May 2012

I didn’t turn on my computer for 3 days. The first day I was too busy, the second day I thought about it and figured I could get away with not doing it, and by the third day I embraced the opportunity.  I have read and it seems to hold true it takes about 3 days to clear the momentum of  cyberspace and reintegrate into the here and now. it was like a nice staycation.

I have been doing a lot in the garden, including planting main crop green beans, pole and bush, kidney beans, and edamame, edible green soybeans, I have planted the second succession of lettuce, beets, carrots and coriander.  Cucumbers,  melons, butternut squash, zucchini, and sweet corn have been popped in.

I was also mulching and watering in the garden because it has been dry here and it was nice to be able to focus on that stuff and not be distracted by pixels.

Out of the garden we are eating the last of the asparagus, lettuce, coriander, broccoli, spinach, strawberries and cherries.

Breakfast one day was cherries and cashews. The cashews were raw and organic, store bought, but the cherries are Nanking bush cherries. They are  not very big but packed with flavor.

The bushes are still loaded and not  ripening all at once so we will have them for a week or more.

After the sweet cherries the tart Hansen ones will ripen but you can’t eat those out of hand.



Thursday, 25 May, 1972   Los Angeles

My Dear Jayarge and Lindon Lomese,

Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated May 22nd, 1972, and I have noted the contents carefully.

I am very much pleased that you have joined with us and that you are following all the regulative principles of Krishna Consciousness spiritual life. Upon receiving written recommendation by the president of our Seattle center, I shall be very glad to accept you as my duly initiated disciples.

So far your description of events in the Seattle temple, I have informed Makhanlal what is your opinion, so do not worry. I am going to Portland on 8 June and I understand that the devotees from Seattle are coming down there to meet me so you may also come at that time.

One thing, we can never expect to find any kind of utopia, even in the spiritual world. Where ever there are persons there are bound to be differences, so we should not expect any kind of perfect arrangement, especially here in the material world. Even sometimes amongst the gopis there is envy, but that enviousness is transcendental and should not be accepted in the mundane sense.

Anyway one quality of a devotee is that he is always very much tolerant of other people, so I request you simply to tolerate the faults of others and always think that I am myself the most faulty. In this way your humble attitude will qualify you to advance very quickly in Krishna Consciousness.

Hoping this will meet you in good health.

Your ever well-wisher,
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami


They’re growing like weeds, but often growing only weeds. Urban gardens and farms are appearing in backyards, schools and empty lots in cities all over the country. But people with the actual know-how and willingness to tend them – in other words, farmers – are far less abundant.

For Dan Allen, this is a critical problem. He’s an urban gardener in Los Angeles, and runs a company called Farmscape that helps tend small-scale farms in the city. While there’s clearly interest in the idea of making urban areas into not just consumers but also producers of food, Allen sees that interest as fleeting.

“For schools especially, I think the process of creating a garden is pretty exciting to people, so they build a coalition who get really excited and everyone shows up for the ribbon cutting at the garden, and then the hard work sets in,” says Allen. “It’s not just building the garden and doing that first planting, but also doing the diligent maintenance of the crops.”

That diligent maintenance is, in another word, work — the kind of work that makes people sweat, gets dirt under their fingernails and maybe even gives them a sore back.

Allen says he’s seen countless gardens and urban farms wither from lack of pruning, poor attention to irrigation schedules, and just a general lack of understanding about how to turn a plot of dirt into a producer of food. Neglect is rampant in backyard farms and even more so in farms at schools, Allen says. Often the downfall of school gardens is summer.

“Everybody goes on vacation and forgets about the garden. And then they come back and it’s kind of run down, and instead of being this shiny new project they see that the garden’s in shambles,” Allen says. “It’s a lot less exciting. So it’s hard for them to get going with the project again.”

What these neglected gardens need, he argues, is more consistent and trained minders who have the skills and time to maintain them. He points to the urban farming initiative in Cuba, where the state actively supports the infrastructure and the farmers who, in Havana, are producing an estimated 90 percent of the city’s fruits and vegetables locally.

Despite growing official encouragement of urban farming from cities like Detroit, strong governmental support like that seen in Cuba is obviously a lot less likely in the United States. This is where companies like Allen’s can become part of the picture.

Farmscape currently tends about 150 urban gardens a week in L.A. A handful of them are at schools but most are in the backyards of private residences. While some homeowners use the service as a kind of intensive tutorial on how to better work and understand their tiny farms, many of Allen’s customers have simply outsourced the farming of their farm.

“There are sections of Los Angeles where I think people approach the landscape as something they’re not really involved in and hire professionals of different sorts to come take care of it,” Allen says. “Some people probably perceive us more like a landscaper.”

The company’s website claims its services are comparable to those of “mow-and-blow” landscapers, but with the added value of an expertise in organic farming techniques. His team – “half a dozen college-educated 20-somethings” – are filling the void of farmers in a city with a disproportionate supply of urban farms and gardens. Allen says demand for their services is growing in L.A., and probably many other cities as well.

