Category Archives: THE SCHOOL OF MAKING


I loved that this article found its way to USA TODAY:

On tiny plots, a new generation of farmers emerges

What if the story was rewritten like this:  

In tiny factories, a new generation of manufacturers emerges The wave of young manufacturers in tiny factories is too new and too small to have turned up significantly in manufacturing statistics, but people in the manufacturing world acknowledge there’s something afoot. For these new manufacturers, going back to the factory isn’t a rejection of conventional society, but an embrace of making products for market as an honorable, important career choice — one that’s been waning in the last decades. It’s about creating something real — the stuff that touches peoples life — and at the same time healing the Earth. Says one small manufacturer, “The America that I want to live in will support people who are willing to work their asses off, who want to do good things for their community. We’re patriots of place. Here I am, I’m doing my part.” Three factors have made these small, organic factories possible: a rising consumer demand for organic and local merchandise, a huge increase in product markets nationwide, and the growing popularity of community-supported programs.

Read the story again & replace the word farm with factory, food with product:  
On tiny plots, a new generation of farmers emerges

A standing ovation to our farmers – young and old - who are choosing to make a difference…  

*Photo Elizabeth DeRamus


We are honored to announce that Alabama Chanin has been selected as a finalist for the 2009 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. Thank you to our office staff, our talented artisans, family, friends, readers, journalists, editors, stylists, our stores & a host of supporters around the globe.

Dance with us today… xxx from all of us @ Alabama Chanin

*Photo Russ Harrington



Last summer I ran into friend Amy Collins at our local Farmer’s Market and she casually invited me to come by The Wine Seller – a wine shop where she helped out a friend on Saturday afternoons. I believe that I murmured a sort-of-okay but later that afternoon did actually visit the store. It is not that I avoided wines; I just rarely found wines that I really enjoyed. Living in Austria, I fell in love with visiting the wine growers of the Wachau to sample their young wines. What I didn’t know at the time was that what I fell in love with had a name: terroir.

That afternoon at The Wine Seller, Amy gave me an impromptu wine lesson that led me to discover what I do like in a wine. My tastes included words like mineral, light, effervescence, high-acidity, subtle fruit, clean and lean.

A few weeks ago, Amy recommended The Battle for Wine and Love – calling it the The Omnivore’s Dilemma for the world of wine. The book is an eye opener and becomes like a wine dictionary for the wine novice like me.   I don’t really enjoy all the personal information that Alice Feiring shares in the book but her tales of wine and wine making are fantastic.

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Garden harvest basted with olive oil and headed to the oven for a slow roast.

Mix with salt, pepper and a bit of cayenne before placing in the oven

Pasta with Fresh Pesto from page 70 of Chez Panisse Pasta Pizza & Calzone

Huber Hugo Grüner Veltliner & reading The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization

Happy Sunday!


John Bielenberg and Project M are serving up good pie in Hale County, Alabama this summer.

Get involved with Project M this summer:

Open Sourcing Project M

The Project M 2008 Team, in collaboration with HERO, has created a permanent Design Lab space in Greensboro, Alabama. This light-filled studio building is situated on the HERO campus which includes a bunkhouse for up to 10 people and lodging for visiting advisors. Greensboro is also the center of Hale County where the Auburn Rural Studio has been building wonderful structures to benefit the community since 1993.

However, the Design Lab is only an empty building without passionate young designers to inhabit it on an on-going basis. This is where you come in.

We encourage both Individuals and groups to contact us if they are interested in using the Project M Lab space to work on meaningful projects in Hale County. We guarantee that it will be an intensely satisfying experience.



Each time I speak publicly, I am invariably asked about the process of publishing or our Alabama Studio Book Series.

After poking around on the internet I was surprised to discover that while writers are often interviewed about their books, there are very few interviews with the editors.  Our editor, Melanie – whose desk is pictured above - is a force to be reckoned with. She has an unerring eye, commitment to quality, and an extreme attention to detail. These characteristics make her a very, very good editor and a dear friend. I am extremely grateful for her belief, support and patience over the years.    It is important to choose an editor carefully as you will spend a lot of time with that person. For example, we started working on Alabama Stitch Book in 2004 and held a printed copy in January of 2008. While it is unusual to spend that much time on a book, it can happen.   Here are some of the questions that I have fielded for Melanie over the years with a few additions of my own:

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