About This Project:
This is our 2015-2016 family project. I will be updating this page as we complete each portion throughout the upcoming year. Please check back often for updates or sign up to receive the latest posts in your inbox via the subscribe option at the right of this page.
Our project will consist of a study of saints who are known for working in the garden or kitchen, an in-depth look at what it means to be a steward of the earth, learning about Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, a study of C.S. Lewis' The Magician's Nephew, and other connections we find along the way.
What does it mean to be a steward of God's earth?
In it's simplest terms, it means to tend and care for all of God's creation. We are all called to be stewards of the earth as we not only show respect for the environment but also nurture it for future generations through the choices we make in our daily lives.
Our relationship with the environment is also a reflection of our relationship and communion with God, the Creator.
Saints and Feast Days:
In Our Garden:
Connections & Extensions
Celebrate the Earth by Dorrie Papademetriou
The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
Taking a Deeper Look at The Magician's Nephew: Lewis closely ties the story of Creation in Genesis with the story of the creation of Narnia. This unit guides the reader to a better understanding of those correlations.
Who is the Green Patriarch?
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has lovingly been nicknamed the Green Patriarch for all of his hard work and leadership regarding current environmental issues.
Here is a home unit for families to review together with several ideas as you begin your journey as stewards of God's earth.
Here is a wonderful video produced by Becket Films about Patriarch Bartholomew.
Due to our current circumstances, we no longer have chickens in our backyard but we did enjoy recently having hens for two years. It was a new endeavor for all of us seeing as how none of us grew up with any knowledge of how to care for chickens. With a bit of research and then some hands-on experience, we soon found that having chickens was much easier than caring for a puppy. We hope to have chickens in our backyard in the not too distant future because we enjoyed getting daily eggs from them, watching them run up to the back door for fruit and vegetable scraps, our garden flourished as we used the composted chicken manure, and it was great having less bugs while playing in our backyard during the summer since the chickens not only foraged for plants around the yard but also for bugs!
Their awkward "teenage" years
In addition to the benefits above, I found it was also valuable for my kids to have the responsibility of the daily care of the chickens - letting them out of the their coop in the morning, making sure they had food and water, collecting eggs, and then counting them at the end of the day after the hens put themselves to bed in their coop. Our entire family now has a better appreciation for farmers, especially in the early days when we didn't know how to round up wandering birds (my goodness they are fast!) and also going out in the dead of winter as we collected eggs and fed them in the freezing temps.
We purposely bought a variety of chickens in order to get a variety of different colored eggs. The eggs we had from our chickens did not even compare to the eggs you get from the grocery store - 1. The yolks are substantially darker orange and firmer 2. The egg shells are harder and don't crumble as easily when you crack them open.
Here are the two books about chickens we used the most:
The Chicken Whisperer's Guide to Keeping Chickens
Chick Days: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Raising Chickens from Hatchlings to Laying Hens
Natural Dyes & the Medici Family
Many years ago, my daughter and I studied natural dyes. In the process of that project, we were also studying the Medici family. It's fascinating to make the connections between how colors were produced prior to synthetic dyes and the impact this had on social status as well as religious art during that time period. This study also easily connects to the study icons.
This past year, I revisited the study of natural dyes with my big boys. As we spent time identifying the plants in our new yard, we discovered we had several plants that can be used for natural dyes. We set to work dying t-shirts using onion skins, goldenrod, black walnut hulls, and pokeberries. (Note: Pokeberries are poisonous, so you need to be especially careful with this one.)
We used onion skins to dye our eggs for Pascha
We dyed t-shirts using the hulls from the black walnuts in our yard.
(Technically, we stained them because we did not use a mordant. Think of a mordant as the glue that makes the natural dye stick. Stains: do just that, stain. Dyes: require a mordant to adhere the natural dye to the material.)
We dyed our shirts yellow with goldenrod.
A great book for natural dyes is Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes by Rebecca Burgess
Greening the Orthodox Parish: A Handbook for Christian Ecological Practice by Frederick W. Krueger
Living in God's Creation: Orthodox Perspectives on Ecology by Elizabeth Theokritoff
Man and the Environment: A Study of St. Symeon the New Theologian by Anestis G. Keselopoulos
On Earth as in Heaven: Ecological Vision and Initiatives of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Edited by Fr. John Chryssavgis
Praxis: Living in God's Creation