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Huntington Ranch blog and the “food forest”

14 Jun

This is not strictly speaking Fukuoka, but many of his ideas of cultivating wildness have drifted into the gardens and repertoires of permaculture and urban farming folks.

The Huntington, in Pasadena, has a new experimental farm they call the “ranch,” which uses the food forest idea, which is not unlike that found in Fukuoka’s work…Here is a link to its blog.

Gardener Scott Kleinrock compares this food forest to a conventional food garden...

Fukuoka makes seed balls

14 Jun

Here’s a YouTube video from 1997, in which he shows the method. He’s already about 90 years old…

Fukuoka meets fusion–“lasagna gardening”

13 Jun

In the US, a woman named Patricia Lanza has made popular Fukuoka Masanobu’s techniques of “do-nothing” farming–she followed, in turn, the earlier work of a woman named Ruth Stout.

Her concept selects and adapts particular features of FM’s work, and is known as “lasagna gardening.” It’s called this because it starts off with sheet mulching and wild mulching–laying sheets of cardboard over grass to tame it and get rid of weeds, and using plant matter on the spot for compost, letting it have its unruly way, rather than putting it in a tidy (“”) pile in a corner to gestate. It’s a kind of translated version of do-nothing farming that still involves some of the processes (sheet mulching, notably, and lack of interest in tilling). But it also drops some key features, such as the compelling autobio, the relation to a general critique of modernity, and questions about the role of the local vis-à-vis spiritual/mystical/Romantic/poetic histories.

Cover of Lanza's Fukuoka adaptation/localization

See what you think, by paging through it at Amazon

Is anything added? Anything lost? How does she imagine the task of adapting, localizing, translating? And what does “culture” (i.e. from cultivare, the word meaning ‘to grow’) mean to her, do you think?

In the news: tomatoes demystified

10 Jun

This story has obvious links to the Fukuoka reading for Tuesday. A critique of food–>a general critique of modernity, and re-connection with the sources of food is urged…

How we ruined the tomato

The plump red fruit has become a symbol of everything that’s wrong with modern agriculture. An expert explains why

How we ruined the tomato

iStockphoto

Americans love tomatoes. As our second-most-popular produce item, we’re accustomed to the sight of them: plump and bright red, marble to soft-ball sized, and piled in abundance year-round in the refrigerated fruit and vegetable aisle of the grocery store. Many of us eat tomatoes every day: if not au natural, in ketchup, salsa, or marinara sauce.

Yet our favorite fruit may not be quite as innocuous and delicious as it appears.

continued, on Salon.com

Scholarship–for garden-related study

13 Dec

Source: Huntington Ranch blog

Interested in building your knowledge base about edible gardens and other community garden/food issues? Finally ironing out the design of that fish-driven bioponics system on your veranda? Taking a course on landscape design and history in summer school?

The Southern California Garden Club has a $1000 scholarship for just this kind of undergraduate study. It’s a relatively painless application process, as you can see on their website. If you are interested in applying, contact me off-line, and I can tell you more specs about the scholarship. I can also help you frame your work in this class in this particular genre of application-essay style, so you give them the information they need in a pleasing and accessible narrative form.

Garden Update – 11/10

11 Nov

Today was quite chilly. The garden, however, seems to be looking better than ever. The color of the plants looks fantastic, and the soil remained moist. Bok choy looks amazing, as well as everything else! I managed to hold up a few leaves to snap some cool pictures of our stuff! Things are looking better than ever. Perhaps this cool weather has been really good.

Olive harvest @ Caltech

6 Nov

It’s always interesting to see how other campuses are working with the urban nature on their grounds. On Friday, I stopped by a festival at Caltech, in Pasadena. The occasion was a harvest on their famed Olive Walk, which sports many of the 130 olive trees on campus. The day featured the last of the harvest, which had begun a few days earlier, when the Grounds crew picked some of the olives from the higher tree branches. This is what olive-picking looks like:

Volunteers pick olives, which then fall to the ground onto tarps.

The olives are then collected and put into large bins. This is what the take looked like, toward the end of the harvest.

Bins of green and black olives waiting to be taken for pressing.

According to organizers, the last festival was in 2008, when volunteers–mostly students–harvested 2500 pounds of olives, and the Grounds crew harvested another 3500 pounds. This yielded about 127 gallons of olive oil. Some cooking demos and a lunch accompanied the olive-picking. Here, one volunteer presides over pots of herb-infused olive oil.

Mythili Iyer (class of 2012) serves up samples after a cooking demo.

And another stirs pots of herby, buttery escargots to be eaten on french bread.

Volunteer Jim Workman dishes out escargots.

The event is the brainchild of Tom Mannion, Assistant VP of Student Affairs and Campus Life at Caltech. Tom also teaches a for-credit course called “Cooking Basics,” which he mentioned is the most popular course at Caltech. It is also worth noting that Caltech is the intellectual home of Harold McGee, the author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, the go-to book for understanding the scientific mysteries of the kitchen, including the health benefits of fermented milks, the effects of rigor mortis over time on shellfish, and  breakdowns of species of rice and their growing environments.

There are a few differences from our setup–this is a one-day event, with a lot of help from college staff and workers, whereas you have been tending the garden from scratch all on your own. Their connection to the larger communities and spaces around them, though, is something we might use for inspiration. The project started through student initiatives and experimenting with your old friend vernacular creativity:

In 2005, Kristen Kozak (’09) tried to preserve some olives by dry curing them, that is, using salt to remove the bitter taste. Unfortunately, the olives were infested by flies. The experiment was repeated with better olives in 2006 by Kristen and four other students  (Alex Roper, Robbie Xiao, Dan Rowlands, and Cathy Douglass, all also Class of ’09) and met with mixed results. What worked very well, however, was pressing them for oil. These students picked both green and black olives and pressed them with cheesecloth to separate the pulp from the oil and juice, and put the liquids in a jar to separate. The oil rose to the top and was then skimmed off. The students ate the oil plain and on bread. Also in  2006, undergraduates Dvin Adalian and Ricky Jones did their own olive oil experiment. Using a remedial set of tools and a set of instructions they devised themselves, they managed to purify 550 mL of oil. (For a more detailed account  of the process, click here.)  They distributed the oil throughout their residence (Ruddock House) and the biology division, to Caltech president and first lady Jean-Lou Chameau and Carol Carmichael, and to their friends and families. The verdict? “It was delicious.”

Are there similar resources waiting to be cultivated at USC? Keep an eye out on the grounds as you walk around. It took a couple years of prepping the olives to get rid of flies and make them consumable, but with a little planning, experimentation and collaboration, they did it!