What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Thu, December 08, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Written by Slow Food USA intern Meghan Offtermatt
What’s more important than teaching kids the importance of good, clean, and fair food? Teaching kids how to plant, grow, and harvest it! Slow Food Miami embraced the need to help students learn the benefits of gardening and growing their own food with their recent initiative to plant 44 school gardens in 44 days.
The process of applying for a Slow Food Miami edible garden begins when schools and organizations apply for garden grants between January and April of each year. Then, the Slow Food Miami board of directors meets with school’s directors and administrators who will be in charge of overseeing the garden. Finally, the board assesses location, enthusiasm, and the vision of the potential garden before purchasing the first round of supplies. Before the planting process begins, Slow Food Miami has a teacher education training, where they provide the teachers with a shopping list and gift card. On the day of the initial planting, teachers, students, and Slow Food Miami volunteers come together to bring the garden to fruition.
Although the program is an ongoing effort, Slow Food Miami launched a special initiative this past year to help meet the increase in grant applications. The initiative, called 44 Gardens in 44 Days, set out to plant as many gardens as possible in a limited number of days, the minimum number being 44 gardens. With the help of Ready-To-Grow Gardens, led by organic garden designer Dylan Terry, and a crew of volunteers and community members, Slow Food Miami exceeded the goal by 30%, planting 63 gardens in the course of 44 days. Since September of this year, Slow Food Miami has installed 76 school garden beds and 15 community garden beds for a total of 91 gardens in Miami-Dade County. In addition to this, 25 school beds were put in since 2007 that have moved on and “graduated” out of the Slow Food Miami program.
Once has a garden has been installed, Slow Food Miami helps provide troubleshooting, tips, and guidance for the teachers and students throughout the growing season and harvest. In addition to this, the Director of Gardens and Director of Education conduct educational outreach with the participating schools. After the garden has been in place for a year, Slow Food Miami supplies the garden with a second round of seeds for the next growing season.
Over time, Slow Food Miami has learned that it’s crucial that the garden space have sufficient access to sunlight and water. In addition to this, it is important to have support from parents, teachers, and the administrators of the school, as well as support from the school maintenance crew, as they often play a large role in maintaining the health of the gardens during breaks.
Although the process can sometimes be challenging, and even unpredictable, the payoff from planting these gardens is well worth the effort. Many schools have gone so far as to create their own farmers markets from their gardens. Schools have replaced bake sales with smoothie sales, implementing fresh fruits and vegetables. Herbs from the gardens have been used to create soaps and infused oils. Schools have increased their number of beds from one or two to six or seven beds, and the knowledge and awareness of food has increased tremendously. Students are now learning to appreciate the value of good, clean, and fair food, and with the help of Slow Food Miami, this program isn’t slowing down any time soon!
Posted on Mon, November 14, 2011 by Slow Food USA
An inspiring example of what Slow Food members are doing all over the country, and a great way to protect yourself from the winter blues.
by Slow Food USA intern Becca Chelton
At this time of year we are right in the middle of the harvest, and we will soon have a long winter to get through. However, it’s never too soon to start looking forward to the spring, especially if you have a new school garden to plan. One Slow Food NYC member has a new school garden project in the works that will bring a much needed school farm to Brownsville, Brooklyn. It’s an inspiring example of what Slow Food members are doing all over the country, and a great way to protect yourself from the winter blues. The project is being spearheaded by Nora Painten, who spent this summer running a very successful summer garden program for the local children. Seeing the overwhelming support of the community inspired Nora to start a new farm in a vacant lot near Public School 323.
“I was working in Brownsville this past summer, and every day I would bike past a lot of vacant lost, but this one stood out because it was big and sunny, so I looked it up and it turns out that it was owned by the city. I wasn’t totally sure that I would be this supported and encouraged, but since I have, it’s been moving really fast and snowballing. There is a public school about half a block away, which I had never noticed, but once I found the space and started looking into the school, it was just the perfect marriage of ideas.”
Nora’s plans include a new water system (as there is currently no water running to the property), growing beds, and fencing. These three basic elements will allow them to start sowing seeds, planting flowers, fruit trees and perennials, and installing a chicken coop.
If everything goes according to plan, classes will start in May 2012. Teachers of all subjects can teach aspects of their curriculum in the garden. A core group of older students will become garden stewards, who help tend it over the summer and distribute fresh food throughout the community. This project is just one example of how an individual member can make a huge difference to a community in need. Nora spoke to us about how she got inspired.
“The most important part of the project is to bring food education and fresh produce into a neighborhood where there is very little of that. Diabetes and other health problems can be avoided by a decent food education. I think it’s important to consider all neighborhoods in NYC when thinking about greening cities and gardens. Often it’s done in places where people can afford to spend time thinking about these things. It’s about getting to all kids early and turning them into life long healthy eaters. If they become healthy eaters as kids, that turns into demand and buying power at the farmers market and for local food products.”
Posted on Mon, November 07, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food Denver supports their local farmers and makes it fun!
What can a “Crop Mob” do for you? Actually, a lot! What is a crop mob? A crop mob is a group of individuals who gather to work on small, sustainable farms to help with everyday tasks assigned by the farmers! With the help of a group of supportive organizations, Laurie Schneyer of Slow Food Denver was able to create a series of Crop Mobs in the Denver area to assist sustainable farmers.
