Author Archive

Food blogging

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Mark Bittman of the New York Times has a great run-down today of excellent food blogs. I found Obama Foodorama especially fun (if not, er, a little obsessive) — it’s a blog written by “Eddie Gehman Kohan, a food writer and agriculture policy wonk” about food and the Obamas. The White House sounds like a great place to cook (and now, grow food!).

Nicest of all, however, was seeing the mention of Farm favorite Rebecca Gerendasy’s Cooking Up a Story. As 47th Avenue Farmies may recall, Rebecca’s done a few smart video pieces on Laura and the farm (links are here).

Just in from the “No Kidding” Dept.

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

Via The Hill (which covers Congress), a stunning revelation: “chemical companies are worried [that Michelle Obama’s organic White House garden] may plant a seed of doubt in consumers’ minds about conventionally grown crops.”

[The lobbying organization] MACA, which represents agribusinesses like Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences and DuPont Crop Protection, is rather less thrilled about the fact that no chemicals will be used to grow the crops. The group is worried that the decision may give consumers the wrong impression about conventionally grown food.

In related news, the Tobacco Institute expressed disappointment that Michelle Obama would not be smoking as she gardened. “What kind of message does that send to today’s kids?” asked spokesman Raspy McCoffinail, leading a press conference 10 feet from the entrance of any public building.

Sensing blood in the water, sharks also protested any characterization that their dining habits might be construed as “unhelpful.”

A MACA (“Making Awful Chemicals Agreeable”) spokesman said the organization may hire the 81st Airborne to crop dust the White House.

BREAKING: Monsanto acquires 47th Ave Farm

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

In a surprise move timed to break after U.S. equity markets closed, the agricultural/chemical giant Monsanto today acquired a controlling interest in Portland’s 47th Avenue Farm. A purchase price was not immediately disclosed, but insiders privy to the negotiations believe it will be in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion.

In making the announcement before a stunned crew in the Farm’s southeast Portland driveway, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant took great pains to underline the synergies between the world’s largest purveyor of genetically modified crops, and this small, organic farm. “You’re organic, and anyone exposed to our marketing thinks we are as well. You’re responsible stewards of the earth, and we’re great exploiters of it. With your good reputation greenwashing our nefarious deeds, no one can stop us.” Cackling madly, he then whipped his cape over a bony shoulder and disappeared in a fog of RoundUp.

47th Avenue Farm owner Laura Masterson was not available for comment, but witnesses did catch a glimpse of the new billionaire sneaking out the back door into a shiny new Hummer with 28 of her dogs.

A Monsanto spokesperson said Farm shareholders’ shares are expected to swap 30-1 for Monsanto Class A stock — which, sadly, is not nearly as tasty and may cause cancer. On the plus side, cockroaches won’t go near it.

“Don’t be afraid of getting dirty”

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Jill and Sam On Warren Pond Farm talk about the joys of self-sufficiency
In a cool little video short just posted on the New York Times site, reporter Adam Ellick visits a former college professor who gave it all up to live on a self-sufficient farm with her partner, Sam Warren. As Dr. Jill Swenson scrapes the icy ground for potatoes, it looks mighty cold up there in upstate New York, but as she and Sam sit down to talk inside the farmhouse, you can see the glow on her cheeks surely absent when she was, in Ellick’s words, “a deadline-obsessed drill sergeant” of a journalism professor.

Definitely worth seven minutes of your time, here.

As they expressed their steadfast determination to live as purely off-the-grid and off the land as possible, it made me wonder if their experience might be one answer to a provocative article in Mother Jones I’d just stumbled upon, about what a truly sustainable food system might look like. On Warren Pond Farm isn’t exactly a commercial farm (it makes what little money it does by selling some livestock and a little seasonal produce, as well as hosting a cabin for agri-tourism — more here), but Jill argues that their little patch of land could easily feed a family of four. So is that model scalable? Is a nation-wide network of family farms a viable antidote to the perils of petroleum-based agribusiness?

What do you think?

Thinking local with a vintage twist

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

When ReadyMade Magazine asked five artists “to reimagine the populist poster art of the first Great Depression,” artist Christopher Silas Neal chose a topic near and dear to our hearts: eating local. A riff on the Victory Garden program from the ’40s, his poster uses the design sensibility of the era to talk about what our priorities should be today.

