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Preview: In Search of Good Food

In Search of Good Food

A documentary film tour of California’s emerging sustainable food system.

Updated: 2017-07-23T03:33:08.253-07:00


An Update-Better Late Than...


I have finally put the movie online for viewing.


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In Seach of Good Food
from Antonio Roman-Alcala on Vimeo.

Urban Homestead Skillshare Festival May 26


Homestead Skillshare Festival Sponsored by Bay Area Community Exchange A festival to educate, inspire and spread sustainable living and self-sufficiency skills Sat, May 26th from 10am-6pm Hayes Valley Farm, 450 Laguna Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 Live bands! Alma Desnuda (folk) will be headlining with Fog City Brewers (blue grass), Lea Grant (folk) and Nicco Tyson (African). Learn how to backyard compost, create an urban garden, grow fruit trees, raise chickens, grow herbs for medicine, create cohousing, cultivate oyster mushrooms & more! There's something for everyone! 40 Scheduled Workshops! Cohousing * Urban Power Foods * Soil Fertility * Worm Bins and Composting* Gift Circles * Qi Gong * Chickens * Ducks * Bike-Powered Machines * Cob Ovens * Urban Composting * Urban Gardening in the Bay Area * Container Gardening * Homestead Design Lab * Fruit Trees * Seed-saving * Food Preservation * Wine-making * Disaster Preparedness * Beginning Herbal Medicine * Herb Growing * Teas & Tincture-making * Bee-keeping & Pollination * Making Community Meetings Fun * Solar Ovens * Mushroom Cultivation * Soap-making * Cheese-making * Candle-making * DIY green cleaning * Natural Health and Beauty * Activist Communication Skills * Water Catchment * Place-making and more! Tenative schedule here. Open space discussion during dinner from 5-6pm. Tickets: You may do one of the following: 1) If you are a current BACE Timebank member, you can donate 2 hours to Hayes Valley Farm through the Timebank. To pay Hayes Valley Farm in hours, please log into your Timebank account, then search in the search box for Hayes Valley Farm and under their logo, click "give credit", enter number of hours and "Homestead Festival". 2) You can bring cash at the door or pay on Eventbrite by credit card in advance. Kids 15 and under are free, families welcome! No refunds. Presenters and Sponsors: The BACE Timebank, Hayes Valley Farm, SF Permaculture Guild, Cohousing California, SF Urban Agriculture Alliance, PODER (SF), Occupy SF Sustainability Working Group, the Institute for [...]

Occupy the Farm


Check out this recent post I wrote for Civil Eats, about the effort toTAKE BACK THE TRACT!We all know that “Every Day is Earth Day” and many environmentalists feel that their eating habits are their daily affirmation of a commitment to the planet. But what does it look like to take action for the environment, beyond the fork? There are many options, of course, but one particularly inspirational tactic manifested this past Earth Day in Albany, CA.On April 22, a week after the International Day of Peasant Struggle, hundreds of Bay Area food sovereignty activists and community members broke the locks on a huge piece of urban agricultural land, tore up mustard weeds, and planted veggies. “Occupy the Farm” was organized as an occupy-style protest, including tent encampments and a “farmers assembly,” but with one very meaningful difference: This act of “moral obedience” (AKA civil disobedience) was the direct outgrowth of years of neighborhood organizing around the piece of land in question.The “Gill Tract” is a 10-acre parcel that has been owned by University of California, Berkeley since 1928. The university’s founding as a land grant college made the purchase of this Class 1 agricultural land an obvious choice for experimentation, and for years much of the property was used for biological and chemical pest control research. By the late 1990s, however, the future of the site was unclear, and UC began seeking other uses.Then came the formation of the Bay Area Coalition for Urban Agriculture (BACUA), composed of UC professors in the College of Natural Resources, food justice and sustainability organizations, and local citizens. They petitioned UC to consider a proposal to develop the site into a community-focused educational farm showcasing sustainable practices. According to their mission, “The center would conduct fundamental technical, economic, and sociological research and education into ways cities can create food systems that serve citizens and the environment well through localized, economically healthy and ecologically sustainable production and distribution.”The UC administration completely ignored this effort (and many similar efforts: see here and here) and instead made plans to sell development rights to various interests, including Whole Foods Market and a for-profit home for the elderly. This move might be a surprise for someone under the impression that a public institution’s mandate is to serve the public, not private interests. But understanding the force of “neoliberalism” on governance in the past 40 years means that we instead can expect such acts: governments are now expected to solve societal problems with increasingly austere budgets, and to turn to entrepreneurship (like the sales or rental of their assets) to bolster those budgets. Privatization and the dismantling of public programs in favor of “public-private partnerships” are only logical outcomes of this condition. Austerity (seen in reduced state funding for UC and resulting tuition increases) combines with deregulation (which led to the most recent recession) and the consolidation of corporate power within the government to create the neoliberal framework.“Occupy the Farm” poses an alternative framework: Food sovereignty. Instead of profit seeking as the ultimate factor in decision-making around land use, food sovereignty puts public benefit in the foreground. Instead of distant bureaucracies headed by neoliberal capitalist heroes like Richard Blum (i.e., the UC Regents), food sovereignty demands local and democratic control over our public institutions. And instead of a historically and logistically impossible division of “government” on one side and “markets” on the other, food sovereignty promotes a market that is accountable and humane because it is built up from the lives and decisions of those who are affected by it. This may all sound very theoretical, but land occupations like the effort[...]

