Monday, May 31, 2010

A Farmer's Market In The Making

Now that the Elite Women's Economic Development Summit is behind me (see photos), I am working on a new green economic development project - marketing and promoting an urban farmers market that is being launched by my son's aunt in Cincinnati, Ohio. His auntie Lisa is truly a renaissance women - a holder of a Masters in Public Administration, a commercial property owner, she roasts and grounds her own coffee beans, gardens, bakes a mean pie and can put in electrical wiring for an entire building. Her latest venture, is to start a farmers market in an urban area of the Queen City. She started constructing the exterior features of the area and is seeking farmers and vendors currently. My son and I are going to assist her with the marketing and promotion of the market. Michael will create a Facebook page and I will assist with the other aspects of marketing. I found some great local food networks and initiatives that she can link into and I will find her a market mentor in Cleveland. We will also seek support of the community stakeholders, which shouldn't be a hard sell because the only grocery store in the area is a convenient store according to a neighborhood website. Check out this article by Yolanda Adams on the need for an urban farmers market in the city. Based on my research, an idea time to start was March, but we are going to run with it and see where it takes us. There are some great resources available online for anyone interested in starting a farmers market. What kinds of features, amenities and activities do you think would make a farmers market a success in an urban neighborhood?

This Week In The Mid-Spring Garden

A Gulf Coast shrimper stated that this time of the year his body gets the urge to go out into the gulf and catch shrimp. I can completely relate, as each spring I feel an incredible urge to get out into the garden and plant it up! I can't help myself, really. Gardening at any cost is how I feel sometimes. God put it in me and I'm going with it, since only adds value. Anyway, here is what we have in the May garden in Cleveland this time of the year. 1 and 2) Petunias had an amazing sweet and spicy fragrance to the garden and a punch of color 3) Dianthus or Pinks are fragrant and drought tolerant, so I added them to my newest curbside garden 4-7) Bearded irises are tough, fragrant, drought tolerant and have interesting foilage, these are in a curbside bed 8) A gorgeous butterfly ornament that I picked up at a wonderful N. High Street garden center in Columbus, I have a smaller yellow and pink one too 9-10) Peonies, tough and flamboyant beauties 11) Succulents, Hens and Chicks, Sedum, daylillies and a Leo the Lion remnant from a broken pot 12) Allium, an ornamental onion that animals won't eat and that retain their form after the purple flowers dry out 13) My newest bearded iris beatuy, smells awesome, placed in the new curbside bed 14) Another peony (it's hard to kill these tough beauties-not that I'm trying) 15) Another hanging basket - the name escapes me now, but it is also fragrant and butterflies love it, those are two allium next to it 16) A fig tree for the curbside garden

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Permaculture Comes to the Inner Ring Suburbs

As you know, I am incorporating permaculture principles into my garden. There are many aspects to permaculture, but the one that I have taken to heart is "obtain a yield". This means to be sure to get a positive return on your investment of resources and energy. While, I have been getting plenty of tangible and intangible returns on my gardening activities - beauty, exercise, creative expression, I thought I would experiment with gardening to generate even more tangible and tasty returns - food! I have always wanted to plant food, but the shady nature of my yard and the terrible soil made that a challenge, so I was limited to tomatoes, herbs and peppers. This year, I am still planting my old standbys, including a pink heirloom Brandywine tomato plant, but have incorporated throughout the garden, broccoli, kale, sunflowers, lettuce, peas, a fig tree and a blackberry vine. The requirements were that the plants must be hardy, but also beautiful. So here you see some of my selections. Please stay away Mrs. Groundhog! Photos from the top 1) This is not an edible, it is a honeysuckle plant that yields hundreds of white fragrant flowers later in the spring, but it serves as a privacy screen on my front patio and currently is home to a Robin and her two babies! 2) These are brocoli plants mixed in with some grasses in my side yard border 3 and 4) Strawberry plants hang out with peachy petunias 5) Close up of the broccoli plants (the leaves are tasty too) 6) Gorgeous purple kale plants sunning on the patio, waiting to be grounded 7) So exciting! A sunflower seedling grows for me. I came home everyday and looked for it to pop up. I planted these into the new curbside bed I dug up this year. I will be a burgundy sunflower. 8) This is a ficus or a fig tree, I put it in the curbside garden late last night as a focal point. Pray that it will actually grow figs! If not, it is still gorgeous. A tip for apartment dwellers: My father grew some spicy hot jalapenos near a sunny window last year and still had peppers growing in October! So there is hope, if you have no sunny window, there are community gardens popping up all over the place for you to obtain a yield for yourself and the community. Also, pick up the latest copy of Urban Farm Magazine, it has some great articles for the urban farmer and community gardeners.

