What do you do with the compost?
Second most asked was by those with some knowledge of compost possibilites:
Do you have a balcony? [for indoor plants in spring and summer]
Think about the mentality of New Yorkers--and many city dwellers--around Question One. It's all about collecting stuff and getting rid of it rather than re-using it. Environmental consciousness-raising needs to look at the questions asked. Often these focus on why would a person do something that creates more work for him/her? [photos: myself wearing knit red worm in NYC kitchen taling about kitchen composting & famous Wormware visiting the Grand Canyon]
Question Two (I had neither balcony nor houseplants) continues to have relevance for me in conversations with folks in the sustainability world. Portland, Oregon, my final home, is very big with the S word and its many applications. At the Saturday Farmers Market at Portland State, the big one, I volunteered for a few hours in connection with their observance of National Food Day, officially Monday, October 24.
Carolyn White, PSU instructor for "Food Affairs," another Chiron class (student designed and led) I'm taking, was in charge. The text for the course, "Menu for the Future," has been developed by NWEI (Northwest Earth Institute) in a way to encourage discussion. Articles by leading writers on food and its production are followed by questions:
Michael Pollan struggles with actually eating his Monsanto potatoes....Would you feel obligated to tell guests these were what they were being served?
Most essays are thoughtful and important. Missing for me is the urban piece: that's where most live and when your only choice is a large supermarket, how do buy more organic foodstuffs.
Farmworker Housing Development Corp (FHDC) was the table next to ours. I had a chance to talk with Jaime Arredondo about their work to improve the living conditions of migrant and seasonal workers in Oregon. The need is enormous for affordable housing; 500 wait in the mid-Willamette region for affordable apartments they build and manage.
The inclusion of FHDC for this event impressed me since I've not seen a comparable group at Union Square Greenmarket in NYC though the efforts through food initiatives --making their produce more accessible to people on food stamps and beyond their numerous sites--have increased in the last few years. You can sign the petition HERE to ask Congress to "fix America's broken food system." Fair conditions for food and farm workers is one the organizers goals.
Recent college grad (left) purchased "Menu for the Future" for her environmental work in Salem, Oregon, where she recently moved. She is the umpteenth person I've met who finds the state capitol not too exciting. Similar reports on Desparately Seeking Salem when first read last year but that blogger seems to find more possibilities lately. Maybe she can connect with this newcomer...not easy being green, as the saying goes.
Urban Farm Collective table with handmade sign and straightforward tee-shirt. Patient woman there told me about senior housing in north Portland with its own community garden and tried to tell me there had to be a way for me to grow my own food. People here not used to hardcore urbanites who are also challenged to bend much. Make contact if you're ready to sign on for the 2012 season.
Ron arrived with our Zabar cart filled with veggies from Grow Portland, a group we met last year, admired their work developing small, city-owned plots for farming. Supported at the start by the "seeding change for small businesses," of Northwest Mercy Corps they had funding to work with women and men from many countries--Bhutan was one--who had spent too many years waiting in refugee camps. They also have expanded to help small scale growers become part of CSAs (community-supported agriculture), are looking for more to add the coming year.
Being around all this on-the-ground sustainability, seeing how many young people are drawn to it, I enjoyed an energy boost. I got this nifty button from the young women (where are the men...occupying portland?) at the table for Food & Water Watch, folks like Carolyn Wright, you and me, who think we must demand that Congress puts together a Fair Farm Bill. Next session, people!
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