“What we’ve found is there’s a new generation of people who are interested in organic farming, and especially small-scale organic farming, who like the idea of living in a city,” Allen says. “It doesn’t have to be someone who grew up on a farm out in the country.”

And, if things go the way Allen hopes, the farmers of the future can also be grown in cities, just like their food.

“brahmanyadaya karmani sangam tyaktva karoti yah
lipyate na sa papena padma patram iva ambhasa

“One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.”

Bhagavad Gita 5.10

“Walking down a street, sweeping a floor, washing dishes, hoeing beans, reading a book, taking a stroll in the woods-all can be enriched with contemplation and with the obscure sense of the presence of God.”

Thomas Merton. The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation. William H. Shannon, editor (San   Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 2003): 66.

Thought for the Day:  “One is not worried about the results of what is done.”

The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation: 66.

While at the Festival of Inspiration I spend most of my time talking to devotees.  So many interesting people.  Simply standing in a line for prasadam I struck up a conversation with a guy and turns out he works at a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in the St Louis area that has  125 shares.

We had a nice conversation about that project and how it worked as well as other topics about gardening.   While discussing tomato varieties, he was recommending Sungold, a cherry tomato, which I am trying for the first time this year as it turns out. He predicted I would be quite pleased with it.

I also met an artist who was selling his work. Turns out he and another family just bought a farm in Kentucky.  If you are interested in getting in on supporting or being part of a new project on the ground floor, here is your chance.  From their website (which includes a blog):

The Bhagavat Commune is a project started by a group of Vaisnavas who wish to implement Vedic culture into their lives and undergo a simpler life focused on spiritual growth without having to maintain various material activities in order to be able to support themselves.

As the years slip by, we slowly realize that while “doing the needful” we are missing out on what is truly important.  Maintaining family and loved ones is certainly necessary, but there are so many activities that we can engage in which will serve that purpose as well as contribute more directly to our spiritual advancement.

At the Bhagavat Commune, devotees will grow their own food, build their own houses, and provide goods and services to the Vaisnava community around the world in order to produce the necessary income for any other necessities and expenses.  Aspects of this project include, but are not limited to, an institute for Sastric study, a Vaisnava retreat, a self-sufficient community, and production and distribution of multi-media devotional arts.

Most importantly, the devotees who live at the commune will center their lives around Krsna and create a more peaceful and satvic environment conducive to spiritual growth.  In such an environment, not only will the residents make rapid spiritual advancement, but the visitors will also get a more accurate taste of what our ISKCON society has to offer.

Srila Prabhupada wanted his followers to adhere to the philosophy of simple living and high thinking.  He also wanted his followers to scrutinize his books and present our philosophy and culture to the general public.  In 1972 Srila Prabhupada instructed his disciples to “boil the milk”, which means that the quality of ISKCON members is more important than the quantity of ISKCON members.  If we have a lot of people who follow a little of the philosophy, we are sending the wrong impression and not giving an accurate representation of this important mission.

There are a several communities around the world who are dedicated to live up to these instructions, and this is our humble attempt to do the same.

Please check out the different phases of this project by clicking the links at the top of this page to check out our progress blog, and if you would like to contribute to this project in any way, please let us know how you would like to help, or how we can help you.

thank you.

From the Boston Globe

Retail giant Walmart said it plans to install solar panels on top of about half of its roughly 50 Massachusetts stores as early as August as part of an expansion of solar power in the state.

The installations for the 27 stores are still in the engineering phase, and local permits must be obtained, Walmart officials said. But once the projects are done, they will be capable of generating a total of about 10.5 megawatts worth of energy, enough to power up to 2,600 homes.

“On average, the systems we’ll be using in Massachusetts will provide from 10 to 15 percent of each store’s power requirements,’’ said David Ozment, Walmart’s director of energy programs. “We’re very optimistic that we’re going to save some dollars over time.’’

Did you hear that lonesome whippoorwill?
He sounds too blue to fly
The midnight train is whining low
I’m so lonesome, I could cry

I’ve never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by
The moon just went behind a cloud
To hide its face and cry

Did you ever see a robin weep
When leaves begin to die?
That means he’s lost the will to live
I’m so lonesome, I could cry

The silence of a falling star
Light’s up a purple sky
And as I wonder where you are
I’m so lonesome, I could cry

This has sometimes been called the saddest song ever written. Though Monday night when I was at a kirtan with Radhanath Swami he announced that a plane had crashed in Nepal, and 8 devotees had left their bodies, including 7 known to him from his home temple in Chowpatty, one of them a child.

He dedicated the kirtan to them and the start of that kirtan was pretty sad.

Naturally Hank Williams sings this song best.

It is a country standard, so you can hear any number of versions, including this one by Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

Even rockers take it on occasionally. Here is a version by Volbeat.

And who could sing any song more sadly than the Cowboy Junkies.

The bagpipes by themselves tend to sadness. Here is a version by Me First and the Gimmes with bagpipes.

Here Electric Black does a version with animation that “focuses on the sentiment of modern alienation captured by the song.”

Next Page »