Man in Overalls helps you #GrowYourGroceries!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Will Allen's Coming to Town: 12-6:30pm, Sun., Mar. 6th

"2011 Thriving, Beyond Sustainability Workshop"
Featuring Growing Powers’ Will Allen
DATE:   March 06, 2011
HOURS:    Noon- 6:30pm
LOCATION:   FAMU Center of Viticulture and Small Fruit
 6505 East Mayhan Drive (Hwy 90)

FAMU StateWide Small Farm Programs, local small farmers, and a coalition of sustainable food advocates including Tallahassee Sustainability Group, Man in Overalls with Tallahassee Food Gardens, Greater FrenchTown Revitalization Council,  Damayan Garden Project, Project Food, and Sowing Seeds Sewing Comfort Ministry, have worked together to provide a wonderful opportunity for the community to come out and learn from  innovative urban farmer, Will Allen,  founder and CEO of Growing Power, Inc.

Will Allen, "Farmer, Founder, CEO of Growing Power" will be in Tallahassee for sometime in March for an all-day workshop to discuss the work and success of Growing Power's Community Food Center as well as lead a hands-on soil-building workshop focused on composting and vermicomposting.  Additionally, Will's presence will serve as a gathering force to network the many spokes of the Tallahassee, north Florida, and regional food movements for collaborative strategizing.  Mark your calendars.  Additional Info here (re: registration, etc). Email Jennifer Taylor with registration questions.

The cost is $60 with a healthy (organic?) lunch provided. (That's less than the cost of a ticket to the UF v. FSU game). As Louise from Turkey Hill Farm wrote: "WELL worth the price of admission. If you are interested in community food systems, urban agriculture, aquaponics, sprouts, composting, organic agriculture, livestock, healthy affordable food.... then Will Allen is the man to see." Click to register.

Growing Power's work is truly remarkable.  On three acres in the heart of Milwaukee's northside they've got six green houses, two or three 10,000 gallon aquaponic (fish + hydroponic plants) systems, 20,000 plants, micro-greens, goats, turkeys, chickens, bees, and one of the best vermi (worm) composting operations in the nation.  Will Allen is quite remarkable himself: MacArthur Genius Award recipient, among Time's 100 Most Influential People in 2010, State Dinner guest at the White House per his contribution to Michele's Let's Move Campaign to address childhood obesity, founding member of the Community Food Security Coalition's Urban Agriculture Committee.  And it all started with his parent's share-cropping background, a stunt in pro basketball, and a handful of  kids in Milwaukee's northside that wanted to learn how to grow food. 

Take a few minutes to brush up on Will Allen.  The videos below can be an entry point, but don't stop there.  The work he's done, coordinated, and inspired across the country is remarkable.  Movements tend to adopt heroes, and Will has certainly earned the right to shoulder such a title amidst the food movement, or the "Good Food Revolution" as he likes to call it.  At 6'7", he's also got a hero-worthy stature.

A Good Sampling from Youtube.
"2008 MacArthur Fellow: Will Allen"
"Growing Power - Will Allen"
"1 MILLION pounds of Food on 3 acres. 10,000 fish 500 yards compost"
"Good Food Revolution - Urban Farmer Gets Attention of White House

If you're still up for reading/learning more, I recommend Will Allen's "A Good Food Manifesto for America."
While you're at it, if you're wondering who's carry the torch here in the big bend area, take a look at these posts.

And just in case you're interested: the cool back-story is that Will Allen's visit is serving to link an amorphous network of educators, organizers, growers, and "Good Food Revolution" supporters in common cause.  Last week, responding to the call of Jennifer Taylor with FAMU's Small Farm's Program (who is actually coordinating the logistics of Mr Allen's visit) representatives from the Greater Frenchtown Revitalization Council, the Damayan Garden Project, Project Food, Cultural Arts Natural Design International, Tallahassee Sustainability Group (an FSU Student Org.), Native Nurseries and I met to develop POA's for fundraising, communication/recruitment, logistics, and programing.  Yesterday, we met again, and this time we were joined by a long-time friend of Will Allen (who lives in Tallahassee), two Jackson County farmers of color, as well as folks from Amen Ra's Bookshop, Gallery, and Cultural Center. Also in the periphery of support is the UF IFAS extension, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Tallahassee Edible Garden Club, and others too many to count.

If, by the way, you're willing to sponsor one or two students or low-income folks to attend Will Allen's workshop, would you please send me an email. Thanks.

Just Fruits and Exotics, Orchard Pond Organics, Damayan, Stacy Rasky with TallyLife and a couple other folks have already taken up the cause by pledging scholarship money.  Thanks a bundle.

