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Showing posts from 2011


Below I've copied my Resources Page because I've grown aware that a lot of folks don't know I've got one and/or don't know where to turn for a go-to destination on the web related to food gardening and food movement resources.  Take a quick (or long) look through.  In the short or long-term future, you can come back and find them by clicking the "resources" link just over to the right under the google search box. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all that jazz... Tallahassee Food Gardens Quick Reference Guides What Can You Grow in a Square - Square Foot Gardening (in raised beds), plant spacing, seasonal varieties Food Gardening 101 - The Basics: local planting dates, how to prep beds, plant, water, etc Cover Up that Soil - Primer on the what, why, when, and best practices of growing cover crops Types of Community Gardens -Outlines the three major models of community gardens with local examples Additional Quick References Just Fruits and

And We Think We're Starting Something + another couple tidbits

In partnership with a group of young folks in Frenchtown calling themselves iGrow , I'm increasingly exploring urban farm possibilities. As we investigate possibilities, partnerships, land, business accounting, marketing, proposal pitching, and the works, we're manufacturing and selling iGrow Garden Buckets as a joint venture to raise seed money. Amidst the conversation, we've been talking about "starting the first urban farm in Tallahassee."  Well, goodness.  What's that phrase?  "There's nothing new under the sun." Something like that.  The idea of "starting something" or "being the first at something" sounds so cool.  It offers a legitimacy, a sense of "originalness" that's appealing, but too often in claiming such statuses, we-- whether intentionally or unintentionally--tread on those who came before us.  Such was our mistake, my mistake, really. It's silly, really, that'd I'd blunder with

"Healthy Eating Starts at Firm's Garden" - Tallahassee Democrat Thurs., Nov 17th, 2011

[Garden installed by Tallahassee Food Gardens featured in Democrat.] By Elizabeth M. Mack Democrat staff writer Turnips, cabbage and radishes are all fall vegetables that can be found in any home or community garden. But what about at work? The employees at FBMC Benefits Management started an urban garden of their own in the spring, said Glenda Atkinson, FBMC wellness coordinator. The garden is part of the company's many wellness programs, Atkinson said. FBMC has had a wellness program for than 20 years offering employees yoga classes, a workout area on site and cooking classes. Wednesday afternoon the company received recognition from the American Heart Association as one of its Fit-Friendly Companies — an honor FBMC received for the third consecutive year. It also received the Workforce Innovation Award for implementing the garden in its wellness program. "You guys have done a wonderful job," said Kellie Thigpen, American Heart Association regional direc

"A Peace of Bread" - Documentary -- featuring MIO-- about young people around the Country working on hunger

"A Peace of Bread" a new documentary by Diva Communications, is about young folks around the country who are working on food system change as a method of addressing hunger in their communities.  Debra, Diva's director/producer got wind of my work here in Tallahassee because I am a Food Justice Fellow with the Presbyterian Hunger Program .  She came through Tallahassee this past August to interview me and others amidst the Tallahassee Food Network . Take a look at their opening sequence: A Peace of Bread - opening sequence from Diva Communications on Vimeo .

"Food Justice: Honoring our Roots, Growing the Movement" - 15th annual conf of the Community Food Security Coalition

This past week I was in Oakland for the 15th annual conference of the Community Food Security Coalition .  With the Oakland's rich history of food justice work rooted in the Black Panther's Free Breakfast for School Children Program (that gave rise to the nation-wide free and reduced lunch programs), the Occupy Oakland movement centered just around the corner, and a gathering of 1100 folks from across the country and world all working amidst the food movement, the stage was set for a dynamic conference. But how do I tell the story of a movement meeting itself? Of 1100 workers in the food movement-- a microcosm of the global good-food system-- in the same place sharing stories, successes, challenges, models, and dreams?  Can I capture the dynamic via lists and links of represented organizations? If nothing else, I've got to discuss Food Sovereignty .  It was an oft repeated phrase at the conference.  As Malik Yakini from Detroit pointed out, " Food Security isn&

From Food Day to Food Sovereignty

Food Day festivities were a whirlwind of Tallahassee's food movement.  From the New Leaf Farm tour to video screenings , garden open houses, the community gardens tour , the Youth Symposium on Hunger and Food , Food-O-Rama at Kleman Plaza, the Sustainable You conference, and the "Florida Grown School Lunch Week Kick Off" at the capital, Food Day revealed many of the organizations and efforts amidst the food movement that largely go unseen, especially the Tallahassee Food Network . On Food Day proper, Oct 24th, I exhibited in the capital courtyard with the aid of my "truck farm," which was picked up by WCTV .  (As an aside, I'm working with a team of Frenchtown Youth to manufacture and sell the garden buckets you can see in the below picture, which are improvised earth boxes (which retail $60, empty).  We'll be selling ours, filled and planted for $25-$30.) The same day, I taught a workshop at Sustainable You called "Food and Community Gardening

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,

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 ar

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 look

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 suga

Community Garden Tour, 9-11:30am, Sat, Oct 22nd

Community Garden Tour Saturday, Oct 22 nd , 2011 9-11:30am (Registration, gathering at 8:45am) Questions? Contact Nathan Ballentine, Gather at Second Harvest. Carpooling encouraged in order to encourage exchange and collaboration amongst community gardeners and activists. We hope to provide transportation to the first 25 people for the same reason. Second Harvest Youth Food Garden 9am-9:30 Located 110 Four Points Way just off S. Adams street.   Raised bed vegetable gardens built and maintained by the YELDA, Youth Empowerment Leadership Development Academy.   Food distributed via food bank. FAMU Community Garden, St John’s Missionary Church’s plot   9:45 – 10:15am   Located on Orange Ave between Adams and Wanish Way. The FAMU community garden is the oldest community garden in the Tallahassee area, founded in 1974.   St. John’s plot—consisting of 15 4x8’ raised beds— is the newest church garden in the area. Fort Braden Community

