20140501-EatwellSm

Pasta, Peas, Potatoes & Pesto
may 12, 2014 (click here for just the recipe)

We've had some rainbow striped bowtie pasta hanging around the house for a while now and this recipe from Eatwell Farm was the perfect way to use it. Pasta, potatoes and pesto are already favorites of my children, so as expected, they ate this dinner up. The pesto recipe is different than what I'm used to: rougher textured but just right in this case. 

Eatwell Farm has been supplying my immediate family with food for as long as we've been a family. I first subscribed to their CSA long ago when my roommate, Jill, and I lived in an apartment off Haight street, during the first dot com boom. Back then the box was actually a basket, filled with more fruit and vegetables than we could eat in a week. Every Thursday evening one of us would pick it up from a neighbor's garage on our way home. Jill rode a bus from Marin, where she worked for a company that produced fabric for Jerry Garcia's line of neckwear. I rode my bike or the N-Judah from Montgomery street, where I worked for an Internet start up that "handled the world's email".

Our friend Rosanna worked for the now infamous San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners, or SLUG. She had come out west before I had and was discovering a new way to eat at home in the evenings, while trying to save the world through gardening during the day. She talked excitedly about Farmer Nigel Walker and Eatwell Farm, where he grew produce without using toxic chemicals and took good care of the land.

For a modest price, she told me, we could subscribe and have good food to eat all year long. As an added enticement, even the personal details of life on the farm were exciting. Not only did Nigel grow crops, but he was also growing a family. Twin sons had been born and they all lived in an old school bus parked in the shade of poplar trees planted between the fields.

Today the twins are in high school and Nigel has moved out of the bus and into an earth covered home with a beautiful kitchen, from which his partner Lorainne creates recipes like this one for the farm's CSA newsletter. They sell certified organic produce and eggs from pastured chickens, a variety of flavored salts, sugars and my favorite soda, called Drinkwell Softers.

As for the rest of us: Jerry Garcia's ties live on, but SLUG and my start up are gone. However, both of those industries are alive and well. We all know how much more a part of our lives the Internet and email have become since the late 1990s. And while SLUG's model of educating and employing individuals through gardening and greening projects wasn't successful, a similarly themed surge in school and community gardening programs has occurred.

Two of the many organizations supporting school gardens today in San Francisco are Urban Sprouts and Education Outside. Both provide garden teachers for SFUSD public schools and offer programs that support faculty and parents. My own children's school garden is a beautiful paradise of flowers and food, where science and nutrition are taught almost every day by an Education Outside Corps member. It is my favorite part of the school and frequently their favorite part of the day.

In a move to include adults in this gardening trend, the city's Department of Recreation and Parks recently added an Urban Agriculture Program, seemingly in response to SPUR's 2012 report on expanding the use of public land for urban agriculture, called Public Harvest. The Urban Ag program plans to share resources with residents, increase agriculture related collaboration between agencies and help manage the city's community gardens.

Not only do all three of these organizations have the potential to bring a great deal of beauty to our city, but I hope they will also expand residents' ability to grow, cook and eat fresh food. Organizations like these are also poised to help adults and children understand why buying food from farms like Eatwell is the right thing to do - for our own personal health, that of the environment and of our communities. Saving the world through gardening...now that's something I can get excited about!

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