January 2011


This last workday was, typically, fantastic. 100 people showed up and cleared all of the grass from around the garden beds, painted garden signs with chalkboard paint (it’s an experiment we’ll keep you posted about), and ate delicious tamales.

But what made this workday really special was the incredible kindness and generosity of Whole Foods supermarket. Mac and Mike from Whole Foods and Bill from Community Recycling donated 22,000 lbs of beautiful black compost that is made from the supermarket’s old vegetables and is 100% organic.

Not only did they drop off this huge truckload of black gold but they and their volunteer outreach team stayed around to shovel it into the garden in wheelbarrows and to help with all of the weeding that needed to get done, too! They worked tirelessly for hours, smiling the whole time, to help the 24th Street Elementary School garden, and were a joy to have in the garden. We cannot thank them enough!

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Happy New Year everyone! GSF hasn’t been blogging over the last few months, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy in the garden. In fact, there’s tons to tell you about and get excited about for 2011!

Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve been up to:

The summer harvest was astonishing, with over 800 lbs of produce either harvested by families or donated to the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition. This was just a normal week’s bounty:

To help us figure out what to do with all of the beautiful tomatoes, Shaila, the cafeteria manager from next door, taught us to make her family’s chutney recipe:

Ingredients:

3 lbs ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 yellow or brown onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp “Panch” spice (parts cumin, fenugreek, nigella seed, fennel seed, and black mustard seed)

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Salt to taste (about 1 tsp)

Put tomatoes in a medium pot over medium high heat with 1 cup of water. Boil for 10-15 minutes until they have broken down into a thick sauce. Add more water if it gets too thick. While the tomatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. When hot, add the spice mixture and let it sizzle for about 15 seconds. Then add the onions and garlic and stir frequently until they’re cooked and starting to turn brown. When the tomatoes are done add the spice and onion mixture, sugar, and salt. Stir well, taste, and adjust the seasoning. This will keep in the fridge for 3 days.

We also had many garden visitors over the summer, including some very talented recent 24th Street School graduates that came back to take care of the garden and document the abundant wildlife that descends once school is out!

We experimented with sheet mulching on our two circle gardens to prep them for pumpkin planting and couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. We read lots of different pieces of advice about sheet mulching and the various ingredients you need, but we used what was available and affordable (free composted horse manure, 4 alfalfa bales at $9.99 each, and two straw bales for top mulch layer at $7.95 each). Once we got the materials together all it took was some dedicated volunteers and a bit of elbow grease to create a deliciously fertile bed.  No digging required!

Since we planted the seeds in mid-July they weren’t ready for Halloween, but by Thanksgiving we’d grown 42 pumpkins the size of basketballs or larger in 650 square feet!

We dissected lots of pumpkins and learned all about the different parts of the pumpkin plant

made Jack O’Lanterns

and decorated

The school year started off with a burst of activity as we got into our Fall programs. To start off the Fall 2010 Slow Food Cooking: Seed to Table program we had a chef training day in which chefs from all over the city came and learned how we plant, harvest, and cook food fresh from the garden 6 times a week with every student at the 24th Street Elementary school. Jenny Cook, who started the program with GSF two year ago,  made a delicious garden stir-fry:

We’ve continued to create some deliciously healthy

creative

and in some cases exotic

dishes that introduce students to cooking fresh garden produce and teach them to make healthy and delicious food…

…done lots of different observation activities including scavenger hunts

and contrasts and comparisons…

…planted out hundreds of seedlings tirelessly sourced and delivered by the indomitable Mud Baron…

…and had lots of wonderful visitors like Ann Grodin who very generously gave us a worm bin, set it up, and has been coming back regularly to show different students how it works. The worm bin has become one of the more popular items in the garden and students have started bringing in scraps of food from home to feed them.

And we can’t forget the fantastic students from SMC’s Sustainable Works program, who come out to the garden every Friday and spend three hours working in the garden!

But most of all it’s been the hundreds of families and other volunteers that show up to our monthly workdays and weed, water, plant that keep the garden looking beautiful.

Stay tuned for reports of what’s happening in 2011. It promises to be a very busy season of new programs and partnerships but we will do our very best to keep you up to date! Happy Gardening!