Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Hatchet Covers Community Garden Documentary

Today's Hatchet has an article about Tuesday's film showing of "A Community of Gardeners" and they mention the GroW Community Garden!

read it here

Monday, September 27, 2010

You can also join us for a special tour of the GroW Community Garden with Cintia herself at 5pm!

Mount Vernon Garden Planting Session #1

This weekend, a bunch of awesome volunteers hiked up to the vern to help with the official ground breaking of GroW on the Vern. Saturday was National Dig-In Day, sponsored by Slow Food USA, which translates to National Start a Garden Day. We did just that. Students who came to volunteer ranged from the Green Earth Year Living Learning Program, a freshmen writing class called, Food, Sustainability, and Social Change, and of course a smattering of Food Justice Members.
We dug and planted and dug some more, until everything was in the ground. We planted low and high bush blueberries, river oats, wild ginger, nodding onion, false blue indigo, evening primrose, moss phlox, honeysuckle, chicksaw plum trees, and a hazelnut tree. All these plants are native and perennial!

As an added bonus, Mount Vernon RAC bought us Jetties sandwiches for lunch! Thank you MV RAC and many thanks to our volunteers!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Erin comes to see the bees

Actually, Erin did more than just see the bees, she smoked them, inspected frames, and fed them sugar water and Honey Bee Healthy. Sounds like a beekeeper in the making! GW's honey bees are hunkering down for winter, finding the last few bits of nectar around town and the queen is feverishly laying her wintertime brood of babies. These baby bees that will emerge from their cells in a few weeks time will be hearty winter bees prepared for cold nights and windy winter days.

In the photo, Erin is digging the floaters out of the sugar water reservoir that we use to feed the bees with. They get really stuck because when the sugar water runs out, the bees think it's funny to glue the wooden floaters to the reservoir with propolis. Not so funny. Ask Erin, it's tough to get them unstuck.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reduced Rate Slow Food Membership

From now through October 15, 2010, a donation of $25 or more makes you a member of Slow Food USA


What is Slow Food?

Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.

Their Mission:

"Slow Food USA seeks to create dramatic and lasting change in the food system. We reconnect Americans with the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils and waters that produce our food. We seek to inspire a transformation in food policy, production practices and market forces so that they ensure equity, sustainability and pleasure in the food we eat."

Good, Clean, Fair


The word good can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For Slow Food, the idea of good means enjoying delicious food created with care from healthy plants and animals. The pleasures of good food can also help to build community and celebrate culture and regional diversity.


When we talk about clean food, we are talking about nutritious food that is as good for the planet as it is for our bodies. It is grown and harvested with methods that have a positive impact on our local ecosystems and promotes biodiversity.


We believe that food is a universal right. Food that is fair should be accessible to all, regardless of income, and produced by people who are treated with dignity and justly compensated for their labor.

Benefit's to Membership: 


Become a part of our active online community 
Meet people who care about slow food in your local community Join your local Slow Food USA chapter Get a Slow Food USA membership card

Get Informed:

Access information about important national and international food issues and quick updates with the latest food news Access exclusive online and offline content, including opportunities to communicate with leaders in the food movement


Help shape the direction of the slow food movement Receive invitations to attend local, national and international events and enjoy discounts where available Learn about opportunities to volunteer on local and national projects
 Receive email alerts that let you know when to take action

Monday, September 20, 2010

FJA Mentioned in the Tufts Observer

Read about the growing community garden movement in the Tufts Observer. GroW and our Bees are mentioned!

School Lunch Film Premiers in DC Tomorrow 9/21

School lunch reform advocates are hosting a screening of Lunch Line, a documentary on the history of National School Lunch Program. Tomorrow the film is screening at Landmark's E Street Cinema at 7 p.m.; an RSVP is required,

see the whole article here

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Add These to Your Queue

I've watched some really great documentaries on netflix recently that I wanted to share. Check them out, or at the very least visit the websites for each film. The Future of Food made me outraged with industrial agriculture and ready to lash out, partially through King Corn I felt sick to my stomach and sad for grain fed cows--it kills them! Fuel makes me want to drive a diesel car and fill it with bio-diesel, even though I don't have a car in the city, and 180° South was adventurous and inspiring.

