Archive for March, 2012

Native Plants – so beneficial to our environment!

March 22, 2012
I would like to thank Chris Bouton again for speaking with us last Wednesday about Native Plants. Chris provided some interesting information about the importance of not only utilizing native plants in our landscaping, but understanding, as well, the benefits to doing so.
Special thanks to Andy Upshaw for adding some interesting facts to our conversation.
Some of the highlights were:
A list of some great natives that can be used are – Purple Lovegrass, Goldenrod, Purple Passionflower, Coneflowers, Black and Brown-Eyed Susans, Loebilia, Yellow Root, Buttercup, Blue-Eyed Grass, Strawberry Bush, Sumac, Spice Bush, Rattlesnake Master, Beauty Berry, Butterfly Milkweed, Common Buttonbush, Golden Ragwort.
NCBG Plant lists:
http://ncbg.unc.edu/plants-and-gardening/
The Botanical Gardens in Chapel Hill has a great Native Plant Studies Certificate Program within their Continuing Ed Program. Chris highly recommends the Native Pollinator class. http://ncbg.unc.edu/
It’s important to remember that many native plants are weeds and a lot of them have great medicinal benefits.
If you want to boost native pollinator populations, plant native pollinator plants, since these pollinators rely on native plants for food and nectar.
Pollinators in the Southeast Mixed Forest [good PDF on plants for pollinator forage]
http://www.pollinator.org/PDFs/SoutheastMixedForestrx3.pdf
Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States, by Alan S. Weakley (large PDF, worth downloading because it is searchable):
http://www.herbarium.unc.edu/flora.htmNewcomb’s Wildflower Guide [Available at the Botanical Gardens bookstore.]
Excellent field guide key and illustrations, though some plant binomial names are now outdated. Still a great resource.

Chris has the plant lists she compiled for CCCC, and would be happy to share if you are interested.


She also is offering to share her native plant volunteers this year if you want to go by her place to get them. She suggested an organized social “dig” and seed swap over tea (or beer!) on her back porch, so contact me if you are interested and I’ll pass it on to Chris.
Hope to see you in the garden and in the meantime, Be Well!

Granite Springs Farm – a local farm, CSA and more . . .

March 5, 2012
Thursday evening’s Wellness of Chatham meeting was educational, connective and heart-warming.  I have to say that Meredith Leight of Granite Springs Farm is one amazing woman, and I thank her for sharing her incredible story as well as her openness, optimism and vision.  We all could learn so much more from her than how to grow kick-butt Kohlrabi!  A big shout out of appreciation as well to our host, Chatham Marketplace, for the use of their warm and friendly indoor dining space . . . almost warm enough to meet outside that night! 
Thank you also to those who attended: Christiana Herndon, Chris Bouton, Donna Poe, Debbie Cook, Cindy Shetter, Perrin Heartway and Barb Tesla.  It was wonderful to see you all!

So, what do I say?  Meredith began our meeting with the touching and incredible story of how she started Granite Springs Farm.  It is clear she is one connected person who is doing wonderfully enriching things for our community. A brief overview of what was presented is as follows:

* In 3 short years, Granite Springs Farm has grown its CSA to 50 shares.  Currently, there are about 5 spots left, so if you are interested in joining their CSA, contact Meredith at granitespringsfarm@me.com  There are 3 sessions throughout the growing year.  Eggs can be included in a share.

