Yarn-ing For Your Love

Did you know that bits of sheep can also be found in tennis rackets, candles, soap, and most cosmetics and skincare products? Arguably, the coolest part of sheep is their fluffy, beautiful, and versatile coat of wool.

While all of the final projects proved to be interesting, we (Kandace Yazzie and Christine Miller) took a different turn. When Kandace brought up the possibility of creating yarn, it was almost too good to be true. The ability to see a product be made from literally start to finish was too valuable to give up, so the idea became a plan.

It began with Kandace sheering the wool from her sheep Jack and Jill. While this practice is common and taught down by family members, it still proves to require much resilience and knowledge. Kandace brought the wool back to Flagstaff, split it into two garbage bags, and we both started cleaning the haul.

The cleaning process is extensive: it is not for the faint of heart. The first step is to separate the wool to take the dirt, fecal matter, sticks, and random sheep accessories out. Second, the carting process begins. A carting tool does a more precise job of filing the stubborn dirt out of the finely sheered wool. Lastly in the carting steps, it is to be washed and soaked in soap and water.

59d0a589b9884ee0ade84d7fbf704edccc4cc6c3aa9245208a4b3fa3b67626aa9c3b1d88a241475fb181ff47ee28c4b8Here is Christine’s new buddy Esa helping card!

From the cleaned wool, the spinning process can start, and Kandace is the master of all things this area. She expertly twirls the wool around a tool to create the effect of yarn that is commonly recognized. 908cc2824e184d689c48909f3f61658d.jpegWe wanted to dye the yarn with berries and seeds from the Colton Garden, but unfortunately could not fit that into our timeline. Furthermore, this means that selling our product could not happen in time for the Holiday Marketplace. We were disappointed, but we gladly continued working and explaining our practice during the event.

While we weren’t able to financially reap the benefits of our labor and sell our product to someone who could create something with it, not all was for lost. Actually, nothing was. Through this project, Kandace and I grew a unique and irreplaceable friendship. Kandace was able to teach the class and our teachers about the process of creating something from the ground up. Lastly, we got to experience real community through the production of something we were both invested in and the growth of something beautiful.



Learning About Soils

By Chris Ignace and Hunter Wood

October 25, 2017

Weather: A nice in-room temperature of 68 Degrees Fahrenheit

During regular class on Wednesday the students were able to learn about soils from Hunter, Shyla, Ashley, Daniel, and Ciera.


Here we see some of students from the class learning about the composition of soil and how to tell if it is good soil or bad soil. The students were able to test the soil by placing the soil in their hand then squeezing it and seeing how well it clumped together, an indication that it is rich, healthy soil. They were also able to test it by sniffing it and seeing if had a prominent earthy smell, another good indication. Finally, they could observe the soil and see if it has a rich dark brown color. The dark color indicates that it is rich in humus which is the part of soil made up of organic matter. If the soil was able to pass all three test then the soil is fertile for gardening.


Here we have the samples of soil from the Colton Community Garden being tested. Additionally, starting from the left, we have the worst sample of soil. This soil is high in sand, therefore it makes it really gritty causing the color to be a light brown which lacks moisture and hummus. As we go up the line we can see the samples of soil increasing in quality because of the darkening of the soils due to an increase in hummus and clay which traps moisture.


Here we have the highest quality of topsoil! This sample came from the Colton Community Garden compost pile. It has a rich dark brown color indicating it has a lot of moisture, and is full of nutrients that are needed for a plant to thrive. This jar also contains the helpful workers of the garden, worms!


Here we see student Hunter Wood teaching the class how they can improve the quality of their soil by using a method of double digging. Initially, double digging is when someone spreads manure through out their planned garden area, and then digs multiple trenches. Soil from the first trench, goes into a wheel-barrel. Soil from the second trench, goes into the first trench. Ultimately, this process is repeated until you get to the last trench where the soil from the first trench will go. 

Everyday in this class, is a new experience and adventure! For one, the class gets to learn about permaculture and sustainable living which will benefit anyone.  


Working Hard At Boundaryless

By: Kandace Yazzie and Eshed Ozeri

Oct. 20, 2017( Friday Alts 1-3 pm)

Weather:  70 degrees Fahrenheit

During Friday, the ALTs team had began working on pitch ideas to present in the Wednesday upcoming class. At Boundaryless the students had worked with Kim Fessenden and the head director of Boundaryless.

