Thursday, April 30, 2009

LA Garden Show "A Festival of Flavors"

This is just a reminder that the LA Garden Show at the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden starts tomorrow, Friday, May 1 and runs through the weekend until Sunday, May 3,

The good news for urban farmers is that this year's theme focuses on a variety of edible plants that can be "easily grown in a garden. From fruits and vegetables to herbs and grains, the LA Garden Show, "A Festival of Flavors" offers something for every garden---whether that garden is in pots, on a balcony, in the backyard or spans several acres."

  • Edible Garden Showcases
  • Guest Speakers throughout the show including Steve Goto "Tomato Guru" composting workshop and Permaculture workshop
  • Marketplace featuring edible plants and rare finds
  • Opportunity to learn about organic gardening and sustainable practices
  • Get New Recipes
Time - 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 1 - Sunday May 3
Early admission for Arboretum members is 8 a.m.

Adults $7.00
Seniors (62 and older) and Students with ID $5.00
Children (5 to 12) $2.50, Younger Children

Free Entry for Arboretum Members

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Buy Locally: Support Your Local Farmer!

I just wanted to do a quick post to remind everyone that the Ishibashi Farm stand now has flowers and strawberries but they are only going to be here a little bit longer!

I went over on Monday to buy some strawberries and things are getting to the in-between stage so when they run out, we will have to wait until their new veggies are mature.

A reminder, they are located at 24955 Crenshaw Blvd. in Torrance!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blog Today For Equal Pay Day

AAUW (American Association of University Women) is encouraging all bloggers to blog for Equal Pay Day. What is Equal Pay Day?

"To match men's earnings for 2008, women have to work from January 2008 to April 2009 — an extra four months. In recognition of this inequity, Equal Pay Day will be marked on April 28, 2009."

Actions you can take to help change this inequity include:

Wear RED on Equal Pay Day to show how pay inequity keeps women in the red!

Tell your senators: Keep the Change

For more information on the issue and events for the day, check out the AAUW site,

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day! The Garden Opens This Weekend

I want to wish everyone a very Happy Earth Day! And, I am looking forward to the day when every day is Earth Day and we won't have to "sell" people on the idea of saving the earth since it seems like a no-brainer to me.

I also wanted to let everyone know that the Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary, The Garden is opening this weekend(April 24) at the Nuart Theater in West Los Angeles. The Garden is a powerful look at "the famous politicial and social battle over the largest community garden in the U.S., located in south central Los Angeles." All week there will be different speakers during the different screenings so make sure to check it out, .

And, for those of you here in the South Bay, there is a special "sneak" preview/screening tomorrow, Thursday, April 23 at Cal State Dominguez Hills, at 3 p.m. in Claudia Hampton Hall, WH D165, The writer/director, Scott Hamilton will also be there!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

100 Garden Challenge

My friend, fellow Master Gardener Sarah Spitz asked me to post about the wonderful event that The Westside Permaculture Group and Sustainable Works are sponsoring, the “100 Garden Challenge.” And, she even graciously sent me a press release to make it even easier to do! So, here's the deets:

The purpose of this event is to create 100 edible gardens in a single weekend to build and enhance our community, raise awareness about the benefits of locally grown organic produce, and inspire an appreciation of the gifts nature has to offer. The “100 Garden Challenge” will be held Saturday and Sunday, May 16 and 17, 2009.

There are three primary ways to get involved:

1. Community members who desire to start and maintain an edible garden and who have land for a garden or fruit tree or space for potted plants, are encouraged to register their future garden site for the "100 Garden Challenge" on the Gardens of Gratitude website.
For participants in need of advice or assistance in designing or planting their garden, the Westside Permaculture Group will supply the needed talent and workers to assist registrants in completing the work. Participants may also work independently if they prefer. Financial assistance in the form of materials donations is also available to qualified project sites.

2. Westside Permaculture Group is seeking volunteer gardeners of all skill levels and ages to assist in the designing, planting and maintaining of the gardens for before, during and after the event. Needed volunteers include: both unskilled and skilled gardeners; certified gardeners (i.e.: with Master Gardener, Biointensive Gardening or Permaculture Design certification, or the equivalent); trucks and drivers. Other volunteers desired include artists, musicians, cooks and event coordinators for the Gratitude Parties being held both afternoons of the event.

3. Westside Permaculture Group and Sustainable Works are seeking businesses and organizations interested in supporting the event through monetary or in-kind donations. Proceeds will go toward financing supplies for qualifying low-income participants in realizing their garden, and other direct event costs. Current sponsors include: Sustainable Works, The City of Santa Monica, Co-Opportunity, The Learning Garden, Heal the Bay and The Seed.

Registration for garden sites, volunteering, or becoming a sponsor for the event may be completed by visiting the "Gardens of Gratitude" web site: For more information please contact Traci Reitz:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

LA Food Bank Vertical Garden

Well, since LA Farm Girl is still recuperating from her surgery last Friday, I thought I'd just post a few photos of the new Master Garden project I am helping with. Last summer students from CAL Poly Pomona, sponsored by Urban Farming installed a vertical garden along a wall in one corner of the Los Angeles Food Bank.
Now, we are replanting all kinds of edibles in hopes that it will continue to flourish. So far we planted tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, strawberries, and some herbs like basil. It's amazing to see things growing sideways on the wall and its part of a new trend in urban areas to plant where and how there is room.

