Man in Overalls helps you #GrowYourGroceries!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Food Day Activities (Week Two) - Don't forget

The Tallahassee Food Network is really pulling together a great slew of events.  I will be at the Food Trucks Thursday evening; I'm coordinating the Community Garden Tour this Saturday; I'll attend the Food-O-Rama event at Kleman Plaza on Sunday, 1-6pm.  Amidst that window, I'll most certainly be in attendance from 3-5pm at Tallahassee Food Network's Youth Symposium on Food and Hunger, organized by my friend Qasimah Boston with Project F.O.O.D (at Kleman Plaza in TCC conference center). Monday, Oct 23rd, will be a juggling act from exhibiting my truck which I'll have planted full of veggies at the Florida Grown School Lunch Week Kick-Off at the Capital 10am-1pm and presenting at the Sustainable You Conference on "Food and Community Gardening 101" at 3pm.  See you around town.  Happy Food Day. (Details below)

Food Day seeks to bring together Americans from all walks of life—parents, teachers, and students; health professionals, community organizers, and local officials; chefs, school lunch providers, and eaters of all stripes—to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. We will work with people around the country to create thousands of events in homes, schools, churches, farmers markets, city halls, and state capitals. (from

Locally, Food Day is a over-arching banner, a common rallying-call to celebrate and further the many events, efforts and initiatives already going on amidst our local food movement. As you'll see by checking the brief schedule (below), in our area, Food Day would more aptly be named "Food Week" or "Food Month" as the multitude of events expands far outside the bounds of a single day, much as the work of the food movement exists far beyond our efforts immediately tied to Food Day. 

Food Day Tallahassee

Pro bono Tallahassee-area Food Day PR Sponsor

Taking Notes

Had to get a kitchen scale at Panhandlers Kitchen Supply today because my lettuce is ready for the eating and I want to document my harvest.
Bought a kitchen scale today.  For the past two+ years I've been in business, folks have asked me, "But how much can I expect to grow in such-and-such a garden?"  I've answered with my own experiences, with rough estimates of numbers of heads of lettuce, harvests of collard greens, ranges of anticipated production rates of tomato plants.  Finally, I'm going to document what I grow in my own garden, pound by pound, ounce by ounce.  I've got the space equivalent of (5) 4x4 raised beds, so I'll have five replicates to share and some averages for the cool season come March/April.  Then I'll document spring season.

Meanwhile, the work of the food movement to develop resilient community-based food systems is all the more important: Received the note below from Second Harvest of the Big Bend mentioning that they are to receive 10s of 1000s of pounds less food from the USDA each month that was historically distributed to shelters, church food pantries and the like. What this means is more empty bellies and food-preoccupied minds at work, in school, walking the street, and laying in bed at night.

This summer, we saw a  drastic cut in USDA Commodities; government surplus food provided by the Florida Department of Agriculture. This program accounted for 2 million pounds (36%) of our annual distribution last year with an average of 173,000 distributed each month.  In July and August of 2011, we distributed an average of 96,000 pounds a month of Commodities, a decrease of 55 percent. The decline of  Commodities will continue and all indications are that the Commodity program will see cuts in federal funding in 2012, further reducing the amount of food received through this program. The bottom line, the amount of USDA food available will not get better - this is our new reality.

To augment the sudden reduction in USDA food, we are working aggressively to secure food from national and local sources.  Immediately, you will see an increase in the amount of purchase product.  Our staff will continue to seek additional sources for donated items through the network and various other sources.  It is important to note that this USDA reduction is being felt across the nation and has strained the food supply nationally.

We appreciate your patience as we work to resolve, as best we can, the current food shortage. It will not be an overnight fix.  There are no easy solutions.  Together we have weathered storms like this before and this storm too shall pass.

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On an entirely different note, food service company Bon Appetit has developed a comprehensive food-service-compatible college garden road map.  Cool.

Also worthy of note: "Restaurant Farms a Boon to New Farmers" - post in - Cool Concept.  I think I'm going to have to pitch the idea to some local restaurants.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mary Ann Lindley: Food Day takes to the streets (and gardens), TD, Oct 9, 2011

Graciously, Mary Ann Lindley at the Tallahassee Democrat agreed to write her op-ed piece on Tallahassee-area Food Day activities being coordinated by countless spokes of the Tallahassee Food Network.

Mary Ann Lindley: "Food Day takes to the streets (and gardens)"
Sunday, Oct 9, 2011
Tallahassee Democrat

Beautiful Picture by Inga Finch
A few years ago, ice cream moved to my short list of wicked foods. It's kind of a joke at our house, where I'm learning to make frozen yogurt, thanks to the cheerfully entertaining kind of wedding present you get when you are middle-aged.

In addition to the emotional appeal of ice cream, it's Exhibit A — maybe B, if you count a nice glass of wine — of items that we tell ourselves we "deserve."

Long day, hot day, too much going on, exhausted, annoyed, heartbroken, depressed: Ice cream with all the trimmings comes to the rescue.

Still, very little can be said for it nutritionally, not even if you're looking at it as a calcium supplement. Likewise, not much can be said for the great gobs of food that pop up on the TV screen glistening with butter (a couple of hours before bedtime), successfully tempting Americans to savor the joy of their journey to obesity. At which time they wonder how they got there, and how to make the return trip to a more livable weight.

If you're trying to lose, or even maintain your poundage, think about these encouraging mottoes: "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" and "All things in moderation."

The first was the comment that got supermodel Kate Moss in trouble for inadvertently encouraging teenage girls to become anorexic, but it's got some truth in it.

The other one I thought was my Mom's firmly held position on between-meal snacks, but it turns out it was Aristotle's idea. And it didn't have much to do with food, but rather finding the middle ground between excess and deficiency in all things.

Meanwhile, as millions of Americans wrestle with obesity, at the other end of the guilt trip is hunger.

According to the World Hunger Education Service, one in seven households in the U.S. is "food insecure." The organization, which has been monitoring hunger since 1976, defines food insecurity: "At times during the year, the food intake of household members was reduced and their normal eating patterns were disrupted because the household lacked money and other resources for food."

Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture projected that more than one in eight Americans — about 43.3 million people — would have participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called food stamps) through the end of this year.

Obesity and hunger are not necessarily the opposites that you might at first think, however.

They are linked, and both are part of the mission of Food Day, which is a grassroots movement that's swept the country, and which has some committed participants here in North Florida.

You might not expect, for example, to find both Brogan Museum Executive Director Chucha Barber and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Adam Putnam at work on the same cause.

But on Food Day, which is Oct. 24, Putnam will preside over the Florida Grown School Lunch Week kickoff in the Capitol courtyard (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.). It's saluting school lunch programs that use locally grown foods, which is a meaningful boon to Florida farmers as well as student health.

Leading up to that, the Brogan will throw open its doors onto Kleman Plaza on Oct. 23 for a free concert, with several food trucks and activities for children. If you go, bring some canned food to donate to Second Harvest of the Big Bend, our local hunger-fighting agency.

That Sunday afternoon, inside the Brogan, the case for community gardens as part of the sustainable food movement will include presentations from various youth groups, including St. John's Missionary Baptist Church, the Youth Empowerment Leadership Development Academy, Florida Youth Against Hunger and Tallahassee Sustainability Group.

Who knew so many young people were involved in this movement? Yet it is their future.

And many of the food-day activities at the Brogan should be quite entertaining — the museum's bee colony and hive, which was set up in 2008 on National Pollinator Day, continues to be a popular but not-quite hands-on exhibit.

Nathan Ballentine, whose Tallahassee Food Gardens enterprise builds individual and community raised-bed gardens, combines his devotion to food security, the relationship between food choices and obesity, and the sustainability economy, which includes raising some of your own food and supporting locally grown produce.

Ballentine, who wears blue denim overalls like my dad used to wear decades ago, said there are between 40 and 45 community gardens in Tallahassee. That includes the oldest one, FAMU's Community Garden, which was started in 1974, and new ones he's working on in SouthWood and at Kate Sullivan School on Miccosukee Road. A Saturday morning tour of many community gardens will be Oct. 22.

Those shared gardens are really where it all comes together, both as an antidote to food shortages and an incentive to food choices that help prevent childhood obesity and all its side effects, which plague overweight adults and the entire health-care industry.

This Food Day effort, unfolding during our perfect fall season, which in our region is very good for gardening, could gently change habits, tastes and lives.

Both Kate Moss and Aristotle would like the idea.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Of Interest

A few links and pictures of interest:

Tallahassee Food Network
     A Growing Hub of Tallahassee's food movement
     & the site to visit for all the details on Tallahassee-area Food Day Activities
Tallahassee Community Gardening Program
     Get your neighbors together, start a community garden on city land
Grow to Learn NYC
     Awesome NYC-based school garden program
Grow the Planet
      Super cool crowd-sourcing garden how-to resource
Urban Agriculture Training
     Georgia Organics is offering an awesome 10 month training in ATL
Urban Farming Guys
     Group of Guys in Kansas City who offer great DIY home-growing videos
My Farm
     A "Farmville-isk" experiment in crowd-sourcing farm management
Tallahassee Edible Garden Club
     Edible Garden Tours plus monthly peer-to-peer edible garden info exchange
Ample Harvest
     A Food Gardener to Food Pantry connector site

And a few pictures:

My new pyramid raised bed.

Bill's sugar snaps climbing their trellis

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