PLANET GARDEN: Eco-Friendly Resource Guide

Planet Garden ‘Ark of Taste’ Christmas Wish List

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on December 17, 2009

Ark of Taste Christmas Wish List
Last Christmas, the Versemann family was making a Christmas Wish List of Seeds…and Jolly St. Nick filled stockings with Parat Giant Radish seeds and more.  This gardening family planted the seeds, shared the bountiful harvest at Bluebird Market, and shared plants and seeds for the community garden which we are still harvesting now!  What an investment they made and produced and it all began with a Christmas Wish List of seeds.  We just enjoyed the Versemann Parat Giant Radishes last week roasted on a veggie pizza prepared by Dr. Rick Clayton and they were delicious.
For fabulous taste experiences that are in danger of disappearing from our planet, Slow Foods USA has catalogued over 200 delicious but dormant foods. At Bluebird Market, those who bought the Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomatoes from James Family Farm, were promoting and enjoying an Ark product in addition to helping to ensure it remains in production and available to us. The Cherokee Purple tomato was rediscovered after years of complete dormancy by a tomato grower who reported that this tomato originated with the Cherokee people over 100 years ago. The flavor is extremely sweet with a rich and smoky earthy taste and is thin skinned. This is also a nice variety to plant because it grows well in our region.
In the next several days, I invite you to browse the seed catalogs online and ask Jolly St. Nick for heirloom seeds and Ark of Taste product seeds for your spring garden. We are working now with ‘one man and his tractor’ to assist local churches in planting gardens for their congregations. Don’t wait if your church would like a garden this spring and summer, get a head start and email Our aim and hope is for local people to reap a bountiful harvest and now is the time to order seeds and arrange to layout the garden plot that can be established and ready to plant on Good Friday, April 2, 2010. 
If you love the local flavors, take a look at the Ark of Taste seeds for forgotten flavors that are now on a list of agricultural conservation products. Since 1996, more than 800 products from over 50 countries have been recognized on the International Ark of Taste list. We want to celebrate our unique culture in Georgia and keep our products that are delicious but perhaps not being used by super growers or super markets and abandoned to go dormant and disappear.
This Christmas order from seed catalogs or online and choose, when available, Ark of Taste products from our region that are in danger of disappearing so they will be planted and thriving again. Last summer Mr. Taylor, Taylor Organics CSA, gave us a Brandywine Heirloom tomato plant for the community garden and it was a delicious and nutritious heirloom variety that grew well.
If you know of a veggie, fruit, berry, nut, cereal, cheese, fish, game, livestock, poultry, beverage, honey, spice, syrup, vinegar or other product from our region that might need support from Ark of Taste you may download the form at and send the nomination in to add this product to the list.
Local Harvest has a directory of growers, seed sources and nurseries who carry Ark of Taste products like the seasonal Ark products at Bluebird Market.
To see the complete list of Ark of Taste products online visit:

 Or to download the list of US Ark Foods by Region which shows what foods in Georgia are in danger of disappearing visit:
Explore with us each week to discover simple ways we can affordably contribute to sustainable and renewable eco-friendly living. Find resources online at and Email EE questions to:


Planet Garden ‘That’s a Strudel!’

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on December 17, 2009

If you have never seen a little ball of dough stretched to the size of the kitchen table, you can watch Cathy, from Bread of Life Cooking School, make a Christmas Apple Strudel online by visiting:
Raisins, apples, butter and cinnamon make this a tried and true recipe that is simple to make for a delightful holiday favorite. Our Kitchen Show audience loved this demonstration given by Bread of Life Cooking School Artisan, Cathy Kreismanis. Traditional Christmas Apple Strudel makes a Cottage Baked Goods alternative to apple pies using farm fresh apples from Bluebird Market.
Cathy showed me pictures of her with a former President’s wife as a catering expert using all of her cooking skills to serve delicious and lovely foods at functions given by our former First Lady. It was an honor and delight for Cathy to share her skills and knowledge with us at Bluebird Market and we were thrilled with the gorgeous Christmas Apple Strudel that tasted flaky and delicious because of the homemade layer of crust that Cathy prepared. Enjoy baking for your family using secrets that helped serve our former First Family.
Cathy’s Christmas Apple Strudel 

  ~ Dough:
  2 cups flour
  ½ t. salt
  1 egg
  2 Tbsp. oil
  ½ cup warm water
  ~ Butter
  ~ Apple Filling:
  1 cup toasted breadcrumbs
  5 to 6 apples, sliced thin
  ¼ cup raisins
  ½ cup nuts
  ½ cup sugar
  1 t. cinnamon
  ~ powdered sugar, apple, cranberries, evergreens for garnish


Mix all together and knead well for several minutes. Let rest covered for 1 hour! Roll out thin on floured cloth. Brush with melted butter.
Sprinkle bread crumbs on top of pastry. Place apple filling at end and roll up using floured cloth to help roll.
Form roll into a horseshoe and bake for 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
Garnish with dusted powdered sugar, an apple and evergreens. Serve with Sharp Cheddar Cheese.

