Posts tagged with Local Food

Iwig Family Dairy files for bankruptcy, plans to keep retail stores open for reorganization

Tim Iwig, Tecumseh, who owns Iwig Family Dairy, carries a newborn calf on his dairy farm in October 2009.

Tim Iwig, Tecumseh, who owns Iwig Family Dairy, carries a newborn calf on his dairy farm in October 2009. by Richard Gwin

Iwig Family Dairy has filed for bankruptcy but, as part of its reorganization plan, will continue to operate its Lawrence and Topeka retail stores.

Increasing sales at the Lawrence store — bemoaned by some for its difficult-to-access location at 1901 Massachusetts St. — is critical to the dairy pulling through the bankruptcy, owner Tim Iwig said.

“We have to drive people to the Lawrence store,” he said. “And if they refuse to go to that store, then we’ve got to find another location that works.”

Iwig, whose multigeneration family dairy is located in Tecumseh, filed for Chapter 12 bankruptcy Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, district of Kansas. A few days earlier, on Nov. 12, Kaw Valley Bank filed a petition for foreclosure against Iwig, according to Shawnee County court documents.

Iwig’s bankruptcy petition indicates the dairy had $696,000 in assets and $1.17 million in liabilities.

The dairy faced foreclosure in 2010 but rallied, in part by enlisting members of the public to buy shares in the company.

According to the bankruptcy petition, many Lawrence residents are among at least 150 creditors holding “unsecured nonpriority” claims from stock purchases in 2010 and 2011. Those purchases ranged from $500 to several thousand dollars each, according to the petition.

“Our understanding is they’ll still be shareholders after we come through the bankruptcy,” Iwig said. “We should come through the bankruptcy healthier than we are now, so they should be in a better position.”

Chapter 12 is the portion of the U.S. bankruptcy code that provides for adjustments of debts of a family farmer or family fisherman.

A Chapter 12 plan usually lasts three to five years, and must provide for full payment of all priority claims, according to the U.S. Courts description of the law. The debtor is not required to pay unsecured claims in full as long as the plan calls for all disposable income to be committed to payments and for creditors to receive at least as much as they would if the debtor’s nonexempt assets were liquidated under Chapter 7.

The Lawrence Iwig Family Dairy store opened in 2012 at 1901 Mass. In addition to fresh milk, butter and ice cream from the family dairy in Tecumseh, the store sells other local produce and food items.

The Lawrence Iwig Family Dairy store opened in 2012 at 1901 Mass. In addition to fresh milk, butter and ice cream from the family dairy in Tecumseh, the store sells other local produce and food items. by Nick Krug

The dairy has operated a retail store at 724 SW Gage Boulevard in Topeka since 2010. Lawrence’s Iwig Dairy Store opened this spring, selling milk, butter, ice cream and a number of grocery products from other local sources.

Fans praise the farm-fresh milk and other dairy products, but not enough of them are coming in to buy it, Iwig said. He said the reopening of the Dillons store across the street hasn’t made a difference one way or the other.

Iwig said selling his milk through larger grocery stores was not a viable solution because it involves more time and work to coordinate for a smaller profit margin.

Iwig said one of the main goals of his reorganization plan is marketing the Lawrence store and, if he found a better location that was feasible, possibly moving.

“So far, the Lawrence store is running behind Topeka pretty measurably,” he said. “My store over on Gage does gangbusters. I don’t know if it’s our location or exactly what it is. If anybody has suggestions, I wish they’d make them if they don’t like it where it is.”

Courtney Iwig feeds two newborn calves on her family's dairy farm in October 2009.

Courtney Iwig feeds two newborn calves on her family's dairy farm in October 2009. by Richard Gwin

Iwig said he will continue to make milk in the old-fashioned method he has, even though it comes at a higher cost to produce — a pinch felt especially sharply during two years of drought, high feed prices and low milk prices.

He feeds his cattle alfalfa hay from an area farmer who does not treat the crop with Roundup, he said. They also eat spent grain from Free State Brewery and apple waste from Louisburg Cider Mill, which are cheaper than corn right now but still costly to haul.

He also uses vat pasteurization. The low-temperature method takes longer and costs more than the quick, high-heat pasteurization that almost all other dairies use, but Iwig believes it results in a product with flavor and nutrients closer to that of raw milk.

Finally, it’s sold in earth-friendly glass bottles.

“Our milk is head and shoulders above any other milk on the market,” he said.

On Wednesday, Iwig said he hoped hard work would help enable his business to emerge from bankruptcy healthier than it is now.

“The bottom line is, we’re going to keep on going stronger than ever and keep right on plugging away,” he said.

Lawrence mother Alisha Swanson engages in an animated conversation with Laurel Iwig Monday at the Lawrence Iwig Family Dairy store, 1901 Mass. Iwig and her husband Tim opened the market in February, in which they are selling their dairy products as well as produce, meats and other products from local producers. Also pictured are two of Swanson's children, Mackenna, 4, and Sam, 11 months.

Lawrence mother Alisha Swanson engages in an animated conversation with Laurel Iwig Monday at the Lawrence Iwig Family Dairy store, 1901 Mass. Iwig and her husband Tim opened the market in February, in which they are selling their dairy products as well as produce, meats and other products from local producers. Also pictured are two of Swanson's children, Mackenna, 4, and Sam, 11 months. by Nick Krug

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State agriculture secretary to visit Eudora for Food Day lunch

Taylor Bennett and Kayla Lee, both 15 and sophomores at Eudora High School, watch culinary arts teacher Rick Martin work dough for cinnamon rolls. Martin, formerly the executive chef at Free State Brewing Company, is helping to raise funds for Lawrence schools to have a garden — like the one his class has access to on the grounds of Eudora High — through the Homegrown Lawrence Festival. Proceeds from the festival will be earmarked in a special fund as seed money to start gardens at Lawrence schools.

Taylor Bennett and Kayla Lee, both 15 and sophomores at Eudora High School, watch culinary arts teacher Rick Martin work dough for cinnamon rolls. Martin, formerly the executive chef at Free State Brewing Company, is helping to raise funds for Lawrence schools to have a garden — like the one his class has access to on the grounds of Eudora High — through the Homegrown Lawrence Festival. Proceeds from the festival will be earmarked in a special fund as seed money to start gardens at Lawrence schools. by Richard Gwin

Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman will celebrate Farm to School Week with a visit to Eudora Wednesday.

Rodman was scheduled to join Eudora school board members and Douglas County officials on a tour of the Eudora school district’s garden and culinary center. The group will also hear presentations from the district’s food service representative and superintendent about Farm to School initiatives there, said Mary Geiger, communications director for the state department of agriculture.

Rodman and other officials also were scheduled to enjoy a 45-percent local lunch with students.

Wednesday is Kansas Food Day, which the state describes as an effort to promote well-balanced, nutrient-rich eating habits; support all Kansas farmers and ranchers; continuously improve agricultural production; and reduce hunger in Kansas communities.

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Locally sourced lunch highlights Lawrence celebration of Farm to School Week

A display of local fruits and vegetables in the Free State High School cafeteria includes items that will be served in a lunch featuring locally sourced food. Thursday's districtwide lunch is the highlight of Lawrence's Farm to School Week observance.

A display of local fruits and vegetables in the Free State High School cafeteria includes items that will be served in a lunch featuring locally sourced food. Thursday's districtwide lunch is the highlight of Lawrence's Farm to School Week observance. by Mike Yoder

The menu for the Lawrence school district’s upcoming farm to school lunch originally called for, among other vegetables, peppers.

But unlike produce shipped from distant, always-summer climates, local food is dependent on local weather. And an early October frost means local schools won’t be serving as many peppers as planned.

“We have to work with what we get,” said Lindsey Morgan, registered dietitian and district food service supervisor.

The district has planned Thursday’s mostly local lunch to celebrate statewide Farm to School Week. While some Lawrence schools occasionally incorporate local food into student meals, the lunch is the first such districtwide effort.

While the Kansas departments of agriculture and education are promoting and providing guidelines for districts statewide to serve local meals this week, state officials said as of Monday that Lawrence and Eudora were the only districts that had confirmed plans with the state to do so.

Seasonality, delivery methods, availability of large quantities and compliance with nutritional guidelines are all factors that can make serving local food more challenging for schools than, say, ordering in mass quantities from corporate distributors.

“We are trying to get as much local as we can,” Morgan said. “But we feed over 6,000 meals a day, so trying to get quantities is something that we’ve been trying to work through.”

Cordley Elementary School student Giulia Ventello uses a basket on a pole to snag apples from high branches Sunday, Oct. 21, at Fieldstone Orchard in Overbrook. Schoolmate Ella Hope-Luecke and her mother, Karen Lueke, were nearby.

Cordley Elementary School student Giulia Ventello uses a basket on a pole to snag apples from high branches Sunday, Oct. 21, at Fieldstone Orchard in Overbrook. Schoolmate Ella Hope-Luecke and her mother, Karen Lueke, were nearby. by Contributed photo

Foundation for growth

This year the Lawrence district’s local offerings have included watermelon, green beans, squash and lettuce, though they were served in select schools because there wasn’t enough to serve districtwide, Morgan said. Some schools also serve items from their school gardens, again as quantities allow.

While both Lawrence high schools have docks for large deliveries by truck, local food may arrive in a different type of vehicle, Morgan said. Once produce arrives, it may have unique storage requirements — right now, at Free State High School alone, there are 250 pounds of squash and a pallet of apples awaiting Thursday’s special lunch.

Morgan said the Farm to School program’s current goal is to learn more about those factors, as well as seasonal availability of produce, and “continue to grow from there.”

The program officially started in 2010 with a grant from LiveWell Lawrence that designated a farm to school manager, who also is the kitchen manager at Schwegler School. She laid groundwork by researching policies, networking with farmers and creating food safety guidelines.

Even with fewer than expected peppers, Thursday’s districtwide lunch will have a spicy flavor. The menu includes savory butternut squash and black bean burritos, made with local squash and tortillas baked in Kansas City, Kan.; chicken fajitas; apples from Fieldstone Orchard in Overbrook; lettuce from Lecompton; salsa made in Baldwin City; black beans and salad.

While the special menu cost more to put together than a typical school lunch, Morgan said, students will pay the same price as usual.

Cordley Elementary School student Zoe Diaz Moore eats a just-picked apple Sunday, Oct. 21, during a parent-led field trip to Fieldstone Orchard in Overbrook.

Cordley Elementary School student Zoe Diaz Moore eats a just-picked apple Sunday, Oct. 21, during a parent-led field trip to Fieldstone Orchard in Overbrook. by Contributed photo

Hands-on learning

Jackie Stafford and other Cordley School parents have organized weekend or after-school fruit- and vegetable-picking field trips for the past couple years.

With district approval, she said, some of that same produce made it into lunches in the Cordley cafeteria.

On Sunday, a group of Cordley students picked apples at Fieldstone, and while they took home those apples, the trip was planned to show them where the apples that will be on their trays Thursday came from.

Stafford said her children, a fourth-grader and a kindergartner, have had many opportunities to visit farms to see where their food comes from, and she is hopeful her efforts will give other children that chance, too.

She also said she supports local foods both from nutrition and business standpoints.

“It just makes so much more sense, if we’ve got enough food around here, to be supporting the local food economy,” she said.

Prior to the farm to school program’s official formation, Linda Cottin, who runs Cottin’s Hardware Farmers’ Market, helped organize some of the first local food lunches at Cordley.

Like Stafford, she agrees that the more children know about where their food comes from, the better. She’d like to see the program grow.

“It’s baby steps,” she said. “And it needs to move slow ... the supply up to where the demand is can’t happen overnight.”


More on farm to school

For more information on the state’s farm to school guidelines, visit the Kansas State Department of Education website. U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to School guidelines also are online.

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Kaw Valley Farm Tour offers look at local food sources

Siena Casagrande, 10, Lawrence, greets a turkey at Screaming Oaks Farm, 18171 198th St, Tonganoxie, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012. The area farm was one of several participating in the Kaw Valley Farm Tour which continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Farmers offer their farms as tour stops.

Siena Casagrande, 10, Lawrence, greets a turkey at Screaming Oaks Farm, 18171 198th St, Tonganoxie, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012. The area farm was one of several participating in the Kaw Valley Farm Tour which continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Farmers offer their farms as tour stops. by Mike Yoder

Henry Tschudy runs his 2-year-old legs up to the fence without fear. Three Jersey cows are there to greet him, walking up just as friendly as little Henry. Later, he’s running around with chickens, most of which are not quite as happy to see him — they make their own beeline for under a feed trailer.

His mom, Sonja Kristiansen, is nearby. They’re there to learn about farms and where their mainly local-food diet actually comes from.

“Seeing how it all works,” she says, “it sticks with you.”

Amy Saunders is the farmer here at Amy’s Meats — the maestro, her husband, Dan, calls “the smart one.” The family opened up their homestead farm at 17967 23rd St. for the first time in this year’s Kaw Valley Farm Tour.

It’s been a tough year for their farm. Very little bee production. The drought’s effects on timber and brush. An heirloom garden that, like just about every other flora and fauna in the area, struggled with the crippling heat. And finally, the economic change of going from primarily beef production to now just having those Jersey dairies. But Amy calls the farm tour her chance to “show a phoenix rising.”

“I wanted people to come back and understand the importance of where food comes from,” she said. “I hope everyone can be connected to the farm.”

Nikki Woolsey, of Olathe, is there scouting for her canning hobby. She met her friend Baretta Schmeissner, of Valley Falls, in Lawrence to help with the hunt. Schmeissner is a nutritionist passionate about food.

“It’s wonderful to see what’s possible,” she said, eyeing ideas for her own garden.

The annual tour expects about 500 people to pass through and this year had 22 participating farms north and south of the Kansas River. The aim is to get area folks connected with the sources of local produce and meat, to drum up business for CSAs and cowshares and artisan crafts.

The Kaw Valley Farm Tour continues today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, including a list of participating farms, visit KawValleyFarmTour.org.

Richard Bean, who lives near Baldwin and owns Blossom Trail Bee Ranch, gets ready to check his hives on Thursday Sept 27, 2012. Bean's farm is one of 22 included in this weekend's Kaw Valley Farm Tour.

Richard Bean, who lives near Baldwin and owns Blossom Trail Bee Ranch, gets ready to check his hives on Thursday Sept 27, 2012. Bean's farm is one of 22 included in this weekend's Kaw Valley Farm Tour. by Richard Gwin

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Downtown farmers market starts fall hours Saturday

Clara Richardson waits for the next apple customer at the Lawrence Farmers market on a busy Saturday.

Clara Richardson waits for the next apple customer at the Lawrence Farmers market on a busy Saturday. by Richard Gwin

The Saturday Downtown Lawrence Farmers Market begins its fall hours this weekend, opening one hour later than usual.

The market, at Ninth and New Hampshire streets, will run from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturdays through Nov. 17, the last day of this season.

Upcoming special events at the market include the Appleooza festival on Oct. 13 and the Kale Festival on Nov. 3.

Oct. 27 is the last day for both the Tuesday Downtown market — 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays in the 1000 block of Vermont — and the West Side market — 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Thursdays at 1121 Wakarusa Drive.

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Bee farm showcases nature at work, open for this weekend’s farm tour

Richard Bean points out a queen bee, which can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day, surrounded by hundreds of worker bees. Bean's Blossom Trail Bee Ranch near Baldwin City is one of 22 farms on the 2012 Kaw Valley Farm Tour.

Richard Bean points out a queen bee, which can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day, surrounded by hundreds of worker bees. Bean's Blossom Trail Bee Ranch near Baldwin City is one of 22 farms on the 2012 Kaw Valley Farm Tour. by Richard Gwin

Buzzing bees blanket the tray of honeycomb in Richard Bean’s bare hands. At close range, their striped abdomens and delicate wings are visible in detail.

After 40 years of keeping bees, Bean still marvels at them.

“Gorgeous creations,” he says.

Spotting the queen, Bean pokes his finger into the mass of insects, gently nudging away some of the worker bees to show her off.

“How does she create 2,000 eggs a day?” he muses. “Machinery that we cannot really, in any way, manufacture — natural machinery.”

Bean’s Blossom Trail Bee Ranch, 669 E. 2100 Road in Baldwin City, will be one of 22 farms open to the public this weekend during the annual Kaw Valley Farm Tour.

Bean sells the honey, bee pollen and honeycomb he raises at the Saturday Lawrence Farmers Market and both Lawrence Hy-Vees, 3504 Clinton Parkway and 4000 W. Sixth St. He harvests his products from about 20 hives he keeps at his home and another 10 or so he has off site.

Richard Bean, looks over one of the many hives he has on his farm near Baldwin.

