Sunday, December 20, 2009

Joel Salatin and Novella Carpenter







FEAST had the opportunity to meet two of our heroes in the last few weeks-- Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms in Virginia and Novella Carpenter who started an urban farm in downtown Oakland. We saw Joel at the Santa Barbara Public Library; a bit of a drive but definitely worth it. He is the farmer featured in Omnivore's Dilemma and Food Inc.. He described himself as a Libertarian, Environmentalist, Christian Lunatic. Those are not adjectives that I would typically attribute to being my "hero" but Joel had a lot to say about supporting small farmers, saving the environment and reconnecting with each other, food and the land. The main point he wanted to get across was the small, organic farms must abide by the same regulations as big corporate farms-- which often means buying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment that really is not necessary when you are working on a smaller scale. This explains why food from small farms is often more expensive-- their output is nothing close to those of huge farms yet they are still expected to buy all the equipment necessary to process huge amount of food and on top of it they are not receiving the same types of subsidies as these large farms as they do not produce commodity crops. It was inspiring to hear someone with such a clear vision of a better world who spends every waking moment working toward creating that world.

Novella was inspiring in a similar way but was a very different type of person. We visited her farm in Oakland and got a personal tour of the garden and animals. She has about an eighth of an acre. Not much land but she packs it in. The gates to her garden are always open and her neighbors (many of whom could not afford to regularly buy greens in the supermarket) are encouraged to come a take what they would like. The garden itself would have given Bruce a heart-attack-- raised beds every which way and every size with all sorts of manure all over the place; definitely a chaotic type of beauty. The highlight was meeting her goats. She has three lovely female goats who provide milk and manure for the garden (which does not even need to be composted first!). She described slaughtering and "braising the hell" out of one goat that she had always found annoying. She will be teaching a course of raising rabbits for the table in March-- it would be cool if we could get some FEAST people there. Some ideas to take away from this morning. One, we should get goats and rabbits. Both produce great manure that does not even need to be composted. Two we should start planing more produce in all the beds. We could have a lot more diversity within each bed and a lot more output that way too.

FEAST feast pictures.





These are late. But better late than never.
We had a great meal and people made some pretty bomb contributions...quinoa with cauliflower, corn chowder, OX TAIL RAGOUT WITH HANDMADE PASTA, a great cheese platter, cornbread, a chocolate cake, salad from the garden (harvested 10 minutes before we ate), Asian pear with prosciutto and mint, a persimmon and celery salad and homemade eggnog. That is just the tip of it. Feast knows how to eat and obviously it was great.
Here are some pictures.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The FEAST feast is here.

Tonight. At 7 pm. In the UEP Building. We are having a feast. Please come and bring a dish to share.
!!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

EVERYBODY SHOULD GO TO THIS!!!

HEY F.E.A.S.T.
Everybody should come to this with me:
http://farmlab.org/

it's about making soil and how everything comes into the world hungry!
e-mail me at gpasciuto@oxy.edu if you are interested in coming

Monday, December 7, 2009

Back to the land

Here is an interesting article about people moving back to rural agricultural areas to become more self-sufficient in the heat of the financial crisis.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703735004574571742502599748.html?mod=article-outset-box

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mayor Visiting the Campus

Mayor Villaraigosa is visiting the Oxy campus this Friday at 12:30 in the Morrison Lounge (one of the rooms off the Branca patio).
The premise of his visit is to hear student concerns on climate related issues as he will be at the Copenhagen climate conferences next week. Giulia and I (along with 7 or 8 other students) will be on the panel with the mayor to address land use and food sustainability.
What advice should we give the mayor?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

NO MEETING TODAY

HI Election Posse
I'm sorry I did not inform you sooner but we do not have meeting today!
I'll be at the garden to answer any questions though :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

FEAST feast and more

Hi Everyone,
We've nailed down a date for the FEAST feast: Thursday, December 10th. It is the second day of reading days so things should have cooled down for a bit. We want it to be a pot-luck but if you cannot bring anything don't worry-- just bring $5 and enjoy all the food you want! Bring your smiles, your instruments and high spirits. This is going to be fun. Also, if you need a little pick-me-up on this Monday after break read this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/30/nyregion/30forest.html?em
I wish I could go back to kindergarten and go to that school...

Monday, November 23, 2009

the FEAST feast is coming!

THE FEAST FEAST IS COMING......
Get ready for the biggest pot-luck feast you have ever attended. Sometime between Thankgiving and Winter break we will come together for a celebration of a great semester. There will be lots of food and fun. Also, we are hoping to be able to sell some of the FEAST tshirts!
Date to be nailed down soon....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Let's Write to our District Rep!

Hi Everyone,
Inspired by Giulia's last blog post we've decided to start a letter-writing campaign for the Food and Flowers Freedom Act.
The way I see it, if we really want to support local food this should be a no-brainer. If this passed, we could sell our produce to neighbors! It will directly help the city's green efforts and get us closer to the goal of getting people to eat local, healthy food. During WWII, 40% of produce consumed by Americans was grown in Victory Gardens. There is no reason we cannot make that happen today and it starts with the Food and Flowers Freedom Act.
Tonight at Garden Time we will not only be planting a bed of succulents (to eventually transplant to different parts of campus to reduce water-usage) but we will also be writing letters to Jose Huizar, our district rep, asking him to support this legislation otherwise known as motion 09-1685. His address is 200 N. Spring St., Room 465, Los Angeles, CA, 90012.
See you tonight!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiast Meeting!

