Archive for the ‘The Local Beet’ Category

  • Cultivating foodies: How (and why) to celebrate National Farm to School Month

    Oct 3, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, The Local Beet4,204 CommentsRead More »

    By Kathleen Yetman As the saying goes, you must taste some foods 20 times before you’ll likes them. And kids are no different. They need opportunities to expand their palates and repeated menus featuring new foods in order to grow into healthy adults. October is National Farm to School Month and organizations, school districts, and school food directors all across the country are celebrating local agriculture with students. The farm to school movement is a nationwide movement that’s more than just bringing fresh local produce into school lunches; it requires a host of educational activities to encourage kids to learn about the foods they eat, where those foods come from, how they grow, and how they affect their bodies. Why does farm to school matter? Every day, more than 31 million children eat lunch at school. Many of these children depend on schools to provide them breakfast as well. Data from 2012 shows that in Prescott Unified School District 35 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. It’s 43 percent in Chino Valley and 60 percent in Humboldt. This means that a large percentage of our children receive 2/3 of their meals at school. Some schools are forced to serve what’s cheapest while still meeting nutritional standards set by the government. Often this means canned vegetables, highly processed chicken nuggets and foods that contain high fructose corn

  • Indelible edibles: A brief guid to hearty, harvestable natural groceries

    Aug 29, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, The Local Beet2,781 CommentsRead More »

    By Kathleen Yetman The monsoons of July and August  bring life where there appears to be none, and plants of all kinds spring up to ensure their propagation. Corn and melons that were planted in May are finally ripe and most gardeners have more zucchini and tomatoes than they know what to do with. The mild days and cooler nights support a variety of crops, which means we benefit from a bounty of local produce. Truly, September is the best month for local food here in the high desert. In addition to the crops cultivated by gardeners and farmers, there are numerous wild edible plants, and September is a particularly good month to harvest many of them. We are privileged to have access to some of the most nutritious and delicious of them right now here in Prescott. Wild foods are incredible because they not only survive Arizona’s erratic weather but also bear fruit. A handful of the best harvesting options are acorn, black walnut, piñons, and prickly pear fruit. Now is the time to explore the foods that our unique landscape has to offer. If you’d like to learn more about wild foods in Arizona, check out Caroline Niethammer’s 1974 book “American Indian Food and Lore: 150 Authentic Recipes.” Happy harvesting. Acorn The Apache still harvest many wild foods — the most common being acorn. If you’ve ever driven

  • ‘Corps values: How the Prescott market got its famous first

    Aug 1, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, The Local Beet27 CommentsRead More »

    By Heather Houk If I were a betting person, I’d wager that most of you have noticed someone at the Prescott Farmers Market just to the east of the information booth near the entrance. That person is providing educational opportunities, games, foodie crafts, and an always-entertaining scavenger hunt for kids on any given Saturday. That person with an omnipresent smile is Sam Turner. Turner — you can call her Sam — is a FoodCorps service member and one of the best assets any food/nutrition/health/education-based organization could ever hope to have. And the Prescott Farmers Market appears to be the only farmers market in the world to have its own personal FoodCorps service member. Allow me to provide some context for the connection between FoodCorps and our humble market. Most Americans are probably familiar with President Kennedy’s signing of an executive order bringing the Peace Corps into existence in 1961. That started a generation of people who participated and are still providing technical, economic, medical, and environmental support to nations around the world. In 1965, JFK initiated Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) as domestic outreach to combat poverty in the United States. Flash forward a few decades, and President Bush Sr. signed into law the National and Community Act of 1990. That act lead to an independent federal agency called the Commission on National and Community Service (CNCS). A few

  • Follow the lettuce: Healthy food incentives give people more fresh local food-purchasing power

    Jul 4, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, The Local BeetNo CommentsRead More »

