Summer is a quiet time for our chapter with many members away on travels. With the coming of fall we are excited about cooler weather, fall gardening and Slow Food projects. The Slow Food OC steering committee has been involved in an extended discussion regarding how we can best serve our community, our chapter members as well as pique the interest of “members to be,” with respect to the Slow Food mission of promoting “good, clean and fair food for all.” As we look around the county, we see many other groups with a similar mission of building a “Good Food” community. One role our steering committee envisions for our Slow Food OC chapter is facilitating collaborative relationships with the other like-minded organizations throughout the county — let’s work together! To this end the steering committee has invited about 20 chefs, farmers, teachers, food justice advocates and others concerned about sustainable access to good food to join together in a conversation. This will take place in mid-October. We are excited to find out what actions others are taking, how we can support them, collaborate, partner and build community together. We are looking forward to meeting with this group of leaders and hope to have some exciting ideas and projects to share with all of you as a result of this conversation.
Also coming up is Terra Madre Day on December 10. This is the anniversary of Slow Food. This year our chapter will be participating in a California-wide Terra Madre day celebration of foods in our state. In Orange County, we will be celebrating “Slow Citrus.” We are looking to plan a variety of activities to celebrate the range of citrus grown in our county. We have two ideas: a backyard citrus gleaning and a marmalade cooking class. Please let us know if you have other ideas the chapter might enjoy!
The chapter has been contacted by a local 17 year old member of the Orange Acres BackBreakers 4H beef project. This is her third year raising a steer to show and the last year that she will be eligible. She is looking for the final three sponsors to support this project. For $500, each sponsor would receive 1/8th of the meat when the steer is butchered next summer. Jenna will raise (pamper might be a better verb) the animal on a combination of orchard grass and grain at a facility in Orange. She is eager to have sponsors visit and see the process.
If you are interested in being a sponsor, contact me at . I can send you a great flyer that Jenna has put together and put you in touch with her.
In August, Slow Food Orange County gave our third microgrant to help the UCI Palo Verde Organic Garden Club expand and serve more students. The funds will be used to help double the size of their garden. The following is a letter from the Club president.
The Palo Verde Organic Garden Club operates a small community garden within the Palo Verde apartment complex at UC Irvine, and nearly all of our 35 gardeners are graduate students at the University. Pursuing a graduate-level degree is often a stressful, hectic experience, and our gardeners appreciate the opportunity that gardening affords them to relax, slow down, and watch their plants thrive. In addition to this mental health benefit, the garden is also a boon to our gardeners’ physical health. The fruits and vegetables that our gardeners harvest provide a healthy, inexpensive alternative to the stereotypical college fare of instant noodles and potato chips. Several of our gardeners balance their studies with family life; currently there are eleven children under 12 years old who help their parents tend the family garden plot, all the while learning about how real food is grown.
Slow Food ideals about the value of good, clean food become deeply ingrained in many of our gardeners. One of my favorite stories to share is about a former gardener, Greg. When he completed his Ph.D. in chemistry about a year ago, Greg realized that his primary passion was not for the lab work or teaching that were common career paths among his colleagues; his passion was nurturing plants. So, he packed his bags and his new degree, moved across the country, and began working as a farmer on an organic farm co-op. Now, Greg lives Slow Food principles on a daily basis.
The Palo Verde Organic Garden Club is delighted and honored to be the recipient of one of Slow Food Orange County’s microgrants. Thanks in part to this generous award, we will be able to expand our community garden to more than double its current size! Because of the high level of interest in joining our Garden Club, there is currently a wait period of over one year to be assigned a plot. When the expanded garden opens later this fall, the wait period will instantly drop to only one or two months. That means that more UC—Irvine graduate students will have an opportunity to experience firsthand the health benefits and enjoyment of slow-grown food.
Thank you for your support, Slow Food Orange County!
President, Palo Verde Organic Garden Club