Tuesday, December 23, 2008


American Farmland Trust Points Out How Christmas Trees Help The Environment

Santa Paula Christmas Tree Farm

I received an interesting little item in my mailbox this a.m. from American Farmland Trust and thought I'd share it.

They indicate that there are 21,904 Christmas tree farms throughout the country. And they point out that Christmas tree farms can help sequester carbon dioxide, prevent erosion, protect water and provide habitat for wildlife; for every tree cut down, two to three seedlings are planted.

They also point out that some tree farms are taking extra steps by adopting integrated pest management or organic practices to reduce pesticide use and by planting buffers to prevent runoff.

They point to an article in the NY Times http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/04/garden/04garden.html?_r=1&ref=garden about these growers which asks a great question, How many of us give the same kind of thought to locally grown, pesticide-free, fresh, healthy trees that support area farmers?

The article talks about the different farms that use sustainable practices like planting buffer zones near wetlands and streams and keeping records of pests, diseases and pesticide application.

And, they talk about the tree farms that have become certified organic by the Department of Agriculture. Or those that are Certified Naturally Grown trees, which meets the same basic requirements: it was raised without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, using sustainable methods like composting and erosion control.

Certified Naturally Grown, http://www.naturallygrown.org/farm-list.html a national organization with 500 members from 47 states, was founded in 2002 (the same year as the Agriculture Department’s organic certification program) by small farmers looking for an alternative that didn't require a licensing fee and complicated record keeping.

It's great to hear that there are sustainable options that allow people to still celebrate with a fresh tree. To find one near you, check out Local Harvest, localharvest.org it lists sources for Christmas trees and wreaths, both organic and conventionally grown.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Hanukkah: Make Potato Latkes

Well, at the risk of repeating myself, I am re-using most of the post I did last year for Hanukkah because it still works.

For those who haven't read it, here goes: One of the classic dishes served throughout Hanukkah is potato latkes, I thought it was a great time to remind everyone to buy farm fresh potatoes.

Where to buy them? Your local farmers' market of course! And, my favorite farm that has yummy potatoes; Zuckerman Farms.

Here's a bit of the history of Zuckerman Farms. Roscoe Zuckerman farms 1,300 acres on Mandeville Island just outside Stockton. Zuckerman’s Farm was started in this location by his grandfather in the 1940’s.

His almost entirely organic peat soil is perfect for potatoes and he grows many varieties, year-round, most not found at your local grocery store.

Some in vibrant colors of red and purple, and the ever popular Yukon Gold and fingerlings.

Some of the farmers' markets where you can find Zuckerman's include Torrance, Hollywood, Encino, and Pacific Palisades. I buy them nearly weekly at the Torrance Certified Farmers' Market and I used the yukon golds for mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving and they were wonderful!

Friday, December 19, 2008

South Central Farmers' Cooperative CSA Option

Since I posted about giving a loved one fresh produce, I realized I had forgotten about the South Central Farmers’ Cooperative (SCFC). As most of you probably know, the South Central Farm was located near the LA Food Bank and was dozed since the landowner wanted to develop it.

Well since then, the group has reformed and has created a non-profit organization and now farms on leased land up in Bakersfield. Community members from Los Angeles travel to the Bakersfield farm each week to plant, clean, and harvest the produce.

As they state, they are "committed to engaging and empowering community members around attaining food sovereignty and access to high quality organic produce." That means the SCFC Farm is certified organic by the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers). They ask that you please consider giving a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription to friends and family this holiday season.

Click Here http://www.southcentralfarmers.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=358&Itemid=49 to order and purchase a gift certificate to e-mail a friend or family member.

Another great thing you can do is to sign up to give a weekly box to a family in need.

The good news is that there are pick-up locations all over LA County, even in my neck of the woods in the South Bay. Drop Off Locations:

Farmers' Markets --

Sundays: Hollywood and Atwater
Tuesdays: Sherman Oaks
Wednesdays: Lawndale
Thursdays: LA City Hall
Saturdays: Leimert Park and Watts

Non-Farmers' Markets --

Long Beach, Every other Sunday
Pasadena, Sundays
UCLA, Wednesdays
Culver City, Saturdays

Click here to learn more about the wonderful work they are doing to create a sustainable food system http://www.southcentralfarmers.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=10&Itemid=49

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Farmlab Seed Harvest Give Away

Come to the Metabolic Gallery at Farm Lab this Saturday, December 20 at Noon for a free seed give away. As they note, all of their seeds are from heirloom stock. They ask that you bring your own containers to take your seeds home.