Explore with us each week to discover simple ways we can affordably contribute to sustainable and renewable eco-friendly living. Find resources online at and Email EE questions to:



Planet Garden Gingerbread Love

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on December 17, 2009

It takes love to make a home and baking a Gingerbread House requires the same devotion. Only with love and care can you prepare the gingery dough and bake the walls to create a small house that brings delight to all ages.
We were so fortunate last Saturday to enjoy the Gingerbread Workshop of local author and illustrator, lovely Linda Hayward. Linda is also a Gingerbread Artisan and she showed us many of her tricks and secrets to the perfect little gingerbread cottage made with love for your family and friends.
To get a good start my advice is use a tried and true recipe for Gingerbread Houses and Royal Icing. Here is the one that Linda uses successfully to bake these little houses of love. Watch and learn Linda’s Gingerbread House Tips and how-to secrets online at  and .

  ~ Gingerbread for Houses
  5 and ½ cups all purpose flour
  1 t. baking soda
  1 t. salt
  2 t. ginger
  2 t. cinnamon
  1 t. nutmeg
  1 t. cloves
  1 cup shortening
  1 cup sugar
  cups unsulphured molasses
  2 eggs, beaten
  ~ Royal Icing
  3 level T. Wilton Meringue Powder Mix
  4 cups sifted confectioners sugar (approx 1 lb)
  6 Tbsp. water (less for stiffer icing)

This content is online at  in the Bluebird Market Recipe Box Collection.
Gingerbread….Thoroughly mix flour, soda, salt and spices.
Melt shortening in large saucepan over low heat until just melted, not hot. Add in order…sugar, molasses and eggs. Mix well. Cool slightly, then add 4 cups dry ingredients and mix well.
Turn mixture onto lightly floured surface. Knead in remaining dry ingredients by hand. Add a little more flour, if necessary, to make a firm dough.
If you’re not going to make your gingerbread house right away, wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate. Refrigerated dough will keep for 1 week. Be sure to remove it 3 hours prior to rolling so it softens and is workable. You will need 1 recipe of this gingerbread dough to make a Gingerbread House.
After cutting out house, wrap any remaining gingerbread dough in plastic. This extra dough can be used in case of a house crack or to add shutters or other decorative gingerbread to house. Icing can also repair small cracks.
Royal Icing…..Because it dries candy hard and lasts for weeks without softening, this icing is ideal to secure your gingerbread house pieces and decorations.
Before you make icing be certain your utensils and bowl are grease free. Keep icing covered with damp cloth because it dries quickly.
Beat all ingredients at low speed for 7 to 10 minutes until icing forms peaks. This icing can be stored in an airtight container and re-whipped before using. Yield is 3 cups. To give icing decorations a shiny snow effect, add 1 T. corn syrup per 1 cup of royal icing.
For painting a complete wall of your house, thin icing with coloring or water. Pour over gingerbread piece that is placed on a wire rack over a drip pan. Pour evenly to coat and let dry.
Explore with us each week to discover simple ways we can affordably contribute to sustainable and renewable eco-friendly living. Find resources online at and Email EE questions to:

Planet Garden ‘Storybook American Town’ Happy Christmas

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on December 9, 2009

When we walk around our hometown square during Christmas season, we become part of the illustrations and text in a Storybook American town. There are friendly people who live and work and play in a genteel and gracious way that sometimes seems like a moment floating from another time.
It’s always nice to come home to Thomaston because we see from expressions and friendliness that it is a happy little community filled with many real benefits. Some of those local benefits are coming Saturday to Bluebird Market sharing homemade gingerbread cottages and cups of hot cocoa with local gingerbread artisan and author, Linda Hayward. Everyone is so excited because of the fun we had last Saturday when Cathy Kreismanis taught us the secrets of authentic Holiday Apple Strudel. You will want to drop by 215 Barnesville St. in Thomaston for MOMS Club holiday open house this Saturday with MOMS Club President and Founder Phyllis Bryan at the market. There will be music and stories, friends and fun in another chapter of what makes each fascinating day of American living better than ever.
The best way I connect with our Storybook town lifestyle is through the arts and local artisan culture reflecting our way of life. Thomaston Upson Arts Council is warm and inviting and I always enjoy taking a walk through the gallery wonderland to see our town from the perspectives and impressions of those in touch with the art of life.
Especially now, during the holiday season we hope to encapsulate expressing genuine kindness to friends and family with handmade keepsakes.  That is why the TUAC gift gallery is a very favorite place of mine to choose affordable Christmas artworks. I’m especially delighted that along with the Sleighbell Arts Market, the Bluebird Artisan Guild was invited to place holiday artworks in the gallery at TUAC.
Once I was given for Christmas a handmade coffee mug from a local potter with a Bible verse and I still cherish the lovely handmade cup, it’s maker and the giver. Do you remember any special handmade gifts from local artists? Gifts from the soul are always the most treasured to me so the gift gallery is an ideal place to take a look for creative expressions. Choose beadwork, custom jewelry, pottery, paintings, ceramics, mosaics, photography, hand stitched quilts, handmade soaps and salts, woodworks, and so many more lovely artworks as memorable and meaningful holiday gifts for those you love.
We are blessed to be sharing our life experiences and artistic expressions in a Storybook American Town together. It’s nice to be right here over Christmas…living in our ever-unfolding American story we are writing and illustrating together ‘like a picture print by Currier and Ives.’
Enrich your life on Saturday at Bluebird Market. Explore with us each week to discover simple ways we can affordably contribute to sustainable and renewable eco-friendly living. Find resources online at and Email EE questions to:

