Monday, April 20, 2009

Local Santa Cruz eateries pitching in on May 4th

Two of my favorite local restaurants are going to take part in the "grow a farmer" campaign, which, is really actually the "we must raise money for housing by july or apprentices will no longer be able to live on the farm" campaign.
On Monday, May 4th Ristorante Avanti and Gabriella Cafe will both be donating a percentage of the night's sales to the campaign. I am really hoping that folks will turn out to pack the house(s).
It is kind of a special nexus-y night for me as I work at Avanti, and am on the Board of the Friend's of the Farm and Garden, and also as of recently have started working at the farm again, as the gardener for Life Lab.
I can't say enough about Paul and CIndy Geise's (the owners of Avanti) commitment to local/organic/sustainable. They have been buying strictly from local producers for twenty years, long before it was fashionable. It has never been "organic when possible" for them, which I have learned by working in restaurants is a total BS way of saying that "we are really not willing to spend the money on organic and decrease our profit to support sustainable agriculture, and oh yea, we also won't spend to provide you with the most fresh, delicious nutritious food, and
well, the truth is, very little of what we serve is organic and it's really just marketing". Sorry to rant but please believe me, it's very often true.
Paul and Cindy don't make a big deal out doing what they do. They don't consider themselves heroes or trendsetters (the secret is that they are) or wax pedantic in people's faces. For them it is just normal, just as it would be to, say, your imaginary Tuscan grandma. But it does take effort and willingness and committment and sacrifice. They could definitely increase their pretty miniscule profit margin by buying lower quality/conventional ingredients or by raising their prices or by lowering the wages of employees to the minimum wage (ok, it's not a cheap place, but you pay exactly the same as you would pay at many places for a chemical laden meal prepared from unsustainable sources) but it's not even a question for them.
I admit that it quite weird to me that they are an exception and that it isn't a given that everyone does it this way, but alas, I am apparently a girl from another time and place.

There's my rant about that! Again, I hope both places are packed, and that people are generous in supporting the future of the aprenticeship. Some think that if this housing doesn't get built, the apprenticeship will be kaput...In the word's of the inimitable Orin Martin; "We need to do this, and we need to do it NOW!!". Let's DO THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bay Area Alumni Gathering

The idea of a Bay Area alumni gathering is being batted around. Maybe in SF or Oakland, food, drinks, music, maybe even a theme!!!
Looking for ideas for a venue...

Hello People!

So, this is what it's like to blog...Pretty much just seems like writing!
I thought that this would be a good way to keep each other up to date, along with the facebook page.

As I mentioned in the email, of few of us who are in the loop of farm happenings caught wind of some difficulties occurring with the housing situation and got together to discuss it. We decided to take some action in getting an alumni association happening, not just as an answer to the question of how to help with housing, but because it has needed to happen for a long time. ( Uh, 40 years...) Maybe it had to wait until these electronic tools made it easy enough. We are all convinced that good things will come of being in touch with each other--a list of which might include really good parties, activism on behalf of the farm and garden or sustainable ag, sharing farming practices and stories...

You can see our mission statement over there on the left. We also made a list of goals:

1. Ensure the continuation of the six-month residential Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture;
2. Provide support for achieving the short- and long-term development priorities of the UCSC Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture;
3. Create opportunities for alumni to collaborate in furthering the mission of the Apprenticeship Program through the regional, national and international efforts to promote economically viable, socially just and ecologically sound food systems.

Goal number one is the one getting all the attention at the moment. For the moment, the way that we can help ensure that the RESIDENTIAL apprenticeship continues is to help raise the funds needed to build housing on the farm. There is a deadline for the money to be in place (July) and if the goal is not met, the program will most likely cease to be residential. We all know what it means to live on the farm while apprenticing, and why it is such an important aspect of the program. I am sure you are all getting fundraising calls and emails from the "Friend's of the Farm" and apprenticeship staff, but we thought maybe if folks were in contact with each other, ideas might flow in new directions...