Southside Community Gardens project member Laurie Rosenberg, a faculty member at Northampton Community College (NCC), sent us information about several food preservation short courses she and Kelly Allen, another NCC faculty member, will be offering this summer at NCC’s Fowler Center in Southside Bethlehem.  These courses will be great opportunities for community gardeners to find out how to preserve their produce.

Here are the details on the courses.

CAL-8159 – DEMO: Local Food in Your Freezer
This class explores the basic how-to of bulk freezer storage. Participants will investigate freezing strategies with a focus on shopping locally and seasonally. We will discuss which freezers are most conducive to household use and which storage containers won’t break the bank.
Thursday, 07/08/10,  6:00 PM-9:00 PM
Cost: $49.00

CAL-8161 – DEMO: Saving Summer’s Bounty through Canning – Jams and Preserves
This is the first in a series of canning sessions offered by instructor Laurie Rosenberg who has over 15 years of experience canning safely. This course will guide you through USDA approved safe methods. Discover the simplicity and joy of home canning.
Tuesday, 07/27/10,  7:00 PM-9:00 PM
Cost:  $25

CAL-8162 – DEMO: Saving Summer’s Bounty through Canning – Pickles
This is the second in a series of canning sessions offered by instructor Laurie Rosenberg who has over 15 years of experience canning safely. Save money and eat locally. Provide high quality food for your family.
Tues, 08/03/10, 7:00 PM-9:00 PM
Cost:  $25

CAL-8163 – DEMO: Saving Summer’s Bounty through Canning – Relish and Chutney
This is the third in a series of canning sessions offered by instructor Laurie Rosenberg who has over 15 years of experience canning safely. Always wanted to try canning but nervous about starting? This course is for you.
Tuesday, 08/10/10,  7:00 PM-9:00 PM
Cost: $25

CAL-8164 – DEMO: Saving Summer’s Bounty through Canning – Salsa
This is the fourth in a series of canning sessions offered by instructor Laurie Rosenberg who has over 15 years of experience canning safely. This course will guide you through USDA approved safe methods. Great gift ideas will be offered.
Tuesday, 08/17/10, 7:00 PM-9:00 PM
Cost:  $25

To register, head here and enter “freezing” or “canning” for the search terms.

In the meantime, if you are looking for a place to buy fresh, locally grown food on Southside Bethlehem, as well as a way to support area farmers, be sure and visit the Bethlehem Farmers’ Market, held at Lehigh’s Campus Square on Thursdays from 12 – 4 p.m. The Market’s Opening Day, which marks the beginning of its ninth season and its fifth at Campus Square, will take place tomorrow, June 17th. The Market will be open through September 9th. Check out the current issue of the Bethlehem Farmers’ Market Newsletter; it includes information about the market, its vendors, and opening day activities, a recipe for Strawberry Shortcake, a coupon, and much more.

We hope to see you at our next First Friday Potluck, July 2nd, beginning at 6 p.m.

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A reminder that Lehigh University’s South Side Initiative welcomes Maria Rodale, who will present on “Organic Food: A Manifesto for the World and the Southside.”  This event will take place on Monday, March 29th, from 11:30-1:30, and will be held in Room 200, Linderman Library, on the Lehigh University campus. The lecture is open to the public and lunch will be provided.

Maria Rodale’s book, Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe (2010) will be available for a reduced price of $12 at the Lehigh University bookstore until Monday.

Head here to learn more about Maria’s book, and here to learn more about Monday’s lecture.

Please join us for this presentation and discussion of how to apply Organic Manifesto to our local food systems!

And here’s some further (local) food for thought:

The farm-to-table food movement is another exciting development in the growing effort to support local food economies, one that is directly related to other ideas discussed on our blog and at recent events, including new possibilities for farmers markets, the benefits of community gardens, and health and nutritional concerns, just to name a few. Further, it is a philosophy that some government officials would like to expand to large-scale food economies. In early March, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg went so far as to suggest that the entire country needs to adopt a “farm-to-table approach” in order to ensure the safety of our food before it reaches our tables, rather than relying on after-the-fact recalls. Members and friends of the Southside Community Gardens project, as well as like-mind people interested in strengthening the resources for buying local and supporting area farmers in the Lehigh Valley, should take a few minutes and search out some of the many resources available on the web in order to learn more about the farm-to-table discussion. A simple google search of “farm to table” quickly yields links for co-ops, collectives, non-profits, and other groups committed to this movement across the country, from Pittsburgh to New Mexico to Montana to Austin, Tex. In fact, just this weekend (March 26-27, 2010) an annual event is taking place in Pittsburgh, put on by Farm to Table Pittsburgh (FarmToTablePA.com), a collective source for supporting the local food economy in the Western Pennsylvania region. Here is an article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about the 2010 event, which could be a model for future activities sponsored by the growing local food community in the Lehigh Valley.

