Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Recipe: Erin's Mustard Greens Slaw

A great way to enjoy these spicy greens.

1 bunch mustard greens, chopped
1/4 - 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 T. dijon mustard
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste

Mix well, chill, and enjoy!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Action Alert: Please send an email!

After years of work, Denver's City Council recently passed an overhaul to the city's 54-year-old zoning code. It was a huge undertaking, and we thank them for their work.

For the last several months the Council has been delaying any discussion of a new Food-Producing Animals ordinance until the zoning code passed. Now, the time has come! Sustainable Food Denver will begin working with someone at zoning in July to draft a new FPA ordinance, and eventually City Council will vote on it.

Now is a good time to check in with your councilperson and let them know that you are interested in seeing this issue move forward. Please take a moment to send an email to your councilperson (email addresses are below).

Please put something about supporting chickens & dwarf goats, sustainable food, or Food-Producing Animals in the subject line.

In the body of the email, please be sure to thank your councilperson for passing the new zoning code, then talk about why you would like to see them support a new ordinance making it easier to own chickens & dwarf goats. Feel free to share all of your own ideas, but here are some talking points if you need them:
  • Chickens and dwarf goats allow families to have access to affordable, healthy food
  • The animals raised in factory farms are treated terribly, are fed antibiotics, and sometimes produce contaminated eggs and milk. Backyard FPAs give families a way to opt out of that system.
  • Hen chickens (no roosters) and dwarf goats are not smelly or noisy if cared for properly. If there is a problem with improperly cared-for animals, we can apply our existing animal laws to address the situation.
  • Most of the food we consume in this country travels an average of 1,500 miles to reach us. That system is unsustainable and very costly to the environment, and we need to develop local food systems to produce more of our food in urban areas.
  • Many cities (like Portland, Seattle, Sante Fe) allow chickens & goats as a use-by-right (meaning you can own them without a permit).
  • Our current permitting system is needlessly expensive and time consuming. It penalizes people who wish to produce healthy food for their families.
  • Our current permitting system is not respectful of individual property rights. It is currently allowed for a Denver resident to get three dogs (even 150 pound dogs) with no permit and no input from the neighbors. Food-Producing Animals are much smaller, quieter, and have less of an impact on the neighborhood environment.

Be sure to include your address below your name when you sign the email -- it's important that your councilperson knows that you live in their district.

If you don't know your council district, you can click here to enter your address and find out. Here are the email addresses for each councilperson:

District 1: Councilwoman Sandoval -
District 2: Councilwoman Faatz -
District 3: Councilman Lopez -
District 4: Councilwoman Lehmann -
District 5: Councilwoman Johnson -
District 6: Councilman Brown -
District 7: Councilman Nevitt -
District 8: Councimwoman Madison -
District 9: Councilwoman Montero -
District 10: Councilwoman Robb -
District 11: Councilman Hancock -
At-Large*: Councilman Linkhart -
At-Large*: Councilwoman Boigon -

*Everyone can write the At-Large councilpersons!

Please contact me at sustainablefooddenver[at] if you have any questions. Thank you for your support of Food-Producing Animals in the city!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Bikeloc Potluck with Grow Local Colorado

Wednesday, July 7th
6:00 - 9:00
The Grow Haus (4751 York Street)

These guys are cool. Robert DuBois and Aaron Zueck (both UNC grads, by the way) are cycling across the country, attending potlucks and sharing stories about the local food movement. They want to bring people together to talk about food, over food. The name of their project is Bikeloc, pronounced Bike-luck -- one part bike, one part local, and one part potluck.

Grow Local Colorado is organizing a potluck event so our local food community can welcome Robert and Aaron when they ride through Denver. Guests are invited to bring food and beverages made with ingredients from local growers, local breweries and local wineries or from recipes by local chefs, highlighting Colorado products. It is a zero waste event and guests are encouraged to bring their own plates, silverware, glasses and napkins.

For more information, go to the Grow Local website or the event's Facebook page. You can learn more about the Bikeloc project on their website.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The First Day of Summer

Tondo Scuro (round) zucchini.

Filming for "The Urban Conversion"

I wrote before about The Urban Conversion TV pilot, and their plan to come and do some filming with Heirloom Gardens. They were here for the whole day last Thursday, filming goat milking, chicken coop cleaning, turnip thinning, neighbor-chatting, worm feeding, salad harvesting, and lots of other good stuff.

It was a great experience. I had a lot of fun talking about urban agriculture, and TUC crew was just terrific. Many thanks to Rodman, Tim, Colin, Christine, and Vidar for making this TV newbie feel comfortable.