Richard Bean, looks over one of the many hives he has on his farm near Baldwin. by Richard Gwin

Bean says he believes bees can sense fear.

Perhaps that’s why he gets along with them.

Bean is not a man who is easily agitated. He’s tall and thin, and moves quietly and deliberately. His voice is soft. He speaks slowly.

He’s calm, even while prying off the lid of a hive of bees whose instincts tell them to sting predators threatening their colony — best in the eye or mouth, the only place they could injure woolly bear, for example. That’s why Bean wears a hat with face netting, just in case.

“Hi girls,” he says, as the bees swirl around him.

The beekeeper in his hometown of Beloit taught Bean the trade. His first project was removing a colony of unwanted bees from a resident’s shed and moving them into the right equipment so he could keep them for himself.

“Just had a notion I wanted to do it,” Bean said of beekeeping. “I think after a while, you sort of realize it sort of fits your personality.”

In addition to raising his own bees, Bean teaches beekeeping for beginners and gets called a couple times a month to remove bee colonies from homes and trees. If he can keep them alive, which he tries to do, he can relocate the bees to his own hives and harvest their honey.

Richard Bean, who lives near Baldwin and owns Blossom Trail Bee Ranch, gets ready to check his hives.

Richard Bean, who lives near Baldwin and owns Blossom Trail Bee Ranch, gets ready to check his hives. by Richard Gwin

From time to time, Bean does get stung. He’s learned a little onion juice is the best thing to take the edge off the sting.

“Sometimes I get a little too brave,” he said. “But ... I’ve been around bees long enough that I pretty much respect their instincts.”

On a cool, overcast day last week, most of Bean’s bees were holed up in their hives. He said they like to be warm and they’re more active when it’s hot — but not too hot.

Bean recalled observing his bees during this summer’s most sweltering days.

They wisely did their work before dawn and after dusk, relaxing in the hive during the hottest part of the day.

“They were pretty much beaten down by the heat,” he said. “They respected what it did to them and what it took out of them.”

Seeing nature at work is among Bean’s favorite things about keeping bees.

“You never stop learning,” he said.


Eating honeycomb and bee pollen

Honeycomb can be chewed and swallowed, waxy comb and all, which Richard Bean of Blossom Trail Bee Ranch said is especially soothing for a sore throat. Other suggestions include mashing a piece of comb atop buttered toast, or putting it on apple slices or cheese and crackers.

Eating bee pollen from local flowers is thought to have nutritional and anti-allergenic properties, although some sources recommend consulting a doctor first to avoid an unwanted allergic reaction.

Bean says he eats teaspoons of bee pollen straight from his hives. But he said not everyone likes the grainy texture, preferring to sprinkle it in smoothies or on cereal.

Richard Bean's Blossom Trail Bee Ranch near Baldwin City produces and sells honey, honeycomb and bee pollen.

Richard Bean's Blossom Trail Bee Ranch near Baldwin City produces and sells honey, honeycomb and bee pollen. by Richard Gwin


Honeybees — a few facts

• Honeybees perform a waggle dance to communicate the location of food sources that are 100 yards up to two or three miles from the hive.

• In one trip, honeybees visit 100 to 1,500 blossoms to fill their honey crop, an organ separate from their digestive stomach that is used to transport nectar.

• In its entire lifespan, a worker bee produces only 1 1/2 teaspoons of honey.

• In producing just 1 pound of honey, a hive of bees will fly 90,000 miles, equivalent to 1.5 orbits around the earth.

• In winter, bees live on stored honey and pollen and cluster into a ball to conserve warmth, maintaining a hive temperature that’s close to human body temperature.

• The beehive is a “super organism” where all the bees work together as a single entity. A lone bee cannot live on its own outside the hive.

— Source: Richard Bean, Blossom Trail Bee Ranch


Kaw Valley Farm Tour

The Kaw Valley Farm Tour runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The annual event celebrates the diversity and availability of locally grown food in northeast Kansas. The 22 farms on this year’s tour produce a variety of products, including fruits, vegetables, beef, pork, cheese, wine, sod, flour and milk.

Tickets are $10 per vehicle for the weekend. For more information, a complete list of participating farms or to buy tickets online, visit KawValleyFarmTour.org.

Tickets also are available at all participating farms and at the following locations: The Merc, 901 Iowa St.; Lawrence Visitor Information Center, 402 N. Second St.; Cottin’s Hardware & Rental, 1832 Mass.; and K-State Research and Extension — Douglas County, 2110 Harper St.

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Lecompton couple’s hydroponic lettuce growing in popularity

Caroline Eddinger and her daughter Stella, 10, help operate Two Sisters Farm where a hydroponic greenhouse system is used to grow several varieties of lettuce. They sell "living lettuce" to several Lawrence area grocers and restaurants.

Caroline Eddinger and her daughter Stella, 10, help operate Two Sisters Farm where a hydroponic greenhouse system is used to grow several varieties of lettuce. They sell "living lettuce" to several Lawrence area grocers and restaurants. by Mike Yoder

Just because a greenhouse shelters produce from the elements doesn’t mean hydroponic farming is easy.

That’s one of the first myths that Ryan Eddinger would love to dispel. While you can control variables, the downside is that you must control them — and the balance is tenuous and labor intensive, more sterile science project than backyard garden.

“We’re in control of everything,” Eddinger said. “With hydroponics, if you screw up, you find out real fast. You don’t have any buffer.”

Eddinger and his wife, Caroline, operate Two Sisters Farm — named for their two daughters, 10-year-old Stella and 8-year-old Sophia — at their home in rural Lecompton.

The Eddingers specialize in “living lettuce,” full heads sold with roots attached. Theirs is the only commercial farm in the area specializing in hydroponics, or soilless growing, and their lettuce has been catching on around Lawrence and Johnson County since their first harvest this spring.

When researching farming options, the Eddingers were looking for something that would produce all four seasons.

“We looked around at what people weren’t doing, too,” Caroline said. “Nobody was doing this, and so there’s a market for it.”

Eventually Ryan, full-time public defender for the Kansas Court of Appeals, and Caroline, who just started her own CPA firm, would like to farm full-time. Until then, there are late nights, early mornings, 16-plus-hour days and some much-appreciated help from neighbors.

“It’s been insane,” Ryan said.

Lettuce grows out of plastic trays where a steady flow of water and nutrients sustains the plants. Two Sisters Farm's hydroponic greenhouse system is used to grow several varieties of lettuce the farm sells to a number of area restaurants and grocers.

Lettuce grows out of plastic trays where a steady flow of water and nutrients sustains the plants. Two Sisters Farm's hydroponic greenhouse system is used to grow several varieties of lettuce the farm sells to a number of area restaurants and grocers. by Mike Yoder

Delicate balance

The Two Sisters greenhouse is light and pristine. Rows of richly colored heads of lettuce — from yellow-green to wine red — pop against the bright-white walls and growing trays.

There’s lettuce in all stages, from sequin-sized sprouts to lush, leafy ready-to-harvest red bib and romaine.

An irrigation system carries fertilizer-laced water to each plant, delivering moisture and nutrients to roots while emerging leaves get sunlight through the greenhouse’s translucent covering.

Ryan tinkered with an old air conditioner to fashion a system that keeps the water solution from getting too hot. To keep the climate from getting too hot, fans draw air through a “wet wall” at one end of the greenhouse. In the winter, propane heat will keep it warm.

He monitors everything daily.

A climate-control slip, pH imbalance or bug infestation could wipe out an entire crop.

Everyone entering the greenhouse wipes their feet on a towel soaked with solution to ensure their shoes are clear of insects. There are screens over all the fans to keep bugs from sneaking in. Ryan even wears rubber gloves when harvesting and transplanting the lettuce.

Sophia Eddinger, 8, feels the coolness off an evaporating cooling pad  in her families hydroponic greenhouse at Two Sisters Farm, Lecompton. Her father Ryan, right, Sophia's sister Stella, center and their mother Caroline, own and operate the farm that grows several varieties of "Living Lettuce". Their products are used in several Lawrence restaurants and area grocers.

Sophia Eddinger, 8, feels the coolness off an evaporating cooling pad in her families hydroponic greenhouse at Two Sisters Farm, Lecompton. Her father Ryan, right, Sophia's sister Stella, center and their mother Caroline, own and operate the farm that grows several varieties of "Living Lettuce". Their products are used in several Lawrence restaurants and area grocers. by Mike Yoder

Pros and cons

Hydroponic gardening started getting a lot of interest about 15 to 20 years ago, said Jennifer Smith, the horticulture extension agent for K-State Research and Extension in Douglas County.

“The general idea was that because you’re not using soil you can grow things in a smaller space,” she said, “and it was kind of an interesting discovery that we can grow things without soil.”

Smith said that while hydroponics may enable farmers to grow produce with less space, it can be labor-intensive to maintain the correct balances. Also, she said, some people argue that food grown in dirt has more flavor.

Ryan said he believes that’s true with foods such as tomatoes (he prefers dirt-farmed heirloom varieties, hands down). However, he doesn’t think that’s the case with lettuce, which is a decidedly different type of crop.

“I’ll never grow another head of lettuce in the dirt,” he said.

Hydroponic growing enables him to leave roots on, which keeps the lettuce — a vegetable that’s notoriously prone to wilting — flavorful and crunchy longer with no preservatives.

Hydroponic lettuce can mature weeks faster than outdoors, and the controlled environment also enables Two Sisters to keep its crops pesticide- and herbicide-free.

Plus, if Two Sisters is able to drum up enough customers, the Eddingers will be able to afford to run their greenhouse year-round, providing Lawrence with lettuce grown just a few miles away all winter long.

“That’s one of the best things about local, it’s going to be fresh,” Ryan said. “The more local the better.”

Ryan Eddinger, Lecompton, greets his daughters Stella 10, left, and Sophia, 8, after harvesting some lettuce at their Two Sisters Farm grown with a hydroponic greenhouse system and producing several varieties of lettuce. Their products are used in several Lawrence restaurants and area grocers.

Ryan Eddinger, Lecompton, greets his daughters Stella 10, left, and Sophia, 8, after harvesting some lettuce at their Two Sisters Farm grown with a hydroponic greenhouse system and producing several varieties of lettuce. Their products are used in several Lawrence restaurants and area grocers. by Mike Yoder

Growing customers

Right now, Two Sisters’ living lettuce is for sale at three Lawrence grocery stores: Hy-Vee, Checkers and the Merc.

Two Sisters also supplies lettuce to several Lawrence restaurants, plus Raintree Montessori School and a couple restaurants in Johnson County (Renee Kelly’s Harvest in Shawnee and Story in Prairie Village).

The Eddingers sell at Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market on Thursdays and the Downtown Overland Park Farmers Market on Saturdays — usually with the “two sisters” themselves up at 4 a.m. and in tow.

The family likes interacting with customers, hearing feedback and having the people who buy their lettuce see their faces and know their names, Ryan said.

Monday morning, he was harvesting and boxing up lettuce for 715 and the Oread, where he or Caroline would personally deliver it that day or the next.

T.K. Peterson, the Oread’s executive chef, started ordering Two Sisters lettuce this spring, as part of a larger effort to incorporate more local produce in his restaurants.

There’s a “hip factor” to eating local produce that customers like, Peterson said. He’s had some problems with small farms that, for various reasons, aren’t able to complete all their orders, but not Two Sisters.

“They meet your need pretty much every week,” Peterson said. “They’re able to control it a lot better than the standard outdoor farms.”

In addition to quality food, Peterson simply agrees with supporting local farmers, he said. “You do it more just because it’s the right thing to do.”

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Kaw Valley Farm Tour is October 6-7

Farms are open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The tour celebrates the diversity and availability of locally-grown food and products in Northeast Kansas.

The 22 participating farms produce an astounding variety of items, including fruits, vegetables, beef, cheese, wine, flowers, pumpkins, pork, honey, flour, fiber and dairy products. Special activities include petting animals, hay rides, walking tours, chef demonstrations and opportunities to sample and purchase farm-fresh foods.

Tickets will be available in mid-September. For more information, a map or to buy tickets when available, visit www.kawvalleyfarmtour.org or visit the tour’s Facebook page.

Visitors enjoy a hayrack ride during the Kaw Valley Farm Tour that takes place annually during the first full weekend in October.

Visitors enjoy a hayrack ride during the Kaw Valley Farm Tour that takes place annually during the first full weekend in October. by Shannan Seely

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Eat Local Challenge promotes homegrown foods

Lexie Johnson, of Kansas City, visits with Gaylen Knapp, of Bonner Springs, during the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic. Johnson sells Hippie Chow, a gourmet granola made with all natural ingredients. Knapp is a farmer with Knapp Family Farms. Both sell their products at The Merc, 901 Iowa, and were offering food samplings at the picnic.

Lexie Johnson, of Kansas City, visits with Gaylen Knapp, of Bonner Springs, during the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic. Johnson sells Hippie Chow, a gourmet granola made with all natural ingredients. Knapp is a farmer with Knapp Family Farms. Both sell their products at The Merc, 901 Iowa, and were offering food samplings at the picnic. by Karrey Britt

The Merc is gearing up for its fifth annual Eat Local Challenge.

The challenge, which rewards participants for purchasing local groceries, farmers’ market products and restaurant meals, runs from Saturday through Aug. 25.

This year’s challenge coincides with a new labeling effort at the Merc, in which labels show the miles a product traveled to get to the store and indicate whether the product was raised, grown or made locally.

“Eating foods that are grown, raised and made locally is a practice that contributes to the economic, environmental and social well-being of a community,” according to an announcement from the Merc.

Sign up for the challenge at the Merc, 901 Iowa. An Eat Local Challenge potluck is planned for 6 p.m. Aug. 18 at Centennial Park, 600 Rockledge Road. The event will include a People’s Choice recipe contest for the best main dish and dessert.

Reply 4 comments from Lily Siebert Kris Adair Consumer1

Fair horticulture competition not what it used to be

From left, judges Jim Springer, Lyle Turner, Barb Copple and Susan Randall judged the veggies at the Douglas County Fair on Tuesday morning.

From left, judges Jim Springer, Lyle Turner, Barb Copple and Susan Randall judged the veggies at the Douglas County Fair on Tuesday morning. by Richard Gwin

It’s refreshing for old-timers like Jim Springer to see a face like Noah Chaney’s show up at the Douglas County Fair.

Noah, a skinny, tow-headed 7-year-old, walked into Building 21 Monday night and presented Springer, 77, and other open-class horticulture superintendents with a bag full of hot peppers he grew himself.

“This is my second year of growing,” Noah explained excitedly, adding that he’d given some of his peppers away and made his own salsa out of others. “They’re still doing very good.”

Participation in the fair’s horticulture contests is a sliver of what it was 20 to 30 years ago. That makes it easier to get a ribbon but worries farmers like Springer, of Lawrence, and longtime judge Lyle Turner.

Turner, 65, is a former K-State Research and Extension agent, has a masters degree in horticulture, used to have a truck farm, and owns Turner Flowers in Ottawa, where he lives. He’s been judging flower and horticulture contests in multiple counties — including Douglas — since the 1970s.

Back then, Turner said, the Douglas County Fair entries filled an entire building instead of one long table, and the process took him all day instead of an hour.

“In all the counties I see them dwindling, they are dwindling to (such) numbers that it’s really scary,” he said. “I would like to see it come back.”

Turner said he’s hopeful newer efforts like extension master gardener programs and community gardens may help renew interest.

After all, he said, there are valuable lessons to be learned from cultivating produce.

“It goes back to the old farm ethics that most kids don’t get now,” he said.

Extension agent Jennifer Smith said it’s exciting to plant something and see it grow. On the other hand, it also requires tasks like pulling weeds, which isn’t as much fun.

Both in and outside of 4-H, Smith said, youths have a lot more options for activities than they used to, and not as many choose growing fruits and vegetables anymore.

“I think there’s a lot more opportunities, which is good, but then kids divide their time,” she said.

Noah lives in Lawrence and has a little plot at the community garden at Ninth and Mississippi streets, his mother, Danielle Brunin, said.

“He’s kind of known as the pepper grower,” she laughed.

Brunin said she’s trying to get Noah interested in 4-H and thought entering the open contest (primarily adults but open to all ages, 4-H members or not) would be a fun way to introduce him to the idea.

Open-class horticulture judge Lyle Turner inspects tomatoes Tuesday morning at the Douglas County Fair.

Open-class horticulture judge Lyle Turner inspects tomatoes Tuesday morning at the Douglas County Fair. by Richard Gwin

Even with fewer entries, horticulture judging goes on the way it always has — with the focus on quality and consistency.

“It’s about producing a saleable crop,” Smith said. “It makes you pay attention to the quality — what would a consumer be looking for?”

