Big changes are in the works. We are moving to the East Bay, the rent increase on our home/urban farm turned out to be too steep. After a three month search we have found a new home (apartment) in Alameda, a sunny little island town in San Francisco Bay just off Oakland. Our new landlord is putting in brand new raised beds for us and additional water spigots, so even though the new yard is smaller it will have some improvements. It is a blank slate which I am really looking forward to filling with color and delicious fruits and veg. Due to the lack of space I will have to be creative in finding enough space to grow seedlings, but I will find a way. Saying goodbye to our home of 11 years has been tough, but the hardest part is saying goodbye to our neighbors. I have enjoyed having them be a part of our lives, sharing garden goods, closing each others garage doors when forgotten, seeing their kids grow, helping them with problems, all that everyday stuff that we take for granted. I have never known so many of my neighbors before and it has been a pleasure. We will miss them. I am looking forward to meeting our new neighbors, especially the ones who have this lovely little garden:
What does this mean for the the documentary? Well, things have been moving a bit slower than we had planned. Since our last blog post we have continued the editing of the main documentary, researched music and archival footage, and went to Seattle for the American Community Garden Association annual conference to participate in their first video festival (one of our short videos won first place – yay!). If you are not familiar with the ACGA please go to their website and see what they do and think about becoming a member, we are!
We have been applying for grants and have made it to the final round on one and are still waiting to hear back from another. Due to the move we did not have a fall seedling sale, but there will be more in the future, it is such a great way for us to meet gardeners in our community. It is a small, but useful way we have raised money for the documentary, which is much needed at this stage. If you want to contribute, you can make a tax-deductible donation through our fiscal sponsor the San Francisco Film Society. We will send you a surprise thank you gift! If you would like to participate in other ways (rough-cut feedback, have skills you want to share, etc…) please let me know, filmmaking is a collaborative process and we want you to be a part of it. Also, we want to give a big thank you to all the urban farmers, entrepreneurs, activists and eaters for inspiring us to keep the project going. If you want to see who we are smitten with follow us on facebook and twitter.
Thank you for your support!
Director of “From the Ground Up”
Editors Note: Nick Schrader is a colleague of mine, he is married to a chef and they really really like good local and seasonal food. I have brought him “extras” from my yard and he has alway returned with something outrageously delicious to share. Thank you Nick!
Only Eat Strawberries in the Summer
Consider the strawberry at it most potential. At its summertime peak, a strawberry is a deep ruby red on the skin, then, throughout its interior flesh. The scent of a strawberry can be quite strong, reminiscent of sweet lime. There have been times while at the market you can smell them from across the way. The strawberry is soft, slightly delicate, and once bitten, melts on your tongue with the slightest press on your palate. It tastes succulently sweet and typically kept in check by its tart acidity. The smattering of seeds on its exterior at times will give a hint of green bitterness that can round out the flavor profile nicely when aware of its subtleties. This, to me is a strawberry at its finest. Nothing can beat having a strawberry when they are at their best.
The best strawberry I ever had reminded me of sex. It’s cliché because its true. My wife works nights in a restaurant and I meet her there to walk home. She has just finished the dinner shift and is cleaning up when I walk in. We exchange quick greetings when she says, “Oh, you have got to try these strawberries we just got in.” Okay, I think. Whatever. I’ll eat a strawberry. At first glance it looks like a good berry. Plump, bespeckled with seeds. A cute, leafy green hat perched on its mound. I lay it on my tongue and bite from the inverted peak. My teeth lay into it easily, coaxing the flesh apart. I immediately salivate. The berry melts in my mouth with the gentle pressure I apply on the roof of my mouth. It mixes with my saliva and dances across my tongue exciting every taste receptor. It blankets my sense of taste. It reminds me that I’m alive and so in the present that I forget and future that was planed for the rest of that evening. I turn to my wife and say, “Lets get out of here.” That strawberry came from Dirty Girl Farms outside of Santa Cruz. I don’t know what they are doing there, but I want to publicly say thank you.
Strawberries growing season differs for each region. We typically get our best strawberries by August. But for other parts of the country it could be earlier in the summer or later. But it always grows best in North America in the summer. If you buy strawberries in the winter, they most likely didn’t come from North America. They were most likely shipped to your market from Mexico or California. Fruits and vegetables that have a summer growing period can grow in Mexico because days remain relatively the same year round. Where as, here in North America our days grow shorter in the winter.
