Sunday, December 9, 2012

Join LA Farm Girl at Foodprint LA Today!

Foodprint LA is the "fourth in a series of international conversations about food and the city."

I am very humbled and excited (but nervous) to have been asked to be a panelist at today's event. I will be part of the panel "Edible Archaeology"  (3:00 to 3:55 p.m.) How has today’s food culture in Los Angeles been shaped by social changes, economic fluctuations, and technological innovations throughout the city’s history?"

There are several other great panels discussing the issue of food from all different perspectives including zoning and planning issues, mapping issues, and the last one of the day about food opportunities and challenges.

Date: Sunday, December 9
Time: 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: LACMA‘s Brown Auditorium (5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90036)
Free and open to the public; seating is limited

Saturday, October 20, 2012

It is Pumpkin Time: Visit A Real Farm

I have been wanting to post on this blog for a long time and between starting up the Torrance Memorial Learning Garden, finishing a book, and my "regular' writing gigs, I seem to just run out of time.

So, I decided to revamp a post from several years ago because it is pumpkin patch time and my favorite time of the year.

While I am so sad to face this first fall season without my favorite local farm, the awesome Tom T. Ishibashi Farm, I am happy to be able to write about another of my favorite farms,  a great family farm where you can pick-your-own pumpkin and support a great local LA farmer.

Yep, a "real" LA farmer, imagine that! Forneris Farms, is one of only two "traditional" farms left in the San Fernando Valley---John Forneris has been farming in Mission Hills for the past 43 years!

Not only can you pick-your-own pumpkin, but now during Harvest Festival time there's great activities for the whole family including a corn maze, a tractor-pulled train ride, a "farm frolic" area with kid's games, farm animals, antique tractors and cars, and on weekends there's food and entertainment. And, of course their farm market is always open and features farm fresh produce year-round.

They are also now on Twitter, so follow them!

Let's show John and Barbara that we support them and appreciate that they are here providing us with locally, grown, farm fresh produce and a great on-farm experience for the whole family!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Gift of a Learning Garden

Our garden is thriving in this heat!
For those who have actually kept visiting this blog, you might have wondered where I have been. I haven't written anything here in over a month. There are several reasons for this. Not only am I still working on a book, I have also embarked on a hands-on project that has taken up a great deal of time.

I have had the privilege of creating a mini, urban farm for my local hospital at a local community garden plot. That has meant that I have not only been planting, maintaining, watering, harvesting this "farm," but have been leading classes and work days for our participants.

This is literally a learning garden for all involved, especially me. While I have been teaching classes in various conference rooms at the hospital, to finally be working in the ground and at a garden has meant that I need to change everything. And, while it involves more work, it has been so much fun!

So, instead of writing about "bigger" issues or the latest in LA urban farming, I am going to post a few photos both from and of our garden. I hope to get back to blogging soon!

Perfect eggplant      

Cosmos attracting our beneficial pests
Our harvest from September 10

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Share Your Summer Bounty

The time has been going so fast that I have been so negligent of this blog. So, once again, here's the column I wrote this week for Healthy Living.

It is about sharing your excess produce with those in need. I was shocked to find over 20 food pantries within 15 miles of my own zip code. As I wrote in the column, Ample Harvest can help you find where to donate, and give you tips on what and how to donate.

From my garden: Sun Sugar and Early Girl tomatoes, kale, leaf lettuces and green beans

Monday, July 2, 2012

Go Visit A Farm!

Those who actually read this blog, have probably noticed that my posts get less and less frequent. I am working on trying to change that so that I can keep you all up-to-date on what's going on in the LA farm community.

But, for now, I will just direct you to a post I did for my Care2 Healthy Living page. Since it is summer, a great way to relax and have fun, and to support our small farmers is by visiting a farm or farm trails. And, since we live in California, we have plenty to choose from, nearly 30 of them from San Diego all the way north to Gold Country.

Although I included the link in the post, here it is again for my CA peeps. You can find a farm trail, an individual farm, and other agri-tourism sites at UC Davis’ California Agricultural Tourism Database.