On Tuesday morning, Turner went plate to plate in the open class category, carefully eyeing and turning over piles of tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and more in his hands.

Consistency consistently beat out size, that is, except for one category — largest vegetable.

The Douglas County Fair doesn’t attract the grotesque hulking pumpkins or freakish toddler-size watermelons of Internet photo fame.

There were only a few entries, and an upper-arm size zucchini and one of Springer’s watermelons — which he guesstimated to be about 35 pounds — handily won their categories.

Springer, who grows melons and pumpkins commercially, said he usually just enters the biggest one he has rather than planting special giant pumpkin or watermelon seeds and pampering them so they’ll grow to super sizes.

The giant varieties — “those big ugly ones,” Springer said, contorting his hands and cocking his head like Frankenstein — may be neat to look at, but they’re not much good for eating or anything else.

As for Noah’s peppers, they didn’t win their class, but the judge thought they looked pretty good. A few tips on consistency — such as trimming all the stems the same length — and he’ll be well on his way.

“I think that little fella could be a gardener,” Springer said.

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Douglas County Fair to feature local food galore

From left in foreground Alejandro Lule, and Subarna Bhattachan, of Zen Zero, begin grilling food Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, during the Chef's Challenge at the Douglas County Fair. Chefs from three Lawrence restaurants, including Free State Brewery and Pachamamas, competed in the event using locally-grown produce. In background at far left is Pachamama chef Ken Baker and at right is Hal Beckerman, kitchen manager at Free State Brewery.

From left in foreground Alejandro Lule, and Subarna Bhattachan, of Zen Zero, begin grilling food Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, during the Chef's Challenge at the Douglas County Fair. Chefs from three Lawrence restaurants, including Free State Brewery and Pachamamas, competed in the event using locally-grown produce. In background at far left is Pachamama chef Ken Baker and at right is Hal Beckerman, kitchen manager at Free State Brewery. by Mike Yoder

At the Douglas County Fair you can enter food in contests, buy food, eat food and watch professional chefs prepare food.

Here’s a list of the fair’s open-to-the-public food events, all at the Douglas County Fair Grounds, 2110 Harper St. For contest rules and a map of the fair grounds, download a Douglas County Fair Book at dgcountyfair.com.

Open class food contests

Entries accepted from 2-7 p.m. Monday, July 30. Judging is Tuesday, July 31. Winning entries will remain on display through Saturday, Aug. 4

Categories include various breads, cakes, pies, cookies, jellies, jams and pickles. Ribbons are awarded in each category, with a champion and reserve champion named in food preparation and food preservation.

President’s Pie Baking Contest

7:30-9:30 a.m. daily, Tuesday, July 31, through Saturday, Aug. 4, Dreher Building.

Celebrity judges and the Fair Board President will pick three winners from each day’s entries. After judging, pies are sliced and sold at the 4-H food stand. At the end of the week, the president picks the top overall winners. The contest only accepts baked fruit and nut pies, pies requiring refrigeration are not allowed.

Food Sale

2-7 p.m. Tuesday, July 31, Building 21.

After judging, open class and 4-H food entries will go up for sale to the public. Proceeds benefit Douglas County 4-H.

Naturally Nutritious Food Festival and Cooking Contest

Wednesday, Aug. 1, Building 21. Entries accepted from 6-7 p.m., with judging at 7 p.m.

Open categories are Fresh Salsa, Creative Cold Salads, International Cuisine, Local Goodness Main Dish (must feature at least four ingredients produced or grown in Kansas), Appetizer or Snack (made with local ingredients) and Healthy Dessert made with fresh fruit. Young Chef Categories, for cooks 12 and younger, are Quick Lunch Idea featuring Local Produce and Healthy Snacks featuring Fresh Fruit. Written recipes required for all categories.

Farmers Market

4-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2, north of Extension Office.

The Cottin's Hardware Farmers Market will move its market from the hardware store to the fairgrounds for one night. More than 30 vendors, including school gardens, are expected to sell local produce and homemade goods. There will be a "produce check" in the Dreher 4-H building, where patrons can leave the produce they purchased while they enjoy the rest of the fair.

Chef’s Local Food Challenge

5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2, north of Extension Office.

Three Lawrence chefs will demonstrate seasonal recipes using food from farmers market vendors. Last year's winner, Free State Brewery chef Russell Iverson, will compete against Dave Nigro of Hy-Vee and Wallace Cochran of the Merc. Judges will select the winner, and samples will be shared with the public, which will pick the winner of the people's choice award.

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Common Ground creates new community gardens to benefit Lawrence residents

Four new gardens have been added to Lawrence’s already stellar local food system. These gardens are part of a city-wide effort to increase more access to healthy, local food through Common Ground, a city land lease program created in the fall of last year through the Douglas County Food Policy Council. Though there are other towns across the nation that have land lease programs, this is the first of its kind to require a community benefit plan that serves more Lawrence citizens than just the ones who work at the garden.

In early 2011, the Douglas County Food Policy Council came out with a food system report that found less than 0.1 percent of the acreage in our tri-county area is currently in fruit and vegetable production. This staggering statistic, along with a voiced demand from citizens for more local food, brought city and county sustainability coordinator Eileen Horn and then vice mayor Bob Schumm together last fall to figure out how to make the production of local food more accessible for a greater number of people in the community. Eileen had learned of a program in Cleveland, Ohio, that used vacant lots for fruit and vegetable production, and she wanted to pilot this program in Lawrence. So she, vice mayor Schumm and the Douglas County Food Policy Council looked at vacant tracts of land the city was paying to maintain that could be used for community gardening. And they went one step further than Cleveland—instead of just making the land for large-scale production, the program would include orchards and community gardens.

Schumm, who has his own garden and recognizes the importance of growing fresh, nutritious food, was integral in encouraging officials to push Common Ground through City Hall. He also knew this program could equal economic growth for the city, since taking care of one acre of land is enough for one full-time job.

“With this program, we are positively contributing to nutrition, economic development and jobs,” Schumm said.

By November, Common Ground applications were circulating, and the food policy council was hosting public meetings to discuss the application process. The food policy council reviewed the 14 applications received that included individual, business and nonprofit applications. In the end, the council awarded five total sites to four organizations in early 2012 and broke ground in early spring.

Eileen Horn (left) and Bob Schumm (far right) attend the Common Ground groundbreaking ceremony.

Eileen Horn (left) and Bob Schumm (far right) attend the Common Ground groundbreaking ceremony. by Kim Scherman

“We were really committed to making this pilot year successful, so we started small with these four projects. We are actively planning on expanding in the 2013 and 2014 growing seasons,” Horn said.

The land these gardens received is city-owned and almost free to the participants. However, in exchange, the city asked them to share their knowledge, garden space and produce with the broader community. They were to develop a community benefit plan that included activities such as being on the Kaw Valley Farm Tour, hosting a community event at their garden or donating to Just Food.

This program could not have been possible without almost every city department, Horn said. Public Works, Parks and Recreation and Utilities were most helpful in deciding which parcels of land could be made available, and getting those sites ready for growing. And this program would be a win-win situation for the city departments, too: they would not need to maintain the space regularly anymore. These gardens would take maintenance off city departments’ to do list and turn them into a neighborhood asset.

“This program turned out to be great for the city, great for our citizens, and great for city staff,” Horn said.

Many cities around the nation are focusing on giving gardeners a shot at local food production, but Common Ground placed some of its new gardens in low income communities and focused on the applications that wanted to share their love of gardening with the broader community, instead of contributing to commercial agriculture, like such programs in Detroit.

“We can put ourselves on the map as a community that values food and access to that food regardless of income level,” Horn said. “We’ve got great soil, we’ve got Kansas agricultural know-how, enthusiasm for gardening and citizens who care about each other. This is what makes Lawrence unique.”

Justina Gonzalez holds out a yellow tomato from the Veggie Maze at the garden incubator at John Taylor Park in north Lawrence.

Justina Gonzalez holds out a yellow tomato from the Veggie Maze at the garden incubator at John Taylor Park in north Lawrence. by Kim Scherman

The four gardens this year are a community garden and a children’s discovery garden in John Taylor Park, community gardens at 1304 and 1315 Pennsylvania Street, a community orchard at 13th and Garfield, and a Johnson County Community College student farm at 8th and Oak St. Please see the Common Ground Facebook page to view updates about the gardens and work day information.

Because we think everyone should know about the success of these gardens, Common Ground is writing a series for WellCommons that will include an overview of each garden. The first in the series is a story about the Lawrence Community Orchard at 13th and Garfield.

Reply 3 comments from Engr Daniel Poull Marilyn Hull

Lawrence hosting all-day conference about religion and agriculture

http://wellcommons.com/photos/2007/mar/21/119703/

Farmers, faith leaders and food activists will discuss the religious aspects of agriculture during a conference April 28 at Ecumenical Campus Ministries, 1204 Oread Ave.

The event, “Sowing and Reaping: Christian Perspectives on Food and Agriculture,” will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will feature 16 speakers. It is open to the public.

Among the speakers and their topics:

• Local farmers Phil Holman-Hebert and Bart and Margit Hall — forging intimacy through soil and farming as ministry.

• Community organizers Rachel Jefferson, Linda Quinn and Rachel Myslivy — social justice components of food access and urban agriculture.

• Kansas Farmers Union President Donn Teske — moral implications of the Farm Bill.

• Christina Holt, director of the Lawrence Hunger Project, and Just Food executive director Jeremy Farmer — individual responsibility to global and local hunger.

• The Revs. Thad Holcombe and Gary Teske — raising and sharing food with gratitude.

“We are coming together in community for a thoughtful, heartfelt discussion about the sacred aspects of food and agriculture. As evidenced by the extraordinary work done on hunger and on behalf of farmworkers’ rights, faith is a powerful motivator for engagement and change.”

— Kansas University professor Simran Sethi, event organizer

Lunch will be available on a sliding scale fee ranging from $5 to $15. To reserve a meal, call ECM at 843-4933.

For more information about the conference, visit its Facebook page at http://ljw.bz/HLoa4X.

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Lawrence Farmers Market opens 37th season on Saturday, April 14th

Fresh off the bountiful success of this warm Spring, the Lawrence Farmers Market returns to open the 37th season of its world-class market on Saturday, April 14.

Under the picturesque canopy of budding trees in the 800 block of New Hampshire, the Saturday Lawrence Farmers’ Market will open at 7:00 am with its ritual bell ringing and run until 11:00 am. Shoppers will find locally-grown and locally-produced food and farm products from more than 50 farmers, food producers and artisans. That number will grow to nearly 100 as the season progresses and the abundant bounty of local produce ripens.

“For us at the Lawrence Farmers Market, opening day feels like a family reunion and neighborhood potluck in one. It brings together familiar faces, delicious food and the spirit of community,” said Maggie Vi Beedles of Feaster’s Bistro.

What’s fresh this spring? Peak-of-season produce like asparagus, carrots, green onions, leeks, chard, spinach, arugula, lettuces and more still wearing traces of the fertile soil of the Kaw Valley. Lawrence Farmers Market food producers, food artisans and prepared food vendors will also tempt shoppers with delicious baked goods, eggs, meats, cheeses, and other specialty foods.

This season, the Lawrence Farmers Market introduces new farmers and welcomes back returning farmers to its market locations. Through the years, the market has sustained the region’s food and farming community by providing a lively sales outlet for small family farms, many of which count on farm-direct sales as their main source of income.

As the days lengthen and the spring harvests progress, weekday markets will open for the season also. The Tuesday Market, at 1020 Vermont, opens May 1, 4:00pm-6:00 pm and the Thursday Evening Market, at 4931 W. 6th Street, begins May 3, 4:00pm-6:00pm. Although the market will have been open for a few weeks by May 5, we will have our traditional GRAND OPENING on the first Saturday in May.

Bountiful

Bountiful by egarrett

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Come in from the cold: Visit the Kaw Valley Seeds Project Fair this weekend

Seed fair participants had the chance to exchange seeds as well as find new seeds to try in their gardens.

Seed fair participants had the chance to exchange seeds as well as find new seeds to try in their gardens. by Kevin Anderson

For the third time in as many years, gardeners novice and mature and in between can pick up, exchange and discuss seeds at the Kaw Valley Seeds Project Fair.

The fair, which was visited by more than 1,200 folks last year, runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Building 21 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.

I've been to the past two fairs and let me just say that it's absolutely a blast to discuss the spoils of summer in the dead of winter. It's fun to think of all the things you can grow — Rainbow chard! Black Krim tomatoes! Dwarf curly kale! — once the weather finally takes a turn.

Obviously, this winter is a bit different — local growers are still selling at Cottin's Farmers' Market — but that doesn't mean it's any less thrilling to find some great seeds and get excited for garden preparation.

Don't have a garden? It's still a fun and free event — with music, activities, exhibits, food and education.

Who knows? You might just find you learn enough to try your hand at a pot of herbs or peppers.

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City to consider allowing small-scale farmers to plant on city property

Logan Luce, a Kansas University graduate student, picks up some fresh vegetables from Nathan Atchison, of Atchison Farms, at the Lawrence Farmers' Market on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011.

Logan Luce, a Kansas University graduate student, picks up some fresh vegetables from Nathan Atchison, of Atchison Farms, at the Lawrence Farmers' Market on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011. by Mike Yoder

City commissioners will talk about a whole different type of “growing business” at their meeting on Tuesday evening.

Commissioners will be asked to consider starting a unique program that would allow small-scale farmers to use either portions of city parks or vacant ground owned by the city to grow fruits, vegetables and other crops.

“These are vacant or often underutilized spaces that we are already paying to maintain,” said Eileen Horn, the sustainability coordinator for the city and the county. “This would be a way to maintain them and get a community benefit.”

Horn has worked with the city’s Parks and Recreation staff, the Douglas County Food Policy Council and others to identify 14 sites totaling about 70 acres that could be used for the program. Eleven of the sites are on city-owned property, while three are on county-owned sites. Douglas County commissioners are expected to discuss the proposal at their Wednesday meeting.

The proposed sites are:

• 0.79 of an acre in Burcham Park, Second and Indiana streets.

• 0.41 of an acre in John Taylor Park, 200 N. Seventh St.

• 1.17 acres at the future park site at Peterson and Iowa near the Hallmark Cards plant.

• 0.34 of an acre adjacent to the Burroughs Creek Trail east of Garfield and Delaware streets.

• 0.33 of an acre at the vacant lot at 12th and Brook streets.

• 0.1 of an acre on vacant lots at 1304 and 1315 Pa. St.

• 0.9 of an acre on a vacant lot at North Eighth and Oak streets.

• Four separate tracts — 6.81, 6.78, 6.76 and 26.13 acres — at Riverfront Park in North Lawrence.

• 1.63 acres at 2518 Ridge Court, adjacent to the Douglas County United Way building.

• 4.4 acres on county property adjacent to the Douglas County Jail.

• 14.71 acres on property just north of Lone Star Lake dam.

Horn said her group can envision one of two types of agricultural uses on the sites — community gardens that mainly are about providing neighborhood residents with fresh produce, or “market farms” that would be geared toward growing produce to sell at local farmers markets, in grocery stores or to restaurants.

Horn said there are several young farmers — particularly area residents who have graduated from Johnson County Community College’s sustainable farming program — that want to start specialty farming operations in Douglas County but have met challenges when it comes to finding property.

“There are a lot of young people just can’t afford to buy the ground,” Horn said.

Under her proposal, the city and county would “license” the property to the growers for a three-year period, although the city and the county would have broad authority to end the license. Horn said more discussion would be needed to determine what growers should pay the city and the county for use of the property.

She said the city and county perhaps could consider some unique forms of payment, such as agreements from the farmers to donate a certain amount of their produce to local food banks or to sell a certain amount of their produce at reduced rates to area school districts.

“I’m excited to see what type of proposals we get,” Horn said. “It will be interesting to see in a year or so how many more vendors we have at the Farmers Market or what schools are serving local foods because they have a partnership with a grower.”

If the project wins approval from the city and the county, Horn envisions creating a process during which interested growers would present proposals to use a specific site.

Horn said those proposal will have to detail how the agricultural operations will be compatible with adjacent residential areas or park uses.

City commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

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Cordley students savor fall flavors, learning about local foods

Trenton Snyder, left, and Silas Kriner, both third graders, ham it up for a picture during lunch on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, at Cordley School. Snyder helped pick radishes and tomatoes at local farms for the salad bar that was served as part of lunch that day.

Trenton Snyder, left, and Silas Kriner, both third graders, ham it up for a picture during lunch on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, at Cordley School. Snyder helped pick radishes and tomatoes at local farms for the salad bar that was served as part of lunch that day. by Karrey Britt

Eight-year-old Silas Kriner took a bite of homemade chili.