Brian took a few photos of the day. Click here to view the slideshow. Also, this is a pilot for a potential show --TUC has to sell the show to a network in order for it to air. If you want to help support their efforts to give urban ag a broader audience, click here to join their Facebook page. Lots of Facebook fans help translate into a larger audience in the eyes of the TV folks.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Colorado Matters Interview

Many thanks to the folks at Colorado Matters, including Ryan Warner (the host) and Shanna Lewis (the producer) for inviting me to talk with them about Food-Producing Animals in the city. We discussed why someone would choose to keep animals in the city, our current permitting process and why it needs to change, and what we'd like to see happen.

As a bonus, I brought some fresh goat milk for Ryan to sample, and I got to talk about why someone who wants to live the way I do would choose to live in the city instead of the country.

Click here to hear the interview on Colorado Matters. Thank you, CPR!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Seattle is trying to ENCOURAGE Urban Agriculture

I admit to doing a double-take when my friend Judy posted this article. Sometimes it seems that we all have to overcome obstacle after obstacle in order to promote sustainable urban food systems, so seeing the words "City wants urban farms, more chickens" is like a dream come true.

It looks like Seattle is joining the ranks of other places (like Kansas City) that are moving to allow on-site selling at urban microfarms. They also want to allow 4,000 square foot urban farms in residential zones, increase the height limits for urban greenhouses, and increase the number of hens allowed from 3 to 8.

All of this is in an effort to "encourage small-scale farming and increase the city's local food system." Wow. Way to go, Seattle!

Click here to read the article.

Food-Producing Animals on Colorado Matters this Friday!

I just finished taping an interview with Ryan Warner for Colorado Matters on Colorado Public Radio. He wanted to talk about the keeping of Food-Producing Animals (hen chickens and dwarf dairy goats) in the city, and the work Sustainable Food Denver is doing to change our restrictive FPA ordinances.

The conversation was lots of fun, and Ryan Warner was wonderful to work with. The interview will air this Friday (June 18th) on Colorado Matters at 10am and 7pm. You can listen at 90.1FM or stream it live at

Monday, June 14, 2010

Recipe: Kale Chips

My friend Shannon introduced me to kale chips, and for that alone she has my undying affection. Let's face it -- sometimes it's hard to eat your greens. Try as we might, there's often only so much sauteed or steamed kale that one can consume.

Kale chips change all of that. The picture on the left isn't mine -- it was taken from the web. This is because I always eat all of my kale chips before I remember to get the camera. Kale is a wonderfully nutrient-dense food, and I can eat a whole bunch of kale in a few minutes when it's prepared as chips.

There are as many ways to prepare kale chips as there are cooks. I'll share my basic recipe, but you should feel free to experiment!

You'll need:
1 bunch kale (you should use organic if you can, because kale is one of The Dirty Dozen)
olive oil
Optional: nutritional yeast, onion powder, and/or cayenne powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse kale. Strip the leaves off the stems and cut into bite-size pieces. Place the kale pieces in a large pyrex baking dish (like a lasagna pan). Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Stir the kale chips to lightly coat the pieces with the oil.

Place the pan in the oven. Bake for 20-22 minutes, stirring every once in a while to keep the pieces from sticking. You want to bake the kale until all of it is crispy, like a light chip.

After kale chips are done, you can sprinkle with nutritional yeast, onion powder, cayenne, or anything else you'd like. They're also delicious with just the olive oil and salt.
I've found that some people dry their kale leaves after rinsing them (before cutting them up), and that reduces the cooking time significantly.

My friend Charmaine has a cooking blog called Speakeasy Kitchen, and she wrote a poetic little ode to kale chips.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Support Chickens & Goats: Meet with your Neighborhood Organization!

If you've been following Sustainable Food Denver on Facebook, you know that we have plans to start drafting a new Food-Producing Animals (FPA) in July. Denver's current FPA ordinance has many problems, and it is difficult for those who want to produce healthy, sustainable food for their families to do so without a hassle. We want to propose something that would make it easier to raise hen chickens and dwarf goats in the city, while following current laws regarding animal noise, odor, and nuisance.

The opportunity to work with Zoning to craft a new ordinance is great news, but it is critical that we get the City Councilmembers on board (otherwise, even a wonderfully written ordinance will fail). Many Councilmembers have said that community/constituent support is key to them, and the Registered Neighborhood Organizations (RNOs) are the driving force in most communities.

We need people to volunteer to meet with their RNOs and talk about the keeping of FPAs in the city. There are just so many RNOs, and there's no way that I could cover all of them myself. Plus, the RNOs are more likely to listen to their own residents (instead of an outsider).

