Saturday, April 7, 2012
It's been a while. I know. There has been a lot of ups and downs with the garden and I am glad to be back writing this. We were able to get some grant money through the Fruit Valley Foundation so we decided to start bee keeping. Yes, bees. At first I was nervous and a little afraid. Then I became less afraid and more nervous. Now I think I understand what a dad goes through when a baby is being born.
Yesterday I drove out to Gladstone to get a box of bees. Wait, let me back up. Two weeks ago I took my friend, Clarie to a great place called Bee Thinking in Sellwood. Being the know nothing about bees kinda gal, I thought I could just walk in and pick up our new Top Bar Hive. Well, it turns out that all kinds of people want a hive right now and there is a waiting list. That's when the panic set in. "My bees are coming April 6. MY BEES ARE COMING APRIL 6!!". They assured me everything would be fine and if it came down to it they would give me a nucleus box which is a temporary home until their lovely hive is done. Such was the case. Now back to yesterday.
Yesterday I drove out to Ruhl Bee Supply in Gladstone to pick up my package of Italian bees. Yep, Italian. I cautiously drove home and then set the box outside so they could settle down a bit. I watched them, I listened to them, I adored them. I went to work. I thought about them and I obsessed about them and then I texted Lisa about 75 times. "How are the bees? How about now? How about now? What are they doing?" New father syndrome has set in. Fast forward to today.
We wake up and get dressed. Our friend Laura comes over and Lisa's daughter, Rasheda is also here taking pictures. Everyone is pretty excited. I am way too nervous and keep forgetting the steps I need to take. Is this right? Did I watch the video enough times? Well, no matter. Here we go. I shake the box to make the bees fall to the bottom. It pisses them off a bit. I take out the can of syrup they have been eating. Wait, I forgot to get something to cover the hole. I find a wooden disc that will work. OK. Take out the can, shake off the bees, put the cover over the hole. Get the queen box out, cover the hole. Take out the cork holding in the queen, put the piece of marshmallow in the hole. Where's the marshmallow? In my car. Got the marshmallow. Stick it in the hole and set her in the box. Great. Next, shake all the bees in the box. This was neat and interesting and scary. Now I have bees all over me. Lisa is a very calm assistant and I recommend her for any bee help you may need. She gently brushes the bees off of me and I come out with only one sting! Success! Now we wait. We watch and leave them alone for the first few days and hope that they settle into their little mini apartment until the hive comes. It's exciting and I am hopeful that we succeed with our little colony.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Wow, yesterday was a day full of great news and hope. I attended a meeting at Fruit Valley Elementary School (right down the street from our house) that was being held by a woman from a group called Create Plenty. They are a non profit group from Portland who support local production and local producers, promote creative thinking about using and reusing materials and provide options to replace wasteful packaging. The name of the woman is Sola (pronounced Sharla) and she said that they would like to expand their organization into Vancouver and want to start in the Fruit Valley area, specifically the school. WOOHOO!!! They want to utilize the school garden and greenhouse as well as add another greenhouse, seed bank and tool library. Eventually they want to hold workshops on food preparation and preservation with the ultimate goal being to get the four gardens (including mine!) in the area to work together as a collective to form a Community Supported Grocery. This is huge news for Fruit Valley. I really wanted to just give Sola the biggest hug ever.
The CSG would work with the families of the students to teach them the importance of growing their own food and the health benefits of it. With hopeful contributions from some Corporate sponsors (Burgerville has already said yes!), the food would be available for a low cost to the residents of the neighborhood. In some cases the sponsors can donate "shares" of the produce to resident families. This sponsorship would also supply the seeds, tools and supplies needed to undergo such a project.
I have to say that this meeting really impacted me and gave me new hope. I wasn't sure how we were going to recruit people for our neighborhood garden and I certainly had no idea how we were going to pay for it this year. This is a big breakthrough coming at a very important time. Also yesterday I talked to someone who is willing to donate a sign for our front yard so we can let people know just what is going on here. People can really be great if given the opportunity. With all of the negativity that is surrounding this country right now it is so refreshing to have people step up where they can and lend a hand. If you are interested in learning more about the organization "Create Plenty", their website is www.createplenty.org And if you are interested in donating tools, time or supplies to the Sunshine Garden of Fruit Valley, you know how to reach me.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I am taking a break from my usual gardening blog to write about my most recent trip to San Francisco. This was my first time there and I have to say I was really impressed with the city, it went beyond my expectations. We arrived on Friday and quickly learned that our idea of a "steep" hill is a little different than theirs. Once we had gotten our luggage up the 90 degree hill to where we were staying we decided that it was time to enjoy some of the city and get some dinner. We were staying in the Castro district and it was a short walk from the house to the main hub so that was the obvious choice as to where we were going to go. Dinner consisted of a better than average meatball sub for me and a really good calzone for Lisa from a place called Marcello's. After eating we just took a walk around the area and soaked up all that it has to offer.
