There are many good things in Orlando and wanted to share one program with you that encourages all of us to be healthier and walk more—the Orlando Walks Project.
Orlando Walks Project
As an avid walker it has been great to see more areas around Orlando where walking is made easier by adding new sidewalks through the Orlando Walks project. One street– Cole Road off of Corrine– in particular was finished this week. This finished sidewalk made my day, as before it was completed the street did not have a sidewalk on and had a curve—- so many times cars could not see me in the street no matter what direction I walked. I often had to jump into someone’s yard at the last minute. Now I can safely walk this street to get to the shopping area on Corrine. Thank you, the city of Orlando for making my day!
Orlando Walks Project
About the Orlando Walks Project:
Keeping Orlando moving continues to be a priority for Mayor Buddy Dyer. Providing multiple alternatives such as transit, bike and pedestrian forms of transportation will offer all those who live, work and play in Orlando options for getting around the City. This offers a variety of affordable alternatives to having a car and connects more of our residents with access to jobs and opportunity.
To support this priority, the City is committed to providing a safe, comfortable and connected pedestrian system. The City’s Orlando Walks Sidewalk Project focuses on establishing an interconnected sidewalk network that helps to improve public safety and to encourage active healthy living. In an effort to maximize funding and more quickly complete sidewalk gaps, the City elected to seek additional outside funding opportunities and received a Federal grant to fund the current phase of sidewalk construction.
Mark made this dish for us in Colorado after another day of hiking. This is a beautiful fall weather dish! (Even if you’re in Florida and it’s not cold!)
1 lb box whole wheat pasta
1 butternut squash, cubed
5 tbsp EVOO
½ white onion, chopped
1/3 cup flour
1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp rosemary
dash red chili flakes
dash of sage
nutmeg to taste if desired
salt & pepper to taste
Place 2/3 of the cubed squash into a medium/large pot, cover with water, and lightly salt. Boil until tender enough to puree.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, simmer chopped onions, 3 tbsp EVOO, salt, bay leaf, 2 pinches of rosemary, red chili flakes, and black pepper. Sweat until onions are translucent.
While these are cooking, toss remaining 1/3 of cubed squash in 2 tbsp EVOO, salt, pepper, and remaining rosemary, then place on an oiled baking sheet. Cook in 400 degree oven until browned, flipping once.
When the pot of squash is done boiling, drain, then cook for a few more minutes on low heat to evaporate excess water, then transfer to the blender. Puree until smooth, set aside.
Start cooking pasta al dente.
In the pan of onion blend, add flour and whisk thoroughly until moisture is soaked up. Let this cook for a few minutes until light brown. Whisk in almond milk. Bring to a strong simmer, stirring often, until it thickens. Careful not to burn! Once it thickens, add pinch more salt, a dash of sage, and the pureed squash, mix, then take off the heat. If desired, add nutmeg to taste. This should be the consistency of an alfredo sauce.
Put sauce, roasted squash cubes, and drained pasta into a mixing bowl, then stir until coated. Put into oiled baking dish, top with cheese (vegan or dairy). Cover with foil, bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Uncover, cook for additional 10 minutes. Then switch to broil to brown the cheese for approximately 3 minutes.
This pairs well with a nice light salad and a fireplace!
While we were in Colorado, we went on a truly gorgeous hike to Emerald Lake in the Rockies. It was an all day excursion, and while we did bring snacks, we were ready for a hearty dinner when we got back home. Mark whipped us up this ridiculously good stew, and it really hit the spot.
4 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 medium white onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
rosemary, to taste
2 tbsp EVOO
salt, to taste
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans cannelini beans, drained
1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and chopped
crushed red pepper, to taste
Lightly simmer EVOO, salt, carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, and rosemary until onions are soft, stirring occasionally. Then add garlic, crushed red pepper, diced tomatoes, and beans. Stir. Mix in veg broth, then kale, stir. Bring to a full boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add more veg broth if desired. Simmer at least until kale is tender, but the longer it simmers, the more the flavors come out.
Make.Share.Do. is a weekend skill-sharing conference exploring homesteading, self-reliance, and interdependence. We have tapped into the vast knowledge and passion within our own community, and put together an exciting weekend packed with dozens of practical, educational, and social events. Whether you’re looking for an introduction to carpentry, canning, or beekeeping, or a more intensive exploration of fermentation or herbalism, Make.Share.Do. has all that and so much more. This will be a fun and fascinating event for committed homesteaders, as well as community members looking for tools and ideas to spark a more sustainable lifestyle. For more info:
Be sure to stop by and support your local artist this holiday season.
Sparkle December 6, 2015
Sparkle is an outdoor event featuring unique, talented, CF artists and their handmade goods at Dandelion Communitea Cafe. This event has free parking. Follow the Facebook event page and invite your friends: Sparkle Facebook Page
Inperennially water-starved Patagonia, Arizona, just 18 miles from the Mexico border, Gary Nabhan, well known as an author and ethnobotanist, farms a worldly array of desert crops that could make any food lover salivate. The harvest, more than 120 varieties strong, includes Sonoran pomegranates, Baja California Mission guavas, Winter Banana apples, amaranth, asparagus, globe artichokes, and even an arid-friendly Texas Mission variety of the infamously thirsty almond. His 5-acre farm, which he manages with his wife Laurie Monti, a medical anthropologist and professor of indigenous studies, grows these foods on precious little water — about 17 inches of rainfall a year, a dollop compared with the US-wide average of 28 inches.