The Future of Food offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled U.S. grocery store shelves for the past decade. From the prairies of Saskatchewan, Canada to the fields of Oaxaca, Mexico, this film gives a voice to farmers whose lives and livelihoods have been negatively impacted by this new technology. The health implications, government policies and push towards globalization are all part of the reason why many people are alarmed about the introduction of genetically altered crops into our food supply. Shot on location in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, The Future of Food examines the complex web of market and political forces that are changing what we eat as huge multinational corporations seek to control the world's food system. The film also explores alternatives to large-scale industrial agriculture, placing organic and sustainable agriculture as real solutions to the farm crisis today. The Future of Food reveals that there is a revolution going on in the farm fields and on the dinner tables of America, a revolution that is transforming the very nature of the food we eat.

King Corn is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. In King Corn, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, nitrogen fertilizers, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America's most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat -- and how we farm. 

In Fuel, director Josh Tickell takes us along for his 11 year journey around the world to find solutions to America's addiction to oil. A shrinking economy, a failing auto industry, rampant unemployment, an out-of-control national debt, and an insatiable demand for energy weigh heavily on all of us. Fuel shows us the way out of the mess we're in by explaining how to replace every drop of oil we now use, while creating green jobs and keeping our money here at home. The film never dwells on the negative, but instead shows us the easy solutions already within our reach.

180° South, inspired by pioneering outdoorsman Yvon Chouinard's freewheeling 1968 van trip to Patagonia, South America, a band of bliss-seeking surfer-mountaineers sets out -- in 2007, by boat -- to remake the journey in this adventure documentary. Jeff Johnson and his buddies hug the coast, stopping at the Galapagos Islands and Easter Island before arriving in Patagonia -- a region that's still breathtaking but is now besieged by environmental threats.

Breaking Ground of GroW on the Vern

This Saturday, September 18, we broke ground on the new garden on the Mount Vernon Campus. The first thing that needs to be done is to shovel brand new topsoil into the three-tier bed structure. We had wonderful volunteers from GW's Community Service Sorority, Epsilon Sigma Alpha, Living Learning Program- Green Earth Year, and of course Food Justice Alliance members. All shoveled their little hearts out. Good thing it was a beautiful day. We also had some much needed help from Mount Vernon's Facilities Team! Thanks so much Tony Dillard for lending us your guys!

Peek-A-Boo Sunflower

Much to my surprise the squirrels didn't find all of the sunflowers seeds that I planted in the garden this summer. Going along with the general trend of the garden this summer, the sunflowers my loving friends dubbed them..a little gothic. Instead of being sunny and yellow, like most sunflowers, mine are red, orange, and kind of brown. It's almost fitting, to go along with the brown cucumbers, mint green zucchini, deep purple kohlrabi, and radish-like beets.

The first photo was taken on Thursday afternoon and the second was taken on Saturday morning.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

We finally have broccoli!

So I planted these little broccoli plants last March and I never hardened them off, like a good gardener should do in the early Spring. I thought, when they keeled over and played dead, that they were goners, but lo and behold, DC was blessed with an unusually warm Spring. They grew and grew all summer thanks to that warm Spring, but to my dismay, that warm Spring spited them all summer. In order for broccoli to fruit, the temperature at night must drop significantly and then rise again during the day. It wasn't until yesterday, a full 7 months since I planted those seedlings, that I noticed a tiny broccoli tree. FINALLY.

These are the Before Pictures

The GroW on the Vern Garden is finally taking off! These photos are purely for documentation purpose, so everyone can see how far the garden has gone. Soil is being delivered today, plants and trees are coming next week. Stay tuned to see all the major changes!

Just imagine these beds filled with flowers, shrubs, herbs, and trees -the trellis covered with muscadine grapes and the wall grid with hops.

If you are interested in helping the garden come to fruition, email, we need all the help we can get!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Out with Summer in with Fall

This weekend a bunch of volunteers came to the garden to help transition from Summer crop to Fall. We pulled out all of our dying cucumber plants to make way for hearty greens and radish.

We also pulled the seeds from one of our marigold blooms to sprinkle around the bed. Marigolds are a great natural pesticide too.

Also, our pumpkin and squash plants are coming in small, but strong!

The muralists who are going to be painting a mural on the white wall behind the garden came to volunteers and get to know FJA members. They helped us plant seeds in trays and transplant coneflowers. Thank you Albus Cavus muralists, can't wait to see the wonderful work you will be doing in our garden!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

GW is totally becoming more food friendly and healthy! Diane Robinson Knapp, partner in crime to President Steven Knapp, is revealing her best kept secret to a few lucky undergraduates. She has a Master's in Nutrition from Cornell, and is sharing her wisdom on healthy eating in her very own kitchen on F St. With help from her chef, Robert, who learned his ways at the Culinary Institute of America, Diane is covering everything students need to know about eating on campus with a healthy mindset to creating their own dishes in campus size kitchens.