Saturday turned out to be a really great day. We met up with some new Facebook friends, Charles and Robert at the Ferry Building by the water. What an amazing place. We were really lucky that the Farmers Market was happening and it made me long for the upcoming season in WA. Some of the highlights were the citrus that was incredibly affordable and very beautiful, homemade Meyer Lemon yogurt at Saint Benoit and every pig product you can imagine. I love bacon and it was a real pleasure to see it in all of it's glory. The Ferry Building Marketplace has a long history and has completely developed into the place to go. If you are in the San Fran area, you have to check it out. We all know that California is a great farming state and this market just proves it. Vendors come from all over the Bay area just to have a booth there. Obviously I was quite impressed with the display even this early in the year. After we strolled throguh the market the four of us took a streetcar to an AMAZING bookstore called "Omnivore". Why is it so amazing? Because it is all cookbooks! That's right, cookbooks from every culinary corner. New, used, signed --- everything. I was in total awe. Thank you to our hosts and new friends, Charles and Robert for a very fun filled afternoon.
That evening Lisa and I decided to be more daring and venture out beyond Castro. We found a restaurant called "Herbivore", and as you might have guessed it is all vegan and all wonderful. I had a lentil loaf with mashed potatoes and sauteed greens and Lisa enjoyed a "chicken" shish kebab. I can't stop thinking about this restaurant. It would really be perfect for Portland. I will write to them and request it for sure.
Sunday brought on the Fancy Food Show at the Moscone Center. This was something I was looking forward to in the hopes of getting some new information for the coming year in culinary yumminess. I am going to be honest. It wasn't super great. Yes, we did get some new info on some fun things but overall it just wasn't something that was helpful to me in my business. They really pushed the "Natural and Organic" section this year but when the middle of the floor has booths from Hormel, Ghiradelli and Marie Callendar it is kind of a disappointment. I guess with so many farmers as friends I have a different idea of "natural". The evening, however, did not disappoint. We met two friends for dinner at Greens, one of the top vegetarian restaurants in San Fran. I ordered a mushroom lasagna that was really wonderful. It was presented as a round instead of the typical square and filled with seasonal mushrooms, cheese and fresh sauce. Lisa had a spinach and feta pizza which also was amazing. The crust was so crisp and airy. I do recommend this restaurant, just be sure to make reservations.
Monday brought with it some monsoon like rain but only for a brief period. We didn't bring umbrellas because in Portland you get chastised if you "can't handle a little rain". Well, things are different in S.F. We ended up buying umbrellas because we were the only ones in the city without them. It turns out not everyone like to get their hair wet. After having breakfast at the Bagdad Cafe, our friend Colin took us to Chinatown. WOW!!! Seriously, if you are ever in S.F. you have to go to Chinatown. There is just nothing like it. After a few tries at finding someone who spoke English we made it to the Fortune Cookie Factory, a place I promised a friend I would go see. It is truly something you would never expect to still exist anywhere. After walking down an alley, a lovely old man greets you at the door and takes you back to where the cookies are made. They are made by hand. Yes, by hand. Three ladies sit next to a conveyor belt of sorts and grab the super hot cookie, put in a fortune and fold it. How do I know it's super hot? Because the man made me grab one and try and fold it. Turns out I was not destined to be a cookie folder. They sell bags of fortune cookies as well as "unfortunate" cookies --- they are just the circles with no fortune. Hot, crisp, fresh and delicious.
That sums up our trip. The weather cooperated for the most part. I would say that 90 percent of our time was dry, and some of it was even in the sun. San Francisco, you stole my heart and I will be back for sure.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I get really excited about things and I can't stop thinking about them. I am sure it is the same for everyone, kind of like Christmas. My awesome friend Kendra (who created the blueprint for my garden) owns a business called Urban Farm School. Basically, she holds classes at various locations and teaches people how to grow stuff, harvest stuff and eat stuff. And then, if you grow more than you can eat, she'll show you how to can it. I have received an endless amount of information from her classes and I encourage others to take them. In fact, we love her classes so much that one is being held at our house! It is the first of hopefully many and I can hardly wait. Wanna know more? Here is the info:
Lawn to Food: Converting Grass to Growing Space
Thursday, September 17
6:00 to 8:00pm
Learn how to convert existing lawn to suitable space for planting a garden! Autumn is the ideal time to prepare new and existing garden beds for the spring season. Class will include how to easily suppress or remove grass, appropriate materials, amend soil, and encourage microorganisms. This will be a hands-on class held at the Fruit Valley Sunshine Garden where we will prepare a bed for this neighborhood project as part of the class. Bring your gloves and questions; it will be a great evening!
