Sourdough, Preserves, Barbeque Sauce and Chutney!

We’re teaming up with our friend and neighbor Jennie Cook, executive chef of Jennie Cooks A Catering Company to offer a special cooking class on Sunday September 13th at 2 p.m in Los Angeles. We’ll demonstrate how to make sourdough bread and Jennie will cook up a batch of her mouthwatering chutney, barbecue sauce and more. Here’s the 411:

“Hang out and cook with the Urban Pioneers who created an oasis in So Cal where they grow their own food, bake their own bread and brew their own Hooch. We’ll put up preserves, barbecue sauce and chutney of summer’s final fruits. We’ll dry some tomatoes and let the season add to our other endeavours. Erik will talk us through the how-to’s of Sourdough bread and even provide starter for you to keep on your own kitchen counter. Please allow three hours for class.

Class is limited to 10 students. Each student will receive a copy of the book, autographed of course, preserves etc. and sourdough starter. The suggested price for class is $95$69. per person

RSVP:
Jennie Cook
Owner Executive Chef
Jennie Cooks A Catering Company
3048 Fletcher Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90065
323.982.0052
[email protected]
www.jenniecooks.com
www.partytips.wordpress.com for Menus and Upcoming Events”

Thyrsus: the new hipster accessory

Ancient thyrsus on left, modern hipster version on right.

The traveling exhibition Pompeii and the Roman Villa, currently at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, has a few nice tchotchkes worth considering for those of us attempting to garden in Mediterranean places. One of the centerpieces of the show, a large fresco depicting a garden, includes many familiar plants: chamomile, oleander (who knew oleander existed before freeways!), strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) and date palms.

But what kept capturing my eye in multiple pieces, was a ceremonial stick carried in Bacchic processions called a thyrsus. Consisting of a stalk of giant fennel topped with a pine cone, occasionally accessorized with a grape or ivy vine, I realized that, here in Los Angeles thanks to our similar climate, I could step out the back door and make my own thyrsus, which I promptly did. For my modern thyrsus I drilled a hole in the pine cone and fennel stalk and inserted a metal pin to hold the pine cone to the stalk.

The combination of a pine cone and fennel stalk symbolizes the unity of farm and forest, of the cultivated and the wild. And you don’t need to be a Freudian to grasp, shall we say, the meaning of a long shaft topped by a bunch of seeds. Roman homes and gardens were, in fact, full of phallic fertility symbols that seem crass to our modern eyes. Exhibitions like Pompeii and the Roman Villa, sadly, censor this imagery. You’ve got to visit the secret cabinet in Naples to see this stuff (way not safe for work!).

Censorship of these ancient fertility symbols is related in my mind to modern fears of the fecundity of nature. It’s these fears that lead landlords to pour copious amounts of concrete and gravel to smother every living thing. It’s what causes neighbors to launch irrational tree and bush killing rampages over the property line lest any bit of foliage fall and mar their precious SUVs.

As rampaging forest fires send Vesuvian plumes of smoke over Los Angeles, it’s time to wave our freak thyrsi high to counter the naturefobic forces out there! As Euripides says, “To raise my Bacchic shout, and clothe all who respond/ In fawnskin habits, and put my thyrsus in their hands–/ The weapon wreathed with ivy-shoots.”

Urban Farm Magazine

We have a article on urban farmers across America in the premiere issue of a magazine bound to appeal to readers of this blog, Urban Farm. Our article, Where Urban Meets Farm, profiles the efforts of our friends the Green Roof Growers of Chicago, Em Jacoby of Detroit and Kelly Yrarrazaval of Orange County. All of these fine folks have repurposed urban and suburban spaces to grow impressive amounts of food, a common sense trend popular enough to have spawned this new magazine.

Editor Karen Keb Acevedo says, “Urban Farm is here to shed a little light on the things we can all do to change our lifestyles, in ways we think are monumental as a whole, yet at the same time, barely noticeable on their own.” The first issue has practical articles on goats, bees and chickens as well as how to get rid of your lawn. There’s also a nice article by John Jeavons, who developed the Grow Biointensive method, and wrote the seminal book How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits.

Check your local newsstand for Urban Farm or pick up a copy of the premiere issue here.

SIPS and Kraut at Project Butterfly

We’ve got an event tomorrow–that’s Tuesday August 25th at 7:30 p.m. in downtown Los Angeles at Project Butterfly. There will be a lecture followed by two demos: how to make a self irrigating pot and how to make sauerkraut. Cost is $20. RSVP to [email protected]. Here’s the 411:

Step into the 21st century by making your house, apartment and kitchen a center of production. This lecture/workshop by the authors of The Urban Homestead, Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen will introduce you to how to grow your own food, make pickles, ferment beer, keep chickens, bake bread and turn your waste products into valuable resources. By stepping into the DIY movement, we’ll create a paradigm shift that will improve our lives, our community and our planet.

Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne, authors of The Urban Homestead, have become increasingly interested in the concept of urban sustainability since moving to Los Angeles in 1998. In that time, they’ve slowly converted their 1920 hilltop bungalow into a mini-farm, and along the way have explored the traditional home arts of baking, pickling, bicycling and brewing, chronicling all their activities on their blog Homegrown Evolution [ www.homegrownevolution.com ]

In this workshop, we will be learning two projects ::

Project #1: Making a self-irrigating planter
Project #2: How to make sauerkraut!

Contribution:: $20 [ includes a delicious light vegetarian meal and drinks ]

Location:
Project Butterfly Loft
821 Traction Ave #108
Los Angeles CA 90013

Blurbs:
“The Urban Homestead…touches on vegetable gardening, poultry, DIY cleaning products and beer making — all outlined with a sense of play and fun.
—Whole Life Times

“…a delightfully readable and very useful guide to front- and back-yard vegetable gardening, food foraging, food preserving, chicken keeping, and other useful skills for anyone interested in taking a more active role in growing and preparing the food they eat.”
-Boingboing.net

Urban Chicken Enthusiasts Unite!

Creating community is a vital part of the urban homesteading movement. For why should one make jam or grow zucchini without people to share it with? In a big, crazy city like L.A. there are lots of interesting people doing inspiring things, you just have to find them. I’m always excited to meet new people who are interested in all the things we write about here at Homegrown Evolution. I was lucky to move a block away from Mr. and Mrs. Homegrown and find instant community. Now the neighbors and I have been thinking that we would like to meet more local urban chicken folks. As our flocks age a lot of questions come up and we’d like to learn from more experienced chicken keepers. And we often meet people who would like to know more about urban poultry. So I’ve decided to create a group of L.A. urban chicken enthusiasts. I used meetup.com to create the L.A. Urban Chicken Enthusiasts group.

I like Meetup because the point is to organize face to face meetings. Our group will get together every month or so, eat eggs dishes and talk about raising chickens, local food and sustainability. The L.A. Urban Chicken Enthusiasts meetup group is just for people in the Los Angeles area. Not to worry if you aren’t in L.A., I noticed a lot of other urban chicken groups on Meetup and if there isn’t one in your city you can easily start your own. So if you are local and into chickens, join our group. If you aren’t in L.A. or not a poultry person, just go forth and create a group for whatever you are into, network, make friends and build some community.

Homegrown Evolution Podcast Episode #1

Subscribe to the Homegrown Evolution podcast in itunes here.

Download the mp3 on archive.org.

On this first episode of the Homegrown Evolution podcast we talk food preservation with author Ashley English who blogs at small-measure.blogspot.com. English will have two books out next year on food preservation and chickens, part of a series entitled “Homemade Living,” (Lark Books). She also has a weekly column every Friday on Design*Sponge at www.designspongeonline.com/category/small-measures.

In the second part of the show we talk to Wing Tam, assistant division manager for the Watershed Protection Program in the City of Los Angeles’ Bureau of Sanitation about a new rainwater harvesting pilot project. You can find out more about the program at www.larainwaterharvesting.org. We conclude with a reaction to this new program from river activist Joe Linton, author of Down by the Los Angeles River and one of the bloggers behind lacreekfreak.wordpress.com.

As we say on the podcast, we prefer gardening to staring at computer screens and putting a podcast together involves a hell of a lot of the latter. Don’t look for frequent updates, but we’ll probably put out another one in the fall. Please excuse the mike popping and other technical flaws, as we’re still working out the technical side. We hope you’ll enjoy the podcast while, say, gardening or prepping food for canning. We’re all about open source, so feel free to redistribute or rebroadcast.

Music on the program is from archive.org:

A bluegrass cover of DEVO’s Mongoloid by the Hotfoot Quartet. Bob Frank, guitar and lead vocal, Jim Blum, upright bass and vocals; Paul Kovac, banjo and vocals; Bob Smakula, mandolin and vocals. Available here.

Also from archive.org, a collection of surf music.

Outdoor Sink Makes Water Recycling Simple

This is my new outdoor sink. I found the cast iron sink on the side of the road in Pomona and gleefully dragged the heavy beast several hundred yards to my car. I had a frame built for it out of scrap wood lying around the yard, the faucet and pipes came from another discarded sink, and we hooked it up to the hose outlet. It drains into a simple 5 gallon bucket which I can then pour out into the nearby landscape. It is super simple grey water. Now instead of going inside to wash my hands or rinse produce from the garden, I can use the outdoor sink and easily recycle my water. Plus, there is less dirt and compost in my kitchen sink. This is the kind of so-simple-its-brilliant stuff I just love. While I would like my entire house to have a greywater system, that isn’t really feasible at this time. The house is old and the pipes are very difficult, perhaps impossible, to access. So we are starting with the sink and soon we are doing a simple greywater system from the washing machine as part of our Summer Workshop Series. Every drop counts so we have to start somewhere.

StoveTec’s Hot Rocket Stoves

StoveTec’s wood burning rocket stove on the left, charcoal and wood on the right.

