Friday, December 26, 2008

Letter from Terra Madre

Crowded into the event center in Torino, where slow food international holds a conference every two years, were farmers, educators, and chefs, and interested participants. Part of the fun of Terra Madre was to see all the many variations of African fabrics alluringly worn by tall beautiful women, and the great variety of headgear worn by South Americans and small ethnic groups from around the world. One could spend hours walking about and asking about the different items brought from near and far. Workshops continued throughout the day. They provided a welcome respite for tired feet. Mostly the workshops were continuations and follow-ups to online discussions. Because of technical problems added to the lack of an interesting presentation my choice was easy. I was off to the Salone Del Gusto to sample preserved pork products from different regions of Italy. The Salone was very crowded but somehow this added to the fun of pushing through the crowds to grab a piece of salame. Besides pork there were many cheeses, chocolates, panfortes, jams, olive oils, etc. Displays of different beans, lentils, pastas, could be bought as well as cooked foods for immediate consumption. The Enoteca (having to do with wine) required an extra fee but once inside for a few dollars you could taste some very special wine, beer or spirits. The problem was deciding from 2000 different bottles.

What impressed me the most was the growing network of Americans developing,
7000 of the 85000 participants
were from the United States. Slowfood
is influencing people, producers
and consumers, all over the country.
This is truly an amazing development.
On our bus and in the same hotel were Americans from the east coast, west coast, and places in the middle; I spent most (but not all) of my time with this lively and interesting group. While waiting in the long line for lunch I would find out who was standing in front and behind me in line. On one memorable day an Australian woman was waiting ahead of me, and behind was a man from Kenya. “You know Kenya,” he said, “it is the home of Obama’s father”. The lunch line moved far too quickly that day.
Mary Ennes Lentzner, Torino, Italy, October 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Slow Food in Schools

I got a call today from Lesley Stiles. She let me know that the students at Diablo Day School are getting ready to plant! This weekend Lesley and Stephanie will be using some of the money generously granted to our project from Slow Food USA, Orchard Nursery (thanks to Jan Enderle) and the California Retail Nursery folks. I asked Lesley to let me know when she expects to be able to have a work day for Slow Food members. I'm very excited to see the progress made to date. Tuesday, the students will have a day of planting.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Wonderful Slow Food Films

Our Film Festival at Los Medanos College was attended by about 60 students. We screened The Real Dirt on Farmer John and King Corn along with a short film from the Golbal Oneness Project on seed saving. During the break between Farmer John and King Corn, I took a trip to the loo to find a young woman wiping tears from her eyes. She was moved by Farmer John's story and looking forward to the next movie. Many attendees asked about Slow Food and CSAs. Our wonderful film committee members, Howard and Mary Lentzner and Lucy Meinhardt came early and popped lots of popcorn. Howard and Mary graciously donated the organic popcorn. Without the strong and consistent support of Amoeba Music, none of this would have been possible. They gave us a generous $500 to purchase the films with ongoing screening rights. I am excited about scheduling more screenings of these films and the others in our Slow Food Film Library. One of our members has a yoga studio in Brentwood and she is willing to let us use the space to show the films. I am thinking of a weekly series. Anyone want to volunteer to organize and promote? Also, we are in the planning stages of the next college screening at St. Mary's. We are thinking the show won't go on until 2009. However, we are looking for helpers.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Shutters and Films

The dinner at Shutters was a huge success! There were about 75 people there and the food was wonderful. Let me know what you thought if you were there too.

The second annual film screening at Los Medanos College is tomorrow night, starting at 6 pm. If you want to come and help out, we will begin setting up at 5. We can always use volunteers. The films this year are great! King Corn and The Real Dirt on Farmer John. We are planning a few more screenings of these and they have been added to our film library.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Updates Galore!!

It's been a long time since we've posted anything. Two events have come and gone. Our members Anders Bengtsson and Pat Rodda (head table) represented Delta Diablo at the Golden Glass. It sounded amazing! Working with fruit donated by members Al and Becky Courchesne, Anders created a delicious combination of cherries and saboyon. We received high praise for the treats. Many thanks to Anders ,Pat, Al and Becky.