PS- Let's invite our elected officials to learn about Will Allen's success and vision of economic development via a vibrant "local food industry."  Here's a few links to aid your attempt to solicit their presence at Will's workshop: Tallahassee City Commission, Leon County Board of County Commissioners, Leon County Sheriff, State Representatives Vasilinda, Williams, and Coley, State Senators Dean and Montford.

We might just have a movement on our hands amidst all the great folks doing fantastic work.  How exciting!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Oakland's Food Justice

Last June, I got an email from Marcy Rosner, a native of Tallahassee that had been-- for a handful of years-- living in Oakland.  She was back home for the month and hoped to find some volunteer opportunities with community gardens or some other volunteer urban ag project in Tallahassee.  Eventually she linked up with Shelby Stec, an awesome FSU student that coordinates a garden at the Salvation Army on Jackson Bluff.

Last week, the day before catching a plane for the Bay area (for a visit to see my sister, Kelley), I sent Marcy my own email.  I'd been hearing reports about all kinds of food movement work in Oakland like this YES! Magazine article featuring the work of Urban Tilth.  I'd also heard stories about People's Grocery from Marcy, and, via Farm City, a book by Novella Carpenter, I'd heard about City Slicker Farms.  I hoped to see a bit of what's going on in Oakland with reference to the food movement and to catch a few stories.

Marcy invited me over to prepare and eat a meal with her roommate, Raquel, and her "Food Justice Homie, Marcelo."  We started by heading for the farmers' market in Berkeley, which they said was "the most expensive market around" because of its proximity to the "foodie ghetto" where restaurants like Alice Water's Chez Panisse are located in great plenty.  The prices, however-- for local, organic produce-- was about half that of Tallahassee's equivalent.  It felt like paradise.  The resulting meal-- Yum!-- was to die for.  Oven roasted root vegetable medley seasoned with fresh garlic and dill (beets, purple carrots, turnips, onion).  Fresh kale with garlic in orzo. Winter squash baked with Thyme and olive oil.  Fresh arugula-spinach salad with ripe persimmons, red onions with homemade balsamic/garlic/lime dressing.  And what else?  Fresh bread and local olive oil for dipping.

At the close of the meal, I confessed, "You know one of my favorite things about the food movement?"  My fellow eaters played along, "What's that?"  "That right there," I pointed to the table, "eating a meal like that is a direct action, a means of participating in the movement.  I love that!"

- - -

In addition to eating, I learned a lot about the "Food Justice Movement" in Oakland via Marcelo's stories.  A graduate-- like Marcy-- from the Ethnic Studies Dept at UC Berkeley, he is now pursuing his PhD looking at the ways in which WWII industry-induced migration changed the racial-ethnic composition of Oakland.  In years past, he was employed by People's Grocery.  Though no longer on the payroll, he continues to volunteer while also serving on the board of Planting Justice, another Oakland Food Justice organization that emphasizes Permaculture.

On Sunday, we took a look around Oakland.  Though it was raining, we were able to visit People's Grocery's non profit head quarters; the People's Grocery's California Hotel Urban Farm; DeFremery Park (one of the locations where People's Grocery distributes their Grub Boxes.  Interestingly, DeFremery park is also one of the historic sites whereat the Black Panther Party once served breakfast to hungry kids every morning, free of charge, which roots Oakland's current work in previous efforts);  Mandela Foods Co-Op (which is currently, according to Marcelo, the only grocery store in Oakland's city limits.  I.e., Oakland is a food desert.); lastly, we visited a new City Slicker Farms location within an Oakland city park.

Marcelo spoke repeatedly of Oakland's "movement culture,"its "shared movement spaces," and about Oakland's "Food Justice Movement."  The dynamism alive in Oakland is more than a handful of innovative urban agriculture, (healthy) "food-security," and sustainability focused "food resilience" efforts that happen to be taking place in the same city.  Instead, the many (MANY!) organizations and efforts complement one another.  For instance, OBUGs (Oakland Based Urban Gardens), as Marcelo shared, has a great relationship with the school system, so if someone comes along hoping to work with grade students, folks send them to OBUG's.  Additionally, the many projects are interconnected and mutually supportive.  Marcelo himself is exemplary: former employee of People's Grocery, board member of Planting Justice, co-op member at Mandela Foods, friends with staff at City Slicker Farms, mentoree of an Urban Ag professor at Berkeley, linked with leaders at Urban Tilth, part of a "New Narratives" Bay Localize! Working Group, etc.

If you do a little clicking around on these Oakland based organization and business websites that I heard reference to and/or saw, you'll get an idea of the networked nature of the Oakland Food Justice Movement:

Oakland Food Policy Council
Oakland Based Urban Gardens
Oakland Food Connection
Planting Justice
Phat Beets Produce
Urban Food
Mandela Marketplace
Mo' Better Foods
People's Grocery
City Slicker Farms
All Edibles
Planting Justice
Bay Localize
Kitchen Gardeners International

As People's Grocery's slogan captures, Oakland is engaged in a dynamic movement to ensure "Healthy food for all."

