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Pesto with what you've got!

Basil is a delicious, summer-loving plant that is a great addition to the garden and the table. We have a lot of it growing at the farm. May we humbly suggest you take some home from the Curb Market Saturday and make some pesto.

Pesto is our focus here, but you can also add basil leaves to salad dressing, marinades, and pizza sauce. Eat pesto on pasta, crackers, sandwiches and wraps. It also goes nicely with chicken, fish and shrimp.

I make my pesto with whatever I have on hand. Being a farmer without deep pockets, I skip the pine nuts (feel free to give them try, though, they’re delicious!) in favor of walnuts or our own local pecans. My recipe follows. I’ll try to give you amounts to get you started, but really, I just put things into the food processor until it tastes good. Go forth and have fun in the kitchen!

Basil (1 - 2 cups of leaves)

Pine nuts, walnuts, or pecans (½ cup or to taste)

Olive oil (start with ¼ cup but add more if it’s not pastey enough)

Salt to taste

That’s it. Blend in a food processor or blender. You can also add parmesan cheese or try a squeeze of lemon juice. Try the pecans or walnuts toasted, too. Yum!

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Mother-Daughter bond through Volunteer work!

Stacey and her daughter Hayley started volunteering for E.A.T. South's Good Food Day program last Spring and play an integral role to the program's success. This month, they share the ins and outs of volunteering for Good Food Days!

E.A.T. South: Tell me a little about yourselves--why are you in Montgomery, etc

Turner Women: Hayley and I have been in Montgomery for just a year now. Our family is currently stationed at Maxwell AFB after spending seven years overseas with the military, the last two living in Turkey. We enjoyed our overseas adventures and especially loved Turkey with all of its wonderful fresh vegetarian food and friendly people. Hayley is a homeschool student and currently starting her junior year of high school. She is passionate about the environment and loves teaching children to explore the outdoors. I love that Hayley and I get to spend time together while volunteering at E.A.T. South and enjoy seeing her lead groups of children. My four other children also like to visit the farm to feed the chickens and see what is growing during each season. 

ES: How did you get involved with E.A.T. South

TW: We love to eat organic and local whereever we live and explored the Montgomery area looking for opportunities to volunteer after we moved here. We were thrilled to find such a beautiful urban farm that also used its facility to teach children. Volunteering to be Good Day Facilitators seemed a natural step to help share our love of organic food with the local community and also to help us learn more about sustainable farming.

ES: What do you like about being a Good Food Day Facilitator? 

TW: The kids are the central part of what we love. Their enthusiasm to be outside and to learn about plants and animals is contagious. I love watch them when we tell them they can pick up a handful of dirt to smell or ask them to taste a fresh herb, they are hesitant for a second, and then jump right in experiencing all the best E.A.T South has to offer. I also enjoy seeing the adult chaperones come away with new information they had not know before, now ready to share with others.   

ES: Any fun anecdotes from a field trip?

TW: My best memory is from a kindergarten class I had when I first started leading Good Food Days. While asking the class what five things plants need to grow, one young boy shared that plants needed love. Of course they need love! It was not on my list, however, it was a great reminder that plants do need our care and attention if they are to grow and flourish. I now state my question a bit different and, of course, added love in my lesson plan. One of Hayley's favorite parts is watching the kids help their teacher pull out a carrot. The carrots at E.A.T. South can get quite large, and the excited response from the kids when they see what emerges from under the dirt is fun to watch. 

ES: For people who don't know what Good Food Day is, what would you like them to know about it?

TW: Good Food Day is amazing! You can see the excitement of the kids as soon as they get off their buses. Having the kids spend a morning exploring all aspects of an organic farm from composting to chickens to plants can be life changing. Seeing how food is grown and eating it right from the plants puts in place a link that they will carry through a lifetime. 

ES: Anything else you want to share?

TW: It is an honor to work with Beth Anne, Caylor and all the other volunteers and staff. The dedication they have to making E.A.T. South successful in so many different ways has been amazing to watch. Montgomery is lucky to have such a gem right in its backyard and we look forward to seeing many more families and students come and explore the farm!

Interested in becoming a Good Food Day volunteer? E-mail Beth Anne at bethanne@eatsouth.org! 

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Educator Spotlight: Dawn Ellis

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Educator Spotlight: Dawn Ellis

Dawn partnered with E.A.T. South about 2 years ago in an effort to build upon her classroom garden. Since then, her garden has grown to be an invaluable teaching tool for her students.

