Blogs for August, 2013
checkout the archived city farm blog articles to learn about our takes on farm & city life
checkout the archived city farm blog articles to learn about our takes on farm & city life
In yoga practice, we hold our hands at heart position, a movement that embodies what it means to bring together what may seem disparate in your self. For me? I have two halves, a hippie half who would love to live off the land, to be waste-free. In this version of my story, I’m best friends with Ed Begly Jr., who helped me re-wire my house so I can power it with my bike that I made from found objects. I’d put No Impact Man to SHAME with my reusing and recycling.
In real life, I CRAVE the finer things in life. Like toilet paper. I buy eggs in cartons and don’t know how to repurpose that shell-shaped cardboard box into furniture. I’m often sneaking out for my morning guilt latte – and NOT EVEN BRINGING MY OWN MUG to Starbucks. And going to Starbucks, not my local, indie-operated café.
How can I better merge my two selves? Composting.
I love words, and lose hours on Thesaurus.com, searching words and watching how they connect, how those synonyms inspire different trains of thought, leading me down different rabbit holes.
Compost: to change over or convert.
When I bring my hands to my heart in “prayer position,” I have to put down my coffee cup. I can pay attention to what needs to be converted. It’s good to find daily reminders of the constant change that is our life, and composting your used coffee grounds, your banana peels, your egg shells, watching them bring life to your bell peppers, your fig tree, your new food, you can physically observe and inhabit what it means to convert. And, as the related word composite illustrates in its synonyms, find a little more synthesis and fusion in your lives, a little more harmony for those two halves that live together in you, in your kitchen, garden, and café.
Do you compost? Do you have a worm farm to speedily do the work, or did you start a pile in your yard? If you live in the city, and don’t have a lot of space for a compost pile, check out Organic Authority’s tips for compact composting here. And if you want to start a worm farm, and learn why “vermicompost” is so good for your garden, head over to Modern Farmer.
(Photos: Prayer pose from Genesis Health Clubs West 13th, Thesaurus.com)
The third annual Los Angeles Wine & Food Festival August 22-25th is the quintessential food & drink experience. Culinary talent is complemented by mixologists, sommeliers, beverage directors, music artists, and foodies galore. You are bound to have a good time when celebrity chefs appear, receptions are held, hors d’oeuvres are passed and bubbly is abundant. Below is your go-to guide to get the most out of the ravishing, and can I say scrumptious, occasion.
If you are looking for an intimate dining event, these gatherings may suite you:
1.Lunch at One Pico with Peter Armellino, Matthew Accarrino & Sven Mede
TIME: Friday 8/23/13, 12:00p – 2:30p
PLACE: Dining Room – Shutters
CHEFS: Matthew Accarrino from SPQR in San Francisco, Peter Armellino from The Plumed Horse in Saratoga, Sven Mede from One Pico-By the Blue Sea in Santa Monica.
SOMMELIERS: Maison l’Orée in France, Ramos Pinto in Portugal, Roederer Estate in Napa Valley, Terlato Family Vineyards, & Amapola Creek Winery.
1.Patrón presents Tacos & Tequila at The Bungalow
TIME: Friday 8/23/13, 3:00p – 5:00p
PLACE: The Bungalow
CHEFS: Rick Bayless from Frontera Grill/Red O Chicago / Los Angeles, Josef Centeno from Baco Mercat / Bar Ama in Los Angeles, Ray Garcia from FIG in Santa Monica.
SOMMELIERS: Goose Island in Chicago
1.Hinoki & the Bird Mixology Lunch with Charles Phan & David Meyers
TIME: 8/23/13, 12:00p – 2:30p
PLACE: Dining Room – Hinoki & The Bird
CHEFS: David Myers from Hinoki & The Bird in Los Angeles, Charles Phan from Slanted Door Group in San Francisco, Kuniko Yagi from Hinoki & The Bird in Los Angeles.
FEATURED GUEST: Chris Hopkins the mixologist for The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
For a more interactive experience with cooking demonstrations, Giada de Laurentiis will be demonstrating:
1.Giada De Laurentiis & Friends Cooking Demonstration
TIME: 8/22/13, 5:30p – 6:30p
PLACE: Lobby Level – Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
Exclusively Available with VIP Ticket for Giada’s Festa Italiana
1.Giada’s Festa Italiana
TIME: 8/22/13, 7:00p – 10:00p
PLACE: Between 1st and 2nd Street – Grand Avenue
PRICE: $195.00 VIP: $250.00
For more information, please visit the Los Angeles Wine & Food Festival 2013 official website here: http://www.lafw.com/. Let us know how your experience is, and enjoy!