Take Action Now On The BP Gulf Oil Crisis

Okay, as promised here are some great ideas for you to engage in the Gulf oil crisis. My thanks to Amy of "Tacoma Green Mama" for sharing this resource, she always has great information. The most expedient action you can take is to write your representative or President Obama, using the links provided in this blog. Hurry, because it seems as though this oil well is going to gush forever. I just continue to be amazed that with all of these MIT, Caltech, Oxford and Morehouse grads out here, that this problem has not been resolved. Man is playing with God's fire, but doesn't know how to extinguish it. Lessons here?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Gulf Oil Mess

Okay, I have been watching this entire gulf oil disaster with fear, astonishment and dismay. My one commentary on it all is that, this situation reinforces my belief that we really can't place all of our trust in the government or corporations to look out for our best interests. We need to stop assuming that "Oh it exists, so it must be safe" or "Oh, it's on the market, so it must be safe" and start asking more questions about everything. How is this made? Where was this made? What was this made of? What is impacted in the creation of this product, service? How is this regulated? Is this regulated? What is the worst case scenario and contingency plan? What do I need to do to protect myself and my community? How prepared am I for an emergency situation? (see Haiti and New Orleans).

I will be researching ways for us to get involved in advocating for safer practices in operations that involve our precious natural resources and post them on this site. We need to realize that God designed the oceans, lakes, trees, birds, frogs, insects, wetlands, etc, to all serve a purpose that keeps the earth operating harmoniously and our lives in balance, so we should pay more attention to how business interests impact that delicate balance. We can't just be clueless and let greed (which we rarely benefit from) destroy our environment, we need to pay attention and let our representatives and business interests know that we care.

First Quarter Results: 2010 Green Goals

Hanging tomato plants for the curbside garden and a blackberry vine for the front yard arbor.How cool, sexy and fem is this dress?$30.My Indian inspired sundress. $20.70's vintage. $15. Very retro with a pair of jeans. Ties in the back.

We financial types like to evaluate quarterly results, so I thought I would evaluate my performance to date on my 2010 Green Goals. So here you go:

1) Take the bus to work one day a week: Not quite. Maybe warmer weather will make this a reality
2) 20% of clothing thrift or consignment, 20% organic or fair trade: Yes and it has been fun and rewarding experience. See photos. The jacket is 70's vintage. How cool is that? $15 baby! Who said green isn't affordable?
3) Obtain LEED accreditation: Not yet, probably in the fourth quarter.
4) Green renovation of the bathroom: Competing priorities for funds, but a low VOC paint job is very doable as well as the low flow shower fixture
5) Take advantage of tax credits for Energy Star appliance purchase: Third quarter.
6) Apply permaculture principles in the garden: Yes, mixing edibles in with the decorative plantings. Tomatoes, brocoli, blackberries, arugula, sunflowers and purchasing a cold tolerant fig tree.
7) Host green events: Yes. Included a green business panel into the programming for the Women's Trade Summit I co-chaired and will do a garden party in June.
8) Promote Power of Place Based Education principals. Yes. Shared this info with my Green Schools Action Circle.
9) Act as a Green Coach to an African American business: Working on it! Your referrals are welcome.
10) Make five green business presentations: Getting there. Counting the panel discussion as one, upcoming workshop at an AME women's retreat in June, and a health event in August

So there you have my accounting and progress report on my efforts to live healthier for myself and the planet and to spread the word. How are you doing with your 2010 Green Goals? What are your challenges? What have you been blessed with?