I know this is nerdy, but this Saturday Ava, Dylan, and I attended a Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiast meeting. There were definitely some pretty intense chicken people, like the guy who wore new shoes to the meeting because he didn't want to compromise the bio-security of his flock at home by contamination from the flock at the house we were at, or the woman who "lives in fear" of being turned in for her chickens... OH and also please, don't step on your chickens (it's a REAL concern, ok!) We basically went because we thought we could learn a thing or two from the "experts." We did learn that we could scale down the intensity of our coop, we are looking at a cheaper modular design where we can add more chicken boxes as we expand the flock. We also learned about a couple of other resources: Mad city chickens, home grown evolution, and my pet chicken. A new friend and chicken ally, Dave Kietal, mentioned the food and flowers freedom act, which would allow residential zones to cultivate and then sell their produce off-site. Check out the campaign at urbanfarmingadvocates.org
The chicken prospects are looking good, we have our second meeting with risk management tomorrow to finalize all of our plans so we can get cracking on building that darned coop!

Novella Carpenter

Lately, in times of trouble and tribulation, I've found myself asking "what would Novella do?" I'm sure you are all sick of me talking about Novella Carpenter, but she basically lives the life I want to live. Novella Carpenter is an urban farmer in downtown Oakland and I saw her speak at the Los Angeles Public Library series, ALOUD. Our dearest Heng (of UEPI) sent me the link to the event and so I biked (let it be known that my bike tires were actually slashed during the lecture)/ metro-ed/ walked all the way to the Central Library downtown on a hot sunny July afternoon.
Novella Carpenter is basically a squatter, she farms on the empty 4,500 square foot lot next to the duplex she lives in with her boyfriend in the Ghost town neighborhood of Oakland, where the wind howls through the "ghetto" and "the crack zombies come out at night." She describes her farm as jankity, with most of the beds and sheds made from found objects throughout Oakland there "is no Martha Stuart happening" in her garden. Ghost town Farms, the name of her urban farming venture, has bees, pigs, goats, bunnies, chickens, and turkeys. Novella slaughters her own animals, except for the goat that her halal Yemeni neighbor/liquor store owner offered to slaughter for her. She explains that through raising and slaughtering her own animals, she has learned to see what its really like to eat meat. She actually teaches slaughtering classes at her farm (FIELD TRIP), and as it seems from her blog she also flies other places to teach other eager meat eaters.
Novella's lecture was very very funny, everything on her farm is funny. When describing what it was like to raise her pigs she says, "I felt like the witch from Hansel and Gretel, thinking 'when can I eat you, when can I eat you?!!'" She describes herself as a "robo-hippie," someone who has a blackberry but also slaughters her own animals. For her first slaughters, she said she pulled up a you-tube how-to video.
Things really picked up, Novella recounts, when she and her boyfriend learned about dumpster diving. Most of the pig feed came from the dumpster behind their favorite Chinese restaurant. Yes, her pigs eat Chinese food, "like good urban pigs."
When describing neighbors and other Oakland residents coming into her farm and picking her food, Novella exclaims "YES! Someone at some great produce today!"
Novella and her boyfriend get about 80% of what they eat from the garden. She said that she has been able to get all of her food from the farm, "but then we lose weight."
She mentioned a couple of books which I haven't checked out yet, but:
The Encyclopedia of Country Living
The Integral Urban House
The Good Life by Scott and Helen Nearing

One audience member asked her what her future plans were, again Novella's response was hilarious: she wants to commandeer the nearby abandoned play field for sheep, maybe a mule and then she wants to ride her mule through downtown Oakland. But, then she ended on a more serious note "maintain what you have." I think these words are appropriate for more than just farming.

Check out her book:
Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer: June 2009, Penguin Press

(it's really good)

T-Shirts are in!


Hi Everyone,
The womens and mens t-shirts have arrived! Yipee!
Ava will print them in the next few weeks-- just in time to get some as gifts for your family.
See you tomorrow!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Senior Thesis and FEAST...Check it out and give some feedback


The main goal of my comps project is turn my on-campus club into a service organization by the end of next semester (a goal that was stated in the constitution on the club). There will also be a hefty written/ research and multi-media component.

The focus of my research will be School Lunch Policy—its founding, history, present-day situation as well as what other countries are doing in the realm of school lunch. I plan to interview long-time cafeteria managers in the area on the challenges they have faced in the last few decades—from cultural changes in American eating habits to budget cut-backs and changing ideas on what healthy and nutritious mean.

My club is FEAST (Food, Energy and Sustainability Team). It started last semester as just a few of us clamoring for an on-campus vegetable garden—to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of our current food systems as well as the health and class issues associated with our dependence on a terrible food distribution system. Eight months later (and many, many hours of labor!) we have finally established a garden on the lawn in front of the UEP building. The garden consists of seventeen 4x8 raised beds as well as an extensive composting program. We have built relationships with many organizations on campus from the UEP department to campus dining and administrators (any everyone in between). We have over 300 members on our mailing list, 40 of who come to events regularly.

As exciting as completing the garden is we need to stay focused on our original mission—to raise awareness and educate through hands-on learning both within the Oxy community and in the LA community. We have accomplished a lot on campus in this regard and I feel that before I graduate I want to complete the final mission which involves connecting with local schools.