“It’s so good,” he said with a big grin.

On Wednesday, Silas was eating his school lunch at Cordley with extra enthusiasm. That’s because he knew most of the food on his tray was made with ingredients from area farms.

Silas was sitting next to Trenton Snyder, 9, who helped pick tomatoes and radishes a few days before at local farms for the salad bar.

Was it fun? “Yep.”

How many tomatoes did he pick? “About 20.”

Third-grader Jackson Rogers also helped harvest tomatoes. “I picked this many,” he said holding his hands about a foot apart and making a square shape with them. “It was fun.”

It was the third Farm-to-School Lunch event at Cordley School, 1837 Vt. The first one was organized by Linda Cottin, a local food enthusiast, in May 2010. The entire menu — lasagna, bread sticks, salad bar and rhubarb crisp — was locally grown or produced.

“She kind of took an idea and ran with it,” said Jackie Stafford, a Cordley parent. “She organized the whole thing.”

The second event — held a year later — was a scaled-down version with local produce being offered on the salad bar.

On Wednesday, the event went back to the full menu: A cheesy pasta dish, chili, salad bar and homemade applesauce. Third-graders described the food as “good,” “delicious” and “yummy.”

Stafford said a committee of eight people helped organize the event, and at least 30 people were involved in some way.

“We are very culinary rich here at Cordley. We have a lot of families who are in the restaurant business, and so they have been very generous in helping to provide a meal,” Stafford said.

The food came from 715 restaurant, Global Café, Aimee’s Cafe and Coffee House, local farms and The Merc. Students and their families picked 10 pounds of lettuce, 13 pounds of cherry tomatoes and 5 pounds of radishes at local farms for the lunch.

“A lot of kids have no idea where their food comes from, and they don’t have the same kind of access as some of our children do because of time or financial situations, so we just wanted to make sure that all kids in the school are a little more connected to where their food comes from,” Stafford said.

Before students entered the cafeteria, there was a table full of vegetables so they could see some of the ingredients being used in the day’s food: butternut squash, apples and radishes.

And when they were finished, Principal Scott Cinnamon handed them small bags of produce to take home. It was a gift from the Leavenworth Penitentiary Community Service Farm.

Mikah Beaty looked in her bag and pulled out a little radish: “Isn’t it cute?” she asked.

Stafford said organizers are talking about how the event might be replicated at other schools. The ultimate goal is for more local produce to be served in the cafeteria more often.

“We would love to see this be more than a one-day event,” she said.

Alejandro Martinez-Diaz, a third-grade student at Cordley, checks out a table of produce Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, before entering the cafeteria for a "Farm-to-School Lunch." The dishes that were served that day were locally grown or produced.

Alejandro Martinez-Diaz, a third-grade student at Cordley, checks out a table of produce Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, before entering the cafeteria for a "Farm-to-School Lunch." The dishes that were served that day were locally grown or produced. by Karrey Britt

Giovanni Ventello, left, and Alejandro Martinez-Diaz, both third-graders, enjoy their "Farm-to-School Lunches" Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, at Cordley School. Giovanni picked radishes, lettuce and tomatoes at local farms and they were served on the day's salad bar. His mother, Jackie Stafford, helped organize the school's third "Farm-to-School Lunch" event.

Giovanni Ventello, left, and Alejandro Martinez-Diaz, both third-graders, enjoy their "Farm-to-School Lunches" Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, at Cordley School. Giovanni picked radishes, lettuce and tomatoes at local farms and they were served on the day's salad bar. His mother, Jackie Stafford, helped organize the school's third "Farm-to-School Lunch" event. by Karrey Britt

Mally Nowlin, left, and Calah Hunt, both third-graders at Cordley School, enjoy the fall flavors of their locally-grown and locally-produced lunches. The girls said they really liked the homemade applesauce.

Mally Nowlin, left, and Calah Hunt, both third-graders at Cordley School, enjoy the fall flavors of their locally-grown and locally-produced lunches. The girls said they really liked the homemade applesauce. by Karrey Britt

Wheeler Battaglia-Davis, left, and Jackson Rogers dig into their locally-grown and locally-produced lunches at Cordley School on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011. Rogers picked tomatoes at a local farm that were served on the salad bar.

Wheeler Battaglia-Davis, left, and Jackson Rogers dig into their locally-grown and locally-produced lunches at Cordley School on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011. Rogers picked tomatoes at a local farm that were served on the salad bar. by Karrey Britt

Third-grade students at Cordley enjoy their "Farm-to-School Lunches" on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011. The lunches were made with food that was locally grown or produced. Some of the students picked produce that was served on the salad bar.

Third-grade students at Cordley enjoy their "Farm-to-School Lunches" on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011. The lunches were made with food that was locally grown or produced. Some of the students picked produce that was served on the salad bar. by Karrey Britt

Cordley School third-graders, from left, Guthrie Bricker, George Dobson and Patrick Soo pose for a photo after eating a lunch of locally-grown and locally-produced foods. At left, Principal Scott Cinnamon hands out small bags of produce to students to take home. The produce donated by the Leavenworth Penitentiary Community Service Farm.

Cordley School third-graders, from left, Guthrie Bricker, George Dobson and Patrick Soo pose for a photo after eating a lunch of locally-grown and locally-produced foods. At left, Principal Scott Cinnamon hands out small bags of produce to students to take home. The produce donated by the Leavenworth Penitentiary Community Service Farm. by Karrey Britt

Mikah Beaty, a third-grader at Cordley School, holds up the pepper and radish that she received from the Leavenworth Penitentiary Community Service Farm.

Mikah Beaty, a third-grader at Cordley School, holds up the pepper and radish that she received from the Leavenworth Penitentiary Community Service Farm. by Karrey Britt

The Cordley PTA had a special "thank you" sign on display at the third "Farm-to-School Lunch" event, which was Oct. 19, 2011.

The Cordley PTA had a special "thank you" sign on display at the third "Farm-to-School Lunch" event, which was Oct. 19, 2011. by Karrey Britt

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Homegrown Food Festival turnout not as good as hoped

The Homegrown Lawrence Festival drew about 130 people Friday night at Abe and Jakes Landing in downtown Lawrence. The event was a grassroots effort to raise awareness about local food efforts and money for school gardens.

The event didn't draw nearly as big of a crowd as the year before when it was called "Our Local Food Fest" and held in Liberty Hall.

Brian Edie, one of the organizers, believes that "Late Night in the Phog" — which kicked off the Kansas University basketball season — may have been the biggest reason for the low turnout. The event took place at the same time as the festival, which included school garden presentations, high school short films, music and, of course, lots of food.

Those who attended the local food festival said they had a great time and hoped it returned again next year. Here are a few pics from the event:

Clockwise from back left, are Katie Hall, Kayla Gore, Laura Priest and Cheyenne Patton. They are involved in the Community and Learning garden at Free State High School. Priest, a teacher at FSHS, oversees the garden project which is in its first year.  They talked about the garden project during the Homegrown Food Festival on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, at Abe and Jake's Landing.

Clockwise from back left, are Katie Hall, Kayla Gore, Laura Priest and Cheyenne Patton. They are involved in the Community and Learning garden at Free State High School. Priest, a teacher at FSHS, oversees the garden project which is in its first year. They talked about the garden project during the Homegrown Food Festival on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, at Abe and Jake's Landing. by Karrey Britt

Luke Carlson, left, and his brother Tim Carlson, both of Lawrence, enjoy the food and music at the Homegrown Food Festival on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, at Abe and Jake's Landing.

Luke Carlson, left, and his brother Tim Carlson, both of Lawrence, enjoy the food and music at the Homegrown Food Festival on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, at Abe and Jake's Landing. by Karrey Britt

Josh Flones, 5, and his sister, Annika, 8, of Olathe, enjoy the Homegrown Food Festival.

Josh Flones, 5, and his sister, Annika, 8, of Olathe, enjoy the Homegrown Food Festival. by Karrey Britt

Alex Hurt, a seventh grader, and his sister, Anahita, a fifth grader, are involved in the garden project at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School. There are about 40 students involved in the project, and they've sold $600 worth of produce at a nearby Lawrence farmers' market.  Produce from the garden also is making its way into the school cafeteria.

Alex Hurt, a seventh grader, and his sister, Anahita, a fifth grader, are involved in the garden project at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School. There are about 40 students involved in the project, and they've sold $600 worth of produce at a nearby Lawrence farmers' market. Produce from the garden also is making its way into the school cafeteria. by Karrey Britt

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Don’t forget: The Homegrown Lawrence Festival starts at 5:30 p.m.

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Got Friday night plans?

Tonight's Late Night at the Phog, of course, but if you aren't checking out the Jayhawks' first official scrimmage of 2011-2012, how about helping out local school gardens with your Friday night?

The Homegrown Lawrence Festival starts at 5:30 p.m. at Abe and Jakes with a dinner catered by The Merc and then garden presentations and performances by four local bands will follow. Tickets are $10 at the door for the presentations and bands. If you come hungry and early, there may be a few extra dinner tickets for $25 ($5 more than if you bought them early online). Food tickets are not guaranteed, though.

For more information, check out our longer story about it. And if you come by, make sure to say hey at the Lawrence Journal-World/WellCommons/Lawrence.com booth.

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Seed money: Homegrown Lawrence Festival raises money to get school gardens growing

Sesha Edie, 5, right, shows her father Brian something she found while playing in the garden while Jessica, left, helps Mira, 2, with a water bucket. Brian is an organizer of the Homegrown Lawrence Festival, Oct. 14. Part of his inspiration for working on the festival, which raises funds to start school gardens, is that Secha will start at public school next year.

Sesha Edie, 5, right, shows her father Brian something she found while playing in the garden while Jessica, left, helps Mira, 2, with a water bucket. Brian is an organizer of the Homegrown Lawrence Festival, Oct. 14. Part of his inspiration for working on the festival, which raises funds to start school gardens, is that Secha will start at public school next year. by John Young

How does your garden grow?

If you’re a Lawrence school, you grow through grass-roots support.

Several student gardens have sprouted up over the past few years at area public and private schools. But seed money for the gardens is scarce. That’s where the Homegrown Lawrence Festival comes in.

On Friday, Oct. 14, the second-year local food extravaganza hopes to raise plenty of funds to help get more school garden projects off the ground. The strategy? Entice with food, education and entertainment.

The festival, which was called Our Local Food Fest last year, will treat guests to food catered from The Merc, beer from 23rd Street Brewery and Free State Brewing Company, a balloonist, talks about local school garden projects, films from high school students and performances by four area bands. Tickets are divided into full (food and music) passes for $20 and non-food passes for $10. It’s a something-for-everyone approach organizers hope will appeal to all parts of the community.

“Some people are probably going to be there just for the food. And some people may be interested to watch the presentations for the school gardens. And some people may come just to watch the bands,” says organizer Brian Edie. “We want to have options for everybody.”

Edie says the idea for the festival came out of a Leadership Lawrence class a few years ago. Class members thought that tying the local food movement with the school system would be a way to help out the area’s economics and stave off the childhood obesity struggle.

“We thought that this idea of having locally grown foods used in the school system might be a way to tackle a lot of those same issues that were on our minds,” Edie says. “We kind of researched it there and thought that a festival might be the best way to raise community awareness.”

Part of that research included attending the first Farm to School lunch at Cordley School in May 2010. One of the organizers of that event, Rick Martin, then the executive chef at Free State Brewery, ended up connecting with Edie and the Leadership Lawrence folks to help plan last year’s festival. By that time, Martin had helped with several of the area school gardens and become a passionate advocate for teaching children about whole foods. A partnership seemed natural then and is even more natural now, as Martin is just a few months removed from starting to work with students’ perceptions of food in a more direct role — as a culinary arts teacher at Eudora High School.

The festival is designed to raise both awareness and funds, the idea being that school gardens are the first step toward both teaching kids about healthy whole foods and getting those types of foods into school meals. Money raised from ticket sales to the event and donations given both through the event’s website, www.homegrownlawrence.com, and at the festival itself will go directly to helping start area gardens says Martin, who just planted Eudora High’s first-ever food garden seeds last month.

“We put that money into the Lawrence Schools Foundation and it will stay in a fund that will be specified for school garden projects,” Martin says of the festival’s fund-raising. “When a new project starts, usually the biggest hurdle is, ‘Well, we really want to do this but we don’t have the money and we don’t know where to start to get it.’ We can provide that seed money and give $300 or $400 to a garden project to get them off the ground. Because once you have that seed money, it’s usually sustainable if it’s managed properly.”

The gardens are the perfect stepping stone toward getting fresh produce into our schools because of a provision in the Child Nutrition Act, which governs food in the public food system.

“I think there’s a lot more freedom than we think with individual school systems,” Martin says. “It’s stated in the school Child Nutrition Act that food grown on campus can be used in the cafeteria. There’s nothing that prohibits that at all. That’s a pretty big shortcut there. We’re growing food and it can be used in the cafeteria, not only is that an educational value to the students, but it’s savings for the school system that’s already strapped for money right now.”

To get that shortcut to be utilized to its fullest, getting the word out is key. Also key is patience — going from planting gardens to a total makeover of what ends up on school lunch trays is going to take time as well as support.

“Ultimately, I think it’s important to get better food into our school lunch system,” Martin says. “But we realize there’s not a whole lot we can do right now, the system is already doing what it can, but the more that we promote school garden projects and Farm to School and local food endeavors, the closer we get to having better food for our children in cafeterias and opening doors for those food service administrators who are operating cafeterias to have more choices and less regulation.

“And the only way that’s going to happen is for more people to ask for it.”

For more information about the event, see the full story on www.lawrence.com.

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Area residents check out chocolate delights on Kaw Valley Farm Tour

Jean Younger of Sleepy Jean's Confections talks chocolate as Allison Jakubauskas listens in as the Annual Kaw Vally Farm tour was held on Saturday Oct 2, 2011, as area farms showed of their talents.

Jean Younger of Sleepy Jean's Confections talks chocolate as Allison Jakubauskas listens in as the Annual Kaw Vally Farm tour was held on Saturday Oct 2, 2011, as area farms showed of their talents. by Richard Gwin

Lawrence residents Sara Taliaferro and Mark Jakubauskas, along with their 6-year-old twin daughters, Allison and Cecelia, stayed away from the hustle and bustle of KU Homecoming Saturday, instead opting for a leisurely day hopping around the Kaw Valley Farm Tour.

“This is a much better pace,” said Taliaferro, as Allison and Cecelia showed off their chocolatey choices at their second stop of the day — Sleepy Jean’s Confections, just south of Clinton Lake.

Shoppers milled about “Sleepy” Jean Younger’s barn, browsing a wide assortment of chocolate treats made from Younger’s chocolate; everything from chocolate peppermint sugar scrub to chocolate covered apples.

Twin sisters, from left, Allison 6, and Cecellia  6, Jakubauskas, both of Lawrence, get ready to lick up some chocolate at Sleepy Jeans Confections during the Annual Kaw Vally Farm tour was held on Saturday Oct 2, 2011, as area farms showed of their talents.

Twin sisters, from left, Allison 6, and Cecellia 6, Jakubauskas, both of Lawrence, get ready to lick up some chocolate at Sleepy Jeans Confections during the Annual Kaw Vally Farm tour was held on Saturday Oct 2, 2011, as area farms showed of their talents. by Richard Gwin

Younger said she expects about 1,000 visitors this weekend as part of the 24-farm tour, which includes area fruit farms, dairy farms, and wineries.

The tour was a good way to entertain some out-of-town guests for Lawrence woman Kristen Siegfried. Her mom, Kim, and grandmother, Maureen, were visiting from Indianapolis, and all were sharing their first experience with the 10th Annual Kaw Valley Farm Tour.

“We did our shopping yesterday,” said Maureen of the trio’s quality “ladies” time. “Having a great weekend.” The Siegfried’s started the day with chocolate, and planned to end the tour at several of the wineries on the tour schedule.

After starting the day with breakfast at Vesecky Family Farms in Baldwin City, Jakubauskas and his family were also planning on ending at a winery, where they’d meet up with some family friends. The family has been on the tour for four straight years, and it’s something they all look forward to, Jakubauskas said.

“It’s one of the great things about Lawrence,” he said.

The tour continues until 6 p.m. Saturday, and is open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets for the tour cost $10 per vehicle and be purchased at all of the locations. For more information, visit kawvalleyfarmtour.org.

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Completing Eat Local Challenge is fun, tasty, rewarding

I did it!

During the last two weeks, I bought and ate enough local foods to earn a coveted $5 Lawrence Farmers Market token during the fourth annual "Eat Local Challenge."

During the first week, I shopped at The Merc and ate at 715 restaurant. I even wrote a story that compared local food prices and taste versus their non-local counterparts. I learned that it pays to shop around, and when it comes to taste, there's not much difference unless you're talking tomatoes or Rocky Ford cantaloupe.

