Rain water collection

Thanks to our neighbor and his generosity, we were able to add another 1500 gallons of rainwater collection to our system.  That makes 4800 gallons!  We also installed a water meter on the garden hose to find out exactly how many gallons we use for irrigation….that means more data! But it also means we can learn more about our water use in our home.

Loading the barrel and preparing to move...it fits!

Finishing loading the barrel and preparing to move…it fits!

A nice view for working....maybe some symbolism?

A nice view for working….maybe some symbolism?

It's new home!

It’s new home!

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Water Footprints and Your Food

Ever thought about how much water goes into the things you eat and drink?  Here is a nice article to consider when thinking about your water footprint.



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Row Covers and Barn Improvements

Thanks Hermosa Vida for helping us acquire the materials needed to protect our plants and our tools!

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The row cover offers about a 7 degree buffer from outside temperatures.  This addition to the beds will extend our growing season on the tail ends while offering protection from frost and hail and can be used as a shade cover during June.

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We replaced the rotting, 25 yr old plywood on the sides of the barn (you can see what to old barn looked like), repaired the rainwater catchment system, and then restained the whole thing.  We added some windows to reduce our electricity dependency and with some leftover money, were able to put in an automatic chicken door that opens and closes with the solar cycle and automatic chicken feeders.

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Rethinking Food

This John Oliver clip sums up many of the problems with today’s food waste problems in America.  We need to create better ways to get wasted food into the hands of the disadvantaged and needy, reduce the waste of food in our homes, and rethink our connection to food!  More trips to the grocery stores?  Make less food at a time?  Eat all the leftovers before they go bad?  Buy less when we are at the store?  They all make sense, we just need the will power to make it happen.


John Oliver: Food Waste

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Beekeeping Class

Hey Everyone.  Attached is a flyer for a wonderful, exciting, and interesting beekeeping class by the Honeybee Teacher, Patrick Pynes. Learn about beekeeping and visit Willow Bend, Flagstaff EcoRanch, and other local beehives.


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Water Stress

Here’s some good info on areas with stressed river basins from the World Resources Institute.



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Conditional Use Permit Passes!!

We did it!  We finally got our conditional use permit.  It passed with a unanimous vote at our public hearing on Wednesday night.  We want to thank all of our supporters who wrote letters to county officials and for those who showed up to speak up about how their involvement with the Flagstaff EcoRanch has impacted their lives.  We also want to thank county staff members for their patience and assistance while we sorted through the necessary steps to obtain the CUP over the past year.

In other EcoRanch related events, 6 of our 13 raised beds are planted and Kat, our intern from NAU is tending to their well being.  We have started harvesting spinach, chard, and radishes and successfully dodged the hail multiple times.  It seems as thought the summer monsoons are here, hopefully bringing an abundance of rain (hear that clouds, rain, not hail).

Our biggest highlight for the summer is that Hermosa Vida provided us with an additional $3000 to deepen and assist our programming.  With that money, we have already purchased row cover (which will protect our plants from the sun, hail, and cold temps while increasing productivity and be longer lasting and more sustainable than clear plastic which only last about 1.5 seasons).  We improved our barn to increase its usability to and offer better protection for our supplies.  Later in the season, we will add another rain barrel and more efficient irrigation.

Best of luck to everyone growing!  If you’re looking to come visit, take a tour, buy eggs, or even come and get your hands dirty, please get in touch with us.

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Egg Prices Rise


Worried about rising egg prices and the health of those eggs?  Come and get em from happy chickens at the EcoRanch!

Other related videos about chickens that will trouble your tail feathers!




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End of 2014

The 2014 season has come to end.  We are finishing amending the beds and prepping for the 2015 growing season.  We wanted to thank all of our volunteers, interns, WWOOFers, and visitors who have contributed to another amazing year at the EcoRanch.  Below are some quick data and accomplishments for your reading pleasure.  Our resource conservation strategies are working and we have not had to make significant changes in our lives.  Sustainability and being more environmentally conscious do not have to be hard or expensive and most importantly do not have to alter our lives.  Please continue to consider ways you can reduce your resource consumption and feel free to email us with ideas.

Quick Facts and Accomplishments

We strive to promote resource conservation, waste reduction, and community relationships and hope that through our efforts we can educate others on the importance of these issues.

Education and Interest

  • 309 hours donated to Flagstaff community (schools, programs) in educational presentations, consulting, volunteering
  • 6002 hrs ($48,000 equivalent) donated to EcoRanch from community members, Master Gardeners, CCC/NAU/ASU students, interns, WWOOFers, neighbors, high schools [NPA and Upward Bound]; all seek volunteer opportunities/ideas about sustainable agriculture/living
  • Local educators tour EcoRanch to provide a tangible operation to reinforce environmental and sustainable theories learned in classrooms. We provide a demonstration site for people to fulfill volunteer hour requirements and practice what they learn in classes. EcoRanch allows us to cultivate community conversations around conservation and sustainability.

