Sunday, October 11, 2009

Good News

Analon recently donated two sets of cookware to Slow Food Delta Diablo for use in our Slow Food in Schools projects. Lesley Stiles has already begun using it at both Diablo Community Day School and College Park High School. This is a wonderful donation. A bit about the schools is below.

Diablo Community Day School has 62 students in grades 7-12. DCD is considered an urban fringe school serving students with specific challenges. Of these, 32% are African American, 5% are Asian, 37% are Hispanic or Latino and 26% are White. Sixty-five percent of the students are considered socioeconomically disadvantaged, 33% are English learners and 22% are disabled. Students are enrolled in DCD through the expulsion process or as recommended by the School Attendance Review Board or Probation Department. For most of these students, it is their last chance to complete school in a public school setting. On California proficiency tests all students tested below proficient in English, Math and Science and none of the students scored at or above the national average in reading or math. There is a 30% dropout rate. Slow Food Delta Diablo worked with the students at DCD through a Slow Food in Schools mini-grant and funding from Kaiser Permanente to create an organic garden. In addition, garden coordinators who are not school staff and are members of Slow Food Delta Diablo work one day per week in the garden, and doing cooking demonstrations and taste education.

Our project started in the fall of 2008 with the building of raised beds, importation of soil and compost and the installation of a timed irrigation system. Students at DCD were involved in all aspects of the garden creation. From the outset there were students who were enthusiastic and others who were not. However, over the course of this school year, we have all witnessed changes in the students’ attitudes toward the garden and our weekly activities.

After the garden was planted, we set up weekly visits on Tuesdays. The students who want to work with us in the garden receive community service credit. In addition to working in the garden, we have cooking demonstrations and taste education, usually utilizing garden harvest but sometimes bringing in unusual grain varieties and fruits.
We made Kim Chee with the students one week and the next week, one of the teachers cooked fried rice for us all to eat with the Kim Chee the students had made. All of the students tried the Kim Chee after making it the week before and the teacher enjoyed sharing her food heritage with the students. The students at the school are now aware of how a garden grows, what different foods not only taste like but that there are different foods for them to try that they actually like.

We attended the open house for parents and community members and cooked 3 varieties of peas, broccoli and onions harvested from the garden for the event. Students took their parents out to the garden to show them what they had created. At the close of the school year, we hosted a garden feast. We made salsa for our feast from the garden with our jalapeños, cilantro and onions. Students have learned that eating together and discussing the differences in foods can be a positive and fun experience. They have seen that they do not have to be afraid of expressing their opinions and they have become patient and observant in the garden. Many of them have been transformed by the garden. Their behavior has changed as have their eating habits and they are excited when it is garden day.

College Park High School has 2,074 students in grades 9-12. It is primarily a suburban high school with high academic achievement. The garden at College Park was initiated by the same garden coordinators and Slow Food members as the garden at DCD. Participation in the garden differs at this school due to the size of the student body but by the time of graduation, most students have participated in garden education at some point of their high school experience. We started this school project with the intent to enrich the special education curriculum but it has been so successful that all aspects of the school are now involved.

We have biology classes doing composting, we have the foods classes helping us with maintenance, we have photo classes out there all the time snapping shots, we have 3 amazing murals that the art classes have painted in the garden. Students come out to work, talk, eat, sit all day long. The special ed classes plant, weed, pick, maintain, and are the back bone of the garden. All the food we do not use in our cooking demonstrations for students goes into the cafeteria. There is a new academy within College Park this year, the EcoTech Academy that is based on the garden. It is amazing!

In addition to the school based activities there are also Eagle Scout projects going on in the garden. For example, a split rail fence was built by a special day scout to house our table grapes, a couple of potting tables were built by another special day scout for working in the garden. This has become a true community project based at the school for the benefit of the students.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fresh! and Homegrown

The film screening at Los Medanos College was successful again this year. The films were awesome and now we have them in our Slow Food film library.

Fresh! features some farmers most of us are familiar with like George Naylor and Joel Salatin. It is very motivational and appropriate for students. Homegrown is a good partner for this film. It is about an urban homestead with a family working to become self sufficient.

Since we purchase the screening rights, as long as we don't charge admission, we can show these films in other venues. We like the college crowd. How about some help organizing a screening at Diablo Valley College and St. Mary's? These are very easy to organize but we need college support to publicize and get a good turn out.

Any volunteers?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Film Screening Details

Back by Popular Demand….

We are happy to announce that LMC will again be hosting a Slow Food Film Festival, for students and members of Slow Food Delta Diablo, on Friday, October 9th in our Library Community Room from 6:30-9:30 pm. We hope that you can come and also encourage any students you know to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to learn more about issues surrounding our food and how it is grown.

Los Medanos College and Slow Food Delta Diablo will be screening two films:

“Fresh” The Movie (6:45 pm)

“FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet.”

“Homegrown” (8:00 pm)

“HOMEGROWN follows the Dervaes family who run a small organic farm in the heart of urban Pasadena, California. While "living off the grid", they harvest over 6,000 pounds of produce on less than a quarter of an acre, make their own bio diesel, power their computers with the help of solar panels, and maintain a website that gets 4,000 hits a day. The film is an intimate human portrait of what it's like to live like "Little House on the Prairie" in the 21st Century.

Hope to see you there!

Los Medanos College Library Community Room, Pittsburg, CA

Friday, September 11, 2009

Next Event: Films

Next up for Slow Food Delta Diablo is the annual film screening at Los Medanos College. This is an event we sponsor for students and staff at LMC with the support of members, JoAnn and Dave Hobbs. The screenings have slowly gathered momentum over the past 2 years. This will be our third year of screening films about food and farming.

On the schedule this year: Fresh: the Movie and Homegrown. We think the students will enjoy and learn from both.

In addition, for members who would like to host a small screening in their homes or a house party for increasing membership, we have movies you can use. Remember for the month of September people can join Slow Food for ANY donation. This would be a good time to engage your friends and neighbors. Have them for dinner and a movie and get them to join!

Films available to members are:
Ripe for Change
Eat at Bill's
Harvest Young
King Corn
The Real Dirt on Farmer John

Let one of us know if you want to borrow a film.
Raise awareness, have fun.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thanks to all!

In this posting we would like to express thanks to all of the following for support and hard work that made our eat-in a success.
Frog Hollow Farm
Whole Foods Market, Walnut Creek
C&M Party Props
Knoll Farms
Yvonne Prinz, for the loan of her truck
Peter Leiggi, for setup and take down of tables and chairs as well as hauling

Head table members:
Lucy Meinhardt, for insurance and school relations
Lesley Stiles, for connections to donors and promotion

Monday, September 7, 2009

Time for Lunch at Las Lomas

The eat in at Las Lomas was a success! The food was delicious, the conversations stimulating and all activity was in support of healthy school lunch. Most of the attendees were new to Slow Food and we happily received pledges from several new members and some people joined up on the spot. We got 25 new signatures on the Slow Food petition for real food at school.

We heard about school gardens in Bay Point from Debbie and Lee Mason who do an amazing job with an inspirational and big project. Debbie talked about her support for changes in the Child Nutrition Act. It was wonderful to gain support from unexpected places and to see so many new faces.

Many thanks to Whole Foods Walnut Creek, Frog Hollow Farm and Knoll Farms for their sponsorship and support. We couldn't have done this without them. Also, many thanks to all members of the Head Table. Special thanks to Lucy Meinhardt and Lesley Stiles who performed well beyond the call of duty.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What to Bring

The Eat In is a potluck, free to the public. Be sure to bring either a meal for yourselves or a dish to share, plates and utensils. Bring a blanket in case the tables are full. We are not taking RSVPs so we don't know how many people will show up. This is a great way to show Congress and the world that we care about healthy school lunches in Contra Costa County.

Be there or be square!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Eat In at Las Lomas High School

Join us for a community pot-luck picnic at Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek.

This event is free!

We are gathering in support of healthy school lunches. This is one of over 200 eat-ins being staged across the US on September 7 this year to send a message to Congress. As a national day of action, Slow Food is hoping to persuade our members of Congress to increase funding to school lunches and make a commitment to improving the quality of food served to our children every day.

Bring your friends and family! For the month of September only,new donations to Slow Food at any level will provide a one-year membership in Slow Food USA. This is a wonderful time to join Slow Food and support good, clean and fair food.

So gather with neighbors and others who share your views on feeding our children and have fun at Las Lomas on September 7.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Event Cancelled

The fundraising dinner scheduled for Tuesday, August 11 has been cancelled due to low sales.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Proposed Menu: Time for Dinner!!

Slow Food Dinner, August ‘09

Passed appetizers:

-sweet corn pizza with arugula, hobbs bacon and tomato

-fresh fig pizza with sweet gorgonzola and parma prosciutto

-marinara pizza: tomato sauce, olive oil, dried oregano, garlic


-burrata bruschetta with olive oil braised tuscan kale and maldon sea salt


-local spiny lobster salad with heirloom tomatoes and a medley of green and Romano beans


-hot-smoked Alaskan king salmon with fresh shelled beans and sweet corn ragout


-roasted lamb with Watsonville artichoke hash and olivada


-farmer al’s peaches with tocai sabayon and crushed raspberries


-reggiano parmesan with 25 year aged balsamic

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Time for Dinner!!

Gordon Drysdale brings three decades of experience to his role as Partner and Executive Chef of Pizza Antica. Nearly everything on his menu of American-inspired Italian food is hand made down to the mozzarella cheese that tops the restaurant's signature Roman-style pizzas. Prior to joining Pizza Antica, Drysdale spent many years with Real Restaurants in San Francisco running such acclaimed eateries as Bix, the Buckeye Roadhouse and Café Museo at the Museum of Modern Art. Drysdale opened his own place, Gordon's House of Fine Eats, in 1999 where his innovative take on classic American cooking earned him Esquire Magazine's Best New Restaurant Award in 2000.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Time for Dinner!

Pizza Antica in Lafayette will be hosting an elegant and informative dinner to raise funds for an inspiring project of Slow Food Delta Diablo. The event, entitled “Time for Dinner” will take place Tuesday, August 11, 2009, beginning at 6 pm.

Chef Gordon Drysdale has developed a creative five course menu using sustainable and local ingredients. He will be present to talk about the menu and his food philosophy with guests. In addition, there will be farmers and other producers in attendance to discuss the production of their foods and the importance of healthy eating for children. We will have advocates and Slow Food leaders on hand to talk about the involvement of Slow Food USA in school lunch reform.

This year, in particular, is an important one for Slow Food USA which is launching its “Time for Lunch” campaign to bring good food into schools across the US and to change federal policy on school lunch. This campaign will draw attention to the need for real, healthy food for the more than 30 million children who participate in the National School Lunch Program.

Funds from this dinner will support the Growing Healthy Youth project managed by members of Slow Food Delta Diablo and supported by Kaiser Permanente and Slow Food USA. This is a school garden, taste education and cooking demonstration project at Diablo Community Day School (DCD). DCD is an alternative middle and high school for students in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District who have been expelled from comprehensive schools in the district. In a sense, it is the last chance for these students to complete their education in the district. The school is a small learning community averaging 50 students enrolled in all grade levels.

Gordon Drysdale brings three decades of experience to his role as Partner and Executive Chef of Pizza Antica. Nearly everything on his menu of American-inspired Italian food is hand made down to the mozzarella cheese that tops the restaurant's signature Roman-style pizzas. Prior to joining Pizza Antica, Drysdale spent many years with Real Restaurants in San Francisco running such acclaimed eateries as Bix, the Buckeye Roadhouse and Café Museo at the Museum of Modern Art. Drysdale opened his own place, Gordon's House of Fine Eats, in 1999 where his innovative take on classic American cooking earned him Esquire Magazine's Best New Restaurant Award in 2000.

The cost of the evening is $125 per person and includes wine. Tickets can be purchased online at Brown Paper Tickets.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Growing Healthy Youth

We submitted our report back to Slow Food USA this week on our fabulous project at Diablo Community Day School. It was received with enthusiasm, to say the least. And in all fairness, it should have been.

We have been working in a school with students most people would have written off as too difficult in a school district struggling to keep schools open. The students we have spent our time with this year have been transformed in different ways. Some have embraced the garden as theirs and are planning on maintaining it over the summer to attain community service credits. Some view eating new things in a more positive light. Some have decided that they actually like eating fruit and green vegetables. Almost all of them have become more tolerant of us and our crazy ideas.

I encourage all members of Slow Food Delta Diablo to take advantage of the opportunity to meet some of the amazing and inspiring DCD students this summer. Contact one of us to volunteer your time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Beekeeping on the Urban Fringe

One in three mouthfuls of the food we eat comes as a result of the work of honeybees. These pollinators are in trouble.

Slow Food Delta Diablo invites you to spend a day at Knoll Farms in Brentwood
Sunday, July 12 from 10 am to 3 pm to learn about honeybees and the important relationship between thoughtful farmers and mindful beekeepers.

Learn about the life of the honeybee, the world-wide threat to honeybee health and what beekeepers and farmers on the urban fringe are doing to sustain the lives of bees. Learn about bee habitat and what the public can do to improve and support the lives of honeybees and other pollinators.

$20 Slow Food members
$30 non-members
$15 students (age 15 and up)

Well-mannered children under 15 may attend at the student price; however, there will not be child-targeted activities at this event.
Activities will include: a talk and beekeeping demonstration by Alan Hawkins, beekeeper at organic farms in Brentwood, Tracy, and Marin; a tour of the farm and bee habitat with Rick Knoll; a showing of Pollen-Nation, a short award-winning film that discusses the threat to bee health.

Enjoy a delicious lunch that features Knoll Farms honey and produce.

We will close our day by tasting a variety of artisan honeys from around the country.

Knoll Farms produce and honey will be available for purchase.

Wear light colored clothing and a hat as you will be on a working farm with thousands of bees in the air.
Beekeepers are welcome to bring a veil.
Please carpool.

For more information and tickets go to:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Slow Food in Diablo Community Day School

I want to take some time today to update members on our wonderful Slow Food in Schools project at Diablo Community Day School.

Lesley Stiles and her friend and partner, Stephanie Jacob, have been working hard and doing good work. Every Tuesday, they show up at about 12:30 with arms and heads full of plants, food,ideas and action items. One week, they made kim chee with the students and the next week, one of the teachers cooked fried rice for everyone to eat it with. The students have been learning about fruit coming from flowers, how to pick and eat peas, how to tell the difference between all kinds of apples, citrus and grains. Every time I go to join in, I am inspired by the energy levels and by the levels of change in the students.

I hope Lesley will be able to share with us some of her observations on this blog. What I have noticed is that we have formed bonds with many of the students. Their respect for us and the project have grown along with the garden. As Cathrine Sneed said so clearly, we are not just growing a garden, we are growing people. I am energized each week and am sad if I can't make it.

This August, we will be having a fund raising event at Pizza Antica for this wonderful project. I hope all members can come and bring all of their friends. We will have a looping slide show of the garden and the kids. We are hoping that Cathrine Sneed will come as our featured speaker.

I can't express how gratified I am that our small chapter of Slow Food has agreed to support this wonderful and meaningful project.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Thanks from Ennes Ranch

The pig event was a big success and I want to thank everyone who helped to make it so. Especially Lucy who got shuffled from table to table with numberous tasks.

Josh was a fantastic organizer, Tina a great lunch, and chefs Peter, Oscar and Nadar Starkes all made the day absolutely special.

