Sourdough Rye Bread Class at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano

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Ditch the preservatives and plastic wrap. Join us and learn how to make homemade, all-natural bread from scratch.

Learn to bake the healthiest bread on the planet: a 100% whole grain sourdough rye. In this class you’ll learn how to start and maintain a sourdough starter and how to work with whole grains. We’ll reveal the secrets of whole grain baking, plus you’ll learn how you can grind your own grains.

In the end, you’ll take home a loaf to bake in your oven. You can’t buy this kind of bread so you better learn how to bake it yourself!

By baking bread at home, you’re in charge of what goes into every loaf and can choose to incorporate local and organic ingredients. Other benefits of baking at home include using less energy (used in harvesting, processing, and shipping store-bought bread), using less plastic packaging, and spending less money.

Become a baker and join us for the rye class on Sunday, June 22, 1-3p.

We’ll provide ingredients, and everyone will go home with a jar of starter ready to make bread.

Instructor: Erik Knutzen

For more information or to sign up head over to the Ecology Center.

Sourdough Bread Class at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano

sourdoughloaf

Ditch the preservatives and plastic wrap. Join us and learn how to make homemade, all-natural bread from scratch.

Learn to bake bread the natural way, with a sourdough starter. Sourdough cultures make breads with bolder flavors, a longer shelf life and deliver the health benefits of living, fermented foods. In this hands-on workshop we’ll make a simple loaf using a version of the miraculous and easy Chad Robertson Tartine recipe.

By baking bread at home, you’re in charge of what goes into every loaf and can choose to incorporate local and organic ingredients. Other benefits of baking at home include using less energy (used in harvesting, processing, and shipping store-bought bread), using less plastic packaging, and spending less money.

Become a baker and join us for a weekend of heart-healthy, bread baking workshops: Saturday, June 21, 1-3 to make Sourdough and/or Sunday, June 22, 1-3p to make Sourdough rye!

Topics discussed will include:

  • How to make your own sourdough starter (also known as a levain)
  • Types of flour
  • How to simulate a commercial bread oven at home
  • Hydration ratios
  • Kitchen tools for bread baking
  • Shaping a boule
  • Working with whole grains
  • Troubleshooting

We’ll provide ingredients, and everyone will go home with a jar of starter ready to make bread.

Instructor: Erik Knutzen

For more information and to sign up head over to the Ecology Center.

Adopt an Indigo Plant in Los Angeles

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Artist Graham Keegan is crowd sourcing an indigo project here in Los Angeles. You can help out by adopting indigo seedlings and growing them out–then harvesting the leaves and joining the other growers for a couple of indigo dyeing fiestas.

We realize this is a highly local post, but it’s a great idea, and we hope it might inspire some of you to do group growing/harvesting projects in your hometowns.

Here’s the 411 from his website, grahamkeegan.com:

Indigo pigment grows naturally in the leaves of a large number of plant species from around the world. This plant, Persecaria Tinctoria, also know as Polygonum Tinctorum, has been a staple source of blue in East Asia for millennia. It is known for being relatively easy to grow. All it needs is lots of sunshine, plenty of water, and some food.

indigo seedlings persecaria tinctoria graham keegan

As an experiment, I’ve germinated a bunch of indigo seeds and want to get the seedlings into as many people’s hands as possible! I hope to spread the wonder about the fact that color can be grown, to raise the consciousness of humanity’s original sources of pigment, and to get people to exercise their thumbs, green or otherwise!

The pigment can be extracted from the mature leaves and used to dye all types of natural fibers. As the season goes on, I’ll be posting harvest and processing instructions, as well as invitations to two separate harvest parties where we pool our collective leaves and do some dyeing!

These seedlings will be available for pickup from my workshop in Silver Lake (Los Angeles, CA) from June 6-8, 2014 (10 AM – 2 PM Daily). They will be ready to be (and should be) transplanted ASAP. I will also have a limited number of growing kits available for purchase for apartment dwellers that will include a suitable pot, soil, and plant food ($12) There is no charge to adopt an indigo seedling. However you must sign the pledge poster to properly care for your plant in order to receive your indigo seedling. You will also receive a copy of the poster to hang in a prominent place in your home, lest you forget about your little baby!

There are a limited number of seedlings available. Please reserve yours by filling out the form below.

For those of you not able to pick up a seedling here in Los Angeles, I am willing to experiment with shipping them directly to you in the mail for the cost of postage. I have zero real world experience with this but have been reading up on the process and believe that it is possible. There is no guarantee that the plants will arrive alive, but I’ll do all that I can on my end to ensure safe travel!

Remember, this is an experiment! If we fail this year, we’ll try again next year!

Please grow along with me!

Graham

We’re going to participate. If you want to, be sure to fill out the form at his website (linked above), and do so soon, because there are only so many seedlings. And make sure to check out Graham’s work and shibori dye workshops.

Edible Gardening Lecture at the Descanso Gardens

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Please join us on tax day, April 15th at 2:00 pm for a lecture on edible gardening at the Descanso Gardens. Here’s the description:

Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne, authors of “The Urban Homestead” and the blog rootsimple.com, discuss creating a garden that is not only beautiful but delicious! Part of “Get Dirty: A Garden Series by Descanso” on Third Tuesdays. Public admission to the Gardens and the lecture is free of charge the third Tuesday of the month.

Hope to see some blog readers there–perhaps we can walk around the garden after the lecture.

For more information on the Descanso Gardens please see descansogardens.org.

