Green, frugal, sustainable, simple, healthy, happy... No matter what we each call it, we come together here to support and learn from each other.

We are preserving our planet with our lifestyles. We are creating sustainable communities for our children. We are living the lives we want to live. Please join us!


All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

Join Us Here, Too

Buy Sustainably

Join us in saving our family budgets and helping our local communities thrive.

10,000 Steps

With numerous environmental, physical and emotional benefits, what are you waiting for? Let's start walking!

Green Your Insides

For your family and our planet, start greening your own home.

Great Reading

Q and A: White Tea, Seeds in Long Island, Joining the Growing Challenge, Chickens On A Rampage, and More!

I love the new email system I found for the blog, and apparently you all do as well, because I’m receiving some fabulous emails!  I thought I’d periodically share reader questions, and throw them out to our community for answers.  If this works, maybe we could make it a regular Sunday occurrence.

Please feel free to email me with questions you have about sustainable living.  I receive an awful lot of ads and press releases, of which about 99.9% of them I ignore (there are no ads on this site!) – so don’t send ads unless it really pertains to what we discuss here.  Questions and resources, however, are very much welcome!

And please, please, please answer any of the following questions in the comments – you all know more about some of this than I do!!


Where Can I Find Seeds and Seed-starting Information for Long Island?

From Nadya:

I am starting a modest garden, would love to make it a four season one, but need some advice. First of all about seeds sources, and starting plants before spring planting season.
Any suggestions?

Nadya, I’ve created a page dedicated to Organic Gardening 101.  Included on the list of articles there are How To Grow A Four-Season Garden – Part 1, How To Grow A Four-Season Garden – Part 2, Seed Starting For Beginners, How & Where To Order Organic Vegetable Seeds, and My Ten Favorite Seed Catalogs.  Hope that helps!  Does anyone in the northeast have a good seed resource for Nadya? -Melinda

How Do You Grow White Tea?

From Gerry:

Dear Melinda,
I’m interested in growing white tea which is not being grown here in Kenya where I live.  Have you any advice to offer?  Growing conditions & times? How to source seeds/saplings to plant as an experiment.  Thank you & regards.

Gerry, I’ve written about how to grow tea here:  How To Grow Tea (Camellia Sinensis).  Unfortunately that post includes the extent of my knowledge – does someone else here have more experience growing tea? -Melinda

How Do I Join The Growing Challenge?

From Marlene:

I am starting my FIRST vegetable garden. And I stumbled across your web-site.  I would like to join the Growing Challenge but could not figure out how to do so.

Marlene, congratulations on starting your first garden!  Leave a comment in the post here:  The Growing Challenge.  In your comment, include your name, where you’re gardening, and your hardiness zone.  (There are directions in that post for finding your hardiness zone if you don’t know what your zone is.)  That’s it! -Melinda

Why Are My Chickens Killing Each Other??!

From Monica:

I have 150 leghorn chickens who lay brown eggs and seem to have problems with them packing each other to death.  I have had chickens for four years now and have never seen this before.  Can you tell me why this would be happening?

Hi Monica, A while back Shawna wrote asking a very similar question.  While I didn’t know the answer, several experienced readers did – please check out this post as well as the great comments from readers below the post:  Where Do You Turn For Chicken-Raising Advice? -Melinda

Where Can I Find Scrub Oak Seedlings?

From Arline:

I want to start a scrub oak project at my school.  Do you know where I can get seeds or seedlings for free or for a very small price? Thank you, Arline  I am in central florida

Arline, Great idea!!  I mentioned Forest Farm in my list of favorite seed catalogs the other day – I would try there, though it is not free by any means.  You might ask them if they can give you a discount, donation, or a suggestion for a free resource, given the great project you’re working on.

In Seattle, there is a local program where you can volunteer to transplant native plants for a day and receive any left over plants you like for free.  Maybe try one of the local environmental organizations and see if they know of such a program in your area.

