Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanks Thanks Thanks

Thanksgiving: the seasonal holiday to end all seasonal holidays; the feast to fatten us for the long winter to come; the hard earned fruit of so many strenuous days of field work and labor, is upon us again.  And despite its associations with some less-than-enchanting traditional American habits of over consumption, excessive TV watching, and heavy drinking, it none the less remains my most favored holiday.  Not only is it my favorite because of its focus on humility and gratitude for bounty both gastronomic and familial, but for its unapologetic plunge into the copious delights of eating.  To put it otherwise, the Dionysian indulgence in a hedonistic love affair with that which sustains us. After all, this is a blog dedicated to creating local and sustainable FOOD!  In essence this is a journal about food itself.  And with all of the politics associated with each and everything that goes in and around our bodies, it is important the we remember that we are talking about food; tastes, smells, nutrients, vitamins, art; that from which all else is built upon.  What better thing to celebrate?  A celebration of food where careful thought and great pride is expressed to each component is elemental in the human experience. 

Through our relationship with Weird Fish and Boogaloos we are trying to create more awareness of seasonality.  By keeping a seasonal menu we can keep things local, fresh and interesting (something that fine dining has known for years).  Thanksgiving expresses the finest that the season has to offer. Traditional elements of a Thanksgiving meal (turkey, cranberries, potatoes, apples, onions, beans, and corn) reveal a true cross-section of seasonal foods from coast to coast.  This is a time to truly revel in the freshness and flavors of autumn.  Remember to support your local butcher and your local farmers when possible.  

This holiday is one of those times that drive my imagination back through our collective consciousness to a primal scene in a time when humans' knowledge of their fate was indivisible from the fate of their crops.  I am reminded of a time when people knew their food.  While we are no less linked now that we were then, there is a vast separation of those simple yet vital relationships.  We thank everyone who is here to help close that gap.  
We send out a deep thank you to those that pioneer and evolve this food movement, to those that support and read this blog, to those who support our gardens, and to those that unfearingly are mending a tired system by creatively reviving time tested traditions.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Link of the week:
This week I was lucky enough to be given a mention in the SF Chronicle regarding the garden project.  Although it was only a brief mention about the gardens, it is good to know that ears are open to what is happening in the Mission.  This is a prime time to get involved with what we are doing.  Please take part by spreading the word about Amyitis (, if you know Mission District people that may be interested in joining our project. Happy reading!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Food not lawns

We're happy to announce another garden in the Mission!!
 As word begins to spread about and what we are trying to do, Mission residents are hopping on board.  On Monday we officially gained generous access to another garden.  Although small we're confident that we'll be able to make a great use of this space.  In addition to being generally beautiful it already has some apple trees that can be restored to health.  The residents were excited and eager to support us and participate with our project.  We share their enthusiasm and they have our deepest gratitude for their generosity.  
Early next week we'll start in on transforming this space into a super garden.  First we'll be taking a stab at the sod to get at the earth below.  It is good for us that it is mostly dead. This should make removal a bit easier.  After we get down and dirty with the sod, we'll have to send away that soil to ensure that it is healthy to grow in.  After that I'd like to invest in some perennial herbs to start planting back there so they get a good head start for spring.  In the mean time, I'll be drawing up some plans of what the space might end up looking like.  My initial guess is that it will be a good space for growing peppers, squash and tomatoes in summer.  Next week I should be able to post more pics of our progress.  

Fungus among us:

It seems that we've got some fungal friends popping up at our other garden.  The combination of the recent rains and the full shade we've been getting back there has encouraged some growth of some pretty great looking mushrooms that look to me like they might be Agaricus Californicus. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera on me when I discovered them so I don't have a photo.  If in fact they are Agaricus Californicus they are mildly poisonous and should not be eaten.  However, the good news is that it seems as though the garden will be a great habitat for some cultivated culinary mushrooms.  I plan to experiment with oyster and shitake mushrooms back there in the coming weeks.  We'll keep you updated as to how that pans out.  

Link of the week:

This week I thought that I would mention Local Foods Wheel.
The local foods wheel is a really creative way to have consumers be conscious of what they are eating.  It is 12" illustrated cardboard chart that informs Bay Area eaters what is in season when.  I think this is a great idea.  It is a really creative way to teach people to alter their palates with regards to seasonality.  Eating seasonally has many benefits that we know of not to mention many that, I am sure, await discovery.  Stay local, stay seasonal with the local foods wheel.  Check it out.  

