Agro Activist video blog episode #1 Rain Barrel

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2010 Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners conference (Pictures)

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2010 Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners conference 2010

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Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon Food and Farms Partnership sponsored my trip to New York City for the 2010 Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference. It was held at brooklyn college which is a small school located in the heart of the brooklyn borough. The conference had a lot of energy invested into it and was very well attended by roughly 500 people from all over the nation. There were people from all over Oakland, Detroit, Maryland, NC, BAltimore, Dominican Republic and many others.

The conference was held the day of the Pigford II passage trough congress, which is a class action law suit filled against the National Department of Agriculture claiming long standing discrimination against African American farmers, it was some of the biggest news from the weekend. Some of the lead organizers and campaigners for this case were in attendance and gave a keynote address. This lawsuit has created political waves nationally because of its shear size and scale of impact. It is very rare that victories like this one happen within the Black community not to mention that Native American landowners won a large class action lawsuit settlement also in recent days.

I also spent time touring around the different boroughs of New York to see the various Urban Garden designs that had been established for community residents. We heard stories about how people had to fight for their space and establish youth opportunities. The conference promoted building stronger networks, scaling up business opportunities, and promotion of urban gardening and rural farming. The experience was very educational and I was able to bring back a lot of information that will help me in my work here in Oregon.


Demographic comparisons of Black Farmers Nationwide

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The 2007 Census of Agriculture reported that 2.20 million farms operated in the US. Of this total, 32,938 or approximately 1.5% of all farms, were operated by African-Americans.

Over 74% (24,446) of African-American Farms in the US. reside in Texas, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and Louisiana.

Average Annual Market value for farms operated by African-American farmers in 2007 was $30,829. The national average for white US farmers was $140,521.

Overall, he number of farms operated in the US increased by 3.2% between 2002 and 2007. Farms operated by African Americans increased from 29,090 to 32,938 an 11% increase of the five year period.

In 2007, 348 (757 in 2002) African-American farmers received Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) loans amounting to a total of $9.9 million. This averaged $28,408 per participating African-American farmer, about 32% of the national Average ($87,917). Average CCC loan value to white farmers was $88,370.

Other federal farm payments to African-American operated farms averaged $4,260. Half the national average government farm payment of $9,518. About 31% of all African American farmers received some government payment compared to 50% of white farmers.

Source: 2007 Census of Agriculture, NASS

Food Cooperatives in Portland, Oregon

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My wife and I are thinking about joining a food cooperative. I am doing the research to find out which one would be best for us.

A list of all of the Food Cooperatives in Portland, Oregon.

Alberta Co-op Grocery - 1500 Northeast Alberta Street Portland, OR 97211 (503) 287-4333 - http://www.albertagrocery.coop/
How Much: 15 twice a year for 6 year or full $180 share
What you get:
# You are a co-owner of the store and receive a vote in major Co-op decisions
# Discounts at our Sister Organizations
# 2% discounts on all your purchases at the register
# 10% discounts on case orders and special orders
# Extra Discounts during special Owner Appreciation Events
# Participate as a working owner or serve on the board

People's food Co-op - 3029 Southeast 21st Avenue, Portland, OR (503)232-9051 http://www.peoples.coop/
How Much: $30 per year $180 full share owner lifetime
What do you get:
#Patronage Refund
#True Democracy
#Opportunity to Participate
#Free Yoga and Community Room Classes
#Special Discounts
#Excellent Product Selection Guidelines

Food Front Cooperative Grocery - 2375 Northwest Thurman Street Portland, OR 97210 (503)222-5658 - http://www.foodfront.coop/
How Much: $5 per month or $150 share
What you Get:
#5-10% discount during Owner Appreciation Festivals, four times a year
#Monthly Owner Specials
#Patronage dividends when the store is profitable-the more you shop, the more you get back
#10% discount on special order cases
#Front Lines newsletter
#Check cashing privileges


Profile in Courage: Karen Washington

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I had the great pleasure to meet Karen Washington recently in the Bronx borough of New York City. She is a powerful activist working hard for environmental and economic justice for more then 20 years. She was also one of the lead organizers and emcee for the unprecedented conference at Brooklyn College, Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference 2010. She has been instrumental in bring the food movement to people of color and poor people throughout New York City. I was able to meet her at the community garden La Finca Del Sur, and also participated in a tour of the garden she helps manage called the Garden of Happiness. She is also involved with the La Familia Verde Garden Coalition and board member of Just Food both located in New York City. Karen Washington do your thing and thanks for the work you do.

