Monthly Archives: August 2007

UF Movies: 8/18 in Oakland

For you Bay Area folk: I’m screening a documentary I made (just finished editing, pant pant) this Saturday. It’s about urban farming programs in Venezuela. Like Chavez or hate him, some of his social programs freaking rule. There will be other movies about urban farming all over the world. Here are the details:

City Slicker Farms
Sustainability Film Screening
Please join us on Saturday August 18th at 6:30 pm for an outdoor screening of films focusing on urban farming and the
lives that are affected by food justice movements all over the world. By exposing more community members to
sustainable practices we hope to raise awareness of the need to grow organic and healthy produce in all communities.

Featuring: Local Organic Food Tastings, Local Artists, and Urban Farming Documentaries
Saturday August 18th 6:30 – 10:00
The Secret Garden 5105 Genoa Street
North Oakland, CA
Bring your own cup, cushion, or blanket.
Valet bicycle parking or please park on MLK, West St.
or Market St.
Call us for more information 510-763-4241 or email us

Hark the bee gate

My sister’s so cool. She talked her way into the beekeepers collective store near her home in the south of France, and got me some bee goodies. One is this bee gate. Last time I went to France, a local beekeeper gave us a tour of his bee set-up. He was so enthusiastic, he said beekeeping is the best job ever. The bee gates, he explained, are for when you move the hives. Usually, around here at least, most beekeepers staple wire mesh over the entrance of the hive. But then, as I discovered, the task of prying the staples off while bees are inside, pissed at you for being sequestered for so long, becomes daunting. With this gate, you mount screws on either side of the box, then flip them around once you’ve moved the box. Brilliant! She also sent some cool old “miel” stickers. Thanks Riana!

Pectin makin’

Had a lovely visit with a new blog friend named Laura a few days ago. She lives in East Oakland and has a rad garden! I love going to other people’s gardens. They’re such an expression of the person. And it’s a good way to get ideas! She’s hell-bent on getting blueberries, so she bought containers for the bushes–all producing fruit at different times. They require acid soil, so we mixed up some bark, sphagum moss, and potting soil. I just might have to copy her idea!
Then we culled apples and chatted. Laura has a young apple pectin recipe, so I took home a bucket of the little apples. I’m hoping to get around to it today. The book says to core and quarter the apples, boil them with water, strain, then boil with more water–anyone ever made it before? Thanks Laura!

Honey Bomb

We arrived home triumphant: 3 quarts of honey and four bee stings.
We left 3 quarts at the farm.
The bees were pissed.
I got stung on the head (did I bring my bee gear? no.)
Mr. Bill got stung on his arms, through his heavy sweatshirt.
The Pescadero bees are not gentle like the Oakland hive. But their honey is amazing. It has a high note of spice, kind of like burnt sugar or a carnival candy. Later I realized it might be the pumpkin blossoms that I’m tasting.
Anyway, it was a great quickie weekend escape into the rural zone.

I Heart Pescadero

We’re headed to Pescadero, CA to visit to our friend Ned and his Blue House Farm: They grow strawberries, tomatoes, greens, melons, pumpkins, and lettuces. This time last year we went down and came back with three buckets full of ‘seconds’ tomatoes. They just had a little black spot at the tip of the fruit (usually a sign of a calcium deficiency). I cut that off and jarred 25 quarts of the best tasting stewed tomatoes ever. I pledged to never buy tomatoes in a can again. But we ran out pretty fast. So the idea this year was to get as many buckets as possible. When we called Ned to say we’re coming down, he told us the tomatoes aren’t ripe yet! It’s been a cold, fog-soaked summer in Pescadero. Oh well, we’re still making the trip down–we need to extract some honey from a beehive we keep there.
If you live around the Bay Area, you should go out to Pescadero. It’s only an hour’s drive, and then you’re in the middle of farm country with the sea right next door. It’s heaven. Dee Harley, a wonderful goat cheese maker is there (, as is a dried bean farm (can’t remember the name) that sells something like 100 types of dry beans. I’ll post photos when we get back.

Dirty Monkeys

Hey, it’s not just me here on this farm. There’s a certain monkey man who helps make this operation run smoothly. Especially when it comes to our lovely car, the Slop Bucket, which fetches all the dumpster goodies for the pigs. As you can imagine, Mr. Bill’s hands get pretty dirty fixing this mighty vehicle. Luckily, he has a secret beauty ingredient: honey and sugar. First you pour on a dab of honey, then sprinkle sugar, and rub vigorously. Works like a charm–and no nasty chemicals on his skin (well, except for the oil and brake cleaner that got in before he washed).

Hog Heaven

The pigs escaped yesterday for a ten minute run of the neighborhood. I heard a commotion, walked downstairs and encountered one of the monks (in full robes) holding a street cone in order to get the piggers back in their stall. A neighbor, newly arrived from Puerto Rico, held a stick, and everyone was laughing, but serious at the same time. The hogs thought this was great fun. I finally lured them back with a bag of bread. The monk spoke pig–he was making some very detailed snorting noises. Afterward, he told me (as a vegetarian Buddhist monk must): “They want to be free.” Have I mentioned how much I love our street?
The plan is to have them slaughtered in Dixon by a nice lady named Sylvia in early September. I’m hoping I’ll get to watch and learn for next year. Then I’ll bring the carcass and offal to Berkeley, where my salumi-maestro will show me the proper way to butcher a pig. He said it’ll take two days to do the deconstruction. His payment? Just a leg to make proscuitto. As you can see from this photo–the leg needs to get bigger.

Other farm news: a new batch of baby bunnies! Born to our third female who hasn’t had babes yet. Looks like 5 in all.

Dumpster score of the week (don’t worry Papa, it’s for the hogs!): 6 boxes of persimmon heirloom tomatoes, and the same quantity of Italian white figs.