Luckily, UEPI just finished building a new Farm 2 School curriculum that we hope to implement in the garden. I have partnered with a grad student at UCLA who just received a grant for this type of work and she will be using our work-force of dedicated gardener/ educators to work in low-income schools that already have gardens but are finding their pockets empty for these types of programs this year. In addition to these two programs I aim to expose elementary students to local farmers’ markets. When I think about what really gets me excited about healthy eating and cooking it truly is the farmers’ market. The music, the colors, the smells, the free samples all culminate in a truly inspiring experience. Through my job working at a local CSA I have made connections with many local farmers who would love to get on board with this project.

I realize there are liability issues with this type of project. Having already worked closely with risk management on various issues I feel there are ways to make this project a reality. Through partnerships with Neighborhood Partnership Program, an existing service organization on campus, and Teach for America (to which I have a few connections) as well as the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute I believe FEAST can really make this work.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Some Qualitative and Quantitative Data: PLEASE COMMENT WITH IDEAS!

Garden Report to the Administration, November 2009

We are happy to report that after 8 months of work FEAST, along with many academic and administrative partnerships has established an organic vegetable garden on Occidental’s campus. The garden is located on the lawn in front of the Urban and Environmental Policy building and consists on 17, four by eight raised beds. We are in the midst of harvesting our second crop—radishes, lettuces, pumpkins, butternut squash, kale, chard, brussel sprouts, broccoli, peas and various herbs with more on the way. For more moment-to-moment information, pictures and videos please visit our blog: occidental-feast.blogspot.com

In this report we aim to share what we have accomplished—how on track we are with our original mission, how we have accomplished it, long-term goals and specific needs of the organization.

Original Mission and Success

The reason the club was founded was to answer the question, “We know the food systems in this country are bad for our health and the environment but what can we do about it?” The mission outlined in our founding documents is, “to learn about sustainable, local, and organic food through hands on experiences and to teach the cultural, environmental and economic impacts of food systems. Our overarching goal is to create awareness about sustainable, healthy food on the Occidental Campus and ultimately in the Los Angeles community.”

The educational aspect for club members as well as for other students who have come to some events has been substantial. Members who consistently come to weekly meetings have learned how to compost (that special ratio of straw, to food-prep waste to grass trimmings) as well as which seeds to plant at which time of year and watering and harvesting techniques. To reach out to the broader Oxy community we have been in the quad at lunch with informational fliers, served pumpkin pie from the garden at A Taste of Oxy, done a free-screening of Food Inc. in Johnson 200 and opened our garden to all community members regardless of their club membership status.

In terms of the “green-ness” of our project we have had 33 days of composting since the beginning of our project. Every week we use 6 bins of food-prep waste from the Marketplace each weighing about 10 pounds. That equals 1,980 pounds of waste that we diverted from a landfill (as well as the amount of CO2 it would take to cart it there). We also use 3 full garbage bags of grass trimmings every week (provided by Facilities). That makes 100 bags of grass trimmings diverted.

There was some alarm when the first water bill came at the beginning of the fall but there were two reasons for this—neither of which had to do with water-usage in our garden. I have attached an updated copy of the water bill for UEPI. From the summary box in the lower RH portion you can see that the number of hundred cubic feet (HFC) of usage is down for the month of September by 14 units (3 in Tier 1 and 11 in Tier 2) , but the cost is up from last year by $343.84. There are 2 reasons for this increase:

1. The cost increase/HCF unit from $3.07 to $3.53 for Tier 1 and $3.56 to $5.48 for Tier 2.

2. Decrease in the cap for Tier 1 from 74 units in 2008 to 71 units in 2009.

We have control over the amount of water used. However, we do not have control over the cost or the Tier 1 caps. These are determined by the DWP, and there is no way to anticipate this number or the cost increases. Because of these factors, the cost of water will continue to rise despite our conservation efforts.

We can keep water use to a minimum because we "engineered" the soil used in the raised beds to include a high compost lower sand content to decrease drainage. We can also mulch around plantings with high water retaining compost generated on site, which also recycles College generated greens waste from grass clippings and kitchen fruit & vegetable trimmings. This helps reduce our solid waste footprint, as well as the real cost and environmental cost of transporting this waste to a landfill.

The produce generally gets distributed between club members or used in meals provided by Well Fed, the new student-run “restaurant” (oxywellfed.blogspot.com for more information). As of November 1 we have all the raised beds staked in and from now on can measure the productive capabilities of the garden and look into new food distribution programs.

Community-Building

The community-building aspect of the club has been integral to the success of the garden. What started out as one or two people clamoring for an on-campus garden has turned into an organization with over 300 members, 20 or 30 of who attend events on a regular basis. There are no guidelines on who can be a member and as a result students of all classes and all backgrounds have met each other as well as professors from different disciplines, various staff members and even supportive community members. Events range from our weekly Thursday meetings to turn the compost pile, plant and harvest to trips to the beach to collect kelp to improve the quality of our compost, to potluck dinners and brunches to baking 20 pumpkin pies (with pumpkins from the garden!) to share at A Taste of Oxy. There are just as many freshman involved in the program as there are seniors which not only makes for a friendly atmosphere but also ensures the sustainability of the effort.

On some days we have had so many volunteers and not enough jobs for all the hands. As a result we have had collaborative programming on some Thursdays. One afternoon we had a certified yoga instructor (and fellow student) teach a yoga course. Another Thursday we had a student-band play. We’re hoping to have permanent student art in the garden installed next semester (a bench as well as mosaic stepping stones). The garden has morphed from a sustainability project into a platform to host student-projects--all the while maintaining our original mission of awareness and hands-on learning.