Quick Action!


April 23, 2012
Call Your Senators and Let Them Know You Want Mandatory Funding for Socially Disadvantaged  and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers!
Last Friday, the Senate Agriculture Committee released its draft of the 2012 Farm Bill. There were several successes for CFSC's priorities including the reauthorization of the Community Food Projects program at $10 million per year through 2017 and an increase in funding and expansion in scope for the Farmers Market Promotion Program to $100 million over five years.

This draft bill, however, does not authorize mandatory funding for the 2501 Outreach and Technical Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program. The bill alsoreduces funding by $25 million for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). In the 2008 Farm Bill, both the 2501 program and BFRDP received $75 million in mandatory funding.

Take Action!
Call your Senators right now and and ask them to reauthorize the 2501 program and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program each at $75 million in mandatory funding. The 2501 program is essential for providing outreach and training for minority and limited resource farmers and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program is needed to help support the new crop of America's farmers.

It’s easy to call. You can get your Senator’s name and direct number by going and typing in your zip code. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard, provide your Senator’s name and be directly connected to their office: (202) 225-3121.

On the Prince's Future of Food


Finally, a new blog post!
This time, I reviewed the Prince of Wales' speech "On The Future of Food".


Food, Farms, and Jobs Act


This is an interesting time for the Farm Bill, with Supercommittee nonsense and Occupy Wall Street craziness. BUT THERE IS HOPE, in the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act! See below for what it does.PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND URGE CO-SPONSORSHIP of the LOCAL Farm, Food and Jobs Act. And ask your colleagues, supporters and networks to do the same. The larger number of co-sponsors, the greater likelihood that provisions in this bill will be included in the 2012 Farm Bill—assuming that Congress actually writes a Farm Bill in 2012. Either way, it is very important to build support for these measures among the California delegation. We especially need support from Representatives Baca, Cardoza and Costa, our three California representatives on the Ag Committee who have not yet signed on to the bill. If you don’t know who your representatives are, you can find them at this website: In addition to your representative, please contact Senators Boxer and Feinstein.The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Actsponsored by Representative Chellie Pingree and Senator Sherrod BrownThe Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act will improve federal farm bill programs that support local and regional farm and food systems. This legislation will help farmers and ranchers engaged in local and regional agriculture by addressing production, aggregation, processing, marketing, and distribution needs and will also assist consumers by improving access to healthy food and direct and retail markets. And of utmost importance, this legislation will provide more secure funding for critically important programs that support family farms, expand new farming opportunities, and invest in the local agriculture economy.The Benefits of Local and Regional Food SystemsLocal and regional agriculture is a major economic driver in the farm economy. There are now more than 7,000 farmers markets throughout the United States—a 150 percent increase since 2000, direct to consumer sales have accounted for more than $1.2 billion in annual revenues. Now, on the heels of that expansion, we are witnessing the rapid growth of local and regional food markets that have scaled up beyond direct marketing. Together these markets represent important new job growth and economic development.The Local Farm, Food, and Jobs Act will:Boost Income and Opportunities for Farmers and Ranchers by –Improving access to Farm Service Agency credit programs for farmers and ranchers producing for local and regional food markets.Requiring Farm Credit Services institutions to enhance lending opportunities for farmers and ranchers producing for local and regional food markets, beginning farmers, and small farms.Funding Value-Added Producer Grants at an annual amount $30 million and expands the program to include food hubs and outreach to underserved states and communities.Authorizing the Risk Management Agency to develop a whole farm revenue insurance product for diversified operations, including specialty crops & mixed grain/livestock or dairy operations.Directing the Risk Management Agency to eliminate the organic premium surcharge and to complete the development of organic price series.Funding the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program at an annual amount $7 million and raising the maximum cap per participants from $750 to $1,000.Expands the production of fruits and vegetables by allowing greater planting flexibility for commodity program participants.Funding farmer food safety training through the National Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach and Technical Assistance program at an annual amount of $15 million.Improving opportunities for local and regional food producers to participate in the Conservation Stewardship Program Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Farmland Protection Program, Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative, and Technical Assistance.Improve Local and Regional F[...]

