Monday, July 16, 2012

Profiting from Festivals

Next time you attend a festival with a campsite, stick around after everyone's left and wonder at the excess heedlessly left behind. We attended Coachella in April and did just that.

Wealthy festival goers with vehicles chock full of potential money for us!
The bulk of the attendees aren't serious campers and picked up equipment solely for the purpose of attending the festival. When Monday morning rolled around, many were too hungover, tired, or lazy to clean up their camps and opted to drive right out, leaving behind an irresistible haul for scroungers like us. We picked up chairs, coolers, a tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, a gazebo, food, and more cases of abysmal Natty Ice than we're willing to admit. We could've kept going all day, but with three of us and a carload of our own camping accoutrements, we simply lacked the space.

We kept the perishables for ourselves, but listed the bulk of our findings on eBay, netting enough to cover our utilities and internet--linked to our Paypal account--until the end of our lease. We had enough money left over that we upgraded some of our own camping equipment.

The Refused's Dennis Lyxzén: how Vadim justified the cost of attending.
Attending festivals in order to glean from the campsites isn't exactly cost effective. The higher the initial ticket cost, the more likely attendees will be people with disposable incomes and, subsequently, disposable belongings. We justified the expense of attending because my ticket was free (thanks Sara!) and Vadim couldn't pass up the opportunity to see bands he'd been mooning over since adolescence. We've yet to have another opportunity to exploit this level of wastefulness again but will certainly consider volunteering for  campsite cleanup in the future. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Food and Flowers.

There's a facility in the University area called The Peace and Justice Center that hosts many community events, concerts, and speeches. The most important to us is their Saturday morning food distributions. They give out generous amounts of food from grocery stores that'd otherwise discard the blemished, expiring, or overstocked produce and food. Among these items are loaves of bread, gallons of milk, containers of random fruits and vegetables, and the produce itself. All of this is free, by the way.
One of our first harvests, about 3 months ago.

Free zucchini steaming in bamboo.

Brassicas ready to be dealt with!
So at 8:30, we usually arrive to a long line of people waiting to get their share of the cast-off food. There is nothing inherently wrong with the food unless it is beginning to decompose, in which case we are pushed to prepare it quickly after bringing it home. Many hours of prep work can lie ahead if we feel the desire to eat diversely. There is always, however, fodder for the compost pile!
Limes, avocados, peaches, and succulent plums.

Today, we picked up many pounds of cherries, plums, peaches, cucumbers, green/red leaf lettuces, radishes, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, and other salad greens. Every week differs in quantity and quality of goods. Sometimes we have eggplants and other days we have avocados (23 after one haul!). As I've mentioned, it differs, and so does our diet from week to week. As it goes, many people do not pick up kale, collard, or mustard greens. We usually get first pick of those and gather enough to last us several meals. Likewise, root vegetables seem to be unpopular. They taste great made into a mash with our homemade bone stocks.

Greens and cherries in the fridge.
With the summer weather augmented by the chubasco patterns out here, our garden has been flourishing. Deep, slow watering from the rainfall has lead to fewer sessions out with the hose. With Jordan and my work schedule intensified recently, the break helps reduce watering responsibility from us both. Flowers are blooming quite cheerfully. We even have signs of our first vegetables growing! Little cucumbers and weeny tomatoes are already starting to extend behind their respective blossoms. Soon, I expect to have many fresh salad greens aside bountiful tomato harvests. We plan on lactate pickling more; green tomatoes and Armenian cucumbers remind me of my childhood.
Green leaf lettuce happily growing.

Some variety of Marigold.

Another variety, with 4 inch blossoms.

MASSIVE mammoth sunflowers in the backyard.
Summer in Albuquerque is gorgeous. Humidity makes things muggier than I'm used to in Tempe but pales in comparison to Chicago's soggy atmosphere. Many fruit trees out here are ready to harvest or approaching that point. We've been plucking apricots, plums, peaches, apples, and pears from neighbor's yards and "sampling." It's not quite apple or pear season yet but like the Phoenix area, many fruit trees are just left to drop their harvest. Noting which ones are neglected and ignored keeps us busy and mindful of more free nutrition. A neighbor asked us to help clean off an apricot tree several weeks ago. We came home with nearly 8lbs of pygmy apricots, an excellent companion to the yogurt we produce.
More marigolds!

One of many emerging cukes.

Green heirlooms.

We love our marigolds!

We can't wait to see what happens in our garden and the community over the coming months! I hope your summer is as fruitful--pun acknowledged--as ours!