Creative and forward-thinking New Yorkers have found a way to go locavore with innovative solutions. Ben Flanner and Annie Novak—-along with the chefs at places like ABC Kitchen and Soho's Crosby Street Hotel—are leading the way in a new kind of urban locavorism: rooftop farms and gardens. Flanner and Novak have transformed an old, unoccupied bagel factory in a corner of Brooklyn (Greenpoint neighborhood) into a rooftop farm complete with honey bees and chickens.
Wow! What a season! The fruits and vegetables and culinary arts now available at farmers markets are the best of the year. The late summer meets the early fall, and the rewards are many!
Shopping at a farmers market is the easy way to eat locally. The food source is known to you, in fact, the farmer is right at the stand, so ask any questions you need to about how something is grown, what's in season, and even how to prepare fruit and vegetables that are new to you.
In Santa Barbara, eight farmers markets spread from end-to-end of town and happening on varies days of the week, make it easy to eat locally and healthy. Plus, you get to support local farmers while doing it. Like many farmers markets, Santa Barbara's markets have grown quickly to now include almost everything you need to make a healthy meal for your family, while contributing to the local economy...including meat, eggs, fish, bread, pasta, vegetables, jam, olive oil, and fruit.
New finds from Santa Barbara's Saturday market:
Organic Italian Eggplant
There are plenty of ways to support local farmers—no matter where you live. Finding fresh, local produce in Santa Barbara has actually become quite easy. If you don't grow your own food, you can find a farmers market in the County on almost every day of the week. Garden exchanges hosted by Food Not Lawns provide a place to trade what you grow, and locally-owned produce centers help fill the gaps.
Several like-minded organizations including the the Isla Vista Co-op, Santa Barbara Farmers Markets and Edible Santa Barbara, are challenging you, your friends, and your family, to eat local for the month of October (and if you can do it during October, then try November, December.... and well, you get the idea. The idea being to make an effort. It's really not that hard.)
Follow these steps to become a Locavore:
2. Attend a garden exchange. Check the schedule.
3. Join a Community Support Agriculture (CSA).
4. Shop at non-chain stores that supply at least 50% of their produce from local farmers (in Santa Barbara Mesa Produce, Isla Vista Co-op). The Isla Vista Food Co-op has a long history of supporting local farmers and providing fresh, sustainably-harvested goods to the community. If you haven't visited the Co-op recently, you should check out their selection; you'll be pleasantly surprised.The Co-op is also the forerunner in setting locavore standards. Take their challenge to see how local you are. Download local resource guide.
Whole Foods, which opened their doors in Santa Barbara this week, makes a visible effort to sell, advertise, and educate the consumer about their commitment to local farmers. They also use the same three local categories, but only buy produce within a six hour drive of a selected store.
Through Whole Food's Local Producer Loan Program, Whole Foods also gives $10 million annually via low-interest loans to small, local farmers or producers. Trader Joe's sells no local produce. They buy and ship produce from around the world, shipe it ship it to a central warehouse for packaging, then re-ship to each store. Wow, that's some carbon footprint.
The new Santa Barbara store features produce by John Givens Farms, including prominent promotional material.
The bottom line: It is easy to support local farmers. Eat what's in season, follow the guidelines, and before long it'll be second nature.
It's the height of the summer, and what better way to share your backyard harvest than at a summer Garden Exchange. In Santa Barbara, the growing list of garden exchanges comes compliments the hard work of Santa Barbara Food Not Lawns.
If you don't live in Santa Barbara, start your own exchange. You don't necessarily need a bounty of fruits and veggies.... encourage your neighbors to trade baked goods, recycled farm tools, magazines, and the like. It is a great opportunity to get to know your neighbors.
Chris and Ann Pizzinat hosted today's event in their Santa Barbara backyard.... where they raise chickens, turkeys, and have two horses. Katherine Anderson of Blue Oak Ranch, brought two of her goats and served chocolate goat ice cream (it was delicious and refreshing). She also had prepared goat cheese in six different yummy forms... it was a really nice treat....
