Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Local Matters to Host Free Urban Gardening Workshop Series in 2012

Local Matters has put together a series of interesting FREE workshops that may interest community and other gardeners. Most of them are listed in the SACG calendar (on the right side of our website). All but one of them will be held at the Godman Guild on East Fifth Avenue in the Weinland Park Neighborhood. One of the seminars, ahem, conflicts with the SACG Opening Day , which is very sad because I would most definitely have been there otherwise.

All of the workshops are on Saturdays, except the two-day workshop which also takes up all day Sunday. Most of them involve free goodies and/or food.

To register for any of the workshops, email Trish Dehnbostel at trish@local-matters.org or calling her at 263-5662.

Art and Gardens. This workshop will be Saturday January 21 from noon to 2:00pm. This will be an opportunity to hear from artists Melissa Vogley-Woods and Elena Harvey Collins, and will enable artists and growers to connect with each other and plan some visions for creative garden design and growing. They will discuss planning, funding and shared visions. Lunch will also provided.

Growing Communities. February 11 and 12, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. This two-day workship will take place at the Grange Audubon Center, 505 W. Whittier St, 43215.

In this award-winning 2-day workshop designed by the American Community Gardening Association you’ll gain skills and strategies to work with the most important aspect of gardens—people. Attendees will learn proven strategies to build dynamic leaders and create strong gardening programs, using a participatory approach to community building. You must attend both days of the workshop (to get the most out of this opportunity).

The weekend will focus on valuable community building and leadership skills. You will be joined by many leaders connected to the local food movement as well as a variety of community members and representatives. The goal of this workshop is to equip you with the skills to ensure that your food production project has a sustainable future with vibrant leaders and strong community relationships. These skills can apply to a variety of projects from community gardens to urban farms, but are valuable in any type of community project.

At the end of the workshop you will receive a certificate of completion and a “Growing Communities” training manual; you will then be certified to facilitate these workshops yourself in the future.

Continental breakfast and delicious lunch provided.

Grow Year-Round: Hoop Houses, Low Tunnels & Cold Frames. FEBRUARY 25 — 9:00AM–12:00PM. Learn how to grow food and herbs year round! There are a wide range of ways that to extend the midwest growing seasons. This workshop will featuring a presentation from Hal Green with OSU Extension greenhouses. You'll leave the workshop with inspiration and building plans.

Planning and Seeding Your Garden. MARCH 3 — 9:00AM–1:00PM. Join Pam Bennet from OSU Extension for essential garden planning tips and learn how to grow your own seedlings. Growers can increase diverse, healthy plants in their gardens, adding more to our kitchens and plate. Learn about heirloom plants and gain successful growing tips for lush gardens. All attendees will also receive free seeds!

Fruits and Berries. MARCH 24 — 9:00AM–1:00PM. Mark Meckling and Mark Langifeld of OSU extension will lead this two-part workshop about fruit and berries, the most in-demand local crop. Learn the basics of fruit tree growing and care and, plus ways to include healthy, delicious berries in your meals. You’ll also learn about the best sources to purchase fruit trees and berries in Ohio. Includes a tasting of local fruits for all attendees.

Mushrooms! APRIL 14 — 10:00–12:00. Join the owners of Green Edge Gardens to learn how to grow your own mushrooms from start to finish. The workshop will conclude by sharing a delicious mushroom and local herb pizza!

Irrigating Urban Gardens. MAY 19 — 9:00–12:00. Dr. Larry Brown and Angelica Huerta from OSU will lead this hands-on workshop to learn how to build irrigation systems that will allow you to grow higher-yielding crops with less labor!

Water Harvesting: Methods, Care and Resources. JUNE 2 — 10:00–12:00. Local experts Rain Brothers and FLOW (Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed) will talk about programs for discounted or free rain barrels, how to care for rain barrels and cisterns, winterization and other helpful tips. You’ll also receive free materials for planning and planting rain gardens to direct water for your individual garden needs.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Winter Squash Winter Recipes

I am about to fall into a deep food coma from eating too much for lunch. (This is by way of explanation in case this article seems a little abrupt).

Faithful readers know that I like to grow or buy food cheap and preserve it to eat later. The last couple of weeks I’ve been putting my butternut squash to good use. (I bought it at Lynd’s in October for $1 per squash and it now sells at the grocery for $1/pound). I made vegetarian chili in November, squash soup just before Xmas and today I made squash and pepper quesadillas. Oh my.

Squash Soup
1. To chop your squash. Cut off the bottom so that it will be flat. Then take a serrated apple peeler/grater to scrape off the tough squash skin like you would peel a potato or apple. Scoop out the seeds and scrape out the stringy seed pod with a grapefruit spoon. Then chop up the orange squash flesh with a knife on the cutting board. The squash should be chopped into ½ inch pieces. There will be a lot of squash. You might want to save half of it for another recipe.
2. Cut up one onion and sauté it in the pot until it is soft. If you like ginger, add some grated ginger.
3. I generally roast the squash in the oven until it is soft, but you can also microwave it for about 9-10 minutes. (If you use the microwave, drain it the bowl before you move to the next step). You can also skip this step entirely and just spend more time at next step.
4. Mix the squash with a pint of chicken or vegetable stock on softened onions. I’ve even added the cooked pulp from one sweet potato. Simmer at medium heat until it’s very soft. You can even add a can of coconut milk to give it a tropical bounce.
5. When it is soft, you can puree it. I used to pour it into my blender, but one of my Xmas gifts to myself this year was a puree wand so that I can puree it in the pot. Excellent appliance.
6. Add herbs of your choice. I think thyme goes with everything.
7. Pour into a bowl and add a dollop of sour cream to serve.

