Flowers Nourish The Soul At Buzzed Blooms Farm

“For us, farming meant food,” says Austin Graf. He looks back on growing up on a small farm with a kitchen garden and some beef cows. “Farming was our way of helping make ends meet.” Those early roots helped pave the way for Graf’s journey to running Buzzed Blooms, a sustainable and seasonally-focused flower farm in Manchester, Tennessee.

He says that he’s always felt “the connection to the land and wholesome food” that comes with farming. However, he never really saw it as a viable career—until serendipitous circumstances ushered him into the field of flower farming.

We spoke to Graf about the sustainable dynamics of micro-farming and accepting the calling of a flower farmer. We also touched on the nourishing nature of blooms.

Indebted to Patchy Cows

When Graf pinpoints where his interest in farming began, he credits the role of what he calls “patchy cows” in the story.

While accompanying his dad to meet livestock brokers, Graf recalls how they’d “give my dad a hard time. The whole county had black Angus beef cows. But our farm always had the most colorful patchy cows around.”

He adds, “My dad did that for me. I felt bad for all the other cows that nobody seemed to like.”

Read more: Check out these 5 miniature cattle breeds that are perfect for small farms.

From Patchy Cows to Fainting Goats

Graf continued to take his early farming steps, and his interests transformed.

“As I got older, patchy cows turned into spotted Nubian dairy goats that I hand-milked morning and night throughout high school,” he says. “I learned to make homemade cheese and soap. I got chickens for fresh eggs. And I continued gardening.

“Then I started discovering livestock preservation and adding rare breeds to our farm to preserve them from extinction,” he continues. “At one point we had a full dozen Tennessee fainting goats. It was just what I loved.”

Serendipitous Flowers

These days Graf runs a flower farm. The career choice, he admits, came “by pure chance.”

After graduating college and taking a gig in marketing, Graf found himself growing restless. He missed the farm life.

Graf persuaded his brother to let him use a 10 by 20 foot garden. He then “threw some dahlia tubers in there. They were on clearance at the grocery store, so I thought why not?”

When everything else but the dahlias in Graf’s garden perished, he did a little research and “stumbled across flower farming.” Graf discovered that cut flower production was actually the second most profitable crop per acre in his state. This, he thought, could develop into a lucrative avenue.

“Suddenly everything I’d ever known about farming changed,” he explains.

After starting with a packet of zinnias, Graf received an offer for what seemed likes a “dream job” that would require giving up the garden. “I chased the dream,” he says. “And guess…

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Regenerative Farming | Seven Ways to Use Social Media

The wonderful thing about endorsements is that they’re usually free. These can be collaborations with other brands in your field, influencers, or customers that love your product.

Every endorsement helps improve your following and enlarge your product base. You can band together with other farmers to get more exposure. 

Perhaps have something like a Weekly Wednesday, where each farmer in your group shares a brand each week. All of you will gain exposure, and your group will keep growing.

You can also encourage customers to endorse your products. Offer them an incentive to share and promote, and they will. Whether the reward is an entry into a contest or a discount coupon, everyone loves a good score.

Finally, contact influencers and offer them a product pack with things you sell. If they like the products, ask them to endorse you. If the influencer is popular enough, their endorsement can convert into many sales.

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15 Herbs to Propagate From Cuttings & How To Do It

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Best Places to Rent a Houseboat in Arizona

No matter if it’s summer or winter, you can’t go wrong with a houseboat vacation. Although there are plenty of lakes in the Southwest, below are the best places to rent a houseboat in Arizona.

Lake Powell

With a max length of 186 miles and just about 2,000 miles of shoreline, Lake Powell is an ideal place to rent a houseboat in Arizona because of its sheer size alone. In fact, it’s the second largest man-made reservoir by maximum water capacity in the U.S. behind Lake Mead (which also made this list). Lake Powell is located on the border of Utah and Arizona; however, you’ll spend most of your time on the Utah side.

Houseboating on Lake Powell is popular because of its ideal conditions all year long. During the summertime, water temps are around 70 to 80 degrees, perfect for swimming and other recreational activities. There are also plenty of places to anchor and explore. A popular place to hike at Lake Powell is Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

Lake Mead

Lake Mead is another great houseboating destination in Arizona. Bordering the southern tip of Nevada, Lake Mead is 110 miles long with over 550 miles of shoreline. People head to this lake each year to enjoy boating, swimming, fishing, and the sun! Popular attractions nearby include the Historic Railroad Trail, Goldstrike Canyon, Arizona Hot Springs, plus many more paved and unpaved trails throughout Lake Mead Recreation Area. It is also known as a great bass fishing lake, hosting the U.S. Open each year.