In week two, I did all of my local food shopping and eating on Saturday.

First, I went to the downtown Lawrence Farmers' Market, where I bought six peaches for $6 from Tryon's Orchard in Hiawatha. The orchard sold out of them an hour before the market closed.

I also bought two white onions for a buck apiece from Tomato Allie, of Lawrence.

I went to the market with a friend who bought a bagful of items and a watermelon. While there, we saw a number of co-workers and other friends. We had fun taking in the atmosphere.

Several vendors said this coming weekend — Labor Day weekend —typically is the busiest of the season.

For lunch, I met my husband at Global Café, 820 Mass., which buys local meats and produce. It was our first time there. I ordered a grilled veggie sandwich and chose the black bean salad as my side dish. The sandwich — which contained roasted red peppers, mushrooms, onions, squash, spinach and goat cheese, was tasty. I was glad I ordered it.

My husband ordered one of the specials, "Huevos Borrachos," which was two corn tortillas filled with eggs, onions, red peppers, avocado and Mexican chorizo and smothered in a green chile sauce. It was served with black beans and rice. He said it was "good."

The special was $7.95 and my meal was $6.99. We agreed that we would be back. The waiter said that the restaurant buys its meats, eggs and vegetables from local farmers and producers.

On the way home, I stopped by The Merc, 901 Iowa, to pick up a few items, including two containers of hummus — cucumber and spicy pepper — that's made in Kansas City and vanilla ice cream made in Tecumseh. The hummus was $3.99 apiece and the ice cream was $5.79.

While I may have spent more than typical on some of the local products and produce, I felt good knowing that it was benefiting local farmers and the local economy. And although the "Eat Local Challenge" is over, I plan to continue to lean in when it comes to buying local foods.

How about you?

Now, I just need to stop by The Merc, turn in my passport and pick up my token. I have until Sept. 15. I also would have earned a sticker for my garden, which is producing tomatoes, peppers and herbs. But, more about that later.

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Handful of Lawrence restaurants tout local ingredients during annual Eat Local Challenge

Five restaurants are participating in this year’s Eat Local Challenge, which is sponsored by The Merc Community Market and Deli:

• Pachamama’s, 800 N.H.

• Free State Brewery, 636 Mass.

• 715, 715 Mass.

• Global Cafe, 820 Mass.

• Wheatfields, 904 Vt.

All of these restaurants have one thing in common: They buy ingredients from local farmers and producers.

On Sunday evening, my husband and I ate at 715 restaurant. We first tried it last year because of the Eat Local Challenge, and when we stopped by it was still serving from its brunch menu. Since I don’t eat bacon, sausage, ham or eggs, my choices ended up being pretty limited.

This year, we hit the dinner menu and there was a wide range of items to pick from. They had everything from pan-seared Idaho trout and Black Angus ribeye to tuna spaghetti and roasted chicken breast. They even had fried rabbit legs!

We stuck with something familiar: pizza. (Not too adventurous, are we?). My husband ordered a $12 lamb meatball pizza (that’s a little off the beaten path), while I went with a $10 cheese pizza. We split a $6 green salad.

The cool thing about 715 is that you can watch the chefs make everything because the kitchen is open. From across the room, we could see the chefs toss pizza dough into the air.

My husband described his pizza as “good and spicy.” I thought the pizza and salad tasted fresh and delicious. The crust is very thin, which we both like. They make the dough in the restaurant.

The waitress told us that they make all of the breads in house or buy them from Wheatfields bakery, which is just a couple blocks away. The lamb was from Shannon Creek Lamb, of Olsburg, and the farmer, Joseph Hubbard, is a K-State student, which pleased these K-State alumni.

The herbs that were used in the meatballs and salad dressing also were local. The cheeses were from Wisconsin.

The restaurant has a blackboard hanging on the wall with all of the local farmers and businesses that it buys from. More than 30 are listed. Among them: Moon on the Meadow farm, J & S Coffee, Kevin Irick Farms, MAD farm and Anthony’s Beehive.

I received two more stickers for my Eat Local Challenge passport, so now I’m four away from earning a $5 Lawrence Farmers’ Market token. I have until Sunday, so I don’t think it will be a problem. I’m planning a fun trip to the Saturday Lawrence Farmers’ Market, and I plan to try Global Cafe. (I’ve never been, so if you have suggestions on what to order, let me know). Also, I will earn a sticker for having my own garden.

The challenge is on.

How's everyone else doing?

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Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic draws about 75 people

The Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic drew 75 people on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, at Centennial Park. Everyone brought dishes made with local ingredients.

The Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic drew 75 people on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, at Centennial Park. Everyone brought dishes made with local ingredients. by Karrey Britt

Community members gathered Sunday evening in Centennial Park to share dishes made with local ingredients. People brought a wide variety of food -- everything from meatballs and salads to dips and cookies. There was even beer from Free State Brewery!

Everyone had a fun time and the weather wasn't too bad — a little humid, but nobody was complaining.

The event was sponsored by The Merc Community Market & Deli, 901 Iowa, as part of its two-week Eat Local Challenge.

Fun pics from the picnic:

John and Kristen Spencer, Lawrence, and their son Benjamin, attend the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic in Centennial Park. They said the food was "very good."

John and Kristen Spencer, Lawrence, and their son Benjamin, attend the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic in Centennial Park. They said the food was "very good." by Karrey Britt

Chris and Richard Whitson, of Lawrence, attend the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic on Sunday in Centennial Park.

Chris and Richard Whitson, of Lawrence, attend the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic on Sunday in Centennial Park.

Marcy and Al Mauler, of Lawrence, enjoy the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic in Centennial Park. They said, "it's been fun." They were surprised by the variety of foods — all made with local ingredients. They were impressed with the spring rolls.

Marcy and Al Mauler, of Lawrence, enjoy the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic in Centennial Park. They said, "it's been fun." They were surprised by the variety of foods — all made with local ingredients. They were impressed with the spring rolls. by Karrey Britt

Kara Bollinger, left, and Samantha Lyons, both Kansas University graduate students, attend the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, in Centennial Park. Bollinger is participating in the two-week Challenge, which is sponsored by The Merc.

Kara Bollinger, left, and Samantha Lyons, both Kansas University graduate students, attend the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, in Centennial Park. Bollinger is participating in the two-week Challenge, which is sponsored by The Merc. by Karrey Britt

Cassie Peters, left, and Crystal Hammerschmidt, both of Lawrence, enjoy the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic in Centennial Park. Hammerschmidt is participating in the Challenge for the first time.

Cassie Peters, left, and Crystal Hammerschmidt, both of Lawrence, enjoy the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic in Centennial Park. Hammerschmidt is participating in the Challenge for the first time. by Karrey Britt

Michael Bradley, left, and Rachael Perry, both of Lawrence, enjoy the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic. Perry brought spring rolls and sushi made with local ingredients.

Michael Bradley, left, and Rachael Perry, both of Lawrence, enjoy the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic. Perry brought spring rolls and sushi made with local ingredients. by Karrey Britt

Lexie Johnson, of Kansas City, visits with Gaylen Knapp, of Bonner Springs, during the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic. Johnson sells Hippie Chow, a gourmet granola made with all natural ingredients. Knapp is a farmer with Knapp Family Farms. Both sell their products at The Merc, 901 Iowa, and were offering food samplings at the picnic.

Lexie Johnson, of Kansas City, visits with Gaylen Knapp, of Bonner Springs, during the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic. Johnson sells Hippie Chow, a gourmet granola made with all natural ingredients. Knapp is a farmer with Knapp Family Farms. Both sell their products at The Merc, 901 Iowa, and were offering food samplings at the picnic. by Karrey Britt

The Prairie Acre band provided music during the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic.

The Prairie Acre band provided music during the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic. by Karrey Britt

A small sampling of the food:

A recipe using cucumbers and red onions.

A recipe using cucumbers and red onions.

Salad using local tomatoes.

Salad using local tomatoes. by Karrey Britt

Salad containing rice, tomatoes and other yummy ingredients.

Salad containing rice, tomatoes and other yummy ingredients. by Karrey Britt

Sushi and a spring roll at right. Yum! The spring rolls quickly disappeared.

Sushi and a spring roll at right. Yum! The spring rolls quickly disappeared. by Karrey Britt

The winning dish:

Lynate Pettengill, Lawrence, won the "best dish" contest at the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, in Centennial Park. She brought rhubarb pie that didn't last long — she's holding the empty dish. She used local rhubarb and her grandma's recipe. The winner was decided by those who attended the picnic.

Lynate Pettengill, Lawrence, won the "best dish" contest at the Eat Local Challenge Community Potluck Picnic on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, in Centennial Park. She brought rhubarb pie that didn't last long — she's holding the empty dish. She used local rhubarb and her grandma's recipe. The winner was decided by those who attended the picnic. by Karrey Britt

Lynate (pronounced luh nae) Pettengill, of Lawrence, received a $50 gift card to The Merc for her rhubarb pie. She used rhubarb from her garden and her grandmother's pie recipe.

Lynate said her grandma — the late Marguerite Pettengill, who was born and raised in Lawrence — was known as the "pie queen." She would make pies for birthdays, instead of cakes.

"Making pies has been a very sweet way for me to remember my grandmother, an incredibly loving, generous woman who was a great influence in my life," she said.

Lynate was kind enough to share the recipe:

Grandma Pettengill's pie crust:

• 1 cup wheat flour

• 1 1/2 cups white all purpose flour

• 1 cup shortening

• 7 tablespoons water

Sift flour into a large bowl. Add the shortening and mix together with a large fork until crumbly. Then add water and mix together. Roll out half onto a floured surface. Place in bottom of pie pan. Roll out other half and place on top after pie filling is added. Cut off excess edges. Crimp top and bottom together. Cover outer 1/2 inch of pie crust with aluminum foil so edges don't burn (or you can buy a pie ring that serves this purpose, too). Poke holes or pattern into top of pie. Place on baking pan in case filling runs over. Bake at 425 for 35-40 minutes, longer if fruit filling was frozen. Pie crust should be golden brown when done. Let cool before serving.

Grandma Pettengill's rhubarb pie filling (could use for other fruit, too):

• 6 cups rhubarb (if frozen, let thaw and then drain excess moisture)

• 1 1/2 cups sugar

• 1/2 cup flour

• 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon

• 1 1/2 tablespoons butter

Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl. Add rhubarb and stir to coat. Place in pie crust. Cut butter into small sections and spread around on top evenly. Top with second half of pie crust and follow the rest of the pie crust recipe.

If you have a recipe that uses local ingredients, please share it here on WellCommons! We'd love to try it.

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Young food activists share experiences during stop in Lawrence on Food and Freedom Ride

Eleven young food activists sang about hope as they walked into a room inside the Dole Institute of Politics on Friday afternoon.

They are on a 12-day Food and Freedom Ride from Birmingham, Ala., to Detroit. They stopped in Lawrence on the sixth day of their journey to talk about food injustices and the benefits of eating locally grown foods.

“I’m looking for food freedom,” said Hai Vo, one of the riders from Orange County, Calif. “We live in a country and world in which our industrialized food system is hurting ourselves and the health of our environment.”

The riders are part of Live Real, an organization of young people from across the country who want to create a food system that makes “real food the norm — not the exception.”

The group also is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, when civil rights activists rode buses throughout the South to challenge discrimination. Those riders were beaten and arrested, but they inspired others to follow in their footsteps and become involved in the civil rights movement.

Jason Patterson, 24, center, of Nashville, Tenn., was one of 11 Food & Freedom Riders who stopped in Lawrence Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, to speak at the Dole Institute of Politics. The group travels like the Freedom Riders did in 1961, and hopes to increase awareness about the food we eat and and agriculture and federal policies.

Jason Patterson, 24, center, of Nashville, Tenn., was one of 11 Food & Freedom Riders who stopped in Lawrence Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, to speak at the Dole Institute of Politics. The group travels like the Freedom Riders did in 1961, and hopes to increase awareness about the food we eat and and agriculture and federal policies. by Richard Gwin

Bumps along the road

Fifty years later, these riders are hoping to inspire others to act, and they’ve run into their own problems along the way.

Courtney Oats, 20, wasn’t sure if she would make the trip after being arrested last weekend in her hometown of Eupora, Miss., which has a population of 2,300. She was followed home by police after posting fliers about the Food and Freedom Ride and a community garden groundbreaking celebration. That incident blew up into a heated exchange involving teenagers who were defending her cause and more police officers. They arrested Oats for disorderly conduct.

“They just wanted to prove a point or scare me,” she said.

She made bail, and the Food and Freedom Riders showed up Monday to break ground on a small community garden at her mother’s office building. Oats said she had planted a community garden before that was producing vegetables, but it was destroyed.

She’s hopeful that this one will flourish.

“Our community needs healthy, fresh food,” she said.

Oats said the small town only has convenience stores and a fast-food restaurant. Mississippi has the highest obesity rate, and Oats said it shows.

“The kids are eating frozen foods and anything they can throw on top of a McDonald’s hamburger,” she said. “We don't have healthy foods.”

Thursday night, the group stopped in St. Louis at the headquarters of Monsanto Co., an agriculture biotechnology corporation. They wanted to perform a seed ceremony and share their mission with passersby. As soon as they brought out the seeds, instruments and a “We the Youth” banner, five police cars drove up.

Vo said they performed the ceremony without incident. When a police officer asked for a name, they said, “Live Real.”

Unhealthy eating

Vo knows first-hand the importance of eating healthy. At age 18, he weighed 250 pounds. He said he grew up eating processed breakfasts and lunches in school and then ate unhealthy Vietnamese food at home. Two months before high school graduation, he saw a video of himself.

“I thought, ‘Who is that person?’” he said. “That day was the turning point.”

The next day he went to a doctor who ran tests and found out he had type 2 diabetes. The doctor told him that if he continued to eat and live in the same way, he would live to only age 30.

He’s now a healthy, fit 24-year-old. He cut out sodas, sugars and carbs. He started eating traditional Vietnamese foods — bone broth soups, grains and greens. He also doesn’t eat as much.

“It’s a mindset of knowing what our needs are without overstuffing ourselves,” he said.

The Food and Freedom riders also visited Haskell Indian Nations University before heading to a reservation in White Cloud, Kan. Then, it was on to Iowa.

There were about 25 people at the Dole Institute presentation. Among the attendees were state Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence. She said she came from a conference in San Antonio where 150 lawmakers were talking about growing food to share among neighbors. The group applauded.

Ocoee Miller, a rural Lawrence gardener, praised the Food and Freedom riders and said they give her hope for the future.

“I think this is just terribly important,” she said. “If we are going to be functional as human beings, we have to eat well, and in order to eat well we are going to have to eat real food — not plastic, phony, pretend, microwaved food. I think most of our health problems would go away if we were eating real food.”

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Chefs showcase flavor of local foods at first ‘Farmers Market at the Fair’ event

About 200 people watched three teams of Lawrence restaurant chefs buy, prepare, cook and serve up dishes made with local fare.

Then came the best part: taste testing. Delicious, flavorful and inspiring were a few words used to describe the food.

The Chef’s Challenge was part of the first Farmers Market at the Douglas County Fair on Thursday evening at the county fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St. The event was organized by a broad coalition of organizations who seek to support local growers and businesses.

“The purpose of the event was to really call attention to the richness of the food in the valley and to the farmers and to link it with the fair, which already is a celebration of agriculture,” said Julie Mettenburg, coordinator for Our Local Food–Kaw River Valley. “We want people to know that there are a lot of sources for local food around town and it’s really worth seeking out because this shows tonight that it’s really delicious, affordable and amazing and it supports our local economy.”

Nearly 30 vendors were selling a variety of produce, meats and homemade goodies. The Iwig Family Dairy booth was a popular stop because it was selling four flavors of ice cream. Collin Billau, general manager, estimated that he sold more than 140 8-ounce containers.

A majority of the vendors, including Iwig dairy, take part in the Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market on Thursdays, which moved to the fairgrounds for the event. Although business was slower than the typical market, several said they had new customers and thought it was a worthwhile venture.

“It was a good idea and a lot of fun,” said Stephanie Thomas, of Spring Creek Farm near Baldwin City. “We’d participate again.”

During the three-hour farmers' market, the chefs were cooking and sweating up a storm. Among the competitors were: Ken Baker and Vaughn Good, of Pachamama’s; Subarna Bhattachan and Alejandro Lule, of Zen Zero; and Russ Iversen, Hal Beckerman and Pedro Julio Tovar-Ballagh, of Free State Brewery.

They purchased local ingredients at the farmers' market and then had one hour to prepare their dishes, which included a grilled meat and a side.