At the beginning of July, member Lesley Stiles organized and catered a farm tour of 3 farms in Brentwood. Gail Wadsworth went along to speak on the bus about the urban edge and the communities the tour traveled through. There were 18 attendees, the majority of whom were from Greenbelt Alliance.

Our first stop was Rose Lane Farm on the edge of Oakley. This 5 acre farm is incredibly diverse with fruit trees, tomatoes, squash and gorgeous flowers. Our host farmer, Penny, showed us around, talked about the history of the farm and her concerns about development. Bethallyn Black, UC Cooperative Extension, then gave us all a brief talk on urban edge issues, focusing on water use. Penny was a wonderful host and I think most of the people on the tour were ready to move into her lovely home.

Next on the agenda was a drive down the Urban Limit Line on Sellers Avenue. Our next stop was Frog Hollow Farm where all the owners shared in the task of showing us around. First Farmer Al, on his way to the Santa Cruz farmers' market, took some time to share his philosophies with us. Frog Hollow grows organic fruit on 120 acres. Then, his wife, Becky, took us on a tour of the kitchen. We were all grateful to be able to walk through the cooler since the temperatures were reaching 110! After Becky finished, Sarah Coddington took us on a tour of the packing shed and fields telling us all about how Frog Hollow meets the massive orders they get for fruit. She then took us to tables set up under the trees where we all enjoyed the delicious, fresh lunch Lesley had prepared. At this stop, Renato Sardo talked about Slow Food International and Slow Food Nation. Renato is the person who had requested a tour like this since he is a member of both Slow Food and Greenbelt Alliance. He sees our goals as intertwined.

After lunch, our time was getting short but it was off to Knoll Farms. Kristie Knoll spoke to us about their thriving 10 acre diverse farm considered to be beyond organic. Tour members were treated to a tour of the fig trees and an explanation of how Knoll Farms began. It was an informative and entertaining visit. Unfortunately, due to time constraints we had to cut this tour short. Everyone was sad but off we went to our starting point.

We have received a large number of emails from attendees praising the tour. All enjoyed the fact that the numbers were kept small so each one of them had a chance to speak to the farmers. The farms had some of their produce for sale so everyone had the opportunity to take some of the farms they had visited home with them. We didn't make any money on this tour but are happy we could introduce non-members to our wonderful agricultural region. We can't thank Lesley enough!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

More Good News and a General Request

First, the good news: we just received a $100 gift card from Orchard Nursery in Lafayette to help us purchase plants for our Slow Food in Schools project. In addition, the school received a $10,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente Diablo Region Community Benefits. We are on our way to success. We'll be submitting several more requests for funding and will keep you all posted.

Now for the request: we need at least one more volunteer to accompany Anders Bengtsson to the Golden Glass. Frog Hollow Farm is generously sending cases of cherries for attendees to sample and we will be distributing Harvest Time maps. In addition, we will have some small write ups about our convivium, nothing fancy. Please email Gail if you can volunteer on June 8. The event runs from 3-7 pm and 3,000 are expected to attend.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Slow Food in Schools Mini-grant

We are happy to announce that we received a $425 mini-grant from Slow Food USA for our Slow Food in Schools project. This money will be used to purchase permanent food plants for the Diablo Community Day School. These will be things like grape vines, kiwis, berry canes and the like. Those of you who were at the meeting last month may remember the project. We are really excited to get started. Member Lesley Stiles will be heading the project up and Anders Bengtsson has volunteered to help. I'm sure many of you will want to be involved.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Slow Food Meeting Recap

All agreed this was a great venue. The food and wine were excellent as was the service. Many thanks to Peter Chastain of Prima!!

Our first duty was to cover old business:

We introduced the “Head Table”: Josh and Susan Hammack, Kristie and Rick Knoll, Pat Rodda and Gail Wadsworth

State of Membership: Started with 13 members in 2006, now we have 39. If all members can bring in one more member, we will have a great group. Let's get at it!

Kristie recapped our 2007 events by describing them, telling about the turnout and the financials. We did really well last year and ended up contributing close to $5,000 to Slow Food Nation.