You don't need to be an expert -- or even know anything about FPAs in the city -- to volunteer. If you're willing to help, here's what you need to do:

1. You need to attend a 1-hour training meeting. We'll give you everything you need to know in order to talk to your RNO, including talking points, answers to FAQs, photos, etc. Send an email to sustainablefooddenver[at] and let me know which of these training times you can attend:

Friday, June 25th at 9:00am
Saturday, June 26th at 3:00pm
Tuesday, June 29th at 6:00pm

(All trainings will be held in NW Denver. You'll receive the address when you register for a training.)

2.  When you come to the training, let me know which RNO oversees your neighborhood. If you don't know, you can go here to enter your address and look it up.

3.  After the training, you (plus anyone else who's signed up from your neighborhood) will contact your RNO and make plans to present at their next meeting.

Please send me an email if you're able to help. Hopefully, through the efforts of all the Sustainable Food Denver supporters, we'll be able to build community support and educate people on the appropriateness of raising FPAs in the city!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Food for Thought

Article in the Denver Post that features some of our fantastic local organizations -- like Feed Denver, Revision International, and the GrowHaus -- and talks about what they're doing to bring healthy food into food deserts.  Urban Gardens Germinate Seeds of Better Health in Denver by Karen Auge.

A great article about the work DUG is doing in Grist. Denver Busts Urban Farming's Yuppie Stereotype by the  Breaking Through Concrete Team. (honestly, I think I have far too much dirt under my fingernails to qualify as a yuppie!)

My dad lives is Kansas City, and he passed this along to me. The City Council is considering an ordinance that would allow city gardeners to sell their homegrown produce at their properties. The Grow Local folks are working to get a similar ordinance passed here it Denver. It would be a tremendous step toward increasing the availability of local food, and promoting a sustainable food system. Read the editorial in the Kansas City Star: Kansas City Council Should Give Residential Gardens a Green Thumbs Up.

The truth about what happens to any eggs (even organic, "free range" eggs) when they're processed through a large system, and why it's better to buy directly from a small farmer. Why You Don't Want to Buy Organic Eggs at the Grocery Store on

The U.S. House of Representatives has just introduced a new school lunch bill, and Colorado schools are staying ahead of the curve by working to bring from-scratch cooking (instead of just opening cans and reheating frozen foods) into our school kitchens. Colorado's K-12 Meals Get a Made-From-Scratch Makeover by Karen Auge for the Denver Post.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A New American Gothic

(Amelia and Joy striking a pose during a Big Dig.)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

More Fun with Planting

A few more photos from our recent planting adventures. These were taken when we were working at Sharon's garden (i.e. "the lake garden"). This little lake is tucked away in east Wheat Ridge, just a few minutes from my house in NW Denver. Truly a beautiful place to be!

Planting tomato seedlings in the trenches.

What a lovely view!

Everyone working together on the bean bed.

Some of our fantastic HG workers (clockwise from bottom left): Manny, Chad, Amelia, Lindsey, Melody, Joy.

In the News: Huffington Post (Denver)

Derec Shuler is running for the Colorado State Senate in District 34 (NW Denver). Although Derec isn't a stereotypically progressive candidate (he's a fiscally conservative libertarian), he does care quite a bit about sustainable living issues.

Derec walks his talk, too -- he owns chickens, bees, rabbits, and grows some of his own food. He and his lovely wife, Camille, have been strong supporters of Heirloom Gardens and attended several of our classes.

I enjoy my friendship with Derec in part because he reminds me that people with seemingly disparate views can sit down together and have a friendly, informative chat. Before I had even heard of the Coffee Party Movement, Derec and I were meeting for coffee and talking for hours about the things that are important to us.

Derec was interviewed by The Huffington Post, and he mentioned Heirloom Gardens. Click here to read Derec's interview.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Urban Conversion

"What happens when you take a conservative city slicker, and drop him into an 'extreme green' off-the-grid lifestyle? You get The Urban Conversion! There is currently a national movement to create a sustainable homestead type living in an urban environment. And in the world of urban homesteading for dummies, Rodman Schley is the ultimate dummy."

Rodman is also a terrifically nice guy (as is his producer, Tim) who is sincerely interested in promoting the cause of sustainable living. Rodman figures that since he owns seven (!!!) businesses he has a pretty big carbon footprint, so it's part of his responsibility to figure out how to tread a little more lightly.

Rodman is creating a TV series called "The Urban Conversion." In addition to being entertaining (hence the conservative-guy-milking-a-goat shtick) he wants to educate people about urban homesteading and sustainable living techniques, showing how the can use a little of what they see in his show in their own lives.

Rodman and Tim are scouting ideas for the pilot and subsequent episodes, so they dropped by our little homestead for a visit. It was pretty spur-of-the-moment, so I didn't have time to make things pretty for their arrival, but they got the gist of things. Click here to view some of the photos from the visit (plus a sneak peak of the gigantic Lowell garden!).

