members during future outages, we know that investing in more generators – which are huge consumers of fossil fuels, as well as terribly noisy/smelly/polluting, and a fire risk – is not the solution.* City of Eureka, please consider alternatives before you proceed. We at Cooperation Humboldt would love to work with you on grant applications for solar panel systems for more city buildings and community spaces that can provide power/warmth in a much more responsible way, and lead us as a community in the direction we need to go, not backwards.

We advocate for pursuing a Resilient Hubs model, and hope to engage with local governments and community groups to make plans in alignment with values of resilience, regeneration, and community wellness.

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Dirty power is what got us into this mess in the first place – investing in more isn’t going to get us out.

Call to Action

Eureka residents, please call your city representatives and demand that the city’s planning for disaster preparedness be done responsibly (bonus points if you offer to serve on a committee to support this goal!) –

  • Greg Sparks, City Manager – (707) 441-4144
  • Susan Seaman, Mayor – (707) 441-4200
  • Leslie Castellano, Councilmember, Ward 1 – (707) 441-4169
  • Heidi Messner, Councilmember, Ward 2 – (707) 441-4168
  • Natalie Arroyo, Councilmember, Ward 3 – (707) 441-4171
  • Austin Allison, Councilmember, Ward 4 – (707) 441-4167
  • Kim Bergel, Councilmember, Ward 5 – (707) 441-4170

* We understand that for those of us with extreme needs (medical, etc.), generators may be the only affordable solution at the moment at a personal/household level during crisis. We aren’t seeking to shame anyone who uses one for legitimate need. But we believe the City has an opportunity here to lead by example and show a better way forward.