Damn Good Biking

Damn Good Biking
Mammath Mountain

Monday, May 18, 2009

5-17-09 Kittens' in the news....

Greetings guys, all is well just returned from a long strange journey into the hinterlands of America, the Minnesota prairie, the Wobagon trail. My future farm/ nay our future farm.

Here is an article about my lovely woman in the VEGA Alliance newsletter.
VEGA is described as:

Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance
is the world’s largest nonprofit consortium
dedicated to promoting economic growth in
developing and transitional nations.

She's a wonderfully talented creature and I look very forward to sharing the experience of Minnesota with.

Each year National Volunteer Week presents an opportunity
for nonprofits to commemorate their volunteers.

In 2009, this week took place from April 19-
25. This year’s theme was“Celebrating People in Action.”

Last year, during National Volunteer Week, VEGA
recognized volunteers from VEGA and Member
Organization projects by awarding them the President’s
Volunteer ServiceAward (PVSA) and the
VEGA Service ImpactAward.

The awardees submitted photos from their
volunteer assignments in a VEGA photo contest.
The winner, Cathryn Kloetzli, is a Winrock International
volunteer who was recognized for her
specialized technical assistance in agricultural development
and pest management.

She provided assistance to farmers in Kyrgyzstan and
Nepal. In Osh, Kyrgyzstan,she worked with small-scale garden and
fruit tree farmers belonging to Water User's Associations.

WUAs are a selfmanaging group of community
members who manage, maintain and operate
the local water supply to ensure a fair and
equitable distribution of this resource to reduce
conflict and build social stability. She helped increase
yields and profits by streamlining farmers’water use and production
techniques and conducting trainings in disease management,
alternative pesticides,fertilization and soil health.

In Pokhara, Nepal, she introduced Integrated Pest
Management (IPM) techniques for greenhouse tomato
production. Training in IPM techniques addressed
problems resulting from lack of crop rotation
and fallow periods.

The use of these techniques will improve yields
and profitability and protect the farmers from significant
crop loss due to pest damage.

Member Organizations who would like to recognize
their volunteers by awarding the President’s Volunteer Service Awards
can visit the website below.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

5-12-09 Lights, Camera, Food Fight, Farms, and Revolution

Greetings Wayfarers

Well here I am resting in a BED!!!

Its been a long trek across the country and my travels have left me in a hotel room near Minneapolis, Minnesota.

climate control, bountiful fast food, hot water, BUT most importantly ….
…….h-h-h-HOT TUB!!!!

Honestly wandering back in the civil world from the farm and tent life feels kinda reminiscent of coming out of the bush back in Niger.

What? Where? How?
Wasn't I just in Santa Cruz?

All valid inquires.

Here is the skinny. I’m here in MN to meet the local agriculture community, participate in a fundraiser for the Veterans Village, but most importantly do an production evaluation for the potential future farm.

Very Exciting!!
The wayfarer inches further down the rabbit hole

Last night I spoke at the "Food Fight" screening at the Santa Cruz film festival, in attendance were approximately 300 farmers, foodies, and freaks who rolled up the proverbial red carpet for a spectacular extravaganza which outlined our nations current food "insecurity", the military industrial "food" complex as well as the epicenter of America's local food movement….chiefly being San Francisco.

In earnest, not my most riveting address, I'll leave that to exhaustion, unpreparedness, and the fact that I gulped about a liter and a half worth of water during the film without relief.

The night prior to the screening I was fortunate enough to meet and spend the night slugging down a couple pints with Chris Taylor, the wonderful director of the film. In attendance at the pub was my good buddy, who is also an Iraq veteran and perpetual surf bum living in his van.

Without trepidations our trio delved into the conversational realms of veterans affairs, historic and contemporary models of civilizations' successes and failures due to food production, and least but not forgotten the creation of a new advocacy group dedicated to stopping continental drift.

I'll be a monkey's uncle if I’m going to allow France's western beaches to invade our beloved eastern seaboard!!!!
"Stop Continental Drift!!" ….."Stop Continental Drift!!!"

We invade France, not the other way around.

Anyhow, it was an incredible opportunity to make a new friend out of Chris Taylor, as a director he is socially conscious, attentive to detail, and witty in his story telling. As a person I consider him an exceptional human being and I remain all the better for having the opportunity to meet such a dynamic person.

Lord knows, at the beginning of this omnivore's odyssey there were no preconceived ideas of where the breezes would blow me, speaking to 300 folk at one of our nation's epicenters of quality food is not one of them…

So here I am in Minnesota one step closer to my end goal. Start a "farmily" Village, but most importantly working sideways to take down.... "The Man"

His food taste like poo!

