Out of Reach (Dec 2-8, 2009) SF Bay Guardian.
I meant to post a link to this article when it came out about two weeks ago and well…forgot. It is a really well-written article that highlights a really big concern with the food movement world-wide; how do we make good food accessible to everyone? Amyitis’ initial mission was to provide produce to Boogaloos restaurant as a reaction to this very issue. I thought, “get a restaurant employee (me) to grow local organic produce for a greasy-spoon style diner= affordable prices for priceless food, violla!” Well, for those that have been following our story here at Amyitis, you know that, while we made some waves, nothing quite worked out as planned.
Streams of resistance from many points on high lead us into the heart of this quandary when we started growing for The Corner. We started out aiming to make healthy food cheap and accessible as we thought possible (and I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but even eating out at a diner isn’t cheap anymore) but instead ended up growing exclusively for the most upscale restaurant in our fleet. Why? Well, for so many reasons, not the least of which being, menu, client volume, and product consistency, the upper-crust Corner was the only establishment truly equipped to handle the produce. We were well-intentioned but foiled. Why? Frankly, the roots of the issue go deep and touch on many different sources. The blogging world nor I are prepared (or even interested) in the type of diatribe I could go on about food, accessibility, and equal share to all parties concerned. For the record however I will suggest that the heart of this issue is that our cultural movement around food has caused us to open our hearts and minds but not always our wallets. Though a generalization, it is clear that developed nations (primarily the US) don’t value the true cost of our food, that which sustains us. Why, I ask, do we live in such a way where being a farmer is a dead-end job? Better yet, how do we change that? If we all understood and supported with our mouths and our wallets the true costs of food, what would our world look like? What would our schools look like? I want to live in a world where the local hero is the woman who grows my tomatoes and our national heros are the suits who are figuring out how to make access to good food the rule not the exception. Here at Amyitis, we are scheming for ways to bring fresh food to people who need it and pay our rent at the same time. While we don’t have all of the answers, we know the issues. Maybe with your help we can all make some headway. Read the above article and make some waves with us.
Hoping to spend tomorrow discussing sustainable & safe food systems? Well, you have *two* intriguing events to choose from December 1st 2009.
The first promises some controversy. Our friends at Slow Food SF are organizing a panel discussion featuring panelists from both sides of the food movement aisle.
The Slow Food SF Eat In, September 2009
Starting at 6:45pm at the S.F. Public Library’s Koret Auditorium (100 Larkin & Grove) the panel will feature Douglas Gayeton (author of the book Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town), Sarah Rich, Sam Mogannam from Bi-Rite, farmer Casey Havre, chef Michelle Fuerst, and Slow Food SF’s very own Dava Guthmiller. After this spirited debate Slow Food will be hosting a book signing/exception/reception at 18 Reasons in the Mission. (Via Mary Ladd & SFoodie)
Looking to learn more about Permaculture in the Mission tomorrow? Look no further! December 1st 7-9pm Movie Night @ The Red Poppy Art House (2698 Folsom Street @ 23rd Street) will be showing the Geoff Lawton film, Introduction to Permaculture Design (What I’m sure will be) a spirited Q & A will follow the screening with Kevin Bayuk and David Cody answering your questions. Given David Stockhausen’s recent and very positive experience with Permaculture this event is too tempting for us to pass up. Hope to see you there!
Posted in Food Movement, Food Safety, local food, mission district
Tagged 18 Reasons, California, Casy Havre, Dava Guthmiller, David Cody, David Stockhausen, Douglas Gayeton, edible landscaping, Food Movement, Geoff Lawton, Kevin Bayuk, Mary Ladd, Michelle Fuerst, mission district, permaculture, permaculture sf, Sam Mogannam, SF Public Library, SFoodie, slow food, Slow Food SF
After a once in a lifetime travel experience in Australia and New Zealand, my mother paid me a visit on her way back through the states to PA. While it is always nice for me to have a visit with my parents, this one has held some really special events. During her stay, my mother has seen Amyitis in full swing during our busy harvest season and tasted the fruits of our labor at The Corner.
Before I set her to work we had an extraordinary evening meal at The Corner. Since its opening, The Corner has strived to be the next up-and-coming locavore’s playground. Offering fresh Amyitis veggies from Mission District back yards, local wines, cheeses, and charcuterie, the menu aims to please a diverse range of locally tuned palates. Its beautifully and simply designed space feels hip but yet unpretentious at the same time. Now with new NYC chef (and Grammercy Tavern alum) Alex Jackson, the place has gone from the culinary runway to gastronomic hyperspace. While most of it has been a team effort, it is obvious that the star player here is Chef Alex.
