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The Bonsai Kid

At six o’clock on a July morning, during one of the hottest stretches in northwest Oregon’s recorded history, Ryan Neil trots out the door of his hilltop home and down a short gravel path in his nursery to check on more than a million dollars worth of small, delicate trees. Neil is a professional bonsai…

By NANCY LEBRUN

The Puppeteer

Michael Montenegro is driven to put the products of his imagination into tangible, active forms. After he builds them—often in life-size form, with a rag-tag collage of materials—he becomes them, lives inside them, then delivers them to us with a zany vigor.

By LORI ROTENBERK

Parts & Recreation

What makes people devote hours to the frustrating task of gluing together pieces so small you have to pick them up with tweezers? And does this obsessive hobby even matter anymore? To find out, a devotee of the art dives into Revell’s world of plastic models.

By JEFF GREENWALD

Food by the Gallon

You drink eight glasses of water a day. But you consume far more through the food you eat. A special report.

By JESSICA CAREW KRAFT

Beans: To Soak or Salt, That Is the Question

It’s long been thought that soaking minimizes the chance of gas, but that’s now been debunked. So why do I still soak beans? Because it gives me better control over the dish. Having already been softened and expanded (by roughly 300 percent), soaked beans readily accept flavorings during cooking. (Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo Beans adds…

The Carbon Gatherer

The carbon trading market is heating up again, and a lot of people who have been figuring out ways to grab carbon dioxide out of the air are back in the game. California’s John Wick may well be at the head of the pack.

Written by CHARLIE SILER
With photography by JAK WONDERLY

The Many Stripes of Sustainable Agriculture

Was Jared Diamond right to call agriculture the worst mistake of the human race? Industrial agriculture vastly expanded the world’s food supply, but it’s also based on a fossil fuel economy that is slowly running out of juice. Are the alternatives like this “permaculture” operation in Wisconsin ready for prime time?

By JESSICA CAREW KRAFT
Cover photo by NEWFORESTFARM.NET

The Lost Prophet of California Agriculture

Al Ruozi, age 97, is a high-school dropout whose primary invention was a machine, largely forgotten by now, that can help farmers save water, improve soil quality, and fight climate change.

Story and photography by CHARLIE SILER

A Brand New Idea for Commodity Exports

For years, a handful of enterprising grain farmers in the Midwest have been making huge strides–ecologically as well as financially–by managing to farm without plows and other invasive “tilling” machinery. Their achievements point to the possibility of a very different balance in global commodity trading markets.

By TODD OPPENHEIMER

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