Lest we lose ourselve thinking about Oakland's example, it's good to keep in mind that we are well on our way here in Tallahassee.  Though most organizations and associations are not registered nonprofits, we have our own networked hub of urban ag/healthy food/food justice/food-security/community food resilience here at home:

(in no particular order)
Seven Tallahassee-area subscription community gardens
Over 25 Tallahassee-area school gardens
Tallahassee Community Gardens Institute (currently functioning as a network)
Project Food (an initiative of Qasimah Boston)
Second Harvest of the Big Bend's food security garden
Greater Frenchtown Revitalization Council
HEAT, Health Equity Alliance of Tallahassee
FAMU's CESTA (Ag Extension)
FSU's Tallahassee Sustainability Group (student organization)
UF's IFAS (Ag Extension)
Damayan Garden Project
Tallahassee Edible Garden Club and Tours
Indianhead Acres Community and front/back yard gardeners
Red Hills Small Farms Alliance (email)
Apalachee Bee Keepers
New Leaf Market (Cooperative) + their amazing Farm Tour
Bread and Roses Food Cooperative
Tallahassee Food Policy Council
Slow Food Tallahassee
New North Florida Cooperative Assn. (Farm to School Prg.)
Not to mention the 1000's of individual folks with home gardens amongst whom are the true heros: gardeners that reap a bounty and share with their family, neighbors, friends, church members, and our area's under and un-fed folks.

We have quite a movement on our hands.  How do you hope to contribute?  What would you like to learn?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nutritional Tidbits (from Jorge Lopez): Eat Your Veggies

Meet my buddy, Jorge Lopez.

He and I attended Warren Wilson College together, where he studied biology with a focus on plants.  Prior to  "Wilson," he earned his AA at the University of Florida, served for four years in the US Marine Corps.  He's worked as an EMT for three years in New York City and for three years as an ER tech.  He also worked for a year in a health food store. Currently, Jorge's attending the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ.  It also so happens that he's an amazing cook.

A couple months back Jorge and I communicated via facebook about the possibility that he could guest-post on my blog to provide nutritional tidbits that link food gardening with healthy eating and health, in general.

This is the first of such posts.  Thanks go to Jorge.

"Eat Your Veggies"
- by Jorge Lopez-

When I was a child I remember my mom telling me, “Eat your veggies they're good for you."  I would often ignore my mom’s plea and go for the sweets. As I grew older and rediscovered the magic of growing and eating veggies I also felt a surge in my vitality. In a world of over processed food where our basic nutrients have to be reintroduced into food packages, the body forgets how good it is to eat fresh, nutrient rich, homegrown veggies. The benefits of eating veggies affect our bodies, minds and soul. One of the many organs in our bodies that a diet full of vegetables can benefit is the heart.

The leading cause of death in the US and other developed countries is heart disease. You would be surprised how a plate of veggies a day can change that statistic. Vegetables are of full vitamins, fiber and phytochemicals that are very beneficial for the heart and overall health. Let’s start with one of the most important benefits of veggies, fiber.

A significant amount of plant matter is composed of cellulose, hemicelluloses and other fibers. Fiber cannot be broken down by the body and passes through our digestive system. As fiber passes through the intestines it picks up cholesterol which is then excreted. Lowering cholesterol is very beneficial, but it’s not the whole picture.

A diet consisting of primarily vegetables is low in simple sugars. Foods containing simple carbohydrates like candy, bread, and pasta, just to name a few, increase the amount of sugar in the blood which can be converted to AGE’s (advanced glycosilated end products) which cause damage to the blood vessels. When the body uses cholesterol to repair this damage, a consequence is the formation of plaques on the walls called Atherosclerosis.

Another contributing aspect of veggies are vitamins like B5 (Pantothenic acid), folate, and E (tocopherols) that help maintain cardiovascular health. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) helps with the production of HDL’s (good cholesterol) that help to reduce LDL’s (Bad cholesterols) and reduce the occurrence of plaque formation. Folate along with methylcobalmine (B12) reduces homocysteine a very reactive amino acid that causes damage to the cardiovascular system. Vitamin E (Tocopherols) helps reduce platelet aggregation, lowers cholesterol and is also a strong antioxidant. Finally Phytoesterols are phytochemicals that reduce the amount of cholesterol by competing with fats in the gut.

These are only a few of the many benefits of eating fresh veggies, but they are significant in that they help maintain and care for your heart which in return will take care of you. The best part of eating right is the boost of energy and vitality you will feel. Always remember that optimum health is achieved through balance and that is maintained through eating a variety of foods rich in all nutrients.

Questions? Contact Us via

Email. Phone: (850) 322-0749. Facebook. Or, Form.