    By Willie Heineke The high price of fresh local food is a constant challenge across the country, and Prescott is no exception. High prices make buying local produce difficult for many families in our community. In 2012, Food Research and Action Center’s report “Food Hardship in America” ranked Arizona’s 4th Congressional District sixth highest for food hardship rates in Arizona. To address food insecurity, municipal and state governments, non-profit organizations, and private institutions across the country are creating and implementing new programs. One increasingly popular solution is the creation of incentives for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, for short) recipients to buy local, fresh produce. For example the national 501(c)3 organization Wholesome Wave’s Double Voucher Coupon Program matches the value of SNAP dollars when recipients purchase local foods at participating farm-to-retail venues. This means that recipients can buy twice as much at a farmers market, increasing their purchasing power and making it possible to eat healthier while also supporting local agriculture. The city of Seattle also teamed up with a local non-profit organization to create a program that gives a bonus of ten dollars to each recipient when they use their EBT card at participating farmers markets. Because these programs are relatively new, there isn’t a great deal of supportive analysis yet. However, several organizations running these types of programs have commissioned a report with the goal of quantifying the

  • Tears of joy: Introducing … the I’itoi Onion

    May 30, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, The Local Beet4,817 CommentsRead More »

    By Heather Houk As spring races into summer and the world of gardening explodes in the Northern Hemisphere, there’s a humble friend you should consider adding to your garden — or, at the very least, your diet. Allow me to introduce you to Allium cepa var. aggregatum, more commonly known as the I’itoi Onion. The I’itoi, pronounced “ee-toy,” is a spectacular specimen with a rich history. The humble, oft-overlooked I’itoi goes by a few other names; perhaps you’ve already met this friend as the O’odham I’itoi Onion or the Papago Onion. The I’itoi onion has been around in the desert Southwest for a few centuries and is believed to have been brought to the New World from Spain in 1699. One telling of the history states the Spaniards traded the onions for Tepary Beans. I’itoi onion is considered an endangered vegetable on the Slow Food Arc of Taste. An alternate history believes that this prolific multiplier onion was nurtured by the Tohono O’odham and cultivated from a wild ancestor on the slopes of I’itoi Mountain (or Baboquivari Mountain) – what they believe to be the “navel of the world,” the place where the earth opened and people emerged. Regardless of its history, the I’itoi onion is well-adapted to the dry desert climate and is sacred to the culture and cuisine of the Sonoran Desert native peoples, and (in the author’s

  • Ready, set, grow: Prescott Farmers Market returns May 10 for 2014 season

    May 2, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, The Local BeetNo CommentsRead More »

    By Heather Houk Maybe you’re looking forward to May for its many holidays like Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day. And there’s Memorial Day, and we should all offer respect to our veterans. I’d like you to add another holiday to your May calendar, though: Saturday, May 10. That day marks the start of the Prescott Farmers Market’s 2014 season. Consider this brief account of our history, and I hope you’ll agree it’s worth celebrating. In 1996, a handful of farmers organized a farmers market and started meeting in the parking lot behind the Prescott Chamber of Commerce office on Goodwin Street. (Thanks for letting us do that, by the way.) There community’s response was good. It was a great way to obtain seasonal, fresh, and local produce. By 1997, the Prescott Farmers Market was officially established to offer a place to support and encourage farmers in Yavapai County and surrounding counties to sell their agricultural products. The market remained on Goodwin Street in front of the chamber, where it blocked off westbound traffic for four-and-a-half hours every Saturday from May to October. That was our home from 1997 to 1999. The market began to outgrow that space, and the city of Prescott helped us shift around the corner to our third location in front of the wonderful businesses on Cortez Street just south of the Yavapai County Courthouse Square

  • Undermining underminers: How to deal with garden-variety foes

    Apr 4, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, The Local Beet14 CommentsRead More »

    By Heather Houk This is one of the things I love about Prescott — how friendly and familiar everyone seems to be. He asked me a question that was a new one for me: “In a nice 20×30-foot garden space, what is your favorite thing to grow?” It took me a second, but then I could almost taste the sweet, fresh, popping flavor of a young snow pea, which led to a great conversation about Prescott gardening. As I left that lovely encounter, I got to thinking about what I want to plant this year. I’m a pretty traditional organic gardener for our region. I prefer using drip tape to irrigate right at the source of the roots, and I use well-composted horse manure for fertilizer, cardboard for sheet mulch, and tons of mulch on top to keep the cardboard securely in place, increased water holding capacity, and to block out every ounce of light from potential weeds. Did I mention that I loathe weeding?  Well, I do. One of the main challenges of gardening here is the ever-present battle with gophers. I’m sure many of you are well-acquainted with the eye twitching frustration that accompanies the sight of a gopher mound where once stood a beautiful tomato or eggplant. Those buggers are my gardening nemeses, and I found a wonderful resource a few years ago that doesn’t kill them