A few years back I trained a slew of ducks for a movie – appropriately titled DUCK – www.duckthemovie.com
I like training ducks. They are fun and different from your average day of dog training. We have about twelve of them and they all have different personalities and funny little quirks and behaviors. The reason we have so many is because we work and train the ducks for their daily food. As you can imagine, that is not much food, consider the size of a ducks stomach! So when a duck becomes full, we move onto the next one!
The other reason for twelve ducks is because they all bring something different to that table (is that a bad food joke? NO!). One duck may be great with the actor and loves to be held in someones arms, while another runs really fast. Trying to make a slow duck run fast is pointless, just take the fastest of the bunch and use that one.
At the beginning of each job I “audition” the ducks for their new jobs – actions – that they may be required to do. Sometimes we have a limited amount of time in which to train. So for example, using the more “aggressive” duck, the one that always bites you and grabs at things, to train for scenes that require the duck to pull on something, is much easier than trying to coax a more quiet, less aggressive duck into doing it. And therefore using the quieter duck for scenes with the actor is better than using the “grabby” duck, who may decide he suddenly wants to bite the actors nose!
And let me tell you – getting bitten or more realistically “pinched” by a duck, hurts! And leaves a bruise!
What does it mean to be native to a place? I was born in Reno, Nevada (a fact that is fun to share and watch people try to place me in the box they have created for the “biggest little city in the world”). But I grew up in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, raised on rain and tall fir trees. And I’ve now lived in southern California longer than anywhere else. Does that make me a native Angeleno?
In L.A., it’s rare to meet someone born and bred who stayed around. They end up even more fascinating than they might normally be, similar to meeting an L.A. resident who has never dabbled in the “industry”: You learned to drive on the 405? Your school lockers were outside? You had surfing as a P.E. class? You NEVER spent a day as a film or TV extra?
“Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.”
― Frank Lloyd Wright
Even our signature flora isn’t native. Just one of the iconic palms waving in the Los Angeles sunset is: the California fan palm. All the rest are imports, just like most of us. The gorgeous jacaranda tree, that welcomes summer with its lavender glory in May and June, and drops its beautiful violet blossoms to wreak havoc on your car’s paint job or your home’s new carpets? It’s native to Argentina.
What to plant if you want something truly native? Check out PlantNative.org, a Portland, Oregon-based resource of nurseries, books, and lists that highlight the native plants in your neck of the woods. Search for your state here.
And if, like a true transplant, you want to plant a palm or jacaranda to honor your move to Los Angeles, check out Los Angeles’s Agriculture blog here on how to plant a jacaranda, and see if you qualify for a FREE TREE via Million Trees L.A. – a city movement to increase our tree canopy cover. Read more on the history of L.A. and the iconic palm trees at kcet.org.
How, and how long, does it take for a new place to be home? When you arrive at the airport or find your car under the arrow on the freeway that guides your car in the right direction and internally, you feel a sense of relaxation. That you’ll arrive home, where you know the best routes for traffic and buses, where you say hello to the familiar person at the grocery check out line or your local nursery, where, no matter how long you’ve lived there, you’re still surprised by the unknown and unexpected turns of your town. But it’s YOUR town.
What are you planting in your region to make it more homey? Leave us a note in the comments or via Twitter: @RebeccaSnavely & @TheCityFarm.
(Photo: Early 20th-century postcard depicting Santa Monica’s Palisades Park. The text on the reverse read, ‘Atop a lofty bluff is Palisades Park, one of the most beautiful on the Pacific Coast, where amid tropical palms and gay flowers, one may rest and view the grandeur of the blue Pacific.’ Courtesy of the Werner Von Boltenstern Postcard Collection, Department of Archives and Special Collections, Loyola Marymount University Library.)
While the origins of Labor Day are a bit dark and depressing, what with American workers in the late 19th century putting in 12-hour, 7-day weeks for little pay, their children out of school and at the mill, earning terribly low wages, today’s celebrations of our labor victories are light and heartening. What are your favorite memories of Labor Days of yore? I always dreamed of a family camp, like in “Dirty Dancing,” with summer romances ending with bittersweet goodbyes and awkward talent shows to send everyone off, back to the cities and desk jobs.
