August 4(for) Green Acres Challenge


These monthly challenges are your opportunity to cultivate your own acres. They are designed to challenge your creativity, test your will power, and pull your awareness to the footstep you are leaving behind.

By participating in these challenges and sharing them with others you are spreading the message. Over time, those around us will be making better choices as well. The goal is not to change how you live your life, but rather think about the implications of those choices and tweek them for the best outcome.

AUGUST CHALLENGE: NATURAL INSECT REPELLENT 

Summer is winding down and for most of us our thoughts are starting to turn toward a new school year. But while you start to engage in all the flurry that comes with a new school year, it is more important than ever to think about protecting your body and your home against mosquitoes.

Believe it or not mosquitoes carry the highest amount of the West Nile virus in early fall, increasing the rate of the disease in August and into September.  Are you prepared?  In Texas alone, 71 cases have already been reported out of the 113 total cases in the U.S.  The data is pretty convincing.

On the other hand, protecting yourself with repellents that are full of chemicals could potentially lead to as many cases of illness as well.  DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) being the number one chemical perpetrator causing major neurological damage if absorbed into the body.  Without going into the details of the dangers of DEET, here is an excerpt from a 2004 article from Natural News.  

Even the EPA says that DEET should not be frequently used -- in other words, they're saying it's okay to poison yourself just a little bit, but not too much. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one application of DEET per day for children. Once again, this is a position that says it's okay to poison your children just a little bit. The Duke University Medical Center has concluded through laboratory rat studies that long-term use of DEET kills brain neurons.


So there has to be a balance between protecting yourself and what exactly it is you expose yourself to.  This month's challenge is about finding that balance.  Start with the following tips to limit the amount of mosquitoes around your home, and later this month I'll post a few recipes for natural repellent for your body and your yard. 

1. I know you've heard it a thousand times, but it's true.  Standing water breeds mosquitoes.  Heed this advice and walk around your home with fresh eyes.  Better yet, ask a family member or neighbor to walk with you and spot every place there could be standing water.  Bird baths, low areas that collect water from sprinklers or rain, saucers from potted plants on the porch.  Even cracks in concrete can hold water.  Dry these areas.  

2.  Feeding times are at dawn and dusk, which is when a green minded person is typically watering the garden.  Adjust your schedule or wear longer, cotton clothes.  Make repellents that are natural and avoid heavy perfumes or soaps on your body. 

3.  Arm your yard and yourself with the right scents.  Mosquitoes are driven by scent. An attractive scent, such as perfumes and laundry soaps attract them to you.  Same goes for scented flowers that you may have planted in your yard or garden.  However, many herbs such as rosemary, mint, and especially lavender will repel mosquitoes because they can't stand the smell.  Mix in these herbs in pots on your porch or around your garden beds.  Any place you or your family may be interacting at these times of day.  

4.  Be diligent about what your city or town is doing to protect the citizens.  Dallas for example is spraying neighborhoods at night by driving big trucks down the street with arms on each side spraying chemicals in the air.  There is no doubt the spray is full of DEET.  Educate yourself and be sure you and your pets are indoors when they spray and for several hours afterwards.  

There is still time to enjoy what's left of summer, but do so diligently.  

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Excited about the challenge and want to spread the message? Grab a 4(for) green acres project badge for your blog by using this code to let others know you're growing your own greener acres. I've added the badge to the sidebar as well.






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April 4(for) Green Acres Challenge



These monthly challenges are your opportunity to cultivate your own acres. They are designed to challenge your creativity, test your will power, and pull your awareness to the footstep you are leaving behind. 

By participating in these challenges and sharing them with others you are spreading the message. Over time, those around us will be making better choices as well. The goal is not to change how you live your life, but rather think about the implications of those choices and tweek them for the best outcome.


APRIL CHALLENGE: 30 DAYS, 30 WAYS


The month of April marks another Earth Day celebration, and while there will be a cornucopia of ideas out there to get a little greener, May will hit and normalcy will set back in.  Living greener should last for more than a day or a month.  This idea is what started the 4(for) green acres project in the first place.  The notion that cultivating healthy green acres requires more than just recycling.  It is and should be a practice that reconnects you with the natural cycle you play a major role in, regardless if you live in the city or the country.  