  • Local, local, local: Pinpointing a ‘close’ place isn’t always straightforward

    Feb 28, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, The Local BeetNo CommentsRead More »

    By Heather Houk The phrase “local food” is bandied around a lot. But just what does “local” mean in that context? Well, it varies for a lot of people. I might have bought my car locally from our friendly dealers but I know good and well that my sweet blue car is anything but local to Prescott. I’m always happy to see “made in the USA” on a T-shirt tag. And when I go to local health food stores, I’m supporting a local business , but if I look at the label of my favorite fig rolls, I see that they were grown, processed,  and manufactured a great distance from my home town. If I’m interested in supporting a local farmer, then the definition of local, as outlined by Gary Paul Nabhan — author, expert, and academic in all things Southwest agriculture —is anything grown within 250 miles of your home. This is better than my car or even my fig rolls, but does it really meet my personal goals of supporting local? I’ve spent over a decade learning and educating others about the value of buying locally and thought this might be a good place to share some of what I’ve learned. In the United States, our food, on average, travels more than 1,000 miles from field to processing facility to grocery store. The most common means of food

  • Soil toil — or — All (green) thumbs

    Jan 31, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, The Local BeetNo CommentsRead More »

    By Heather Houk “The thin granitic soils may need considerable boosting. Generally speaking, native plants can cope far better with the temperature extremes, undependable rainfall, and browsing wildlife. It is extremely important to protect new plants from too much sun and use chicken wire to prevent their being eaten by animals.” —From “General Comments About Gardening in This Region, USDA Zone 7” I was looking for a planting schedule for the Central Highlands of Arizona when I came across this quote from the North American Butterfly Association. I felt two things. First, I smiled a mischievous smile of satisfaction and thought how much tougher we are as Western gardeners. Then, I laughed out loud and thought about how much tougher it is to be a gardener here. I’m a Michigan native who’s spent the better part of a decade living in the Southeast and, rather smugly, fancied myself a fantastic gardener. I could grow just about anything I planted, be it a flower or vegetable garden. I thought I was queen of the green thumb. Then, 16 years ago, I moved to Prescott and started taking Prescott College classes in things like soil science, natural history and ecology, and, the pièce de résistance of my academic career, agroecology. I studied, researched, and planted a wide variety of native and non-native agricultural crops in Chino Valley. This is where I learned

  • Planting the seed: A catalogical approach to enjoying January

    Jan 3, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, The Local BeetNo CommentsRead More »

    By Heather Houk With a new year upon us, something wondrous has started to arrive — the 2014 seed catalogs! I recognize that some of you might not be as excited as me. Some of you, dare I say, probably don’t even get a new batch of seed catalog each and every January. Please allow me to explain my jubilation. Every January, when seed catalog begin arriving in my mailbox, I get my first glimpse of spring. Or, to be more melodramatic, I get my first glimpse of the hope that spring will yet again arrive and grant us perfect weather and just the right amount of rain for the freshly turned soil that gardeners and farmers around the country will savor as they plant the first seeds of the season. Page after page of humble, extremely well-photographed fruits and vegetables give me hope that I, too, can have sweet, juicy watermelons and tender snow peas, if only I just believe. Those perfect (F1) hybrid Jersey Supreme Asparagus crowns and those intriguing heirloom Cherokee Purple Tomatoes will bring me the best garden ever, if only I just believe. So, I sit in my warm house drinking my perfect cup of coffee and flip page by page while my son sleeps and the sun comes up on a cold and snowy morning. And I dream of spring with all the hope

Celebrating art and science in Greater Prescott.

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