Friday, January 26, 2007

Governator Funds School Gardens

Hopefully the word has gotten out that Ahhnold (with some great advice from Maria) has approved $15 million in funding directly to California School Gardens. This means from $2,500-$5,000 for YOUR school garden, if you are a California public or charter school.

The California School Garden Network is keeping us all up to date about how and when to apply:
Assembly Bill 1535 (Nuñez) (Chapter 437 of the Statutes of 2006) authorizes the California Department of Education (CDE) to award $15 million for grants to promote, create, and support California instructional school gardens. The grants will complement a school’s academic program and create opportunities for children to learn how to make healthier food choices, participate more successfully in their educational experiences, and develop a deeper appreciation of their community.
Check the CSGN website for all the details. You'll need to apply through your district or county office, so start now making those contacts and gathering a wish list of everything your garden needs. I'll be working with all our Urban Sprouts schools to apply as well. Feel free to contact Urban Sprouts for advice with your application!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Food System News

Three pieces of news to report about our Food System: one local, one regional and one national.

Local first: Neighborhood Parks Council just released this Action Alert. A meeting today at San Francisco's City Hall will address this legislation:

Ross Mirkarimi, Supervisor for District 5, is introducing legislation to authorize Farmers' Markets to be located on Recreation and Park Department (RPD) property and for the Agricultural Commissioner to work with RPD to identify suitable sites for Farmers' Markets.

Public markets have provided an opportunity for communities to gather in their city centers worldwide for centuries. Our city parks frequently are the organic center of our neighborhoods. Dozens of examples from around the country wherein Parks and Recreation departments are playing leadership roles in helping farmers’ markets flourish are evident. San Francisco should be counted among those cities that support innovative approaches to using parks that also happen to be revenue generators that support recreation and parks.

NPC supports this ordinance with the understanding that a careful process of community engagement and consultation is carried out before any neighborhood or park improvement is made, and that a net benefit to the park occurs as a result.

Regionally, Om Organics put together this great web resource describing our Food System here in the Bay Area and the many organizations working to make it healthier for people and the environment.

Nationally, we should all start thinking about the US Farm Bill that will be voted on this year. A new book will be out in March entitled Food Fight: A Citizen's Guide to the Farm Bill by Daniel Imhoff and Roberto Carra. I'm hoping this resource will help prepare us to understand this legislation and make our voices heard. According to the book:
The Farm Bill is perhaps the single most significant land use legislation enacted in the United States, yet many citizens remain fairly unaware of its power or scope. With subsidies ballooning toward $25 billion per year, the Farm Bill largely dictates who grows what crops, on what acreage, and under what conditions — all with major impacts on the country’s rural economies, health and nutrition, national security, and biodiversity.
Keep an eye out for more ways to vote as a citizen and as a consumer for a healthier and more sustainable food system!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Worm Castings Ready to Go!

Here we are at Ida B Wells HS bagging up our fresh, ready to go worm castings! We started our worm bin in Mr. Pierce's class last spring, using a Wriggly Wranch Worm Bin. By October, the worms had filled one level of the worm bin with castings, so we added the next level on top and enticed them to move in by adding fresh (well, moldy, but new) food. Gradually they left behind their old home, and now we can separate out the last few stragglers (they run from the light and bunch together so they're easy to find).

We bagged up the castings into 1.5 pound bags. As soon as the students develop a product name and some instructions, we'll be making the castings available to neighbors, hopefully for sale at a neighborhood store.

We're keeping enough to give our own garden veggies a vitamin boost as well. If they can survive this chilly San Francisco cold snap! It's been freezing at night for the past several nights. We're hoping those greens can hold on!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Colorful Cauliflower

Check out these beautiful and unique cauliflower varieties that are flourishing in the Ida B. Wells school garden. The top one is Romanescu, the other Purple. Cauliflower is in the Brassica family, where all the mustards and cabbages belong. What part of the plant do we eat from a cauliflower? It's an easy one—the flower, just before it opens!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Environmental Justice in California

I just heard on the radio about Invisible 5, an audio tour you take in your own car while driving down California's I-5 from San Francisco to LA. The tour describes environmental justice struggles being fought along the way:
Invisible-5 investigates the stories of people and communities fighting for environmental justice along the I-5 corridor, through oral histories, field recordings, found sound, recorded music, and archival audio documents. The project also traces natural, social, and economic histories along the route.
The first stop, in San Francisco, is the Bayview/Hunters' Point district where the city's power plant, a contaminated former Navy shipyard, a sewage treatment plant, superfund sites, many hazardous waste sites, as well as pollution from the highway corridor create the city's highest rates of cervical and breast cancer and asthma. These neighborhoods are home to a large number of Urban Sprouts students.

Visit the website and download the audio tour, and you can listen to it the next time you take the drive, all the way to LA or just back and forth across the Bay Bridge! Meanwhile I'll work on getting this into our Urban Sprouts curriculum.