Thursday, July 30, 2009
His idea was to use the fruits of his labor to feed his restaurant customers and maybe do a little U-pick business. Brilliant use of space. Or so I thought.
But that's not what Culver City officials are thinking. The Times notes that they've informed Vincent Trevino that while it's OK to grow your own food in Culver City. It's against zoning to grow food to sell.
I hope city leaders come around and get behind the urban farming effort.
Trevino's neighbors are already benefiting from his "pocket farm." A once derelict lot is brimming with veggies. And all those on the urban garden's street have been promised bags of tomatoes.
The new city manager, Mark Scott, seems to get it. After a recent visit to the area, he told the LA Times, "We've entered into a new kind of urban world, and maybe some of the codes on farming are a little outmoded."
Photo: VFG archives
Sunday, July 26, 2009
I'm having some mixed feelings as I miss my kids, but know they're already having a fantastic time with four of their cousins.
To cheer me up, we're having some adult fare at home tonight, starting with cocktails and olives.
But the best part was the second course, an easy peasy Watermelon, Dill & Tomato Salad.
I've been trying to figure out what to do with a boatload of dill from my CSA last week. I know how to use it with lemon and fish. But we took a risk by mixing in some items we had on hand tonight.
Here's the recipe...
Slice of watermelon (seeded if you can)
Rough chopped dill
Two thick slices of fresh feta
Two slices of tomatoes
Salt (to taste)
Olive oil (drizzled)
Balsamic vinegar (drizzled)
Arrange watermelon, feta and tomato on plate (overlap if you can); salt tomatoes; top with dill; and drizzle olive oil and vinegar on top.
I would never have paired dill with watermelon if I didn't have an overabundance of it in the house. Yay CSA!
Photo: VFG archives
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge supporter of farmers markets (you can catch me on occasional Saturdays at the Oak Park Farmers Market info booth). But she's right to say that many food buyers are likely under the false impression that what they're buying is organic.
Not likely. Indeed, I'd argue that focusing on certified organic is a waste of time at this point. Organic certification has become so cumbersome, so parsed in regulation, that the best strategy, from my perspective, is to know your farmer personally. Know how he/she works the land, manages pests and whether the farm is working toward sustainability.
I'm not expecting that all of my produce will be pesticide free. One seasonal example: it's unlikely that you'll find cherries that aren't exposed to some sort of spray. Instead, I've opted to buy from farmers I trust, who grow close to home.
Check the photo I posted. This vendor at the TGIF Farmers Market (Village of Grand Traverse Commons) notes in one sign that the veggies are grown sustainably with "no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers."
Which brings me to today's CSA pickup. As I've noted every other week, I signed up for a half share this year at King's Hill Farm, which does happen to advertise as organic.
A full share would give me more veggies than my family could eat. The half share provides a perfect balance of regular veggies I know I like and more exotic varieties that spark my creativity in the kitchen.
In this week's box:
- Green Cabbage
- Summer Squash
- Sweet Onion
- White Baby Turnips
- Kale Medley
- Rainbow Chard
- New Potatoes
- Green Beans
- Torpedo Onions
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The Hoosier Outsider, apparently still joansing for a berry crop after strawberry season finished, has been buying up blueberries at auction.
Sounds like a good move, considering the roadside stand keeps selling out.
Not a surprise. These Midwest blues are amazing. Future Farmboy ate up a pint like a pile of M&Ms.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
We spent a few minutes at the TGIF Farmers Market, which takes place from 2-6 Fridays at the Village of Grand Traverse Commons.
I bought some delish herbed goat cheese from Zingerman's Creamery. That'll be my on-the-road snack for the way home.
We also did some wine tasting at this "urban winery" Left Foot Charley, which is situated in the asylum's old laundry building.
But the treat of the evening was seeing the century-old state hospital and the massive repurposing happening on that campus.
If you're in the area, don't miss it. But be sure to get good directions. It's only slightly off the beaten path. Nevertheless, we had to whip out the iPhone to get us back on track.
There's a whole range of tour options, from local farmers market tours to full-day excursions that include touring local organic farms, cooking demos and dinner.
There's apparently a Chicago tour. But the really interesting one is in western Illinois and includes stops in Wisconsin and Iowa. [There's another tour downstate that has stops in Missouri & Kentucky.]
Up here in northern Michigan, one tour encircles the land around Lake Leelanau. So in addition to agri-learning, it looks like tourists get some pretty spectacular views along the way.
The kids would kill me if I signed us all up for this. But this may be something for us to do next year when they're a little older or I can hire a babysitter for the day.
I've seen a bunch of self-guided agri-tourism opportunities. But I like how this company takes on all the planning and organization to make the tour a full experience.
Would be great to hear from folks who've taken the tours to get a sense of the quality.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
This real Urban Farmgirl now has a pen, two Rhode Island Reds and is collecting two eggs a day.
Gypsy started laying right away, but Molly needed a little encouragement. Turns out Molly likes to jam while laying, so the Urban Farmgirl put a radio in the coop.
What a nice pen. I think this cost about $200, including delivery.
Love this quote: "I only hear them when they want me to know an eggs coming...my chickens are so thoughtful!"
Can't wait to visit and get some fresh eggs, which the neighbors are already enjoying.
Looks like this Urban Farmgirl may have started a neighborhood trend...because the neighbors are impressed so far at how low maintenance the chickens are, how quiet they are and how good the eggs taste.