The dishes were then judged by Douglas County Commissioner Jim Flory, City Commissioner Mike Amyx and Twilla Brown, a longtime 4-H supporter.

Flory said it was a tough decision.

“Everything was delicious. It was almost impossible to judge because it was all so good,” he said. “The quality and taste of food was excellent all the way around.”

Their vote made up 70 percent of the final decision and then the crowd’s vote was worth 30 percent.

The winner was Free State Brewery. They served up butter-beer-braised pork loin with mashed potatoes and a peach-corn compote that was topped with a huckleberry balsamic vinegar reduction.

But the chefs said it wasn’t about winning or losing; it was about promoting local foods and showing fairgoers just how fresh the local food tastes.

“It was a lot of fun,” Baker said. “We had a great time and would do it again.”

From left in foreground Alejandro Lule, and Subarna Bhattachan, of Zen Zero, begin grilling food Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, during the Chef's Challenge at the Douglas County Fair. Chefs from three Lawrence restaurants, including Free State Brewery and Pachamamas, competed in the event using locally-grown produce. In background at far left is Pachamama chef Ken Baker and at right is Hal Beckerman, kitchen manager at Free State Brewery.

From left in foreground Alejandro Lule, and Subarna Bhattachan, of Zen Zero, begin grilling food Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, during the Chef's Challenge at the Douglas County Fair. Chefs from three Lawrence restaurants, including Free State Brewery and Pachamamas, competed in the event using locally-grown produce. In background at far left is Pachamama chef Ken Baker and at right is Hal Beckerman, kitchen manager at Free State Brewery. by Mike Yoder

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Don’t miss the first ‘Farmers Market at the Fair’ on Thursday!

Farmers market fare.

Farmers market fare.

The Douglas County Fair is featuring its first farmers’ market and chef’s challenge on Thursday evening.

Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market is moving from 1832 Mass. to the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St., for the event. Nearly 30 vendors will offer locally-grown foods and homemade goodies to purchase from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Douglas County Food Policy Council will provide a produce check-in service in Building 21 to keep purchases from wilting while patrons enjoy other activities.

The “Farmers Market at the Fair” also will feature children's activities and two musical groups — Dorian’s Wheel and Vegetable — from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

At 5:45 p.m., Lawrence chefs Rick Martin of Free State Brewery, Ken Baker of Pachamama’s and Subarna Bhattachan of Zen Zero will each be provided with a budget for shopping at the vendor booths. Cooking will begin at 6 p.m., with sampler plates offered to a panel of judges and the audience beginning at 7 p.m.

Final judging — including an audience participation score — and a drawing for a compost tumbler will wrap up the event by 8 p.m.

Cottin's Hardware Farmers Market is typically held Thursdays in the back parking lot of the store at 1832 Mass. But, this week it will be at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St.

Cottin's Hardware Farmers Market is typically held Thursdays in the back parking lot of the store at 1832 Mass. But, this week it will be at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St.

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Use your CSA Recipe: Kale and tomatoes

For several weeks recently, my CSA package has contained all of the ingredients for one perfect meal.

Well, really one perfect meal and a couple of leftovers since I’m cooking for one!

Whether you’re getting your veggies from a CSA, the farmer’s market, or your backyard, the mid-summer veggies in this Sautéed Kale and Tomatoes recipe are likely abundant and prime to eat right now.

I’ve made this dish several times this summer and it meets my current requirements for a good recipe:

--> Easy to memorize (who wants to constantly check a recipe while cooking?)

--> No weird ingredients I’d have to run to the store to get

--> Easy to clean up

Want to read more? You can read the rest of this article and access the recipe on my blog, The Food Advocate!

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Doughnut hole: Ban highlights difficulties of getting local flour in the Wheat State

This whole-wheat flour from Soaring Eagle Farm/ACME Grain in Edgerton is ground in Kansas using only Kansas wheat.

This whole-wheat flour from Soaring Eagle Farm/ACME Grain in Edgerton is ground in Kansas using only Kansas wheat. by Nick Krug

Nothing like a doughnut, or lack thereof, to put a bad taste in people’s mouths.

The Capitol Midweek Farmers’ Market made news at the tail end of May for what it suddenly wasn’t selling: Rees Fruit Farm cider doughnuts.

Doughnuts have never been the definition of a healthy choice, but the ban by the farmers’ market’s overseeing agency, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, wasn’t purely a matter of health, it was a matter of source.

No, it wasn’t that the doughnuts were pulled for their fatty nutritional profile — they were banned, because, despite meeting market standards for use of whole-wheat flour, said flour wasn’t a local product.

In 2011, the market, which asks vendor applicants to use whole-wheat flour in baked goods added another stipulation to that regulation — all main ingredients in salable baked goods must be grown and processed in Kansas, including the whole-wheat flour.

No Kansas whole-wheat flour, no doughnuts.

No doughnuts turned into a big deal, with most major news outlets in the northeastern section of the state covering the ban and the outraged customers whose sweet teeth were denied.

But the biggest news of all slid under the radar: The ban exposed a hole in our local food economy much bigger than those found in the tasty treat that started it all. Because, despite the fact that Kansas is consistently the top wheat producer in the nation, it ranges from difficult to expensive to knowingly purchase Kansas-grown, Kansas-ground wheat flour.

Yes, it’s true. Heck, even the owner of the only mill in this corner of the state grinding 100 percent Kansas grain says that getting the type of flour most market bakers would want for sweet treats is downright difficult on a local level.

“If you’re looking for whole-wheat flour, that’s pretty simple to get,” says Lee Quaintance, who, with his wife Cindy, runs Soaring Eagle Farm/ACME Grain in Edgerton. Their whole-wheat flour is available in bulk from The Merc, 901 S. Iowa. “If you’re looking for just the white flour, that doesn’t have any bran and germ in it, that’s a little more of an issue, because that takes an awful lot more effort and machinery and cleaning and all that sort of stuff.”

Balancing source with production

When Ellie Garrett and Bridget Patti were conceptualizing their bakery business, they knew they wanted to go as local as possible. They sought out local producers to find eggs, butter, milk, cream, honey, fruit, wine, beer and wheat for the cakes, pies and pastries that would soon be sold under the Backdoor Bakery label at the 2011 Lawrence Farmers’ Market.

“For us, we were trying to use as many local products as we felt were as high quality as possible to begin with,” Garrett says. “It was a question of quality balancing with local as far as priority goes.”

Garrett and Patti get their flour from both Quaintance’s ACME and Heartland Mills. They say that though they could buy generic bags of King Arthur Flour and feel pretty confident that at least a percentage of that flour was ground from Kansas wheat, they preferred to work through local mills.

It’s that kind of gumption that looks pretty good these days on a market application. Both Linda Cottin of Cottin’s Farmers’ Market and Tom Buller of the Lawrence Farmers’ Market say that the use of local products does give some weight to a vendor competing with others for a coveted market space.

“Basically, we don’t have a strict requirement on our baked goods or prepared foods that all the ingredients have to be local. We felt like that would become a big headache to try to police,” Buller says. “We don’t have that standard, but what we do is when we look at applications ... we kind of give preference to people in the categories of baked goods and prepared foods that do use local products or try to the best of their ability.”

Cottin says that her market has just 16 spaces. Because of the market’s size, she says eventually she may ask bakers to source their products locally, but that right now her main concern is to provide safe incubation to new members of the local food economy.

“First, we want to get them producing and comfortable,” she says. “Once they get producing and they are comfortable marketing their product and selling their product and all that, then ... I think that’s the time to start introducing the local product concept.”

Years away?

So, how will the Wheat State get its local flour? Mercedes Taylor-Puckett of the Kansas Rural Center says that until the infrastructure is sorted out — there are both more mills and more independent grain growers — the local food economy will be somewhat incomplete.

“In other areas of the country, grain farmers and bakers have gotten together and they’re trying to rebuild that infrastructure that we’ve lost through consolidation,” she says, adding that infrastructure equals jobs. “And so, it would be really interesting to explore whether we can look at grain in Kansas as a product, not just a commodity.”

Thom Leonard agrees that a movement has picked up in other parts of the country. Leonard, the co-founder of Wheatfields Bakery & Cafe, 904 Vt., says that he’s worked with or knows of groups in climates as diverse as Washington State, Colorado, North Carolina and Upstate New York on growing local wheat. It’s a process of returning to the old ways before crop subsidies and industrialization modernized food production.

“Well, not everybody can have local papayas. But wheat of some type can be grown in almost any state,” Leonard says, noting that Florida and Alabama both currently grow more wheat than Iowa. “It used to be that wheat was grown as part of a rotation on the farm.”

And that means diversification for local farmers. As Leonard points out “the farmer growing tomatoes isn’t the farmer growing wheat” much of the time. But two Lawrence Farmers’ Market vendors are working to change that.

Don Edmonds of Rocky Hills Elk Ranch in Winchester and Jill Elmers of Lawrence’s Moon on the Meadow Farm are both growing crops they hope to mill. Edmonds is experimenting with open-pollanated corn from century’s old seed and is hoping to get it ground in Nebraska and sold at the farmers’ market. Elmers is testing 1.5 acres of heirloom wheat. She hopes to have a stock of wheatberries and ground flour to share with her CSA and farmers’ market customers by the end of the year.

It’s a start, but one could scarf a lot of apple cider doughnuts on the journey to where the state would need to go to make it easy for anyone to get locally grown and milled flour for a reasonable price.

“I think it would be a several-year project,” Taylor-Puckett says of connecting bakers with grain growers. “I think the situation in Topeka has highlighted opportunities to more fully integrate farmers’ market products with local foods. I think it’s ... something that we should really take a look at as an opportunity, not as a challenge.”

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Cordley students enthusiastic about harvesting, eating local produce

Cordley Elementary students admire the size of an onion plant held by school volunteer and parent Kelly Jones in the cafeteria Tuesday, May 17, 2011. For Tuesday's lunch, the students and staff ate fresh produce that the students had recently picked from Lawrence-area farms.

Cordley Elementary students admire the size of an onion plant held by school volunteer and parent Kelly Jones in the cafeteria Tuesday, May 17, 2011. For Tuesday's lunch, the students and staff ate fresh produce that the students had recently picked from Lawrence-area farms. by Mike Yoder

“Sweet.”

That’s how 7-year-old Reed Parker-Timms described the strawberries that he ate for lunch Tuesday at Cordley School. They were the first item to disappear from his tray. He helped pick them the day before at a farm just southeast of town.

“I put my fingers on the green part and then pulled a little and the strawberry came off,” he said. He estimated he picked 50.

There was a lot of enthusiasm about the day’s lunch. That’s because it contained more local produce than usual, and the 310 students — kindergarten through sixth grade — had learned about the health and environment benefits.

In fact, 30 percent more students chose to eat the cafeteria lunch instead of bringing their own.

Students loaded up on local produce at the salad bar: eggs, radishes, lettuce and strawberries. The cookies were made with local sunflowers and flour, and 715 restaurant provided a salad dressing made with local ingredients.

“It’s really good. It’s a lot better than our regular lunches,” said Lourdes Kalusha, a sixth-grader.

The “Farm-to-School” lunch was coordinated by Linda Cottin of Cottin’s Hardware, a local-food enthusiast, and Kelly Jones, a parent. It was the second year for the project. Last year, the entire meal was local, and this year, it was a scaled-down version.

The lunch project cost $365, which were donations collected through the PTA. It paid the West Junior High School student gardeners $90 for 15 pounds of lettuce, washed.

Jones said they plan to serve a full-scale local meal this fall and already have started working with farmers and restaurants.

“We want the kids to be excited about healthy foods and to try new foods that are grown in Kansas,” she said.

Cordley School students pick radishes with the help of parents and volunteers at MADD farm, southwest of Lawrence. The radishes were served the next day for lunch at the school.

Cordley School students pick radishes with the help of parents and volunteers at MADD farm, southwest of Lawrence. The radishes were served the next day for lunch at the school.

Dan Phelps, co-owner of MADD farm, weighs the radishes picked by students at Cordley School. The students picked 7 pounds of radishes at his farm on Sunday, May 15, 2011. They were served in the cafeteria the next day.

Dan Phelps, co-owner of MADD farm, weighs the radishes picked by students at Cordley School. The students picked 7 pounds of radishes at his farm on Sunday, May 15, 2011. They were served in the cafeteria the next day.

Jane Wohletz holds Emily Unekis, whose mom and older silblings were busy picking strawberries Monday, May 16, 2011, at her farm, southeast of Lawrence. They were picking strawberries for lunch at Cordley School.

Jane Wohletz holds Emily Unekis, whose mom and older silblings were busy picking strawberries Monday, May 16, 2011, at her farm, southeast of Lawrence. They were picking strawberries for lunch at Cordley School.

Cordley School students, parents and volunteers pick strawberries Monday, May 16, 2011, at the Wohletz farm, southeast of Lawrence. The strawberries were served the next day for lunch at school.

Cordley School students, parents and volunteers pick strawberries Monday, May 16, 2011, at the Wohletz farm, southeast of Lawrence. The strawberries were served the next day for lunch at school.

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Bye-Bye Bounty: Rolling in green with CSA Swiss chard burritos

Swiss chard roll ups with veggies and homemade hummus.

Swiss chard roll ups with veggies and homemade hummus. by Sarah Henning

So, this week in cooking-away-my-CSA news, I’m excited to share one of my favorite new recipes for spring greens. It’s a new use (for me anyway) for Swiss chard.

All winter, I’d been trying to get myself to like wraps made of collard greens. Basically, you put together a wrap and instead of encasing it in a tortilla, you encase it in a collard green leaf. It seemed like a good way to get in some extra greens aside from my beloved kale salads (One of which, I’ll probably share next week, FYI).

But, honestly, I wasn’t that much of a fan. The collard greens always seemed so tough and it always seemed like a chore to eat anything more than the insides of my wraps. Yes, even I, Miss Veggie Queen, could not handle the greeness of the collard wrap.

However, I liked the idea.

So, when I got some Swiss chard in last week’s CSA bag from Rolling Prairie — along with more paté, eggs, green onions, spinach and pea greens — I immediately thought I’d try out the chard as a wrapper. I really wasn’t sure if it would work. Last year, I stir-fried all the chard I could from my CSA and my garden or used it in smoothies. So, basically, I wasn’t really sure how “strong” the leaves were on their own.

But you know what? They worked perfectly. In fact, I ate the whole bunch on back-to-back nights by making little chard roll ups. Yep, they were GOOOOD.

For more, including instructions on how to roll ’em up, click here.

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Dan Phelps passing along garden expertise, life lessons to next generation

After moving to Lawrence in 2009, Dan Phelps took on the job of coordinator of the West Junior High garden. Last year, the garden supplied the school's cafeteria with more than 180 pounds of produce. This year, he is coordinating a bigger WJHS garden and a new one at Sunset Hill School.

After moving to Lawrence in 2009, Dan Phelps took on the job of coordinator of the West Junior High garden. Last year, the garden supplied the school's cafeteria with more than 180 pounds of produce. This year, he is coordinating a bigger WJHS garden and a new one at Sunset Hill School. by Richard Gwin

Dan Phelps hasn’t lived in Lawrence long, and he’s already made a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of students.

Shortly after moving to town in December 2009, the 27-year-old was hired as part-time garden coordinator for a new project at West Junior High School.

At first, he declined the position. Phelps already was working at Vinland Valley Nursery and Cottin’s Hardware and was starting his own farm operation. He didn’t think he could handle another job.

“Then I slept on it, and I was like, ‘This is an opportunity, and I need to find a way to make this happen,’” he said.

Phelps helped transform a large grassy area on the south side of the school into a flourishing garden that provided more than 180 pounds of produce for the cafeteria and material for classroom lessons.

He helped plan what to plant and where. He did the physical work alongside community volunteers and students. More importantly, he served as a teacher and mentor for six WJHS students who were hired to work in the garden. He passed along not only his gardening expertise, but life lessons.

T.J. Everett, 14, has worked alongside Phelps for the past year, and now is considering a career in agriculture.

“He’s very easy to work with. He’s really energetic — no matter what time of day,” T.J. said. “I don’t think this project would be the same without Dan.”

Phelps grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and fell in love with farming while working at his aunt’s farm in the summertime as a teenager.

“I knew that I wanted to work outdoors and I knew that I wanted to be my own boss, and that kind of limited what I was able to do,” he said, with a laugh.

In 2007, he received a bachelor’s degree at the University of California Santa Cruz, where he studied sustainability in agricultural food systems. That’s where he met his wife, Cole Cottin, of Lawrence. Two years later, they moved to Virginia, where he was an assistant farm manager.

