Just Living Monthly Challenge : Bee Aware

There are many types of bees and wasps but honeybees alone are responsible for providing us with at least 1/3 of our food supply. A few years ago beekeepers started noticing an alarming number of their bees mysteriously dying and their hives disappearing. After much research, scientists now believe that Colony Collapse Disorder is caused by several factors coming together. One main culprit is pesticides. Some newer pesticides bred into the crop seeds are killing bees directly or more insidiously by weakening their navigation and/or immune systems, thus making them more susceptible to parasites and disease. 

If There’s Only One Thing You Can Do it is SAVE BEES.

1. When planting new plants ask the nursery to make sure they are not pre-treated with pesticides and tell them to contact corporate headquarters about your request.

2. Reduce the amount of pesticides and herbicides you use and encourage your friends and family too.

3. Buy organic to support farmers that are trying to make us healthier which happens to help the bees at the same time.

4. Learn the difference between bees and wasps so you don’t accidentally kill our little pollinating friends. Bees are oval shaped and hairy with flat hairy legs for gathering pollen. Wasps, yellow jackets and hornets are smoother with a slender waist between the thorax and abdomen.

5. If you find a displaced hive or swarm of honeybees. Don’t kill them. Call your government extension agent and they will put you in touch with a local beekeeper who will gladly come get the free bees!

Take Small Steps

Buying local honey supports beekeepers and reduces the unhealthy practices of large honey producers. Beekeeping practices of large food companies require millions of hives (each hive contains 50,000 or more bees) to be transported to pollinate crops and make honey.  Moving the hives back and forth across the country to pollinate certain crops at certain times stresses the bees and deprives them of a diverse diet, thus weakening them further.

Inner Simplicity

Learning about bees and what is killing them makes you a more informed consumer—they are vital to the complex web of creation of which we are also a part.

Outer Simplicity

Bees are an important link in the food chain all over the world. Interrupting the role that bees play as pollinators can have devastating consequences to our global food supply. As Christians, we are called to be conscious of how our actions affect all of our neighbors, bees included.



Americans love their coffee. We consume 400 million cups of coffee per day or 146 billion cups of coffee per year. If you buy just one cup of coffee or tea per day in a disposable cup, you will generate 23 pounds of waste in a year. Reusable cups have a greater initial environmental impact than polystyrene or paper cups, but that impact lessens over time as the cup is reused. On average, a ceramic cup lasts for 2000 uses before it breaks or is discarded.

If there is only one thing you can do: Replace paper or polystyrene cups with a reusable mug when at home, at your workplace, or in your car. Carry one in your bag so you have one wherever you go.

Take small steps: Take a reusable mug with you when you buy coffee. Ask the waiter/waitress if they give a discount for bringing your own mug. Keep track of which places give a discount and how much you save and report back to Ellen Davisellen82864@gmail.com.

Inner simplicity: You can do your part to lessen your impact on God’s creation even if you can’t do it for other people. Switching to a reusable mug may not seem like it could make a big difference, but just by carrying one you may prompt others to think about the number of cups Americans throw away after just one use.

Outer simplicity: Our Creator gave us limited resources and expects us to use them wisely. Traveling with a reusable mug is a better choice than a one-use cup in terms of litter on the land and in our water, water and air pollution, disposal in landfills, and use of trees for paper. These impacts affect not just the disposable cup users, but all of God’s people living on the planet.

Home Grown Garden: help us feed our neighbors!

Ann, Sandy and Jane got a lot accomplished despite a misty drizzle. They harvested a nice load of carrots and beets and thinned them so that the remaining plants would have more room to grow. They didn’t plant any seeds because the soil was so wet, but they did tie up two rows of tomato plants and remove infected leaves from the bottom of the plants. The 11 pound harvest of carrots and beets was donated to Manna Food Bank.

The tomato plants are setting fruit although it doesn’t look like it will be a bumper crop. The beans are battling beetles and the eggplant appear to have lost the fight. The sweet potatoes and squash are looking good.  Please join us this Saturday from 9:00 – 11:00 am to harvest, hoe, and provide hope for the Home and the hungry. Bring plastic grocery bags for the harvest – we need them!

Directions to the Home Grown Garden at Black Mountain Home

From Asheville, take I-40 East to Exit 59, Swannanoa. Turn left at the traffic light, and then right at the next light onto Highway 70. At the next traffic light turn left onto Whitson Ave and then right at the stop sign onto Old US 70. Follow this road for almost 2 miles to the next traffic light. Turn left onto Lake Eden Road. Look for the Garden sign before you get to the main entrance of the Home and turn right into the lower fields area near the stone silo.

