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Showing posts from September, 2009

An Emerging Food Movement

Folks, the food movement is growing quickly in Tallahassee; however it is not root-bound within our home town. A few years back, I read a book named Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson. It's about how semi-connected individuals can work together as a coherent whole; the system can and usually displays an "intelligence" greater than that held by the component pieces and a productivity greater than the sum of its parts. In this light, think about yourself... or even all of us in Tallahassee who are "experimenting" with and "just beginning to" food garden. At first glance, it seems we are all fumbling with pests and heat and humidity beyond our abilities. Most food gardeners I talk to comment upon how they're not growing "that much." But, if we take a step back and look at the entirety of the city... or the country (or the world for that matter) we begin to gain a sense of the great a…

Notes from the Roadside...

Monday through Friday this week, I spent hours-upon-hours on roadsides in Tallahassee clad in overalls, holding an upended pitchfork in the vein of the "American Gothic" painting. I simultaneously held signs with catch-phrases about food gardening like, "Grow Your Own Food and Share It" and one with a picture of Rosy the Riviter that said "WE CAN GROW FOOD." Another one, an infomational sign refered people to this blog, "Man in Overalls" on Youtube, and Man in Overalls' Facebook fanpage. Yet another one read, "HONK! for Food Gardens."

On Monday around lunch time I wrote: "I made my roadside debut this morning. It was a stunning success. I connected with all number of folks that I otherwise would have not had access to. I remained shocked by the numerous honks, waves, fist pumps, smiles of humor, and quizzically-puzzled looks aimed my direction."

I also remained impressed by the sheer quantity of passing vehicles. I kept …

"Taking things into their own hands and backyards"

Last year CNBC ran a news story called "New Victory Gardens."

It tells the story of how folks are "taking things into their own hands and backyards" by starting more and more gardens in 2008-- a year before, mind you, 2009 when the sale of home vegetable garden seeds jumped over 30% by some sources. According to the CNBC news report, there were 25 million households with home vegetable gardens.

Now is as good a space as ever to mention briefly the outrageous economics of food-gardening. As the news report mentions, a large tomato at Whole Foods cost $3, and a package of tomato seeds in the same produce section cost $2.50. "So even if only one of these seeds turns into a plant," the reporter states, "then I'll have tomatoes all summer long." Okay, fine, but we don't have a Whole Foods in Tallahassee nor do most folks shop for organic produce. More and more folks buy organic, granted; the majority, however, still do not. So let's t…

"All in a Day's Work," or "A Day in Overalls"

It was a busy day today. First, I built, filled and planted a raised-bed vegetable garden at Jackie's house. Collard and cabbage plants, carrot, mustard, radish and lettuce sees. You can see the finished bed to the right.

And then, I moved on to spruce up Faith Presbyterian's -my home church- children's garden before the young folks arrived for Wednesday night program: Planting the fall garden. We planted brussels sprout, collard, lettuce, rosemary, and a few late winter squash and basil plants; carrot, radish, and snap pea seeds. Last spring, the kids named it "God's Giving Garden." Any surplus food will be distributed through a food-pantry being developed in partnership with St. Stevens Lutheran, a church across the street. Take a look at the kids at work.

Around the edges of work, I made a little stop-action video. It makes me laugh. If I can figure out how to upload it... Ahha!

Who is that guy? and for the record...

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Nathan, Nathan Ballentine. Tallahassee's home.

Here's the gist of it: I love food. I love growing, smelling, giving, cooking, tasting, sharing, and eating food. And I live under the impression that other folks at least like food too. It's pretty universal.

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I've been food-gardening since I was eight-years-old. My mother who grew up on a farm in west Florida, set me on the task of creating a vegetable garden in our front yard as a home-schooling project. As I remember it, I grew some bitter carrots, bug-eaten lettuce and a few bush beans. The next year, I carried on the project, but- back in school- it was no longer an obligation. It was just "my garden."

The second year, I planted sweet corn and watermelon. In the years to come, I grew tomatoes and peppers, potatoes, squash and cucumbers, beans, onions, pumpkins, collards, parsley and basil and every year: more sweet corn. In the years since, my food-g…