Friday, February 22, 2008

Growing Your Own Saves Money

I just posted this on my other blog, The Giving Gardeners, It's about a story in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune about the fact that consumers are fighting higher food costs by growing their own.

Basically, it talks about how food prices and gasoline prices are up and are making it a challenge to put food on the table, this component of the story includes quotes by Kitchen Gardener's International Roger Doiron who says:

"During World War II, gardens were pitched as an important part of the war effort - by war's end, the victory gardens were turning out 40 percent of the nation's produce, freeing up big farms to supply the troops. And they were important at home in a time of rising food prices and rationing, the Kitchen Gardeners' Doiron said.

"Home gardens made the difference between people being well fed and going to bed hungry,' he said, adding that the gardens increased consumption of fruits and vegetables to historic highs."

Read the full story here:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Farming Stories

This is Snooks, Richard Hudson's Calf from Hudson's Dairy Torrance

I can't believe it's been almost a week since my last post. Time is flying with my book deadline looming and running around to get photos and stories from local farmers.

I think that once I get all caught up, I will post individual stories here, they are so fascinating and it's incredible to hear what a tight-knit farming community the South Bay was. In fact, so many of the people I talk to still keep in touch with one another and know what everyone is up to.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Kindness of Strangers (Especially Farmers)

Doug Hatano, standing in his family's field in the PV Peninsula, the last farm left there

As my book deadline looms, I have found myself suddenly enveloped by a strange and wonderful calmness. It's completely unexpected and unusual for me. Those who know LA Farm Girl know that "calm" is not usually an adjective that can best describe me.

So, what's with the calmness? Its due to the help and support I have gotten from so many people in my community, especially those who had family farms here or knew farmers here.

It's incredible, they get me names and phone numbers, they tell me wonderful stories and they open up their homes to me, letting me scan their photos, sometimes more than once since I am technologically impaired. They give me their cell numbers in case I forgot anything and they ask me to keep them informed as to when the book is coming out because they want to come to my book signing (now, I just have to get one of those).

Richard Hudson, of Hudson Dairy, even gave me some original milk bottles and bottle caps to give to the Torrance Historic Society. I was so nervous having these precious items in my car that I went straight from his house to the Historic Society so I wouldn't break the bottles!

I have been so moved by their generosity and so convinced that telling these stories is my duty and I believe one of the most important tasks I have ever done.

I have been thinking of how I could possibly thank them for their help and then it struck me, I believe the best way that I can thank them is by telling their stories in the most honest and respectful way possible. So, that's what I am trying to do both through this small, photographic history book, but in a more in depth way as well.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

State Assembly Passes GE Bill

Just a quick post to give kudos to the California State Assembly for passing AB 541, which makes California the first state to protect farmers from the hazards of genetically engineered crops.

If it passes the Senate, it will become the first law in the country to actually protect small farmers against harassment and frivolous lawsuits from big, agri-businesses.

AB 541 will enact protections for California farmers against frivolous lawsuits that intimidate and harass those who have not been able to prevent the inevitable – the drift of genetically engineered pollen or seed. It will level the playing field for farmers accused by agricultural biotechnology companies and other patent holders of contract violations, and discourage the practice of biotech companies sampling crops without explicit permission from farmers and prosecuting based on unverifiable testing results.

The scaled back version that passed the Assembly has the support of the California Farm Bureau as well as California Certified Organic Farmers, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, the National Farmers Union and many food safety and environmental organizations.

I encourage everyone to contact their State Senators to let them know you want them to pass this bill as well.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Non-Farm Beauty

View from Hermosa Beach Pier
Well, even LA Farm Girl has to get out and away from the farm once in awhile. So, after doing an hour and a half volunteering at the local library's booth at the Farmers' Market, my husband and I took advantage of the 76 degree weather and walked along the Strand in Hermosa and out to the end of the pier.

The last time we did that was for a World AIDS Day vigil about 3 years ago. Yikes! It just shows that I spend way too much time working and volunteering, time to change that a bit and take time to enjoy days like this both on farm activities and off. What good is living a mile and a half from the beach if I never go there?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Having a Sustainable Valentine's Day

Gerbera Daisies, Seaside Flowers, Torrance Farmers' Market

I don't make it a practice to celebrate Valentine's Day since I don't think that it's really meaningful to declare one day a year an official "love day," and then the rest of the year, just forget about being loving.

I prefer to think that every day we can all be loving, and am fortunate enough to be married to someone who shows me all year long that I am right by doing so many nice things when I least expect it! I know, way too sappy but hey, even I can get that way sometimes.

Anyway, I also think that we can be loving to our environment and to our farmers all year long. But, if we are going to celebrate the big "love day" my motto is let's give them their proper loving on Valentine's Day too.

One way to do this is to buy organic, sustainable flowers instead of the usual, big agri-business, slave labor raised roses that are so popular.

The easiest option is to buy fresh flowers at your local farmers' market, where you know who grows them and how.

Another option for those too busy is to buy them from an organic, sustainable grower online, like Organic Bouquet, ( a company that strives to be environmentally and socially responsible, and that ships organic, sustainably grown, fresh-cut flowers and bouquets to customers and retail outlets across the United States.

To find out more about organic nursery products, and Organic Bouquet check out this story I did for Organic Producer magazine,

Sunday, February 3, 2008

New Word of the Year? "Retrovore"

After perusing one of my favorite fellow blogger's sites, Cincinnati Locavore, I wanted to share the latest fresh food term: "Retrovore."

According to a post on Daily Kos by Jill Richardson who documented her visit to an Austin Farmer's Market, a farmer coined the new word.

As she says, "The best moment at this market was when I found out I'm a retrovore. That's a new word, invented today. One of the farmers we were chatting with said his kid said to him "Dad, if you didn't raise animals the way you do, I'd probably be a vegan." He said, "I probably would too."
That's when they came up with the term "retrovore." One who eats food that was raised the way it should have been raised... like they used to do it before they learned how to ruin it."

As other bloggers are pointing out, this word fits in nicely with Michael Pollan's advice "Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."

And, NPR's Liane Hanson says that: “2008 will be the year of ethical eating; vegetarian and locally produced food will grace more tables; wines will be more than organic, they’ll be biodynamic; there will be servings of micro-greens you grow yourself.”

So, it's time for us to get back in our gardens and grow our own!

Friday, February 1, 2008

New Giving Gardener's Blog


I just wanted to post a quick note to let everyone know that I created a new blog just for the Giving Gardeners, it's right here on blogspot and listed under my profile or click here,

I haven't added content yet but I will be working on it in the next week. I am hoping to create an active community of gardeners to make a difference in the South Bay and to help them become better gardeners.

I am working on developing the partnerships with local groups, organizations, and agencies and am currently on the prowl for a location to have our first meeting. Any ideas, let me know!