Leadership Development

As graduation approaches for current club leaders we are looking closely at leadership development for next year. Luckily we have very dedicated underclassmen involved in the project and are developing an executive board around them. We’re hoping for more collaborative management and have five elected positions for the spring: Presidential Team, Chicken Guardian(s), Gardening/ Composting Expert, Events Manager/Fundraising and Treasurer. Elections will be held the first week of December and we already have 10 candidates on the ballot.

Key to the success of future management is strong partnerships with faculty, administration and staff as they can monitor successes and failures from year to year. Currently we have strong links with the UEP department (specifically Professor Vallianatos and Heng Lam Foong), Facilities (Bruce Steele) and various administrators (Dean Avery, James Tranquada), Campus dining (Amy Munoz).

Organization Needs and Long-Term Goals

We have a few pressing needs that we hope the administration will help us with. Currently we store all our tools in the basement of the UEP building. This is not only a pain for us but also a burden on Campus Safety whom we must call to let us in and then again to let us put the tools away. We need a tool-shed in the garden. We believe that we could build one for around $300.

This semester we completed research and a proposal around the idea of getting chickens. We met with Rebecca Dowling to hear her perspective and the final proposal is attached this report (covering avian flu concerns, maintenance, and neighbor concerns). We are looking at the leadership for next year to determine whether we are justified in implementing the program. So far we have heard some innovative ways of dealing with chicken responsibilities over break ranging from leaving our chickens with chicken owners in the area, relying on many dedicated faculty members who have stated interest or even building a portable coop that students who live in California could bring home with them.

Looking more long-term we hope to be an established organization on campus much like the Oxy Weekly or Koxy (radio). While our operations do not require a large budget we do need straw every week for composting, updated tools, seeds, transportation and some other basics. It would be more efficient to not consistently apply for funds from ASOC or the Sustainability Fund. Perhaps we could automatically get 20% of the Sustainability Fund each year, giving an incentive for FEAST members to recruit students to donate to the program.

Sustainable Food At Oxy

The issue of sustainable food is something students and faculty alike are passionate about. In partnership with UEP 247, FEAST put together a survey to gauge students’ desire to have more local and organic foods available in campus dining facilities. 64.2% of the 205 survey respondents stated that they care about both local and organic food being offered on campus. 82% of respondents said they eat lunch in campus dining facilities more than any other meal. Fruit was the most important item that students wanted to see local/ organic closely followed by dairy and vegetables. 34.8% of respondents said they would be willing to pay extra money for local food along with 53.4% who stated it depended on how much extra. Of that 53.4%, 51.4% said they would be willing to pay 5-10% more. During Local Foods Month, hosted in October by FEAST, UEPI and the ORSL the Marketplace offered all local foods. When I asked Amy Munoz (head of Campus Dining) how much that program increased the budget the answer went well with our findings—just over 10%. Given our data we recommend providing more local and organic fruit, dairy and vegetables during the lunch hours.

Thank you for your continued support throughout the growth of our organization. Without the help of the administration, staff (Bruce Steele especially!) and faculty this project would never have gotten off the ground. It has certainly been one of the most meaningful experiences of my college career and has certainly enhanced student-life on campus.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Election Update

This is reminder that we would like to hear from you by tomorrow (Wednesday) if you are interested in running for a FEAST e-board position. We've heard from a few of you but we would love to hear more people interested in the "chicken guardian" positions-- if there isn't enough interest we have to kill the project, at least for now :( .
We will send everyone who is interested an email with more details and have a meeting next week to finalize positions.
Email feastoxy@gmail.com with what position you are interested in or if you have more questions about the process.
Hope to hear from you all soon!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Meeting update

Hi Everyone,
As you all know we had an important meeting on Wednesday night. Here are some highlights:

1) Giulia and the chicken team had a very positive meeting with risk management the other day. Their main concern was dealing with the chickens over winter break and how exactly that would be handled. At the meeting we wanted to gauge the enthusiasm for the chickens and make sure there are at least a few individuals who will really be there for the chickens. If you think you are one of those individuals please run for the spot of Chicken Guardian in our upcoming election.

2) We are going to have a big end-of-the-semester FEAST feast. We're hoping to do it in the UEP conference room. More details and dates later.

3) ELECTIONS. We spoke about elections the other day and the five positions that are open for next semester. You can run alone or in a team-- in fact, some positions are better for teams (chicken guardian, president). If you are interested in the running PLEASE EMAIL FEASTOXY by WEDNESDAY to let us know what position you want to run for! We will get back to you with more details by next Wednesday. All the positions will work closely together through email and monthly meetings over a good meal. Here is the run down of open positions:

Chicken Guardians: You are in charge of everything chicken. Making sure the chickens are clean, watered, fed, and happy. You are to make sure that the eggs are all collected in a timely manner and that they are distributed among those who would like them. When the coop needs updates or a neighbor has a concern it is your territory. Also, update the blog with how the chickens are doing. People will want to know :)

Treasurer: This is a very important job-- it is your job to make sure everyone is reimbursed in a timely manner. You should attend funding meetings (ASOC, Sustainability Fund) and help write grants and other applications for funding. You much keep track of expenses and update the blog periodically with your activities.

Composting/ Planting: You make sure the food-prep waste and the straw and the greens waste are ready for composting time and that the bins make it back to the marketplace after composting. You research potential new composting methods. You will pick seeds, what we plant when, which beds get which plants based on sunlight. And, of course, you blog regularly about all these things.

