Friday, January 29, 2010
Wow, yesterday was a day full of great news and hope. I attended a meeting at Fruit Valley Elementary School (right down the street from our house) that was being held by a woman from a group called Create Plenty. They are a non profit group from Portland who support local production and local producers, promote creative thinking about using and reusing materials and provide options to replace wasteful packaging. The name of the woman is Sola (pronounced Sharla) and she said that they would like to expand their organization into Vancouver and want to start in the Fruit Valley area, specifically the school. WOOHOO!!! They want to utilize the school garden and greenhouse as well as add another greenhouse, seed bank and tool library. Eventually they want to hold workshops on food preparation and preservation with the ultimate goal being to get the four gardens (including mine!) in the area to work together as a collective to form a Community Supported Grocery. This is huge news for Fruit Valley. I really wanted to just give Sola the biggest hug ever.
The CSG would work with the families of the students to teach them the importance of growing their own food and the health benefits of it. With hopeful contributions from some Corporate sponsors (Burgerville has already said yes!), the food would be available for a low cost to the residents of the neighborhood. In some cases the sponsors can donate "shares" of the produce to resident families. This sponsorship would also supply the seeds, tools and supplies needed to undergo such a project.
I have to say that this meeting really impacted me and gave me new hope. I wasn't sure how we were going to recruit people for our neighborhood garden and I certainly had no idea how we were going to pay for it this year. This is a big breakthrough coming at a very important time. Also yesterday I talked to someone who is willing to donate a sign for our front yard so we can let people know just what is going on here. People can really be great if given the opportunity. With all of the negativity that is surrounding this country right now it is so refreshing to have people step up where they can and lend a hand. If you are interested in learning more about the organization "Create Plenty", their website is www.createplenty.org And if you are interested in donating tools, time or supplies to the Sunshine Garden of Fruit Valley, you know how to reach me.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I am taking a break from my usual gardening blog to write about my most recent trip to San Francisco. This was my first time there and I have to say I was really impressed with the city, it went beyond my expectations. We arrived on Friday and quickly learned that our idea of a "steep" hill is a little different than theirs. Once we had gotten our luggage up the 90 degree hill to where we were staying we decided that it was time to enjoy some of the city and get some dinner. We were staying in the Castro district and it was a short walk from the house to the main hub so that was the obvious choice as to where we were going to go. Dinner consisted of a better than average meatball sub for me and a really good calzone for Lisa from a place called Marcello's. After eating we just took a walk around the area and soaked up all that it has to offer.
Saturday turned out to be a really great day. We met up with some new Facebook friends, Charles and Robert at the Ferry Building by the water. What an amazing place. We were really lucky that the Farmers Market was happening and it made me long for the upcoming season in WA. Some of the highlights were the citrus that was incredibly affordable and very beautiful, homemade Meyer Lemon yogurt at Saint Benoit and every pig product you can imagine. I love bacon and it was a real pleasure to see it in all of it's glory. The Ferry Building Marketplace has a long history and has completely developed into the place to go. If you are in the San Fran area, you have to check it out. We all know that California is a great farming state and this market just proves it. Vendors come from all over the Bay area just to have a booth there. Obviously I was quite impressed with the display even this early in the year. After we strolled throguh the market the four of us took a streetcar to an AMAZING bookstore called "Omnivore". Why is it so amazing? Because it is all cookbooks! That's right, cookbooks from every culinary corner. New, used, signed --- everything. I was in total awe. Thank you to our hosts and new friends, Charles and Robert for a very fun filled afternoon.
That evening Lisa and I decided to be more daring and venture out beyond Castro. We found a restaurant called "Herbivore", and as you might have guessed it is all vegan and all wonderful. I had a lentil loaf with mashed potatoes and sauteed greens and Lisa enjoyed a "chicken" shish kebab. I can't stop thinking about this restaurant. It would really be perfect for Portland. I will write to them and request it for sure.
Sunday brought on the Fancy Food Show at the Moscone Center. This was something I was looking forward to in the hopes of getting some new information for the coming year in culinary yumminess. I am going to be honest. It wasn't super great. Yes, we did get some new info on some fun things but overall it just wasn't something that was helpful to me in my business. They really pushed the "Natural and Organic" section this year but when the middle of the floor has booths from Hormel, Ghiradelli and Marie Callendar it is kind of a disappointment. I guess with so many farmers as friends I have a different idea of "natural". The evening, however, did not disappoint. We met two friends for dinner at Greens, one of the top vegetarian restaurants in San Fran. I ordered a mushroom lasagna that was really wonderful. It was presented as a round instead of the typical square and filled with seasonal mushrooms, cheese and fresh sauce. Lisa had a spinach and feta pizza which also was amazing. The crust was so crisp and airy. I do recommend this restaurant, just be sure to make reservations.
Monday brought with it some monsoon like rain but only for a brief period. We didn't bring umbrellas because in Portland you get chastised if you "can't handle a little rain". Well, things are different in S.F. We ended up buying umbrellas because we were the only ones in the city without them. It turns out not everyone like to get their hair wet. After having breakfast at the Bagdad Cafe, our friend Colin took us to Chinatown. WOW!!! Seriously, if you are ever in S.F. you have to go to Chinatown. There is just nothing like it. After a few tries at finding someone who spoke English we made it to the Fortune Cookie Factory, a place I promised a friend I would go see. It is truly something you would never expect to still exist anywhere. After walking down an alley, a lovely old man greets you at the door and takes you back to where the cookies are made. They are made by hand. Yes, by hand. Three ladies sit next to a conveyor belt of sorts and grab the super hot cookie, put in a fortune and fold it. How do I know it's super hot? Because the man made me grab one and try and fold it. Turns out I was not destined to be a cookie folder. They sell bags of fortune cookies as well as "unfortunate" cookies --- they are just the circles with no fortune. Hot, crisp, fresh and delicious.
That sums up our trip. The weather cooperated for the most part. I would say that 90 percent of our time was dry, and some of it was even in the sun. San Francisco, you stole my heart and I will be back for sure.