WHAT'S GROWIN' ON
IN LAKE & MENDOCINO COUNTIES
Guest Blogger: Holly Ordinans
She also has her own blog which you can read by clicking here.
Born and raised in Wisconsin, my experience with growing my own food is quite different compared to someone raised in California, specifically this northern region of Mendocino and Lake County. Before moving to Ukiah, I thought I had a pretty solid knowledge base about gardening—and I did! Gardening though, not farming, and not gardening to the extent that exists here. Growing up, my mom always had a backyard garden, and my sister and I learned a great deal from her about planting, watering, weeding, picking, etc. We always spend the summers eating what we grow. However, this is not at all common in Wisconsin. And it’s even less common to grow your own food year-round since the winters are so cold.
That being said, when I moved to California, my perspective on growing what you eat was immediately challenged and enhanced. Like I said, I felt I had a pretty good grasp on gardening; but it turns out, I know less than I thought. I know how to plant seeds, I know you need to water your plants, I know how to harvest a backyard garden in the summer… but I had never been exposed to this amazing level of gardening, farming, and growing.
I went through an unexpected culture shock when I entered into a community filled with sustainable growers- all of whom are filled with a wealth of knowledge on gardening and farming. In a short amount of time, I have gained a much deeper understanding and appreciation for how food is grown and harvested. I was already a veggie and fruit lover, healthy eater, and love to cook with fresh produce; now, though, I have this whole new perspective on words like “organic” and “sustainable.” I have found deeper connections in our food system, and feel as though my understanding of growing food has been expanded tenfold.
In Wisconsin, there are of course many farms in various parts of the state, and there are definitely areas where people hold true to living off the land. Northern California takes that to a whole new level though. I cannot believe how much I have learned in such a short amount of time just about this one aspect of our food system—and I still have a lot left to learn! I know much less than I thought I knew coming into this, and am finding myself becoming more and more obsessed with the gardening and farming culture of this place. I planted quite a few seeds, my starts are growing, and I can’t wait to get started in my community garden plot.
It hasn’t even been two months of living here yet, and I have already learned so much about growing my own food. It’s really inspiring to live among so many knowledgeable growers who truly practice what they preach in terms of farming sustainably and eating organic, plant-based foods. Growing your own food and living off of what is available/in season is so incredible. I’m learning that there is so much you can do using only what you’ve grown, and I am eager about all there is for me to learn about gardening—more in depth than the basics I came here with. Every time I go to the community garden to water my starts, I learn something new from one of the other gardeners who is also there. Just the other day, one of the gardeners talked to me for a good 10 minutes just about tomatoes. My previous understanding of tomatoes was they are easy to grow, my family has always grown tomatoes in our garden, and one plant produces quite a few. Then, after just one conversation with another community gardener, I learned so many little details about how tomatoes grow, and which types grow which ways, and even left with some advice for my own tomato starts.
In reflecting on the past two months just on the subject of growing your own food, I can conclude that this is a very special place for growing. I can tell that the gardeners and farmers here are so passionate, knowledgeable, and genuinely interested in sharing what they know. Whether I’m at the garden or the farmers’ market, someone is enlightening me with something I didn’t already know about a particular vegetable or how to grow it. Like I’ve mentioned a few times, I REALLY know less than I thought I knew, and I’m so thrilled that I am in a position to learn so much.
Are you swimming in kale and hungry for a recipe? This delicious sesame-kale salad was shared and devoured at our latest Lake County Gardens Gathering Potluck by one of our Highlands Senior Center gardeners. Thanks Susan!
Radishes are fantastic spring vegetables! Radishes are great to grow with kids because they grow quickly and are beautiful and rewarding to harvest. For years I did not think that I liked radishes because my family didn't eat them at home, it wasn't until I left for college that radishes became a regular part of my spring time diet. Now radishes are some of my very favorite vegetables! There are so many different ways to use radishes in cooking, and they are easy to add to meal-time regulars by tossing them into a side salad or quickly roasting them in the oven for a tasty side dish. For the more adventurous eaters radish greens can be eaten in salads or used in pesto. Here are a few rad recipes that highlight radishes:
This yummy recipe defies how most people think radishes should be eaten. I had radishes roasted for the first time about a year ago and I've been hooked ever since. You can make the radishes savory by roasting with salt, pepper and garlic or you can make them sweet by roasting with butter and salt and topping with brown butter.
Finally for the adventurous eater here is a recipe for Radish Pesto!
How do you like to eat radishes?Happy Cooking!
Here at the Gardens Project we are getting excited for cooking with spring vegetables. Although at the supermarket you can buy most vegetables year round, we love to cook in season - it's not only cheaper but the veggies taste better! To me, spring always means a bounty of fresh produce, from tasty greens to spicy radishes.
Currently here in California we are at the tail end of citrus season so it's a great time to enjoy lemons and oranges at their peak!
Citrus is also really good for you! I always eat citrus to get a boost of vitamin C when I feel like I might be getting sick to give my immune system a good boost. Another great thing about lemons is that you can use the peel to flavor cakes, breads and even pasta to give it a bright, summery taste.
Here are a few spring vegetable recipes that celebrate citrus:
This is a great, filling springtime salad with lemon, feta cheese, couscous and asparagus.
This is a quick and delicious springtime dinner!
This dressing makes salads exciting and bright. You could also incorporate oranges into your salad by putting in slices. I always think feta cheese and oranges on a salad make it more tasty and exciting to eat.
If all this rain is preventing you from working in your garden, the best you can do is curl up with a great gardening book. This list from Modern Farmer is packed with gardening tips and cookbooks. Happy reading!
After over a year of planning we have finally broken ground at the Middletown Community Garden!
In the past month we have dug post holes, set our fence posts in the ground, and dug trenches to lay irrigation. Along the way we have had to fight against the rainiest year in California since 1895, and super rocky soil (as you can see from the picture) to get everything done. We've had great help from our volunteers particularly Jeff Regan and Mel Bullock in getting the fence posts set. Next week we are having an Earth Day Work Day on Friday, April 21st to finish building the fence, let us know if you can make it by calling 707-994-4647 ext. 128!
We are hoping to get this garden done in time for our gardeners to have summertime gardens so if you're interested in helping us build this garden contact us!
Here's another picture from a few weeks ago before the hogwire was put up.
Since Easter is coming up this weekend here are a few egg-cellent ways to spruce up hard boiled eggs and incorporate some vegetables!
We love this first recipe because you get two things for one recipe - pickled beets and beautifully dyed pickled eggs! To make the eggs even more special you could devil the eggs after pickling them - my personal favorite way to enjoy hard-boiled eggs.
READ MORE >
Since the Gardens Project was founded in 2007, we’ve worked with the people of Mendocino and Lake Counties to develop 45 community and school gardens. That’s an average of 4.5 gardens a year! A lot has changed since the first community gardens in Ukiah, but the need to increase food security in both counties is still there and the work continues…
READ MORE >
Setting up the drip irrigation at the Willits Head Start Preschool Garden
The Gardens Project is feeling the spring fever, and we want to tell you all about it!
|Students from the Ukiah Junior Academy volunteering at the Vinewood Park Community Garden in March|
|North Shore in Lucerne will have new raised beds for easier gardening!|
|Garden Leaders from the Arbor, Jack Simpson & Village Circle|
|Genaro in the Cleveland Lane Garden showing off his Nopales in 2012!|
Word on the street is that there is an awesome gardening workshop this Saturday March 7th at the Grace Lutheran Church and Community Garden from 10am-Noon!
Sign up to keep up with what's growin' on
around Mendocino County and Lake Counties!