Social supermarket will sell surplus food for 70% less

Social supermarket launches in London

FarmShare You-Pick Event in Cedar Creek

The Farmer Starter students have already had an enormous impact at FarmShare, resulting in a bumper crop of lovely veg.  They want to share the bounty with us all so they are having a harvest event at the farm, it's at 3608 River Road, Cedar Creek, Texas 78612.  The event is Saturday the 20th from 10 to 2.  Bring your own reusable bags, and a $20 donation is recommended.

Boggy Creek Farm Course in Organic Home Gardening

The classes will run on Saturdays from February 7 to March 14, 9 am to 12 pm. Tuition is $200 and they are enrolling at this very moment.  The course will cover soil processes, fertility and composting, even chickens.  This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who wants to start organic gardening their own produce, and just in time for spring and summer planting!

Startup Turning Cargo Containers into Urban Farms has a very nice interview with Daniel Kuenzi, founder of Local Roots Farms.  They use a proprietary hydroponics technique, including energy-efficient LED lights, and are currently growing organic leafy greens in their first cargo-farm in L.A.  They will begin supplying some California grocery stores early next year.  Each cargo container can produce the same yield as a five acre farm/garden every year.

80% of Vegetarians Return to Carnivorism Within a Year

This result does not surprise me, that's how long my own experiment with vegetarianism last.  It ended after a trip to Brazil, when my first meat in a year caused me to throw up, which forced me to evaluate the impact of vegetarianism on my grocery bills.  Meat substitutes, some of which I actually enjoyed (like Quorn), are damned expensive. The article goes on to note that "Many find the middle ground, choosing to be “sometimes vegetarians” that focus on eating sustainably and ethically raised animals."  This is also certainly true of me, I only buy meat from local farmers and ranchers at the farmers markets or Wheatsville Co-op.  I honestly can't remember the last time I bought non-local meat at store, and while I do pay a premium for those high quality meats, my salary today is three times what it was when I tried vegetarianism.  And I've found supporting my local farmers and ranchers to be a far more satisfying, realistic and productive way to support earth stewardship.  Lastly - OMG is the price worth it for the flavor!

Fight Poverty, Not Cooking

Mark Bittman has a fantastic op-ed in the New York Times today about how cooking is as much an issue of equality as anything - equality of money to buy food and equipment, equality of housing with a full useable kitchen, equality of time available to cook, equality of household labor.
The two ideas I love the most:  preparing meals in school cafeterias for weeknights that the kids and parents can take home, and community kitchens.  Especially the community kitchens.  I have spent time volunteering in community kitchens for communal meals and I loved every minute of it.  I was also the Sunday afternoon dinner cook and sack lunch cook at the cooperative I lived in while in college, and I loved that too.  They are a fantastic experience that I would recommend to anybody, both to help prepare and serve the meals but also to sit down in the dining room and share the meals with your fellows.  I'm not a generally social animal but I love communal meals.  That way all of us, even the most poor, most tired and most time-deprived, could enjoy 'home' cooked family meals, not only with their families but with their villages.
But they don't have to be volunteer kitchens.  Community kitchens could provide employment and teach important life and job skills.  Rents for the space could help out churches and other organizations with communal meal facilities that do not get used much (as is the case for most churches) who could use additional income.  Valuable partnerships could be forged with local food vendors (reduce food waste!) and community gardens.  Social services staff are often an intimidating presence when you are corralled into state offices like cattle, with orders barked at you and piles of paperwork to complete.  But what if, instead, people could reach out to social services as fellow guests at a meal?  These communal meals could be a great opportunity to provide healthcare - flu shots, blood pressure screenings, etc.- destigmatize mental health care, demystify income assistance, provide clothes closets, offer job and education counseling.
  The possibilities are dazzling.  Do you enjoy playing music?  A community dinner can be part of a session group.  Does your kid belong to a dance troupe?  Come dance with people!  Or have a dance night for the grownups.  Think of all that we could benefit from if we went back to the village tradition of communal meals.  

Shareable Takes Note of Austin’s Own East Side Compost Pedellers

I'm very proud to see my home town's compost pedellers get a mention on  Now if only they'd expand to South Austin.  No matter how many notes I put up to myself around the house, no matter where I put it to remember to take it to the Sunset Valley market or Wheatsville, no matter how many times I drive to both places largely for the purpose of dropping off my compost - 90% of the time I still forget.  I forgot no less than three times last Saturday.  ESCP - come save me from myself!

It’s almost time for Weihnachten in Fredericksburg

This is a month-long celebration of Christmas in Fredericksburg, TX.  There is a 26 foot tall hand-carved pyramid at the Marktplatz, the Tannenbaum Ball, the outdoor ice skating rink and more than 150 shops full of holiday treasures.  If you love hand blown glass tree ornaments or sets for your model trains, you can't do any better than to spend a day in Fredericksburg during the season.

UT has a micro farm!

I'm proud of my alma mater today, now that I know that the University of Texas has a student-founded and -run organic farm.  It is funded out of the university's Green Fee, $5 per semester per student, which the Green Fee Committee awards to various environmental services projects around campus.  The farm was planted at 2204 Leona Street in 2013, which is only a few blocks northeast of Disch-Falk Field just off the corner of Manor and Leona.  The food raised is sold to UT's Division of Housing and Food Service and whatever is left is sold on campus during the week and at a stand on the farm itself on Saturdays.  Any additional surplus is donated to charity.  Volunteers learn about agriculture and sustainable living, but also about PR, communication, project development, environmental practices, and all the other non-dirt related responsibilities of farming.  The farm is currently testing a variety of irrigation systems.

Austin Fermentation Festival

The first ever will be on 11/15 at Le Cordon Bleu at The Domain.  Sponsored by LBC, Whole Foods and The Farmers Market, it will be a discussion from experts and enthusiasts for fermented foods.  Pickles to kimchee, kombucha to kefir, booze to sourdough.