Get out and support our small farmers! If you aren't going away, why not visit one of my local favorites,  Forneris Farms in the San Fernando Valley. Their farm stand is now open and they have sweet corn and tomatoes and plenty of other farm fresh produce.
photo courtesy Forneris Farms

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Legalize Beekeeping in Los Angeles!

Here's a little something I wrote for my Los Angeles Urban Agriculture Examiner page about the efforts of HoneyLove (and others) to get an ordinance passed in the City of Los Angeles to make beekeeping legal.

That's right, beekeeping is illegal in residential areas and with the threat from Colony Collapse and the increased interest in beekeeping by urban residents, the time is right for them to change this policy!

If you agree, sign the petition that HoneyLove created to show the City Council how important this issue is to its constituents!

Photo Credit: HoneyLove

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Autry Farmers' Market

Those who like both Western history and fresh produce are in luck, a new farmers' market is opening this weekend (Saturday, April 28) at the Autry National Center in Griffith Park. 

It will feature both conventional and organic produce and lots of yummy prepared foods. Some of my favorite growers and foodies will be selling there including Underwood Family Farms from Moorpark, and Tutti Frutti Farms from Lompoc. Homeboy Bakery and Heirloom LA will be selling prepared foods.
(image courtesy of LA City Farm)

Here's the Details: 

Day/Time: Every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to Noon

Location: The Autry in Griffith Park 

Admission: Free Admission / Autry Members Receive a 10 percent Discount on Purchase

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Help Pierce College Farm: Go to Farm Walk April 22nd!!!

Los Angeles Pierce College in Woodland Hills is the last agriculture college in the City of Los Angeles (actually in the City of LA) not LA County.

Right in the middle of metropolitan Los Angeles, next to the San Fernando Valley’s largest business district, lies a 200-acre teaching farm, part of Los Angeles Pierce College’s agriculture department. 

A goat resident at Pierce College Farm, from Farm Walk 2003

Pierce College is one of the nine colleges of the Los Angeles Community College District, and the only one that still features an agriculture focus. The preservation and use of the farm’s tillable area and rangeland represents the last farmland left in this suburban area. 

Its agricultural roots run deep; when the campus was established in 1947, it was founded as the Clarence W. Pierce School of Agriculture and its entire faculty was dedicated to teaching production agriculture. Today, there are less than a dozen teachers in the department.

The college is probably best known for its two-year Pre-Veterinary Sciences Program and this year, the college nearly lost all of the large animals at the farm that are critical to this program because they could not afford to care for and feed them.

You can help by attending the college's Annual Farm Walk, a community open house that lets the public see all that the farm has to offer. The event offers activities for all ages and gives city residents a chance to see a farm up close. 

Here's Details On The Event:

Location: Pierce College, 6201 Winnetka Avenue, Woodland Hills, CA 

Sunday, April 22, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission: $5, and free for children under 12  

Activities: Petting zoo, pony rides, face painting, sheep shearing, cow-milking, and gourmet food trucks will be there to feed hungry visitors!

If you can't make it to Farm Walk, you can still help the farm by donating to its Adopt a Cow program or by making donations online to the Pierce College Foundation, just designate that you want your donation to go to the Friends of the Pierce College Farm when prompted to provide more information.

Pierce College Farm

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I Love Farmers' Markets

There doesn't seem to be as much time as I'd like to write on this blog. I always think about things to write after something has happened, or, after I have gone to some event. And of course, by then it is too late.

So, I thought if I just posted something, it would get me back in the habit of writing here. I seem to write everywhere else, especially on my personal blog, so let's see if this trick helps.

I was just thinking about how lucky I am to live in southern California. I know there are many reasons that this is true: the weather, the beach, the arts and culture (yes, we do have lots of culture here) and because most of my family is here.

But, while those are all true, one of the biggest reasons I feel this way is because living here in LA County, I can go to a different farmers' market every day of the week, choosing from one of at least 100 certified farmers' markets.