Gail discussed the results of the online member survey that has been the impetus for our 2008 decision-making. This year we will have at least 3 events: Farm tour with Greenbelt Alliance members, Film Festival at Los Medanos College and fundraising dinner on a farm. The funds raised will support Slow Food in Schools in Contra Costa County.

Gail has manned 3 tables for outreach: 2 at Walnut Creek Farmers’ Market and one at John Muir Hospital. Materials are available for members to man tables in their communities.

Member Kathryn Lyddan discussed the Ark of Taste nomination for Oakley Ancient Vines and explained why she thought it had been denied by Slow Food USA.

Gail brought up application for Slow Food in Schools grant from Slow Food USA for project at Diablo Community Day School in Concord.

New business was then discussed:

Events for 2008:

We will be hosting a farm tour and inviting Greenbelt Alliance: Lesley Stiles has agreed to head this project up. We are still seeking volunteers to assist. Lesley will be sending out a call when she needs help. The date of the tour will be at the end of June.

June 8, Slow Food San Francisco will be hosting the Golden Glass at Fort Mason. Our convivium has been asked to attend and we have also requested Brentwood cherries to be featured. Anders Bengsston has agreed to man a table at the event. Other members are encouraged to volunteer and attend.

The Food and Farming Film Festival will be held at Los Medanos College in October. Howard and Mary Lentzner, Lucy Meinhardt and Yvonne Prinz have volunteered to work on this event. We are still looking for members to provide suggestions for films, find another public venue, and form a panel to review films. This screening will be held in affiliation with the exhibition “Shifting Perceptions on the Urban Edge: Putting a Face on Farming in Brentwood” at the Los Medanos art gallery. Some of the films being considered are: The Real Dirt on Farmer John, King Corn and The Future of Food. Send suggestions to or post them on the blog.

The fundraising dinner for Slow Food in Schools was discussed. We voted that the best venue is on a farm. This will not necessarily limit us to one fund raiser. Peter Chastain has also volunteered to hold fundraisers at Prima. We are soliciting suggestions for farms and chefs as well as seeking volunteers. The dinner on farm will be earlier in the year than last fall's dinner. There are a lot of harvest dinners in the fall and we want to be able to pull a larger number of diners.

Ideas for other events were discussed including:

Farm to School Project at Diablo Community Day School, volunteers are welcome and members may want to put in a member work day.

Pastry-making workshop at Frog Hollow Farm. All attendees were keen on this idea and Becky Courchesne of Frog Hollow is happy to accommodate a group in her farm kitchen.

Pie auction with Contra Costa Farmers’ Markets. Member Jessie Neu is interested in working with us to develop the idea of a pie auction to benefit Slow Food Delta Diablo and the CCFM. If you want more details on this idea, contact Gail.

Events at Prima for membership and fundraising. All agreed this is a valuable relationship.

Kristie then announced the Slow Food events that are coming up:

    1. Slow Food Nation Labor Day weekend. Members can nominate a food online. We have not been involved but there are many opportunities. Wine nominations, producer nominations, ideas for exhibitions.
    2. Golden Glass: Sunday June 8, 3-7 pm. Fort Mason Festival Pavilion. We are encouraging Brentwood cherry growers to participate by sending product and attending. Any members who would like to man a table at the event are encouraged.
    3. Terra Madre: call for nominations for producers, etc. Betsy Lydon Ark Award. Gail suggested that we may want to nominate Ennes Ranch Beef producers, Howard and Mary Lentzner for this award.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Slow Food Delta Diablo: Seeking New Members

Okay everyone, we have grown to double our original size in the past 2 years. But this is not enough! With all the farmers and foodies in Contra Costa County, we should be huge. This year, we would like to charge every member with bringing in AT LEAST another new member. Let's get with it. We all support good, clean, fair food and we all know a lot of other people who do too.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Members Meeting!