In honor of taking a day off to celebrate a 40-hour work week with benefits, let’s look at what’s happening all around the U.S. this August 30th – September 2nd: Labor Day weekend. Will you be lugging a watermelon to eat by the lake? Or are you staying in the city? Take a peek at city events along the west coast, starting up in the Northwest. (Yummm… coffee.)
Seattle, which was recently identified as the hardest working city in the U.S., clearly needs to take a break. If you’ll be in the area, take a look at this events calendar, which includes Bumbershoot, a weekend festival at the 74-acre Seattle Center., for your music, film, comedy, spoken word, dance, theatre, performance, and visual arts fix.
Portland, OR – PDX Pipeline will give you the info on all the goings-on, including movies in the park, bar trivia nights, and a beer garden on Alberta.
San Francisco – Need a yoga break before you go back to work? The SF Gate’s events list for the long weekend includes “Manifesting the Wisdom of the Body,” hosted in Sausalito. If that’s too much zen, check out the Millbrae Art & Wine festival.
Los Angeles (and beyond) – TimeOut.com offers guides for almost every big city – will you be in Chicago, Boston, New York, or Paris this Labor Day? Angelenos, check out their calendar here to plan your Labor Day festivities – will you go to The Taste? The (free!) Fiesta Hermosa? Or the L.A. County Fair?
How do you celebrate Labor Day? Leave a comment below or tweet a photo or story to us @TheCityFarm.
Photos: BlackLakeCabins.com, The818.com, and personal photo.
I’m a book girl. One of my first stops in Portland is Powell’s Books. I lose hours and most of my paycheck in local bookstores like Skylight Books, where recommendations by the bookish staff convince me to buy books I might have overlooked. Growing up, our refrigerator was a bare space, uncluttered by Christmas cards or family photos. However, one lone magnet held both the important info of the family doctor and the quote: “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” (Cicero)
It was true of my literature-loving household, even the kitchen was filled with words, cookbooks and recipe cards, but also our current library books, set aside, face down, spine bent or broken, to save the spot to return to after dinner, the only time we were not allowed to read.
Cicero is also attributed the wise words: “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Into this outdoor reading room, I’d add a tree for shade. I’m house-sitting this week, and my friends’ back yard is a hill of green growth, with a hammock perfect for a lazy, late afternoon with a book.
Do you have a shady spot in your garden? Even though April’s Arbor Day has passed, you can still plant a tree in late summer. According to Urban Forestry Specialist Aaron Kiesz of South Dakota’s Department of Conservation and Forestry, your best bet might be a containerized tree, planted in a pot, and sold up to one or two years later. Or, better yet, a balled and burlapped tree, dug out of the ground and replanted in your plot of land, an immediate fix for those looking for a shady reading spot.
Kiesz notes the importance of supplemental watering and using an organic mulch upon first planting your tree. “Water once a day for the first 2-3 weeks and once or twice a week thereafter for the next couple years will help your tree establish itself and ensure good quality growth. Organic mulch prevents grass from competing with the tree for water and nutrients. …Mulch should be placed around the trunk at least as far out as the branches reach. Keep the mulch 6 inches from the base of the tree and only 2 – 3 inches deep.”
Check out the Arbor Day Foundation page here for detailed instructions of how to plant your balled & burlapped tree.
“I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. I feel as if this tree knows everything I ever think of when I sit here. When I come back to it, I never have to remind it of anything; I begin just where I left off.” – Willa Cather (O Pioneers!)
“She was made up of more, too. She was the books she read in the library. She was the flower in the brown bowl. Part of her life was made from the tree growing rankly in the yard.” – Betty Smith (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)
What book will you take outside to read? Send us photos of your favorite reading tree via Twitter: @RebeccaSnavely and @TheCityFarm!
(Photo courtesy: ThisOldYard.net)
Several weeks ago, I visited Madrid for the first time. The city is beautiful, the people are so friendly, and the Prado Museum is a thrill to see. But…I can’t stop thinking about the amazing meal we had at the Michelin starred DiverXO. The restaurant is intimate, with modern and minimal decoration. Each dish is a work of art, and the service is exceptional. The Asian influenced tasting menu provides an unforgettable gastronomic experience!DiverXO Calle Pensamiento 28 Madrid, Spain
The exterior and interior decor complemented the sensory experience.
When you have my job, you can find yourself in the most interesting places. For the TV show Heroes we needed to place a cat on a rooftop for a quick shot. As you can see by the above picture, getting to the rooftop in an alleyway was no easy feat. Strapped into this contraption was a little nerve wrecking, but you have to put your faith in the professionals you work alongside and trust they know what they are doing. It was a little wobbly at its fully extended height I have to say. Luckily we had an awesome laid back cat called Baxter that we used for this shot. Nothing fazes him and he pulled this off with no problem. Definitely not your average day at the office!
The picture below is of Chrissie (in the green shirt) my fellow cat trainer. I took this from my position, she was helping place the cat on the roof. Notice she is strapped in for safety also.
Look up – what do you see? (If your answer is clouds, or an airplane, or smog, bring it down a notch.) The rooftop of a building may look all business from your sidewalk stance, the edge of stone and glass, but it might be a green oasis, helping to cool down your asphalt jungle.
The Sierra Club compared and contrasted two such rooftop farms in New York City: “To visit [Brooklyn Grange], take the R train to 36th Street in Queens. Climb to the street, escaping the subway breeze that smells like hot iron, and walk two blocks east on Northern Boulevard. Enter a nondescript six-story office building. In the elevator, push the R button for “roof.” After the bald guy with a briefcase steps off on floor three, wait for the doors to slide open again. You will be met by a disorienting burst of sunshine and a view of the Triborough Bridge, and your best New York don’t-mess-with-me scowl will be directed at a lovely row of eggplants.”
New York is leading the way in urban farming: there are at least 7 green-growing rooftops that cool down the city that never sleeps, in contrast to neighboring blacktop roofs, where that dark dearth of life absorbs the summer sun and raises the city temperatures to as much as 7 degrees higher than surrounding areas. Plus, according to the Sierra Club story “there are 17 ground-based farms in the Big Apple and 1,000-plus community gardens, far more than in any other American city.”
I don’t know about you, but come September and October, the hottest months in L.A., I’d love to find green ways to slow the rising mercury on outdoor thermometers. Have you ever asked your landlord about leasing a little extra space at the top of your building? If you live or work where there’s a flat rooftop, consider the benefits of growing green up high.
Communities can learn lessons from Seattle, where the UpGarden is a rooftop space for approximately 120 gardeners to manage their own food-production, built and maintained almost entirely by volunteers.
If you have limited space to grow greens, check out American Community Gardening Association to find your own row to hoe. Do you dig in the dirt alongside your neighbors? Tell us your story here in the comments, or via Twitter @TheCityFarm and @RebeccaSnavely.
Photo: View from Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm, Photography by JJ Sulin, The Sierra Club
Oh, the lazy, hazy days of late summer. I get a little lost this time of year – endless sun confuses me, and all I want to do is dip in a pool and read a good (if slightly salacious) book. I remember the competing emotions of childhood summers: longing for lazy summer days to go on forever, but waking early in August to bike to school, checking the class list posted on the locked door. I’d learn if I was placed in a favorite teacher’s class, if I’d be cruelly separated from my best friend, and I’d start to dream of that first day of school and what jeans I would wear.
Do you have late-summer blues? Do back-to-school sales thrill or depress you? I’m not a mom, but for some out there, those ads are a blessed sign of structured days to come. Kristen, the writer behind Rage Against the Minivan, admits her hilarious top five reasons why her kids need to scurry back to class here, including binge-watching the not-so-kid-friendly Netflix series, “Orange is the New Black.”
What are your ways to beat the summer doldrums? A great way to embrace the sunny days is through travel, even if only to a new, unexplored neighborhood. Pack one of The City Farm’s bags – The Weekender if you’re staying overnight, or one of the Design Africa bags for a day trip, tucking into it all the necessities for exploring a new neck of the woods.
Handmade by artisans in Africa, these bags are great totes for a day exploring new places, or make beautiful back-to-school gifts for students to pack along notebooks, snacks, and a proverbial apple for the teacher.
Artisans carefully create the natural sisal and banana fiber satchels with hand-sewn cowhide leather handles. Which will you choose? The Wide Striped Khaki Satchel? The White Striped Satchel? Or the Camel Striped Satchel? Or one of each?
Where will you go for your last summer getaway? Tell us in the comments, or on Twitter: @TheCityFarm. If you have the itch to plan your days, hunt down some city guides or local bloggers to guide your adventure. But sometimes? After you’ve picked your general place, it’s great to turn off your smart phone, and let the day (or bus) take you where it will. The act of unplugging = an invitation to adventure. Pack accordingly.