” The use of our bodies for work or love or pleasure, or even for combat, sets us free again in the wilderness, and we exult” -Wendell Berry
The time has arrived, dear readers, to venture again into our own version of the wilderness to explore things more intimately, more vividly, more extremely. As we might have mentioned before, 2/3 rds of the Amyitis crew have decided to temporarily leave our beloved city of San Francisco to re-vision our path in agriculture. While the adventure of Amyitis has been an education in itself, we see the value in revisiting some more classical types of experiential education. For better or for worse, we hope to bring back a new insight to our practices here in the city by taking an intensive peek at green thumbs the world over.
After my recent journey into permaculture with Kevin Bayuk and David Cody (who begin their winter PDC next week) my inspiration drove me to dive more deeply into the world of holistic thinking and design. Permaculture had its origins in Australia out of necessity in the 1970’s. Brackish soils and paralyzing drought were some of the issues dooming Australian farmers and landowners everywhere. A, then, slow-moving idea (or more accurately a group of ideas) called permaculture housed a group of time-tested, environmentally conscious, and highly productive strategies and techniques under one set of clear principles. Nearly 40 years later, permaculture has now become a fast growing and ever-more widely accepted design strategy having communities, courses and certifications available globally. One of these communities is the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia run by Geoff and Nadia Lawton. Designers using permaculture’s design lense strive to create and encourage systems that are beyond sustainable; regenerative. People like Geoff have spent a lifetime training them. I have decided to spend 10 weeks on Geoff’s farm to learn to see through this lense a bit more and gain a mastery of some of the more popular techniques made famous by permies. I hope to return empowered and inspired to see Amyitis through to its next phase.
Katie Conry has taken advantage of her work situation to explore S. E. Asia and beyond willingly working on organic farms in places like India, Malaysia, and Nepal. I feel encouraged and inspired that Katie’s interest in food has driven her forward both in the world of the blogosphere and into the garden. I trust Katie will also come back inspired and ready to apply her energy with a new lense. We wish her well and await her safe return.
Eben Bell will be here to take care of your Amyitis queries, comments, and collaborations. Look for him at the Free Farm Stand on Sundays in the Mission, or perhaps you local Mission street corner. Keep posted as Katie and I will be sending posts from the Southern Hemisphere.
Until then, Happy Gardening!
My lunch was so delicious and aesthetically interesting today I just had to share.
Kale from my backyard, chicken (not from my backyard), olive oil, cumin, turmeric, coriander, cayenne, cinnamon, and lemon. It’s redundant to mention salt as an ingredient right?
Michelle Obama has proven herself to be (probably) the most powerful ally in the local food movement.
With the White House Kitchen Garden, Mrs. Obama is showing the country that the best way to change eating habits is to get out there and start digging in the ground. The vegetable garden has been a rousing success, and sparked a lot of dialogue, school field trips, TV show appearances, and apparently some really amazing yams.
Mrs. Obama has created both the White House Kitchen Garden and the White House Farmer’s Market, and she is actively striving to create a discourse regarding changing the way we eat. She commented, “I hope the garden will be an introduction to a new way for our country to think about food.” (Via Huffington Post Green.) Recent television appearances all seem part of her plan to mainstream the discussion of local, safe, and nutritious food.
Michelle Obama stopped by Sesame Street yesterday and spoke to Big Bird and Elmo about growing food and being healthy.
A White House Kitchen Garden Top Chef episode featuring Mrs. Obama is coming soon.
Plus, she really truly does have some amazing clothes, doesn’t she?
The official Kitchen Garden video:
Posted in farmers, food, food security, gardening
Tagged backyard farms, edible landscaping, education, Food Movement, Katie Conry, Kitchen Gardens, Michelle Obama, Urban Farming, White House Garden
The first ever Food for Thought is coming to the Mission next Wednesday, November 11th. Participating Mission restaurants will donate 25-100% of their profits to Mission Graduates, a community group dedicated to empowering local youths by preparing them for college.
Food for Thought is the bright idea of Art Avitia, the new Development Director at Mission Graduates, who was nice enough to discuss this event with me on the phone today. Because the organization primarily works with Mission youths, they decided to reach out specifically to Mission restaurants. “We are lucky to be supported by some great restaurants here in the Mission,” he commented. Art came onboard at Mission Graduates after successfully organizing Dining out For Life San Francisco. Having always valued education, Art was drawn to their ideals. Mission Graduates works with students from Kindergarten through High School to support their education and provide them with the necessary tools to attend college.
Art is very enthused about this inaugural event, and believes it will be the first of many. He also feels that the local focus of this event will be a big contributor to its success.
Food, the Mission District AND empowering the community? Sign us up! Team Amyitis will be out in full force. And with the stellar line up of restaurants, how could this event really go wrong?
- Little Star Pizza Valencia
Picking a restaurant is going to be a difficult decision. Good thing we have all week.
Best of luck deciding!
