Spring Family Garden Club at Rutgers Gardens Begins April18 th

Learn Gardening with your Family at Rutgers Gardens Family and Youth Garden Clubs

Veggardenvegtable garden

Vegetable gardening is a fun and rewarding hobby that can start in childhood and last a lifetime. Our Garden Clubs are a great opportunity for children to learn the skills to grow their own vegetables and to develop a connection with nature and an appreciation of healthy, home grown foods. Participants will also take home plants to grow in their own gardens and harvest vegetables to eat at home.

via Family Garden Club: Rutgers Gardens.

2015 Rutgers Summer Exploration Camp–Kids Learn About Local Food and Nutrition


2011campThe Early Bird Rate ends March 31st!  Camp dates are July 6-10th. Take advantage of these wonderful outdoor nature-connecting activities at Rutgers Gardens such as:

  • Explorations through designed gardens and natural habitats.
  • Vegetable garden harvesting and food preparations.
  • Topics on plant diversity, animal habitats and environmental awareness.
  • Hands-on activities to allow learning by observation.
  • Guest speakers.
  • Fun projects, games and activities to further explore topics and enjoy being out-of-doors!
    For more information and registration visit: Rutgers Gardens Summer Exploration Camp 

Slow Food USA’s Good, Clean and Fair School Garden Curriculum “Hits…

Slow Food USA’s Good, Clean and Fair School Garden Curriculum “Hits the Shelves”
Lauren Howe, February 16, 2014

Slow Food USA’s National School Garden Program is excited to have launched our first-ever monthly webinar last Thursday February 12 just in time for the release of the initial volume of the Good, Clean and Fair School Garden Curriculum. We were lucky to have Gigia Kolouch, Education Director for Slow Food Denver, present this first section, which she developed and wrote for Slow Food USA. A long time educator, cooking teacher, and chef, Gigia explained, “Slow Food needed its own curriculum because of our unique mission.” Hence, she wrote the activities, instructions, and recipes around cooking and eating.

he goal is to have the curriculum broken up into three parts: Good, Clean and Fair, to capture Slow Food’s mission. Here, Good means “enjoying the pleasures of healthy and delicious food,” Clean is “gardening for sustainability,” and Fair indicates “producing food that respects economic and social justice.” This Good volume incorporates an assortment of lessons that not only promote children’s excitement for new foods, but also include activities that can fit into a more conventional classroom setting. What’s more is that anyone can teach these lessons – you don’t have to be a teacher or chef!

GCF Chapter 1 Sensory Ed CoverGigia provided an overview of the curriculum, which includes a wide variety of activities that focus on: observation and the five senses, research, experimentation and action, and reflection. She emphasized how two major skills are needed before an individual even reads a recipe or cooks a dish: how to mix/balance flavors and kitchen skills. These fundamentals have guided the development of this first volume, which is broken up into two chapters: “Sensory Education” and “Kitchen Skills and Tools.” The first of which turns everything into an experiment (e.g. tastings) and really puts the kids in charge, whereas the second chapter emphasizes mastering basic skills such as knife handling and simple tools like mortars and pestles.GCF Chapter 2 Kitchen Skills Cover

We had 18 people join us for the webinar from a range of Slow Food communities from Boston to Dallas and Chicago to San Diego. We hope that teachers and volunteers alike will utilize this curriculum to help expand the minds and palates of students of all ages!

If you would like to view the recording of this webinar, please click here. You can also view the Good, Clean and Fair School Garden Curriculum Webinar Notes. If you would like to access/download the curriculum online, please visit our Resources page. And be sure to join us in March for our next school garden leader call/webinar. Have an idea for a topic you’d like to hear about? Email lauren@slowfoodusa.org

Lauren Howe is Manager of Slow Food USA’s National School Garden Program.

via Slow Food USA’s Good, Clean and Fair School Garden Curriculum “Hits….

Growing intolerance – Sustainable Food Trust

Rivet flour

30 January, 2015

Farming What to Eat

Bread has always been at the heart of human history – we’ve been baking it for the best part of 10,000 years. But over the past decade there has been an explosion of people reporting problems with eating it. How could wheat, a staple food that has sustained humanity for so long, have suddenly become a threat to our health? What’s happened to wheat that is causing the increase in digestive disorders? And can we get back to the bread we ate for millennia without becoming wheat intolerant?*

The story that lies behind our problem with bread is a sad one. In the space of one century we abandoned both the flavour and nutrition of our most basic food in favour of producing vast amounts of cheap industrial loaves.