Planet Garden How Crafts Can Put a Little Green in Your Pocket

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on December 1, 2009

Need a place to Earn Christmas Money from Your Crafts?
With all of the cute crafts, arties, Indie arts and folk artists in Thomaston where can you go to sell your crafts to put a little Green in your holiday pocket?
This Saturday, bring your handiwork to the Sleighbell Arts Market in the former RC Cola Building at 215 Barnesville Street in Thomaston. This is a community fundraiser to support our local artisans as an annual holiday handmade arts and crafts sale where the funds go directly to the artisans.  Along with your crafts, be sure to invite about 5 friends to come out take a look at what you have to sell.  These are the 3 top reasons why we have seen successful vendors selling their products when they bring along their friends–
1-debut your works…it’s a great way for your friends to begin to see what you have been making,
2-build your reputation and customer base for your product line, 
3- if 20 vendors bring along only 5 friends each…how many shoppers will choose from holiday arts and crafts at the market? At least 100!
Most craft fairs charge a fee to set up or a daily fee but at Bluebird Market, there is no fee to set up and you only pay $5.00 a day AFTER you sell $20.00 of your products. So, you can come out and give the market a try and unless you make over twenty dollars it is completely no charge. In addition, when your friends and family members come early, they can enjoy a free community breakfast from 8 -9 am. This week Earlybird shoppers at the Sleighbell Arts Market may enjoy free Cranberry Pancakes with Marmalade Syrup along with hot chocolate and coffee.
The family-friendly market has an inside venue and opens at 8 am until noon. Vendors are welcome and should email or just come out ready to set up. This is a local fundraiser for our Bluebird Artists, and Guild members and everyone is welcome to shop the market and support hometown local artisans.
Our country was built and will continue to be strong because we support our local community people in their small business ventures.
If you are seeking a place to sell your handmade crafts to earn extra Christmas money, you are invited to set up at the Sleighbell Arts Market, 215 Barnesville Street, Thomaston on Saturday December 5th. Bring your friends and sell your handmade toys, vintage crafts, holiday ornaments, decorative party ware, table linens, beadwork, woodwork, paintings, knitting, quiltwork,  and other handmade craft items. A fun, easy and impressive opportunity this Saturday to put a little green in your holiday pocket.

Planet Garden Happy Feeling Nothing in the World Can Buy

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on December 1, 2009

You will find a wintry fairy land at the Sleighbell Arts Market this Saturday over at our little neighborhood Bluebird Market on Barnesville St. in Thomaston. It’s lovely weather for an arts sleigh ride together with you…
There will be handmade gifts galore by local artisans that are so unique and precious but more important is the spirit they are created in. These wonderful things are the things we remember all through our lives…handmade mosaics, stained glass works and ornaments, footies, handmade soaps, art photography, beadwork, paintings, handmade wooden doll furniture, custom designed jewelry, beads for life, recycle art, purses, storybooks, hair bows, baby clothes and so much more! We are so blessed to be hosting this event for local artisans. Join us in shopping the Sleighbell Arts Market and Thomaston Upson Arts Council Gift Gallery. Talented local people bring us the way to say no to the madness of the malls and yes to great holiday gifts for everyone on our list.
Building our hometown by working together gives us that storybook happy feeling nothing in the world can buy! When we focus on our family, friends and blessings in our community, the price tag just can’t be bought. What we have is priceless when we work together for a better day for our family and friends. This is a lovely season to seek peace and joy within that passes all understanding and to sing the songs we love to sing without a single stop!
We also want our artisans to put a little green in their pockets this holiday season.  Why should we be certain they gain the encouragement to continue their ventures? Of all the reasons, one vital reason is because local businesses strengthen our hometown in sustainable living and bring us all a stronger local ecomony. Their little businesses are valuable to one and all. Honestly, it is what our country was founded on and what will keep it strong! Our local community has been my focus and this is the season to speak up for our local artisans. Their works are lovely and amazing, their prices are sound and affordable and the love that goes around when we buy from a local artisan is priceless…rebuilding our community brings that happy feeling nothing in the world can buy!
Come and take a sleigh ride this Saturday at Bluebird Market. Have fun learning to make crispy holiday apple strudel, sip some sugar cookie sleigh ride tea and check out all of the art work that has been lovingly created over the previous year by our local people.
There’s a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy when we strengthen our local economy and turn the pages of our ‘storybook American town’ to a brighter day for our hometown people.
Enrich your life on Saturday at the Bluebird Market. Explore with us each week to discover simple ways we can affordably contribute to sustainable and renewable eco-friendly living. Find resources online at and Email EE questions to: