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Showing posts from 2017

Giving Tuesday: Regrow Puerto Rico

Happy Giving Tuesday! If you haven't already, I invite you to please support an important cause led by four of my dear friends from the UCSC Farm Apprenticeship! They are raising funds to support a more sustainable food system in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. They have raised 75% of their $17,500 goal; help them get to 100%!

They write, "After learning that 80% of crop value has been wiped out, we think supporting our agroecological family in Puerto Rico is the best way we can contribute. We want to contribute to farmers, seed savers, and food justice organizers who believe in growing methods that do not use pesticides, that rebuild the soil, that attract beneficial insects, that grow healthy food, that believe that access to locally grown food is a RIGHT that everyone should have on the island (and around the world.)"

Please watch this video to learn more and hear directly from my four inspiring friends and fellow members of the Center for Agroecology &am…

Sourdough 101

Yesterday afternoon, I led a workshop about sourdough bread at the UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden's Annual Harvest Festival. (Fun fact: Green Guy and I met at this same event five years ago when we were tabling for student sustainability organizations!) A whole lot of people showed up to the workshop, and nearly everyone was able to take some 150-year-old Yukon sourdough starter home with them. I received the starter from a coworker's mother-in-law a couple years ago after baking with my own homegrown starter for a few months.  It's resilient and amazing to bake with!


If you're particularly intrigued by sourdough and live in the Santa Cruz area, you're invited to sign up for another workshop that I'm leading October 11 at UCSC. It's $5, and it's limited to 12 participants; sign up here! By signing up for the workshop, you can join me on a journey into the wild world of sourdough, an ancient and delicious fermentation art that is easy and fun for folks …

I Love Lavender! History, properties, uses, and homemade treats

This afternoon in the Farm Garden, I led a Garden Talk on my new favorite flower: Lavender! Everyone currently working in the Farm Garden took turns last week and today presenting for 10-12 minutes each on garden topics of our choice. Other apprentices shared about topics like quail, African and African-American traditional foods and crops, compost worms, the impact of colonialism and forced removal on Native American traditional foodways, the "Language of Flowers" and their meanings, mycorrhizal fungi, and more! I chose lavender because I've been collecting and drying bunches of lavender in my tent cabin for a few weeks, and as I learned more about its uses, I was blown away by its incredible range of uses, both medicinally, culinary, and beyond.

I've adapted my presentation into a blog post to share with you all below. In addition to presenting on lavender, I also brought some different lavender varieties, books with recipes and information, lavender essential oil,…

Farm update & two garden poems by Jeune Gal

Life on the Farm has been so busy lately! Our twice-weekly market cart began a few weeks ago, which means that on Tuesday and Friday mornings, we begin harvesting flowers, veggies, and berries at 7:30am for our market stand at the base of campus.
Two of my lovely fellow apprentices load flower bouquets into the box truck to go to our market cart around 10:00am on harvest morning. We harvest flowers and make bouquets in the Farm Garden that are sold at our cart. We also harvest veggies to sell at cart. Other garden/farm sites in the program make bouquets or harvest veggies for our CSA program.

My chore rotations lately (dish patrol and kitchen patrol) have also been more time consuming; they included setting up our post-meal dish station, drying and putting away dishes, putting away food from meals, and washing dishes used to serve food. I was also on a subrotation for three weeks focused on propagation in the greenhouses and hardening off tables. Along with three other apprentices, I …

Farm Apprenticeship Week 8 Reflection

An apprenticeship update & an exploration of what our treatment of weeds perhaps reveals about the limits we place on compassion

It's already week eight of the Apprenticeship; time has truly flown by here at the farm and gardens! This evening in the Farm Center I'm surrounded by apprentices playing charades, others prepping for tomorrow's meals, and bouquets of fragrant and enticing flowers from our flower and bouquet class yesterday.

Earlier today, I learned a bit about how to grow peppers as well as the many different kinds of peppers in the world. (The article we read and reviewed this morning is available online here.) We will be growing 67 different varieties of peppers in the Chadwick Garden alone this season, totaling more than 1500 individual plants throughout the garden! These will all be planted by hand. Sometime next week, we've been promised a dried and smoked pepper tasting session, as well as a potato and garlic varieties taste test. I&#…

Four snapshots of life in the UCSC Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture

The weeks pass by so quickly here, each day filled with learning the "why" behind the "how," engaging in interesting discussions with new friends, working, and getting "schooled up" (as Orin Martin would say) in how to be effective and skilled technicians in the art of gardening and farming. Each day could become its own blog post with the story of what was learned, practiced, discovered, and enjoyed. Today's update is a series of quotes, thoughts, and tidbits, a somewhat brief glimpse into my daily life here.


The Cultivation of the Gardener
Each week, we have readings due on Wednesday that relate to the topic of our class for that day. One of our readings recently was titled "The Cultivation of the Gardener," written by a few CASFS (Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems) staff a number of years ago. The article describes the biodynamic French Intensive horticulture system brought to UCSC by Alan Chadwick in 1967, and the auth…

Farm Apprenticeship Weeks 2-3

My legs are sore, my vertebrae crack when I stand up straight or stretch, my hands are scraped and blistered, but I've got the biggest smile on my face--kinda like the grin on my childhood face below! It's been two and a half weeks since I moved onto the UCSC Farm, and I am in love with life, this land, the view, the many plants we tend, and the community of ~50 people that I spend nearly all of my time with when I'm not sleeping in my canvas tent cabin overlooking the Bay.

Since my last blog update, I've done all of this and more:
learned a bit about temperate zone deciduous fruit trees from Orin Martintransplanted flowers into beds in the Chadwick Garden/Up Gardenlabeled many plants for the plant sale this weekendweeded and added more roses to a perennial rose gardenlearned about Alternative to Violence Program and practiced nonviolent communication during a workshopgot to know new friends better  read about and heard lectures and saw demos on both cover crops and til…

Farm Apprenticeship Week 1

Woah, an entire week of the UC Santa Cruz Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture has already come and gone! It was a full week of meeting new people (40 apprentices plus the staff!), learning all of their names, getting used to group meals three times a day, enduring the cold of my tent cabin, and enjoying the beautiful view. Since last week was the first week and here in Santa Cruz we had rainy skies and saturated soils almost every day, we spent a lot of time inside the Village A3 building meeting everyone, learning about the program and policies, and getting trained on food safety and how to avoid ticks, mosquitos, bee stings, and black widow bites. Oh my!

One of the many perks of living on a farm--abundant flowers to decorate your tent cabin!

Early in the week, we prepared our spade and fork. They come with a plasticky shellac on the wood, which we removed and sanded down so that we could apply linseed oil instead. This should make the wood last longer than the shellac would ha…

Let the farm adventures begin!

The newest chapter in the adventures of Green Gal has officially begun! Yesterday, I moved into a tent cabin at the UC Santa Cruz Farm, where I'll live, work, and learn for the next six months. I'm participating in the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture, a program hosted by the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems that is celebrating its 50th year. Back in December when I received my acceptance letter, I shared a post about why I applied to this program. I can't believe it all starts tomorrow and that I will be waking up this unbelievable from my tent cabin door view every morning from now until October! If you can't tell in this photo, you can see Monterey Bay glimmering in the sun.


I've met a few other apprentices so far, and I look forward to meeting the rest of the folks tonight for our welcome dinner and tomorrow for our first day! There are 39 of us this year, and we come from all different backgrounds and places around the state, countr…

Reflections on Santa Cruz Permaculture Design Course Fall 2016 - Winter 2017

A few weeks ago on March 11, I completed* a six-month Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course through Santa Cruz Permaculture, which is directed and taught by my good friend, co-mentor, and UCSC colleague David Shaw. He had strongly encouraged me to participate in the program after learning that I was applying to the UCSC Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture, which I have since been accepted to and will begin on April 10! David shared with me that prior to his time as a CASFS apprentice in the early 2000s, he had completed his PDC and found that it provided him with a valuable whole systems design framework through which he could experience the CASFS apprenticeship.

I am so grateful that David shared this advice and that I signed up for the course. I got to know some amazing people, learned some new methods for observing the world around me, found out about some really practical methods for designing systems that make a w…