'Tis the Season

It's that time of year: Folks ask me what I've been up to, and my consistent response is: "Gardens, gardens, gardens." Whether building and planting raised beds for folks who purchased Future Garden Coupons  or top-dressing and replanting with repeat customers, it's a wonderful whirlwind of business and plant growth. Here's a couple few pictures from the past week: Wendell, Nathan, and Bill - Piney Z farm boys Claudia and Tina after replanting their three raised beds. Accenting Kathy's existing garden with a couple raised beds down the middle. Going back Monday to spruce up and plant. Friday morning I stopped by FBMC Benefits Management where-- this past spring -- I installed their company wellness garden.  They started with four 4x4s, and now have requested I double their bed space by adding four more 4x4s, which they plan to plant, tend and harvest in order to donate to a food pantry through .  Below are the flags plotting ou

The story of last Friday

Last Friday I oversaw a September 11th memorial service project building, filling, and planting garden buckets for shut-in seniors-- so even those who can't bend too well, don't have much space, etc can grow a few vegetables to improve their diet.  Volunteer Leon coordinated the entirety of the event that involved a memorial service plus two other service projects: emergency preparedness buckets and "Wow" care packages for troops in Iraq.

Mention in Natural Awakenings August 2011

"More Community Gardens for our Community" Natural Awakenings , August 2011 Coming Fall 2011, SouthWood will have a Community Garden ready for planting. The idea, originally spearheaded by Brian Ramos, SW Cub Scout leader in collaboration with Nathan Ballentine, the Man in Overalls of Tallahassee Food Gardens , has grown to include many Southwood neighbors combining their talents and ideas to make it a reality. The effort is rooted in a desire to enrich the community, teach kids where their food comes from, and provide families with healthy, fresh produce year-round. The Southwood Community Garden (SWCG); will also be a beautiful destination point for the neighborhood with 52 all-organic raised-bed gardens, butterfly garden, white picket fence, grape arbor, picnic benches and more. Residents and visitors would be welcome to stroll through the garden. Along with providing a space for people to grow their own produce and flowers, the SWCG will host a few learning seminar

"Kate Sullivan Garden Moves to Phase Two" - Tallahassee Democrat Chronicle, 9/1/2011

"Kate Sullivan Garden Moves to Phase Two" Kelley Des Marais (special to the Chronicle) After months of planning by teachers, parents, school board members, Kate Sullivan Elementary School Garden Committee proudly announces the completion of phase one of the Community School Garden, completed on Aug. 19th. The finished garden is approximately 150 square feet including a spigot and three raised garden beds.  The garden eventually will include compost and vermiculture bins, bench seating and enough raised beds for each grade level to create its own garden.  The garden will be fore students as well as the community and is accessible to people with disabilities.  This space will serve as an outdoor classroom with curriculum-based activities that meet Florida state-wide learning benchmarks in most categories including math, sciennce, language and art.  Along with the Department of Education, the garden committee developed a comprehensive guide for teachers based on Gardening

Words of Praise from Turkey Hill Farm (Louise Divine)

Hey Everybody! Really busy this week, getting beds ready and planting for the fall. Lots to do in the greenhouse as well. We sent some plants into town with Kelly Des Maris, to the new garden at Kate Sullivan Elementary School.  They are off to a rousing start, even have a website . If you want to get a garden going at your child's school I am sure they will be happy to hook you up with the resources they have used. I had the pleasure of sharing information about the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance this week with the Tallahassee Food Network . I shared with them the mission of the Small Farm Alliance and did a little show and tell about our Online Market . If you want to connect with other groups and people working to support the Tallahassee and regional food systems this is the crucible. There is a group working to make a celebration for National Food Day in October, a group working to coordinate and connect our community gardens ; a group working on a plan for educational

The Life!

Some days we get to live the life we imagined. Yesterday, I had the privilege of presenting on Community Gardening at the Second Harvest of the Big Bend Annual Agency Conference.  Of the 150 or so agency partners (largely food pantry coordinators and volunteers), 35 folks attended my workshop.  For starters, to demonstrate the inseparable link in my world-view between gardening and food security, I shared stories about my 93-year-old grandmother who shaped my childhood with stories of surviving the Great Depression via her family's garden, milk cow, and chickens. Next, we walked through Food Gardening Basics like sunlight, water, garden bed preparation, how deep to plant seeds, etc. Then, after a quick overview of the three major types of community gardens ( Allotment  or Subscription, Educational, Donation), we brainstormed, "What Does it Take to Start a Community Garden?" which brought to light the need for people, commitment, communication skills, and other human el

Staying Busy Amidst the Heat

In spite of the heat, folks are eager to get planting.  Below are a couple raised beds we built for folks aiming to plant their own gardens. (2) 4x4 raised beds installed in pre-existing mulched bed. FYI: It's not too late to throw in some last minute summer veggies like green beans, basil, okra, peppers, maybe some cucumbers, (if you've got lots of sun) sweet potatoes, and you just might be able to squeeze in a second season of plum or cheery tomatoes.  "r" shaped bed, custom built to fit the contour of the deck and Roberta's distaste for "too many straight lines." Then again, Fall planting is just around the corner: cooking greens (chard, kale, cabbage, collards), salad greens (lettuce, spinach, arugula), roots (other than potatoes: carrots, turnips, rutabagas, radishes), the onion/garlic family (including chives, shallots, scallions), and the cool-weather-preferring herbs (parsley, cilantro, dill, fennel).  September, October, Novemb