Blending thousand-year-old desert crop varieties with water-saving approaches and farming techniques inherited from Moorish Spain, Africa, and indigenous North America, Nabhan’s modest arid plot offers a glimpse of how we could sustain ourselves in an era of chronic drought and increasing climate chaos.
A drought-friendly dinner “isn’t going to be any less delicious,” says Nabhan. Shifting what we eat could, in his view, mean a scrumptious revolution. During a phone conversation, Nabhan ticked off a tasty menu of other drought-friendly options: sea beans, Mesquite carob (good for diabetes), pistachios, figs, tepary beans, pigeon peas, quinoa, and soups and stews made with prickly pear cacti instead of the more water-intensive bell peppers.
In equally arid northern New Mexico, famed chef and author Deborah Madison surveys a hardscrabble terrain and sees another lush menu of possibilities. The Greens Restaurant founder, always scouting for new sustainable recipes in the garden and the kitchen, points to foods that “we are already familiar with, but haven’t tried growing as much” in recent times: Sonoran wheat. Quinoa. Red orach. Rattlesnake beans. Zucchini in multiple varieties.
One reason Nabhan is such a fan of these obscure food plants is that they’re adaptable. Like any plant, they like water; but when water grows scarce, these plants have natural methods of storing it, or thriving without it. Not so with the miles and miles of lettuce, strawberries, and other crops such as wheat (at least the modern varieties) that dominate the Western diet.
In California, the source of a full two-thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts, one-third of its vegetables, and nearly 20 percent of its dairy products, growers’ response to drought has centered largely on water conservation measures such as drip irrigation.
But Craig McNamara, the President of the state’s Board of Food and Agriculture, argues, “We’re going to have to change what’s for dinner.” Bespectacled and chiseled with a straight-combed silver mane, McNamara, who farms 450 acres of organic walnuts and olives in Winters, California, bears a striking resemblance to his father Robert, the former defense secretary who steered military offensives in the Vietnam War. Today, McNamara worries that California’s drought could topple the state’s agricultural primacy. “For the first time, I’m tremendously worried about where we are…I’ve never felt we are closer to collapse than I do today.”
Despite the “beyond painful” drought crisis, McNamara says the conversation about shifting crops is still at a whisper: “I’m not sure how much this is getting to farmers.”
About 180 miles south of Davis, near the town of Madera in the gut of San Joaquin Valley, organic vegetable farmer Tom Willey sees market signals pointing farmers toward more thirsty crops, not fewer. “I don’t see a headlong rush to more water-saving crops.” Even as the drought deepens and water supplies disappear, Willey says many growers are still moving into almonds, which have been much vilified lately for their heavy water demands (roughly a gallon per nut). In fairness, it should be noted that much of today’s almond acreage used to grow cotton, which is one of the plant world’s biggest water hogs. So while almonds do use a lot of water, California at least traded T-shirts for more protein.
On his 75-acre patch of land, Willey has a little more flexibility than the average farmer. He produces a “seasonal progression” of row crops — annual vegetable varieties such as squash, leafy greens, and peppers that can be shifted depending on weather, water and market demands. “We can act and react much easier than farmers with permanent crops” such as fruit and nut orchards, Willey explains.
The Drought’s Opportunities
On his small homestead farm in San Juan Batista, sustainable agriculture educator Jim Leap produced a prodigious harvest this year of dry-farm beans, corn, winter squash, and tomatoes on just 10 inches of rain (and no irrigation). Leap, who for 21 years managed a research farm at the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, points out, “I can’t superimpose that on farmers who are trying to make a living.”
Prior to the 1950s, when sprawling irrigation canal projects and increasingly globalized markets took hold, the Golden State produced a very different bounty — grains, sugar beets, potatoes, beans, dry-farmed apples. With the rise of California’s massive agricultural aqueducts came access to cheap irrigation water, which, coupled with lucrative new export markets, spawned an array of thirsty specialty crops. At present, there is no fast track back toward more drought-tolerant harvests.
Absent sweeping policy changes, more and more small farmers are bucking the trends. And, in this case, “the market” is leading the way. Thomas Nelson, who analyzes sustainable food markets for the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, notices a growing interest among chefs and farmers in harvesting drought-tolerant wild greens such as miner’s lettuce, wild mustard, bristly ox tongue, and black locust flowers. They may sound obscure, but these foods are increasingly popular among professional foragers and chefs at up-market restaurants.
“The market has a really push-pull dynamic,” he says. “One reason almonds have grown so big is because there was a big marketing push behind them. It becomes a self-perpetuating system.” Well, the same could be true for drought-tolerant heirlooms and other dry-farm fruits and vegetables. As Nelson points out, the booming niche market for heirloom tomatoes and salad mixes was just a glimmer 25 years ago.
Going dry and small
Back in the eternally dry Southwest, famed sustainable-foods chef and author Deborah Madison sees progress on the margins. “Some people are definitely starting to look at [shifting to water-saving crops]. Every agriculture conference I go to ties into these issues,” she says — “but I don’t think it’s happening fast enough.”
Much of the solution, says Madison, who founded Greens Restaurant (one of the nation’s premier vegetarian venues), lies in “hyper-local” farming systems that can provide a diverse food supply with greater adaptability to climate chaos. “The solutions depend on lots of hands, and smaller farms,” she says, and smaller economies of scale that enable attention to detail. “A lot of the changes we need, I don’t think big agriculture can do it.”
From his rain-deprived vantage point near the Mexico border, Nabhan makes a compelling case for scaling up desert crop varieties and time-tested farming techniques. What’s especially compelling to Nabhan is that these are not new ideas. The challenge, he says, is to “make certain that we don’t grow these in monocultures as we’ve done with other crops.”