Events: You scout out cool events, field-trips and fundraisers for FEAST. Pumpkin pie baking for a Taste of Oxy, field-trip to Ventura to pick up kelp, the haunted house before Food Inc. and all our dinners and pot-lucks are examples of events we've done this year. There is endless possibilities for fun. Also, you will work with the treasurer to come up with fun and effective fundraisers. you will update the blog regularly to keep the group informed.

Presidential Team: It is your job to make sure all projects are running smoothly from the chickens to the composting to the funding. You will email the whole group with important updates, times and dates. You will do outreach to the administration, academic departments, staff and community organizations that are relevant to FEAST. You will make sure that all the people who help us out are adequately thanked and recognized. You will work on long term goals for FEAST (getting an operating budget and maybe a truck).

4) We are hoping to build more partnerships with UEP to potentially involve Oxy classes and the outside community more in the garden. Issues with this are largely risk-management issues although, I'm sure it isn't anything we can't get out of with a waiver.

5) I am currently in a battle with the company we ordered the women's shirts from-- they have not yet arrived although they should have been here about 3 weeks ago :( If you have a piece of clothing you would like printed get it to Ava. The mens shirts will be with her soon.

That is all for now. See you soon :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sit Down Meeting this Week

Hi everyone,
We are having our second sit-down meeting of the semester this Wednesday in Johnson 204 at 7 pm. There will be lots of delicious food (please bring some to share if you have time to prepare something).
See you then!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Week in Photos



Sugar snap peas



Butternut squash


Brussel Sprouts


Emily with the final product...yum.

At ABC stage 8, loading up the truck

Clearly meat carcasses hanging in a slaughter house
How does it feel to be Mr. Steele?



Building the set


Before it was pie...



Thursday, October 29, 2009

Message from Professor Vallianatos

You may have heard that residence life is creating student-led themed dorms and houses. They will launching a 'green' house for students to move into starting in January 2010. (There isn't yet a formal name for the house).
There will room for 6 or 7 students- sophomores, juniors, or seniors. The ideal occupants would be interested in sustinability, green living, and/or food and cooking. The students living there will help green the house, perhaps through gardening, making it more energy and water efficient, etc. Students would also be required to share green living tips with the campus once or twice a month through events like tours or cooking demonstrations.
The house is a detached home owned by the college. It is located at 4863 stratford near the Rangeview res hall. There is not time or money to rebuild the house right now as an up-to-date, certified green building. But over time the hope is that sustainable materials, living practices, and systems can be implemented (solar panels, rainwater capture, efficient lights, better insulation etc). Some of these green renovations can hopefully be pilot programs for the entire campus. Students living in the house can help research and develop a plan for greening the house.
Residence life asked me to help spread the word to see if there are students interested in being part of the initial groups of students who would finalize the proposal for the house and move into it next semester. They haven't completed the application form quite yet but you can email reslife@oxy.edu if you are interested. I'm happy to chat with you about it if you're potentially interested. If you have friends who might be interested, feel free to forward this message to them.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Recipe

We are baking 9 pies for a Taste of Oxy. Here is the recipe :)

27 eggs
3 cups of sugar
7.5 pounds pumpkin puree
7 pounds and 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
13.5 oz. butter, melted and cooled

9 Tbsp flour
4 1/2 tsp ground ginger
4 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine eggs, sugar, milk and pumpkin in a large bowl and whisk until well blended. Add butter and stir until thoroughly blended.
Mix the dry ingredients together and add it to the pumpkin mixture.
Pour the batter into crust and bake 45-50 minutes until firm to the touch, and set in the center when you shake it gently.
Cool completely

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What did YOU have for dinner last night?

If only...

I've pretty much given up on grad school at the moment (no time to study for that damned GRE) and would love to find myself living here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/16/world/americas/16gaviotas.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

Who's with me? If Colombia doesn't interest you I am also looking for Farming Cooperatives here on the west coast, let me know if you have any leads.

Chicken Update

Hey All,
Today we had the first chicken task force meeting and it went REALLY well. We are definitely on our way to chickendom. We have outlined the report we are making for risk management (who I have e-mailed to set up a meeting) and are making progress for our deadline on Friday. We still have plans to use Annika's coop design with possibly a few alterations, including 1/4 inch wire instead of chicken wire to keep out pesky and harmful animals, and possibly a piece of wood on the bottom to keep out rats and make the area easier to clean. We estimate that the coop will cost about $200 (based on a design and estimate we found online)- which we can apply for from the Sustainability Fund. Before we can really decide how many and what kind of chickens we should get, we really need to get the go-ahead from Risk Management and Facilities, but we went ahead and looked anyways. We thought, in terms of egg production, that we would initially get 5 chickens which would produce about 5 eggs/week -- we thought that was a pretty reasonable number of eggs to start with. In terms of types of chickens, we are looking at Araucana (blue and green eggs, quiet, docile, etc.), Barred Rocks (black and white speckled and reliable) and possibly some New Hampshire Reds (we have kind of ruled these out for the moment, but please let us know how you feel about them). We were going to order them online, but again, if anyone knows any local hatcheries let us know! Joellen Anderson suggested that we "adopt" abused chickens from bad mean farms, but we decided that initally it would be pretty difficult as it will be the first time for some of us working with chickens. We really want to look to this in the future, but we want to make sure that we can actually give the chickens everything they need before we any that have already been abused. If you are interested in being on the taskforce e-mail us at feastoxy@gmail.com. Just wanted to update people on the progress we are making. Get excited for this week, it's about to be jam-packed with fun activities!