A reader comment alerted me to a very cool product, the StoveTec Rocket Stove, offered by the “not-just-for-profit” wing of the Aprovecho Research Center. Profits from sales of the stoves benefit the Center’s research. StoveTec sells two rocket stoves, one for wood and the other for both wood and charcoal. While I haven’t tested one, the $37 to $40 price is a bargain.

Rocket stoves are a simple “appropriate” technology that burns small pieces of wood and charcoal efficiently. We’ve blogged about them before and even constructed our own out of a vent pipe and bricks. Instead of burning a log to cook you can use trimmings from trees, bushes and even agricultural waste. According to StoveTec,

“StoveTec Stoves, rocket stoves invented by Dr. Larry Winiarski, use 40-50% less fuel and reduce emissions by 40-75% while reducing green house gas (GHG) emissions an estimated 60% or 1-2 tons per year. These stoves are preferred over other improved cook stove and three stone fires by 95% of users in Uganda. High adoption and preference reported in India, South Africa, Ethiopia and Chile proves the stoves great versatility among many different users.”

Looks like they could find a nice home in North American as well. Do some pruning and then cook dinner. How about a rocket stove tailgate party?

The Food and Flowers Freedom Act

Local food is coming back to Los Angeles. Homegrown Evolution is proud to be a part of a new group, the Urban Farming Advocates (UFA). Not in LA? Start your own UFA branch. City codes need to be changed everywhere! UFA activist Glen Dake posted the following notice on the Garden Council website:

Problem: In 1946, a Los Angeles municipal code known as the Truck Gardening Ordinance was written to allow the growing of vegetables in a residential (R1) zone for sale off-site.

What this means, however, is that it is prohibited for city dwellers in R1 zones to grow fruits, nuts, flowers or seedlings and sell them off-site – at local farmers’ markets for example.

Furthermore, no one at City Hall can agree on what Truck Gardening is.

We think it’s time for the City of Los Angeles to come into the 21st century and amend its municipal code to support the burgeoning urban farming movement. It’s time L.A. legalized urban farming in R1 zones as part of its commitment to greening our city.

SOLUTION:

On July 8th, 2009, Council President Eric Garcetti introduced a motion to explore allowing “the cultivation of flowers, fruits, nuts or vegetables defined as the product of any tree, vine or plant, and that these products be allowed for use on-site or sale off-site.”

A group known as Urban Farming Advocates – Los Angeles, has named this motion the Food & Flowers Freedom Act. We’re asking for your support so that City Hall will change the law quickly and let L.A. become a leading center for urban farmers.

Urban farming provides access to more local, organic, affordable, fresh and nutritious food. In this time of economic crisis and rising food prices, urban farming can help create green jobs and stimulate the growth of artisanal home-based businesses. Urban farmers help build community bonds and bring a truly local flavor to farmers’ markets.

Angelinos care deeply about buying local organic produce. What about flowers? According to the California Cut Flower Commission, 80% of the flowers we buy are imported from overseas. Imported flowers are not tested for pesticide residues. Let urban farmers meet the rising demand for fresh, organic flowers!

Urban farmers can meet the needs of people for more locally grown, sustainably raised, pesticide-free food and flowers. We have the climate; we have the space.

ACTION:

Please take a moment to support the Food & Flowers Freedom Act by writing to your Los Angeles City Councilmember. Tell her/him you want to support urban farming in Los Angeles. Tell her/him you want the Planning Department to expedite their work and propose ways to legalize urban farming in Los Angeles. Please cc Council President Eric Garcetti and send an email copy to Urban Farming Advocates – Los Angeles at [email protected]

To find out who is your local councilmember, go to this link: http://lacity.org/lacity/YourGovernment/CityCouncil/index.htm

You can also support the food and flowers freedom act by putting the banner above on your blog or website and linking back to this post: http://www.homegrownevolution.com/2009/08/food-and-flowers-freedom-act.html. Thanks!

Chicken Goes to Hollywood

Homegrown Neighbor here.

On Thursday Mr. Homegrown and I escorted my chicken, Peckerella, to her first public appearance. Peckerella was there to assist author Terry Golson, who has written a wonderful children’s book called Tillie Lays An Egg. The book has adorable pictures of her flock and features the adventurous Tillie, who likes to lay her eggs everywhere except her nesting box.
Ms. Golson is currently in Los Angeles to share Tillie’s story with children and chicken aficionados of all ages. Since her chickens reside on the East Coast, Peckerella stepped in to play ambassador. ‘Pecky’ as she is often called, did a wonderful job and was very well behaved, allowing many children to pet her and sitting patiently during the book reading. Her next appearance will be at a reading of Tillie’s story at Chevalier’s books in Larchmont Village this Sunday, August 9th, from 11-1. If you are in the area please stop by and say hello. Peckerella loves to meet her adoring fans. Sorry, Chickenzilla doesn’t fit in the cat carrier so she won’t be able to make it.