Saving endangered food

June 30, 2008 § 1 Comment

Last night I was happily making a stir-fry (using fresh snap peas and chard from my garden, as well as frozen carrots from last year along with some non-local additions…) and I was listening to the Splendid Table on my “local” NPR affiliate, KOPB.

Toward the end of the show, Lynne interviewed Gary Nabhan on the “RAFT” movement. RAFT is short for Renewing America’s Food Traditions, which is also the title of Nabhan’s book. If you visit the Splendid Table Website this week you can scroll to the “Heard on the Show” section and click on the word RAFT to hear the interview.

I hadn’t heard of this project before, and it sounds like something that a lot of foodies would be interested in.

U-Pick strawberries near Eugene

June 30, 2008 § 2 Comments

So, I am a geek and I looked for how people found this blog during this past week… and many people usedU-pick strawberries the search terms for u-pick strawberries. Now granted, the last post was about fresh local strawberries. And I mentioned U-pick… but I was talking about Cherries! So people were led to the site, and I didn’t have the information they were looking for: so sorry!

To make up for it, here are the farms I know about that currently offer u-pick strawberries.

River Bend Farms west of Pleasant Hill on Highway 58 is open for picking (even on the 4th of July). Their Craigslist ad provides all the useful info: phone, hours, driving directions.

The farms below had classified ads in the Register Guard (If the farms ask where you heard about them, tell them it was the Register Guard — newspapers need all the support they can get these days):

Bear Fruit: Harrisburg (Coburg Rd.) U or We pick. Mon-Sat 9-5. Phone: 995-3445

Evonuk’s: Seavy Loop, U-pick strawberries (Open 8 AM until they’re all picked). 747-0065.

Harry’s Berries: Coburg. U-pick. Mon-Sat 9am till picked out. 344-0742

Hansen’s: Creswell. Picked & U-pick. Organically grown available Open 9 Mon-Sat. 895-3082

Herrick Farms: Walterville. U-pick and picked. 741-1046

Lee Farms: Junction City. Senior discount. No spray. Picked or U-pick. 556-1332

Lone Pine Farms: River Road, Junction City. 688-4389.

Happy to help the farmers spread the word, and help all those web searchers find what they’re looking for. Let me know if I left anyone out!

Photo by scol22 and posted at www.sxc.hu.

June strawberries

June 22, 2008 § Leave a comment

I was very excited when I got to the Lane County Farmer’s Market this weekend and discovered that the strawberries had arrived in force. At least five booths boasted flats and flats of the ripe red berries, and the price was about $3 per pint. The unusually cool spring we had delayed the onset of the berries, and I was delighted to see them at the market.

I picked up two particularly lush looking pints of strawberries, with no specific intention other than enjoying them. I also purchased a loaf of whole wheat Levain from Marche Provisions.

So this morning my boyfriend suggested that we make pancakes with strawberries cooked in… I thought about it and thought the strawberries would have too much moisture and they would make soggy pancakes. Instead, I suggested we just make pancakes and serve them with sliced strawberries and whipped cream. He countered with french toast and strawberries. It was settled, we would have a locally-sourced breakfast.

Whole wheat local french toast with strawberries

The whipping cream was actually sugar-free Cool Whip, so it wasn’t really that local or natural (but it reduced the caloric content of the meal); it could be substituted by local Lochmead fresh-made whippingcream to enhance the local content. The eggs were local, and the milk in the batter was Lochmead 2%. The vanilla was organic and was contained in a reused bottle that was refilled at my neighborhood’s Red Barn Natural Grocery. Lastly, that cute little garnish of mint was local — from our mint pot on the front porch.

I was also excited to find the first pints of cherries at the market — my reminder that it is time to go to the orchards for u-pick. But, after putting in a call to the folks at Detering Orchards today, I discovered that the cool spring has caused the cherries to delay as well, with u-pick unavailable until after July 7th.

Economics of home-grown veggies

June 9, 2008 § 2 Comments

I heard a story repeated on KOPB this past week about home gardens, and how the resurgence in backyard gardens is occurring in the Pacific Northwest in response to the world food crisis, as well as the higher cost of food at grocery stores.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about this phenomenon, and featured a couple of different families partaking in a “Victory Garden” endeavor: The Vegetable Patch Takes Root.

Following these stories, today, I read a blog from Huffington Post contributor Laura Vanderkam, entitled “The Case Against the Victory Garden.” Vanderkam has been writing about the new “home economy” and has taken the examples given in the WSJ article and conducted her own economic critique of home-grown vegetables. She argues that time is money, and that your backyard garden may not be a financial boon when the amount of time to tend the plot is considered. Vanderkam says:

“In Barbara Kingsolver’s best-selling memoir, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, she calculated that the value of the vegetables, chickens and turkeys her family harvested during a year of labor on their small farm was $4,410. That’s a fair chunk of change. But it comes out to $85 a week – including meat. If a part-time farm contributes $85 a week in meat and produce, it’s unlikely that a 10-by-12-foot vegetable patch is going to produce more than $25 of weekly savings. At 10 hours a week, that comes out to less than minimum wage – which explains why gardening remains a hobby for most people.”

I agree with the premise: Time is money. And scale is important — a small plot may not produce enough food to really be a financial help to a family, but as plots size is scaled up so is productivity, and thus the dollar value of the food produced.

One of the figures cited in the WSJ article and Vanderkam’s post, was that it takes about 10 man hours for a 10 x 12 foot plot. My thought is that seems incredibly high. I usually tend my garden, a 15 x 30 foot plot two to three times per week for no more than two hours each time. Once the garden is in, this is reduced to 30-minute visits and an occasional intense-weeding session of about 1-hour. If I was an ultra-busy mother with children to tend to, this would be more inconvenient, certainly. But at this point the alternative activities I would be participating in could hardly be considered “work,” (like watching TV or reading blogs). But as a result of this article, I will try to more accurately track the amount of time we spend on our plot and try to provide an economics perspective on the value of produce harvested.

Let me know if you have anything to share on this economics front. I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has started gardening for economics reasons, or anyone who stopped growing their own produce because of the amount of time and relatively small proceeds from a home-garden.

 

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