Proud backyard chicken farmgirl:
Here's Sookie getting used to the animals in her charge:
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
We'll definitely do this again, though we've learned a few lessons, like this Farmgirl needs to be comfortable or nobody's going to have a good time.
I bought a blow-up mattress from the Betsie River camp store, aka the mini-Wal-Mart, one minute before the store closed. Second night was much better, except for the bitter cold. Temps dropped to the low 40s, so we were up a bunch making sure the kids were warm. And I ended up sharing a sleeping bag with Future Farmgirl. Good gravy that kid can squirm.
Pix below tell the story of our trip highlights. Except there's no pictures from Glenn Puit's visit to our campsite. Was great to see our old colleague from the Flo Mo in South Carolina.
More pix later, if I have the energy to lift the camera. I'm beat and, tonight, have taken to my bed. It'll be room service or starvation tonight.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
In no time we were across the border an at Redamak's in New Buffalo, Mich. We learned to stick with the legendary burgers. The rest of the food is just so so.
We missed a key exit at one point after that, which led us to explore a bit of Paw Paw Lake and the cute little towns that surround it.
By 4:30, we were in Manistee. We'd driven through this lovely little river village last year and vowed to return. Sadly, many of the interesting restaurants have closed. Michigan is hurting in this economy, but I had no idea the resortish areas were being hit so hard. It's like a ghost town in some quarters here...and it's Saturday in high season.
We're benefiting from the quiet beaches, short lines and no traffic.
Tomorrow we head to Sleeping Bear Dunes after we set up camp near Franfort and Betsie Bay. More pix...probably later in the week after we get to Traverse City.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
But I'm thinking I may need to give a big portion of it to a neighbor or co-workers unless I can figure this into our camp menu for the coming week.
I'd hate to have to give away this red cabbage. Maybe we'll do fish tacos tomorrow and whip up a batch of cabbage & kohlrabi coleslaw to take with us on the road.
Here's this week's box inventory:
- Red Cabbage
- Bulb Shallots
- Mini Onions
- Snap Peas
- Kale Medley
- Garlic Scapes
- Lemon Balm
- Bunched Turnips
Sunday, July 5, 2009
But I urge you to set aside those smells and flavors and pick up one of the red, yellow and/or orange varieties at your farmers market. You can boil or saute them. But if you want to be wowed by the flavor, set your oven to 375 degrees and roast.
Roasting draws out the natural sugars in the beets. And if you chop them and toss them in olive oil, sea salt and a bit of balsamic vinegar, they'll caramelize. [Next time I'm going to try them on the grill.]
With any remaining vinegar and oil, I toss in some walnuts and toast those after the beets for about five to 10 minutes.
Serve with goat cheese and mixed greens and you'll surely impress your spouse, your guests and your taste buds.
Check out this great combo in January's New York Times. Here's the NYTs recipe for Beet and Radicchio Salad w/ Goat Cheese and Pistachios.
Photo from skrockodile's flickr photostream.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
These pesky little rodents will eat just about anything. They dig for my bulbs and, it turns out, they love my tomatoes. I have an added concern about raccoons, which I know for certain (see photographic evidence) are spending time in my backyard.
I'm guessing these furry critters will steer clear of my jalapenos. But I really would like a tomato crop this season. So I'm on the hunt for a good animal repellent.
One my fellow Twitterers @OakParkerr pointed me to a cayenne spray, Bonide Hot Pepper Wax Animal Repellent, that she bought at Good Earth Garden Center.
Then I came across a post from another Oak Park gardener, MicroFarmer, who provided a link to an eHow recipe to make my own.
When I get my energy back, I'll whip up a batch and see if that does the trick.
Friday, July 3, 2009
And he's doing more than just driving the tractor. This scrappy 93-year-old is still wrestling 200 50-pound bales of hay a season.
The iFarmer can attest that baling is not a job for the faint of heart.
Sadly though, his last 38 acres is up for sale. [The Cook County Forest Preserve condemned 150-acres of his land in the 1960s.]
Because of encroaching residential development, the property is likely destined to house houses.
Too bad really...we have enough housing stock in the region. But with estimated values hitting a max of $13 million, it isn't likely that these last 38 acres will remain farmland. That's an irresistible price.
One thing the article doesn't address is where horse owners will get their hay once Bergman officially retires. It's getting tougher and tougher for animal owners to find hay suppliers.
Click on the above image to see the Trib's photo gallery of Bergman.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Turns out I've missed a lot, namely the water wars that are well underway in California. Nearly 4,000 farmers, farmworkers and their supporters took to the streets in Fresno to protest regulations that have cut water supplies to one of the nation's most bountiful regions. Check this AP story in the Mercury News for more.
Anyone who's looked at a map or has seen the Milagro Beanfield War knows that access to water is literally the lifeblood of modern agriculture. Without irrigation, large corporate farms and growing such diverse crops in far-flung areas would be next to impossible.
Indeed, the AP story has this quote:
"Water makes the difference between the Garden of Eden and Death Valley."
That observation was from comedian Paul Rodriguez, who is speaking on behalf of the Latino Water Coalition, which is lobbyiing for a change in water delivery policies.
In California, one of the big conflicts is between farmers, who are pressing for more water for irrigation, and fisherman, who've been suffering for years because of drought conditions in the area's delta region.
But if you think this is an issue only isolated to these groups in this region, think again.
"The reality is that the amount of water available for agriculture — and not only in California — is going to shrink," writes Susan Crowell for Farm & Dairy.
Crowell's advice for the Midwest?
Preserve and conserve.
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