“One doesn’t have a sense of humor. It has you” -Larry Gelbart
I don’t know who it was that said “show yourself to the world, and the world will show itself to you”. In fact, maybe it was me that said that after all….err maybe not. At any rate, this week we at Amyitis found some truth and humor to that sentiment. In this case, it wasn’t so much me who was putting myself out there as our new Amyitis team member Katie Conry. As you may remember, Katie recently joined Amyitis to spread the digital-word by helping us develop our web presence. Well, as it turns out, she’s on fire! Within a week or two we’ve seen a huge spike in blog traffic due to Katie’s management and enterprise. Last week, Katie thought it would be fun to submit a photo of me to The Huffington Post‘s “Hot Farmer” contest as a good way to reconnect with Amyitis’s fanbase and network with the farming community at large. The results that we’ve seen are both flattering and well….hilarious.
Amyitis Gardens and its apparently not-so-humble founder, yours truly, quickly found himself at #1 on the Huffington Post contest after a preliminary email blast explained the competition to our fans and supporters. Before the email I found myself at #4. Needless to say, I am flattered and amazed (especially since I didn’t think said photo exploited my best traits, my personality ;-)).
What does this mean, you ask? Well, besides having a little fun with a farmer’s ego while simultaneously exploiting terrible puns with words ‘hoes’, ‘growing’, and ‘dirty’, it could really mean a lot for Amyitis. If we win the contest, we get the chance to be guest bloggers on huffingtonpost.com plus the added benefit of increasing our web presence and fan base. We are aiming to create an Amyitis community through this blog and our farms. On a serious note, this is a really silly way to promote our burgeoning network of small farmers nation wide. Amyitis doesn’t believe in real competition within the farming community. We strive to connect and support others that are helping move our nation to a new and continually evolving food consciousness. By participating with this competition you are helping to advertise a food movement that is doing just that. We might as well have fun doing it, no? So, what are you waiting for? Stroke my ego and vote ’10’ for David Stockhausen. Your support for the food movement is just a click away.
Apparently Ready Made Magazine thinks it’s quite a bit of fun too. They have mentioned the contest and consequently Amyitis Gardens on their website at ReadyMade.Com. Why not see how far we can take this?
p.s. You may now notice the “share” widget on the top right side of the page (and at the bottom of every post). Share Amyitis with your friends on Facebook & Twitter.
The backyard season is a fickle one. Season length can vary by a number of weeks depending on the yard’s orientation to not only the sun but to the surrounding built environment and city location. Such variances are fun exciting and challenges to play with when planning a seasonal harvest strategy. But, death and taxes being inevitable as they are, it seems all good things come to an end. And no matter how much longer one backyard season is compared to another, Autumn happens.
I am grateful for the harvest season and its assured feeling of powering down. The end of the growing season provides its own sorts of great dramatic endings. Like any good music or film wrap-up, the harvest compiles its own “greatest hits” and usually goes out with a celebrated and dramatic bang. As the photo demonstrates above, our late season tomatoes came in an explosion. The September heat gave way to a great wave of super-ripe and super-sweet black princes, green zebras and pink Brandywine. They were all featured in The Corner’s heirloom salad along with Timothy Holt and Naomi Brilliant’s Roshambo Farm tomatoes. The harvest season also puts a skip into my step. While I love to work, this winding down allows for some great protracted thinking and experimenting that the busy growing season usually doesn’t allow for….. and naturally, some much needed time off!!Alongside the tomato harvest I found one of our main connoisseurs, the tomato horn worm. While I am grateful that he likes our tomatoes, he’s not our ideal paying customer. I have some research to do about how he got in there in the first place. I’d seen his relatives on farms back in Vermont, but never before in a back yard. It’s too bad they are not good eating. I might have had me a snack.
In other news, our worm bin is fully thriving with all of the scraps from our harvesting. Here, volunteer Natalie Kilmer cuts our scraps into smaller pieces for the little buggers; more surface area = faster composting.
To prepare for the rain (that is falling in buckets as I write this) that comes here every winter we’ve started sowing some cover crops in our newly emptied spaces. Fava beans, vetch and rye will coat some of our bare ground. Cover crop provides much needed nitrogen fixation and erosion prevention over the winter months. Intensive veggies might not do well during the winter but the cover crops will give us something back while we wait. We’ve also begun experimenting with remineralization with local rock-dust, a bi-product of quarries. And also in anticipation of rain, we’ve buried our inoculated logs from last winter. With any luck, the new moisture brought on by winter will induce fruiting. I’d love to see some shiitake at The Corner over the fall. Cross your fingers for us.
Lastly but never least-ly we’re happy to announce the addition of a new member to the Amyitis Team. Katie Conry has joined up with Eben and I to help manage our web presence. Keep popping back to our blog and see the exciting changes she’s bringing to the blog. We’re delighted to have her as part of the team. I think, dear readers, you will be too.