As I have written about before, aside from the fresh, in-season produce, each has something unique to offer, Hollywood is well...Hollywood, you can't describe it, it is like a carnival and a produce market combined. Santa Monica is trendy, and it is big and bold.

Being a South Bay local and native, I also like to support my South Bay farmers' markets so that I can be really supportive of the local economy while eating as locally as possible.

A January haul from the Torrance Certified Farmers' Market 

One of the most beautiful farmers' markets around is the Thursday Morning Redondo Beach Certified Farmers' Market alongside Veteran's Park/The Pier/The Beach. If you are in the South Bay, check it out. If you are not and are looking for a farmers' market near you, search for one here.

Redondo Beach Certified Farmers' Market

View from Redondo Beach Certified Farmers' Market

Friday, April 6, 2012

Taste of History At Torrance Farmers' Market, Sat. April 7

The City of Torrance is celebrating its Centennial this year. And, I am excited to have been invited to come to the Torrance Certified Farmers' Market to share some stories about our farm history and to sign books.
Family farmers, throughout the early years, contributed to the City’s economy by raising cattle, pigs, turkeys, sugar beets, alfalfa, beans, hay, oats, barley and flowers.
Threshing lima beans at Weston Ranch (Photo Courtesy Torrance Historical Society & Museum)
Come and hear the stories of our farm history including:
  • The streets in Torrance named for farmers or ranchers
  • The common, every-day nursery product invented by local growers
  • The name of one of the world’s biggest seed companies that got its start in Gardena
  • Torrance's first post Rancho-era farmer, where he farmed, and what he grew
  • The name of the last "traditional" farmer in Torrance, where he farmed, and what he grew
  • When the Torrance Certified Farmers' Market opened
  • Where people are farming in Torrance today
Here's the details:
Where: Torrance Certified Farmers' Market, 2200 Crenshaw Blvd, Torrance CA
When: Saturday, April 7, 9 a.m. to Noon  
The Torrance Certified Farmers' Market is the 3rd largest farmers' market in LA County and is a great place to get all of your fresh produce and to meet some of the people who grow your food. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

TomatoMania Redux

There is good news for those who might have missed TomatoMania last weekend when it was at Tapia Brothers Farm.

The next event is this weekend, Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31st at the
Grow Native Nursery in Westwood. The Nursery is a division of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and is also now at the home of the Veteran's Garden, a 12-acre horticulture therapy garden that helps our veteran's heal and learn valuable new skills in plant propagation, plant care and maintenance and sales. 

Aside from the great selection of tomato seedlings you can buy, there are two great lectures during the weekend:

The first is on Friday, when Mr. TomatoMania himself, Scott Daigre, tells you how to grow perfect home tomatoes on Friday, March 30 at 1 p.m.

The second is by the awesome, John Lyons (of the Woven Garden), who will talk about how to grow a beautiful, native garden on Saturday, March 31st at 11am.

Here are the details on the event:

Friday, March 30 & Saturday, March 31 - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days
Location: Grow Native Nursery, Westwood, on the grounds of the Veteran's Administration, (just north of UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium)
Constitution Ave & Davis Ave, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 90049

Friday, March 23, 2012

TomatoMania Time!

If you are like me, and can't wait each year for tomato planting time, then you need to head over to Tapia Brothers Farm Stand in Encino this weekend because TomatoMania is back!

With nearly 300 varieties of tomato seedlings available, this is TomatoMania's biggest event.  In addition to great heirloom tomatoes, you will also find heavy duty tomato cages, ladders, smart pots, tubs, tomato food, fertilizer, and more.

For LA Farm Girl, this is also my favorite venue because it is held at one of only 2 traditional farms left in the San Fernando Valley. Tapia Brothers Farm is family-owned, and still has an old-school produce stand on the farm. After you buy all of your tomato seedlings, walk over to the counter and buy some of their fresh, in-season strawberries. They even have tomatoes now, since yours aren't ready yet, buy theirs! Support this local farm!

