All Posts Tagged With: "organic food"

11 thrivability lessons from Bioneers 2010

Seagull made from trash by: Erin Mitchell
Two dear friends, Erin Mitchell of BlueGreen Acupuncture and Tracy Ward, publisher of Urbanite magazine, are live in Marin, CA, at the Bioneers conference. Here is the first of their dispatches.

I am busting at the seams with inspiration here in Marin County, San Rafael California at the 22nd annual national Bioneers Conference. The Agricultural institute of Marin took us on a 9-hour tour of what’s really going on with agriculture, food and farming. I was with a group of about 45 folks today on this tour of Marin County’s farms and the latest in “thrive-ability” projects. Just so you know…the new buzz word is “thrive-ability” to replace its less enthusiastic sister, “sustainability”. One comes from abundance and the other comes from mediocrity. And I assure you the former is what’s happening!!! Thrive-ability!

It’s been less than 24 hours and I’ve already learned so much:

  • We will be able to sequester carbon emissions 4 times the amount of our output simply by using organic compost to fertilize grass-grazed pastures.
  • We can harvest seeds in weeds that are native to the land for our food supply of necessary complex carbohydrates (and they taste AWESOME).
  • Extra virgin olive oil purchased in the U.S. only has to be 10% virgin for it to count as being extra virgin. And that the only thing that can kill an olive tree is too much water (not even fire can kill it)
  • Diversifying farms are key to viability. For example, a 140-year-old organic dairy farm (which was only 75% organic for a VERY good reason) has started a pumpkin patch and cheese factory in order to bring in more income to the land.
  • From my lessons from Suzie Q I taught the group how to stick four fingers in a baby calf’s mouth and they will suck until the sun goes down – it’s gotta be one of the coolest feelings!
  • You can ferment rice to make lactose and spray lettuce leaves to kill microbes and create greens that are full of nutrients instead of eating lettuce that’s only nitrogen and water (even the “organic” stuff may not be nutrient filled. )
  • Growing rabbit is a very economical and sustainable way of producing protein and it doesn’t need refrigeration. Imagine.
  • We are teaching the Rabbit growing techniques to emerging countries like Haiti. This was started by a mom helping her daughter with a 4H project in school and has now turned into an international model!
  • You can be a beginner in change.
  • You can stumble into your passion and world work if you stay open.
  • What’s most astonishing is that the people who have discovered these things range anywhere from construction workers to software developers to graphic designers to children’s book writers. The common theme with all of them is they decided at a point in their lives not to focus on their failures but rather to focus on what was going right and making their successes thrive.

Quotes from ordinary people today….

“I want all the children to know that underneath the concrete is a beautiful garden.”

“We can measure democracy by what’s on the plate at school lunch.”

Nature misses us.” (Referring to a native plant/weed that produces a delicious seed and it’s dying off. It only reproduces or grows if you pick it. HA!)

P.S. from Tracy:

Yesterday was equally inspiring with learnings from the CEO of Stonyfield Farms, a guy who started making organic yogurt in his backyard and now has a 310 million dollar company that is profitable and supports local farms. The company has figured out that making decisions that are good for the planet have boosted profitability every step of the way.

And later, we heard from a team of people who have figured out how to manage grazing in such a way to fully restore habitats lost to desertification (due to over grazing), all while increasing profitability, carbon sequestration, and amazingly the land’s capacity to handle more grazing. And, finally, a presentation by a totally inspiring woman from Brooklyn who has started an urban farm that makes me weep with possibility.

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Stay tuned for more updates. We’d love to hear your comments — what inspires you about this news?

Baltimore takes its place as an urban farming mecca

Photo by: Hamilton Crop Circle
Food security. Sustainable agriculture. Slow food. Healthy, locally-sourced food. Whatever it’s called, Baltimore is quickly taking the lead nationwide in the movement towards local, sustainable food.

This May, city leaders appointed a new Food Czar, Holly Freishtat, to improve demand for and access to healthy foods throughout the city. For a few years now, the City Schools Director of Food and Nutrition Services, Tony Geraci, has been busy reshaping the entire food-delivery system of the BCPS. There are at least eleven farmer’s markets throughout the week in Baltimore, numerous CSA’s to choose from, and places like the Mill Valley General Store, which offers only Maryland-sourced food products, both fresh and small-batch prepared. The Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future promotes “Meatless Monday” on its website.

New job-creating and educational ventures have started up to focus on healthy, local food. For example, there’s the Hamilton Crop CircleReal Food Farm in Clifton Park, and Great Kids Farm in Catonsville, to name just three.

What’s going on here? As a long-time advocate of and participant in the green movement, this reporter has observed that food is an excellent entry-point for so many people. We all have to eat, right? On a personal level, as well as from a business standpoint, food is hot!

Continue reading . . . .

Green Events 2: You Are What You Eat

photo by: Balance Weddings

Second in a four-part series from our colleague and friend Lori Hill, owner of lori hill event productions. Read the first article here.

