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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!

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All Come Free! All Challenge Check In!!

Ok, I’m going to leave this post up for a couple of days as I turn it over to you all:  Is anyone out there still challenging themselves?  And are you enjoying it or is it a pain in the butt?  Is it changing the way you think about things?

We have a lot of challenges going on and I would love to hear about all of them!  So please, check in and say a word – share how you’re doing!

The Growing Challenges

The Growing Challenge New! The Growing Challenge Advanced Edition – From Seed To Seed! The Growing Challenge: Evangelist Edition

Accomplish Your Dreams and Walk 10,000 Steps

Accomplish Your Dreams Challenge

Green Your Insides and Buy Sustainably

The Buy Sustainably Challenge! I\'m Green Inside

Do Tell!

Come, don’t be shy!  Whether you’re formally signed up or not, come share a word.  Tell me – what’s working, what’s fun, what’s awkward, what makes you want to run??

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20 comments to All Come Free! All Challenge Check In!!

  • Hey Melinda, I signed up for the dream challenge maybe about two weeks ago. I haven’t worked on it much since. I feel like I’m still developing into the mindset. I have to let go of all the security a ‘normal’ live brings you and allow myself to put all my effort and strength into working towards my dreams. And oh, which ones were they again? It seems so hard to see which are the good choices for my life at the moment. Does that get better with time? Am I just too young? Am I just thinking too much about it?

  • Oh yes, we’re very excited about The Growing Challenge. I posted on our blog about our Jumbo Seed Collection order from Baker Creek Seeds. Only heirloom, non-GMO seeds will be grown on our farm. We see hundreds of guests from all over the country at our lodge each year, mostly from the cities. So, to inspire some of our guests to take up gardening, I’ll make a small space exhibit garden. I’m planting potatoes and tomatoes in buckets, and salad boxes with lettuce, asian greens and green beans. I also am going to plant pole beans in my wife’s flower gardens to showcase the mixing of flowers and vegetables. All of this is aside from the garden and greenhouse that I will plant for our family.

    To date, I have started radishes, turnips, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, asian greens, peas, onions, and beets from seed. I hope everybody’s garden grows tall and green this year!

    • wow, Ken, that sounds so wonderful, I think it’s a great idea to show people what they could do for themselves. Often, we are so much in awe over somebody’s accomplishments and at the same time so paralized because we know we could never do the same.

  • Let’s see…10,000 Steps challenge, woefully behind, though I had to take the month of February off because my cardiologist wouldn’t let me do any cardio until my test results were in (all good!). So what’s my excuse now? ehem…moving on…Accomplishing Dreams still a work in progress: need to create letters of intent for prospective employers and scope out realtors in Charlotte area. Meanwhile, I have been reading everything I can get my hands on at our local library about hobby farming, keeping chickens, sheep, gardening, etc. Growing Challenge: just put my seedlings and seeds into pots last night! However, I really have my work cut out for me, because my sunny porch is off limits for the next month or so, on account of the duck family that decided to move in and lay eggs in an old litter box I had out there! So we’re learning about livestock a little early, and steering clear of the porch mostly, until the little suckers hatch, and then we’ll figure out logistics, if we need to move them. We’re on the 2nd floor with no stairs leading to the porch, so should be interesting once they hatch. In the meantime, the front window is full of peat and ceramic and I’m praying my cat behaves around it.

  • meg

    Seed-to-Seed challenge: I have nearly all my seeds planted- inside and out. They are all growing well! I will need to reat about seed saving for the 2nd part of the challenge. I also need to figure out what the next succession will be for planting!

  • Well, so far our seed saving adventures have been small but successful. We are eating peas from plants whose seed we saved after last years crop and our saved tomato seeds have sprouted and are slowly growing in the cellar under lights. We should be transplanting them to bigger pots in the next week or so. We also have 2 squash plants growing from a butternut that I cooked a few weeks ago and was curious about using the seeds. They’ve sprouted but I guess we’ll have to wait and see if they actually produce a recognizable vegetable:)

    We’re also eating LOTS of lettuce grown from saved seed….yea!

    Plans for this year include trying to isolate and harvest seed from bell peppers. Tho it seems complicated from what I’ve read, they are one of our favorite veggies and I figure it’s worth a shot.

  • I posted an update on the Growing Challenge here: I ordered seeds, they arrived, I sorted them by planting date, and I found 3 I could plant right now. So I did. Crossing my fingers for luck! It’s come so far: 2 days of soft rain right after planting.

  • Well, it’s been a less active planting season than last year. The kids and I were sick for most of it, BUT… We’ve harvested lots of arugula and swiss chard, and I pulled up the first couple beets yesterday — both started from seed. Broccoli’s looking good – second year from seed, but last year they bolted before we could eat them.

    It’s time to plant melons and pumpkins from seed — yes, pumpkins. Our biggest harvest was in June last year. Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant seedlings will be arriving from the organic farm next week. I don’t have the space or attention span to grow them from seed — tried it last year unsuccessfully.

    I’m going to put more effort into our fall garden this year. We’ll be gone for much of the summer, but we have a second growing season from August to November. (California, zone 9)

    Thanks for the inspiration! Growing your own food is definitely a challenge!