New Film - Soul Food Junkies

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I saw an exclusive showing of preview of the latest movie Soul Food Junkies from Bryon Hurt the maker of classic Movie documentary Hip Hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes. Bryon Hurt is now focusing his efforts on bad eating habits within the black community. The movie preview that I saw was intriguing that played like a PSA for the black community think about what you eat or your health will suffer. This movie is important because it is sensitive to the cultural values of the black community mainly food and family which are both sacred. An added component Hurt adds into the mix is health which is often not equated to the day to day food habits. Food is however one of the most important things to consider for long term health. In the movie preview we saw a vegan mother feeding her child sea weed avocado rolls and the little girl was loving it. The preview also had a cameo from the famous comedian Dick Gregory who said "we were vegetarians 5 days a week and meat was a treat on the weekends". I am very excited to see the results of this movie and am a big fan of Bryon Hurt and all his good work. Thanks also to Malcolm X Grassroots movement for playing this preview and for their take back the land movement presented at the 2010 Black Farmers and Urban Gardener Conference in NYC.

Groundworks Portland and Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust

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Wonderful article about the work of two organizations making things happen on the accessible food front Groundworks Portland and Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust. Check it out in the latest addition of the Portland Mercury http://bit.ly/hfkeso. These are two organizations that are working hard to make unused land into space for neighbors and community members to grow gardens and beautify or detoxify land. I hope one day I can work with or along side these organizations. One because this is an effort I support 100%. Not only is it a good example of how people are thinking creatively about how to grow in the city but it is teaching children how to be responsible land tenets. Keep up the good work.


New York - 2010 Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference

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Welcome to my page if you are reading it for the first time. I am in New York blogging on the roof top a 5 story walk up on a sunny afternoon... I see buildings as far as the eye can see. One building in the NE corner has a small coniferous tree forest growing majestically on the top of 30+ story building. This is a one of a kind city!
Here I am posting from the sunny New York. I am in the Big Apple for the first time in my adult life. It is such an energetic city environment. Far different from my rainy Portland which is like gnat to a bumble bee. I am certainly not the only Oregonian in this city siting on roof tops and looking up at thousands of apartment spaces filling the skyline. There are opportunities everywhere I go as I travel via the 4,5,6 lines too and from Manhattan I can only wonder what are the cornerstones of these communities.
My excitement is mostly leading up to the start of the 2010 Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners conference which is to be held at Brooklyn College. I hope that I can meet and learn from experienced farmers. I want to ask them what did it take for you to get started in the business of farming? What make farming so rewarding to you and your community? Are there opportunities for young people to begin working on their skills as farmers? What kind of person makes a great farmer? What does a successful urban farmer have to do to be successful?

These are just some of the questions that I will be asking while I attend this historic conference.


Climate for city of Portland 2010

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Portland, Oregon Climate graph contributed by climatetemp.info