Squash Quesadillas

I found a recipe in a 30-Minute Supper Magazine published by America’s Test Kitchen. I was a little dubious, but it the sweet squash compliments the spicy roasted peppers quite well.

1. To chop your squash. Cut off the bottom so that it will be flat. Then take a serrated apple peeler/grater to scrape off the tough squash skin like you would peel a potato or apple. Scoop out the seeds and scrape out the stringy seed pod with a grapefruit spoon. Then chop up the orange squash flesh with a knife on the cutting board. The squash should be chopped into ½ inch pieces. You only need one pound of chopped squash, which is one small or ½ large squash.
2. Microwave the squash in a covered bowl for 8 minutes. Drain. (I then threw this in the refrigerator and went to church and finished the recipe when I returned from the grocery store).
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. (I used cast iron, but you could use a non-stick). After the oil is shimmering, pour in the squash and cover with the splatter guard. Cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash starts to brown.
4. Throw in 4 roasted poblano peppers that you’ve already seeded and chopped. If you had a bad pepper harvest this year like I did, you can substitute a small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (which you’ve also chopped). My substitution was a spicier than the original recipe contemplated.
5. Throw in a ½ chopped cilantro and mix. You can season with salt and pepper if you’re in the mood.
6. Transfer the squash mixture back to the bowl you previously used to microwave the squash in and wipe the skillet with a paper towel.
7. Place a tortilla on a plate and sprinkle an equal mixture of pepper jack and feta cheese over the left half of the tortilla – being sure to leave a ½ border around the edge. Top with a couple large scoops of the squash mixture and then fold over the right half of tortilla and press firmly. Repeat.
8. Place the two folded and filled tortillas in the empty skillet and cook until golden and crisp. (Pay attention here because it will not take more than two minutes). Flip with a spatula when you notice the cheese has melted and try not to lose any of the filling in the process.
9. Remove from skillet and place them on your plate or a cutting board.
10. Top with sour cream when you serve them.
11. Curl up for nap.

As I mentioned, my version was very spicy and required lots of cold liquid refreshment.

Makes 8 half quesadillas.

Like many orange foods, winter squash is high in Vitamin A.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

GCGC January 2012 Meeting

On Thursday, GCGC again met at East Broad Presbyterian Church for a very well attended meeting which consisted mostly of new folks.

I was late and ended up sitting in the back with Bill and played Madam Defarge with knitting my seed stitch patchwork quilt square.

The new buzzword for the evening was “civic agriculture.” That is apparently now the preferred term du jour over community gardening and urban agriculture. It will also include packagers and distributors of food.

Strader Family Appreciation. The main focus of this evening was to thank the Strader Family from Strader’s Garden Centers for the thousands of seedlings and bulbs they donated in 2011. Garden after garden got up to thank Mrs. Strader and her daughter and explaining to what use they put the donated seedlings. Roger encouraged everyone to buy local to acknowledge that most of our donations come from local growers like Straders instead of big box stores.

One of our newcomers this evening was the American Addition Community Garden (which you may have seen on the Christmas show of ABC's Extreme Makeover which featured a Columbus family). She explained how it started with a community garden, expanded to a community center (which now has solar panels on its roof courtesy of EM), and now 20 new homes are being built in the neighborhood. Their fearless leader also went to the Columbus City Council meeting with Peggy to support an increase in the City's support for community gardening by explaining the difference a garden can make in a neighborhood.

Peggy had her Highland Youth Garden volunteers out in force and thanked them for all of their help. Dan stopped by, too, between advocating City Council to also do more to address the blight of abandonned homes and buildings in many of our neighborhoods.

MORPC Local Food Assessment. Michael Doody again brought another speaker. Brian Williams, the Agricultural Specialist at MORPC. MORPC has been examining on the growing and processing food within the twelve-county region to feed everyone in Central Ohio. The Central Ohio Local Food Assessment and Plan was developed in 2010. Copies of the summary plan were available for attendees. The Weinland Park Neighborhood Project aims to be a model for the entire region.

* Tyrone Jackson from Four Seasons City Farm announced their first fundraiser of the year. On January 19 at 6:30 at Hal and Al’s Bar in the Southside on Parsons Avenue. There will be a silent auction. More details are available on the Four Seasons Facebook Page.

* Michael announced that Commissioner O'Grady is hoping to hold a half-day community gardening forum in March. They need volunteers to organize and structure it.

* There will be 36 student Master Gardeners at OSU in 2012. Each must complete 50 hours of volunteer service, in case you’re looking for knowledgeable volunteers.

* Bill Dawson had two announcements:

  • The Hub Gardens will be having an open garden tour sometime in 2012. He encouraged everyone to open their gardens for visitors on that day.

  • FPC is considering publishing a book of stories behind community gardens.

* Derek Lory from Helping Hands Community Garden in the University District announced that the theme of Earth Day 2012 will be Root Down. More details will be coming.

*Andrew wants to create a formal organization for GCGC and asked for volunteers. Peggy and Michael volunteered. They may seek tax-exempt status.

* Andrew also asked who wanted to get involved in starting a communal greenhouse. He got 7 volunteers.

February Meeting: The Hillcrest Baptist Church surprised us all by supplying refreshments for the evening and volunteered to host February’s meeting on Ground Hog Day, February2, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. 2480 West Broad Street in Columbus.