Here's the details on the remaining days of this TomatoMania event:

Saturday, March 24 - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, March 25 - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Location: Tapia Brothers Farm, 5251 Hayvenhurst, Encino, CA

Monday, March 12, 2012

Post-Ishibashi Farm Estate Sale

I have spent the past two days trying to get over my sadness after Saturday's sale. I haven't checked to see how they did as far as selling equipment etc. but it seemed that they sold quite a bit of it.

I want to thank those of you who went to support them after reading about it here and to thank Felicia at LA Weekly for blogging about it. Hopefully, it helped in some small way.

I was able to get some items to give to the Torrance Historic Society and Museum so that we can preserve the Ishibashi farm legacy here in Torrance. I got a strawberry tray, a lug box, a green basket they used for green beans and some strawberry baskets. I am hoping to get a t-shirt as well.

One of the things I am getting is this sign that they have said I can have to give to the Museum:

So bittersweet, I really cried when I saw this as I walked up to the sale.

What once was the farm stand is now empty
Empty area where the bustling  farm stand once stood

I am also going to give the Museum this memento that I got (they were given to all guests) at Tom's Memorial Service:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Ishibashi Farm: "Going Out of Business Sale"

As hard as it is for me to even type these words, I promised my friends at the Tom T. Ishibashi Farm that I would publicize their upcoming sale.


Tom T. Ishibashi’s farm stand and farm is located at Torrance Airport and is the last farm in Torrance. Those who have followed me and/or know me, know that sadly, Tom passed away in May of last year.

He was the last farmer from a Japanese American family that has farmed in the South Bay since the early 1900s, mostly on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and in Torrance. The Ishibashi family have been farming the area at the Torrance Airport for the past 60 years and sadly, with his death, their farming legacy is gone too and the farmstand, etc. will be gone shortly.

As I posted back in October, they have lots of farm equipment and supplies for sale and they have decided to just hold a big "garage type sale" to get rid of these things if possible. I will be there to help them and to document the day. I am a farm writer after all, and as heartbroken as I am, I need to do it.

So, here's the details:

When: Saturday, March 10, starting at around 8 a.m.

Where: Tom T. Ishibashi Farm Stand

Address: 24955 Crenshaw Boulevard, Torrance, CA

In March, he would always have Iceland poppies and usually his strawberries were already showing up.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Spring Starts in Exactly 1 Month: Is Your Garden Ready?

Okay, I am once again just putting a link to my Care2 Healthy Living post since I am trying to keep up with all of my work.

Since today is February 20, that means that the Spring Equinox will be here in a month. I not only have visions of completing my book by the April 30 deadline, but also of being able to finally get back out into my garden. I really miss it and am looking forward to growing some more food in my micro-farm so that I can really be LA Farm Girl.

Here's some tips to get you started in the garden. First thing you need to do is clean up. Read on for what comes next 5 Simple Ways Get Your Garden Ready For Spring.

My garden last summer after I had already started the book, even then it was sparse!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Give Somebody A Gardening Gift for VD

As the deadline for my book draws ever closer, I find that I have been neglecting this blog (along with other places that I normally write).

So, I am once again, just going to direct my readers (how many of you might actually be left) to my post for Care2 this week. It is all about giving garden related gifts Giving Gardens of Love. For a change, I reminded people that they can actually give a loved one a garden instead of just giving them something from their garden. And if they really want to give a long-lasting gift, maintain it for someone too!

Check it out and let me know if you have any other ideas that garden lovers would like.

The beautiful Getty Center Garden, one of my favorite places in the world!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why Should You Grow Your Own Food?

The New Year always makes me think about my gardening resolutions and what I want to grow. For those who are on the fence about growing some of your own food, check out my Care2 Green Living post "7 Reasons Why You Should Grown Your Own Food. It is an "oldie" but it might give you just the reason you need to start growing your own!

 Here's some of my lettuce that I still have in my garden due to our very warm and dry winter 

 I also have chamomile coming in huge quantities, it has reseeded itself and is like a weed but it keeps the cats out of my garden bed and I can dry it and make some tea.