* Granite Springs Farm sits on 140 acres off of rte 87 in Pittsboro.
* Last year, the farm offerings were about 85 varieties of veggies/herbs and eggs.
* They currently provide fresh farm grown food locally to Small B&B, Angelina’s Kitchen, Neil’s Deli, Saxapahaw General Store, Kappa Delta Sorority and soon to be others.
* The farm employs a handful of young part-time workers in their early 20’s and has offered 5 teens from Meredith’s church their very first paying job! 
*Recently, Granite Springs Farm was awarded a RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation International) grant to start a project involving the production of vertically-grown in pasterized medium, hoop-house oyster mushrooms.  We learned a bit about this new venture, and it sounds very exciting, not to mention great for local restaurants, chefs and those of us who LOVE these delicious mushrooms!
* Perhaps one of the most exciting ventures that Granite Springs Farm has begun planning is the creation of an Agrarian Community.  Check out their website for more information on that in coming months. 
Other shared information at the meeting:
Chris Bouton has launched a website blog called A Dash of Culture.  It’s about food and culture and so much more.  Visit and “like” on FB  http://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Dash-of-Culture/238560636227475 and view at http://www.adashofculture.com/   She’s a great writer, and I’ve enjoyed what she says about local food, history, culture and more!
Barb Tesla shared info on the TEDxManhattan event that took place on January 21, 2012, in New York City. The one-day event highlighted several aspects of the sustainable food movement and the work being done to shift our food system from industrially-based agriculture to one in which healthy, nutritious food is accessible to all.
http://tedxmanhattan.org/steve-ritz-online-now/    Thanks Barb!

Accessibility of Local Food in our Schools and other Institutions

March 5, 2012
I would like to thank Tes Thraves again for speaking with us today about CEFS and FoodCorps.  Tes provided some interesting information about what the organizations do, what they offer and how we might get involved.
I would also like to extend a thank you to the following attendees who joined in on a very stimulating conversation about the issue of food in our schools: Donna Poe, Jenny Schnaak, Kristy Church, Chris Bouton, Rudy Mullis, Brystana Kaufman and Carly Erickson.  It was an extremely interesting and informative discussion, and I appreciate the interest and passion so many of you have surrounding this issue.  This is one of my favorite things about our Wellness of Chatham meetings, we all can learn so much from one another’s experiences and expertise.
So, let’s get into the highlights . . . there were many!
I will start with something that Tes said that really stuck out for me.  “Local Food= Social Consciousness”  She said this before mentioning that where we need
local food the most is in our institutions – schools, hospitals, elderly care, etc.  What we do with our food says a lot about where we place value as a society.
 
CEFS (Center for Environmental Farming Systems) “develops and promotes food and farming systems that protect the environment, strengthen local communities, and provide economic opportunities in NC and beyond.”  for more info http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu/
 
FoodCorps was established to identify and place motivated leaders in limited-resource communities for the purpose of working with local partner organizations to implement a three-ingredient recipe to positively impact the health of children and their families.
The 3 areas of focus are: to deliver hands-on nutrition education, to build and tend school gardens and to bring high-quality local food into public school cafeterias.
NC is one of 10 states in the US that has launched FoodCorp.  http://foodcorps.org/where-we-work/north-carolina
 
Since the importance is the VISIBILITY of programs, there are some things we can do to help out with supporting these efforts:
 
#1 Get involved with the 10% Campaign.  This allows our voting dollars when spent on local food producers, businesses and communities to count. 
  • Pledge to spend 10 percent of your existing food dollars locally
  • Email in the answers to a few simple questions each week
  • The program will track your progress, and you’ll see their progress statewide
For more info and to join, go to www.nc10percent.com
 
#2 Join up with local projects like The Abundance Foundation Chef’s Challenge.  Right now, they need individual school buy-in and volunteers to facilitate at the
     various school locations. http://theabundancefoundation.org/events/chatham-county-chef-challenge
 
#3 Get educated and educate others.  Join local groups like Wellness of Chatham.  Show up, learn, connect and do what you can to introduce others to the information, activities, projects and programs that are going on around town related to improving the availability of our local food and supporting our local businesses & the general health and wellness of our community. http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Wellness-of-Chatham/257047840985230
 
Additional info:
A couple of local bakeries that are utilizing locally grown and milled grains for their breads and baked goods are:
Box Turtle Bakery www.boxturtlebakery.com
Chicken Bridge Bakery http://chickenbridgebakery.weebly.com
 
Some of the programs that are going on locally that feed into what communities are trying to do to get more good food where it needs to be:
“PLANT” at Breeze Farm http://orange.ces.ncsu.edu/files/library/68/PLANT-Breeze%20Farm%20Information.pdf
Fickle Creek Farm