Savoring the Fruits of Your Labor Panel Discussion

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I’m honored to be on a panel discussion with some of my favorite LA gardeners and food preservation freaks. Please join me at the Santa Monica Public Library on May 1st for a panel discussion on backyard gardening and food preservation:

Santa Monica Farmers Market 2014 QUARTERLY PANEL SERIES

When:  Thursday, May 01, 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Free and open to the public

Where:  Santa Monica Public Library
601 Santa Monica Blvd.
MLK Auditorium

SAVORING THE FRUITS OF YOUR LABOR

Gardening and preserving stories and strategies to improve your quality of life and your bottom line.

Backyard gardening and food preservation are growing popular trends, but in the real world, what can these practices do for you individually, and for the community around you? Do we create a wider consciousness of community when we grow, preserve and share the products of our own labor and that of local producers?  How does it affect the household bottom line and your overall quality of life?  Join the conversation with local practitioners, professionals and community organizers about their experiences.

Featuring:

Paul Buchanan
Chef-Owner | Primal Alchemy

Erik Knutzen
Blogger | Author | Rootsimple.com

Florence Nishida
Master Gardener | Natural History Museum | Los Angeles Green Grounds

Susan Proffitt (Mrs. Josh Wattles)
Founder & Administrator | Nichols Canyon Co-op

Moderator:

Sarah Spitz
KCRW | Master Gardener | Master Preserver

Seminar on Tending our Vegetable Gardens in a Drought

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Update: This event has been canceled. Hopefully we can put another one together soon.

California is in the midst of a frightening drought, which is why I’m happy to be participating in a one day seminar on Sunday, March 23 on the topic, “Tending Our Vegetable Gardens in a Drought.” Here’ the 411:

Los Angeles is in a severe drought condition and spring planting is just beginning. As stewards of our gardens how can we be respectful of this drought and still have our favorite veggies and fruits this year? Many of our old summer favorites are summer water guzzlers.

And what do we do about our lawns, the biggest water guzzler of all?

With 95% of our state in drought conditions and 91% of which is severe, this rainstorm has done very little to prevent the water shortages we will have this year. What techniques can we use in the urban setting to utilize city water for our gardens without wasting this precious resource? How can we support the health of the soil while respecting the drought?

Step out of your comfort zone and come and join sustainability experts author and blogger Erik Knutzen and Master Gardeners Ken and Jeanne Berry for a discussion on all of this and more. Drought conditions are as old as the Earth and there are cultures that have developed efficient water management techniques for their own environments. There are fruits, vegetables, grains and herbs that have adapted to more drought tolerant conditions than their temperate climate cousins.

Let’s not be reactive to the drought, but be proactive to tending our gardens based on our climate. We will have seeds for spring and summer planting and will have hands on activities.

We are pleased to have seeds for the participants from SeedsNow.com and Bountiful Gardens.

Date: Sunday, March 23, 2014

Time: 10-4


Place: The Berry Urban Farm, Woodland Hills, CA.


Price: $35.00


Contact information: [email protected] or 818-884-6118 or 818-599-5636. Make check payable to Ken Berry, 3506 W Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505. Payment is only confirmation of registration in class. Details of class including address will be sent upon confirmation of registration.

Los Angeles Interior Earthen Plaster Workshop

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We’re proud to be co-hosting an interior earthen plaster workshop by adobe masters Kurt Gardella and Ben Loescher. The workshop will take place at the home of John Zapf and will thus be your chance to meet the architect of our chicken run and yet to be built man cave. Here’s the info on the workshop–hope to see some of you there:

Date: Thursday, May 1, 2014, 9am to 5pm

Location: The class will be conducted in the Lincoln Heights area of Los Angeles and will be hosted by John Zapf and Root Simple. Coffee and nibbles will be provided at the beginning of the day; lunch is included.

Workshop Description: Earthen plasters are a great way to finish just about any wall substrate in the home. They create a soft, breathable final plaster layer which regulates humidity, odors and sounds like no other wall finish can. This May, Kurt Gardella returns to California for a one-day intensive workshop to teach you how to finish your existing wall substrate (red brick, poured concrete, concrete block, drywall, old plaster finishes) with an earthen plaster mix using affordable, off-the-shelf bagged clays and sands. Attendees will leave the class with the knowledge necessary to finish their own walls using inexpensive materials that can be easily found at any pottery supply store. The class is suitable for homeowners, building professionals and do-it-your-selfers. No prior experience is necessary.

Topics Include:

  • clay sourcing, testing and preparation (bagged clay screening & soaking)
  • sand sourcing, testing and preparation (bagged silica sand screening)
  • importance of aggregate grain variation in plasters
  • finish coat straw selection and preparation (fine chop)
  • finish plaster tool overview and usage
  • strength additive overview, preparation and mixing (wheat paste)
  • earthen plaster finish coat mixing, application with hawk and trowel
  • earthen plaster finish coat surface finishing techniques (sponge, hard metal trowel, plastic trowel)

Instruction Type: This is a hands-on class. Attendees will have the opportunity to get dirty and use tools and equipment typical of earthen finishing. Due to the course format, enrollment will be limited to 10 individuals. Instruction will occur primarily indoors.

Instructors: Kurt Gardella teaches adobe construction at Santa Fe Community College, is Director of Education for Adobe in Action, and is certified as an earth-building specialist by the German Dachverband Lehm. Ben Loescher is a licensed architect, founder of adobeisnotsoftware and principal of golem|la, an architecture firm specializing in adobe construction.

Registration: $50 per person (click here to pre-register online)

Questions: Please do not hesitate to contact Ben by email at [email protected] or by phone at (760) 820-5326.