-Giulia

Friday, October 23, 2009

Garden Wrap-Up and Big Week Ahead

Hi Everyone,
Great day in the garden yesterday (as usual). Giulia brought a delicious homemade pumpkin pie that we devoured.
We also cleared some more of the summer beds and planted to new crops. I'm not sure if it was a good idea but we planted one bed with carrots and chard in the shape of a double-helix-- one strand with carrots and one with chard. It should look pretty rad (I'm not so sure about maximum efficiency on that one).
We also turned the pile and made a new one. All in under an hour and a half. We are rock stars.
IMPORTANT: We want to show alum and parents the garden tomorrow from 1-2. If anyone wants to join me in the quad from 12-1 to pass out fliers that tell where the garden is and then hang with me from 1-2 in the garden to host parents that would be AMAAZING! I will send out an email about this.
Also e are still putting on the haunted house on Thursday and hosting a booth at a Taste of Oxy. We are meeting on Sunday at 3 to assemble materials for the haunted house and again on Thursday at 3 to put it all together. Please meet us outside Johnson 200 for both of these meetings.
In terms of pumpkin pies for the Taste of Oxy booth we are going to meet at UEP on Friday morning at nine. We will have people baking there all day in "shifts"-- please drop by if you have the time!
See you soon,
e

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pictures from the gaaarden

Planting the odds-and-ends herb bed
Butter lettuce peeking through the radishes

Bruce didn't love the trellis we made but we do...
Who wouldn't want to come to the garden?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Food and Urban Planning

So, as an aspiring urban planning and farmer, I have been collecting a few articles about the nexus of food and planning.

Here is a really interesting video about feeding cities, and the ever growing distance between where we live and where we get our food. It also talks about the impact of living in a city on the natural food landscape.

http://blog.ted.com/2009/10/how_food_shapes.php#

This next article is actually pretty exciting because it is linked to a project I am working on (as an unpaid intern). Basically, Councilwoman Jan Perry has proposed a moratorium on convenience stores and provides incentives for real grocery stores with fresh fruits and vegetables. The ban is based on a more comprehensive initiative for land-use reform in South Los Angeles, promoting sustainable neighborhoods which includes eating healthier.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-stores12-2009oct12,0,2469583.story?track=rss

Finally, here is an article about the food desert issue (which UEP students have been tackling in their comps) about who has access to fresh food and the disparities between high and low-income communities in terms of food access:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/1010/p02s05-usgn.html

I know it's a lot of information, but it's all relevant if you're interested in either planning or food or both!

Have a great fall break guys, and get ready to eat a ton of radishes!

-Giulia

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thomas Jefferson and Agriculture

In light of the fact that I am taking a course on the founding of the American presidency I thought I would share some quotes from one of our all time favorite Presidents, Thomas Jefferson, about agriculture:

c. 1781. "Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire, which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth."

"Cultivators of the earth are the most virtuous and independant citizens." (Notes on the State of Virginia, Writings.290, 301)

Italian Agricultural Award given TJ1785 Aug. 23. "Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independant, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to it's liberty and interests by the most lasting bands." (TJ to John Jay, B.8.426)

1785 Oct. 28. "It is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state." (TJ to James Madison, B.8.682)

1787 Dec. 20. "I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural." (TJ to James Madison, B.12.442)


1793 June 28. "Good husbandry with us consists in abandoning Indian corn and tobacco, tending small grain, some red clover following, and endeavoring to have, while the lands are at rest, a spontaneous cover of white clover. I do not present this as a culture judicious in itself, but as good in comparison with what most people there pursue. (TJ to George Washington, GB191)

1795 Apr. 29. "It [agriculture] is at the same time the most tranquil, healthy, and independent [occupation]." (TJ to J. N. Démeunier, Writings.1028)

1795 Sep. 8. "I am become the most industrious and ardent farmer of the canton . . . ." (TJ to Madame de Tessé, DLC)


1803 Nov. 14. "The class principally defective is that of agriculture. It is the first in utility, and ought to be the first in respect. The same artificial means which have been used to produce a competition in learning, may be equally successful in restoring agriculture to its primary dignity in the eyes of men. It is a science of the very first order. It counts among it handmaids of the most respectable sciences, such as Chemistry, Natural Philosophy, Mechanics, Mathematics generally, Natural History, Botany. In every College and University, a professorship of agriculture, and the class of its students, might be honored as the first. Young men closing their academical education with this, as the crown of all other sciences, fascinated with its solid charms, and at a time when they are to choose an occupation, instead of crowding the other classes, would return to the farms of their fathers, their own, or those of others, and replenish and invigorate a calling, now languishing under contempt and oppression. The charitable schools, instead of storing their pupils with a lore which the present state of society does not call for, converted into schools of agriculture, might restore them to that branch qualified to enrich and honor themselves, and to increase the productions of the nation instead of consuming them." (TJ to David Williams, L&B.10.429-30)

1810 June 27. "I think it the duty of farmers who are wealthier than others to give those less so the benefit of any improvements they can introduce, gratis." (TJ to Joseph Dougherty, FB134)

1817 May 10. "The pamphlet you were so kind as to send me manifests a zeal, which cannot be too much praised, for the interests of agriculture, the employment of our first parents in Eden, the happiest we can follow, and the most important to our country." (TJ to William Johnson, GB572)

1821 July 30. "With respect to the boys I never till lately doubted but that I should be able to give them a competence as comfortable farmers, and no station is more honorable or happy than that." (TJ to Thomas Mann Randolph, DLC)

--Lucia C. Stanton, Monticello Research Department, May 1994

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Funding for Haunted House

Just got back from ASOC funding meeting with the good news that we have been allotted $169.50 for our haunted house pre and post Food Inc. screening. So far we have money for a fog machine, strobe light, paper mache materials and misc. sheets and cords. Please email feastoxy@gmail if you have more ideas for this event (that will be held on Oct. 28).
Goodnight.