There is a potluck as well so please bring your own eating and drinking utensils and your favorite dish to share so please RSVP so they know what food to expect.
Farm Lab is located at 1745 N. SPRING AVE., L.A. 90012. The phone number is (323) 226.1158, and for more information, info.@farmlab.org.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Give Farm Fresh Produce & Help Others Too

Veteran's Garden West Los Angeles

With the holidays around the corner you might have a friend on your list that loves fresh local produce and that is an avid supporter of her local farmers' market.

Even if she is, you might want to surprise her with a very special gift, one that not only helps her to eat better, but that helps others as well.

A great option is to give her a yearlong subscription to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) enterprise. A CSA allows people to support local growers by subscribing to a farm that supplies locally grown, seasonal fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

Typically, the CSA delivers weekly or bi-weekly boxes right to a customer’s front door or to a centralized location.

To give your favorite Angelino a "traditional" CSA subscription, you can join Tierra Miguel Foundation CSA. It has pick up locations all over the southern California area in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, www.tierramiguelfarm.org/csa.htm.

But, since we are in LA, we have what I will call "atypical" CSAs, those that have their own "farm" stands or locations where you can pick up the produce or that have a weekly farmer's market of their own.

But they also have something else, something I think that's even more important. Most of these city farms are also in business to help those in need, usually providing job training to youth or others, or that are in need of fresh healthy food, and subscribing to them or visiting their location can help them to thrive and grow.

One of my favorites is the Vet's Garden at the West LA Veteran's Hospital, http://www.losangeles.va.gov/patients/vetsgarden.asp. While they don't have a subscription program per se, you can buy their plants, flowers, and vegetables each Thursday at the Farmers' Market, or on Fridays at the Lobby of the Main Hospital. The Vet's Garden provides a wonderful horticulture therapy program and job training for our veterans.

Another great city farm is operated by CSU (Community Services Unlimited) http://www.csuinc.org/. CSU has a weekly farm stand on Thursdays at Exposition Park and a produce subscription program. This wonderful nonprofit has programs that provide youth of all ages experience in urban farming and in healthy eating and even has an apprenticeship program for at-risk youth where they learn not only farming and gardening, but entrepreneurship skills and leadership development.

Another great project is the Earthworks Community Farm, http://www.ewent.org/. This project is a part of the LA Conservation Corps and Earthworks provides job, life skills, nutrition and organic farming training, employment, and leadership development for youth at an organic urban farm at the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area in South El Monte. Their produce stand operates every Saturday from 9 a.m. to Noon.

Although these options require more effort than visiting a local farmer's market, the payoff is worth it and something to consider since these urban farm models are growing and becoming much more common with the way our economy is going. Supporting them supports the green economy and green jobs of the future.

And, it just might be a great new way to spend some quality time with your friend by giving a gift that allows you to go to these places together each week and to actually see how your gift helps those in need.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Buy local and Homegrown at GOOD December

This weekend there's a unique event taking place here in LA called the Local World's Fair presented by GOOD Magazine.

As they say on their site, http://awesome.goodmagazine.com/december/
GOOD presents an alternative to the fast and anonymous shopping we’ve come to expect in the holiday season. Shop, eat and make local! Ongoing DIY workshops throughout the weekend. Plus special guest Evan Kleiman of KCRW’s Good Food.

Here's the Details:
Saturday & Sunday, December 6 & 7
Time: 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
Location: GOOD's Office and Community Space, 6824 Melrose Avenue, LA 90038

Free and open to the public!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Never Forgotten: World AIDS Day

December 1st is World AIDS Day, a day where individuals and organizations from around the world come together to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic.

2008 marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. Although we have come a long way since 1988, there is still much more to be done.
Take this opportunity to not only honor and remember those we have loved and lost, but to educate yourself about the epidemic as it stands today, http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/static/en/