Right to Know and GMO Report Release


Greetings!After the success of the conference Justice Begins with Seeds & GMO Awareness Week, California Biosafety Alliance would like to invite you to attend the West Coast launch of:A Global Citizens Report on the State of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)— False Promises, Failed TechnologiesPublished by Navdanya (India), Navdanya International, the International Commission on the Future of Food with the participation of the Center for Food Safety and contributions from other partners and groups around the world.Speakers:Dr. Vandana Shiva, Philosopher, Environmental Activist and Eco FeministDebbie Barker, International Program Director, Center for Food SafetyMiguel Altieri, Associate Professor of Agroecology at UC Berkeley and Associate EntomologistThese new reports highlight scientific research and empirical experiences from around the globe demonstrating how genetically modified (GM) seeds and crops have failed to deliver its advertised promises. The reports document and expose how contrary to the myths of feeding the world and protecting food and environmental safety, GMOs have increased the prevalence of herbicide resistant 'superweeds' and pests, have led to farmer debt and suicides from the high price of seeds, have degraded ecosystems and have benefitted the corporate industry while failing to increase food production.The reports further illustrate the alternative solutions we need to see real food security, just agricultural systems, and outline how we can act together to see this necessary transition.The release of these reports will take place:October, 13 2011: 7:00pm to 9:00pm atSan Francisco War Memorial & Performing Arts Center.(401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102)In addition, we are hosting a press conference at the San Francisco City Hall at 12:00 Noon, featuring Dr. Vandana Shiva, elected officials and other speakers.-----------------------------------------------------------There is also a right2know march/ride to Sacramento next weekend. Details below from Miguel Robles:On Friday October 13th at 9:00 AM we will depart from San Francisco City Hall, our first stop, will be in around 10: AM. West Oakland, from there we will ride to the Rising Sun Entrepreneurs/ La Placita Commercial Kitchen in Oakland, where we will have a presentation and around 1:pm we will go to City Hall to Deliver the Report to Mayor Jean Quan's Office.Around 1:00 PM we will be at Peoples Park in Berkeley to have a gathering and Berkeley University to pass some stickers and flyers, then we will walk to the City Hall where some members of the California Biosafety Alliance are arranging a meeting with a City Council Member, we will drop a report at the Mayor's office.Around 4:00 PM, we will ride to The City of Richmond, where we will be making a presentation at a urban garden, then we will give a report to Mayor Gayle McLaugin and maybe we will screen a movie during the evening.We will stay over in Richmond.On October 15th during the morning, we will cross Vallejo Bridge and the plan is to meet with people in Vallejo, Vacaville, Fairfield, Davis.We don't have anything confirmed yet in this area, so it would be good to have local contacts if you have.We are riding to Sacramento on Sunday morning to join the rally.On Monday we are delivering the report at Governor's Jerry Brown office.Please let us know if you have any suggestion, we are still working in the details, so there will be some changes.What do we need?Support, support, support!Outreach, forwarding the invitation to join us, this will be a weekend action!If you can organize a meeting at any venue, we can add it to our route.Contact for more info:Miguel Robles etereas [at] gmail.comLastly, check out this video for the trailer to a new movie about the attack on scientists who dare to question the safety of GMOs.[...]

Re-post from the Nation


This was a great, succinct post from the Nation's recent series of articles on the "Food Movement"; it definitely merits reposting.
Social Justice Food Is Not Just About Food

Saturday 24 September 2011
by: Eric Schlosser, The Nation

Forty years after the publication of Diet for a Small Planet, thousands of farmers’ markets are thriving across the United States, countless young and well-educated people want to become farmers, community gardens are being planted in inner cities, Walmart is championing local foods, the White House boasts an organic garden—and the poorest workers in the United States are earning about $1.50 less for every hour they work.