Location: Fruit Valley Sunshine Garden, 2903 Weigel Avenue, Vancouver 98660
Registration and payment required: 360-852-3728 or email@example.com
How fun does that sound? It's perfect to get all this information now so when you are ready next spring your resource hogging, not-so-tasty lawn will transform into so much yumminess you will do a happy happy dance! This is something easy that will benefit everyone you come into contact with when you have a surplus of zucchini. So take this class and then sign up for some others that she has because they really fill up fast. Next year you can be the envy of your block because while everyone else is toting grocery bags out of their hot car, you will be enjoying a delicious meal just picked from your front yard. Does it get better than that? No way.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
It has finally happened! Our first Farm Dinner took place Sunday July 26 at Storytree Farm. Anne and Nelson were fantastic hosts and I can't imagine a more perfect evening (except for the heat). The menu consisted of a 4 course meal starting with Chilled Pea and Mint Soup, a freshly picked salad of Mixed Greens and Cherry Vinegarette, Grilled Polenta triangles with sauteeed Summer Squash and Chard and for dessert Grilled Peaches drizzled with fresh Cherry Puree. Mmmmm. This has been a long time coming and it was a real treat to invite my friends and get their input. Everyone was so excited. Barbara Hill did an amazing job with the photos --- she is truly a talented woman, capturing all of the guests and the beautiful surroundings of the farm. Speaking of the farm, that is how the night began. Nelson and Anne took everyone on a tour of the farm and explained different methods of gardening, what kind of produce they have and talked about their CSA. Which, by the way, consistently sells out every year.
Lisa did a wonderful job setting up the tables and decorating, she really has a gift for that. I was lucky to get to spend most of the day in the cool house prepping for the dinner and drinking limeade with Nelson. That didn't last long, however because once 6:00 got there, it was game on. The bowls were chilled in the cooler waiting for their moment to shine. We ladled out the soup and topped it with fresh chives and vegan sour cream. Oh, I forgot to mention this was indeed an all vegan meal. When the tour was over everyone went to the table and started enjoying the refreshing flavors of the chilled yumminess. Once that course was finished, out came the salad made with Arugula, Beet Greens, Broccoli Leaves and Cucumbers topped with a fresh Cherry Vinegarette I made that day. There was a subtle spiciness in the salad that really complimented the sweet cherries. While the guests were enjoying the salad, I started grilling the Polenta and sauteeing the delicate squash Nelson had picked for me. We plated the veggies and topped them off with two polenta triangles. This dish was a huge hit! It was creamy and crispy and really perfect. For dessert, out came the peaches, fresh from Firestone Farms. I topped them with Cherry Puree that truly celebrated their sweet flavor.
Are you hungry yet? I hope so because we plan on doing this about 8-10 times a year, honoring the different seasons that the Pacific NW has to offer. We will be working on different farms throughout the County and showing people what can be done when you combine Farmer and Chef. The details still have to be lined up but it looks like we will have another dinner soon! I will be posting all the details on my website www.adinnertogether.com along with reviews of the first dinner. If you have any comments, questions or anything, just let me know. I would love to hear from you.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
In our neighborhood there are so many ethnic backgrounds it is hard to know where to start. Eventually I would like to get each one together and have cooking classes followed by a feast. Show me how you cook, show me the vegetables you need, come over here and grow them. Tonight is the Fruit Valley Neighborhood Association Meeting. We're going. We are putting it out there. Wanna get yummy veggies? Get over here and start growing. The local Minit-Mart is not a place to find your daily vegetable requirements but that is really all we have in this neighborhood. Time for a change.
I am proud to be involved in the Food Systems Council. It is an honor to be the only Chef on a panel full of such diverse people in this community. I believe I can make a difference and this is why I did it. If I stop believing, then my time is up. We can all collectively make a difference. there are so many groups and organizations in the County devoted to the passion of growing healthy, natural food. If you want more info, let me know. If you want to be involved, it is easy. Be a part of the Revolution. Whether you call them Recession Gardens or Victory Gardens, it means the same thing: Communities gathered together to make a difference.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Here's bed number one, folks. It is the cold crop bed. It is big. 23 feet long. Most of the beds will be similar in size, although some not as wide. I am going to put in all of the wonderful things that people have donated to us so far. Glenn Grossman is my new hero. He offered up a giant ziplock bag full of amazing seeds --- tomatoes, peppers, kale, spinach, lettuce . . . . so much yumminess. We are applying for a Grant through the Home Assistance Program for Fruit Valley. They pick several homes in the area that have projects to benefit the community. The help ranges from money for materials to volunteer labor. Also, I spoke with someone from Waste Management who is willing to come and do a talk on recycling. Yay!! Amy Carpenter from Columbia Springs Environmental Educational Outreach (whew!) said that when we are ready she would be more than happy to teach classes on composting, vermicomposting (worm poop), beneficial plants and insects and pretty much anything else we need. We are so proud of our community. The wealth of knowledge that is out there is really incredible.
This weekend promises to be nice but a little cooler than last which will be perfect for planting the starts and the seeds that we have. We have definitely seen more interest in the yard. Kids look at it on their way home from school. People have begun to ask questions, now that it actually looks like something. If you have any ideas for something you might want to see or if you are intrested in learning about some cool outdoor stuff, let us know. The more people who come forward the more successful this will be.