Howard & Mary Lentzner
Ennes Ranch

For the Contra Costa Times story on the event go to:

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Fantastic Opportunity

Renewing America’s Food Traditions:
Gary Paul Nabhan in conversation with Ashley Rood

Followed by a tasting of heritage foods from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Wednesday, April 29 from 6 to 8:30 pm

Hosted by the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture

Gary Paul Nabhan may be best known by farmers’ market fans for the pioneering Southwestern locavore experiment he described in Coming Home to Eat. He founded the Renewing America’s Food Traditions alliance (RAFT) and edited the book by the same name. Renewing America’s Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent’s Most Endangered Foods is a journey across our continent’s 13 distinct food nations that details over 90 endangered plant and animal foods and brings them to life with cultural histories, folk traditions, and historic recipes. In this conversation with sustainable agriculture advocate and contributing writer Ashley Rood, Nabhan will offer tidbits and tales of renewal from the book, discuss biodiversity in California, and remind us how our food choices can support a region’s distinct culinary identity.

The presentation will take place in the Port Commission Hearing Room, second floor of the Ferry Building in San Francisco.
Books will be for sale by Book Passage.
Tickets: $10 (plus $1.24 service fee) from

"Renewing America's Food Traditions gives us a great food adventure to embark on—really no less than discovering ourselves through foods that we didn't even know were, in some way, ours. And what an amazing adventure this is!" Deborah Madison, from the foreword

Gary Paul Nabhan is a world-renowned ethnobiologist, food and farming advocate, conservationist, and writer whose work has been translated into five languages. The author of Why Some Like It Hot, Coming Home to Eat, Where Our Food Comes From and many other books and articles, he has been honored with a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship and The John Burroughs Medal for nature writing. Founder and facilitator of the Renewing America’s Food Traditions collaborative, he is currently a Research Social Scientist at the Southwest Center at the University of Arizona.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

July for Bees

July 12th is the date set for our Bees on the Urban Edge event at Knoll Farms. Keep the date clear and check back here for details as they develop.

Our beekeeping members Alan and Laura Hawkins, will regale us with their intimate knowledge of bees.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Pork on Your Fork

A date has been set for the Pork on Your Fork event. April 18th at Ennes Ranch, Slow Food Delta Diablo will host an educational event that will help you to learn where your food comes from and how it gets to your table. Master Butcher Randy Sprinkle will be holding a master class for those of you who are interested in learning how to slaughter and butcher your own pig. For the rest of you, the Lentzners will host families on their park like ranch in the foothills of Mt. Diablo. We will provide lunch of pulled pork or chicken salad sandwiches and delicious locally grown salads.

For information and tickets go to:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Slow Food at St. Mary's

Last night, Yvonne Prinz and I went to St. Mary's College in Moraga to hear Raj Patel speak about the theses in his book "Stuffed and Starved...." Before the talk, we met Anne Horack and some members of the St. Mary's community. There is a lot of excitement on campus about food and the food system. This year, the freshmen planted an organic garden that supplies some of the needs of the cafeteria. They would like to expand the production of the garden, although it is off to a great start. We decided to work with Anne, a member of Slow Food Delta Diablo, to screen "King Corn" on campus very, very soon. In addition, we are hoping to assist in hosting an Eat-in at the campus garden. All of these actions are with the goal of mentoring St. Mary's College in their creation of a Slow Food on Campus chapter. After all this excitement, we sat and listened to Raj Patel talk about the global food system and how Slow Food is a growing movement that can take an active role in changing the way things work globally. A good night!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Leaders Meeting and Activism

This week, Kristie and I attended a meeting for chapter leaders in our region at our regional governor's house. There were people there from the Aqua Terra, East Bay, Oakland and Berkeley chapters in addition to us. We were, by far, the smallest convivium. However, people seemed to think we were inspirational and activist. I was a little perplexed by this since it seems we are simply doing what Slow Food does and what our members want. Everyone was very impressed with our Slow Food in Schools project and our plans for 2009. I am hoping we are able to coordinate with some of these other groups on events in our area that they will plan. For example, Oakland would like to host a u-pick farm tour on the Harvest Time Farm Trail and I agreed that we could help them with that to a small degree by suggesting the best time to go and some farms they might like to visit. I was very proud of our membership at that meeting and the direction we have all chosen to take.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ideas and bees are buzzing!

