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Sustainable Lifetysle is Easy, Self-Taught Expert Says

Victor Alfieri, who recently won to keep three hens on his property, offers tips for others.

Victor Alfieri wants people to understand that living sustainably does not take a lot of time and effort.

“A lot of people think that they can’t do this stuff or that you need big rows and rows of gardens and its not true,” Alfieri said. “The first thing you need is a willingness to learn.”

Alfieri is a self-taught sustainability advocate and expert on growing your own fruits and vegetables, raising chickens and how one helps the other.

There are several things Alfieri said people can start today to help themselves and the planet.

The first is gardening.

“You don’t need a lot of space. Just a few feet wide by a few feet across will do,” Alfieri said. “You can plant a lot in one small space.”

A variety of plants that grow both outward and upward can be planted to maximize square footage, Alfieri said.

Adding grass clippings and leftover organic kitchen waste like potato skins, eggshells, and the skins of other fruits and vegetables can be thrown into gardens. Nutrients from these materials will seep into the soil and be absorbed by the plants.

Heating one’s home using a wood-burning stove.

Alfieri has a large pile of wood in his backyard. He uses the wood to heat his home and doesn’t touch his thermostat.

He said the ashes left over from burning the wood make fantastic fertilizer for gardens.

Alfieri recently on his property. The animals lay about an egg a day. He feeds them everything from all-natural chicken feed to table scraps. His birds also eat bugs and worms. The birds each lay about one egg a day.

Alfieri now has a few quails too. The tiny birds live inside their own area in the chicken coop, fenced off from the larger birds.

“They’re fantastic little birds and easy to care for,” Alfieri said as he grabbed a few of their small eggs from the cage.

Alfieri has several small gardens throughout his property, each one dedicated to a different fruit of a few varieties of vegetables. He also grows his own herbs and creates his own compost. He insists that all of this does not require a great deal of time to maintain.

“I spend about seven hours a week out here,” Alfieri said. “People think you have to spend hours outside and you don’t if you do everything in small spaces.”

Alfieri said someone who lives in an apartment can start by installing a small window garden and growing herbs or a small variety of vegetable.

Alfieri is working with local officials to . He regularly shares what he learns on his Web site, woodlotfarms.com

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Victor Alfieri August 06, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Thanks Dan If anyone has any questions about urban homesteading, sustainable living, gardening, composting, raising backyard chickens or quail, Visit my website and shoot me an e-mail. I'd be happy to help. http://www.woodlotfarms.com/ Stop by and visit Wayne's new learning center. http://www.woodlotfarms.com/Wayne_Auto_Spa.html
Rob Burke August 06, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Hey Vic! I just pulled my onions and radishes and planted some stuff for a fall harvest. I direct sowed bok choy (35 days to harvest), endive (65 days), beets (50 days or so) and a whole bunch of beans (65 days). I turned the soil and amended it with compost. Making huge vats of pickles. Harvested two big bags of carrots yesterday. Celery is all over the place. And the first tomatoes have been awesome & sweet. Tons of fun.
Scott Sobkowicz August 06, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Victor, Congratulations on being able to keep your chickens. I live in Wyckoff and wanted to see if you would be interested in hearing about a very smart green/sustainable business that I recently started. I would love to get your expert opinion on it. Would be happy to meet up with you over a cup of coffee or lunch. You name the time and place. Hope to hear from you. Scott Sobkowicz Scott.greenenergy@gmail.com 201-421-5818
Cathy Kazan August 06, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Love these articles about sustainability. I know gardening and chickens isn't for everyone, but there are those who derive great pleasure from growing their own food and feeding their families from their backyard gardens. Victor, you are doing a great job of educating everyone as to how easy it can be. Rob, thanks for the reminder to start Fall garden.
Resident Kelly August 07, 2012 at 12:19 AM
It is good to see more and more people getting back to this type of lifestyle.
Nose Wayne August 08, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Just picked today, Tomatoes,String Beans, Peppers, Eggplant,Grapes. GOOD TO GO.

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