Monday, March 30, 2009

I <3 Terracycle

Waste Nought, check the link to learn about a store in Brooklyn dedicated to the idea of up-cycling. RAD.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Loving these articles in today's NYT...

Reinventing America's Cities & Slow Gardening (a truly unexpected gardener)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Build a garden, sow a community.

Saturday was garden day...well, okay, every Saturday lately has been gardening day. But this one was special, I got to help my friend Carolina get her school garden started....

After a stop off at Mission Pie for my coffee fix, I walked down Cesar Chavez towards Harrison street, my destination--Flynn elementary, a progressive immersion school where the walls are covered in murals and kids speaking spanish and english learn to use language together and make peace together. Really, there is a peace square where fighting kids learn to reconcile differences.

My walk took me past La Raza Centro Legal's Women's Collective Day Labor center, an organization run by and for women immigrant workers--where the folding chairs were full of families looking for a days work. An image, a reality of the moment we live in, such a juxtaposition to the day's work of building a garden...

I rounded the corner of Harrison to find gardeners weeding the sidewalk, then I saw parents and kids climbing and shoveling and playing in the mountains of soil and compost that would make this new garden grow. My first task was working with a kindergardner and a second grader to plant some ornamentals in these beautiful planter benches--it was my first time planting with kids--and it was awesome, they were just as excited as me over the discovery of a huge root ball...

Then the energy really started brewing, fueled by music blaring from huge speakers over the garden, parents relished the hard labor of digging and hauling and shoveling while kids danced and played and covered themselves in dirt because this is a garden that has been years in the making....

Despite the fact that Alice Waters was on 60 minutes and Michelle Obama's starting a garden at the White House (YES WE CAN!), school gardens are far from common. They come about because someone has a vision, a parent, a principle, an educator--and they plan and meet and meet and plan and search for funding and a talented coordinator who knows plants and kids and managing projects, and then maybe, maybe you have a garden. And sometimes along the way you find a community...Flynn's well on its way to having a garden, it's evident by the number of families that showed up on Saturday that there's a community there too.

I was really too caught up in it all to take good photos--but here's a few of it all taking shape.

Don't mess with Edna. She's freakishly strong....ARG.

I can't wait to go back and see this garden grow...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Water Wars

This article in the NYTimes about a town in Chile run dry by the privatization of water reminded me of Flow, a documentary we viewed at work this week. It's a fantastic documentary that sheds some light into how water is bought and sold around the world, how corporations that focus on profits don't make room for social justice, and the truth about bottled water.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another reason I don't eat tomatoes in winter & US slavery still exists.

90% of winter tomatoes are hand picked by workers who live and work in a reality that is like "Apartheid in America" Read about it in Raj Patel's blog and Tom Philpott's blog

The experiment begins: My first community garden plot

White Crane Community garden, a hidden garden off of 7th Ave & Lawton is a quiet magical spot protected from the sounds of the city by a forested hill. After 4 months on the waiting list D & I scored a plot -- a 4 x8 plot to start the experiment of growing our own food!

The rules go something like this: $25/year + 12 hours of community garden work, don't neglect your plot for long, don't plant a huge tree, and garden organically. Here's plot B15 as we first found it...weed infested, bare bones of past harvests gone to seed...
After a bit of cleaning up....and mulching. The soil is Sandy with a capital S. Building up the soil will be our most important task in the months and seasons to come. It's all about the soil. LOAM.
Things to be aware/wary of: community garden politics, plot divers (or gleaners who think that the veggies are for everyone) and gophers. I should've listed gophers first--they love to eat beautiful root vegetables just before harvest and seeds before anything has yet to begin. So we resolved to dig out the whole plot and set down gopher wire--an expensive, back breaking endeavor that will hopefully be a good foundation for the plot.

Mix in two gigantor bags of compost and we're good to go.

We'll do some seeds and some starts--depends on what the veggies we want to grow like best, what seeds we can find and what healthy starts we can buy. Next season, I'll find local seed companies--but this season organic heirlooms bought from a local business will have to do.
Bloomsdale Spinach--hearty and delicious, Rainbow Chard to add a little color to our garden of greens, mixed beets and snow peas round out our seeds

We found gorgeous starts at the Saturday farmer's market...arugula

Orach, a purple spinach & Broccoli Di Ciccio round out the bunch

More garden post updates to come...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A recipe for an Eat-In

The sun-soaked lobby of the Yerba Buena Arts Center transformed itself into a potluck feast bubbling with conversations all about food this Sunday--everything from food politics to food cultures and recipes, was shared with over 6o strangers on the day time turned into Spring.

This was SFs latest Eat-In. Here's the recipe for an Eat-In: bring a homecooked dish to share, even better bring something your grandma would've cooked, and share food with other people interested in real food and learning about the politics behind it. As the website says...

"a tool for to getting more people involved in the movement to create communities where everyone enjoys good, clean and fair food. In the midst of health, climate, economic and cultural crises, we can't afford to keep ignoring the true costs of the way we eat. An Eat-In is a public statement that healthy food and agriculture is a national priority. It's a demand that we and our politicians start taking action."

10 speakers from the Bay Area food movement attended to get the conversation going--from Bryant Terry, author of Grub & a new book called Vegan Soul Food (and collaborator on some new, incredibly powerful posters, a must have for the budding food activist) to Chris Carlsson author of Nowtopia a great collection of inspirational stories of people making the world a better place, right. now.
My favorite moment at the event was walking down the long table assembling my plate brimming full with delicious food -- a fava bean chili, cornbread, sourdough challah, plantains baked with cheese and guava paste, quinoa salad with kale and beans and more, cabbage salad, quiche, cookies and pies and stuffed baked apples -- as I made my way along the table discovering each and every dish--the excitement was palpable, people were serving each other, talking about each dish, each discovery like opening a new present on Christmas.

We dined on butcher paper tablecloths to capture our sprawling thoughts, illustrations, and inspirations brought forth by all the incredible food and the unusual conversations. Our assignment: take one thing from the day, whether it be an evocative statement scrawled on the paper table cloth, or a story from a tablemate, and make it happen.

For me, I took away much more than the assignment--I took away new friendships, old friendships were fortified by sharing food and stories, and I took away a renewed commitment to making food activism a more overt part of my life--I spend a lot of time volunteering at Garden for the Environment and bringing colleagues to the weekly farmers market, but I could do more. My official assignment: be part of a real food movement -- my first step? In April I'm going to avoid all processed foods...a baby step towards an all local food month for me. The hard part will be deciding how to define processed!

I was too engaged in the event to take good photos--these don't express the energy and life of the event...
Edna's Sourdough Challah--she's a natural born baker...

Our grandma's cornbread and a salad.
Serving fava bean chili.

Just can't get enough...

The beautiful Miss Siena 's first visit to the community garden.
I do believe she loved it.
Being an Aunt is the best thing ever.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Center for Lunchtime Walks is back..

The new lunchtime walk is up to Coit Tower &'s the best.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Demystifying the Organic Label...

An organic label has become a symbol of so much more than it is--it doesn't mean humane treatment of animals, it doesn't mean stewardship of the land, or worker/human rights, or sustainable water use. This article calls out the fact that food labeled organic isn't necessarily safer.

Find out where your food comes from.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

French crime film on a rainy night...

....nothing better. Corruption, murder, mystery, love, loyalty. Le Deuxieme Souffle