The project got started when Laurie came across Crop Mobbing in Urban Farm Magazine; Laurie perused the Crop Mob website, learning about the model. She took it, made a few adjustments, and used the system to help small farmers in the Denver area. She began networking; creating a coalition of concerned citizens with the goal of creating Crop Mobs of their own. Although the Crob Mob website suggests that any group only undertake one mob a month, Laurie decided to up the ante and in the first couple of months she had already organized 4 events, 2 of which occurred on the same day.
These events included successful Crop Mobs at Ekar Farm, the mobile farmers market known as The Gypsy Farm Bus, and the Urban Farm at Stapleton. Trees were planted at the Urban Farm courtesy of donations from the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and the volunteers included students from the local schools. Other successful Crop Mobs were held at one of Grow Local Colorado’s park gardens, and the vegetable gardens at the Governor’s Mansion. Each event had a turnout of 10+ volunteers, and the larger events had 20-40 people to help mulch, plant, turn soil, and weed. The volunteers are almost never repeats, as the group gives people the opportunity to help out without a long-term commitment.
Laurie and Slow Food continue to gather forces in Denver, with the hopes that each month there will be more Crop Mobs and greater turnout. With the sponsorship and help of local organizations such as Slow Food Denver, Grow Local Colorado, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, and Greater Denver Urban Homesteaders, the Crop Mobs continue to grow and sustainable farms continue to flourish.
Posted on Tue, October 18, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food Chicago is helping its community enjoy the bounty year round. Canning and preserving workshops have kicked off and will be continuing through the winter months. It’s amazing what some cookware, fresh food and willing hands can do!
Submitted by Slow Food Chicago Leader Jennifer Breckner. Photos by Megan Larmer
The Summer months here in Chicago are definitely bountiful. And, through a partnership with Slow Food USA, Anolon Cookware is helping us extend that bounty to the other seasons. Slow Food Chicago hears all the time that our community wants hands-on food production workshops; they want a sense of self-sufficiency and they want to learn! Particularly important to us are affordable opportunities that demystify the canning process, extend the harvest throughout the year, and that connect individuals with local produce on an intimate level.
Anolon stepped in to support this great cause, generously providing Slow Food Chicago with over $1,000 in cookware and utensils to start up a pilot canning and preservation program, which will be held seasonally, throughout the year. The first two workshops, organized by Megan Larmer, Slow Food Chicago board member, and Samantha Radov, workshop instructor, were held over the summer at Logan Square Kitchen, a “shared kitchen” that supports local entrepreneurs getting their start. As a bonus, it’s the only LEED Gold private event space in Chicago.
“Anolon’s donation is invaluable. By not having to purchase cookware, we made a profit on the first workshop. We also were able to plan the entire series at once, knowing the equipment will last. Now we can begin improving the workshops with the very next installment. This gift ensures the longevity and success of the workshop series,” explained Larmer.
Slow Food Chicago received an enthusiastic response to the canning classes, which sold out quickly. Thirty people joined instructor Radov, a Slow Food enthusiast and pastry chef at Publican, to can tomatoes. The workshops were fun, informative, and absolutely messy. As one person said, “I’m interested in the sourcing of my food, and preserving it for myself. I never knew [that] I liked tomatoes until I had “real” one. FOOD IS SO COOL!”
We agree! Holding these canning workshops was for some a way to connect with near-forgotten family traditions, and for others a time to start a new one. Slow Food Chicago is excited for its future workshops: apples in November, citrus in February, and rhubarb in May. Onward!
Posted on Fri, October 14, 2011 by Slow Food USA
The Cultiva Youth Project and Slow Food Boulder have teamed up with Anolon Cookware to provide top-notch cooking education and leadership opportunities in North Boulder. Here, teens get to cook and eat together, as well as learn from their peers. And, of course, brand new cookware doesn’t hurt!
Submitted by Ellie Goldberg of Growing Gardens’ Cultiva Youth Project
Here at Growing Gardens’ Cultiva Youth Project we are so thankful for our ongoing partnership with Slow Food Boulder! Each spring and summer, Cultiva youth participate in Slow Food cooking classes with local chefs, preparing meals at our garden in north Boulder, at the market, and in a downtown church kitchen. Slow Food recruits the chefs, purchases the ingredients, and helps staff the class. This time around, Anolon Cookware has given us the pots and pans.
The chefs choose recipes that use the vegetables the Cultiva youth grow at our organic market garden. Cultiva teens come from all walks of life; participants come from all socio-economic levels and represent a diverse cross section of Boulder County youth in all ways. Many of the teens have never prepared an entire meal from scratch, especially using vegetables they grew and under the guidance of a professional chef. Slow Food cooking classes are definitely a highlight of working at Cultiva; the teens love working together in the kitchen, learning new techniques and recipes from a pro, and above all, sitting together and enjoying a tasty home-cooked meal. To see a documentary about our Cultiva summer program, click here!
Thanks to Anolon’s generous donation of top-notch cooking supplies, we were also able to offer 6 youth-led cooking classes in the garden. The teens harvested vegetables and prepared garlic scape pesto, kale chips, and zucchini pancakes. The youth loved cooking using the shiny new tools!
But that’s not all we’ve been up to! This season, we had the opportunity to visit Shamane’s Bake Shoppe and bake with Shamane herself, prepare pizzas at the market with Antonio Laudisio, make kale tacos with Rayme and Serena on the Comida taco truck, and prepare a meal at the church with Tim Payne of Terroir. We’re excited to keep on growing.
Slow Food International also runs a publishing company, Slow Food Editore, which specializes in tourism, food and wine. The library now contains about 40 titles and houses Slow, the award-winning quarterly herald of taste and culture, available in five languages: Italian, English, French, German and Spanish.