Environmental Reasons to Eat Less Meat

Everyone knows it’s healthier for humans to eat less meat and more vegetables, fruits, beans and nuts but did you know it’s also healthier for the environment?  We need to be good stewards of the earth that God has provided for us.
1. Save our Air – Reduce global warming 
    Worldwide consumption of meat is rising causing rainforest destruction and increasing greenhouse gases.  Rainforests are the earth’s filters and by cutting them down to make more pasture land for livestock, we are destroying one of the best methods of dealing with excess pollutants.  Methane gases produced by livestock and CO2 produced by the related machinery are a huge percentage of the greenhouse gases contributing to global warming.
2. Save our land
    30% of our earth’s land surface is used for livestock.  This is 70% of all agricultural land use.  If we could reduce these numbers for livestock not only would it help prevent deforestation and erosion from overgrazing but it would help feed people around the world.  The grain alone used to feed the world’s livestock could feed 800 million people.
3. Save our water
    It takes 2500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef.  With clean water being such a precious commodity wouldn’t it make more sense to use this same amount of water to produce 50 pounds of wheat?  In addition, the pollution from the runoff of livestock manure and the antibiotics and hormones they are given severely harm our delicate river and stream ecosystems.  Our oceans are vulnerable also to the unsustainable fishing industry practices that contribute to pollution and over fishing that depletes the biodiversity of  75% of our earth’s surface.
If there’s only one thing you can do:
Try cutting back on the amount of meat you eat.  Vegetarians (those who eat no meat or fish) can get all the protein and nutrients they need by eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and dairy products and this in fact has been shown to be a healthier diet.  We aren’t asking you to go cold turkey (pun intended) but if everyone reduced the amount of meat they ate it would have a huge impact on our health as well’s as our earth’s health.  With access to the internet you have thousands of recipes at your fingertips if you just search for “easy vegetarian meals”, www.foodgawker.com is one of my favorite websites for all recipes.  Here are a couple simple recipes to get you started.
Spinach Black Bean Lasagna
10 lasagna noodles – cooked
1 or 2 cans of beans – drained and rinsed
16 oz. frozen chopped spinach – thawed and drained
15 oz. cottage cheese
4 Tbs. parmesan cheese
Favorite pasta sauce
spices to your taste
Mozzarella for topping
*Cook lasagna noodles, mix together beans, spinach and cheeses.  In 9 x 13 pan, layer noodles, filling and then sauce, repeat once.  Cook at 375 until bubbly about 30 minutes.  Top with mozzarella, cook til melted.
Caribbean Rice and Beans
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion
2 bell peppers
1 jalapeno (optional)
2 garlic cloves – minced
2 cans beans – drained and rinsed
2 Tbs. vinegar
5-10 dashes of Tabasco
3 cups cooked rice (1 cup raw) – cooked in water or veggie broth
spices to your taste
*In large pan, heat oil and saute onions, peppers and garlic for 2 minutes. Add beans, vinegar, Tabasco and spices and simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in rice and then serve.


October 5, 201210.6
The seemingly endless days of summer have slipped into this beautiful autumn at the Black Mountain Home Garden. Many gardeners, both old and new, young and not-as- young, have put their time, energy, and hearts into harvesting the bounty and preparing the garden for next year’s resurrection.

Beans were harvested until the weight of the 10.1vines took down parts of the trellis, and the relentless beetles abandoned the lacy leaves for the remaining vegetables. The rest of the cabbages, broccoli, collards, and other greens were picked and donated to MANNA, ABCCM, Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministries, and other non-profits providing needed food for our community.

Zucchini was harvested as well as more basil than anyone can imagine,10.2 several varieties of unidentified peppers, and small and large eggplants. Our struggling tomatoes were picked and placed in a sunny window to ripen before being donated. Pumpkins from seeds planted by FPC children were put into storage for fall.

10.3Much energy went into protecting our corn from foragers. Besides covering the stalks with deer netting to deter scavenging birds, a live trap was set to find out who was knocking down stalks to see if the corn was ready. Lee and Faye hauled off a possum, and Jane and Ann took a marauding raccoon for a one way trip on the Parkway. Our all too familiar by this point scarecrows were decked with as many shiny, dangling CDs as we could find and Lee tied silver strips of duct covering to the tops of many corn stalks. Through all these efforts we were able to harvest and share three different plantings of corn.