Gardeners from Santa Barbara brought lemons, rhubarb, tomatoes, melons, olive tree starters, apples, baked goods, and, compost, compost worms, well you get the picture.
The broader point: Grow your own food, and then trade, share, or giveaway the extras. Grow enough for your family, then grow more. Read more about Food Not Lawns and then start your own backyard garden.
See the full list of Santa Barbara Garden Exchanges.
(My new olive tree starter!)
(Traded for Weekend Hippie Pesto)
You don’t have to live in Santa Barbara to participate in this grassroots effort. Food Not Lawns works to reduce lawns and increase food. It doesn't matter where you live, replacing your space-taking, water draining, pesticide-using lawn promotes sustainability. If you replace your lawn with food, you can then share what you grow, trade what you grow for something you don’t grow…..and meet your neighbors. It’s that easy!
A recent issue of Sunset magazine featured a special report on how to reduce your family's water usage further highlighting the need to streamline water consumption throughout the Western states. I’ve long been a proponent of reduced water usage in the home (especially the use of water to grown your lawn). Sunset's article outlined a 12-step approach—simplified for quick application. It was a relief to see that kind of sustainably-focused content instead of another preview of a kitchen makeover.
One item Sunset
didn’t directly mention is the growing movement to replace lawns with
edible landscapes. Food Not Lawns, widespread
throughout the United States, helps you achieve these goals by
promoting urban sustainability and encourages growing food,
implementing ecological design, sharing resources, and interacting with
your community. Started and by Heather C. Flores, author of Food not Lawns, How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community,
the movement is widespread throughout the world.
The scary truth about lawns
Today, about 80% of U.S. households spend approximately $40 billion every year to maintain over 21 million acres of lawn. That’s about a third of an acre for the average American lawn.
I LOVE my garden. It is a place I go to chill, to sip on big tumblers of red wine, and to chat with friends. It's full of all sorts of indigenous plants and bird-attracting perennials. It's hard to say what I like most about it, but this time of year I can safely say it's the section dedicated to my backyard vegetable garden! I almost rush to the beds on a daily basis to see what new sprouts have sprung, how big the cucumbers have become in less than 24 hours, and what lettuce I can pull for dinner. Oh, there is no greater satisfaction to growing your own food!!!
Backyard vegetable gardens are not only fun but provide a way to supplement your family’s food needs by season, depending on where you live. It also offers an opportunity to teach your kids--and neighbors--about the seed to table formula as opposed to grocery store to table.
Spring in most climates—including in Santa Barbara where I live—offers warm weather enough to have a successful spring-summer-fall vegetable garden.
I first met John Warner, half of the team at Santa Barbara Natives, two years ago at Rancho Arroyo Hondo. He was managing the property. We were booking a significant event and John acted as manager, tour guide and plant specialist. That’s also when I learned about his new venture, Santa Barbara Natives.
John and his partner, Jeff Nighman, grow locally propagated native plants. The plants are used for restoration and mitigation projects by landscape architects, designers, contractors and the weekend hippie. John and Jeff have grown hundreds of thousands of genetically, local California native plants since 2003.
Santa Barbara, CA
It's late spring, and the timing is perfect to start your home veggie and herb garden. This season, it is clear, something has changed. MIchelle Obama broke ground on a vegetable garden at The White House, while George Ball, of Burpee Seeds, recently predicted seed sales to increase 20 to 30 percent this year. In a recent issue of Sunset magazine, the cover story featured tips on how to grow your own garden. It seems the meeting of The Obama Administration and the Recession have finally put sustainable food sources at the forefront of American’s priorities.
Activists, long-time locavores, and Weekend Hippies alike are hoping these changes will increase the demand for organic, local, and fresh produce, and drive awareness about sustainability in all forms—food, shelter, transportation.