Alex Jackson is the type of chef who wants to know your name and make you the best meal you’ve ever had. He doesn’t appear to care if you know your confit from coulis but he might make you a sample of both to try. He wears a smile and a collected cool unseen in many busy kitchens. We were lucky enough to have the chef’s menu on Wednesday night. Our biggest favorites were the Panchetta Potato Salad, the Braised Pork Cheek with Roast Peaches and Tallegio, and the Confit of Tuna. And if those menu peeks aren’t enough to drive you in there, it is important to note that their wine list is impressive and diverse enough to work up any appetite.
I am extremely grateful to have my mother visiting here to see such a great sample of what we have to offer here in this great city. More importantly, I am beyond grateful to have Amyitis Gardens be a part of the experience that makes this city great.
This week Amyitis Gardens participated with thousands of Americans across the country in the “Time For Lunch Eat-In” hosted by Slow Food USA. The Eat-In was and event in several city locations aimed at raise awareness about food in our school systems. The pot-luck style event had local vendors, businesses, and individuals bring something to eat and share over swapped stories and gastro-gabbing. It was great to see all of the families and business that came to support such an important issue. While the event had a pretty good turn out, more people there would have been a plus as there were opportunities to make some political noise. On each table there were pens, paper provided and mailing addresses to many government policy makers thus allowing participants to make their views known by mailing a letter. It is important to remember that every letter counts.
In addition to several speakers from slow food there were some great food related activities at the event such as a planting demo provided by Sloat Gardens and sushi rolling instructions for kids provided by local sushi chefs. Eatwell Farm was there giving away samples of their new lacto-fermented soda called Eatwell Soda and Amyitis was there representing our support for food consciousness and awareness by encouraging people to farm their yard. People must have liked our Lemony Kale Salad because there wasn’t a shred left at the end of meal! Here are some pics from the event. Go to www.slowfoodusa.org to become a member and show your support.
'Black Prince' tomatoes from an Amyitis Garden
I certainly was expecting a bigger yield by now but, with that said, I am still very grateful. Growing deliciously beautiful heirloom tomatoes in foggy San Francisco summer temps is no small feat. I am proud. Since our first fruit in June we’ve seen a lot of activity with these plants but less product than we expected; while the plants continue to grow toward the sky, there seems to be a dearth of ripe red fruit.
After some troubleshooting and investigation, Eben and discovered a problem with the watering system. It seems that an old irrigation path for the grass was still coming on and soaking the beds each night. This excess water was causing a lot of the fruit to swell and crack. Water is also a vector for disease and blight. Thankfully we were spared some of the potentially nastier diseases the plants could have acquired throughout all of the soaking. Though, I do have my eye on some powdery mildew that is developing in places. Powdery mildew is a common fungal problem on vegetable plants, but can spread quickly if not kept in check.
Not the least of our slow production issues has been the fog. For the month of July the fog has shrouded the Western Peninsula with an icy blanket. As I have said in earlier posts, tomatoes and squash are heat loving plants. Tomatoes need heat to ripen. In the past week it would appear that our weather trend has shifted a bit. The sun is shining and the Bay Area has seen temps well into the 90s. As you can see in the above photo, a little heat goes a long way. Now with some of the kinks worked out, the fruit is rolling in and it is delicious!!
The things that I forget often astound me. The gardens really teach you about that too; they never stop growing, turning, moving, changing. While we bipeds are caught in a mental fog so much of the time, the garden is aware and awake. I have recently been reminded of how to listen, be still, and tap in to that type of waking awareness. As a farmer, if you slow yourself down enough to listen to what the plants have to say, you will know how to work with them. They will tell you about their pests and diseases, their triumphs, and the balance they hold with their environment. If you let her, nature, even amidst the concrete hustle of the cityscape, will have a conversation with you.
My two good friends in the Methow Valley of Washington State are professional earth talkers. Chis Doree and Lexi Kotch are the owners and founders of Ancestree Herbals. They have been cultivation a vision and a farm there for many years. Their farm business provides fresh and dried medicinal herbs and plant medicines to people all over the country. In their magical Cascade Mountain terabithia, they have listened to the words of the land to produce amazing medicines that both heal and teach. Their talents and accolades are innumerate. Rather than list them here, I encourage you to visit their site and pass it along to anyone and everyone interested in food and medicine.
My two good friends are reminders for me about the importance of one’s relationship with the land. Their success story should be a lesson to all who work with that which feeds us. All to easily, the pervasive dollars-and-cents mentality rules our thinking and subsequently our actions. But, a couple of minutes spent talking with a garden reminds you that we live in abundance; our potential is abundant. It is easy, too easy, to think about our wallets and forget that food and friends and generosity really keep the globe spinning. It is about time I give Chris and Lexi a call. I could use some medicine myself.