Spring Sampler

It’s been a long time since I blogged, and people have started to notice. “People” being certain members of my family, who last week spontaneously burst out chanting “BLOG BLOG BLOG BLOG” like a bunch of rowdy, blog-thirsty hooligans. (In my defense, I did write a post last month for FoodCorps MS.)  It was also great seeing these weird, wonderful folks in Boulder for Sam’s graduation.

Candid.

Candid. (photo courtesy of Sara Kohn)

 

And I got to see my BFF! She's a smartie in med school.

And I got to see my BFF! She’s a smartie in med school.

 

Spring has been busy, y’all, so I’ll spare you the details and just give some of the highlights. March, April, and May have been full of spring planting and garden celebrations. Recently, I’ve been working with the owners of Foot Print Farms, Dr. Cindy Ayers and her husband Ruben, to get their produce into Magnolia Speech School. Not only are they inspiring mentors for me, but they’ve also been incredibly generous. They helped me build raised garden beds at the school and even brought in a truckload of soil from their farm.

Building the raised beds.

Building the raised beds (April 24)

Fresh red leaf lettuce from Foot Print Farms.

Fresh red leaf lettuce from Foot Print Farms.

 

To celebrate Earth Day, Whole Foods sponsored a garden party at my school! We painted, planted, and ate snacks.

Planting okra, watermelon, and beans. My floppy hat helps me hide my identity.

Planting okra, watermelon, and beans. The floppy hat helps me hide my identity. (photo courtesy of Liz Broussard)

Ms. Jessie

more vegetable stamps

More vegetable stamps (photo courtesy of Liz Broussard)

Kiddo hands + herbs.

Kiddo hands + herbs. (photo courtesy of Liz Broussard)

And in just a month, the garden has grown a ton!

Raised bed gardens and close ups of the cukes. Bottom right is our "Southern 3 Sisters" bed: okra, beans, and watermelon.

Raised bed gardens and close ups of the cukes. Bottom right is our “Southern 3 Sisters” bed: okra, beans, and watermelon.

In other news, roller derby bout season kicked off on April 5 with a home game, and we traveled to Huntsville, AL a few weeks ago for another bout. So far, we’ve lost both our games, but played well and had fun. I love being part of this team of awesome women. I’ve been out for a couple weeks due to a knee injury, but I’ll be back this weekend for our next home game.

Booty blockin'. Photo courtesy of Rhett Amick.

Booty blockin’. Photo courtesy of Rhett Amick.

 

In mid April, I traveled to Austin for FoodCorps midyear gathering and the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference.  This was the most casual conference I have ever attended, but with the coolest group of attendees–farmers, educators, gardeners, chefs, etc. Claire, Rebecca, Mariel, and I stayed a few extra days, which we basically turned into a food-cation.

Members of the Austin High School garden club proudly showing us their school garden. If only I had been so self aware at such a tender age!

Members of the Austin High School garden club proudly showing us their school garden. If only I had been so self aware at such a tender age!

Okay, maybe not the best food photo, but these authentic Mexican food truck tacos were the bomb dot com.

Okay, maybe not the best food photo, but these food truck tacos were the bomb dot com. Also, full disclosure: I was NOT a vegetarian during this week.

 

4 days after we got back, Claire and I drove 6 hours to Nashville, slept 5 hours and then ran the Nashville Rock and Roll Half Marathon.  That may have been a poor choice, but the $100 we paid back in January was non-refundable. Plus, it was kinda fun. Sorry, there is no proof that this actually happened. You’ll just have to believe me.

And since this blog is called Eat. Grow. FERMENT., here are some pictures of foods that are fermentin’ up in here.

On the left: golden beets and purple cabbage with arame (seaweed) and green cabbage with carrots, cumin and caraway seeds, and dried chilis. These were inspired by Hex Ferments in Baltimore and Fermentation on Wheels.

On the left: golden beets and purple cabbage with arame (seaweed) and green cabbage with carrots, cumin and caraway seeds, and dried chilis. These were inspired by Hex Ferments in Baltimore and Fermentation on Wheels.

And we made homemade sourdough pizza crusts at school! We put some fresh herbs from the garden in the dough and on the pizza too. The kids loooved it.

And we made homemade sourdough pizza crusts at school! We put some fresh herbs from the garden in the dough and on the pizza too. The kids loooved it.

 

Thanks for reading, folks! The next time I post, I will have chickens living in my back yard. Stay tuned!

Future chicken home!

Future chicken home!

Back in Boulder

Boulder, sweet Boulder.

Boulder: land of dreadlocks, perfectly pulled espresso shots, cycling, and recycling.

 

I’m back in Colorado for the first time since I graduated college in May 2011.  I’ve been hiking, seeing friends and family, and enjoying the novelty of 0-5% humidity (I forgot that sweat can actually dry!). Maybe it’s because I’ve been removed from the city for a couple years, but Boulder somehow seems even more green and hippie-friendly than I remember. My fermented foodie dream came true when I discovered that they have kombucha on tap at the local Whole Foods (the flavor of the day was “wild root”). Sam and I also enjoyed yerba mate and vegan carob chip cookies at the Yellow Deli, a restaurant owned and operated by an obscure religious sect. Needless to say, Birkenstocks, Tevas, and Chacos abound.

Unsurprisingly, food activism thrives here in Boulder. Through a mutual friend, I met one of the founders of Boulder Food Rescue, an incredibly forward-thinking non-profit that redistributes food “waste” to homeless and low-income populations. But even in this seemingly hyper-aware and informed city, there is a long way to go to creating a completely sustainable food system.  What does this mean for Mississippi?

For one, I’m sure Mississippians won’t have the haughty–and often hypocritical–attitude of many Boulderites when it comes to lifestyle choices. But at the same time, I wonder how receptive Mississippians will be when it comes to making dietary changes that incorporate more whole, healthy foods. Rebecca Rosenthal (check out her FoodCorps blog here), a fellow Jackson FoodCorps service member and one of my future housemates (!!), puts it perfectly:

“When you know first-hand the dramatic benefits of eating a consistently healthy whole foods diet, it’s easy to fall into “preaching” these habits to other people without any concept of reality or of other people’s preferences and needs.”

Like Rebecca, I want to avoid being preachy. But as a newcomer to the South, how can I adapt my teaching plans and my own understanding of health to Southern culture and attitudes while also accounting for Jackson’s distinct socio-economic reality? I have a lot to learn, and I’m hoping that the FoodCorps Orientation which I’ll be attending in Portland in about a week and a half will answer a lot of my questions. I will definitely be posting about that later!

In the meantime, I still have about a week left in Colorado, leaving me plenty of time for more vegan treats, fermented effervescent drinks, mountains, and thin, dry air.

Hikin' in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Hikin’ in Rocky Mountain National Park.