That decline of almost 20 percent in the federal minimum wage since 1971, adjusted for inflation, suggests the limits of the food movement—and the necessity for it to have the sort of broad view that Frances Moore Lappé has always embraced.

Any movement that focuses too narrowly on food is bound to fail when 46 million Americans live below the poverty line. Without a fundamental commitment to social justice, the estimated 1–2 percent of Americans who eat organic food will be indistinguishable from the 1–2 percent who control almost all of this country’s wealth and power.

The corporate monopolies and monopsonies, the contempt for labor unions, the capture of federal agencies, the corruption of elected officials, the lies routinely told to consumers, the disregard for the environment and for public health—none of these things are unique to the food industry. You will find them in the oil, chemical, media and financial industries, among many others. They have become commonplace in the US economy. They are signs of a much larger problem, of a society where a handful of corporations choose the lawmakers, dictate the laws, control production and distribution, widen the gulf between rich and poor.

Groups like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Edible Schoolyard Project, the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and Slow Food USA are doing essential work, trying to improve the lives of people at the bottom of society. Food is a good place to start when seeking to make change. But it’s only a start. I hope that the food movement will continue to grow and thrive. More important, I hope that it will become part of a larger movement with a broader vision—a movement committed to opposing unchecked corporate power, to gaining a living wage and a safe workplace and good health for the millions of Americans who lack them.

This story originally appeared in The Nation.
Copyright © 2011 The Nation – distributed by Agence Global.

We're on TV!


TV, the drug of the nation*, will be playing our particular brand of substance known as In Search of Good Food
September 9th on Channel 27 (Comcast & Astound) at 8pm.

If you're in the Bay Area, try to catch it!

*a song reference

Volunteer Steward needed for Alemany Natives


Help Alemany Farm:
Find over 70 species of San Francisco native plants, enhancing the habitat resources for birds, butterflies, herps & other species, at the center of the farm, while also providing opportunities for visitors to learn about native plants, local ecologies, and how to increase habitat value in agricultural practices, landscaping, and in the urban environment.

As the volunteer managing the area may be leaving the city, we need committed, reliable, and inspired people to volunteer to manage this area asap! If interested, please contact Iris at alemanynatives (at) gmail (dot) com, 415-312-2214

Also, check it out in person and come by the 3rd Sunday workdays from 1:00-4:00. Next ones: Aug 21 and Sept 18 at Alemany Farm, 700 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco

See some photos of the area taking shape here.

To Profit or Not?


In case you missed it, I wrote an article last month for civil eats entitled:
"To Profit or Not To Profit on the Food Movement?"

It's an examination of the two threads of motivation I see in food activists in the Bay Area, and whether they can be made more mutually compatible and successful.

Enjoy, and please remember you can read many other such essays/posts at

Biosafety Alliance Conference!