We hope all members of the Delta Diablo convivium received an invitation to the first business meeting of 2008. It will be hosted by Prima in Walnut Creek on April 15. This meeting is for members only. However, if you have friends who want to come, refer them to the Slow Food USA website where they can join up. Peter Chastain has generously agreed to provide drinks and appetizers served by the outstanding Prima staff at a cost of $20 per person all inclusive. This is an excellent bargain! We hope all members are able to attend.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Farm to School Opportunity

Lesley Stiles, one of our members, is getting ready to apply for funding from Kaiser for a farm to school project at Diablo Community Day School. This is an alternative school for kids in grades 7 through 12 who have been expelled from comprehensive schools in the MDUSD. Look it up online. I think this would be a great school for Slow Food Delta Diablo to become involved with! There are no more than 50 students in the entire school. What Lesley is proposing is starting with an organic garden at the school. With funding from additional sources, we could really make a difference at this school. If any of you are interested in participating in developing this project or have ideas for farm to school projects of your own, please let us know.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Slow Food Nation Request

Along with all the convivia in the Bay Area, Delta Diablo has been invited to prepare and submit a proposal for hosting a field trip during Slow Food Nation. The purpose of the trips will be to educate our members and others about our work, and about the farmers and producers that we support. This would be a great opportunity for us to highlight our unique region. If anyone is interested in working on a proposal, please contact Gail or Kristie. The proposal is due March 30th. The tours will be in August, so if we decide to host a tour, we will need to be thinking of what is in season at that time.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Promotional Events Coming Up

We have 2 opportunities coming up that will help us to promote Slow Food and increase our membership. On March 2nd, the Walnut Creek farmers' market is hosting a ribbon cutting and gala grand opening at their new location on Locust Street. We have a table at this event. We would love members to join in staffing this table! There will be membership brochures and informational pamphlets for people to take. We have requested some promotional materials from Slow Food Nation to assist in getting the word out about that upcoming extravaganza as well. People at the market are usually pretty open minded and interested in our message.

Another event for which we have requested a table is coming up in April at John Muir Hospital. Alison Negrin, the hospital chef, is a member of our convivium and has suggested we participate. We will update the information on this event as we receive it. If you have any ideas for events at which you think we should be present, let us know!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Survey Results

At the beginning of the year, we asked members to log on at Survey Monkey and let us know what you want to happen in 2008. We also wanted to hear how we can make our group successful and relevant in our community. The results of this survey follow as well as the conclusions we have come to from your messages.

Three events split votes for the one you would most like to do in 2008. These were a food and farming film festival, an on-farm dinner and food and farm related tours. In addition, there were comments encouraging involvement in broader Bay Area events like Slow Food Nation.

As a result, we have already determined that we would like to repeat the film event at Los Medanos College in October of this year. At the same time, there will be an exhibition of photos of local farmers and excerpts from their oral histories on display at the LMC art gallery. The gallery is next to the film screening event location and we envision an event combining the 2. We would like some members to volunteer to work with us to begin planning this film festival.

We have decided that the on-farm dinner this year will be a fund raiser for Slow Food in Schools. You can read more about that below.

We have been talking to Renato Sardo, a member of Slow Food west of us. He would like to host an event called "Terroir of Brentwood" in his community sometime this summer. This would be an event to increase awareness among his convivium about Brentwood farm products. This is still in the development stages so if you have ideas, be sure to let us know. In addition, he is a member of Greenbelt Alliance and he thinks his members would also be interested in a farm tour. We think we can partner with Greenbelt Alliance to organize a farm tour that will benefit all parties. Let us know if you want to help on this kind of event or if you have ideas for us.

By far, the large majority of members wants to fund raise for Slow Food in Schools. Last year, we raised a little money for Slow Food Nation with our on-farm dinner. We think we can increase that amount this year with the local focus of supporting a local farm to school project. One of our members is already deeply involved in a successful project with school gardens and healthy eating. We would like to support this ongoing project with the goal of expanding it into a new school.

In addition, we have been talking to one of our new members, Peter Chastain of Prima in Walnut Creek. He has some great ideas for education in the community, increasing membership and raising funds. We look forward to cementing our relationship with him and working to build our convivium and spread the message of good, clean and fair food.

Coming soon to a farmers' market near you: artichokes, asparagus, arugula.

Welcome to our new blog!

Welcome to Slow Food Delta Diablo! We are new at this but are hoping it will inspire action on the part of members and others who want to support good, clean and fair food.