However, for me, it's super sad that when I drive to the Food Bank and look around the corner at the now empty 14-acre South Central Farm, lack of space was never a problem here, it was lack of concern and understanding. But still I am happy to be involved in such a worthwhile project and if it helps to raise awareness of sustainable food issues especially food "desserts" in our city centers, then I will be happy!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Screening of The Garden This Saturday

While I know I put it on my events, I wanted to highlight a special event coming up this Saturday,

Its called "Locavore Launch" and it features a screening of the Academy Award-Nominated documentary, The Garden, about the South Central Farm and a panel featuring several of the farmers' from the film and the farm as well as David Burns, the creator of Fallen Fruit (an urban foraging movement), see my blog posting here for info. on Fallen Fruit,

Its also going to include a cooking demo. from the South Central farmers and is going to help them celebrate the fact that Whole Foods will be selling the farm's organic, local produce every day. For those who aren't aware, after being displaced from their South LA farm, they have started farming on land up in Shafter and offer CSA sign ups. Check out their site for more info.,

LA Farm Girl is sad she can't attend but will be recuperating from a medical procedure she is having done tomorrow. But, I will be there in spirit!

When: Saturday, April 11, Noon to 3 p.m.
Where: Whole Foods Market, South Pasadena

Monday, April 6, 2009

Americans are Planting "Recession" Gardens

Recently, there was an interesting AP story in my local newspaper describing how many Americans are turning to gardening as the recession has become more and more serious. I found it interesting that in not only this article, but in several similar articles, journalists are using the term "Recession Garden" rather than the term used by most of us who write about sustainable farming and gardening "Victory Garden."

As I have written and talked about this movement, I have had many people ask me, "Just what is a Victory Garden?" Basically, during WWI and WWII, millions of Americans planted Victory Gardens to help the war effort by conserving resources, namely food, and becoming self-sufficient so that other resources would be available to the war effort.

Historian and Food and Society Fellow Rose Hayden-Smith points out the benefits and the importance of Victory Gardens on her blog. As she states, "Nearly 40% of the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed stateside during 1943 were grown in school, home and community gardens." She concludes by discussing how Americans were providing a service to the country and points out that, "Gardens were not a diversion...through gardening efforts, Americans made significant contributions to the war effort."

Think about it. Backyard growers like you and me grew almost half of the fresh produce at that time. That number just astonishes me! And all because people chose to get involved and help not only themselves, but a greater cause, a greater good.

How so? These gardens not only allowed them to make it through the hard times of the war by reducing their food budgets and helping them eat more healthfully, but it led to other positive changes on a larger scale by reducing food miles and saving fuel and other transportation costs, and it provided more food where it was needed.

Eleanor Roosevelt led by example in WWII by planting a victory garden on the White House front lawn to encourage all Americans to plant their own victory gardens. So, the question is who will lead us today?

Many are hoping it will be President Obama. I wrote about this in my post about the campaign to get a White House Garden planted. The non-profit group Eat the View is encouraging the President to replant a large organic victory garden on the White House Lawn with the produce going to the White House kitchen and to local food pantries. ***

The group sees this as not only a way for him to lead by example to meet the global challenges of food security, climate change, and energy independence, but to show how organic gardens improve individual health and ease the rising cost of food, just as they had done during WWI and WWII.

As those involved in the Eat the View campaign point out, it's not only the downturn in the economy that has led to this new "Victory Garden" movement. It comes from a renewed call for eating locally grown produce that has led this new movement over the past few years. It's only in the past year that it has gained momentum due to the current challenges Americans face in making ends meet.

Examples of this renewed interest in Victory Gardens can be found all across the nation. One of the most well known is the Victory Garden pilot project in San Francisco. Funded by the City of San Francisco, the project aims to turn backyards, rooftops, and unused land into organic gardens/city farms. For them, victory has been redefined to mean urban sustainability, with victory seen as growing food for increased local food security and reducing food miles.

Last summer, Slow Food Nation, worked in collaboration with Victory Gardens 2008+ to plant a Victory Garden at San Francisco City Hall for Slow Food Nation. As stated on its web site, the group believes it has "heralded the era of self-sufficiency by creating an edible garden in the heart of San Francisco's Civic Center. Planted on the same site as the post-World War II gardens 60 years ago, the Slow Food Nation Victory Garden demonstrated the potential of a truly local agriculture practice, uniting and promoting Bay Area urban gardening organizations and producing fresh, healthy food for those in need."

As part of this, in November 2008, they donated over 1,000 pounds of fresh produce to those in need through a partnership with the San Francisco Food Bank.

Their work and efforts is something that I believe we should all aspire to achieve because it is possible and it is necessary.

***UPDATE, during the week of March 16, First Lady Michelle Obama broke ground on an organic garden at the White House!

( Originally published on )