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We love growing and cultivating plants. Trees, flowers, shrubs, fruits, vegetables, on a large farm, in the backyard, and even on the apartment balcony. And we should be aware of the health benefits of such activities.

Exercise

Gardeners are actually exercising, like running, swimming or going to the gym. Access to fresh air enables the blood to flow freely, you burn more calories helping you to keep fit, reducing the risk of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack.

Energy and Strength

Women who farm can endure more since farm work involves stretching, lifting and carrying heavy materials. Just pushing a wheelbarrow can strengthen your muscles and bones. Engaging in challenging activities really isn’t a challenge at all… you’re just stronger and can do a whole lot more.

Reduced Stress

Gardeners have proven to recover from stress and depression quicker since the levels of cortisol and stress hormones is drastically reduced while working in the garden. Research by CNN shows that when stressed, spending time in the garden drastically improves your mood than if you stayed indoors.

Proper Nutrition

Women farmers grow their own food; this food is fresh and has more nutritional benefits. Most of the time these plants are not sprayed, compared to food bought at the market and grown commercially. Research shows that gardeners eat more fruit and vegetables than the average person, building up immunity to illnesses. And the time spent out in the sun is your best source for vitamin D.

Better Relationships

The sense of care and goodwill helps women have a better and healthier relationship with other people. We spend much of our time taking care of everyone, it’s just how we’re built. Feeding our family and friends food grown on the farm is the ultimate expression of love. And the people in our lives know that, strengthening those bonds.

Tips for enhancing your gardening activities:

  • Raised beds can help reduce the risk of joint and back pain because you’ll be avoiding a lot of bending while planting, weeding or harvesting.
  • Always choose the right tools with the right weight for you. Heavy gardening tools can actually cause overexertion and swelling.
  • Take time to rest and relax every night. Don’t overdo it, you’ll strain both the mind and body which can have an effect on you, not just physically, but mentally too.
  • Chemicals not only destroy microorganisms in the soil necessary for plant growth but using it is harmful to our bodies. Try to find a natural alternative first and stay healthy.

 
Remember to think of gardening as a way to stay fit, mentally and physically. It really is a healthier way to live.

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Oh, we are all about…




Make Your Own Olive Oil (continued)

Original post from the OHH blog (see it here).

…continued from part 1.

Down the shoot went the olives. The mash immediately begins to smell like olive oil. (But it doesn’t look like it at all!) This step takes no time at all, and before you know it, 1/3 of the bucket becomes about a 1/2 gallon of mash.

The next step was a complete surprise to me. I don’t know the exact term for it but it seems you have to reverse emulsion (?) by stirring the mash for at least a half hour to 45 minutes. Afterwards, you’ll see pools of oil along the sides which means it’s ready for pressing. Don’t skip this step… the press won’t work otherwise.

Wrap up the mash and top it with the block of wood and get ‘er under the press. (see update below)

The hubby cut a hole in the side of the bin to let the oil drain out. It just drops into a jar below. The liquid is a mixture of oil, water and bits of pulp. It is not the most pleasant sight. After several trial runs (and a few blow outs as mentioned above) we decided that small batches like this one is the only way to go. And PRESS VERY SLOWLY. Give the bag a nice tight squeeze to start, then wait a minute or two in between pumps. The entire bucket took the two of us (being the novices that we are) around four hours to press. The hubby’s wheels are already turning on how to speed things up.

What you end up with is a liquid that will quickly separate; leaving the oil on top! We let it sit for another hour to make sure it separated completely.

I used a turkey baster to drain off the oil and get it ready to be filtered. The consensus from other homesteaders on the web says to use coffee filters, but we don’t have any right now. So I filtered it through a thick fold of cheesecloth… twice. That was about another 1/2 hour all together. Maybe.

Oh baby! Is this a proud moment or what? One bucket gave us just over two (16 oz) bottles*** of oil. Hey, that’s what I just bought at the grocery store! So let’s break it down and see if it will be worth it after time:

  1. Set up cost to make olive oil at home – Just under $540.00.
  2. Continued cost after set up – Minimal. Maybe enough to replace the cheesecloth from time to time.
  3. The time it takes to make 32 oz – 10 hours with setup, up to 7 hours without.

As stated above, the price for olive oil at the grocery store is anywhere between $8.00-14.00 (plus gas to get there and the added temptation to buy more stuff). We figure it’ll pay for itself after doing it 50 times (using averages). And then it’s savings time! Is the time it takes to make homemade olive oil worth it? Yeah, you know it is. We gave up the better part of the weekend which doesn’t phase us homesteaders one bit. Not to mention the process is healthier and cleaner. Here’s why:

  1. It’s organic.
  2. Because it is made with very ripe olives, is less filtered and is pressed less than commercial oil, it has a distinct “buttery” flavor. Commercial oil is overly processed so it ends up clear (mostly necessary for a longer shelf life). Olive oil connoisseurs from around the world would agree that unfiltered and less processed oil just tastes better. (see this article – Cloudy Olive Oil)
  3. Commercial processing sometimes can’t remove every foreign object like twigs and leaves that make it through. Ew. (What else could be in there?)

*Tip: Green olives will make a slightly more bitter oil. Dark purple or black olives will go rancid faster. For the best results, pick them at their peak somewhere in between.

**Info: We plan to try another method using dehydrated olives and a little expeller I found online. Should be interesting!

***Info: These bottles cost $3.00 each at World Market. I probably should have used a mason jar… I know, I know.

Update: A wonderful and experienced olive oil maker gave us the most brilliant tip – stack thin layers of mash instead of adding it all to one bag. DUH!!! The hubby and I just about flipped out at this, are scrambling to try it out, and will post updated pics asap. Thanks a bunch to all the awesome bloggers and fellow homesteaders for your lovely emails! You make our world go round!

Update: Another fab and equally experienced olive oil maker (who is now making a gallon of oil a week) emailed us these mind-blowing tips – Mix (called malaxation) for longer periods of time on very slow speeds; Press when it’s warmer… if pressing outside, do it during the warmest part of the day; Pay attention to the olive types because different olives yield different amounts of oil. Great tips, thanks a billion!


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