This garden has been a huge asset to student learning. My students are not only able to learn academic skills but also life skills.
— Dawn Ellis, Peter Crump Elementary School

E.A.T. South: What is your name, School where you teach and number of years you've taught?

Mrs. Ellis: Dawn Ellis, Peter Crump Elementary School, 8 years

ES: What made you decide to become a teacher?

DE: Since I was a child, I have wanted to be a teacher. It wasn’t until I was in college and working with students with disabilities that I realized that special education would be my focus.

ES: How and Why did you get involved with E.A.T. South?

DE: Two years ago, my class took a field trip to EAT South after starting a small container garden at school. There, we met and worked with the fantastic staff for Good Food Day. Relationships were formed with the organization to equip not only our class garden, but also the teachers of our school with professional development. The following year, our class was selected as SPROUTS classroom, where an EAT South staff member implemented standards based lessons in the garden.

ES: How long have you been using a garden in your classroom and how do you use it?

DE: We have had a garden for 4 years. The students help take care of the garden as well as use it for an outdoor classroom to teach standards based lessons.

ES: What have your students eaten from the garden? Any favorite recipes?

 DE: The students have helped grow carrots, turnips, radishes, corn, watermelon, blueberries, and various herbs. We have made radish dip and used the carrots to eat it with. That was a class favorite. We have also eaten the turnips, blueberries and made pesto from the herbs!

ES: What has been your greatest accomplishment using the garden in your classroom?

DE:The greatest accomplishment from using the garden has been students retaining skills taught in the garden and are able to transfer that knowledge into classroom assignments. From identifying parts of a plant, to identifying lines and angles, the students are able to have real hands-on experience while learning outside therefore their knowledge deepens.

ES: What has been your greatest challenge using your garden in your classroom?

DE: The greatest challenge of the garden has been maintenance.

ES: Do your students have a favorite lesson using the garden?

DE: One of my favorite lessons in the garden has been teaching about the parts of the plants and lifecycle of plants. Students are able to see firsthand the growth and changes and also identify the different parts or stages. The students are able to pull up the radishes when they are ready and say “The part we eat is the root. It is red. The leaves and stems are green.”

ES: How has the garden impacted your students' learning?

DE: This garden has been a huge asset to student learning. My students are not only able to learn academic skills but also life skills.

ES: What advice would you give a teacher who is thinking of starting a school garden?

DE: My advice would be start a committee at school with other teachers, gain administration support, find a location with water access, and start small. There are several businesses that will partner with schools to help build a garden.

ES: What has been your greatest resource in your work with garden education and how?

DE: Community involvement has been the greatest resource in both the development and implementation of a school garden. 

Thinking about starting your own school garden? Contact bethanne@eatsouth.org

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Gardening Across the Curriculum: Historical Gardening

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Gardening Across the Curriculum: Historical Gardening

Gardening in schools is trending across the U.S. and that is a great thing. Often these gardens are justified through their integration of Math and Science--offering an alternative space for all types of learners. Additionally, gardens give students the opportunity to interact directly with produce which is meant to impact their decision to make healthier and more nutritional choices. 

Beyond ph levels and growth measurement charts, however, comes an opportunity to incorporate another subject's curriculum: History. 

With a garden, there are many approaches to incorporating history. Discussing agricultural practices, curriculum could center around cultural differences from ancient to modern civilizations. Teachers could ask students to research current agricultural practices and trace their origin. Students could create a timeline of important historical events centered upon agriculture. Students could pick various plants from their school garden and discuss their origin, migration pattern (if applicable) and historical context of their migration. For example, Okra is a staple crop of Southern agriculture and cuisine. Historically, Okra originates in Africa and migrated to the United States southern region through slavery. Through this example, we see that through just one crop, a teacher can highlight an entire unit of History content. 

The Vista De La Cruces school in Gaviota, California is a great example of a school using their garden to incorporate History.

Source: http://www.csgn.org/sites/csgn.org/files/GFL_3.pdf

Source: http://www.csgn.org/sites/csgn.org/files/GFL_3.pdf

Here at E.A.T. South, our farm is designed to teach children based on stations. We have:

1) Bee station, where students learn about the importance of honey bees in food production, anatomy and types of honey bees, and get to taste local honey

2) Chicken Station, where students interact with our chickens, learn their importance in our farm's ecosystem and learn about their anatomy

3) Compost Station where students learn how compost works and why we want it in our soil

4) Tasting Garden where students learn the parts of a plant and harvest and taste various crops

5) Greenhouse where students learn about what a seed needs to grow and get to plant seeds in seed trays.

in the last 6 months, we have been working to expand our own curriculum in light of the opportunity to cover more subject matter. We installed additional raised beds and culverts in which we are planting crops to highlight the historical agriculture of Alabama from Native Americans to the present. This station will allow our curriculum to expand to all subject areas in an effort to further supplement the education of the students that visit our farm. 