Dear Mr. President - focus on healthy food production

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Dear Mr. President,

Today is a historic day for our nation. It is November 10th 2010. Historically significant in my mind. This is because it is a day when we are fighting for our right to exist as farmers. While many skilled farmers were around during the period of slavery and before that in Africa. Today there are so few black farmers in America some estimates are as low as 16,000. I don't think this is merely a black issue because family farms of all races are fighting to survive today. Challenges steam the unfair advantages of corporate industrialized system of farming which has been great for growth of our international trading power, but hard on the family farm. While some farms are not successful because of bad management, other have faced difficult circumstances based on real allegations like the Pigford case. There are many other examples of small scale farmers being discriminated against, intimidated, and abused that has occurred in this nations history. These farmers need to be respected for being such innovative people and delivering such wonderful food to our tables.
There is a purpose for us to be concerned. There is a calling that we must here. There is frustration and anger that has built up through several generations of land owners who have systematically lost their land. As far as I am concerned there needs to be more lawsuits to follow from the many thousands of people who have lost their jobs, land, and lively hood, so that justice can be served. To me as a person concerned about the environment and about the ability to access good food. This on the top of my list as one of the important justice issues of our day. I hope President Obama can help with encouraging the swift passage of Pigford settlement through congress and bring to the forefront of our future food policy. Please add this to your agenda because it is desperately needing attention and action for this countries residents.


Ty Regis Cuffy Schwoeffermann

P.S. I think your are a great President Leader.

Profile in Courage: Gail P. Myers, PhD

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Cultural anthropologist

Widely respected researcher of the Anthropology of African American Farming, Dr. Myers is the founder of Farms to Grow, Inc., and Sustainable Lands Planning & Research. She has expertise in qualitative research design, ethnography, program evaluation, and curriculum development. In addition to her work with Farms to Grow, Inc. and Sustainable Lands P&R, Dr. Myers is an adjunct assistant professor at the Morehouse School of Medicine, and program evaluator for the Nicodemus Flour Cooperative in Nicodemus, KS.
She earned a Doctorate in Anthropology from The Ohio State University, a Master’s degree in Applied Anthropology from Georgia State University and a Bachelor’s degree in English from Florida State University. Following the completion of her Doctorate at The Ohio State University, Dr. Myers began teaching at the Morehouse School of Medicine, Masters of Public Health Program, Social & Behavioral Track, where she taught, Race, Ethnicity, Politics, and Disease. Myers has taught Cultural and Physical Anthropology at The Ohio State University, Sustainable Communities: Black Farmers in the US at Denison University, and Cultural Studies at the Art Institute of San Francisco. Dr. Myers lectures frequently for the Columbia College in Chicago, IL on the ethics of social science research. Myers lectures primarily on various topics related to the Anthropology and History of African American farming. She is considered a subject matter expert on the Anthropology of African American farming.
For the last eight years, she has been researching African American farmers, producing several articles and numerous papers related to the histories and sustainable practices of African American farmers. In 2001, Dr. Myers organized the first statewide conference for African American farmers in Ohio. The conference, “Sustaining Community: Ohio’s Black Farmers at the Crossroads,” succeeded in raising the awareness throughout Ohio of the concerns of black farmers statewide and nationally. Dr. Myers’ other conference coordinator experience includes coordinating the 19th California Small Farm Conference, Ventura, CA, November 13-15, 2005.
Dr. Myers has been researching, teaching, and writing about the traditional farming knowledge and history of African American farmers. She developed a course specific to African American farmers which covers traditional farming knowledge, the archaeology of slave communities, and settlement development.
Dr. Myers has thirteen years experience in program evaluation and design. She is an approved Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) evaluator. As an evaluator and curriculum developer, she has consulted with Morehouse School of Medicine, Morehouse College, Partnership for After-School Education (PASE), Memorial to Our Lost Children, New Visions Management Group, and The National Black Women’s Health Project. She is currently the program evaluator for the Nicodemus Wheat Cooperative in Nicodemus, KS. As a research consultant she has worked with numerous organizations, including the Annie Casey Foundation, Southern Christian Leadership Foundation, Battelle Memorial Institute, Public Private Ventures, Emrich Educational Management Services, and Mo Better Foods/Familyhood Connection.
In the area of public health, she has consulted for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Fulton County Health Department, Battelle Memorial Institute, Macro International, and The OSU College of Human Ecology. From 1992-1996, she was employed as a field investigator in the Community Health & Preventive Health Department at Morehouse School of Medicine. Dr. Myers’ conducted her master’s research on the subject of adolescent health behavior and weapon possession. She is published in the public health field; her work in youth weapon possession is in print in the American Journal of Public Health.
Dr. Myers has received numerous awards and honors. In April 2001, Myers received a special commendation award from the Ohio House of Representatives for contributing to the advancement of Ohio agriculture. In 2005, she received a special recognition award from the California Small Farm Conference for Conference Coordinator direction. She is an advisory board member of the Art for a Child Safe America Foundation, in Columbus, Ohio and on the Board of Directors of Compassionate Nurses, Atlanta, GA.