Invitation to conference:Justice Begins with SeedsSeptember 14 to 17th 2011The Women’s Building and other locations in the Mission District, San FranciscoCalifornia Biosafety Alliance www.biosafetyalliance.orgAbout: We are at a time of many crises. And in the face of all the global challenges before us, the domination of the food supply, and the contribution of the current food regime to climate change, numerous environmental crises, humans rights abuses and displacement of people to name a few, makes it perhaps the most pressing issue before us. To control food is to control people. To destroy topsoil is to destroy the most elemental thing upon which we all depend. And to convince people that this system is the only way and that there is no other option is one of the most pressing myths before us that needs to be shattered. The conference: Justice Begins with Seeds will be a space for movement building to actively address the the symbol of the corporate food regime: genetically modified food, address the many layered implications of GE/GMO food, and build strategic coalitions and deeper collaborations amongst diverse stakeholders more widespread political action addressing GMOs in varying levels throughout the state of California.The conference will focus on hands on workshops and panels on how to build alliances, how to start a rights based campaign, and how to get involved with GMO labeling initiatives throughout California. People from different organizing contexts will have the space to discuss, share strategy and build the movement to address the corporate food regime.The conference is timed strategically to follow the Heirloom Seed Exposition in Sonoma and to precede the annual Food Justice Coalition Conference which will take place this year in Oakland. With this, we see this event feeding into upcoming events and pushing the issue of GMOs back onto the radar screen, while encouraging people to actively take on the issue politically. Keynote: Vandana Shiva: NavdanyaPlenary panelists: Ignacio Chapela: UC Berkeley Miguel Altieri: UC Berkeley Anuradha Mittal: Oakland Institute Gayle Mclaughlin: Mayor of Richmond David Campos: San Francisco Supervisor Marcia Ishii-Eiteman: Pesticide Action Network Eric Holt Gimenez: Food First Carl Anthony: Breakthrough Communities Jeffrey Smith: Institute for Responsible Technology Mari Margil: Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund Dave Henson: Occidental Arts and Ecology CenterThe California Biosafety Alliance is a cross sector, multilevel and inter-ethnic alliance of individuals and organizations working together to engage in broader outreach around genetically modified (GMO) food issues and to bring together strategic coalitions of diverse stakeholders to advocate for a GMO free food supply, as a means of pushing for a shift from an industrial food model, to a model of local resilience. GMOs are a symbol that represent the industrial food system and a key point that needs to be addressed in order to address and shift away from the industrial food model.Our vision is to get the multi-faceted number of issues with GMOs, ranging from health, to social justice, to environmental destruction, to a major contributor to climate change though topsoil degradation and numerous un-factored externalities, to corporate consolidation, to enter the framework of various groups that have not traditionally focused on the issue of GMOs as a central theme and point that needs to be addressed to push for a systemic shift in the current corporate food regime.Workshop and Panel Tracks:1 Local global connections: GMO movements, trade policy, low-income and food access--systemic problems, global connections, land grabs, human displacement and immigration, past GM[...]

Bad USDA, Bad Idea!


Today Food and Water Watch sent me the following notice, which resonates if you've seen In Search of Good Food (in which we talk about the horrible Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement); please take action if you can!

While we want to ensure that our lettuce and spinach are always safe to eat, it doesn't make sense to create food safety rules that only the biggest farms can follow. Unfortunately, that's just what USDA is suggesting with its proposal to establish a national Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. If we're not careful, this strategy will hurt small farms and allow Big Ag to write its own rules for food safety.

Shortly after the E. coli outbreak in 2006, the leafy greens industry in California got together to try to fix its image, creating something called a marketing agreement for lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens grown in the state. Problem is, the standards developed by the California agreement required drastic measures that were most suited to large-scale producers, including trying to keep all wildlife off of farms. Small farms and those that tried to incorporate water quality protection, wildlife habitat preservation, or organic methods found it hard to comply. Even though the marketing agreement is voluntary, it sure doesn't seem that way to farmers if all of their buyers require participation.

The biggest players in the produce industry want to take this flawed model nationwide and the USDA has proposed a way to do just that. Right now, USDA is taking public comments on its proposal for a national version of the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. Tell USDA you don't want the biggest players in the produce industry to write their own food safety rules that hurt small, sustainable producers.

Submit your comment here.

Guatemala and Gophers



I'm actually writing this from San Martin Jilotepeque, Guatemala. I'm here on an agroecological journey into the world of highland coffee, maize, and etc growing. And making new friends, and getting a litte "two-thirds world" perspective on the world of agroecology in the U.S. I will be putting together a presentation of my trip (photos, etc), for when I get back in August.

But I write to say that, if you are in SF or thereabouts, and want to grow food without major pest problems, you are in for a treat if you attend this upcoming workshop at GFE:

Date: Saturday, July 9, 2011
Time: 10am - 12pm
Location: Garden for the Environment, 7th Ave at Lawton Street, San Francisco
Instructor: Thomas Wittman, Sustainable Gopher Management Specialist and Owner, Gopher's Limited.
Cost: $15


A New Approach to the Farm Bill?


I've had a thought the last few days, thinking about the farm bill.

What about a concentrated effort at activating Midwest Expatriates to influence their hometowns' residents to understand and voice opinions about the farm bill to their legislators? I get the sense that the coasts' influence on the bill will be negligible since none of our Senators are on any of the agriculture committees. And I imagine that Michael Pollan-reading liberals don't have a lot of cachet with the Senators that are...

So what if we were to create a campaign, within our communities, to encourage transplants (those who escaped the corn fields for supposedly better pastures---ooh I couldn't help the puns!) to reach out to their friends, family, neighbors, from back home. By opening up those lines of communication, and cross-educating consumer-to-producer and back, perhaps we will find unlikely allies in the Red States that can actually influence the course of the farm bill?

I also get the sense, due to folks like Brad Wilson, that there are lots of farmers out there (the kind vilified by many well meaning food system activists) who understand that the food system is broken, and are looking for solutions to it that don't harm themselves in the process (as would be the case should subsidies be dismantled, with no other associated reforms to pricing, for example). Citizens representing (most dominantly) consumer interests have an opportunity to be making alliances with citizens representing the few farmers we have left.

For one good example of farmers who should be supported in their work, check out the National Family Farmer Coalition.

This may be too hopeful, but I think it's a tactic worth investigating...

June 2nd Mental Health Cookbook Event


Mental Health Cookbook Release Party: A Benefit for Radical Health

Stop by Mission Pie (at Mission and 25th) from 6-8p on Thursday, June 2nd to get a copy of the newly published Mental Health Cookbook written and illustrated by Finn Cunningham. All publications sold this evening will benefit local organizations that support health justice including the Lyon-Martin Clinic and the Bay Area Icarus Project. So come on over, get a zine ($7) and enjoy some tasty food and fermented beverages in good company.


Action on Farm Bill


At many of the screenings of the movie, I've been asked "what to do" about the farm bill. Well, it is complicated, and many issues and opportunities to act will be coming up this year as we get closer to voting time (in 2012), but here's something that's already happening. (I got this from

Please call your Senators to defend conservation, extension, renewable energy, and rural development programs!

Yesterday afternoon, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee adopted a government funding bill that if passed would turn back decades of progress to achieve a more sustainable and just food and farming system

This 2012 bill makes a second round of steep cuts to conservation, extension, research, renewable energy, and rural development programs. And just like in fiscal year 2011, none of the cuts are directed at crop subsidies, the largest federal agricultural spending item. The bill takes a total of $2.7 billion (13.4%) out of the food and agriculture budget including:

· Farm bill conservation funding would be cut by nearly $1 billion. The bill would force USDA to break contracts it has already signed with farmers enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program!

· Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE) funding would be cut by $3 million. The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) would be cut by $40 million.

· Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program would be cut by $6.4 million. Rural Micro-lending program would be completely eliminated.

· The Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) and the Biomass Crop Assistance (BCAP) would both be completely eliminated

· Doing the bidding of multinational meat and poultry conglomerates, the bill forbids USDA from using any funds to write or publish the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule to make livestock and poultry markets fairer and more competitive, a rule Congress directed USDA to write as part of the 2008 Farm Bill.

This bill has yet to become law until it passes the Senate. In this climate - every call counts! Let your Senators know we support a healthy, just and sustainable food and farming system. Letters from Senators stating their appropriations priorities are due Friday.

Go to and type in your zip code. Click on your Senator's name, and then on the contact tab for their DC phone number. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard and ask to be directly connected to your Senator's office: 202-224-3121.
If in California:
Call Fienstein's DC office: 202-224-3841
Call Boxer's DC office: 202-224-3553

· Tell them to reject the House Agricultural Appropriations Bill.

· Tell them to support full funding for farm bill conservation programs, to reject cutting jobs and growth with cuts to research, energy and rural development programs, and to stand up for farmers by protecting the GIPSA rule from meat packer interference.

For more information, visit the blog of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition:

Thank you for supporting sustainable agriculture!

Urban Ag Legislative Success!


In case you didn't hear, San Francisco passed new zoning codes to allow urban agriculture and commercial sales of city-grown foods. Yea-uh.

You can see my happy face, along with some city supervisors and other local farm folks, behind Mayor Ed Lee signing the legislation on the city's homepage.

Also, I wrote a piece for Civil Eats about it.

Also, you can always find more information at the website of the SF urban agriculture alliance,

