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 jalapeƱos, 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