The impact of the Industrial Revolution

Bread remained almost unchanged for thousands of years. Then, from the late 1850s to the 1960s, every aspect of it changed. We didn’t just change the way we made it – we altered it to the point that our bodies no longer recognised the ingredients. A combination of the Industrial Revolution and the hybridisation of wheat fundamentally changed the nature of the flour we use for baking.

The problems we now face can be traced back to the middle of the 19th century, when Gregor Mendel developed what are now known as the laws of biological inheritance, or hybridisation. This revolutionary technique was quickly applied to wheat, but the grain was hybridised and developed not for its flavour, but for increased yields and levels of gluten. In doing so, we lost both taste and nutrition in our flour at an incredible speed. In just a few decades the gene pool was narrowed from thousands of varieties of to less than a hundred. It was the start of a monoculture.

read more–Growing intolerance – Sustainable Food Trust – Sustainable Food Trust.

Free Screening of “Fresh”, the Movie on March 26th in East Brunswick NJ


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.

Among several main characters, FRESH features urban farmer and activist, Will Allen, the recipient of MacArthur’s 2008 Genius Award; sustainable farmer and entrepreneur, Joel Salatin, made famous by Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma; and supermarket owner, David Ball, challenging our Wal-Mart dominated economy.

Watch FRESH at the East Brunswick Library Meeting Room 1 on March 26 at 6:30 pm.


Sponsored by the
East Brunswick Environmental Commission
Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey

Slow Food USA National School Garden Program

Ellis School Garden (Denver, CO)

Every child deserves to grow up knowing where food comes from, how to grow, cook and share it, and how to be healthy.

Slow Food USA local chapters, members and volunteers build and maintain school gardens, lead cooking classes and work to improve school lunches.

We believe that by doing so, we can grow a generation of kids who love and care about food. And by becoming informed eaters and food lovers, they will help make a positive impact on the larger world of food and farming well into the future.

via Slow Food USA National School Garden Program.

Terra Madre Day: Celebrating Local Food | Food Tank

Slow Food International will celebrate its sixth annual Terra Madre Day on December 10, with special events planned around the world. The day was first celebrated in 2009, marking the 20th anniversary of the Slow Food Manifesto. Since then, Slow Food Groups have gathered each year on December 10 for a global celebration of community through food.

In the United States, Slow Food asks individuals to recommit to opposing the “universal folly of Fast Life” by signing the Manifesto online, and growing a community through food offline. Slow Food locals all over the country are organizing events in honor of the global day. If you’ve never seen the Manifesto, check it out here.

This year, the celebration will include more than 150 events worldwide with over 25,000 participants. “Terra Madre Day will be celebrated in an endless number of ways, from small gatherings to large events: a celebratory picnic or dinner; a film screening or concert to raise the profile of good, clean, and fair food; an excursion to visit Terra Madre producers; a campaign or petition on a particular issue, food or taste education activities; a large gathering of producers, chefs, youth and others… or a combination of the above.” All are invited to participate, and activities are taking place in a wide range of locations, both urban and rural. For a full list of events, visit Slow Food’s interactive map, “What’s going on, where.” To organize a Terra Madre Day celebration of your own, click here.

The theme of Terra Madre Day 2014 is saving endangered products — in keeping with the theme of this year’s Terra Madre conference, The Ark of Taste. Slow Food is urging participants to focus on endangered local foods at risk of disappearing: “All over the world, traditional food products are disappearing, along with the knowledge, techniques, cultures and landscapes related to their production.”

via Terra Madre Day: Celebrating Local Food | Food Tank.

Slow Food USA: Harvest Celebrations Across the USA

The Origins of Thanksgiving
Native CornOver the centuries, Thanksgiving has become a special day to share a home-cooked meal with loved ones and an offering of thanks for our blessings. In many ways, Thanksgiving is the quintessential “Slow Food” holiday. And yet, as many of us know, Thanksgiving has a complicated and controversial past. As we celebrate with family and friends, it’s worth remembering the complexity and suffering from which our modern holiday of love, food and family was born.

Many of us are familiar with the story of the first Thanksgiving: Pilgrims celebrated a
successful harvest after a few years of starvation and struggle together with friends from the Wampanoag Nation. That harvest was made possible thanks to the knowledge, seeds and traditional farming practices that the Native Americans shared with the newly arrived settlers.

What many of us don’t know is the story that followed in the intervening years
between that celebration and the holiday of family, food and giving that many of us are familiar with today. Following nearly two decades of peace, newly arrived Europeans began massacres of native peoples across the northeast over issues of land rights and ownership. (These killings were widely condemned by the original Pilgrims – many of whom were expelled from the society for voicing their opposition).

