Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Community Gardens

Urban agriculture sending subscribers home with veggies

CSA basket 1  

Heart Beet Gardening's pilot program for an urban CSA is well underway. With two gardens at homes near Larchmont Village, the community supported agriculture project is providing a weekly basket of produce to 10 subscribers who are each paying $25 a week.

Sara Carnochan, one of the three women who run the gardening business, says the subscribers "are really excited when they pick up their baskets." And she and her two partners are still assessing whether the pilot program is a success.

They'd like to expand to more gardens, but they haven't decided whether it can work logistically and financially for them.

CSAs usually have members who pay a share in the operation of a farm in return for a share of the harvest. Heart Beet is trying an urban twist, using city yards to grow the food.

The subscribers have received chard, cucumbers, eggplant, squash and other items. The first planting of lettuce was eaten, perhaps by birds, but this week the baskets should include lettuce from a second planting, Carnochan says.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo of CSA basket, courtesy Sara Carnochan

A White House garden party

Harvest Michelle Obama had a garden party yesterday afternoon. But not the tea and crumpets in white gloves sort. She was joined by the students from Bancroft Elementary School who helped her plant and tend the White House garden that got so much attention earlier this year.

At the party they returned for a feast using some of what they grew, including peas and lettuce.

"This is our reward for all that hard work," she told the children.

Obama said the garden was one of the first things she wanted to do at the White House. She noted that Congress and the president soon will be talking about health care reform and the reauthorization of child nutrition programs.

"And these are issues that I care deeply about, especially when they affect America's children," she said.

"Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure are all diet-related health issues that cost this country more than $120 billion each year," she said.

She said she hoped the children who worked in the garden had spread the word to their families about healthy eating and how good fresh fruit and vegetables taste.
 
Obama noted that there are more than 1 million community gardens across the country.

White House associate chef Sam Kass said the garden has produced lettuce, snap peas, beans, kale, collards and chard. He credited a large amount of rain for the garden's bounty. Kass said no chemicals had been used on the garden, but it's not certified organic. Weekly weeding was done by him, a pastry chef and some volunteers.

Kass said he has harvested 90 pounds of produce from the garden, including broccoli and green beans; the food has been used in the White House or donated.

--Mary MacVean

Photo: First Lady Michelle Obama and students in the garden today. Credit: Alex Brandon / Associated Press


 

Alice Waters 'preaching to the saved' on gardens

Alice The people trying to raise money for a garden at the Canyon Charter School got the hottest name in school food to talk at a fundraiser Tuesday night. Chef Alice Waters talked about her dreams for school meals with a teenager from Massachusetts who created a farm at his high school.

The near-full-house crowd, lots of moms and kids, was enthusiastic, lining up to have Waters sign her books, applauding several times during the talk. One man remarked, "Man, this is the place for my single guy friends to come."

And as Waters noted, she was "preaching to the saved."

Sam Levin and two schoolmates started Project Sprout at their high school in western Massachusetts that now provides produce to three schools from a 12,000-square-foot garden. But he told the crowd at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica that the project was not just about gardening, but about organizing a community around an idea and "a powerful social and political movement."

Waters lavished praise on Levin and his project, noting that his generation is not "questioning is this the right thing to do" -- they are taking action.

Waters herself was inspired by time spent in France, where food was "precious" and connected to agriculture and to culture and family. That experience and her work at her Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse, combined with a stint as a schoolteacher, she said, helped lead to her interest in school gardens. She started an "Edible Schoolyard" project at a middle school in Berkeley that now has a garden class and a kitchen class.

Water said the vegetable garden the Obamas started at the White House was an inspiring step. But she said she wants to see every child get fed nutritious and delicious food at school, for free.

Both responded to criticism that Waters' views are elitist, that many Americans cannot afford to eat the way she advocates. But she said it's not elitist to demand and to get good food. And the students at Levin's school and their garden are "as far away from elitist as you can get," Levin said. 

The audience paid $25 in advance, $30 at the door for tickets. Proceeds go to the school, which has about 350 children in kindergarten through fifth grade on a campus in Santa Monica Canyon near the ocean.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo: Alice Waters at Chez Panisse. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

RECENT & RELATED

Hancock Park launches a community agriculture project

Victory Gardens make a comeback

'Eco-Kosher' Jews have an appetite for ethical eating

Sampler Platter: Taco tables, community gardens and chicken shortages

The popular Tacos Estrella truck in Highland Park. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles TimesIs Dijon mustard elitist? We ponder this among other issues in today's Sampler Platter.

  • LAist crawls the taco tables and trucks of Highland Park.
  • Henry's Farmers Market, a swank health-food and grocery store, opened Wednesday in Woodland Hills. Daily News
  • Sean Hannity attacks President Obama for ordering Dijon mustard on his burger. Gawker
  • Supporters of the Crenshaw Community Garden hope a partnership between the school and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office will let the garden bloom once again. LA Beez
  • Franchises not cooperating, long waits and chicken shortages; the day after the Oprah/KFC chickengate, Consumerist analyzes What Went Wrong. And El Pollo Loco now says (via YouTube and Twitter) that it'll accept KFC-Oprah coupons on Mother's Day.

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: The popular Tacos La Estrella truck in Highland Park

Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times


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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.