With the increase in availability of curriculum and resources for incorporating school gardens into schools coupled with the building financial support from government supported grants and the work of garden education non-profits, I truly hope one day soon we see a garden in every school in Alabama. 

Teachers and Parents: What other methods have you discovered in incorporating a garden into expanding your curriculum implementation?

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What's eating you?

Rabbits like yarrow. Who knew?

Rabbits like yarrow. Who knew?

Plants are disappearing at the E.A.T. South farm! From bugs to rabbits to even dogs, we’ve lost some plants in the past few weeks. Let’s call this a teachable moment. Maybe you’re seeing some of our pests in your garden too?

Cucumber beetles - You’ll see these on your squash or cukes. They’re kind of pretty, green with spots or stripes. Fast flyers, they are hard to catch, and if you have a lot of them, they’ll eat your plants and spread disease.

Cucumber beetle in the squash. Sigh.

Cucumber beetle in the squash. Sigh.

Squash Bugs - These will go after your squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes too. They fly, they eat, they lay eggs on your squash. I try to keep an eye out for the eggs (look under your squash leaves), and rub them off of the leaves into a bucket of soapy water.

Squash bug eggs

Squash bug eggs

Tomato Horn Worm - These suckers look like the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland. They’re just not as mellow, and they eat everything! They blend in so well with the tomato plants that they’re hard to spot. You know you’ve got them when you’re leaves and tomatoes start getting chewed.

So what is a gardener to do?! First, get familiar with Alabama Extension’s Integrated Pest Management site. They’ll help you identify your pests and next steps.

On the farm, we occasionally use naturally-based pesticides approved for organic use (OMRI approved), but we also:

Rotate - When we create our garden plan, we try to make sure that we don’t put the same plant family in the same spot. We want at least a two year break for the garden bed between each plant family.

Use insect netting/floating row covers - For things that fly in for lunch, we might put a floating row cover between the plants and the bugs. (For squash or cucumbers, remember to remove the row cover when the plants start to bloom or you’ll exclude the pollinators, too!) And bird netting over the beds seems to be keeping out a hungry bunny.

Time plantings - Plant your veggies at times when there aren’t so many bugs around. This takes a little research (remember the Alabama Extension IPM site?), but it will also save more of your plants.

Welcome beneficial insects - Farmer Jetson built a bug hotel and created a habitat to attract both pollinators and predators. The pests give the predators something to eat.

Squash them! I squash the ones I can catch. Tomato horn worms provide an especially satisfying squish.

What’s bugging you? Comment or share with us on Facebook!

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Giving Back: Meet Our Volunteers

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Giving Back: Meet Our Volunteers

Farmer Caylor Interviews Awesome Curb Market Volunteer Kim Cole

 

We are so grateful for E.A.T. South’s volunteers. This month, we want to say thank you and introduce you to Curb Market volunteer Kim Cole. To introduce you to Kim, I interviewed her in between customers on a busy Saturday at the Curb Market.

Caylor: Hi, Kim, do you want to say a few words to introduce yourself.

Kim: I am Kim Cole, and I now live here in Montgomery, Alabama. I moved here from St. Louis, Missouri where I lived for 24 years.

I volunteer to work at the Curb Market. My cousin used to work for E.A.T. South, and she had to man the booth, or as I say “woman” the booth at the market. She would ask me to come keep her company. Then one day she said, “I can’t work this weekend. Can you work in my stead.” That’s how it all started.

This is my second full year doing this by myself, but I would come with my cousin starting in 2014. I’m here every other weekend, and last fall, I was here every weekend.

C: What do you like about the Curb Market?

K: I refer to it as my natural anti-depressant. I get to meet great people, and I get to learn about vegetables. It’s lots of fun. I love kids, and I’m always meeting and picking on the kids. It gives me an opportunity to learn things about our community and about the vegetables E.A.T. South has. At the market, we exchange ideas about how to cook vegetables, how to consume them.

