Friday, March 30, 2012

Share your stories and recipes with us!

The St. Francis AgriCulture Exchange is looking for recipes, cooking and gardening tips, and short stories/vignettes that have inspired you, your family and/or your health.  

Remember, you may not have a recipe, but a story from your Mom in the kitchen, your Grandfather in the garden, a funny joke about gardening/health/eating, an experience with food/cooking, a shortcut in the kitchen or garden, or a lifestyle change that has improved your overall health….we want to hear about it! 

The Exchange plans to collect submissions and create an inspiring anthology, giving recognition to contributors.  The book will be sold to the public with all proceeds going to the St. Francis Community Garden.  Specific guidelines for recipe submissions are below:

  1. Must be an original recipe (not from a cookbook or from the internet).
  2. Recipe should not contain ingredients from processed sources (i.e. canned soup, canned biscuits, boxed crackers and cookies).
  3. Recipe should incorporate at least one fruit, one vegetable, or one herb (i.e. berry banana smoothie, tomato pie, ginger marinated Portobello mushrooms, savory sage chicken).

Submissions are due by April 5th, 2012. Though we may not be able to incorporate all entries, we truly appreciate every submission in support of the Community Garden!  For more information, please contact Natalie Dougherty at 255.1326.   

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bon Secours St. Francis AgriCulture Exchange

Some of you may have noticed a change in the name on our Facebook page.  The St. Francis Community Garden is only one of Community Ministries’ programming and outreach efforts in sustainability.  We also mentor and support other gardens; offer assistance with environmental questions; help set and achieve the St. Francis Green Team’s ecological goals; help plan the health system’s Earth Week activities; and teach about sustainable living, gardening, healthy food preparation and food preservation.

To better represent our scope, we’ve rebranded as the St. Francis AgriCulture Exchange.  We recently finished a vision statement that we believe reflects our goals and philosophy:

The St. Francis AgriCulture Exchange provides leadership in sustainability and collaborates with community partners to educate the greater Greenville community in gardening, environmental stewardship, and healthy food preparation and preservation. We welcome the exchange of ideas, strategies and resources that encourage development of a healthy food culture and secure local food system.   

We’ve also created of list of our current programs:

Community Garden Program:  We manage the St. Francis Community Garden and support the Odessa Street Garden.  Expansion plans for 2012 include the addition of berry bushes to all gardens, financed through the generosity of the Greater Greenville Master Gardeners and Trees Greenville, and the incorporation of other gardens into our mentoring program.

Agricultural Education Program:  Our Sustainability Specialist and other experts teach classes on topics such as garden design, organic gardening techniques, backyard homesteading, season extension, herb and fruit propagation, seed saving and seed starting.  We also are supporting the development of urban farms, beginning in the Sterling Community.

Sustainable Living Program:  Our Sustainability Specialist and other experts teach classes on healthy food preparation; food preservation (drying, canning and freezing); “green” home cleaning and personal care products; and sustainable practices.  

This year, we’ll be announcing new events that will raise both program funds and community awareness.  We hope that you will join us in celebrating our transition from a community garden to a community support system focused on collaboratively creating a vibrant, healthy, local food system in Greenville.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Choosing Our Seeds: Part 2

The last blog post highlighted three great seed companies.  With this post, we’ll describe other interesting options.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive directory; it’s just a list of seed companies we know and love.

Sow True Seed
A favorite regional seed company is Sow True Seed in Asheville.  They carry many heirloom and certified organic varieties that grow well in the southern Appalachian Mountains and the piedmont area (where Greenville is located).

Sow True only sells untreated seeds, which means that no fungicides or other chemicals have been applied to them.  All seeds also are open-pollinated (as opposed to hybrids), which ensures that when the purchaser saves seeds, the resulting plants normally look and taste like the originals.

Seed Savers Exchange
Seed Savers Exchange, located in Decorah, Iowa, is a leader in locating and resuscitating heirloom and historically-significant varieties of vegetables, flowers and herbs.  SSE publishes a beautiful catalog with botanically accurate names and vivid descriptions of plants and fruits.  A favorite of mine is their McMahon Texas Bird Pepper, a variety grown by Thomas Jefferson, which can be dug up, wintered inside, and replanted outside the following year.  

If you join SSE (for about $40/year, or $25 for those on a reduced or fixed income), you receive a 10% discount on each order and a copy of their Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook, which lists nearly 14,000 varieties of seeds owned by members.  Its intent is to encourage seed-sharing and to connect people who have similar growing interests.

If you want a catalog where you don’t have to search for the organic seed designation, take a look at High Mowing Seeds, a small operation in Vermont.  100% of their seeds – over 600 varieties - are certified organic and non-genetically modified.   

Peaceful Valley Farm Supply
Peaceful Valley offers a line of private-label, organic seed.  One advantage of ordering from them is that they also sell other brands of seed (Renee’s Garden, Horizon Herbs and Seeds of Change), allowing you to purchase from several companies with one order form and one shipping charge.

Horizon is the ultimate seed catalog for high-quality, organic herb seeds, herb plants and tincturing supplies.   The most beautiful plants I’ve ever received were shipped by Horizon from the west coast, one of which was a horseradish plant that’s been shared with many friends over the last few years. 

Do keep in mind that the companies we’ve covered in both blogs sometimes have very different prices for comparable varieties of seeds.  Always check the number of seeds or weight of packets when you are comparing companies’ prices.

If you have any other companies you think we should know about, please share their information with us in the “Comments” section below.  It’s time to curl up on the sofa with those beautiful catalogs and a cup of hot chocolate or eggnog!