Truck Farm looking for Farmers


Spreading the word for some fellow farmer/filmmakers:Truck Farm is a simple concept with a big impact. It’s a 1986 Dodge pickup with a mini-farm planted in the truck bed. It’s a traveling, edible exhibit that brings a rural experience to urban students. It’s a Brooklyn based CSA that makes weekly deliveries to 20 families. And it’s the focus of a new short documentary coming out this winter. What if every urban center had its own Truck Farm traveling from school to school teaching kids about how fun farming and healthy food can be, engaging them in thinking about where food comes from and getting them excited about growing food themselves? This is our vision and we’re looking for a few good urban farmers to help us bring it to fruition. Here are the details: What: A fleet of Truck Farms that will take to the road this spring popping up at schools, camps, street fairs, outdoor concerts, little league ball fields and anywhere else large groups of youth congregate. These micro-farms will be prepared and managed by nonprofits, food educators, graduate students, food co-ops, gardening groups, urban food activists and anyone else with the passion to teach kids about growing and eating healthy food. For extra credit the Farms can serve as CSA’s and for extra extra credit the trucks can be run on bio-fuel. Click here to see photos of the original New York City Truck Farm. Where: Communities in the US and Canada that do not have easy access to farms and/or farm fresh food. Please note: the original Truck Farm is parked in Brooklyn, NY so we are not currently accepting applicants for NYC. When: Our Truck Farms will be planted in early April, in time for a “premiere” on Earth Day, which will double as our kick-off for our second annual Garden Contest, a challenge to see which student group can grow food in the most creative place. Truck Farmers will need to register with us by January so they have three months to find their trucks, prepare their farms and begin booking their spring “tour.” Our squad of trucks will hit the road throughout May and June, visiting as many area schools as possible. Please note: While our goal is for each truck to visit a minimum of 25 groups throughout the growing season, we do not expect the Truck Farmers to work on this full-time.How: We will provide you with step-by-step instructions for building, maintaining and showcasing your farm. If you can get a donated truck, the cost of materials will run you less than $300. We are hoping to secure funding in the next few months to help our Farmers cover the cost of these materials. We will create a special Facebook page where all Truck Farmers can convene and swap ideas and resources. We will be available for troubleshooting five days/ week by phone or email. We will also provide Truck Farmers with educational materials, workshop ideas and copies of Truck Farm (the film) to use during school visits and workshops. Who: Ian Cheney is the creator of Truck Farm. You might know him and his longtime collaborator Curt Ellis from their popular documentaries such as King Corn, Big River and The Greening of Southie. Contact Them at[...]

Ferment Change!


For you east bay folks: Check out the lineup at and the lineup is below. 2011 Schedule Ferment Change!Date:Friday 4/15/2011 Event: Ferment Change Skill ShareTime: 7-9pmLocation: Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Avenue, BerkeleyDescription: Come out to our 1st event of the season. We will be having a free skill share where we make lots of large batches of fermented items such as sauerkraut, pickled veggies, and others to share at our FERMENT CHANGE “Potluck and Culture Swap” on May 15th to benefit the City Slicker Farms Backyard Garden Program. The event is free, bring a knife/cutting board and some veggies and spices to share. Cabbages and instruction will be provided. RSVP’s welcome at Info: FreeDate: Saturday 5/14/2011Event: Ferment Change skill share with Sandor KatzTime: 12-2pmLocation: North Oakland Farmers’ Market 5715 Market St- Arlington Med Center Parking LotDescription: Part of the Phat Beets Produce “Food N’ Justice” workshop series, author and Food Activist Sandor Katz will be presenting a hands on workshop and talk about wild fermentation and making sauerkraut. Learn about the health benefits of making your own live foods. Bring your own jar, RSVPS welcome: Info: FreeDate: Sunday 5/15/2011Event: Ferment Change Cocktail and Culture Swap with Sandor Katz and the East Bay Refugee GardenersTime: 6-7pmDescription: Pre-party cocktail with Sandor Katz and gardeners from the East Bay Refugee Garden Program in East Oakland. This intimate pre-event will feature a short talk and cross cultural ferment with author Sandor Katz and Tila Dhakal from East Oakland’s Bhutanese-Nepali community and the East Bay Refugee Garden Program. Homebrewed/cultured drinks and fermented treats will be served.Cost:$75+ - 100% of proceeds go the amazing urban food sovereignty project “The East Bay Refugee Garden Program,” working with Oakland’s new-immigrant refugee communities to develop urban agriculture opportunities and facilitate the continuity of agrarian and culinary traditions through culturally appropriate food production. Check out the linked article about the program featuring “gundruk,” Nepal’s national ferment!Date: Sunday 5/15/2011Event: FERMENT CHANGE! potluck and culture swap w/Sandor KatzTime: 7-10pmLocation: Humanist Hall, Oakland, 411 28th Street, Oakland, CADescription: This is the forth annual Ferment Change to benefit the amazing work of City Slicker Farms “Backyard Garden Program”. This event features 100′s of homemade fermented items to share, live music, slide shows, culture swap, and 5 rotating skill shares. This venue has an indoor and outdoor space. Bring a dish to share and get entered in our drawing. RSVP your dish with info@fermentchange.orgCost: $10-30 sliding scale, no one turned away for lack of fundsDate: Sunday 5/22/2011Event: EAST BAY TOUR DE FERMENT (bicycle tour) w/Dylan and Sandor KatzLocation: All over the East Bay on bike!Description: Spend a lazy Sunday touring the East Bay on bike on this homebrewers tour. Various homebrewers, winemakers, and fermentors will open up their homes, backyards, gardens, crocks, and taps to share with you. We will be hosted by at least 6 different sites. All by bicycle, the Tour De Ferment is not to be missed. Sandor Katz will join us on this adventure through the East Bay on bike! All labor and goods are donated, 100% of proceeds go to a TBA urb[...]