With this, consider winter strawberries. First of all, you won’t find them in farmers markets, unless they are bought wholesale from a distributor. (Some stands are known to do this.) In grocery stores, they come packaged in plastic clamshell containers. They are packaged either by the grocery company like Safeway or Whole foods, or bought from a fruit company like Driscolls. These Strawberries are a pale red exterior that quickly fades to a white interior and typically have little to no scent. They are bitter over sweet or acidic.
One may argue this is a biased argument. It is. I much prefer having a strawberry in the summer. Even if you don’t care about them, you can see there is a world of difference in these two strawberries. So, why do we eat Strawberries in the winter?
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables of the season changes the paradigm of my reality. It supports local agriculture. I frequent my local farmers market to buy produce for the week. The market give me the opportunity to talk with the farmers themselves on their products, how and where they are raised, and most importantly, What’s good to eat! Farmers markets are a great resource to learn more about what’s happening in your agro-community. Once I began caring about what I eat, the more interested I became on the background of foods. Now I have a strong understanding of which farmers grow apples, why another has amazing poblano peppers, and why Gordon of Hamada farms is passionate about growing citrus fruits (which are amazing).
Finally, I have found a respect and appreciation for food. It’s an amazing feeling when you connect with flavorful food. I refer to those moments when your not really paying attention to what your eating, maybe your locked in a conversation with an old friend in a restaurant, when you have a bite of Strawberry shortcake that grabs your attention. For a brief moment you focus on the flavor. That Strawberry is flavorful because it’s seasonal. There is a reason for that strawberry. It is unique to the time of year. That strawberry wouldn’t taste the same in any other time or place. Eating becomes an event.
With that comes appreciation. I have grown admire and desire fruits and vegetables for their season, because I wait for their season. Asparagus comes once a year in early spring. Those strawberries come to me in mid summer. Kabocha squash in October. Chicories and Pomagranate in December. I find myself excited with anticipation for the flavors of the fallowing season. Then I ask myself. I hope those strawberries are as sexy as they were last year.
Last weekend we have the honor to screen a few of our short videos at the Bay Area Maker Faire thanks to Homegrown.org and it was a fantastic experience in so many ways. The Maker Faire is “Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, it is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors.” We were part of the Farm + Food Film Festival at the Homegrown Village which was host to great demos, local organizations and business like the East Bay Urban Agriculture Alliance and my favorite local resource for all things homesteady Farm Curious.
We screened five short videos that are part of the larger project that is “From the Ground Up”. The overall project consists of a 30-minute documentary that is intended for community screenings and a series of short videos that will be available on-line. We have other exciting plans in the works! Two of the shorts we showed are available on our YouTube channel if you want to check them out. We will be adding the others soon. We had the great fortune to be screening with Farm Shorts, Kala, Scott and Jessie were incredibly supportive and fun to spend time with, I really enjoyed their company and their short films, please check out their project. The only feature film that screened was “Symphony of the Soil” about how soil is built and why it is so important to care for it. It is a beautiful film full of important information that everyone needs to know. The pilot episode of Food Forward screened as well on Saturday, I am really looking forward to seeing the rest of this program. On Sunday, Randy Hall showed his short documentary “Udderly Direct”, everyone learned a lot about what the fuss about raw milk is about, check it out. We screened on Saturday and Sunday, it was great to see the reactions and meet people, the Maker Faire crowd is most definitely our audience. A couple people asked how they could join a CSA and another was super excited to go home and plant a garden today, yeah! I owe a huge thank you to Jennifer Wehunt of Homegrown.org, Kim Dow of the Maker Faire and Kala & Scott of Farm Shorts for making the weekend such a pleasure and success – Thank you!
What is in store for the near future? Well, we are preparing to start the final edit of the 30 minute doc, which will begin in mid-June. We have a team of people working on editing the short videos and you should start seeing more of them soon. I will finally get around to doing some gardening of my own, we are able to stay in our rental house for the time being, so I better get some plants in the ground.
Thank you so much for your continued support!