Water Conservation

  • Saved 15,450 gal of water from our well and collected another 6,000 gal of rainwater in 2 years.
    • Met with neighbors to discuss/educate about rainwater collection practices
  • In 2 months we used 13,280 gallons of water. The average American would have used 28,718 gal of water; a difference of 15,438 gal and that includes irrigation of our crops.
  • Gardening efforts include buried drip irrigation, multiple water saving techniques, and no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers (only compost, manure, and non toxic chemicals).
  • Low flow toilets, shower timers, collecting and reusing shower water in toilets, low flow faucets/shower heads, and biodegradable soaps for septic tank.
  • Permaculture techniques applied; berms built to keep any rainwater/runoff on our property.

Produce Production

  • 1057 lbs ($2300 value) – donated to Hermosa Vida/Killip – distributed to low income families in Flagstaff
  • 266 lbs ($1092 value) – donated to Flagstaff Family Food Center and other local food banks
  • 1000 lbs sold to Local Alternative, processed into veggie burgers, sold Flagstaff restaurants

Energy Conservation

  • Reduced our monthly energy use every month since 2012
  • Insulated windows, electrical outlets, and all hot water lines – passive heating/cooling when possible
  • Unplug all electrical cords when not in use
  • Move between upstairs/downstairs in summer/winter to conserve electricity and propane
  • Seeking upgrades to inefficient appliances
  • Air drying laundry = reduction in energy of 364 kWh ($60 savings) in 4 months

Resource Conservation

  • Weigh trash and recyclables each month to reduce inputs and outputs
  • EcoRanch = 0.4 lbs/person/day vs. average American = 4.38 lbs/person/day

Wildfire Prevention

  • Gutters are cleaned and spark arrestors are included
  • Trees/branches near house have been thinned, removed, and mulched used onsite
  • Pine needles/duff raked twice/year in a fifty foot radius around house and reused on property for mulching, water catchment, and reducing evaporation
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Renewable Energy and Planting

With an inefficient house and extremely high energy bills, The EcoRanch has been taking steps to reduce our energy use.  We unplug all electrical devices from the walls when not in use and over the winter, we moved into the basement, although slightly counter intuitive, to a much smaller space to heat up with less windows.  We also spent quite a bit of time researching renewable energy resources like solar, geothermal, and wind.  All are currently out of our budget but we hope to be there soon.  We also spent some time on APS’s website and found some good resources we wanted to share for those who may not know they exist.

When logged in, go under my energy, and then to compare plans.  This tool allows you to get a better rate based on when you use your energy.  You may be able to reduce your bill by running your appliances like the washer/dryer or dishwasher later at night.  APS also offers Green Choice Plans, which we recently switched to.  This allows you, the customer, to purchase either blocks of energy or a percentage of your use from renewable energy resources.  Basically, it will cost you $0.012/KWh extra on your bill.  So, a month at 500 KWh would cost you about an extra $5.00 if you purchased 100% from renewable resources.  Check them out!  For right now, at least we can say we are purchasing energy from cleaner sources.

In planting news, the Flagstaff Foodlink starts program comes to an end this week.  We will get our last set of starts; basil, tomatoes, eggplants, and a few others.  The EcoRanch and Hermosa Vida beds are almost full and it looks like the starts are taking hold in their new homes, coming alive with a deep green and looking quite happy.

We started building and repairing beds over a month ago with the help of Kai and Jackson.  They have since moved on to new adventures, but their work remains foundational in our progress this year.  After all the beds were ready, we got to the fun part of planting.  Our lives were made much easier with the help of 3 students from Dr. Pollak’s Sustainable Botany course and our Intern from ASU, Kelsey.  Addison, Michael, and Christopher created a garden plan for the Hermosa Vida beds for credit/volunteer hours and Kelsey used a program called growveg.com (we recommend checking out this website) to create her plan for the EcoRanch beds.  It’s hard to wrap your head around organizing 2500 starts, numerous varieties of seeds, and how to plant all them efficiently.  It has been extremely helpful to have a layout ready to go for the season that we can follow along with.  Emily, our recent WWOOFer has been here for about a month and, sad to say, is leaving at the end of the week.  She has been doing the work of 4 people, using the plans to get all the plants into the ground, modifying them when needed, and not to mention taking care of the chickens, hoop houses, watering, and helping out whenever she can.

Thanks to everyone who has helped us get to this point in the season and thanks from our future harvesting success!

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