We had our 2009 annual members' meeting at Knoll Farms last night, February 15th. A pretty good number of members showed up full of ideas. We had a social hour at the start getting to know each other, having drinks and snacks. Then, we sat down to business. Seated in a circle in the event center at Knoll Farm, we sat through a recap of last year's business. Kristie Knoll gave us all a rundown on the financials of our convivium, explaining where our money came from and where it went. Then Gail talked about last year's events. We had a short but lively discussion of Slow Food Nation since several members had attended then moved on the the meat of the meeting: the year ahead.

Lesley Stiles gave us all an update on our Slow Food in Schools project and the wonderful garden that is taking shape at Diablo Community Day School. Members would like to participate in a garden work day during the summer.

We approved new Head Table members, Lesley Stiles and Lucy Meinhardt while saying ciao to Pat Rodda. All members agreed we should continue to sponsor the film screenings at Los Medanos College and we even got some volunteers to help out with the planning of this event. We would like to expand the screenings to other colleges in the county as well.

Alan Hawkins said he would like to organize an event on bees and beekeeping on the urban edge. He is a beekeeper of some note! He would like this to take the form of a sort of field day at Knoll Farms where some of his hives are kept. Everyone loved this idea and we will expand on it as the event takes form. Alan would like the event to happen in June or July.

Mary Lentzner volunteered to host and help organize an event at Ennes Ranch, her home. She would like to have interested people come out to witness a farm slaughter and butchering of one of her pigs to be followed by a pork taco meal outside on the ranch. We even discussed having someone come to teach us how to make the tortillas for the tacos as well. This event will probably take place at the end of April.

Robert and Anna Sykes of Pizza Antica in Lafayette have generously volunteered to host our annual fund raising dinner at their restaurant. This is a wonderful opportunity for us! All members attending are grateful for this offer and we will enjoy working with some real pros on this. The funds raised at the dinner will be used for our Slow Food in Schools project at Diablo Community Day School in Concord.

Several of our members are chefs and they discussed organizing a cooking class/meal at Knoll Farms using produce harvested by attendees for the meal. Any chefs in our group interested in participating should contact us and we will connect you with the event organizers.

Peter Leiggi wants to organize an essay contest focused on Slow Food ideals. The winner would receive a free entrance to one of our events. In addition, he is hoping to be able to submit the winning essay to the NPR program "This I Believe."

Finally, we all broke the circle to head for the pizza oven and kitchen. Lovely and delicious salads were contributed by several members. Pizza dough was donated by Pizza Antica and sauce and toppings were added by everyone else in attendance. Everyone had fun putting all the ingredients together and even more eating it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza

The date is set! I have sent out an email invitation to all members. We will have our 2009 members' meeting on February 15 at 4 pm at Knoll Farm. The Knolls have a wonderful wood-fired pizza oven that produces the perfect crust and with the delicious toppings donated by members, we will have a wonderful time.

This will be a business meeting where we discuss our goals for 2009, leadership structure for the chapter, where our money was spent last year and like matters. If you have topics you would like to include, email them to me and I will include them on the agenda. We will have time for socializing as well and we are looking forward to meeting new members as well as catching up with longstanding ones.

As you can see from the previous posts, we had a lot of successes in 2008. We hope to build on our strengths and expand our projects. I hope you will all be able to attend.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pizza Party -- Members' Meeting

Kristie and I are discussing our early year members' meeting for February. We would like to have a pizza party pot luck. As you may know, the Knolls have a fabulous outdoor pizza oven! We propose a build your own pizza with members bringing the toppings. We will keep everyone posted and send out invitations when we confirm the details.

Yum... fresh hot pizza with artisanal cheese, mushrooms, salumi, tomatoes, peppers. Think about it. I'm sure Slow Food members will build the most amazing pies in East Contra Costa County.