They decided to put their roots down in Lawrence because land is considerably cheaper compared to where they lived in Virginia and California. They are farming about 2 acres south of town. This season, they will be selling their produce — mostly tomatoes, potatoes, squash and melons — at The Merc and farmers markets, and they will be supplying some local restaurants.

“The local food movement here is strong and it’s thriving, but it’s growing, too. That’s really important,” he said.

In five years, Phelps thinks every Lawrence school will have a garden — as they do in California.

This spring, he is helping start gardens at Sunset Hill and Hillcrest, while continuing work at WJHS, where the garden is expanding.

Nancy O’Connor, of the Community Mercantile Education Foundation, which has spearheaded the garden projects, said Phelps has been the perfect fit.

“He’s got it all,” she said. “He’s a natural teacher. He’s great with the kids. He’s a hard worker and always on task. He’s got great passion, and he’s also got a lot of compassion. It’s inspiring working around him.”

Dan Phelps works in the garden at West Junior High School.

Dan Phelps works in the garden at West Junior High School. by Richard Gwin


DAN PHELPS

Age: 27

Born and raised: San Francisco Bay area.

Education: Bachelor’s degree from University of California Santa Cruz in community studies with a concentration in sustainability in agricultural food systems, 2007.

Experience: In 2006, he did a six-month internship in San Francisco where he helped eight teenage girls grow food and sell it; after earning a college degree, he did a six-month apprenticeship at The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems in Santa Cruz where he lived on an organic farm with 45 others; in 2008, he was hired as the propagation manager at CASFS; in 2009, he was assistant manager of a small family farm in Virginia.

Occupation: Full-time farmer and part-time garden coordinator for the Growing Food, Growing Health project which includes gardens at West Junior High, Sunset Hill and Hillcrest schools, and The Merc.

Family: Wife, Cole Cottin.

Hobbies: Music, outdoor recreation and cooking.

Garden coordinator Dan Phelps talks outside of Hillcrest School as he, Nancy O'Connor, project coordinator, left, Tammy Baker, Hillcrest principal, and Lily Siebert, coordinator, partially obscured, survey the school property in search of a spot for a school garden on Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. The group plans to break ground on April 2.

Garden coordinator Dan Phelps talks outside of Hillcrest School as he, Nancy O'Connor, project coordinator, left, Tammy Baker, Hillcrest principal, and Lily Siebert, coordinator, partially obscured, survey the school property in search of a spot for a school garden on Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. The group plans to break ground on April 2. by Nick Krug

Dan Phelps, co-owner of MAD Farm at 966 E 800 Road, is a member of Growing Lawrence.

Dan Phelps, co-owner of MAD Farm at 966 E 800 Road, is a member of Growing Lawrence. by Kevin Anderson

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Farmers’ Market to feature greens, baked goods, meats and more

Tomorrow’s downtown Lawrence Farmers’ Market will feature lots of greens.

Market coordinator Tom Buller is uncertain whether asparagus will make its debut. The popular vegetable usually makes an appearance around Tax Day.

Produce that will be available: salad mix, beets, carrots, chard, leeks, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, pea greens, green onions, cilantro, chives and basil.

Of course there will be meats, plants, baked goods and prepared foods along with homemade products like lotions, lip balm and wool hats.

The market will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the 800 block of New Hampshire Street. The weekday markets won’t start until the first week of May.

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Central Junior High School’s garden is growing

Dakota Collins helps dig up an expanded garden at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School on Saturday, April 9, 2011. Watkins Community Museum of History will be opening an exhibition Friday on the school's garden project.

Dakota Collins helps dig up an expanded garden at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School on Saturday, April 9, 2011. Watkins Community Museum of History will be opening an exhibition Friday on the school's garden project. by Mike Yoder

Chief Photographer Mike Yoder was out and about Saturday and saw a bunch of students, parents and community volunteers working on the garden at Central Junior High School.

Here's a slideshow about what's happening on the south side of the school.

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Prairie Moon Waldorf School earns state award for being green

Students at Prairie Moon Waldorf School used a recent sunny day to work in their own gardens.

“It’s fun,” said Finn Veerkamp, a second-grader, as he brushed the dirt from his hands. He was planting red romaine lettuce and basil.

Each student has a 3-foot by 3-foot area of land at the rural Lawrence school, and they are completely in charge of it.

Starra Zweygardt, a seventh-grader, was using a ruler to measure how deeply to plant the seeds for chard. She also had a map of her garden plot that she had drawn in class.

“It’s been pretty easy,” she said of gardening. “But, if you don’t take care of it, it’s not that easy.”

She recalled having to pluck a bunch of tiny weeds that had sprouted in her garden last year after she was gone for a period of time.

“That was really hard,” she said.

Nearby, fourth-grader Will Farwell was building a trellis out of sticks for his peas to climb, and fifth-grader Addi Lybarger was planting Forget-Me-Nots.

Kris Carlson, first- and second-grade teacher, said the garden is incorporated into classroom lessons on reading, writing, math, music and art.

For example, Carlson said he recently told the Irish folktale about how ragweed got its name. His students also painted pictures of a seed germinating under the earth and reaching up.

“They are hearing it, seeing it, doing it,” he said, while eating lunch outside on a wooden picnic table.

Prairie Moon Waldorf School first-grader Angus Burke works to steady a watering can as he makes his way across the planks watering his classmate's gardens on Wednesday, April 6, 2011, at Prairie Moon Waldorf School. At left is first-grader Bella Paradis. Prairie Moon was named a "2011 Kansas Green School of the Year" by the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education.

Prairie Moon Waldorf School first-grader Angus Burke works to steady a watering can as he makes his way across the planks watering his classmate's gardens on Wednesday, April 6, 2011, at Prairie Moon Waldorf School. At left is first-grader Bella Paradis. Prairie Moon was named a "2011 Kansas Green School of the Year" by the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education. by Nick Krug

Hands-on school

Prairie Moon’s curriculum is just one of the many reasons the school was named “Kansas Green School of the Year” by the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education.

Shari Wilson, director of the Kansas Green Schools program for KACEE, applauded the school for the way its curriculum incorporates nature and environment, and for how it uses the garden.

“It’s not about just sitting in a classroom, but it’s also about being outdoors and learning some life skills,” she said.

Prairie Moon, the state’s only Waldorf school, was established in 2001 and opened in 2003. It is located on seven acres of land just northeast of Lawrence Municipal Airport. It has about 60 children, ranging from ages 3 to 13.

“Waldorf schools are very hands-on schools,” said Rick Mitchell, a founder of Prairie Moon. “The slogan is head, heart and hands, and we do those things in equal parts.”

Prairie Moon also has a large garden, called Okanis, where produce is grown and sold to local grocery stores and restaurants. It also is taken to homeless shelters. Last year, the garden provided about 250 pounds of produce.

Mitchell is the garden coordinator, but students, teachers and Lawrence community volunteers help out.

“We have a lot of great partnerships,” Mitchell said.

Prairie Moon is working in cooperation with Kansas University’s Native Medicinal Plant Research Garden, which is adjacent to the school. This year, students will be planting and maintaining a tea garden on the KU land, and will work with KU students and researchers.

The students also designed and built a big tool shed for their expanding garden projects. Thirteen-year-old Starra estimated it took about three months from start to finish. She said they worked on it every morning as part of their main lesson.

It’s another example of how traditional subjects — like math, reading, writing and physical education — are taught differently at Prairie Moon.

“We don’t do outcomes-based education because we don’t have an outcome in mind,” Mitchell said. “We want children to develop into the people they are, but do it in a way where they are completely responsible to the community.”

Rick Mitchell, one of the founders of Prairie Moon Waldorf School, works on tilling the garden while children play outside Wednesday, April 6, 2011, at the school.

Rick Mitchell, one of the founders of Prairie Moon Waldorf School, works on tilling the garden while children play outside Wednesday, April 6, 2011, at the school. by Nick Krug

Recycling, composting and more

Besides its garden projects, the school is green in other ways.

Nick Matthews, a fifth-grader, pointed out how the school saves money on its water bill. It has a system that guides rainwater from the roof into two 450-gallon barrels. The rainwater is then used for the Okanis garden. During a steady rain, it takes only 20 minutes to fill them.

Other green efforts include:

• Recycling. It recycles everything that the Lawrence Recycling Center accepts.

• Composting. Faculty, staff and students compost garden waste, food scraps, leaves and yard trimmings.

• Classroom materials. It only uses natural materials such as wood, wool, cotton, silk, sand, beeswax and clay.

• Food. When possible, it uses local organic ingredients in snacks and lunches.

Prairie Moon was one of three schools named a “Kansas Green School of the Year.” The others were Hesston Elementary School and Tomahawk Elementary School in Shawnee Mission. The awards were presented during a ceremony April 1 in Topeka.

“These schools really are models for how all of us can be more green,” said Wilson, of KACEE.

The state organization will present the students at Prairie Moon with a big green banner on May 7.

“The green school award is not just based on what the adults are doing, but what the students are doing and their involvement is really important for a school to even be considered for the award,” Wilson said. “We value their contribution.”

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Spring must be near! Work begins in Lawrence school gardens

About two dozen volunteers help prepare the school garden at West Junior High School for spring planting. The first "work day" for the WJHS garden project was Saturday, March 12, 2011. It's the second year for the project.

About two dozen volunteers help prepare the school garden at West Junior High School for spring planting. The first "work day" for the WJHS garden project was Saturday, March 12, 2011. It's the second year for the project. by Karrey Britt

I’ve got spring fever, especially after visiting two Lawrence school garden projects today.

About 10:30 a.m., I stopped by West Junior High School project where about two dozen volunteers were moving dirt, preparing soil, creating new beds, and transplanting perennials. The volunteers included students, parents, Merc employees, and Lawrence residents who just care about school gardening. They were smiling, visiting and enjoying the sunshine.

From left Lily Siebert, Colin Dietz and Nancy O'Connor volunteer their time Saturday, March 12, 2011, to help prep the school garden at West Junior High School. All three were very involved with the garden last year, when it first started its roots.

From left Lily Siebert, Colin Dietz and Nancy O'Connor volunteer their time Saturday, March 12, 2011, to help prep the school garden at West Junior High School. All three were very involved with the garden last year, when it first started its roots. by Karrey Britt

From left are Kelly Kearns, Rachael Perry and Sally Birmingham, all employees of The Merc. They volunteered Saturday, March 12, 2011, to work in the school garden at West Junior High School.

From left are Kelly Kearns, Rachael Perry and Sally Birmingham, all employees of The Merc. They volunteered Saturday, March 12, 2011, to work in the school garden at West Junior High School. by Karrey Britt

Over at Central Junior High School, work was finishing up around 11:45 a.m. About 15 volunteers — staff, community members and students — helped prepare the new expanded garden area for tilling over spring break. They took out perennials, cleaned up the yard and old garden, and then marked the space that soon will become a garden with about 20 beds. This garden project is going to need volunteers for its second “work day,” which will begin at 10 a.m. April 2. If you would like to help, contact Laura Leonard at lleonard@usd497.org, or call her at 330-4817.

A handful of volunteers finish up prep work for an expanded garden on the south side of Central Junior High School. The school had its first garden "work day" Saturday, March 12, 2011. They were preparing the area for tilling.

A handful of volunteers finish up prep work for an expanded garden on the south side of Central Junior High School. The school had its first garden "work day" Saturday, March 12, 2011. They were preparing the area for tilling. by Karrey Britt

Laura Leonard, right, recruits a little help in hauling away an old plant in the new garden area at Central Junior High School. The school garden will more than double in size this year thanks to $6,000 LiveWell Lawrence grant and other in-kind donations. Leonard is the after-school program manager at CJHS and will oversee the garden project.

Laura Leonard, right, recruits a little help in hauling away an old plant in the new garden area at Central Junior High School. The school garden will more than double in size this year thanks to $6,000 LiveWell Lawrence grant and other in-kind donations. Leonard is the after-school program manager at CJHS and will oversee the garden project. by Karrey Britt

Also, at least 20 gardens are being sprouted at Lawrence day cares this spring, and the Douglas County Child Development Association is needing volunteers beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday. That’s when they will begin delivering compost to the gardens. They could really use volunteers with trucks, wheelbarrows and shovels. For more information or to volunteer, contact Emily Hampton at 842-9679 or emily@dccda.org.

Now, I’ve been inspired to start cleaning up my own garden area. How about you?

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Perry Lecompton Farmers Market planning for upcoming season

Organizers of the Perry Lecompton Farmers Market are preparing for the 2011 growing season.

There will be a planning meeting at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 20, at Perry Elementary School.

On the agenda:

• Market committee creation.

• Discussing and confirming 2011 by-laws and rules.

• Setting market times, place, end and start dates.

• Allocation of funds for advertising and other items.

• Assigning of any projects.

• Talking about spring, gardening, and ideas in general.

For more information, contact Eric Youngquist, market manager, at 785-597-2307 by e-mail at hallowacres@embarqmail.com.

He will be bringing drinks, tableware and a snack. Everyone is welcome to bring a snack or goodie, too.

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Central Junior High School gearing up for larger garden project, needs volunteers for work days

http://www2.ljworld.com/photos/2010/jul/12/194965/

Central Junior High School’s garden will more than double in size this spring thanks to a $6,000 LiveWell Lawrence grant and donations from local farmers and businesses.

The garden got its roots about four years ago as an after-school project.

“It started by tilling up some dirt and putting some plants in because one of the teachers was really into gardening and she got some kids excited about it,” said Laura Leonard, after-school program manager.

Then, the school received a grant from the Lawrence Arts Commisson to do an art garden. The students used what they planted to create natural dyes, flower arrangements and culinary treats. They also took photos of their work.

“Then, it grew from there,” Leonard said.

About 20 students have volunteered to take care of the garden each spring and fall, and they’ve planted a variety of items: tomatoes, carrots, lettuce and okra — to name a few.

In the summer, it was mostly maintained by teachers; occasionally, a few students would help out.

Not anymore.

Students will take over garden responsibilities throughout the growing season and will sell produce at the Thursday markets in the parking lot of Cottin’s Hardware store. The students also will have a say in what gets planted in the 20 different beds.

“The students will be doing a majority of the work. We are trying to make sure that control of the garden is staying in the hands of the students,” Leonard said.

First, they need help getting the garden ready for tilling during spring break and then creating the beds. They are seeking volunteers for two work days, which both begin at 10 a.m. They are Saturdays March 12 and April 2.

If you would like to help, contact Leonard at lleonard@usd497.org, or call her at 330-4817.

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Want to participate in a community garden? Here’s an opportunity

Rachael Perry waters a row of plants in the Lawrence Community Garden on Mississippi Street in May 2009.

Rachael Perry waters a row of plants in the Lawrence Community Garden on Mississippi Street in May 2009. by Philip Heying

The Lawrence Community Garden Project is seeking new members.

There will be a planning meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, March 7, in the Lawrence Public Library gallery, 707 Vt.

The communal garden is located on Mississippi Street between Ninth and 10th streets. Members share the land, plan what they would like to plant, and share the work and produce.

For more information, contact Rachael at rachaelpea@gmail.com.

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Local Burger owner ramps up veggie burger efforts

http://www2.ljworld.com/photos/2009/apr/27/169297/

Local restaurant owner Hilary Brown is ramping up her efforts to put Lawrence on the national map when it comes to veggie burgers.

Brown — the owner of Downtown Lawrence’s Local Burger — has started a new company and is renting space to produce the restaurant’s line of veggie burgers and other meatless products. Brown has secured financing from a group of local investors to start Drink Eat Well, and is renting production space in the shopping center at 19th and Haskell.

The new company moved into the space formerly occupied by Gran-Daddy’s BBQ in the first week of February. The company has four full-time employees that make the burgers that are sold at Checkers, area Hy-Vees and multiple restaurants in the Lawrence, Topeka and Kansas City areas. Currently the company markets the patties under The World’s Best Veggie Burger brandname, but Brown told me the company is working on rebranding the product.

The company hopes to have new branding and a few new products available by mid-April when it plans to attend one of the larger food and beverage trade shows in the country. The goal there will be to expand the product’s reach well beyond the Midwest.

“Our goal is definitely to get the product national,” Brown said. “We’ve raised all the investment dollars locally, and have a great group of investors who are really committed to what we’re doing.”

In addition to the veggie burger, the company already is offering an adzuki bean burger. Brown also is developing a product that she’ll call either veggie bites or veggie nuggets, plus various sauces, dressings and condiments also are on the drawing board.

Brown started Local Burger, 714 Vt., in 2005. She said her new business venture hasn’t made her any less committed to the restaurant.

“I’ve got big plans for that too,” she said.

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Saturday’s Kaw Valley Seeds Project Fair offers exhibits, speakers, seed exchange and more

http://www2.ljworld.com/photos/2010/feb/26/187506/

You will not want to miss the second annual Kaw Valley Seeds Project Fair this Saturday — Feb. 26.

