Wednesday
Oct192011

Transition Town . . . Are You Interested? 

Have you heard of Transition Town?   For a quick overview try the Wikipedia entry and follow the links if you'd like more information.  Here in Huntsville, Michele Sneed of The Farmhouse is gathering people who are interested in all aspects of the Transition movement.  I went to a "mulling" meeting last night to listen to conversations begun a few weeks ago about starting a group here in Huntsville.   They've set up a blog at TransitionHuntsville to get things rolling. 
     There are no hard and fast 'rules' for being part of Transition, the movement is very grassroots and local in focus and development.  Right now the group is thinking about how to express the Huntsville idea of transition.  Brainstorming a bit, we tossed around

Resilience, Local Solutions, Sustainability, Healthy Food, Community Building, Strengthening Neighborhood Relationships, Sharing Wisdom, Scalability, Preparedness, Skills Sharing, Connectedness, Regeneration/Regenerative

    Lots of great ideas and thoughtful discussion on what this all means in the 'culture' of Huntsville.  We have so many great engineers and artists and writers, from all continents and viewpoints, so many established and brand new subdivisions and neighborhoods, I look forward to seeing how Huntsville 'transitions' into the future!

By Shannon McBride

Tuesday
Oct042011

Green Drinks joins with Food Policy Council this month to talk about food.

This month, Green Drinks, a monthly meeting of environmentally friendly people, will combine with the Food Policy Council in their mission to promote clean, healthy, high quality food in our area.
Join us at the Casa Garden Pavilion (adjacent to the Huntsville Botanical Gardens)
4747 Bob Wallace Ave. Huntsville, Al.  35805

Education Committee member Nicole Castle will speak to you about the Food Policy Councils mission and their first campaign “Buy Local”. 

Local food samples will be provided and soda will be made on-site with the environmentally friendly Penguin Soda Maker.   You are welcome to bring beer or wine to this event.

About Green Drinks

Huntsville Green Drinks is an organization for those interested in sustainable living. They meet monthly to share their interest and expertise with like-minded individuals, and help to build a community movement where ideas and knowledge can be freely grown and shared.

Their stated purpose is to provide a venue and opportunity for individuals to informally network and learn about the many green happenings in the Madison County community.  Individuals should feel free to drop by as their schedule permits and stay for as long as they desire.  Meetings are often but not always at local restaurants. Eating and drinking are optional.  Come learn about various topics such as green building, eating locally, environmental education efforts in local schools, local green businesses, etc.

Learn more about the local node or Green Drinks around the world at these sites:

http://www.greendrinks.org/AL/Huntsville

http://www.greendrinks.org/


Sunday
Aug212011

Panel Discussion: “Local Foods: How to Grow Our Wealth & Green Our Health”

Panel Discussion
August 27th, 2011
Noon – 1 PM, Murray Hall
as part of Green U at the Botanical Gardens

A panel of presenters will speak to: Why Eat Local? Where Can I Buy Local? What Do all these Labels Mean? What is on/in My Food & How Can I Tell? Nutrition and Local Foods. Plus there will be time for questions. Panel members are all members of the North AL Food Policy Council Steering Committee including Kathryn Strickland, Community Food Security Director, Food Bank of North Alabama; Lee McBride, Foodscapes, Inc.; Karen Wynne, Organic Farming Consultant; Rebecca Sterling, Sterling Health & Wellness, Inc.
Two complementary workshops will also be held at Green U in addition to a Farmers Market and “local food” cooking demos.

“Fall Foodscaping”

Lee McBride of Foodscapes, Inc. will discuss edible landscaping and stealth gardening
techniques for the autumn season.
9:30 AM – 10:15 AM, Murray Hall

“Clean Green Eating: Healthy Choices”

Rebecca Sterling of Sterling Health & Wellness will expand upon health, local foods and nutrition at this complementary workshop.
1:15 PM – 2 PM, Murray Hall

 

 The North Alabama Food Policy Council Steering Committee is a coalition of citizens dedicated to the development of a chartered Food Policy Council to aid and advocate for a locally based, self-reliant & sustainable food economy accessible to all. www.nafoodpolicycouncil.org.