Hillside Produce Cooperative

Hi Everyone,

Check out this neat organization that does produce swaps in the area. If we had known about this earlier maybe we could have swapped some patty-pan for a more diverse plate of fruits and veggies. What strikes me the most is how many creative things people are growing in their backyards.
http://hillsideproducecooperative.org/updates/

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pictures from the thursday pot-luck and sunday brunch




Hi all, 
I wish I had gotten more close ups of all the amazing food you brought but these are the pics I have for now:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Celebrity Crushes

I've never been one to have crushes on celebrities but Jamie Oliver is an exception. Below is a link to an NY Times story about all the work he has done promoting home-cooking and healthy eating:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/magazine/11Oliver-t.html?pagewanted=1&hp

SURVEY

Hello! 
This is important:
Please take this survey (link below). The goal is to figure out how much students actually care about having local and organic options at the dining facilities on campus. This last week the MP has gone 100% local so it IS possible-- they just need to know that students care. We care. So take the survey and pass it along to your friends who care too!


See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More Good News

Hi everyone,

Two pieces of good news turned up today.

1) I ordered the shirts on Monday (as in two days ago) and then mens' have already arrived! There are some really nice colors; they look great.

2) Trader Joe's is donating their straw (from their pumpkin patch display) to FEAST to use for our compost pile! If you see more local pumpkin patches ask them what they do with their straw and if they would be willing to donate it (or sell it) to us. We can keep track and just pick a whole bunch up after Halloween.

I hope everyone is having as good a day as FEAST is :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Beautiful chicken coop sketch

Annika made this beautiful sketch as a possible chicken coop design. What do you think? Please leave comments with your ideas!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

T-SHIRT INFO

I just got back from the Senate meeting and we got $450 to make our t-shirts! This is great news. Maybe we can vote on how much we'll charge for them (I'm thinking 8 or 10). Also, how cool is the logo that Ava drew??!


I'm the first to admit that I am technologically challenged so...sorry that it didn't scan too well (the bottom got kind of cut-off but you get the idea).

Garden Extravaganza this week

Hi Everyone.
We're having another party in the garden this Thursday evening at five as usual. We are also having people back to Giulia's house for dinner after so please try and leave room in your schedule for that!
Also, I am going to the Senate meeting tonight to get the funds for our t-shirts (I'll try and post the print we're doing later tonight) so fingers crossed that we'll get it!
I hope to see you all very very soon.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A recipe

Hi Everyone,

We have all become intimately aquainted with the patty-pan squash. We've made gratins, we've made ratatouilles, we've made ravioli, we've made lasagna, patty-pan egg scrambles...Here is one of the ways that I have most enjoyed patty-pan-- classic zucchini bread (the patty-pan is essentially a zucchini, as I think we all know!). I've been getting pretty creative with the ingredients (i.e. the other night I ran out of flour and substituted with ground almonds or adding dates and powdered ginger instead of raisins and nutmeg). All in all the loaves have been pretty good. So grab a giant squash from the garden, bake up a loaf and share your innovations with the rest of us PLEASE!

Zucchini Bread Recipe

Ingredients

2 eggs, beaten
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups grated fresh patty-pan squash
2/3 cup melted unsalted butter
2 teaspoons baking soda
Pinch salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix in the grated patty-pan and then the melted butter. Sprinkle baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour, a third at a time. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg and mix. Fold in the nuts and dried cranberries or raisins if using.

2 Divide the batter equally between 2 buttered 5 by 9 inch loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour (check for doneness at 50 minutes) or until a wooden pick inserted in to the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool thoroughly.

Makes 2 loaves.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Meeting Notes from Last Week

Hi All,

Here are some ideas we discussed last week--

What to do with all the veggies?
-a few different ideas came out but it became clear that most people in the club enjoy getting together for pot-luck dinners to eat the food together. So lets do it! I especially liked the idea of improve pot-luck dinners around what we have a surplus of (did someone say patty-pan squash?!). It could be kind of a giant recipe competition and cook-off. We could even compile all the recipes into a book!
- We talked about opening a booth at the Eagle Rock farmers' market which would be awesome except, first-year Jocelyn Coffin did some research and it turns out the Eagle Rock market is certified (not certified organic but certified farms). Maybe down the road we'll get there....
- Leaving some plots open for a local elementary school. I love this idea. For now we'll plant them all but maybe in the spring we can look into possible connections for this project.
- Farm to Preschool. The UEPI (which includes Giulia) just wrote a new curriculum for pre-schoolers that involves getting their hands dirty in the soil. We could partner with the pre-school on campus and help them implement the curriculum on our garden.