  • I’ve started tomatoes and peppers from the seed I saved last fall: 6 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and 6 peppers (4 hot and 2 sweet). I’m trying a few new things this year as well: cauliflower and lots of herbs for our new herb garden. And, not related to food production, my teenage daughter and I are conspiring to plant a “goth garden” that she will tend- all black or black/white flowers. That’s my inspiring someone else to grow something so far this year.
    Thanks for keeping me on my toes.

  • Tomato seed that I saved germinated. Happy, Happy! Hope the beans do as well. I’ve decided the next never-tried-from-seed crop I want to try growing will be onions. Too late for this spring, but maybe a fall crop? Lots of garden talk in the staff room right now. I think I’ve encouraged someone to try garlic. Lots to do in the garden this weekend.

  • I have a table filled with seedlings that will be planted over the next few weeks. Seeds for cucumber, squash, beans, and a variety of greens were sown in our family’s community garden plot last week, and more will be planted this weekend.
    We’re drawing up plans for our ministry garden project and have volunteers eagerly waiting to get started…just waiting for the ground to dry enough to till the soil and get our garden beds prepared :) .
    I’ve planted a few things in containers at home, and have plans for more as the weather warms up a bit.

    Thanks for the challenge!
    Catherine :)

  • Yes, yes, I’m still in and having lots of fun with the Growing Challenge, Evangelist Edition. I am looking at my seedlings much closer now. Take the leaves on my German Pink Tomato plants for example. I blogged about that yesterday – These are absolutely awesome tomatoes that I’m growing from seeds shared by my son, who saved them from tomatoes he grew from seeds given him by his neighbor the year before.

    I have also blogged several times about my progress with the challenge here – – and, having inspired a friend to grow their own heirloom squashes, am helping them start their plants from seed. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about that soon enough.

  • Rob

    What’s Fun- My greenhouse is fun.
    What’s Working- My greenhouse is working
    What makes me want to run- Again, My green house (in a wind storm)!

    Seriously though the green house has been a great investment. So far I have started Tomatoes _ Many varieties, pumpkin, butternut squash, Acorn Squash, Summer squash, Peppers, Chammomile Plants (for tea) Minnesota Midget Cantaloupe, some lettuce and mesclin seed mixes in planters for some early salads.

    As far as being an evangelist, I am trying- really I am. But the response is not what I expected. LOL. I was trying to give seeds to a community garden program (Survival Seeds from Hometown Seeds) but they never answer my emails. Harumph. Probably give them away on my blog. Oh well. I could always try the phone!

  • Hi just surfed in and looking over your blog, what a great resource! I haven’t signed up for any challenges yet but hope to!


  • Sorry! My life has been so crazy lately, BUT I have managed to grow 2 things (last year it was nothing due to an international move!) This year, in spite of moving again in February and staying with my in-laws for a bit I’ve grown . . .(drum roll please). . .garlic–I’ve been eating the greens, no new bulbs yet, but I’ve just moved the plant outside and it looks happy!

    And citrus!!! Unidentified citrus: I had an empty pot from a dead houseplant (RIP) and I just started poking seeds into it. I kept it up even after I moved in with my in-laws and my MIL joined in as well (after laughing at me for a while). We poked in lemon, clementine, orange . . . and then, one day after about a month of poking, we noticed 3 sturdy, beautiful sprouts.

    I’ll stop here because I’ll be posting on this soon. I have been remiss on posting about gardening lately, but I’m sure that with spring here, I’ll be more motivated.


  • I first read your blog this January, so I haven’t before participated in your Growing Challenge, however, I’d like to give it a go this year :)
    I’m a regular spring/summer gardener, and I tried a fall garden for the first time last year. Unfortunately, I got the broccoli, Brussels and cauliflower starts in too late for winter veggies. Luckily for me, however, they’re just about ready to produce!
    So far I’ve direct sowed lettuce and radishes outside and I’ve transplanted ‘volunteer’ starts of spinach and chard. Direct sowed peas and onions, then carrots and beets outside, and tomatoes under the grow lights, are next, as well as potting up at least 20 of the “volunteer” broccoli starts in last year’s brassica bed. (I’ll need to give some of those away!)
    I’ll write a post about it soon, and read the instructions and properly sign up, etc. Maybe I’ll figure out how to put your badge on my blog, too!

  • Honestly, the 10,000 steps challenge is a bit rough. I did not realize that I wasn’t keeping up my cardio each day like this. It may seem easy at first, but then the challenge kicks in. I work a lot of hours each day at my office, so it is hard to get the steps done. I really feel inspired to keep this going.

  • Well there is a definite nip in the morning air and we are starting to see fog again so Autumn is most certainly here.

    Kind Regards

  • I’m doing the Growing Challenge. Right now I have leggy basil, pot-bound cilantro, need-to-be-thinned zinnias, and spindly parsley growing under lights. (I started everything too soon for my 5A zone.) Most of the seeds were from previous years, and yet still viable. Getting other people to grow anything, let alone from seed, is a challenge, though. It seems you are either a gardener or not.

  • Hi Melinda! I’m not officially participating in any challenges right now, though I was part of The Growing Challenge two years ago (through my former blog, Savor Culture). I’ve really enjoyed following Elements in Time through your moves and changes! Your blog is a source of inspiration and hope. :)

    Have you seen this article yet? It made me think of you:

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