If you'd like to learn more about The Urban Conversion, you can click here to visit their website.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Planting the Gardens

We worked for 3 weeks during May to get all of our hot season (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, summer & winter squash, cucumbers, and basil) seedlings, plus bean and chard seeds, planted in the gardens. It was a lot of work, but yet another incredible example of what can be accomplished by a group working together. I don't have exact numbers for all of the plants, but I know that we have around 1100 tomato plants in the ground, and some 500 (each) peppers and eggplants. Whew!

Here are some photos from our planting day at Kirk's garden. Many thanks to Courtney for snapping these pics with her phone (I was preoccupied with loading plants into the car, and forgot to bring my camera).

Getting ready to plant tomatoes. We've dug our trenches, sprinkled in the compost, and marked the spacing...

Ta-da! Tomato plants in the ground! Those are all actually pretty large seedlings, but we bury them up to the top crown (hence the trenches) so that the plants will develop an extensive root system.

Planning for our next bed.

Seneca and Betsy planting the eggplants. They're using the stick to measure the correct spacing between plants.

Eggplants in the ground!

Fun with camera angles! Even though we're supposed to be planting (i.e. nurturing plant life), I switch gears into "kill" mode and dig up a few dandelions to clear room for the seedlings.

Thecia showing off the proof of her work -- tell-tale gardener's hands.

HuffPost: Top 10 Mistakes Made by Farmers Market Newbs

A cute little article from the Huffington Post. My favorite "mistake" is the first one: Arriving too late. Trust me -- the produce (and the folks selling it) looks better earlier in the morning, and there's much more to choose from.

Click here to read the article.

In the News: Washington Park Profile

Paul Kashmann wrote a fantastic piece for the Washington Park Profile about our industrial food system and some of its alternatives -- namely CSAs and NSAs. I'm especially happy to see my fellow NSAers Kipp Nash, Debbie Dalrymple and Candice & Jon Orlando mentioned in the article (along with Heirloom Gardens). Go, Urban Ag!

"The food delivery system in the good 'ol U.S. of A. just ain't what it used to be. And if you ask a lot of folks, it ain't what it ought to be either. Not all that many generations ago our nation was a largely agrarian society..."

Click here to read the full article. If you enjoy it, please email the Washington Park Profile to tell them how much you appreciate their coverage of this issue!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Recipe: Fresh Herb Vinaigrette (or Marinade)

We're almost always blessed with a bounty of fresh herbs in our gardens. This has become my favorite salad dressing. You can mix and match a variety of herbs, depending on what you have on hand.

1 oz. fresh herbs (tarragon, savory, thyme, parsley, sage, and/or basil)
1 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons water
1/4 to 1/2 cup vinegar (to taste)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
pinch black pepper
pinch cayenne powder
dash of Bragg's Liquid Aminos or soy sauce (opt)

Rinse herbs and remove any brown or tough stems. Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend. Adjust seasonings to taste.
For a great marinade, just omit the vinegar.

Uses for Lemon Mint

Lemon mint is one of those things that grows beautifully, but it's not always clear how best to use it in the kitchen.  Erin, one of our wonderful working members, did some research and came up with these ideas:

Stuff into the cavity of chicken before roasting; good for poultry, lamb & pork stuffing; marinade for fish; tea (especially with honey); substitute for lemon peel in recipes; vinaigrette dressings; add to fruit salads, green salads, smoothies, egg dishes, custard and soups.

Thanks, Erin!

Farmers' Market Discount for Volunteers!

Do you want to learn organic gardening techniques, work outside, and spend time with fantastic, interesting people? Come volunteer with Heirloom Gardens!

We're looking for volunteers to contribute time to our gardens in NW Denver. You can help with garden maintenance, harvesting, CSA preparation, farmers' market selling, and more! Plus, if you volunteer 10 hours a month, you'll receive a 25% discount on all Heirloom Gardens produce. So, if you contribute 10 hours in June, your discount will begin in July (just in time for the bounty of summer veggies!).

To sign up as a volunteer, go to:

and click "Join this Meetup Group"

Once you join you'll have access to our calendar of events, and you can RSVP for anything that interests you. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rappin' to "I Want a Goat"

So, apparently there's a classic hip-hop spoof called "I'm on a Boat." I've never seen it, but it's the basis for this spinoff, "I Want a Goat."

The video was created by a woman named Debbie, who spent 6 months in some of the poorest villages in India. Debbie saw how a goat could literally change the life of a family -- or a whole village. Debbie is working to establish "goateries" in these villages with great success.

One big caution... this video carries a "Parental Advisory." Elephant Journal called it "explicit lyrics for a good cause." It's a hip-hop spoof, so there's plenty of use of the m----- f------ phrase. Not suitable for kids.

But, if you adults aren't offended by the profanity, it's a good video -- and a great cause.