The crows found Lee’s watermelons to be most delicious.10.12 Fortunately they weren’t attracted to the Cherokee Moon and Stars variety that grew from seeds planted by FPC Bible Journeys children. These juicy, if seedy, watermelons have been enjoyed by ABCCM, the WNC Rescue Mission, and the FPC Child Care Center as well as the ladies of Room in the Inn, the Bible Journeys children, volunteers at the garden, and Sunday worshippers at Fellowship time.

Keith Love connected us with Lucie, a wonderful young woman10.8 who is in charge of food preparation for the FPC Child Care Center. She has welcomed donations of our fresh produce, and has found ways to make even unlikely foods like eggplant and basil tasty for our preschoolers.

We have had the pleasure of providing some food for Sara Varnado to prepare for the young parents she works with in ABCCM’s Our Circle program. Betsy Andrews was also able to share some of our produce with FPC’s Hope to Home partner, Tom.

10.9Our final weeks at this year’s garden have been spent preparing the garden for next spring and harvesting sweet potatoes. On September 22nd we were blessed with 19 volunteers. Many new volunteers including Paul Scouten, former Director of Campus Life at Black Mountain Home, came from Black Mountain Presbyterian.

FPC’s John and Carol Vruwink delivered a load of much needed manure from their farm in Arden. Volunteers went to work cutting cardboard furniture boxes into long strips that others laid on top of the cleared rows of this year’s garden.

Some folks loaded wood chips into wheelbarrows that a volunteer took and10.10 dumped on the cardboard. Still others used rakes to spread the chips to cover the cardboard. Eggplant, basil, and peppers were harvested while Paul unloaded the manure from the Vruwink’s truck. The manure was mixed with compost that was loaded into wheelbarrows and spread on top of the layers of decomposing cardboard, wood chips, and compost that will form the rows of next year’s garden. Young Quinn, Tyler, and Ramsey watched and enjoyed seeing the goats and donkeys in the neighboring field. It was amazing to see seven beautiful long rows lined by mulched pathways completed after two hours. Many hands make light work was joyfully witnessed by all.

On September 29 a group of 18 volunteers answered the call to help harvest 10.4sweet potatoes. You may remember that a group this size came together in May to plant 500 slips in a large field next to our main garden. Michael Poulos faithfully showed up, as he often has. Susie and Will Jameson came to work in the field and Randy delivered 50 banana boxes from Ingle’s which proved invaluable in storing and transporting the sweet potatoes. Four new volunteers from Warren Wilson College helped in the field as well as several new folks from Montreat Evangelical Presbyterian. While some dug with pitchforks, others carefully transported the potatoes out of the field.

10.5Mila sorted the potatoes into piles of gnawed/damaged (by harvesting), good, and small ones. The smallest were finger sized and the largest weighed over 2 pounds! A thousand pounds were put in an enclosed trailer provided by the Home that Lee and Faye turned into a curing shed on Sunday afternoon. Another 275 pounds of gnawed/damaged potatoes were given to the Salvation Army, the Western North Carolina Rescue Mission, and ABCCM for immediate use. These potatoes are good to eat once the bad parts have been cut away.

On October 2 the children and youth from the Home descended en masse to help harvest the remaining sweet potatoes. They were accompanied by Tom Campbell, President of BMHC, Jason Covert, the new Director of Campus Life, and assorted house parents and volunteers from the Home. After 10.7circling up for introductions, a prayer, and some brief instructions, our newly inducted volunteers dug, carted, and sorted potatoes in a flurry of garden activity never before experienced by Jane, Lee, and Ann. The potatoes harvested by these young people will be used by the Home and sold at their Fall Festival on October 13. Proceeds will be used by the Home’s Earth Club to fund future projects.

Meanwhile the sweet potatoes are continuing to cure. This process seals minor cuts, toughens their skin, and allow these potatoes to keep for as long as a year. Cured sweet potatoes also taste sweeter and are more moist. We plan to serve these sweet potatoes at FPC’s Creation Care dinner on October 17 as well as donating some to the Haywood Street Congregation, FPC Child Care Center, Saturday Sanctuary and other organizations.

An incredible gardening season at the Black Mountain Home has come to a close. May all whose hands and/or hearts blessed this garden share in the harvest. More than food was harvested in this garden. May all be heir to the spiritual harvest as well. Ponder all the gifts and lessons offered to us by the grace of God.10.11

Thank yourself for being a part of the Body, and thank God for leading you to this experience. Allow yourself to rest, dormant, but fertile. Dream of next year’s garden.