Art?
We are trying to set up some permanant art installations in the garden. There is an ASOC grant specifically for murals which we can apply for and possibly make some mosaic stepping stones for in between the raised beds. I think it would be AWESOME! I created a new email list for all the people who are interested in this project. I'll email you a little later :)

CHICKENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Chickens are on the agenda. Annika made a beautiful drawing and detailed description of the materials we'll need to build the coop. I think a great place for it would be where all that dirt is piled up now. I was at a place that sells chicks and its best to buy them in the spring (it gets too cold in the winter for the little babies) which works really well for us because that is AT LEAST as long as it will take us to get the idea OK'd by the admin. Again, a great team of dedicated feasters signed up for this task-- there is an email group for you too so lets get jumping. For more info on chickens check the post on backyard flock biosecurity a little down the page. We're also in contact with Caitlyn Lacey from Pitzer (who heads their chicken program) and Robin Lewis at Whitman. Whitman raises birds for meat! We might not do that.

Giulia and I had out opening night of Well Fed lat night. It was pretty sweet. We used patty pan from the jardin! Look at our blog: oxywellfed.blogspot.com. ALSO if you are not yet a follower of this blog please become one (so I can at least feel like people are reading!). And become a follower of Well Fed too!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Organic Lawns on Campus?

Great day in the garden-- we leveled and staked two more beds, planted two beds, planted some flower beds, composted, moved soil, ate food and even had a YOGA class! Thanks for coming. I am going to send out a re-cap email about the sitdown meeting we had on Wednesday that also went really well.
Jocelyn Coffin (first-year) did some research the possibility of getting our produce in the Eagle Rock market. Unfortunately that won't be possible at the moment (all the stands are certified by the department of agriculture-- we're not quite there yet). She also sent this really neat article about a project that Harvard is doing-- converting all their grass to be organic. It doesn't sound that revolutionary but apparently its had huge impacts on the quality of the grass and REDUCED ITS WATER NEEDS BY 30%!!! How great would it be if we could do a similar conversion here...imagine how many gallons of water we could save. Here is a link to the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/24/garden/24garden.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&emc=eta1

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Some FUNNY pictures


Chicken Report

I've compiled a report about the health and safety hazards of having a flock of chicken on campus. The main things I found were some guidelines for maintaining bio-security when dealing with chickens as well as a small write-up on Pitzer's project. I contacted the gal who is in charge there and she would be more than happy to host a field trip with us over there. I also made my facebook status "PLEASE COMMENT if your school has a chicken coop. We are trying to start a program here and I am compiling a list of schools that have projects." I didn't get as many repsonses as I would have liked but...I did find that Whitman has an extensive project that includes birds for meat, Hampshire college in MA and, of course, the Pitzer project. Good start. Also, we had the first official sit-down meeting for FEAST tonight and one club member brought in some beautiful sketches for a coop design. As well as some insights into the everyday care of chickens. WE. ARE. IN. BUSINESS.

Chicken Report:

Many other colleges of our size and status have small farm operations including Pitzer college. Their project is maintained by Pitzer Gounds/Arboretum staff along with student help during the academic year. The chickens (3 at this time) are fed and watered daily during the work week. On the weekends the chickens have automatic feeder and water systems. In the past the college has had a rodent problem and several traps, near and around the area, were placed to control the problem. With the help of students, the chicken-coops are cleaned out monthly and new shaving placed for the chickens. Chicken manure is used in the garden and in the compost to add organic fertilizers to the garden soils.

Implementing a coop on our campus would not pose significant threats to the human population on campus, especially if students and staff involved in the project practice biosecurity. A lot of biosecurity practice is common sense. There are three major steps in practicing biosecurity:

1) Keep Your Distance:
a. Restrict access to the birds to those who know how to work with them
b. Prevent contact with other birds, including other chicken flocks
2) Keep it clean:
a. Keep the coop clean
b. Wear disposable gloves while cleaning the coop—wash your hands before and after working with the birds
c. Disinfect the tools you use
d. Clean the eggs before you use them
3) Avoid Bringing Disease Home
a. Make sure to clean up before heading to the coop if you’ve been in an area with a lot of birds (zoo).
b. Don’t use anyone else’s’ equipment

Be sure to watch for symptoms which inclide sudden death, diarrhea, a severe decrease in egg production, drooping wings or complete paralysis
http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/avianflu/backyard.html

The good news in all this? It's rather difficult for chickens to get the flu from coming in contact with it (they're low on the totem pole, well below ducks and turkeys and other fowl). Couple this fact with the knowledge that our backyard flocks have very low stress levels (out in the elements, enjoying their lives scratching around our backyards) compared to their agri-business-raised sisters, and it'd be difficult for our birds to get a high-path flu.

Finally....This is a link to an awesome blog maintained by two Mt. Washington residents. I'm not sure if it is possible for two people to love their chickens more...

http://greenfrieda.blogspot.com/search/label/chickens

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chicken Talk


The word is out: chickens are on the agenda for this semester. Many other schools have them (Hampshire, Pitzer...anyone care to add to the list, please leave a comment) and its times we did too.
Here is a link to a blog post about college towns that allow chickens (LA definitely does).
http://savesewaneechickens.blogspot.com/2008/07/9-out-of-top-10-us-news-colleges-allow.html

We are having a meeting next Wednesday night to discuss the agenda for this semester. Come with chicken ideas or any ideas.

Also, garden time as usual this Thursday at 5. We'll compost, harvest, plant. All the seedlings have sprouted (kale, bok choy, broccoli, wildflowers, brussel sprouts, peas, lettuce, raddish, turnips, rutabaga). Basically we're in business.