Lake Mohave

A bit smaller than the other two lakes on this list, Lake Mohave spans 67 miles from top to bottom with over 230 miles of shoreline. Houseboaters enjoy this lake because it offers stunning canyon views and tons of sandy beaches to park and play. Lake…

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EPIC v. Drone Advisory Committee: Divided Appeals Court Endorses Secrecy of Key Working Groups

drone privacy

EPIC v. Drone Advisory Committee: Divided Appeals Court Endorses Secrecy of Key Working Groups

A divided panel of the D.C. Circuit, ruling today in EPIC’s case against the FAA Drone Advisory Committee, held that the committee can keep the records of its controversial working groups secret. EPIC filed suit in 2018 against the industry-dominated body, which ignored the privacy risks posed by the deployment of drones even after identifying privacy as a top public concern. As a result of EPIC’s lawsuit, the committee was forced to disclose hundreds of pages of records under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. But a lower court ruled in 2019 that the records from the committee’s working groups could be withheld from the public—a decision that the D.C. Circuit affirmed today. Judge Robert L. Wilkins, writing in dissent, accused the majority of “doing violence to the text” of the FACA and argued that the decision “undermines FACA’s purpose and greenlights an easily abusable system[.]” Noting the “obvious privacy concerns that drones present” and the fact that the DAC was “stacked with industry representatives,” Wilkins warned that “[w]e should look with suspicion upon agency efforts to circumvent FACA by using subgroups.” The case is EPIC v. Drone Advisory Committee, No. 19-5238 (D.C. Cir.).

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From The Herb Garden: You Must Consider Comfrey!

Comfrey is an herb worthy of consideration in gardens of all sizes. Its usefulness in the apothecary, in the compost or as a fertilizer makes this herb one of the most valuable plants that any gardener could grow.

The common comfrey, Symphytum officinale, is a perennial plant in the borage family, native to Europe but now widely naturalized throughout western Asia as well as most of North America. Spread by seed, it can quickly overtake an area, especially if not harvested or properly managed.

A hybrid, Sympytum x uplandicum, or Russian comfrey, has gained in popularity amongst gardeners and permaculturists alike. It’s a sterile plant that does not produce seeds, so you propagate this Russian variety through root division or by stem cuttings.   

Using Comfrey in the Garden

Even just a handful of plants will provide the gardener with endless value. Rich in silica, nitrogen, magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron, add comfrey leaves to compost bins as a natural activator. Or you can shred them and utilize as a nutrient-dense mulch around fruit trees, tomatoes and other garden crops.

The long, dark taproots dig deep into the soil. They extract nutrients inaccessible to many other garden crops.

You can also brew the leaves into a potent liquid fertilizer often referred to by gardeners as simply “comfrey tea,” which is easy to make!

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  • Harvest comfrey leaves until you have enough to fill a 5-gallon bucket.
  • Allow the leaves to wilt in the sun for one or two hours, then pack them into the bucket.
  • Fill the bucket with water and loosely cover.
  • Allow to ferment for several weeks, stirring every few days.
  • Strain out the plant material and dilute the ‘tea’ with water at a 10:1 ratio.
  • Use as a foliar spray on your garden plants.

Read more: Improve your soil with these homemade fertilizers!

Comfrey in the Apothecary

Herbalists have made use of comfrey for centuries, prescribing the herb for a wide range of ailments.

Modern practitioners avoid internal use due to the herb’s high pyrrolizidine alkaloid content. (The compound which is considered toxic and potentially damaging to the liver.) But topical applications are still commonly used.

You can craft a simple herbal salve from comfrey leaves to treat all manner of external ailments, including:

  • cuts
  • scrapes
  • insect bites
  • bruises
  • sore joints

You can easily make this product by infusing dried comfrey leaves in olive or sunflower oil. Then just blend the herbal oil with melted beeswax. (If you’d like to go deeper into herbal salves, I provide more detailed information in my book The Artisan Herbalist.)

Read more: These 7 healing herbs can aid you with pain relief.

Growing Comfrey

Comfrey is easy to grow and very vigorous. It does well in full sun or partial shade. Once established, in fact, you might struggle to fully remove it!

Even the smallest piece of…

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6 Tips for Choosing a Quality Hunting Rifle

Choosing a Quality Hunting Rifle

When it comes to hunting, it’s important that you pick a firearm that’s reliable and efficient in any condition or climate. Whether you are new to firearms or have been a lifelong carrier, you need to spend ample time comparing brands and knowing which rifle best fits your needs. 

 

However, it doesn’t take much to choose. You just need to focus on the most basic features and other considerations. Here’s what you need to know when picking a hunting rifle.

6 Tips for Choosing a Quality Hunting Rifle

  1. Know your hunting style

How do you describe your strategy for hunting down big game or fowl? Are you more into concealment or are you focusing on precision? Whatever the case may be, you need a rifle that matches your style. This is an important point of assessing if a rifle helps you achieve optimal mobility and accuracy. 

 

If you’re willing to go beyond your comfort zone, you can try different rifle actions and cartridges. A little research will go a long way, but it’s always advisable to stick with rifle types you are at home with instead of investing in a rifle that won’t exactly suit your style of hunting.

 

  1. Know your game

Apart from your hunting style, you also need to consider the game you are hunting. This is important as not all rifles are optimal for hunting certain game. 

