The Arroyo Co-op in Pasadena

Arroyo-Food-Coop
Back in the 1970s the phone book for Los Angeles had dozens of food co-ops. Until just recently that number had dwindled to one (in Santa Monica), in a region of some 13 million people. Which is why I’m happy to help get the word out about the new Arroyo Co-op.  If you’re interested in joining here’s the press release I was sent:

When you shop at your local supermarket, do you feel like you really belong there? Do you wish you had an alternative – one that would offer you products you trust, and employees who will engage with you? Do you wish your shopping could help you build and support your community?

Welcome to the Arroyo Food Co-op!

The Arroyo Food Co-op is our effort to bring community and social values to the residents of Pasadena and surrounding areas. A dream in 2009, given an address in 2013, the Co-op officially opened its doors in 2014, as an on-line grocer coupled with a brick-and-mortar market. Co-op members can select from hundreds of items on our website (http://order.arroyofoodcoop.com/), and orders are ready for in-store pick up twice a week. Located at 494 Wilson Avenue in Pasadena, the Co-op is open for in-store shopping and order pickup on Tuesdays, from 4 to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. More hours coming soon – ultimately we want to be open 7 days a week. This is only the beginning!

Our goal is not just to offer another shopping opportunity, but to provide an alternative to traditional markets. The Co-op provides a line of products that reflect our values and our hope for the future, made with sustainable manufacturing and marketing processes, healthy, natural, non-GMO and organic ingredients, minimal packaging and a low carbon footprint. We have pantry basics, personal care items, pet supplies (including chicken feed!) and, as a co-op, we can be responsive to member requests.

In addition to building a neighborhood market with a conscience, Arroyo Food Co-op is building a community around it. We bring people from all walks of life together at the co-op, for educational and social gatherings that share the theme and values we pursue in our product line. In an effort to foster connections and growth, we host a weekend meeting called “Food for Thought”, where we invite those in our community who are working to make a difference, to come and share their knowledge and experience with our membership.

Our store has opened on a shoestring, but that won’t hold us back! We’ve come a long way in 5 years, from a dream to a real store, through the efforts of a core of dedicated volunteers. We still have a way to go – and we’ll get there faster with more members!If you want to be able to shop your conscience, and meet other like-minded folk, please check out our product offerings and consider joining us. It only takes $30 to get started, and every purchase you make helps our dream of community come closer to reality.

The Arroyo Food Co-op – Good People, Good Stuff

Saturday Linkages: Dirt Floors, Bike Lanes and More Skunks

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Could changing the way we make floors stop disease in the developing world?

Lighting homes (and the developing world) with gravity

India’s Health Minister Wants Protected Bike Lanes Nationwide

Los Angeles Isn’t London, and Other Things that are Wrong with California

On the (Very Smelly) Trail of the Skunk Takeover

Free astronomy resources and apps:

CritterCam Reveals Yet More Rats and a Plea to Not Use Poison

My beautiful picture

Taking a cue from the NSA, I blew up and enhanced one of the images our CritterCam took over the weekend. It reveals two rats peeking out from under the shed.

It may be time to consider locking up the chicken feed at night. That and a little cleanup behind and around the shed are the only things I feel the need to do.

A rant on rat poison
Thankfully, the general public can no longer buy d-CON rat poison in California. Unfortunately, professionals still have access to even more toxic chemicals. These poisons have been linked to the recent illness of the magnificent mountain lion that lives in nearby Griffith Park. Check out the before and after photos to see what these horrible chemicals can do.

It’s my hope that the principles of Integrated Pest Managment, developed by a team of scientists at the University of California in the 1950s will gain even more traction. I met the daughter of one of the UC researchers who developed IPM. She told me that her dad had basically sacrificed his career to further the IPM cause. At the time, and to some extent to this day, there’s a lot of incentive to sell poisons.

IPM offers a balanced, common sense approach to dealing with critters like rats: observe, reduce habitat for the creatures we don’t want and increase habitat for predators, use barriers, use biological controls and use toxins as a very last resort.

Our own health and the health our planet demands a less toxic approach to pest management.

How many ladybugs can you find? The Lost Ladybug Project

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image courtesy of wikimedia commons

We linked to this project in our last link roundup, but I though it deserved its own post. The Lost Ladybug Project is a citizen science initiative out of Cornell University asking people all over North America to identify and report ladybugs they see in their area, so that these sightings can be mapped and collected in a database. Apparently some sketchy things are going on with our ladybug populations (as if the whole bee thing isn’t traumatic enough) and they’re trying to get a handle on it. From their website:

Across North America ladybug species composition is changing.  Over the past twenty years native ladybugs that were once very common have become extremely rare.  During this same time ladybugs from other parts of the world have greatly increased both their numbers and range. This is happening very quickly and we don’t know how, or why, or what impact it will have on ladybug diversity or the role that ladybugs play in keeping plant-feeding insect populations low.  We’re asking you to join us in finding out where all the ladybugs have gone so we can try to prevent more native species from becoming so rare.

arggh…

But still….ladybugs!!!  Check out their website. It looks like a fun thing to do, for both kids or grownups. Part of the fun is learning to tell the difference between the different types of ladybugs. There’s lots of educational resources for homeschoolers and teachers. And yes, there’s even an ap for it.

It might be a little late in the year for the best counting, but I’m going to go out in the garden and see what I can find.

015 Worm Composting and Skunks

Our worm bin.

Our worm bin.

On the fifteenth episode of the Root Simple Podcast Kelly and Erik discuss how our cleaning project is going, worm composting, the ongoing skunk menace in our garden and we review two books. Apologies for some clipping in the audio and the cat interruptions.

Worms
During the worm composting segment we cover:

Skunks

What are we reading

Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof.

Bread: A Global History By William Rubel.

Kelly mentions Werner Herzog’s Happy People: A Year in the Taiga.

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. Additional music by Rho. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Worm Compost Leachate, Good or Bad?

Image: Permaculturewiki.

Image: PermaWiki.

In the course of preparing for our worm composting demo last week Kelly and I came across a lot of conflicting information. One of the most contentious issues in worm composting is what to do with the liquid that comes off the worm bin, called leachate.

The controversy stems, in large part, from the debate over aerated compost tea (ACT) vs. non-aerated compost tea. Fans of ACT do not like the fact that worm bin leachate is anaerobic, which they believe encourages the growth of microorganisms unfavorable to plants. They like to point out that worm bin leachate is not ACT.

The ACT debate needs a much longer post, but I did find two peer reviewed studies showing the benefits of un-aerated worm compost leachate: “Vermicomposting Leachate (Worm Tea) as Liquid Fertilizer for Maize and “Vermicompost Leachate Alleviates Deficiency of Phosphorus and Potassium in Tomato Seedlings.” I also found several Extension Service publications touting the use of worm bin leachate.

There are some caveats, however. First, it needs to be diluted–at least 1:1 and maybe, according to some sources, as much as 1:10. And you should probably test it out on a few plants before applying it to your whole garden.

And, from a food safety perspective, I’d avoid applying it to leafy greens and lettuces. I’d also point out that if you have a lot of leachate it might mean that your worm bin has too much moisture in it.

What do you think? Have you used worm bin leachate successfully? What side of the aerated vs. non-aerated debate are you on?