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Gardening Behind Bars: San Quentin’s First Harvest

Eric Davis remembers the first time he saw the flower garden at San Quentin prison. “It [was] the only green thing in the yard,” he recalls.

Last fall, the Insight Garden Program (IGP) and Oakland community gardening nonprofit Planting Justice added a little more green. An organic vegetable garden joined the flowers that were planted in 2003. And this month, the vegetable garden will have its first harvest. Read more

Cooking with Your Kids

As a little girl, I loved sitting on the kitchen counter while my mom cooked. While I kicked my feet against the cabinets, she taught me how to peel an onion efficiently and how to crack an egg and use my index fingers to get all the white out before tossing the shells into the compost bin. And I still vividly recall the excitement I felt over the beautiful, golden, sesame seed-studded  loaves of braided challah we baked in my second grade class at the Woodstock Children’s Center–they were like some kind of miracle. Childhood is such an important, impressionable time of life when the vast majority of our lifelong habits are formed, or at least pointed in the direction in which they’ll head. That’s why my husband and I want to introduce our son, Will, to growing and cooking food alongside us. Read more

Berkeley School Gardening, Cooking Programs Face Cuts

Three of Berkeley Unified School District‘s elementary schools–Malcolm X,  Rosa Parks, and Washington—are in jeopardy of losing their entire cooking and gardening program funds beginning in October this year.

Under existing guidelines, the schools will no longer qualify for federal funding because they have fewer than 50 percent of their students enrolled in the free and reduced-lunch program, according to Leah Sokolofski, who supervises the program for the district.

Berkeley has an international reputation for its edible schoolyards, where public school children of all economic means learn what it takes to grow a radish and sauté some chard. Such funding cuts to the program, whose total budget is $1.94 million a year, would represent a significant setback in the city’s pioneering efforts to date. Read more

Joy Moore: Community Food Reformer

Retired City of Berkeley health outreach worker Joy Moore, 59, is anything but retired.

A long-time local food activist, Moore has played a key role in community efforts to reform school lunch in the Berkeley Unified School District, co-founded Farm Fresh Choice, which brings quality, affordable produce to people of lesser means, and was a member of the Berkeley Food Policy Council, a coalition of community and city groups founded in 1999 to increase community food access and improve health for all the city’s residents. Read more

Southern Sustainability

Last month I reconnected with my southern roots and traveled to my hometown, Atlanta, Georgia for a week’s immersion into the current developments around the local food movement and school garden education, particularly with my family’s organization, Seeds of Nutrition. My trip, however, was filled with much more than a visit to a few school gardens. I would soon be surprised by the South’s progress in the sustainable food movement. Read more