This is the first semester that Diane has held this kind of event series and it's full for now, but stay tuned for the next installment of Eating Healthy at GW!

For more info, email

FJA Leaders Volunteer at Sweet Virginia

Our returning Food Justice Alliance members have been working extra hard to make the beginning of this year big. As a Labor Day excursion we trekked to Gainsville, VA, to spend the day with Beekeeper Dan and the Sweet Virginia Bees.

While on the farm, we built and painted future honey bee homes. It's important that they are assembled tightly and painted meticulously, so that water, intruders, and wind don't get in.

Per Labor Day tradition, we had a FEAST of delicious end-of-summer fare, veggie burgers, sweet corn, snap peas, melon, berries, tomato & mozzarella salad, watermelon, and grilled peaches!! YUM.

Then...we played with bees! This time of year, they need to be fed. Seeing as we have taken their winter store of honey for ourselves, beekeepers feed their bees starting in August, about once a week until mid-November, then every few weeks until February. Feeding keeps the bees strong and healthy through the winter, so they can have a head start early Spring. The syrup that beekeepers feed with is usually just sugar water.

When a beekeeper opens a beehive, she first smokes the bees with a smoker. The smoke, which is just dry leaves, grass, and sometimes twine, calms the bees who's job it is to guard the hive. We don't want them thinking that we are attacking them, just poking around a little, making sure all is well inside the box.

Philanthropist Dan, who donates all honey proceeds to charity, also has a Love Through Zinnias Program. He grows hundreds of Zinnias, arranges them in vases, and gives them to hospital patients. We helped Dan pick Zinnias and he let us arrange them and take some home.

All in all, a wonderful Labor Day, filled with sun, fun, and good company.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Garden Volunteers

In-coming freshman participating in the Community Building Community Program volunteered in the garden last week.

They helped weed, harvest, and rip out plants to make room for our fall crops. All of the students were incredibly helpful and enthusiastic, it was a pleasure for Melissa and I to host and work with them. 

We had lots to give to Miriam's Kitchen

Check out these beautiful juicy tomatoes!

Garden Volunteers

The Office of Summer Session is continuing to send us wonderful volunteers every Friday morning. Here we have Andrea and Danielle. Andrea's favorite summer dish is Caprese Salad and Danielle's is fried chicken. 

Andrea and Danielle helped weed, pick vegetables, and water the beds. 

Our tomatoes are finally ready!

And of course there were a MILLION cucumbers

Fellow FJA member Sarah helped out picking the tedious and enormous lemon basil plant.

Most exciting though is the good news that the peppers and eggplant are ready to be picked!

What's Cookin'

Ricotta Goat Cheese and Herb Stuffed Squash Blossoms w/ a Balsamic Reduction

A number of weeks ago Melissa, Sarah, myself and some of our friends got together to experiment with the blossoms from our squash plant growing in the GroW Community Garden on H street. Blossoms are tender, delicate and have a hint of floral sweetness. They are easy to prepare and make a nice presentation.

There are various ways to prepare the blossoms, but a simple and favorite way of mine is to stuff them with a good cheese and then gently pan fry them. First, you want to very carefully open up the top of the flower and with tweezers, break off and remove the stamen, the long pointy thing inside the flower, which is very bitter.

I find it helpful to gently blow on the petals to help separate them from one another before trying to remove the stamen.

Stamen free
For the filling we mixed together goat cheese, ricotta, a generous handful of  fresh lemon basil, salt and pepper. But any soft cheese and herb mixture would be great. Another variation I would like to try is ricotta, freshly grated Parmesan, lemon basil, some lemon zest, salt and pepper.

The cheese and herb mixture can either be spooned into the flower or piped in. I find it easiest to fill a plastic bag with the mixture and snip off one corner to create an opening for piping. 

Fill the flower to the top

Then take the petals and wrap them together to seal the blossom so that the cheese mixture doesn't ooze out while cooking, though some will.

Here is where we made a mistake, we did not dredge the stuffed blossoms in a bit of egg before pan frying them. However, I would suggest doing so! Dredge the blossoms in egg and shake off the excess, then place the blossoms in a skillet with hot olive oil. Let them brown lightly on both sides. You can stop at this point and serve immediately as is, or you can drizzle with a balsamic reduction like we did.
Simply heat balsamic vinegar and a bit of sugar in a sauce pan until it is reduced and thick like a syrup.
Then drizzle it over the blossoms and enjoy!