In 2005, Dr. Myers, managed the first pilot farmers’ market in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood in San Francisco, CA.

Dr. Myers is working on a film documentary of the traditional knowledge, knowledge, and adaptations African American farmers. She currently resides in Oakland, CA.


History of Conservatorship

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John Lyons, Esquire, Fels Fund Intern
Judy F. Berkman, Esquire, Managing Attorney
Regional Housing Legal Services
2 South Easton Road
Glenside, PA 19038
(215) 572-7300

December, 2009

Conservatorship initially developed in the 1960’s to combat landlords who neglected their
properties. The process is known by a variety of terms depending on the jurisdiction, with
Receivership and Conservatorship being the most common. The process typically allows tenants
in a multi-family apartment building to petition a Court to appoint a Conservator, who collects
rents and arranges for the code violations to be remediated. After a rocky start, including a
constitutional challenge in New York, Conservatorship has become an effective tool for tenants to
ensure that landlords keep their properties safe and habitable. [Note: Pennsylvania’s law does
not apply to vacant lots or to legally occupied properties.]

Since the 1990’s, an increasing number of jurisdictions have recognized that
Conservatorship could also be effectively used against absentee property owners who allow their
properties to become blighted. In states like Massachusetts and Ohio, and in cities like Baltimore
and Chicago, Conservatorship has been as an especially effective tool in situations where an
abandoned property has been resistant to traditional code enforcement tools. Since
Conservatorship is an in rem action, it provides a Conservator with the authority to abate the
blight, under court supervision, without requiring the consent of the owner.

The experience of the other jurisdictions has informed the recommendations in this
Manual. All jurisdictions require notice to owners and lienholders of property that is being
considered for conservatorship and report that the notice results in the absentee owner agreeing
to take action. Usually, any abatement by the owner is under Court supervision, which avoids the
all too common problem of an absentee owner doing piecemeal repairs as ordered by code
enforcement officials. In the more likely scenario where an owner or senior lienholder does not
respond or is unwilling to perform repairs, the Court can appoint a Conservator, who develops a
plan to abate the blight. Regardless of whether an owner or the Conservator abates the blight,
the community benefits when the property is returned to productive use.


Under new Pa. law, neighbors control abandoned lot

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Posted on Thu, Nov. 4, 2010

Under new Pa. law, neighbors control abandoned lot

By Kia Gregory

Inquirer Staff Writer

Standing before a judge in an ornate room of City Hall, Skip Wiener rocked from side to side, unsure of what the hearing would hold.

In certain barren parts of Philadelphia, Wiener, a slight man with wispy gray hair, is known as a guerrilla gardener. He spies long-abandoned, junk-filled lots and works with neighbors to turn the swaths into beds of fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

But Wiener, testing a new state law, found himself before a judge for the first time, asking for stewardship over a stretch of land in the Haddington section of West Philadelphia.

Wiener heads a nonprofit called Urban Tree Connection, which for two decades has worked with low-income communities to revitalize their neighborhoods by transforming abandoned lots into open green spaces. Their mantra: "We build community one vacant lot at a time."

To his surprise, Wiener would get his wish.

Urban Tree Connection would become one of the first community groups in Philadelphia to be granted conservatorship under the new law. In a city with an inventory of 40,000 vacant, blighted properties, officials believe the conservatorship act could have a significant effect, empowering community groups to take over such lots.