Farm to Table Event in Pittsburgh

Below is a summary of the Southside Community Gardens meeting from Monday, March 22nd:

There is still the possibility that two locations – one on the Lehigh campus and a roof top garden at Broughal Middle School – will be added to the Southside Community Gardens project.  John Pettegrew is in talks with the appropriate people at both Lehigh and Broughal Middle School, and will have an answer soon.

There are several important dates to keep in mind in April: on April 6th, there will be an informational meeting at the Banana Factory from 5:30 – 7 p.m.; and there two tentative dates – April 17th and April 24th from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. – scheduled as “work days” to get the gardens ready so that they will be running by mid to late May.  We need to have all plots spoken for by then.  The City of Bethlehem will be committing resources (trucks, man power, tools, compost, etc.) on both of those days.  We will let you know when those days are finalized.

If you didn’t see it at the blog yet, follow this link to sign up for your garden plot.

We have settled on a fee of $10 for each person to pay to signify their commitment to work a plot.  There will also be a form to sign at a later date; for now, signing up here at the blog secures your spot.  Together, the fee and the contract will ensure that the people reserving space are committed to working their plots.  The fee will go into a petty cash fund for each garden.  In fact, we hope each garden will soon begin to establish its own organizational structure, with someone serving as the coordinator.  This person will keep the petty cash, which can be applied towards the first expenses each garden encounters.  Additionally, we hope the people at each garden will establish a call or e-mail list, so everybody can stay in touch and coordinate their efforts as the need arises.

We are all in agreement that a fence is necessary at Ullman Park at least – a light would be an additional deterrent to vandalism – and John Pettegrew is still trying to determine the best way to find the resources for a fence if Bethlehem is not able to provide one.  Each garden will have raised beds, and we hope to designate them with some form of signage – our logo if nothing else – that indicates the location is part of the Southside Community Gardens project.  While Bethlehem will provide some tools on the designated work days in April, these will not be kept at the park for future use, and Jessica Stuart asked if the SCG group would be providing tools.  Even though several ideas were suggested in response to her concern, this seems to be one area that will require further discussion and consideration if indeed all the gardeners at a given site are lacking tools.  Possible donations from area businesses, such as Cantelmi’s, Dan Schantz, Lowes, and Home Depot, would be one avenue worth exploring.

The necessity of soil testing was debated, and still seemed up in the air.  Several people attending the meeting didn’t find it necessary, especially since the beds will be raised and since Bethlehem is providing compost.  Further, Amanda Tamburro, an environmental engineer, suggested that testing could make our project more problematic (and full of legal entanglements) if the ground is found to be contaminated.

Martin Luther King, Jr., if it is not full already, may fill up quickly.  We hope to know more after Ann Evans and the other people leading this garden site have a meeting at Holy Ghost Church on March 25th.  Conversely, Roberto Clemente is the park where the least interest has been shown thus far.  John has suggested the possibility of having a group garden there the first year, the produce from which would go to a good or productive cause, with the hope that the people from the Lynnfield housing development take an interest next year; or we could try and organize a pot luck dinner at the community center to raise interest in the park for this year.

A group of graduates from the Citizen’s Academy is trying to get a new farmers market going on Saturdays on Sand Island.  More news on this development will be forthcoming after they meet in early April.

Finally, if you are interested in our project, but concerned that you have little gardening experience, we do have the ability to consult with Master Gardeners from Penn State.  As they are required to volunteer a certain number of hours per year, getting help and guidance from them should not be difficult.  In the meantime, there are a series of links in the blogroll to the right under “Sustainable Gardening” – including links for SUN*LV and the American Community Gardening Association – which should be a good starting point.  Many of us are new at gardening ourselves, so please join us in this learning process, and do not let any concerns about inexperience dissuade you from planting a garden with us on Southside Bethlehem this Spring!  There are exciting developments afoot in the local food, community gardening, urban agriculture, and sustainability movements, both in the Lehigh Valley and across the country, and we hope, working and digging together, the Southside Community Gardens project can become a vibrant local piece of these interconnected, largely grassroots-based activities.

Please check back here regularly for event announcements and updates, for discussion of our community gardening project, and for links to articles, books, and other discussions of urban agriculture, sustainability, and the local foods movement – or join us on Facebook (search for us under “Southside Gardens” or click on the link to your right)!

And don’t forget tonight’s showing of The Garden. For full details, check out this flier, or scroll down to the posts below, where you can watch the trailer for the documentary film.

Sincerely,

Blaine

southsidecommunitygardens@gmail.com


Here’s a grant opportunity for Farmers Markets announced by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition that seems particularly relevant in light of recent discussions at Monday night’s Southside Community Gardens meeting and Wednesday night’s screening of Fresh, and which also brings to mind Tim Will’s work in Appalachia.  As explained in the announcement, this year the Farmers Market Promotion Program is emphasizing, among other things, the need to bring new farmers into direct marketing venues and to improve access to local food in rural areas, priorities that complement other ongoing efforts, including Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative to eliminate childhood obesity and the USDA’s Know Your Farmer Know Your Food Campaign. Please share this grant opportunity with anyone you think might be interested in applying, or who knows somone who is.

Farmers Market Grant Opportunity Announced