April's challenge is 30 days filled with 30 ways to make small changes in your life that will last throughout the year.  Simple changes that if we all make, will have a huge impact.  Each day I will post a challenge that will get you to think, connect, share, or step out of the matrix.  If you can't fulfill the challenge that day, save it for another day in April.  By the end of the month you'll have 30 different methods to live your 4(for) green acres every month.  My goal to show you how easy it is so that once you've completed the challenge it will be no big deal to keep that change in your daily routine.   

Today's challenge is to make a personal commitment to complete each challenge and start making these practices part of your life every month.  Write yourself a note about why you want to live a more natural, simple life within your community.  Please share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Technically the month started yesterday, but I usually take the weekends off.  The challenge for yesterday is to start cleaning the air within your home.  Purchase at least one house plant (more is better) and place them throughout your home.  You'd be surprised with how much junk plants filter out of the air.  
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Excited about the challenge and want to spread the message? Grab a 4(for) green acres project badge for your blog by using this code to let others know you're growing your own greener acres. I've added the badge to the sidebar as well.


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March 4(for) Green Acres Challenge

These monthly challenges are your opportunity to cultivate your own acres. They are designed to challenge your creativity, test your will power, and pull your awareness to the footstep you are leaving behind.

By participating in these challenges and sharing them with others you are spreading the message. Over time, those around us will be making better choices as well. The goal is not to change how you live your life, but rather think about the implications of those choices and tweek them for the best outcome.

MARCH CHALLENGE: FOOD ORIGIN

As a growing urban homesteader I am becoming more and more interested and involved in my food.  Growing up, I took good, wholesome food for granted because I grew up in the midwest and a lot of our food came off of our farm. Then one day I read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and I decided to make a radical change in the way I saw food.  All of a sudden it mattered where my food came from and the conditions in which that food was grown.  This month's challenge is designed to shed light on a few serious issues with our food system.

There is no longer a balance in the spectrum of consumers and producers.  On one end are the consumers that blindly believe that our food supply comes from the grocery store.  The origin stops at the shelves. On the other end are the big producers like Monsanto and CAFO's like Smithfield that are changing the food system by dominating the market and eliminating the little man.  They are changing the DNA of our food, and slowly poisoning our food system.

So the issue of food origin is two fold.  The importance of looking beyond the shelf and being choosy about who we buy our food from has become paramount.  It's not as easy as one might think.  For example, I shop at Whole Foods for many things.  I believe in their mission, they are a Texas business, and while I realize they still import produce from other countries I have the option to purchase local and in season foods.  So imagine my shock when I watched this video. 

If it's happening at Whole Foods, it's happening where you shop.

THE CHALLENGE | For the month of March, take a deeper look at where your food comes from.  Be choosy about where you shop and if you don't have many options (small town America) start by reading your labels.  Start with buying products that come from the US versus China or South America.  Whenever possible, shop local stores, farmers markets, and roadside vendors.  Start asking questions.  Don't assume that produce at a farmers market was grown locally.  Many of them buy wholesale from grocers and turn around and sell it to you. 

If you do all of this already, take it a step farther.  I already keep tabs on my meat and produce, but I don't know a lot about my basic pantry staples.  For example, I love my homemade granola which uses organic rolled oats.  Other than buying them at Whole Foods I can't tell you where those grains were grown, and if they are in fact certified organic.  Investigate the origin of everything you eat.  You might be surprised and, like me, a little shocked at what you discover.  

Please post what you find.

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Excited about the challenge and want to spread the message? Grab a 4(for) green acres project badge for your blog by using this code to let others know you're growing your own greener acres. I've added the badge to the sidebar as well.





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February 4(for) Green Acres Challenge


These monthly challenges are your opportunity to cultivate your own acres. They are designed to challenge your creativity, test your will power, and pull your awareness to the footstep you are leaving behind.

By participating in these challenges and sharing them with others you are spreading the message. Over time, those around us will be making better choices as well. The goal is not to change how you live your life, but rather think about the implications of those choices and tweek them for the best outcome.

FEBRUARY CHALLENGE: GIVE A GIFT

This month's challenge holds a special place in my heart.  It deals with the footstep we are leaving behind.  One of the best jobs I ever had was teaching environmental science in the outdoors to 5th graders at the YMCA.  I lived it, breathed it, and felt like I was making a huge impact, especially in regard to spreading the 4(for) green acres message.  It goes without saying that children are the future of our environment.  When we are too old to make a change, they will be leading us.  It is vital to share the natural world with every child.