I’m the girl who doesn’t know anything about gardening. I hate to say that, but I do know about vegetables. My family thinks it’s hilarious. I’ll cook meals for my parents. That’s how I moved here, to be with my parents. I’ll cook meals for my parents and explain that this is from the garden, and this is how I’m cooking it. It’s different from the way they’re used to. I’m getting them to try new things.

C: What are your favorite things to cook?

K: I’ve been having a blast this year with the garlic. If I can put garlic in it, I’ll put garlic in it. I like roasting vegetables like beets and carrots. I like learning about the different vegetables. Until last year, I never knew what to do with sorrel. I used sorrel in a stir fry, I used it with pasta, and I sauteed it with kale and other vegetables, just a little bit. A little bit of sorrel goes a long way.

I did the CSA, and that’s how I was introduced to some of the vegetables. When my CSA ran out, I started volunteering. Now, really, volunteering on a regular basis is how I learn about vegetables. It’s also helped introduce my boyfriend to new vegetables, too. Every week he’ll ask me what E.A.T. South has.

C: Is there a recent, memorable meal that stands out?

K: For Mother’s Day and Father’s Day 2016, all of the vegetables for those meals came from the farm. I was able to introduce some new things to my family. That turned out very well. Unfortunately, my boyfriend was not able to be here so I’ll have repeat the Father’s Day meal later this month.

C: For people who have never been to the Curb Market, what would you like them to know about it?

K: You can find a little bit of everything, but what I tell people is please make sure you come to the Crampton side of the market, closer to Madison Avenue, where I am and where the E.A.T. South booth is. People don’t know we’re here. I try to post on Facebook weekly that we’re on the Crampton side of the market.

C: Any last things you want to share?

K: I love E.A.T. South. I have an apron in my office. Right here in downtown Montgomery, in the Supreme Court building, there is an E.A.T. South apron on my office wall. Anybody stopping by, that’s my opportunity to tell them about E.A.T. South and to tell them about the Curb Market. I’ve actually have people come to the Curb Market based on what I’ve told them. I truly enjoy it.

The Montgomery Curb Market is open 5 am to 2 pm Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. E.A.T. South’s booth is open on Saturdays from 7 - 12 (or until we sell out of produce).

 

 

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In praise of beets

The blog is back because we need to talk about beets. We have a lot of beets at the farm that need to find a place in your kitchen. Plus, beets are delicious and high in all kinds of things like iron that are good for you. It’s time to eat your beets, friends. This Saturday, at the Curb Market, we’ll have bulk beets (in four colors) that are just the right size for roasting and pickling. Beets without greens will keep for a few weeks in the crisper drawer of your fridge. If you want several pounds for pickling, you can place a special order at farmer@eatsouth.org or call/text 503-753-5006.

To get you thinking about your weekend beets, here’s some delicious beet-spiration.

Raw Beets - Grate raw beets to add to your favorite slaw recipe. Try them with carrots to make a pink carrot-raisin salad.

Roasted Beets - Beets are easy to roast (no peeling necessary). Check out this tutorial for roasting beets in the oven or wrap them in a paper towel and microwave them.

Enjoy roasted beets hot with a little salt or keep them in the fridge to add to salads. I like cold beets with olive oil, salt, and toasted pecans or walnuts. You can even turn your beets into chocolate cake

Farmers Market Beet Quesadillas (This recipe was given to me by a customer at the Montgomery Curb Market. Thank you! I’m sorry I didn’t get your name. Please stop by and introduce yourself.)

Tablespoon oil

1-2 beets, peeled, raw and thinly sliced

½ sweet onion chopped

½ tsp each chili powder, cumin, oregano or to taste

Salt to taste

Grated Monterrey Jack or Cheddar Cheese

Tortillas

Heat oil, saute beets and onions in oil for 6 min or so. Add seasonings and water. Cook for about 3 min. In a separate pan, heat tortillas. Sprinkle half of the tortilla with cheese. Add beet/onion mixture. Fold tortilla over beets and cheese. Slide quesadilla onto a plate, cut and enjoy!

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A Summer Intern's Lessons from Growing Food

As I sit in the kitchen thinking about my goals for the summer, I get a little nostalgic about last summer, the summer of 2014. So far, the two periods in my life are as different as day and night. I love my current job, which I have thanks to last summer’s experience with EAT South. I get to sit in an office and think about gardening and Alabama farmers.  I know I am doing good work, and I get paid for it! I have a ton of down time too, to do basically whatever I want, like write this blog or to volunteer for the Taste of Home Cooking School. I think I need it, considering I am going into senior year with a little more weight on my back, preparing to take on my new position as editor-in-chief of Her Campus Auburn! I am just taking in everything I can while I still can.

