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Get the dish on news, events and announcements related to sustainable food.

A True Pot Head

D.J. Herda's new book From Container to Kitchen tells us the ins and outs of container gardening.

Cities are growing denser and growing space is hard to find. From window farming in Brooklyn to a proposed mobile garden in Chicago, gardeners have gotten creative. Whether it’s bottles, bathtubs, boots, or bookshelves; in your kitchen, on your roof, or dangling from the fire escape, D.J. Herda’s new book From Container to Kitchen, shows how container gardening can virtually be done almost anywhere in almost anything.

This is Herda’s second book on container gardening—the first one, published in1979, received little recognition (Alas, “People weren’t ready for it,” Herda says.). Now, with advanced technology, adapted plant varieties and a need for low cost food, the time is ripe for potted plantings.

Our seasoned and spunky gardening guru, guides us through the crevices and cracks of container gardening—choosing the right pot, ensuring adequate lighting, soil pH and nutrients. Herda’s book offers ideas, humor, home remedies for pest and disease management and “recipes for success” on growing different fruits and vegetables in each chapter. While Herda’s gusto for container gardening borders obsession (“From morning to night I am surrounded by pots”), it’s contagious and will have you mapping out spare space for a dwarf peach tree. And maybe some tomatoes...and basil…and why not a cabbage or two…?

Patriotic Planting

In the 1943 Jame Burdett's Victory Garden Manual urged Americans rekindle a tradition of the past and grow their own food. Once again, let's heed that call.

Our friend Wing recently sent us a copy of Victory Garden Manual that he found while antiquing in Sellwood. Published in 1943, its author James Burdett wrote:

“At present market standards have nothing to do with tenderness, flavor, or the nutritional qualities of fresh vegetables. They are concerned only with appearance and are based on preference of buyers, which in turn show ignorance of the points which should control the selection of these important foods.”

This may sound like a common contemporary cry: our food system has shifted to place priority on the durability and appearance of produce, rather than quality and freshness. We’re removed from the roots of our food. Burdett, wary of this growing distance, saw a clear solution—one that he had seen flourish during World War I—Victory Gardens.

As expected of a 67-year old book, sexism rears it’s head (i.e. the woman in the “kitchen department,” and the “husband gardener” may have trouble seeing eye to eye when planning a garden), and misguided ideas of pest management (“cover the plants with a vapor of lethal liquid”), but, Burdett’s cry to “never abandon a practice which gives so much of exercise, recreation and good health to all who follow it,” strike the same chords we sing today.

So, once again, let’s heed Burdett’s call. In the name of our patriotic victory gardenin’ predecessors, it’s never too late to propagate a plot of your own. Do it for your well being, do it for fun, do it for Fourth of July?

Here are some recent and regional recommendations to get you started:

Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades by Steve Solomon

Seattle Tilth's Maritime Northwest Garden Guide by Carl Elliot and Robert Peterson

This Little Blueberry Went to Market

We know that eating locally and sustainably is healthier and more environmentally sound, but there is not a lot of hard data out there to prove it.

Well, the Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota has jumped on the food cart in search of some numbers. They assessed the impact of different growers who sold products directly to consumers, through distributers and finally, intermediary supply chains. Five different products were examined in five cities and Portland’s burgeoning blueberry industry was included in the study.

UM researchers tracked three blueberry paths: Hurst Berry Farms selling to an anonymous mainstream grocery store, Thompson Farms who sells berries directly at farm stands and farmers markets, and Nature’s Fountain whose blueberries make their way to several different New Seasons.

Among the information harvested, the study found that:


-         The Hurst Berry Farm’s blueberries traveled 115 miles to market, whereas the Thompson’s and Nature’s Fountain’s went 10 and 70 miles respectively.

-         The producer of the Hurst berries received 26.8% of the sales revenue after all the packing, transport and retail costs where as Nature’s Fountain captured 46.4% and Thompson received 73%.

So get out there, savor berry season and shorten your berry supply chain! For information on local berry farms visit Tri-County Farm Fresh Produce.

Portland’s Provisions

Liz Crain, Portland food writer, blogger, and eater extraordinaire claims that “the folks that make food happen” are “my tribe.” Crain reveals the tribe’s secrets in her new book, Food Lovers Guide to Portland, in bookstores on July 1.

Next time you’re caught in the headlights of edible possibilities, check out this comestible compendium. Spliced into three sections: food, drink and resources, and broken down further by food type (bakeries, cheese, food carts, meat, frozen sweets, etc.), the guide delivers the low down—history, specialties, stories—on Portland produce, potables, and provender. Crain’s book celebrates and commends the efforts of independent entrepreneurs, food artisans, and growers that contribute to a lively local food culture in Portland.

Crain has written about Portland food and drink since 2003 and says her book is intended “For people who live here and travelers who pop into Portland for a short trip.” Welcome to the tribe.

Book Launch Party:
Fortune Tattoo, 1716 East Burnside St., Portland, OR
Thursday, July 1st — 6-9 p.m.

Bringin’ Ag to the Mag

Urban Farm CoverWhat do Portland, Detroit and Philadelphia all have in common? According to the Spring issue of Urban Farm, these cities are all paragons of an urban agriculture renaissance.

In an article on the conflux of the green space and urban agriculture movements, Urban Farm (downloadable at prominently features Portland’s work to increase residents’ access to sustainable food. The piece highlights the work of local non-profit, Growing Gardens, who, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, have connected over 700 low income families with the tools, resources and mentorship needed to grow their own food.

This is the third issue of Urban Farm and its managing editor, Lisa Munniksma, says, "We've seen the urban gardening and sustainability movement ramping up in the past few years and there hasn't been a magazine for people who want to live self sufficiently, especially in the city and suburbs."

Chock full of ideas and stories, Urban Farm is a great resource for beginning or established urban farmers. Read about successful fruit gleaners, the philosophies of ecopsychotherapy and lawn reformists. Get tips on foraging, raising livestock, wine making, setting up a healthy yard-sharing partnership, creating low maintenance water systems and container gardens.

The fall issue of Urban Farm will be out on August 3. The magazine’s website hosts additional information, but the local food listings, however, are on the slim slide. The sole listing for Oregon CSA providers is a Seattle farm that doesn’t deliver to Oregon. But, don’t fret—you can check out our newly updated farmers market page, google map and all, for details on where to find local food any day of the week. Stay tuned for listings and a map of all Portland CSAs coming soon!