Under the Pennsylvania Abandoned and Blighted Property Conservatorship Act, which became law in February 2009, nonprofit groups such as Wiener's, senior lien holders, neighbors, and other frustrated individuals can petition the court to be named conservators of an abandoned and blighted property. To meet the criteria, the property must also be considered a public nuisance, in need of substantial repair, a fire risk, and unfit for occupancy.

As conservator, UTC can legally continue to plant and harvest on the land and follow through on its vision to create a community cooperative.

Census estimates from 2000 show that about 300,000 vacant properties litter neighborhoods across Pennsylvania, almost a third of them in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, said Elizabeth Hersh, executive director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, a foundation that provided research for the law.

"This is what we intended in advocating for this law," Hersh said of Urban Tree's victory. "As a neighborhood, you're always trying to get someone else to do something. But with conservatorship, neighbors and community organizations have the ability to go to court and do something for themselves."

Fran Burns, the city's licenses and inspections commissioner, agreed. "It's still too early to tell," Burns said of the fledgling law's impact. "But I like the idea of a tool for the community to try to take ownership of blighted properties that are directly affecting them. It's another way to get the same result we're after - to get owners to maintain property."

Under the act, modeled after laws in Maryland, Ohio, and New Jersey, the recorded owner still owns the property. The conservator is appointed for the limited purpose of rehabbing the property. But if the owner never assumes responsibility of the property and its woes, the conservator may request a sale and transfer of ownership.

Burns noted that UTC could become "a trailblazer" for other communities. The organization's victory is celebrated as one of the first.

Before there were okra, tomatoes, and butter beans for Mr. Woody to pick, and crops for Grumpy Freddy to water, and pears for Nicole Speller to can, preserve, and dole out to her neighbors, the two-thirds-of-an-acre lot near their homes was a dumping ground.

For years, at the property behind a semicircle of 60 rowhouses at 53d and Wyalusing Streets, rusted barrels from the old Polselli construction business sprouted from the ground like mutated shrubs, neighbors say, while oil and unknown chemicals seeped into the dirt.

Within the tall jungle of vines and weeds, people dumped tires, trash, "you name it," said Speller, who has lived in the neighborhood 21 years, raising two daughters. "You might have found Jimmy Hoffa back there," she added with a chuckle.

Through three mayoral administrations - Goode, Rendell, and Street - a band of neighbors wrote to City Hall, Speller said, and gathered petitions for help.

"The city cleaned the lot up and removed some of the debris," Speller said, "but it didn't really help."

The lot was home to more stubborn problems: prostitutes; drug dealers; stolen, stripped cars; shootouts; and fires that took out the old garage and lashed at some of the homes.

According to public records, no one has paid the property taxes on the site in more than a decade, and the owner, Rudolph Polselli, has long since moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Polselli was served with the petition, said UTC's lawyer, Joel Tasca, but the 72-year-old never responded. Several voice-mail messages The Inquirer left for Polselli were not returned.

Speller grew up on a farm in North Carolina, so when Wiener came with his idea of a community garden, she, like many in the neighborhood, was overjoyed.

"I never thought it would come to pass," Speller said of the lot's elevation from menace to haven. "We kept getting ignored."

"Tomatoes, okra, peas," said Woody Fletcher, 71, standing in his back yard near his rose of sharon bush, rattling off the list of crops he and his neighbors have harvested from the lot. "Southern food - we got all of that growing now."

After a massive cleanup, chemical tests, and a load of mushroom soil, about a third of the old lot has been dedicated to urban farming. As a result, neighbors harvest from 40 to 100 pounds of produce a week, Wiener said, for 15 families in the neighborhood.

"We think we can have triple that," he said, walking over the lot's wood chips one afternoon, a few weeks before the hearing, as butterflies fluttered around him. "The demand is going to exceed what we can produce."

Over the years, Urban Tree Connection has jump-started, guerrilla-style, six other community gardens within the Haddington community, working with neighbors as it did at the Polselli site. With the largesse of the Wyalusing lot, Wiener and neighbors envisioned a cooperative that residents invested in and own, one that created summer jobs for youth - which led to the petition to Common Pleas Court for conservatorship.