During my time at the YMCA, I taught kids about water and soil cycles, how to identify different plants and animals, and skills that taught them how to work together.  Camp was their classroom outdoors.  We didn't just tell them about erosion or food chains, we showed them. 
There were experts that taught them not to be afraid of animals.

We helped them make connections between their world and the natural world, and how all of it still takes place in the city even though they may not see it all the time.

But, despite all the lessons I wanted them to learn back then, and all the lessons I learned myself, this story isn't about me.  It's about the simple joy that these children receive from getting off the payment, onto a trail, and seeing something for the first time in their lives.  An animal, a rock, an insect that they might not have the opportunity to see otherwise.  A change in perspective.  An actual representation of how they fit into the natural world and how great their impact can be, either positive or negative.   

This is where the story of Ariana comes in.  A fifth grader from a poor neighborhood near Ft. Worth.  She had never left the city limits.  I watched her come off the bus with her eyes darting in all directions.  She was excited and nervous at the same time.  She spotted a jack rabbit and her reaction was like winning the lottery.  I took those things for granted. The deer, rabbits, and birds.  Throughout the week, I developed a special bond with her.  She was the first one in line for my classes, she asked insightful questions about how and why on the trails, and her smile never left her face. 

What I learned about Ariana from her teachers was that she wasn't supposed to be there that week.  Her family, like many families, was not able to afford the week trip to the outdoor school.  This made her eligible for a YMCA scholarship, and that is the only way she was able to attend with her classmates.  I later found out, this is how most of the students from her school attended that week. 

I know for a fact, that we changed Ariana's life.  We visited her classroom a few months after her visit and she told me about how she started to recycle, and encouraged her family to not waste so much food.  Her teachers told us about a positive shift in her behavior.  That is why I believe kids need to be outdoors.

This month's challenge is to send other students, like Ariana, to the outdoor school that cannot afford to go.  I am volunteering for the Collin County Adventure Camp. I've walked the trails, met the teachers, and I whole hearted believe in what they teach.  In fact, I may find myself out there again one day teaching more students.  All kids, regardless if they have money, should be able to experience what is happening in the woods and on the prairies. 

One hundred percent of our donations go towards scholarships.  I've already given my gift. Will you help me this month and send other kids to spend some time in nature?   

The Y makes it easy.  You can donate on-line.  Just be sure to fill in the correct info.  See the pictures below.    

Select COLLIN COUNTY ADVENTURE CAMP
Add my name, ABBY BULLOCK, on the volunteer field.

Please feel free to send me questions or if you'd rather donate through me via paypal.  Please take a moment and read the quote below by Richard Louv.  He says it more eloquently than I can.  THANK YOU.

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Grab a badge for your site and let others know you're cultivating your own green acres. 

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January Challenge Resources


The hardest part, after finding the motivation to clear the clutter, is to find a place for all the clutter that isn't the trash can.  Here a few links to either give away or sell your unwanted items.  Sometimes it takes a little work to find a good home for your items but chances are someone needs what you have to offer.  The time it takes to do this serves as a good reminder when at the checkout counter.  If the item doesn't fit your basic needs, there is no reason to bring it home. 

MOST ANY ITEM
Freecycle
Goodwill
Salvation Army
Craig's List
Ebay
Amazon
The Green Sheet

BOOKS  |  MOVIES  | CD's  |  MAGAZINES
Half Price Books

CLOTHING & SHOE SPECIFIC
Nike Shoe Recycling - they use any athletic shoe for playground surfaces
Plato's Closet
Buffalo Exchange

MISCELLANEOUS & LOCAL
Swap Shops
Charity Choices
Resale Shopping
Homeless Shelters - linens
Animal Shelters - toys, bedding, unopened food


COMMUNITY GROUPS
These groups can always use extra supplies, especially because most of them have a tight   budget.  Don't just drop off the items, call and ask for the art or program director. 

     Schools: art teachers
                     after school programs
     Churches: Sunday Schools
                        Vacation Bible Schools
                        Pre-school programs
     Other Not-for-Profit Groups:  YMCA
                                                       YWCA
                                                       Boys & Girls Clubs
                                                       City Parks & Recs departments

Where else do you take your unwanted items? 


***NOTE - some things like cell phones, batteries, old paint, etc.  can't be reused.  Either recycle them or educate yourself on how to properly dispose of them with the least amount of damage possible. ***