After one particularly successful massacre in what is now Connecticut, settlers gathered for a feast of “thanksgiving” – giving thanks for their victory over the native peoples. This is the tragic story of the second Thanksgiving. In subsequent years, as the killings across the northeast took on a frenzy, settlers held feasts of thanksgiving after each successful slaughter. By many accounts, George Washington brought order by declaring one day to be celebrated across the nation as “Thanksgiving Day.” Thanksgiving then became an official state holiday during the Civil War when Abraham Lincoln declared that it would fall on the fourth Thursday of every November.

Though none of us alive today took part in these atrocities, it is important to know the full context of the holiday in order to understand why some people find it difficult to celebrate. It is through this awareness that we bring thoughtfulness and true thanksgiving to our enjoyment.

About this Project
The purpose of this project is to celebrate the diversity of food cultures and harvest traditions that are rooted in the land and people across the United States. We acknowledge that we were only able to highlight a small sample of the rich variety available.

explore the map

Learn more about the original Thanksgiving:

  • Thanksgiving: Its True History [warning: graphic discussion of massacres]
    A Native American perspective on the history of the holiday.
    Source: Tidewater Native American Support Group, Inc.
  • Debunking Pilgrim Myths 
    Nathaniel Philbrick dispels some of the myths surrounding the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, including the date of that dinner, what was eaten and what it was called.
    Source: NPR
  • The True Story of the First Thanksgiving [article]
    A look at the visual images related to the first Thanksgiving and analysis of an eyewitness report.
    Source: Muse from the publishers of Cricket and Smithsonian Magazine
  • First Thanksgiving [for kids]
    Educational resource for talking with kids about Thanksgiving.
    Source: National Geographic Kids
  • What Was on the Menu
    The history of the holiday meal tells us that a tasty bird was always the centerpiece, but other courses have since disappeared from the table.
    Source: Smithsonian.com

via Slow Food USA: Harvest Celebrations Across the USA.



Slow Food USA: Keep Growing Slow Food, Even When Tomatoes Have Gone

Keep Growing Slow Food, Even When Tomatoes Have Gone
Nov. 21, 2014

By David Kennedy, Director of Leaf for Life, author of Eat Your Greens (2014) and 21st Century Greens (2011)

In order to photosynthesize and make food, plants need a minimum of both sunlight and warmth. Summer tends to have both. Most of the temperate zone gets about half of its total annual allotment of solar energy over 100 summer days.

Cold weather is very hard on the plants that produce our food. They can’t move to seek shelter the way animals do. Temperatures below the freezing point of water not only stop photosynthesis, they quickly kill many plants. When water within and between the plants cells freezes, sharp ice crystals form that can rupture the cell walls that protect the plant’s key functions.

Keep Growing Slow Food, Even When Tomatoes Have Gone

Mixed mustard greens, courtesy of www.leafforlife.org

And yet, some food can be grown in cold weather. How can kale, collards, mustard greens, Swiss chard, scallions, turnip greens, beet greens, lettuce, and various Asian cabbages and mustards continue producing food long after tomatoes, peppers and zucchinis have closed up shop for the winter? Cold-hardy plants use two different strategies for preventing fatal ice crystals from forming. The most common approach is to lower the freezing point of the water they hold with dissolved sugars and the amino acid, proline. This is like putting salt on icy roads to lower the temperature at which the water freezes. The less common but more amazing trick of cold-hardy crops is the use of specialized “antifreeze” proteins. These are molecules that bind to the surface of tiny ice crystals and prevent them from forming the large sharp crystals that rupture plant cells.

Almost all of the food crops that grow well in cold weather are greens. This is no coincidence. With all plants it is the green leaves that initially create the food. When there is adequate warmth and sunshine most plants can afford to send much of the food formed in their leaves to be saved in roots, as with sweet potatoes, or to make fruits and seeds. Both of these processes require a surplus of carbohydrates to be produced by the leaves, and that surplus is produced in the summer.

With leaf crops we eat the initial stage of production before the plant generates surplus food. Most people think of warm summer days as the time to garden, but leaf vegetables can be successfully grown in much cooler weather. Seeds should be started a bit before the first frost so they can get in some growth before the onset of very cold weather. Once established, the hardiest greens, like Siberian kale, can be grown right through the winter in most locations. A simple cold frame or floating row cover can provide some extra protection against the cold.

Your winter garden will grow very slowly, but it will grow. And the bright flavorful greens that you harvest through the snow are most welcome in the middle of winter. Packing more vitamins, minerals, and protective antioxidants per calorie than any other category of food, winter greens can help keep you healthy and fit till the first buds of spring. Cold weather greens are Slow Food at its best.

via Slow Food USA: Keep Growing Slow Food, Even When Tomatoes Have Gone.