It is spring here in the temperate San Francisco Bay Area flowers are blooming and change is in the air. I have begun planting seeds for this years garden with some uncertainty. The future of the house that my husband and I rent is up in the air. The (not rent controlled) house needs much work and the landlord will need to raise the rent in order to do the work. Our landlord has been nothing but fair in the nearly 11 years we have lived here, but the rents for open units in our area have nearly doubled since we have move in, we are unsure about how this will turn out. For the last few years I have been working a part-time job for pay and as close to full-time as I can on the “From the Ground Up” (not paid), so my financial situation is a bit fragile. Why am I bringing this up on the blog? Well, the garden at this house is was the first inspiration that led to “From the Ground Up”. The thought of leaving the garden, neighbors, and our community breaks my heart. At the same time “From the Ground Up” is nearing the finish line as well, although I will never be truly “finished” with it, with the future looking like it is most of my attentions will need to be elsewhere.
Where is “From the Ground Up” at now? We have the first rough-cut of the main movie and are currently working on changes from feedback we have received. We are researching music and getting ready for the illustrator and animator to get started (a big thanks to everyone who contributed for this part on IndieGoGo last year). We are planning the new website, editing shorts, and looking for partners for some really fantastic ideas that came out of the BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship last year. We are also looking for ways to fund the final stages and make the future of the project sustainable. I have been thinking about financial sustainability for “From the Ground Up” and would love to hear from people their thoughts on paying for media. Do you pay for media on-line? Would you pay for a “From the Ground Up” community screening kit? Would you pay to watch it on-line? The short videos are free on-line now, would you pay or use something like the Vimeo Tip Jar function? This has always been a labor of love for myself and everyone who has worked on this project, but in order to keep the project going we need to start generating some funds. As we continue to puzzle this out I keep thinking about a TED talk I saw recently and how “asking” is so much more nuanced than we think it is. If you have any ideas we would love to hear them.
Thank you and happy planting!
2012 was a very productive year for From the Ground Up; we have a rough cut that we screened and received great feedback for us to work from, we posted a new short on-line with more in progress, and we were a Bay Area Video Coalition MediaMaker Fellow.
The BAVC fellowship was a great experience and we felt so privileged to be a part of such an accomplished group of filmmakers. This fellowship has made a major impact on the project, refining the long term plan for the film and identifying ways to make the media more interactive and how it can help foster community building. We are very excited about utilizing new technology and social media to reach more people and in more meaningful ways. We cannot wait to show you – so stay tuned!
We also raised $4,280 with our end of year crowd-funding campaign, thank you! So many people contributed and spread the word for our campaign, we cannot tell you how grateful we are for your support. We will need to raise more money in 2013, the final stages of this project are going to cost tens of thousands of dollars, but we can do it, with your continued support. We are planning more seedling sales, house parties, and another crowd-funding campaign in the spring. You do not need to wait for any of these, you can make a tax-deductible donation any time through our fiscal sponsor the San Francisco Film Society – just go here
So, now we are going to be working on the film and holding rough cut screenings, if you would like to participate in one of these please email me and we can put you on the list. We will be putting up more shorts on YouTube and Vimeo, so please subscribe if you want to see the latest. We are going to be building a new website! This is super exciting and we cannot wait to get going on this. We would love some help with this as well, if you are a designer and want to participate or know someone who is, please contact me.
Our plan is to finish the movie in 2013, this is going to be tough, but the time has come. We want to get this movie out in the world where it can inspire people to start growing some of their own food, meeting neighbors and eating healthier.
Plant a seed. Nurture it. Grow something amazing.
Thank you again and I hope your 2013 is fruitful and delicious!
Director of From the Ground Up
Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!
As you know, I am in the process of finishing my documentary From the Ground Up. I am thankful for all the amazing people I have met while making this documentary, they have inspired me and changed my life. When I started making this documentary I thought it was going to be a movie about the growing urban farming movement, but is has developed into a multi-layered project about participation, people becoming more involved in their communities, economies and cities. When someone starts food gardening they are taking an action, doing something that is at once traditional and revolutionary. Gardening is an effective tool to educate and address larger issues in the world: the environment, land use, industrial farming, labor policy, water conservation, seed patents, food safety, and so much more. The best part is that these issues do not need to be spelled out, they become obvious with the action of planting a seed, feeding the soil, watering, harvesting, cooking and seed saving for next year. These are issues that I am sure you are concerned with, that is why I am asking you to join our crowdfunding campaign that will help to raise the necessary funds to finish the film.