Urban Farming is a go in SF!


The organization I helped found last year, the SF Urban Agriculture Alliance (SFUAA) will be having its Monthly Meeting / PARTY - April 12, 2011, but this time, it'll be no agenda, just hanging out, and celebrating the (expected) passage of the revised urban agriculture zoning ordinance. Come out! For more info check

Time: 6pm-8pm
Location: Global Exchange, 2017 Mission Street (@ 16th), 2nd Floor Conference Room
Details: Even though we will be meeting at our usual date and time, we will not be having a "work" agenda. Instead, the agenda: show up, meet, eat, chat, compare aphid stories, celebrate, drink, and (time permitting) be merry.

Anyone involved in or wanting to get involved in the San Francisco urban agriculture community is welcome. Please bring a snack to share. Food from your garden is especially encouraged!

Mapping the Bay Area Food System


If you're involved in some food-system related work, consider filling out this short form for a new mapping project of Om Organics.

It also has something to do with this funding organization.

I'm not sure what this all means, but I'm curious!

Green Festival and Farm Job Opportunity


This coming Sunday, April 10th, I will be hosting an event (featuring SF Supervisor Eric Mar) at 3:30pm at the Green Festival:
"Getting Your Hands Dirty in Urban Farming"
Interested in getting your hands dirty in urban agriculture? Hear representatives from SF’s 3 largest farms share the why, when, and how to engage in urban farming projects. Then, after a sneak peak at the documentary In Search of Good Food, join the discussion on government’s role and how we can make agriculture thrive in the city.

The Green Festival is on April 9th –10th at the Concourse Exhibition Center at 635 8th Street (at Brannan Street) in San Francisco. Seven stages and pavilions give attendees a chance to be engaged by 125 local experts and nationally-renowned speakers and visionaries in lectures, panels and workshops. Keynote presenters include Amy Goodman, John Perkins, Zoe Weil, The Fabulous Beekman Boys, Sylvia Mendez, Mark Hertsgaard and Dr. Sharif Abdullah.

Green Festival offers affordable admission on any budget. Admission is free for youth 18 years old and under. All students (with ID), seniors, cyclists (with bike valet ticket) and public transit riders (with ticket stub) receive a $5 discount at the door. Regular admission if purchased online is $10/day, $15/weekend; or at the door it’s $15/day, $25/weekend. Local, state and federal government employees with a valid work ID receive free admission. As always, Green America and Global Exchange members receive free admission to Green Festival.

Green Festival hours:
Saturday April 9th: 10:00am-7:00pm
Sunday April 10th: 11:00am-6:00pm

For more information visit

Just got news that the current farm managers at Oz Farm are moving back to Austria and the position is opening up. Feel free to check out the website for more details about the farm/etc.

Crop & Plant Swap-Oakland


from a friend:

We are organizing a monthly crop and plant swap the 1st Saturday of every month at the North Oakland Farmers market at 57th and Market in North Oakland. Participants are encouraged to bring backyard fruit, veggies, plants, cuttings, or cultures to swap, trade, or barter.

1st Crop Swap is Saturday, April 2nd 10-3pm at:
North Oakland Farmers' Market
57th and Market St, Oakland 94608
in the Arlington Medical Center Parking Lot

There is no fee, please rsvp with and let us know what you will bring. 1st Saturday of the month is also live jazz music with the Ways and Means Club.
more info at

Thank y

Save the Date for San Francisco Premiere!


Just a heads up; It's not set in stone, but we're looking towards screenings of In Search of Good Food on May 19th and 20th, in San Francisco.

Also, a host of other screenings are popping up around the state (and some elsewhere!)...check out the screenings page for more info!