 

Thursday
Aug112011

Local Farmers Speak: the Opportunities and Challenges We Face

Panel Discussion 
August 16th, 2011 at 5 pm
320 Fountain Circle
City of Huntsville Engineering Building

 

 

Here’s a chance to know your farmer, know your food! The North Alabama Food Policy Council steering committee is hosting a panel of local farmers and ranchers to give a portrait of opportunities and challenges facing Alabama farmers. Panelists include:

 

Ed Rains, whose family farmed in Jackson County starting in the 1900’s until national agricultural policies and the S&L banking crisis impacted his family farm in the 1980’s.   

Joey Dye
, whose family farms 25 acres in Madison County of vegetables ranging from purple hull crowder peas to patty pan squash. They sell directly to consumers at the Madison County Farmers Market and family-run farm stands.

Henry Fudge of Fudge Family Farms raises heritage Duroc hogs – perhaps the only ones of their type still in existence today. Fudge raises his livestock outside in open pasture and sells to esteemed Alabama chefs including Frank Stitt of Highlands Bar & Grill and James Lewis of Bettolla. He also sells to local restaurants including The Ledges and Pauli’s Bar & Grill.  

Don Spencer, is transitioning some of his land holdings – 75 acres out of commodity (corn and soy) production to local foods.  His innovative plans include operating a regional food hub, an education initiative and on-farm restaurant.  

Dairus Jacobswhose family has been farming for over 100 years despite multiple moves due to eminent domain. The family operates a diversified farm raising grass fed Black Angus while experimenting with Indian vegetable staples and aquaculture.

A brief North Alabama Food Policy Council Steering Committee meeting will follow the panel discussion.  All are welcome.

***

The North Alabama Food Policy Council Steering Committee is a grassroots coalition of citizens dedicated to the development of a chartered Food Policy Council in North Alabama to aid and advocate for a locally-based, self-reliant & sustainable food system accessible to all. 

Help improve our local food system by joining these grassroots efforts!www.nafoodpolicycouncil.org.

Monday
Jul182011

Community Gardens

According to the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA), a community garden is a piece of urban or rural land gardened by a group of people. They vary in sizes and operation. Some gardens rent plots or raised beds to community members for their personal use – other gardens like the CASA Community Garden in Huntsville are operated by nonprofits which work with volunteers to grow food for specific populations like seniors. Agarden’s benefits are countless – including beautification, food security and opportunities for exercise, recreation and social interaction. 

According to KT Patrick Bothwell’s recent article on community gardening in Huntsville, “If there is access to water, plenty of sun and a willing landowner, any space can feasibly be turned into a community garden.” Many community gardens “use a space that would otherwise be vacant to produce something bountiful instead, often food!” (Find Bothwell’s article at http://www.hsvgreenlink.com/blogs/2011/2/24/the-green-mirage-on-winters-desert-community-gardening-in-hu.html ).

The WE Community Gardens in the West End neighborhood of Birmingham is a shining example of neighborhood reclamation and revitalization. In addition to raised beds leased to community members on an ability to pay basis, the garden hosts cooking classes, cook-offs and other fun, food celebrations. Their future plans include a Curbside Market and community cannery. To see a slideshow of the WE garden, go tohttp://www.vimeo.com/22002602. The initiative began when the Community Church Without Walls in partnership with Urban Ministries not only made a vacant lot available but also created two garden staff positions. 

Community gardens that survive over the years tend to have either paid staff or highly motivated, dedicated volunteers. Everyone wants to garden in the spring, but when the heat of summer sets in and the physical labor becomes demanding, many stay home. There is constant pressure from weeds and insects. People leave for vacation, and other worthy programs compete for volunteer time.

Volunteering at a local community garden like the CASA Garden is an excellent first step before committing to developing a community garden. Each Saturday morning CASA offers learning and volunteer opportunities in the garden located on Bob Wallace Avenue next to the Botanical Gardens. To contact CASA of Madison County, call (256) 533-7775 or email info@casamadisoncty.org. .

For a list of community gardens in Huntsville, visit http://www.hsvgreenlink.com/storage/Community%20Garden%20Resource%20List.pdf  and for more information about community gardens visit: http://www.communitygarden.org/learn/

 

Community Gardens Toolbox & Resources