"When we started to think about creating a community business, seeded and rooted in the community," said Wiener, "one of the things that would give it muscle and power is that the neighbors controlled this piece of land.

"We're taking this to a different level," he continued, "so we need to be on strong footing. And we can't if we don't control the land on which the production is happening."

Wiener considered the petition a long shot. For one thing, the legislation refers to abandoned and blighted structures, not land. "That's the whole possibility of it being just rejected by the court," he said.

Yet from the depths of the blight lay hope. Because of the previous fires, Wiener noted, "it's just circumstance that the buildings aren't there anymore."

At the hearing last month, as a half-dozen Haddington residents looked on, Wiener steeled himself for a long day. Along with his lawyer, he brought hundreds of pages of petitions and affidavits to show the judge. He began his presentation with a short video on UTC's work. It served as a window into the possibilities for the Wyalusing lot and its surrounding community.

After commending UTC's efforts and the neighborhood's support, Judge William J. Manfredi did not hesitate in his decision.

"We'll turn it over," said Manfredi, granting UTC conservatorship of the parcel.

Wiener spun around and looked at the neighbors, who were also in a state of disbelief - but smiling.

In the hallway, they all hugged and congratulated one another, hopeful that the decision would bear fruit - and vegetables.

"People are very protective of this garden now," Speller said. "For the ones growing up now, this is what they're going to remember - the garden - and that's a good thing."

Contact staff writer Kia Gregory at 215-854-2601 or kgregory@phillynews.com.
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Word Hop - Brown Space

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Hip Words - I bring to you the latest terms in Agro Activism

Brown Space

Today I learned an interesting new concept from my visit to Groundworks Portland "Brown Space". You probably bike past them everyday in your neighborhood they are usually eye sores. For a Food Justice activist, Brown space means an abandoned, toxic, or unused land lot located in an urban environment. It usually has no real effort to grow anything edible and may have a history of contamination. These are the perfect spots to identify in your neighborhood to potentially build a garden, park, or permaculture. Organizations like Groundworks are making efforts to work with the city to turn some of these brown spaces into real assets to the community.

Profile in Courage Kolu Zigbi

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This is my great pleasure to introduce Kolu Zigbi as my first profile in courage. She is making big strides in Ney York as Program Officer for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems for the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation. She will also be the keynote speaker for the Black Farmers & Urban Gardeners Conference coming up Nov 19th.
Why she stood out to me is her international ties to Liberia and her passion for her family. Both qualities that I admire and can relate to. She has taken a very strategic step towards food access by being involved in the national and local food access discussions. Also being at the table for important food policy issues is another of her important roles. I can't wait to meet her and see her speak at the conference.
It is important to showcase leaders that are encouraging the community in new ways of thinking. That is what think she brings to the table. It is not about her own selfish interests she wants the community to be uplifted which can be much harder to accomplish but can bring about longer lasting community changes.

Profile in courage Kolu Zigbi

Dinner meal

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Orzo-Kale-purple-cauliflower-feta salad and roasted polenta with white cheddar and mushroom tomato sauce. Red wine


Blog TV Video Blog - Agro Activist

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Agro Activist - Broadcast your self LIVE

Creamy Fettuccine With Brussels sprouts & Mushrooms

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This was great for last nights dinner. I was watching the Blazers game when I decided to whip up these ingredients. Cost 3.50 - Cheese 2.00 - Brussels 2.00 - white mushrooms 1.79 - Alfredo sauce 2.00 - Fettuccine 1.50 Mixed greens. Total price 12.79 = 7-10 servings.

Creamy Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms
From EatingWell: September/October 2009

Sliced Brussels sprouts and mushrooms cook quickly and cling to the pasta in our fall version of pasta primavera. Look for presliced mushrooms to cut prep time. Serve with a tossed salad.