But last summer, well, it was a crazy adventure for a twenty year old. I interned at E.A.T. South and worked at the best restaurant in Auburn. I literally got to see food from its very first stage as a seed all the way until it reached the plate [and my stomach]! A few days of the week I drove an hour to the garden, worked 8am to 1pm, then drove an hour back to Auburn, ate lunch, and rushed to a restaurant at 3 to work until close. I’m honestly exhausted just thinking about it, and let me tell you, some of those drives back to Auburn I wondered if what I was doing to myself was worth it. But the days when the Hampstead Montessori students learned something with big smiles on their faces, it was worth it, the days I realized I really can make a difference, it was definitely worth it, and the day I had to say goodbye, I knew E.A.T. South had left a giant scar running from my tired legs and beat up hands and straight to my heart. I think I still haven’t grasped how much Catherine, Denise, Jetson, Mark, Jesse, Sara, Amanda, Kisha, and even the chickens rubbed off on me. I don’t know if they realized all of the lessons they taught me. But I’m going to share a couple of life lessons I learned from the experience, because they truly do mean so much to me.

Slow food as a lifestyle.

I was going to write an entire blog about this one concept because it’s a giant metaphor for my life now, but I decided that I could squeeze it into one section. The funny thing about sustainable food production and the “slow food” movement is everything is slow. And I mean everything. The food grows slow, the work is hard and slow, and the lifestyle is slow. Let me explain. When I worked with Catherine in the garden, she encouraged taking breaks and being stress free, and then when I went to the restaurant it was go go go go go go. It’s the opposite of everything modern day America has taught us to cultivate; think fast food and the interstate. We can’t figure out when to stop and smell the roses [or rosemary], but it’s a gift we can give ourselves that makes life a little better. Find something that is worth taking the time out. I cook almost every single one of my meals now, sit down, and enjoy it. It’s worth missing a few hours of study time or not knowing anything about Game of Thrones.

Children are the real geniuses.

All of the kids I worked with had something different to bring to the table. They had big imaginations, were so curious and smart, and just happy to be on the farm. They challenged me to bring out my most creative and positive self, and that person turned out to be my best, most intelligent self. Never let your inner child die, and never quit learning!

Dreamers can take a breather.

Something I have always had a problem with is deciding how much I should work. Since ninth grade, I let my fears of not becoming successful drive me to become a true workaholic. I do not know how to stop working, and when I do stop working, I immediately panic or feel guilty. I am not being dramatic either. I thought that people who are successful seriously work like 70 hours a week because they want their dreams so bad. I think that my problem had a little to do with the media and a little to do with the concept of the “American Dream.” I actually read a really good example in Cosmopolitan. There is a quote that is used by tons of young women: “You have the same hours in a day as Beyonce.” But no one reminds us that Beyonce probably has a maid, a hair stylist, a chef, and a babysitter. So girls who have a ridiculous amount of drive, take that quote straight to the heart and schedule every hour of everyday, because that is what we have been told it takes to be successful. It’s like peer pressure to keep doing more.

I realized two things:

1) The journey itself is the dream. I try to tell myself every day, even on the most difficult, that I am living my dream. I am on the journey to make people appreciate their health and appreciate the environment. What more could I ask for?

2) Dreamers can take a rest. I realized that Catherine, someone who is doing good things, goes home to rest. To my surprise, almost everyone at EAT South does something fun on the weekend or at least once a week! Crazy right?! I am begging all the young people trying to move up in the world to please just REST without a single ounce of guilt. Your dreams will still be there tomorrow!

Never give up.

I’m not sure what I want to do with my career anymore. I am stuck between journalism, writing public policy, owning a business, and working at a health center. And who knows what I’ll dream up tomorrow! Currently, I want to own an outdoor kitchen where I teach families how to garden and cook, and maybe there will be a little bakery on the side. One thing I do know, after working with such passionate people at E.A.T. South, is that anything I can dream of is possible. All I have to do is find a great support group and wake up every day ready to change the world. Life is a challenge. I can and I will.

Thank you, to everyone at E.A.T South! All of my successes in the past year have happened because of you.

You can follow Lindy on Instagram for more love from the garden and kitchen @linDahlive




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