Boundaryless is a place where innovative thinking happens and this is the perfect space for college students who are creating a product from scratch. It allows students to generate creative ideas with many places to brainstorm. For example, the picture below shows brainstormed ideas from a group developing yarn.

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The head of Boundaryless is super involved and interested in the students thinking. For instance, the picture above demonstrates how he participates and engages with the students in assisting them succeed to create their final product. The feedback from the director helped improve student pitches and made the process so much easier.

On that Friday Afternoon he showed us a template and a few videos about what a good pitch looks like. He even gave us the opportunity to practice our pitch with him in the room.

IMG_5396It is not your typical classroom space. There are comfy movable chairs, circular tables that have poster paper so that it is easily accessible to anyone in the group for the brainstorming process. If sofas are not your cup of tea, there are bar chairs that roll. With the big space available that offers different ways to engage with your group, everyone feels comfortable.

This was a fun and productive day for the students there. On Wednesday we had the opportunity to hear everyone’s pitches that were created in Boundaryless. The pitches were innovative, entertaining, and clearly showed the groups’ thoughts.

The final products will be sold at the Museum of Northern Arizona during their winter showcase.

We would definitely recommend working in Boundaryless if you want to generate creative, effective and productive ideas.

Forestdale Farms 10/4/17

Authors: Judianna Booth and Emma Tilton

Last Wednesday, we had the opportunity to accompany Rylan, the owner of Forestdale Farms, to his eco-friendly farm to learn all about what it takes to grow in high altitude and to help clear out some soil beds to get ready for the next season.IMG_8630.CR2 Here, he explains to us that in these beds they plant everything very close in order to preserve water on the farm. These beds are raised which helps to keep out rabbits and gophers, which also helps with preserving water. The hoops above the beds help to keep the covers up in order to protect the beds from the harsh weather that Flagstaff gets.

IMG_8621.CR2This greenhouse has an aquaponics system that helps a lot with plants starting out because it gives a great source of nitrogen. There are tubs underneath that contain fish (small, fathead minnows) to help fertilize the plants. The tubes that run throughout the greenhouse circulate water through the tanks. The benefits is that it stays warm a good majority of time because of the water that’s constantly in there. There’s little to no water loss  because of the tanks underneath that catch water that drips out.

IMG_8631.CR2Kale that is grown close together in a raised bed. Thanks to these raised beds and cloth lining, the farm gets an almost 100% harvest from them since the wildlife isn’t able to really get to the plants. These beds also have a drip irrigation so that they are able to turn on/off each bed as it’s needed instead of watering everything at once, even when a certain bed may not need it thanks to their water conservation efforts.

IMG_8632.CR2This is the pond that the farm gets all of it’s water from since they are not on the city’s water system. All the water that is used is rain water which means that the Rylan doesn’t have to have water hauled into the farm. Conservation is definitely important for the farm since they only get it when it rains. In this pond they keep the bigger fish (catfish, rainbow trout, and bass) to later harvest for themselves (but not to sell).

Thanks to the moisture & heat enclosing greenhouses, Rylan can continue to grow “microgreens” through the winter at temperatures as low as 25 degrees Farenheit! These greenhoues (also called “season extenders”) also help collect water for the pond and minimizes watering needs of the crops.

This chicken coop is made of cork wood to help keep in heat during the cold winter nights. When the chickens are done laying eggs, they are sold as meat to local vendors while turkeys are sold mostly for their eggs. Also, the turkeys are bred naturally through a process called “heritage breeding,” allowing the turkeys to be less stressed than they may have otherwise been

IMG_8667.CR2At the end of the day we were so happy to have been able to get our hands a little dirty and learn so much about sustainable farming! Thank you so much to Rylan and his lovely Forestdale Farm! Go check them out at the local Flagstaff farmer’s market on Sundays!

Monday ALTs – Working the Land

October 9th, 2017

We froze right along with the garden on Monday as bracing winds drove the full force of 49*F through our light jackets! This was an anomaly for the week, with forecasts warming up to the mid-sixties, and breezes bringing in the afternoons through the weekend. Although nobody was really prepared for the chill in Colton Garden, we set to work with minimal boo-hooing, and the time seemed to fly by. Kim started us off by explaining the emerging role of native wildflowers in land restoration: spreading native seeds over tired soil prevents invasive species from taking over and stops erosion in its tracks. SO:

…we dug up the now-dried wildflower stalks and trimmed off their delicate brown flowers:

…and saved them for Flagstaff residents to use. I was reminded of the Flagstaff Seed Library, where locals can acquire seeds optimal for Flagstaff growing conditions. Our work directly supported the Library’s mission to improve the success of Flagstaff’s gardeners and optimize their land use — a hands-on experience unique to this class!