Women's Health Conference: Videos Of The Speakers and Panel Discussions

I have been meaning for the longest time to provide you with a recap of the Women's Health Conference that I blogged live from last month, but with the Women's Economic Development Summit and family stuff, haven't found the time. But guess what? You can view or listen to the conference with a few clicks.If you don't have time to listen or view any other parts of the conference,  you have got to listen to, Lisa P. Jackson of the EPA,  Beverly Wright Phd,Will Allen of Growing Power (he will inspire you and blow you AWAY) and the authors of "Slow Death By Rubber Duck" speak. Teresa Heinz also gives a powerful testimonial of her breast cancer story and our Surgeon General also has an interesting background. All of the speakers were great, so try to listen to them all if possible. Let the journey

My quick recap:

  • Know what you are putting onto and into your bodies - read labels and question ingredients
  • Women control these important purchasing decisions
  • Use unscented products (cosmetics, cleaners, sprays, etc) or if scented only with essential oils
  • EPA needs your help to update its authority over chemicals - only regulates five
  • Why are some toothpaste manufacturers using the controversial anti-bacterial Triclosan in the toothpaste?
  • A health diet of clean fruits and vegetables can dilute the effects of chemicals
  • Indoor air pollution from chemicals found everywhere in our homes are more dangerous than outdoor pollution
  • If you use canned foods, you are probably exposing yourself to the synthetic estrogen, BPA
  • EDEN foods do not use BPA in their canned products
  • One person can create powerful changes
  • We need to raise our concerns with our political representatives
  • Buy local, use organic whenever possible

GreenChef Jana | The Month Of May’s In Season Ingredients

GreenChef Jana The Month Of May’s In Season Ingredients Before I discovered CSA's and farmers markets, I had no clue about which fruits and veggies were in season. Based on my grocery store experiences, I could pretty much find any product whenever I wanted. Not that I had a diverse palate, I usually ate brocoli, salad stuff, apples, bananas and cherries. Since shopping at the farmer's market I can really appreciate the delicious taste of in season produce. Many vegetables were not in my repetoire of foods, so I had to turn to my cookbooks to figure out how to prepare them and I discovered that many of the recipes consisted of veggies that were all in season at the same time. Wow! How cool was that. I really felt like I was on the prairie with Laura Ingalls (Didn't you just love that series?I did, except for the story about the minstrels coming to town) and we were cooking up (in our cast iron skillet) whatever we harvested that day. Taking this revelation to the next level, I bet that God had a plan for certain foods being in season at the same time. I am certain that further research would reveal that those ingredients combine for optimal nutrition required of our bodies during that specific time of the year. The greener I get, the richer my life becomes.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day! I'm off to a Raw Start!

Happy Mothers Day my friends! How fitting is it that Mother's Day commences the beginning of National Women's Health Week. It all starts with us, so I think it is so fitting that I was treated to a surprise raw food breakfast this morning of Apple Cereal and Mango Banana Smoothie. I heard my teen rattling around in the kitchen, but though that he was going to whip up a conventional breakfast for me....until I heard the blender. I thought that it was sweet of him to consider a smoothie in his plans, even though I was somewhat concerned over the loud noise eminating from the blender. To my astonishment, he came upstairs with a bowl of homemade Apple Cereal and a big ole mug of Mango Banana Smoothie. Turns out that he got up early and researched raw breakfast food recipes on the internet, after much searching, he found the website, and made my breakfast! Everthing was good, he actually grated the apples himself and swiped some of the nuts I had soaking for my raw tuna. The one snag that he ran into was that he had no experience cutting a mango. The loooong seed in the mango caught him offguard, he assumed the hard part of seed at the ends of the fruit, were just frozen sections of the mango, so he sliced through them (so manly!) and tossed the chunk into the blender (hence the loud noise heard earlier, at which point he realized it was a seed), so I did have to contend with a few seed fibers, but it was all good. I feel blessed to have such a thoughtful son.

The last photo is a snapshot of a raw starters kit that I put together for my mom. It can be expensive, especially if you are on a fixed income, to get everything you need to get started on a raw diet and she is always game for anything positive that will improve her health, so I put together this ensemble to keep her moving in the raw food way.

On that note, lets all this week try to incorporate one raw meal per day into our diets or at least more fruits and veggies, so we can flip the script on the unhealthy narrative that has been playing out in our lifestyles these last few decades. Check out the blog Chocolate Orchid , for some great ideas on how to get started! Or pick up a copy of the new book by Tracye Lynn McQuirter.By Any Greens Necessary: A Revolutionary Guide for Black Women Who Want to Eat Great, Get Healthy, Lose Weight, and Look Phat.

Happy Mothers Day to all, including Mother Earth!