From the Ground Up is nearly complete; the movie is shot and is currently being edited. We have a talented and dedicated team of people involved in this project who have been working with us for years and we want to make the best movie possible for them, as well as for the farmers and gardeners in it. In order to do that we need a minimum of $15,000 to obtain archival footage, music, and illustrations for the animations. We are running our crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo, which is similar to Kickstarter. The campaign ends midnight November 30th – only seven days from today. So far we have raised over $2,600 with over 39 people contributing, please join them in supporting the hard work and vision of everyone involved in the project.
How do you join the campaign?
- First go to our campaign page: http://www.indiegogo.com/From-the-Ground-Up-2?c=home&a=8527
- Then watch the video and check out our very nice perks (Things that you can get for contributing like: digital download or DVD of the film when it is finished, t-shirts, beverage koozie, urban farming book, seeds, photos, Victory Garden collectors items, urban farm tour and much more)
- Check out the comments other people have left and leave one of you own.
- Pick a perk or contribution amount that works for you and press the Contribute Now button.
- Share the campaign with your friends and family! This is just as helpful as contributing money, it helps us get the word out not just for fundraising, but for building an audience for when the movie is finished.
Thank you for your encouragement and support,
Kristi Stephens Adams
Hello! During our crowd-funding campaign we will be having a series of guest bloggers to share their experiences urban farming and cooking local and seasonal produce. The first one will be my friend, neighbor and member of my community garden Genevieve Brazelton. She writes the fantastic blog On Becoming a Housewife, check it out. Here is her contribution to From the Ground Up, enjoy:
I grew up with a backyard garden. Some of my fondest memories are of picking raspberries for my morning cereal or eating sun warmed cherry tomatoes wrapped in basil. However it wasn’t until about 3 years ago, in my mid-30s, that I finally started growing food for myself.
I had just moved in with my boyfriend, now husband, and we had this great back deck with 8 hours of sun in one of San Francisco’s warmest neighborhoods. I am a tomato fanatic so we started with three tomato plants. It was a successful first crop and we were hooked.
The next summer we were planning our wedding so we ended up a little behind the ball on getting things started, but we decided to step it up anyway and added two 2×3 foot containers to the back deck in addition to our three tomato plants. After some sage advice from a few friends and local garden experts we put in scarlet runner beans, carrots, radishes, and lettuces. The tomatoes got hit hard with aphids and mold, some years are just that way. The runner beans never took off, nor did the carrots or the radishes. The lettuce however was bountiful enough to keep us in salads for the summer and inspired us to try a fall garden. We also started thinking about what we could do with more space.
San Francisco has a bounty of community gardens, but we were realistic and knew that if it were too hard to get to we’d never make it work. So we inquired with the only one that fit our criteria. The wait list was long and I had a hard time even getting in touch with the organizers, but fate and the word of a good friend transpired to get us a plot this past summer.
Since taking over the plot in late June my husband and I have more than doubled our gardening knowledge. We did some serious soil prep with fertilizer and compost only to quickly realize that we made the soil so hospitable every weed seed that had been lying dormant came to life. Some of our first planting was choked out, but we did get it under control and learned to identify many of the local weeds. We also now know if we ever do that again we need to let the garden sit for 2-3 weeks so that all the weeds can sprout and be tilled under before planting your intended crop.
The extreme weed experience also led us to mulch the garden, something I would have thought overkill in the past. However, it’s been a godsend especially because we laid a drip system under the mulch. Now not only do we hardly have any weeding to do, we also don’t have to water as often and as the mulch breaks down we’ll be feeding the soil. For busy city dwellers, knowing the garden can go an extra day or two here and there without our attention is great.
Now we’ve got close to 65 square feet of garden space between our back deck and the community plot. We’ve learned a lot about what grows well both in our neighborhood and even in the respective spaces. Carrots and radishes hardly did a thing on our deck but were big and full of flavor at the plot. We’re already excitedly planning a winter garden and figuring out how we can maximize the space we have for an even bigger bounty this coming summer. The satisfaction of eating food you’ve grown yourself can’t be beat and when you’re a city dweller there’s a tinge of triumph to everything you harvest.
Genevieve Brazelton On Becoming a Housewife