Today’s topic is: What you eat and what you eat the food ON


Michael Pollan hit the nail on the head when he wrote in In Defense of Food: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” What he means is eat REAL food — not the processed stuff that has names you can’t pronounce. Don’t eat too much and try to have a vegetarian diet. It takes 25 gallons of water to produce one pound of wheat, while it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat. So when planning your menu for your special event, be sure to provide some vegetarian options (or go all vegetarian!). Also, ask your caterer where they source their food from. You want it to be local and/or organic. If you have to choose, always pick local over organic since it travels a shorter distance from farm to table. Organic options are ideal because they don’t include all those evil “ides” – pesticides, insecticides and herbicides — that have been proven toxic and cancer-causing. Local is fresher and therefore tastes better and it supports your local economy! We all need to do that these days!


Every single day, 40 MILLION plastic bottles go into landfills. (Julie’s note: There is also a place in the Pacific Ocean where the world’s plastic tends to congregate, because of the ocean currents – really. It’s called the “Pacific Trash Vortex,” and it’s already twice the size of Texas.) That is why you need to say NO to bottled water and serve it in pitchers or large dispensers because even if you provide recycle bins, not everybody will recycle their bottle.

When serving coffee, go for fair trade/shade grown/organic coffee and fair trade/organic hot tea. Alcoholic beverages can be eco, too! Choose organic vodka, wine or beer OR support your local winery or brewery. If you can do it, say no to sodas. The artificial sweeteners in them are truly toxic and have no redeeming qualities. Opt for an organic beverage instead. I’m a fan of Honest Tea. You can drink it cold or at room temperature and it comes in lots of flavors. If this former diet Coke addict can kick the habit, so can you.

China and Disposables

I think fondly of the time when the world was a more genteel place and not the disposable economy it is today. I often think of a scene from Out of Africa with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford are camping in the African wilderness and they are eating off china! CHINA in the WILDERNESS!!! I opt for the “permanent stuff” whenever I can, but if I’m going to be outside with hundreds or thousands of guests, I’m usually forced to use disposables. Luckily, we now have affordable compostable options instead of that evil plastic that takes decades and decades to biodegrade. For small events, you can purchase these yourself at earth friendly grocery stores. Talk to your caterer about using compostable disposables if you are planning a large event.

(Note: this is only part of the job. You have to make sure a good waste station is set up, conveniently-located, for the guests to dispose of things properly. We’ll get to that in the final installment.)

Next topic: Greening your event decor.

Village Green Community Garden in Remington

photo by: alyssa
A short email conversation between Alyssa and Roy Skeen from the Village Green Community Garden in Remington.

A : When was the garden started? By?
R : Garden was started in 2007 by Megan Beller and Barb Fischer and myself?
A : How long have you lived in Remington?
R : 8 months
A : Was it something you were wanting to do for a long time?
R : For about a year.
A : Who did and who didn’t have experience in gardening or farming before the project?
R : I had grown food for one season prior.
A : Did you do any soil testing?
R : Yes we did three soil tests.
A : Where were you able to get your top soils from? Continued

Participation Park: Where Art and Politics Meet

photos by: Scott Berzofsky
Description of P Park by: Scott Berzofsky
Participation Park is an ongoing public art project and activist initiative based on converting a vacant lot in east Baltimore into an urban farm, social space, community kitchen, radical planning studio, free store and adventure playground. Against the increasing privatization of public spaces in the city and the top-down forms of urban planning that design them, we are squatting the land and collaborating with neighborhood residents to produce a space that responds to our collective needs and desires. Inspired by movements to ‘reclaim the commons’ and demand a ‘right to the city,’ the park is an experiment in democratic spatial practice, inviting everyone who participates in the use of the space to engage in the political process of shaping it.

Read a short email conversation between Alyssa and Scott….


Naturally Yours

photo: unknown
Naturally Yours is a nutritional health company that specializes in holistic health care alternatives. They offer health supplements and vitamins, organic treatments like Tibetan Goji Berries and a Black (Cumin) Seed based anti-oxident. Naturally Yours focuses on providing the public with information on variant forms of treatment for basic human maladies, and their own holistic alternatives.

Heathcote Community

photo from:
Heathcote is an intentional community located in Freeland Maryland just 30 mile north of Baltimore City. It sits on 112 acres some of which is in a community land trust the other owned by several community members. All of the houses and communal facilities are renovated farmhouses and old grain mills. Additional houses have been built using straw bale. There are many efforts within the community to use renewable resources and become energy independent. Whether you decide to live at Heathcote or just take part in one of there exciting permaculure classes you can always expect to enjoy and organic/ vegetarian meal(s), some of which is fresh from the garden, music, hiking, lounging in a stream-side hammock or helping out with some of the many natural building projects. Heathcote is a drug-free and smoke-free community and is currently looking for members. To find out more about everyday life at Heathcote one of its members has started a blog called Hippie Chick Diaries . You can also go to their website or take a visit to the farm.