Meanwhile, the rest of our group divided among the planter beds removing dead plants and harvesting what we could. For example, a group of us pulled the scarlet runners from their track of land behind the Monsoon Garden, replete with molding, squishy bean pods. 


Because of our early freeze this year, many of the plants hadn’t had time to mature, so most beans were brown or wrinkly. The healthy ones, however, looked like this:

Their beautiful purple overtones blew us away. We harvested what we could, cleared away the rest, and moved on to the final small jobs for the day. There were strawberry and asparagus plants that needed covered with hay…

…and the cauliflower plants were ready for the compost pile:

As the sun set and the air cooled further, we put the shovels and wheelbarrows back in their places and loaded up to leave. Colton Garden saw a busy day on Monday, and our class is heating up with final projects in the works, but the autumnal bustle is certainly exciting!

– Shyla Cox


Robert Grey, Ryan Sanchez

On Monday October 2, 2017 our ALTS Group had met at the union in the Success Center for a collaborative brainstorming day. The weather was nice out but that did not really matter for the fact we were inside the whole class. But as you can see in the pictures everyone had got into their project groups and came up with creative ways to construct their final projects. We actually did not have the speaker of the day come talk to us due to unfortunate events. So that day we had one of the people who works at the Success Center talk to us about what that place is and what it does. Basically that center is an idea center if you have an idea or thought to help better campus or anything the Success Center helps you turn your idea into reality. That is why we were there we were turning our ideas for our projects into reality. Learning marketing and other strategies to help us figuring out realistically how we can come up with a product that people really want to buy. Within my group we had thought of a fun a creative set that would be cheap but also great to buy for gardening. We came up with a simple planting kit that could be sold for about 10-15 bucks that people could take home and start gardening with ease and eventually see if they want to get into the gardening scene. Not just our group but others start to put together a list or some sort of plan to come up with their ideas and how to put together the supplies to make their product. After everyone for the most part also figured out how much they wanted to sell their products for. Not just for gardening anyone on campus could easily sit in the Success Center for a hour and spit some ideas and could really have those ideas shape into something more. Not to mention it is in the union so you could always eat after too which gives some students for example the idea to change the food choice we have at this school.



Which Renewable Energy Source Should I Choose?

In a society that is growing ever more aware of its impact upon the environment, this is one of the many ever present questions people have.

Flagstaff is currently in an odd spot for renewable energy. Although it does receive sunlight, it is not consistent like in Phoenix. Also, no major rivers run close to Flagstaff. The terrain is also rough and uneven. However, this should not dissuade you from investing in renewable energy here in Flagstaff.

Solar power is the one of the three, and quite possibly the most well known, older faces of renewable energy. While Flagstaff, as previously mentioned, receives less sunlight than most of Arizona, it is still viable to invest in solar power. The upfront costs to installing a typical 5 kW system is made up in saved energy within 12 years. 18 years after that, a profit in $23,000 is made in saved energy. Even if the upfront costs to a solar system is too prohibitive, it is still entirely possible to buy small solar generators or solar lights.

Hydroelectric power is, unfortunately, not a very viable venture within Flagstaff. However, it is still possible to build microhydropower system and use that to generate electricity off of small streams.

One of the oldest sources of energy, wind power should be considered in Flagstaff. The city currently sits within a wind density zone that makes building large turbines a decent expenditure. If a Sky Stream 3.7 kWh wind turbine were to be build in Flagstaff, it would take only 7 to 11 years to recuperate the costs as opposed to the 12 years of solar energy. While smaller, home-based wind turbines are not quite as efficient in terms of energy production, they still should be considered. After all, the costs of building and installing one is not as prohibitive with systems costing as low as $3000. Even Northern Arizona University has a small wind turbine set up to power its renewable energy instruction laboratory.

So while Flagstaff may not seem to be an ideal location for renewable energy, it has the potential to be able to produce vast amounts of energy from renewable resources. So please, for the welfare of not just the Earth but for the welfare of the human race in general, take into consideration the possibility of power generation from renewable resources.