 

If you are hunting bears, for instance, enthusiasts would suggest anything in the mold of a Marlin 1895 or a Remington 700. You can also opt for any rifle that accommodates 7mm and .338 caliber rounds. For duck and other fowl, you can look towards a Winchester Model 12 or a Benelli Vinci. 

 

When it comes to small game, you might want a firearm that can accommodate the more common .22 caliber ammunition. You can shop for the best 22LR rifles that are ideal for hunting squirrels, rabbits, and turkeys. 

 

For most preppers, however, an all-around rifle would be ideal in any situation and against any game. The trick is to mix and match rifles with sighting systems and cartridges. Remember, this is all a matter of taste. If you are planning to get an all-purpose rifle, be sure to get advice from experienced hunters. 

 

  1. Consider the type of action you want 

In choosing a rifle, you will be asked about the action that fits your needs.  In most cases, a bolt-action rifle would be preferable for any type of game or condition. 

 

When it comes to long-range shooting, bolt-action rifles win by (literally) a long shot. Despite using only a few rounds, these types of rifles are incredibly accurate and durable. More importantly, it’s easier to clean and maintain. The only downside to these rifles is their low rate of fire.

 

Another favorite among…

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Bringing Farms to the School System

Many parents and educators support bringing farms to local school systems. Even the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants to make farm-to-school programs a priority.

Just a few months ago, the Trump Administration announced a USDA award of $12.1 million in grants to back these programs. Evidently, America is finally beginning to take a hint from Italy, Spain, and other European countries that serve nutritious, locally grown produce.

Ultimately, these programs benefit students, communities, and farmers across the country. Exploring the impact of bringing farms to school systems provides a deeper understanding of just how vital these programs are.

The Importance of Farm-to-School

As agtech, like artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles, becomes more commonplace, human connection is beginning to disappear. Farmers are cutting staff and relying on machines to sort, harvest and package produce. Gone are the days of hand-planting and picking each berry and ear of corn. Most farmers don’t even sell their own crops anymore, instead opting to ship them off to supermarkets.

Consequently, people are losing touch with their food’s origins. Many children are unaware that milk comes from cows and 41% don’t even know eggs come from chickens. This troubling disconnect often translates to childhood obesity, malnourishment, and a lack of appreciation for planet earth and its resources.

If children understand where their food comes from, they may be able to reverse these negative trends and consequences. More importantly, the school system would raise up a generation of healthy, earth-conscious individuals who support local farms and the community as a whole.

How to Make the Connection

As a farmer, reconnecting kids with the earth and those who harvest rests on your shoulders. Even as the federal government grants schools money to support this connection, many educators don’t know where to begin when creating farm-to-school programs.

Moreover, unless they know about you and your farm, they won’t reach out to partner with you. Therefore, it’s important to take the initiative and begin making connections with the community you serve.

Participate in Farmers Markets

If you export most or all of your produce or livestock, consider shifting to a more local approach.

Collaborate with other farmers in the area and open a farmers market or community-supported agriculture program to encourage the consumption of more locally sourced foods. Hold community food events and network with organizations that focus on feeding kids and educating them about nutrition and conservation.

You might also partner with local schools to sell produce during sporting events or set up a farmers market in the parking lot on weekends. Doing so will allow kids to sample new foods and participate in hands-on education. Plus, you’ll create an opportunity for the school to begin using your produce in cooking classes or serving it to students for lunch.

Connect With Parents

As you participate in farmer’s markets and partner with schools, you’ll inevitably make connections with parents. Once they notice healthier behaviors in their kids and changes to school…

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12 Tips for Buying Remote Land & 15 Questions to Ask Before You Do

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Good Meal Ideas That Keep Well on a Houseboat

If you are thinking about renting a houseboat for your next vacation, then you know that you will have to take into account additional logistics. From packing extra gear to make your stay more fun and extra safe to learning how to operate the houseboat, it’s an experience that differs in many ways from a traditional land vacation.

Another thing that you will want to consider prior to your houseboat vacation is your meals. At Forever Houseboats, we know that meal planning is an important part of planning your next houseboat vacation.

Here are a few meal ideas you may want to try:

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs is a classic Italian dish that is known for its affordability and its ease. This is a simple dish that only requires three ingredients — spaghetti noodles, meatballs, and a spaghetti sauce. It doesn’t take much to make a heaping pile of spaghetti that everyone on the houseboat will enjoy.

Sausage, Potatoes and Beans Tin Foil Meal

In a sense, houseboating is like camping on the water. Tin foil meals have long been a favorite among avid campers, and this one is particularly popular. Simply wrap grilled sausage, chopped potatoes and green beans in tin foil, and cook the concoction on the grill.

Hamburgers and Hot Dogs

This quintessential summer meal makes for one of the easiest and tastiest houseboat meals. You can grill hamburgers and hot dogs right on the boat, and everyone can top them with their favorite fixings. Simple sides like potato salad and corn on the cob can be brought on board.

Tacos

Tacos is another simple meal that is easy to make for a group. Cook up a couple of pounds of ground beef, add seasoning and serve to the masses. People can choose their favorite toppings, and chips plus salsa make…

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