6 servings, about 1 1/3 cups each

Active Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

View Our Nutrition Guidelines » INGREDIENTS
12 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups sliced mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, oyster and/or shiitake
4 cups thinly sliced Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup dry sherry (see Note), or 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 cups low-fat milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup finely shredded Asiago cheese, plus more for garnish

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, return to the pot and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms release their liquid, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add sherry (or vinegar), scraping up any brown bits; bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated, 10 seconds (if using vinegar) or about 1 minute (if using sherry).
Whisk milk and flour in a bowl; add to the skillet with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the sauce bubbles and thickens, about 2 minutes. Stir in Asiago until melted. Add the sauce to the pasta; gently toss. Serve with more cheese, if desired.
Ingredient Note: We prefer dry sherry, sold with other fortified wines in your wine or liquor store, instead of higher-sodium “cooking” sherry.
Per serving: 385 calories; 10 g fat (4 g sat, 2 g mono); 22 mg cholesterol; 56 g carbohydrates; 19 g protein; 10 g fiber; 438 mg sodium; 467 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (75% daily value), Calcium (28% dv), Magnesium (25% dv), Folate (19% dv), Iron (18% dv), Vitamin A (16% dv).

3 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 3 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 high fat meat, 1/2 fat

Ty Regis Cuffy Schwoeffermann

Movie Review "Ingredients"

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Ty Regis Cuffy Schwoeffermann

The Story of Food

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Ty Regis Cuffy Schwoeffermann

The Story Of Food from USC Canada on Vimeo.

Senate Bill on Food safety

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I have been learning about the issues with food in our country. The cause of contamination of many different food can be solved by a change in consciousness in part from the people who consume the food. For example the spinach contamination, the cookie contamination, the multiple meat contaminations, and the many others that have caused sickness and long term illnesses in America and abroad. We can not be complicit. We must demand for new safety standards or a large scale overhaul of food system in the U.S. and abroad.

Read this article:

Senate Bill on Food Safety Is Stalled

Ty Regis Cuffy Schwoeffermann


Small Rental Gardening Techniques

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I have been growing plants in my back yard year round. I have very little space to work with so I must maximize what I have. I built a small grow box with wheels on it to move it to sunny spots. I have four tomato plant containers that were very successful this year because I could move them around into sunny spots on our rental property. Also I grew some beans this year that also did well. I had started some strawberries this year and expect a large bounty next year. This is a garden in addition to the yard that I am sharing in the beaumont neighborhood. I stay very busy.
What I like about my raised bed design it that it protects from some pests. Slugs and little caterpillars were a might force this year and i was able to slow down the slugs with the old fashioned beer can technique, cut it in half and bury it in the ground with beer. it caught a ton of those pesky slugs.

This year I was not very focused on yield because the summer overall was bad and I bet on some plants that did not do well. Next year I plan to grow more kale, squash, beans, and other vegetables that can grow into the winter. Portland's climate is mostly wet year round but a few summer months. My crops will be better planned out next year and I will try not to waste energy on carrots or any plants that require lots of sun. I also plan to use the indoors to grow some starts.

Ty Regis Cuffy Schwoeffermann

Indoor Garden Techniques

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Indoor incubation is great. I have been doing it for several months now. Here are a few pictures of my plants. I have had a bit of learning curve to this. I have some plants doing great like my pepper plant while some of the plats are getting light burns from being too close to the plant. I have had a bit of increase in bugs in this room. Some times it smells too. I am using a hydroponic fertilizer that I apply in small amounts to a 2 gallon watering can then I water each plant individually. I am also experimenting with growing multiple plants in each sack. Tobacco, tea, sage, basil, peppers, and parsley are just a few plants that I am learning how to grow. These plants are growing inside a small box lined with reflective paper and two hooligan lights. These plants have a 12 hour timer for the lights and are in full darkness during the night. I am planning on rebuilding the structure next season so that I have put a water drip system in, and a better water overflow collection. The salvia and aloe vera are growing on a south facing window cil and they are doing well.

Ty Regis Cuffy Schwoeffermann

Winter Garden Prep

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I decided to build a protective structure for the plans. I used recycled stuff from my house and I got a thick plastic sheet from the hardware store. It's not perfect but for less then 10$ I was able to make a protective barrier that will also bring some more warmth to the plants.