The FREE community event will be:

• from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• in Building 21 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St.

It will include more than 40 exhibitors and speakers. They will offer educational information, gardening products and local farm produce.

There also will be a music stage, children’s activities and a raffle for various gardening-related prizes.

There will be a seed exchange at a central table, where gardeners can drop off garden seeds they will not use, including seeds produced in their home gardens as well as purchased seeds. Anyone may obtain free seeds at the seed exchange table.

The event is co-sponsored by the Kaw Valley Seeds Project, a sub-group of the Kansas Area Watershed Council, and the Douglas County Extension Master Gardeners.

Last year’s fair drew more than 300 visitors.

http://www2.ljworld.com/photos/2009/oct/18/179465/

Here’s a list of special activities and speakers and their topics:

10:15 a.m. — Jill Elmers, Moon on the Meadow Farm, no-chemical gardening.

10:45 a.m. - Dan Phelps, MAD Farm and “Growing Food, Growing Health,” integrated pest management.

11 a.m. — Special children’s activity of making seed balls using seeds from native prairie grasses and flowering plants.

11:15 a.m. — Bob Lominska, Hoyland Farm, fruits that grow well without chemical inputs.

11:45 a.m. — Stan Slaughter, a Kansas City musician and sustainability educator, will perform. He has performed at schools throughout Kansas and Missouri. His music is for all ages.

12:15 p.m. — Barbara Clark, Maggie’s Farm, growing garlic.

12:45 p.m. — Stan Slaughter, a Kansas City musician and sustainability educator, will perform.

1:15 p.m. — Dianna Henry, founder of Kaw Valley Seeds Project, saving tomato seeds.

1:30 p.m. — Special children’s activity of making seed balls using seeds from native prairie grasses and flowering plants.

1:45 p.m. — Rachael Perry, Lawrence Community Garden Project, community gardens.

2:15 p.m. — Byron Wiley, Lawrence Fruit Tree Project, grafting fruit trees.

The Kaw Valley Seeds Project is a nonprofit founded in 2009 by Douglas County residents. Its mission is to create a Local Living Seed Reserve by fostering a network of people committed to growing, eating, sharing, bartering, buying and selling seed varieties that are native to or thrive in the Kansas River Valley.

In addition, the project’s goal is to educate the general public on the pleasures of growing their own food by teaching them how to save, store and plant seeds from their own gardens, and where to obtain organic and local seed lines.

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Lawrence’s biggest food stories of 2010

Cordley second-grader Chloe McNair helps pick strawberries at Wohletz Farm Fresh, 1831 N. 1100 Road. The berries will be used in a dessert prepared for Cordley students Friday as part of a special lunch put on by the Farm-to-School program.

Cordley second-grader Chloe McNair helps pick strawberries at Wohletz Farm Fresh, 1831 N. 1100 Road. The berries will be used in a dessert prepared for Cordley students Friday as part of a special lunch put on by the Farm-to-School program.

From highs that include the farm-to-school movement (kids + heirloom tomatoes = adorable!) to lows such as the closing of more than one beloved eatery (No one did quinoa quite like The Casbah Market), 2010 could be called the year of the foodie, Lawrence edition.

Here’s a breakdown of some of Lawrence’s biggest, and most interesting food stories of the past year. Let’s just say 2011 better have its mise en place started if it plans on one-uping the past 12 months.

Farm to school. Arguably, the biggest Lawrence food story of 2010 was made possible by some of the city’s smallest residents.

Coming on the heels of successful gardens at private schools (Prairie Moon Waldorf School) and daycare centers around Lawrence, The Community Mercantile’s Nancy O’Connor led an initiative that brought a garden and oodles of food education to West Junior High in 2010. The West Junior High garden project made at least $4,000 for the garden’s continued use by selling produce at weekly farmers’ markets and also provided the school’s cafeteria with more than 180 pounds of produce, saving the school $700.

O’Connor was also involved in a farm-to-school lunch put on at Cordley Elementary in May that treated more than 300 kids to a meal prepared almost entirely from locally made ingredients, including produce some of the children helped harvest. That effort was led by Linda Cottin of Cottin’s Hardware & Rental, 1832 Mass., and Rick Martin of Free State Brewing Company, 636 Mass., who put together a menu containing lasagna, salad, whole-wheat breadsticks and a strawberry-rhubarb crumble.

Other public schools are in discussions for both gardens and possibly their own farm-to-table meals in the coming year.

And just this month, the Douglas County Child Development Association and Success by 6 coalition of Douglas County received a $100,000 grant to help get gardens on-site at 25 home-based child care programs, and three area child-care centers will get access to fresh produce by joining up with a local community-supported agriculture (CSA) program.

To see Lawrence's other big stories, click here.

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Child development agency’s leader describes new local food effort

About 500 Lawrence children and their families will benefit from a two-year, $100,000 grant that was awarded this week.

The Douglas County Child Development Association, in partnership with the Success by 6 Coalition of Douglas County, received the grant to make locally grown foods more available to children ages 5 and under and their families.

“The less time between the garden and the table, the more nutrition you are going to get in that food, and so the more that we can do to get people in the habit of growing their own food or getting it locally, the better."

— Anna Jenny, DCCDA executive director

Tomatoes ripen on a vine.

Tomatoes ripen on a vine. by Kevin Anderson

The effort is called Families, Farmers, & Educators United for Healthy Child Development and it will bring together local producers, child care providers and families.

“It’s a focus on relationships because relationships are what’s going to sustain it,” Jenny said. “We can give people a lot of stuff over the next two years, but once the stuff is gone it will go away unless they’ve built a relationship.”

The project will hook up three child care centers with a Consumer Supported Agriculture group, commonly called CSA, so the children can eat fresh produce. Families will be able to access CSA the following year.

The project also will provide 25 home-based child care programs with supplies and the expertise to start a garden in their back yard or in a community garden.

Besides planting gardens, the project will teach child care providers and families how to produce and cook with local produce. It also will implement a child care curriculum called Food is Elementary, which focuses on improved food choices.

Jenny said the centers, homes or local CSAs have not been chosen yet.

First, they plan to hire a full-time and a part-time position to help with the project. She hopes to have those positions filled in January.

The goal is to start planting seeds in small beds in February and March, and then to get the gardens started in April and May.

“Kids just love to eat stuff that they’ve grown,” Jenny said. “They get so excited about things they wouldn’t want to eat if it came from a grocery store, but if it came from their garden — they watched it grow, picked it, washed it and cut it — that makes it very special.”

Lawrence was among seven Kansas communities that received a total $500,000 from the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund to prevent obesity in young children through increased physical activity and better nutrition.

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Community effort gets $100,000 grant to improve children’s access to local foods

The Lawrence community will benefit from a $100,000 grant that was announced today by the United Methodist Health Ministry.

The Douglas County Child Development Association in partnership with the Success by 6 Coalition of Douglas County received the grant to spearhead an effort to make wholesome, locally-grown foods more available to young children and their families in Lawrence.

The project is called Families, Farmers, & Educators United for Healthy Child Development, and it has four interrelated components:

• Establish Consumer Supported Agriculture or CSA — a weekly subscription for pick-up or delivery of fresh produce from local growers — in three center-based child care programs and with the families enrolled in them.

• Facilitate community and home gardening for 25 home-based child care programs enrolled in the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the families of children in the programs.

• Train center-based and home-based child care cooks in preparation of fresh produce and how to pass this information on to families.

• Implement in participating child care programs a new child care curriculum — “Food is Elementary” —focused on improved food choices.

Lawrence was among seven Kansas communities who received a total $500,000 to prevent obesity in young children through increased physical activity and nutrition.

The grants, awarded through the Health Fund’s 2010 Fit for Kansas Kids program, were selected from among 39 proposals received representing approximately $2.5 million in requests.

Other communities who received awards:

• Coffeyville, $77,630. It will support upgrades at the Jerry Hamm Early Learning Center to establish a community site for physical activity and nutrition activities for young children and their families.

Newton, $49,140. It will support expanded physical activity and health lessons at the new Cooper Early Education Center, which serves nearly 200 preschool children.

• Wichita, $99,956. It will go to a coalition led by Kansas University School of Medicine — Wichita to encourage pregnant women to engage in adequate physical activity.

Derby, $35,000. The Derby Recreational Commission is leading a community effort to provide more opportunities for young children in the area to be involved in healthy physical activity and learn about good nutrition.

Wichita, $47,893. The Health & Wellness Coalition of Wichita will expand its successful work in worksite wellness and school health to improving the culture of child care programs around physical activity and nutrition. Through a small grant application process, 25 Wichita child care programs will be selected to participate in the project.

Lindsborg, $6,669. It will fund Fit for Lindsborg Kids, a collaborative community project which will establish a series of free activities and events specifically for young children and their families.

Graham County, $94,240. Several Hill City parks will be upgraded to have appropriate equipment for young children. To encourage use of the facilities, the local recreation commission will implement new programs specifically designed for the families of young children, such as T-ball, exercise classes, and swimming classes.

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New jobs available thanks to project connecting local food, child care homes

Job openings!

Douglas County Child Development Association is looking to fill two positions on a grant-funded project to establish new long-term relationships between local food producers and child care homes and centers.

The project will connect 25 family child care homes and three center-based child care programs with community gardening opportunities and Consumer Supported Agriculture.

The positions are:

Full-time food systems coordinator — To facilitate and support relationships with early learning programs, schools and local food systems to encourage healthier choices in the production, distribution, preparation and consumption of food. Bachelor of Science in social work, agriculture or nutrition.

Part-time food systems educator. To educate and support early learning programs and families to encourage healthier choices in the production, distribution, preparation and consumption of food. Bachelor of Science in early childhood education or nutrition.

Send resume and three references to:

DCCDA

935 Iowa Street, Suite 7

Lawrence, KS 66044

E-mail ajenny@dccda.org

Fax (785) 842-1412

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Lawrence school garden information

Here is the information we currently have for school gardens in Lawrence. If you have more information, please send a message to Ursula Rothrock or send an email to urothrock@ljworld.com.

  • Broken Arrow Elementary School: butterfly garden; contact: Mary Nell Gleeson, teacher, (785) 832-5600.

  • Cordley Elementary School: butterfly garden; contact: Sharon Ashworth (785) 865-2491.

  • Deerfield Elementary School: butterfly garden; contact: Julie Neff (785) 842-6354.

  • Prairie Park Elementary School: butterfly garden; contact: Kristin Leggins, teacher, (785) 832-5740.

  • Quail Run Elementary School: flower garden; contact: Laine Delfelder (785) 838-3437.

  • Central Junior High School: garden; contact: Ms. Hertz, teacher, (785) 832-5400.

  • West Junior High School: West Garden Project; contact: Lily Siebert, lily@themerc.coop.

  • Free State High School: gardens; contact: school (785) 832-6050.

  • Lawrence High School: vegetable, flower greenhouse; contact: Mark Rickabaugh, teacher, (785) 832-5050.

  • Corpus Christi Catholic School: vegetable gardens; contact: school, (785) 331-3374.

  • Raintree Montessori School: vegetable, fruit, flower, monarch, herb gardens; contact: Leanna, teacher, (785) 843-6800.

  • Prairie Moon Waldorf School: flower, vegetable, herb gardens; contact: Rick Mitchell 841-9105 or Katherine Farwell 841-8800.

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Lawrence school garden information now posted in Locavores Resources

We have compiled the information about school gardens in Lawrence in the Locavores Resources section. Most are tended by students and parents, so contact your school to start volunteering!

If you have more information on any school gardens, please comment on this post, message Ursula Rothrock or email urothrock@ljworld.com.

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Lawrence Farmer’s Market season comes to close Saturday

http://wellcommons.com/photos/2009/nov/03/180642/

Tom Buller, market coordinator, expects there will be sweet potatoes, salad mix, kale, chard, turnips, radishes and winter squash.

In addition, there will be local meats and other products.

“It’s been a great season,” Buller said.

The Saturday market is from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the 800 block of New Hampshire. This season, it has had an average of 55 vendors.

Buller also said the new Thursday market on West Sixth Street went well and said that location likely will continue. Planning for next season’s markets will begin in December. The market generally opens in April.

The annual Holiday Market will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Lawrence Holidome. There will be local meats, crafts and other goodies.

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Local schools host gardens, help students to learn about gardening and healthy eating

With the success of the West Junior High Garden Project, many Lawrence residents are more aware of the national movement to get local, healthier food into school's cafeterias. A growing number of students in Lawrence help tend to gardens at school, from flower to butterfly to vegetable gardens.

With no available list of Lawrence school gardens, WellCommons is working on a compilation of existing gardens. At least eight schools have flower or butterfly gardens, while West Junior High, Lawrence High, Corpus Christi Catholic School, Raintree Montessori School and Prairie Moon Waldorf School have vegetable and other gardens.

While some, such as Raintree Montessori, have well-established garden programs, others like Corpus Christi Catholic School have started up new programs to encourage healthy practices. Corpus Christi has started a wellness/healthy lunch program. The school will use the vegetables from their garden, maintained by students and parents, in their school lunches to promote healthy eating for students.

If you or your student would like to help with a garden, contact your school for volunteering opportunities. A list of school gardens will come soon with available contact information.

Does your school have a garden? Have you or your student helped out? Comment and let us know!

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Community celebrates West Junior High School garden project

Nancy O'Connor, coordinator of the West Junior High School garden project, is hugged by student gardeners during a recognition ceremony Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010, in the cafeteria.

Nancy O'Connor, coordinator of the West Junior High School garden project, is hugged by student gardeners during a recognition ceremony Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010, in the cafeteria. by John Young

What a huge success!

About 215 people filled West Junior High School’s cafeteria Saturday evening to celebrate the school’s first garden project.

There was live music, a recognition ceremony and, of course, a dinner that included ingredients from the garden.

The seven student gardeners talked about what they had learned by participating in the “Growing Food, Growing West” project and showed photos. The students are: Chloe Gilligan, Karen Schneck, Abbey Ladner, Gillian Marsh, T.J. Everett and Colin Dietz.

The project's coordinator is Nancy O'Connor, director of education and outreach at The Community Mercantile. Lily Siebert, education outreach assistant at The Merc, worked closely with the students, and Dan Phelps was the garden coordinator.

They transformed the grassy area on the east of the school into a beautiful garden that produced herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables.

The students sold the fruits of their labor at weekly farmers’ markets this summer and fall. They made at least $4,000 that will be put back into the garden.

The garden also provided more than 180 pounds of produce for use in the cafeteria this fall and saved the school at least $700.

But, the students said it wouldn’t have been possible without the community’s support, and that’s why they had the dinner on Saturday — to thank the community.

Here are some photos from the celebration:

West Junior High School student T.J. Everett, hands a "Sweet Potato" award to Bev Lockwood during a recognition ceremony Saturday evening at the school. Lockwood is the school's food service manager.

West Junior High School student T.J. Everett, hands a "Sweet Potato" award to Bev Lockwood during a recognition ceremony Saturday evening at the school. Lockwood is the school's food service manager. by John Young

Tara Bonin, Lawrence, watches a ceremony honoring those who helped make the West Junior High School garden a reality Saturday evening at the school. About 215 people attended a community dinner and celebration for the school's first garden project.

Tara Bonin, Lawrence, watches a ceremony honoring those who helped make the West Junior High School garden a reality Saturday evening at the school. About 215 people attended a community dinner and celebration for the school's first garden project. by John Young

Emily Zung feeds her son Preston, 10 months, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010, during a community dinner at West Junior High School. The dinner helped raise money for the school's garden project.

Emily Zung feeds her son Preston, 10 months, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010, during a community dinner at West Junior High School. The dinner helped raise money for the school's garden project. by John Young

Deb Rake, left, serves Jean Trujillo salad that includes greens grown in the West Junior High School garden Saturday in the school's cafeteria. Trujillo attending a community dinner that celebrated the school's first garden project.

Deb Rake, left, serves Jean Trujillo salad that includes greens grown in the West Junior High School garden Saturday in the school's cafeteria. Trujillo attending a community dinner that celebrated the school's first garden project. by John Young

Sebastian Simpson-Eighmy enjoys a treat Saturday evening during a community dinner at West Junior High School.

Sebastian Simpson-Eighmy enjoys a treat Saturday evening during a community dinner at West Junior High School. by John Young

T.J. Everett, 14, Lawrence, left, one of the seven students who tends to the West Junior High School garden, applauds during an awards presentation Saturday evening at the school.

T.J. Everett, 14, Lawrence, left, one of the seven students who tends to the West Junior High School garden, applauds during an awards presentation Saturday evening at the school. by John Young

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