Well its about 0200 I’m wiped and ready to decompress,

Kwana da Alhieri!!
"Sleep with Peace"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Yours Truley, In da news Wa Wa Wa

SANTA CRUZ -- Pioneers of the slow food movement are joining chefs, farmers and other supporters of the UC Santa Cruz Farm to raise money for a plan to construct cabins for apprentices who live in tents while they learn the fine points of organic agriculture.

Berkeley's famed restaurant, Chez Panisse, created by sustainable food guru Alice Waters, is among the businesses hosting benefits this month to raise money for the six-month-long Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture, which has trained more than 1,200 organic farmers since the 1970s. Locally, Gabriella Cafe and Ristorante Avanti are among those donating a portion of sales to the Grow a Farmer campaign to keep free housing for students. Most students could not afford to rent a place in town.

"If I had to pay for housing while I was here, there is no way I could have done it," said Wisconsin farmer Claire Strader, a 2000 graduate of the program who was a top vote-getter for the online competition at WhiteHouseFarmer.com allowing her to propose the White House hire a full-time farmer.

Although she learned beekeeping and orchard management at the farm, the experience that has stuck with her the most was the communal cooking, eating and overall sense of camaraderie built among fellow students.

"That was a big piece for me," said Strader, who visited UCSC last weekend to speak on an environmental panel during Alumni Weekend.
The university has approved plans to build eight four-room tent cabins to accommodate 32 apprentices near the site of the tents, which sit on one side of the 25-acre farm. Apprentices have been allowed to pitch their own tents for two decades, but now the university wants the farm to complete its 10-year plan to build permanent housing.

"For many reasons, most of which involve the health and safety of the participants, the campus informed representatives of the apprenticeship program that its residential housing needed to be upgraded," UCSC spokesman Jim Burns said.
Burns said several campus departments -- Physical Planning and Construction, Environmental Health and Safety, the Fire Department and the Division of Social Sciences -- decided the tents had to go after this year. And he noted that part of the project includes new parking for participants with disabilities and other accessibility improvements.

Ann Lindsey, apprenticeship development coordinator for UCSC's Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, is delighted by how quickly supporters have come to the farm's aid. She said graduates and other backers have planned events in Los Angeles, Portland and elsewhere.

"The outpouring of support for this project has been so heartening," she said, adding that she has received money from small-scale farmers who "I know don't have any money."

Chez Panisse will donate a portion of proceeds raised Wednesday to the campaign. Iron Chef competitor David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos has donated dinners for four to the campaign's two highest individual donors.

In the Santa Cruz area, Ristorante Avanti will donate a portion of proceeds raised Monday and Gabriella Cafe will do the same May 13. New Leaf Community Markets will donate 5 percent of profits from all five of its stores May 28.

Cindy Geise, who has co-owned Avanti's with husband Paul for 22 years, said she is glad to help the farm.

"We have grown more and more to rely on local farmers for our produce and some of our meat needs," she said. "We're getting things picked hours before that never went into cold storage or traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, burning up fuel, to get here."

The final fundraising push to build the 22-feet-by-22-feet cabins -- to be built with milled redwood from campus trees felled for construction projects -- began in December. Lindsey said $160,000 has been raised, but another $100,000 is needed. The cabins will cost at least $487,000 to build, and the program itself has already kicked in several hundred thousand dollars collected from students fees and farms sales.

Interest in the program is at an all-time high, with a record 152 applicants vying for the 38 positions in the 2009 program. In the 1970s, during the first few years of the program, apprentices stayed in tepees, which were later taken down and replaced by tents furnished by students.

Current apprentice Jessy Beckett, 25, of Santa Cruz, said, "I don't think there is one person here who could pay for rent in town and do this program. It's absolutely vital that we live here. It would make this a program that would make it accessible only to the elite."

Beyond just providing free shelter while paying more than $4,000 in tuition, on-site housing allowed Lindsey, a Colorado native who took the program 20 years ago and stayed, to be "in tune with the land" by "walking through the land you're working on."

Farmer Joshua Anderson agreed, having arrived to take this spring's course from the small Missouri town of Avalon with just a couple of bucks in his pocket. He said communing with the land and other farmers is the best part of residing on the hill.
"Being able to live in the tents, you are constantly engaged by the environment," he said. "You hear the pests, predators -- bobcats and owls. A farmer really needs to take the time to understand the landscape as much as he does trying to grow food."