Ty Regis Cuffy Schwoeffermann

Growing Plants in Sheet Mulch

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I am in the process converted a 20" x 35" space into a garden from a large patch of grass. I am now planting plants there and it seems to be going well. Some of my plants were transplants. Tomatoes I got donated from a friend did not do very well because I planted them late in the summer and the grass under the sheets had not totally died yet. I also got some basil plants, curry, lavender, tea, and various flowers. I started some leafy greens like cabbage, kale, and lettuce and they are still growing now. I do think the sheet mulch worked great. I am now planting cover crops to help the ground survive the winter and transition to spring growing faster.

Ty Regis Cuffy Schwoeffermann

Share Your Yard

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Ever wanted a beautiful garden in your yard but don't have the time or energy to build it. Do what many people are doing share your yard. Set up a meeting with someone via this Portland yard sharing website. Then make agreements that fit for both parties. Next thing you know you will have a garden built where there was just grass.
Young gardeners are excited to begin practicing techniques but lack space or land of their own. By allowing your extra land to be worked you are contributing to a healthier food system and can bring food security to a community that does not have much.
I started yard sharing this summer and I am learning a lot from the experience. I am planning to continue working on this land for two years until is self sufficient and growing on its own. I started with sheet mulching to kill the grass. Now the plants are taking roots and doing well.

Ty Regis Cuffy Schwoeffermann


The Agro Activist

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The Agro Activist

I am an Agro Activist. Which means I am passionate about food security in the world. I have been a urban farmer or gardener for 3 years. Still a novice but I am learning what it takes at Oregon State University Agriculture department.

What would it take for you to wake up and say to yourself "I want to be a farmer". Many are beginning to ask themselves if they have what it takes. Many communities of color are experiencing a drop in farmers. You can conclude that these communities are loosing access to the same quality farm food that our ancestors had access to. Out of 1,000,000 total farmers in America. Only 29,000 of them are Blacks which once was over a million identified farmers directly after the civil war. Our participation needs to increase. Agriculture is changing and requires more young qualified people to step up into the role of food providers for their communities as the previous generation retires. The average Black farmer is 60 years old according to NPR.

Many people have heard recently about the long standing discrimination law suit won by hand full of Black farmers. Learning about my own ancestors and the past work that they contributed to the land in the Americas inspired me to embrace my cultural heritage as a farmers. When I learned about the great migration of Black farmers from the south in north America it helped me realize that we have a mountain of knowledge as farmers, horticulturist, and botanist. We must reclaim that heritage where we are now. In cities, in urban communities, in hoods, and communities of poverty. Greening our cities can be accomplished with planning and patience. We must be at the table for the future transformation of our local food decisions. Food security is a big issue for many urbanities.

In 2010 we are seeing a crises in our food industry, there is a global crises for food security, Large multinational corporations are bullying their way to king corning the world, and genetically modified foods are being questioned.

We can change all of that. Like Lyfe said, It was told to me a story about this boy who would sit and watch kids play at the arcade in his neighborhood. He would watch the kids come and play games all day, with kids coming and going as soon as they ran out of quarters. One after the next would play the game then run out of quarters and have to end his game. There was one kid that came in one day with his friend. He would play and play like he never left. It turns out that that kid's friend would bring him more quarters when he was nearing the end of his game. That kid would play for hours with out stop or interruption. That is much like life. Those who stay in the game the longest make change.

Greening the urban environment is being done all through the U.S. today. I would like to highlight the efforts of many of these folks on my Blog. for example Van Jones, Mojora Carter, and many others throughout the country. You will read and see me experience what it takes to become more sustainable. I will also highlight tips for greening your home, farming, and urban bounty. I will also update you on news related to the black community and all ethnic agricultural news that I can get. As this develops the topics with grow just like this Agro Activist.

Peace and blessing Ty Regis Cuffy Schwoeffermann