Anyone have a good resource for Arline? -Melinda


Buying Locally Database

From Megan:

I read your recent post “Sustainability Begins at Home” and decided to stay and look around the website.  I found the “Buy Sustainably Challenge” and noticed that number 2 on the list is “Buy Locally”.  What’s great about your text that follows is the last 6 words, “…has a local source for them.”  My husband and I created and run a website,, which is a national database of vendors searchable by state and category – Bath & Body, Food, Restaurants, Pet, etc.  Specifically, we only list vendors that have a “local compenent” to their finished product.  For example, a restaurant that uses local produce/meat in their dishes or a weaver that uses local wool to make scarves both qualify to be listed on our site.  We created the website to help consumers/distributors support local vendors and their suppliers as well. It is good to see other people acknowledge the supplier part of buying locally.  Thanks.

Steel Baby Bottles

From Ann:

Note that this is pretty close to an ad, but I thought some of you would find this useful.  If you’re interested in trying one out, let me know – they’ve offered to send me a sample, and I’m happy to give one or two away!

For the first  time, there is a stainless steel baby bottle! I thought you might have interest in a  first look at this great green find…  This electro-polished stainless steel bottle is BPA  free, hygienic, lightweight, durable and will not leach anything into a  child’s drink.  The bottles are available in an array of colors including spring green, racing red, pretty pink., aqua blue and tangerine…. The feeding system grows with a child – turning  from a bottle with slow-flow silicone nipple to a medium-flow bottle and  then ultimately a sippy bottle with sip  spout!


Please help answer the questions above!  Leave a comment below, or if you’d rather, send me an email.  If  you enjoy these posts and find them useful, please let me know.

Thanks, everyone!

Similar Posts:

9 comments to Q and A: White Tea, Seeds in Long Island, Joining the Growing Challenge, Chickens On A Rampage, and More!

  • For Nadya, I live in Maine I highly recommend the Pinetree Garden Seed Company Their catalog includes heirlooms and organics.

    Great selection of seeds and perfect sized seed packages for the home gardener. I find most seed companies sell such large quantities, more than I need for a small home garden.

  • Kathie

    This is a great Q & A system! I’m glad you had brought that in. I actually had wondered where to find Scrub Oak Seedlings as well. Very helpful :)

  • I’ve ordered from Pinetree and been happy with what I’ve got. Also Fedco. My grandfather ordered from Fedco a lot.

    Regarding tea, I can only add that all tea is the same plant (black, white, green), it’s just different in how it’s processed.

  • i never knew that you could purchase scrub oak seedlings ! thanks for the advice – mm

  • Rob

    I always thought white tea was green tea, just harvested early- see you learn something new everyday. I am going to try growing Chamomile and make tea from the blossoms myself this year.

  • Can you just find a scrub oak tree and gather acorns?

  • Jackie

    Arlene – If you have not found a Scrub Oak yet, I may be able to help. I am a Seminole County Master Gardener. If you are still in need, call the Extension Office (407) 665-5550 and ask them to leave a message for me as to how to get in touch with you. I am sure I can find you a small tree, free! Jackie

  • Thank you all for your comments and replies – keep them coming! Gerry wrote me an email and is looking forward to any info you all have about making white tea. Rob, it’s my understanding as well that white tea is the same plant as black or green, but just treated differently after harvesting. Deb G seems to have the same understanding.

    Jackie, I love this! Thank you for reaching out. Do you by chance know the answer to Emily’s question? Emily, I would wonder 2 things: Do acorn seeds need to be stratified, and how long do they take to germinate and grow to a usable size? It could be that it’s just a whole lot easier to have an expert germinate and nurture them.

    Renee and Deb G, Thanks so much for mentioning Pinetree – looks wonderful.

    Kathie, thank you for the positive feedback – it means a lot to me.

  • Michael

    Stainless Steel Baby Bottles
    To correct the note above, organicKidz created the world’s first stainless steel baby bottle last year and has now grown to over 21 countries! Their bottles also grow with your child and they are now releasing their sippy spouts and handles. These bottles come in 4,7 and 9oz – the 9oz being the only thermal baby bottle on the market. As for color, they come in an 15 different color schemes including poka dots

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>