Be well, 


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fatal Harvest

Wow! We had such a great harvest this week.  The onions and tat soi looked better than ever.  Sadly though, this may be one of the last for the remainder of the year.  Leave it to nature to keep teaching you lessons.  I believe that we have heard the call of Mother Nature to retreat and go back to drawing boards.  As an native East-coaster the idea of a California winter at one time was a laughable idea.  But now I see that, although subtle, the seasons here command humility as well.  In fact, the wintertime excites me.  It is far easier to make phone calls and sit in front of a computer when it is dumping rain. I am actually grateful for the respite to a degree.  

This week I finally got our volunteer Joel Scott to let me take his photo for the blog.  We're really pumped that he's so enthusiastic and eager to get his hands dirty.  His help during this week's harvest was invaluable as city farming proves to be more and more consuming.  An extra set of hands is almost always welcome.  I hope that he continues to stay around when it is time to prune the trees.  There are several overgrown shrubs and one tree in our garden that needs some careful attention.  (anyone out there a good arborist? we could use help with our pruning) We have a bougainvillea that has dominated the back 16Th of the space.  It is time for a trim.  Although beautiful, its pedals coat our lettuce beds.  Luckily it seems it doesn't really care when you prune it.  So I imagine we'll be doing that pretty soon.  

In other news we have maybe secured at least one more garden for Amyitis.  We'll keep you updated about things as they move along with it.  Hopefully we'll be able to start work there in the coming weeks.  

Link of the week
This week I had to spread the word about one of my favorite companies.  Although I generally don't love the idea of advertising for a company, this one for sure gets my seal of approval.  For those of you unfamiliar with Paul Stamets, he's a brilliant mycologist out of Northern Washington.  In addition to growing mushrooms and running a retail operation called Fungi Perfecti he's also a world renown researcher, speaker, author, and environmental activist.  Talk about busy!! He may be one of the more brilliant scientists I have ever heard and therefore I am excited to promote his wares.  Go to and check it out for yourself.  This week Paul will be here in SF speaking at the SF Green Fest.  Be sure not to miss him this Saturday November 15th.  His knowledge, wisdom, and motivation are contagious.  



p.s. we're still looking for back yards, rooftops, porches, and any potential growing space here in the mission.  Spread the word!!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fall Back

 What's new:
As fall time truly sets in around the Bay area and rains begin to fall we're seeing the big changes we were expecting at the garden.  The end of a season is exciting.  It paves way for new ideas and fills us with inspiration.  It provides opportunity for improvement by forcing us indoors to reflect on the season.  
In the case of Amyitis, it provides opportunity for us to think about expansion.  We've had such a great response to our call for more space.  Marcia at gave us a shout out that has produced some amazing results.  Already we've had a large group of people excited about sharing their space.  So, thankfully, as our garden grows more and more dormant over the winter we'll be free to plant and prepare more gardens for next season.  For now, I will be going from space to space to see what we can grow there.  Our 22ND street garden has shown us that it receives amazing summertime light but the surrounding houses block a lot of light in fall.  As the sun drops toward the horizon, in a city especially, all spaces will have these kinds of issues.  Our task this winter is predict what will do best in each space.  I now know that our 22ND street garden will be great for tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and salad in summer and then continue to produce great looking salad all the way through November.  We'll still have to see about what will grow (if anything) over the winter.  I've planted a lot of salad mix and head lettuce with hopes that it will survive the low light times that lay ahead.  I am also experimenting with growing some culinary mushrooms in some of the shady areas around the yard.  Anyone with sawdust or wood chips out there? Come find us.  

Veggies in Action:
We've had a fun time with our veggies.  Every time we bring them to Weird Fish we are so excited to see them in action.  It is pure satisfaction to look at a plate with something you grew 5 city blocks away looking back up at you in such a beautiful display.  If I might wax poetically for a second, greens may be some of the most elegant food to eat.  They really tie any dish together and can easily become the focal point.  We had some fun with some of our 22ND street mizuna at a party we threw for a friend's birthday.  Above are some pictures of what we prepared for the event.  We topped some crackers with pureed steamed beets we'd gotten at Rainbow with some local chevre.  We then set them atop a sprig of our mizuna and topped it off with a thin slice of scallion.  Delicious!! The result was a slightly sweet, lightly cheesy, spicy little bite.  They were really easy to make and a hit at the party.  

Link of the week: 
A blog follower turned us on to this really cool link about someone named Fritz Haeg who has started a project called Edible Estates.  It looks very similar to what we are doing.  Here is the link Edible Estates.  As we've said before, we are so inspired by anyone doing this work.  The whole reason for doing this work is that it needs to be done for us to truly move to be more sustainable as a culture.  If we are to create cultural and environmental change it needs to start with ourselves.  We're excited to hear about anyone doing something similar to what we are doing.  Keep it up!! Support it!! Get involved!!!