Community projects

Slow Food- Seed to Table

Have you all heard of Slow Food? “Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.” Sounds like a great group, right? Well it is.
I have been attending meetings with other like minded adults in the Seed to Table group of Slow Food members to help with the garden that will be at our school next year. Attending these meetings has also helped with my own gardening. I have wanted to give back since I began my association with Slow Food. Now I have the chance. They would like to build up imagery for their website so asked if I could photograph each of their schools’ gardens and any other activities related to the Seed to Table program. I have begun and it has been great seeing what other schools are up to. The school pictured below has a huge plot of land (dirt) set aside, waiting for an urban farmer to come use. I hope when a farmer comes, I can get a share (assuming it will have a CSA program).
I just received an email from Andy over at Slow Food Denver letting us know that the Denver Pub. School program allowing produce from the gardens into the cafeterias has gained interest from folks in the Chicago school district. They will be using Denver’s program to begin their own. Pretty cool!
Anyway, I look forward to working with other schools and seeing what they are doing with their kids in the garden.

Harvesting for the Youth Farmer’s Market

Pretty structure in the garden.

Some of the produce at the Youth Farmer’s Market in front of the school.

Each week a Slow Food volunteer chef shares a simple recipe using some of the produce from the garden. This week: Cucumber, ginger and sea salt. Super simple and so tasty. Try it.

Our Room with a View

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This was our room and the staircase and views throughout the house we stayed in on our trip. We stayed with Zach’s brother and his family. He, his wife and 5 kids lived in this 1500 sq ft row house for their 3 month stay in Toulon, France. The house was filled to the gills, 4 adults and 6 kids. But we had our own room and I don’t think we stepped on too many toes. They were probably happy to have their couch space back (it’s tough to share a love seat with all those people) and have more hot water for showers. Thank you so much for putting us up. We had so much fun with you all!
Since our return, my wanderlust has doubled. Once home I received an email from my Slow Food convivia (local group) describing school lunch in France. Here’s a quote from the article:
“no single meal is repeated over the 32 school days in the period, and every meal includes an hors d’oeuvre, salad, main course, cheese plate and dessert.”
Seeing as I have had many discussions with parents, teachers and principal about the length of lunchtime (I think the kids get 15 minutes to eat… if they line up quickly enough to enter the cafeteria). Not to mention the “food” served to the kids. You must read the article to get the full view of the huge deficit our kids have in their food education. In the US, food education seems to come mainly from TV commercials. It’s no wonder kids think the best food is fast food, sugar cereal and yogurt so hopped up with sugar and additives/chemicals it really isn’t food anymore.
Thankfully I’m not the only parent at our school questioning the ethics of school lunches. Hopefully we can build a force to be reckoned with and make some major changes.
Food-in anyone?

CSA- Community Supported Agriculture

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I first became aware of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) while we lived in Boston. My friend Anna and I joined a CSA. We were lucky to have a neighborhood group so we could take turns driving out to the farm, about a 45 minute drive, to pick up the food.

The farm was a 3 acre clearing in the forest directly east of Walden Pond (yes Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond). We would first head to the storehouse to collect whatever the farmers had harvested that morning. Everything was displayed in baskets and on tables in this cool shed dug into the side of a small rise. It had three walls in the soil and was always at least 10 degrees cooler than the forest surrounding it.

Next we would harvest the rest of the share. Mind you, we would harvest 8 shares. We would pick raspberries, beans, tomatoes, flowers and bunches of herbs. It all depended on when things were ready. It took about 2-3 hours to pick all 8 shares.

Our girls would help a bit, then run off and play among the herbs and munch on peas or carrots. This is where India learned to eat snap peas. I was amazed! She loved them (why wouldn’t she?) and I soon became a huge fan of working the farm.

One of my favorite memories was picking up our shares on a rainy day in August or September. Zach came to help, since Anna had already moved to NC and I was about 5 months pregnant with Ezra. We had to pick tomatoes, and raspberries. The rain came down in torrents as Zach filled a bag with golden cherry tomatoes. He probably had to pick 8 pounds.

India and I stayed in the car and when the rain began to ease, we jumped out to harvest some raspberries. The sun began to shine from behind the clouds. We were just commenting on our luck when we arrived to the huge raspberry patch. The bushes were well over my head on either side and a loud humming could be heard. The bees had come out to pollinate while the sun shone. India was a bit frightened but I tried to play up the fact that the bees were busy with their thing and wouldn’t be bothering us. She was a brave 3 year old and decided picking (and eating) a few raspberries was worth the risk. It was an ideal setting. The damp air, the warm sun, the humming bees, and the tasty raspberries. I haven’t seen a raspberry patch its equal since.

While in Baltimore, our good friends the Reads worked the CSA. They just happened to move into our ward about 8 months after we did. They actually lived on the farm in a little rundown cottage that would often be plagued with ladybugs. I remember keeping India home from preschool so we could spend a nice day at the farm. On the porch helping Nick split the garlic, getting it ready to plant. We would often compare notes about different CSA’s. My one experience lending a bit to the conversation.

Now here in Denver we have finally joined a CSA. Apparently purchasing a share it is akin to getting your first born into a good Boston school… or camping out to buy concert tickets. Thankfully I remembered to get on the waiting list sometime in February and we actually got in!

It has been nearly impossible to work the 3 hours required for our share each month. India has been really helpful, but the rain, the baby and a groggy preschooler has made us seriously behind. Thursday at I finally remembered to ask how I could fulfill my hours without working the field. I am now making a photographic record of each item of produce for the farm. This is some of what we picked up this week:

Arapahoe Acres Home Tour

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My latest project. We’ve got 10 homes for the tour! Any other AA folks want to add their home to the list?
The money earned from the tour will go to the local elementary school’s Victory Garden. We are hoping that this garden will teach the kids all about sustainability, nutrition, science and how satisfying it is to work for food. India was amazed that I pulled 3 zucchini from our garden the other day. She said “It looks just like what we would get at the store!”


The Best Garden Center Ever


I say that not because they donated seeds, starter trays, and pots to our school but because they really are the best.  Friendly, informative staff and they even have popcorn to satisfy the munchies.  They also have great selection and good prices.  Hey, maybe not Walmart prices.  But really, wouldn’t you rather support a local store and have your gardening questions answered?

They are the tops and have been my favorite since I first visited.