He writes:

Solving the world’s energy and food problems would do a great deal to strengthen the global economy, prevent disease, and reverse the effects of climate change. The original Victory Garden program was designed to ease pressure on the public agricultural supply and support the war effort by encouraging families to grow their own food. I wanted to expand this idea to the broader concept of buying and eating local food.

You can download a PDF version of the poster, for free, here. While the other posters in the series aren’t specifically food-related (there are other aspects to life, I suppose), they’re also worth a look. I especially love the bike-themed one.

Happy new year!

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

From everyone at the farm, best wishes for a healthy, bounteous new year. See you at the first pick-up of 2009 in a few days!
(Thanks to Rob Finch for the image of Laura shelling “Tongue of Fire” beans.)

FarmSite 2.0

Friday, November 21st, 2008

With all this talk of change in the air, we figured it was time the farm website followed suit. Welcome to 2.0!

As we put the finishing touches on this new version, I dug back and discovered that we’d launched the previous and original version of the site (pictured for posterity at right) around the time the Bush Administration launched its ill-fated invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003. They chose swords, we chose plowshares … I’ll let you decide who made the smarter, more sustainable and healthful decision, but I think everyone would agree that the country’s a very different place than it was five years ago. If nothing else, it was time to leave George back in 2003, rotate to a fresh field and plant something new.

In upgrading and redesigning the site, we had two overall goals: make it easier for you to use and easier for us to keep up. To address the former, we brainstormed a bunch of new features, some of which you’ll see described below. To make the site easier to maintain, we built it on the super-intuitive, open-source WordPress blogging platform, adjusting the look and functionality to suit our specific, farmy needs. We’re excited at all the new things it offers us, so take a look around and let us know what you think!

Here are but a few of the site’s new features:

  • Recipe index — just click on an item you received in your share and want to include in a dish. We’ll show you all the recipes shareholders have sent us that feature that item as a primary ingredient. Don’t see your favorite? Check out the guidelines on our Recipe page and send it to us!
  • Search! Now you can search the entire 47th Ave Farm website, including past newsletters and — did we already mention this? — recipes!
  • Our farm plot locations in live Google maps — Check out our new Contacts page!
  • Books we love — An ongoing catalog of books we’re reading or ones we recommend. Clicking the books takes you to that book’s page at Portland’s famous Powell’s Books online store — if you’re so moved to purchase it, the Farm gets a small commission. What better way to while away a winter night?
  • Farm video! More timely links to audio-visual treats like Cooking up a Story and other video features on the farm or sustainable agriculture. We’ve collected a few of them here — take a look and pass the links to friends!
  • Contributions by the farm crew — As you know, we couldn’t get all those delicious vegetables to you without the hard work and expertise of our farm crew. They’re the ones who really get their hands dirty (literally!), so we wanted to offer some space on the site for their insights and reflections.
  • Easier updating — In the past, we needed to go through some wonky web guy (ahem) for all the changes to the site. Now, using WordPress blogging software, it’s nearly as simple as typing, so it’ll be much easier for us to keep the site fresh and up to date.
  • Better integration into the ongoing, online dialog about local, sustainable agriculture, food security, the joys of farming with drafthorses, and more! We’re looking forward to linking you to what other people are saying about food and farming, and we’re hoping others do the same to us.
  • Conversation — Along the same lines, we want the site to be a meeting place where conversations can begin and flourish, so the new site will allow comments on applicable posts by registered users. Sign up and join in!

Is that change you can believe in? Let us know!

Matt’s Bok Choi-ce

Monday, March 10th, 2008

From shareholder Matt Giraud

Bok Choi. Every day, you open the fridge and it’s there, staring sullenly back at you. A little more limp every day, to be sure, but almost defiantly limp: “I will be here long after you’re gone,” it seems to say in a weary, rumbling voice, “for I am Bok Choi” — and in a hoarse whisper — “the compost-maker.”

Last night, I called its bluff. Bok Choi has always been intimidating because of how inflexibly Asian it seems to be. Sure, you can toss it into a stir fry, but let’s be honest: you’re only putting it in there because that’s the only thing you’ve heard you can do with this vaguely sinister-sounding vegetable. I mean, if you were stir frying something and you realized, gosh, I’m fresh out of Bok Choi, would you panic and ricochet across town, shoving aside the weak and infirm until you cradled a bunch once more in your trembling hands? I didn’t think so.