On a bright, sunny day, Tucson took an important step toward Resilience

On a bright but windy day, 46 people from all over Tucson met to share delicious local food, share ideas, and take the next step to make Tucson more food resilient.

If you missed it, don’t worry. You’ll get other chances. There will be more.

After a tour of the garden of our host, Gary Vender, three members of the Food Resilience Project’s Champions Network outlined the objectives of the Food Resilience Project.

Paula Schlusberg gave a brief overview of the program and why it is important. Because companies around the world have adopted a “Just-In-Time” inventory system, Tucson has only a few days of food in all our stores. But we know that we can produce a lot more local food and build a strong community in the process. Food resilience can also allow us to tackle other problems, like aging in place and climate readiness.

Gary Vender gave a brief overview of how easy it is to grow lots of food in Tucson.

In a few hundred square feet of garden he grows hundreds of pounds of tomatoes and lettuce. Not only does he grow enough for his own family, but he shares it with many neighbors and provides lots of fresh food to the Community Food Bank. And the water bills are only $30-$40 per month.

Donya Meggs related her path to creating the first Neighborhood Resilience Team.

Even though she didn’t feel she had the time, her neighbors were able to help her dig and water her initial garden. Now that 5×5 garden is providing lots of vegetables and which she is now able to share. Their NRT started with a dozen people, and now they are planning a potluck, and garden exchange. And sharing the load makes it possible, even with her busy schedule.

After these initial presentations, and over the delicious food that people brought to share, there was a lively discussion of the many ways that we could work together to make Tucson more Food Resilient. The answers ranged from

  • * Seting up a garden exchange to share extra produce from neighborhood gardens, to
  • * Doing an inventory of food trees in the neighborhood, to
  • * Organizing a tour of some gardens in your neighborhood.

A more complete list can be found here.

The next step will be to find new Resilience Champions who want to take on the task of creating their own Neighborhood Resilience Teams. And to continue to develop the resources needed to help them succeed.

If you want to join us, our next meeting will be during the week of April 10-16. Contact Tres English <tres@feedingtucson.org> to get the details.

Next Step – Learning to Grow, Eat, and Share more delicious, local food

What if you could live in a neighborhood where

  • a rain-watered, Permaculture food forest shades our streets and makes them beautiful?
  • you know your neighbors because you often share delicious locally grown food in neighborhood potlucks and garden exchanges?
  • kids play and adults gather in neighborhood micro-parks created by the traffic-calming chicanes that create the space for that food forest?, and 
  • community gardens and commercial market gardens are widespread, and thousands of people are employed in creating a resilient local food supply?

 

The first steps to transforming Tucson into this Beautiful, Delicious, Safe, and Fun home starts with Learning to Grow, Eat, and Share lots of delicious, local food. You can take that first step on March 25 at the kickoff Community Potluck of the Food Resilience Project of Feeding Tucson /Sustainable Tucson .

 

The Food Resilience Project of Feeding Tucson is an initiative to encourage and help small groups of neighbors to form Neighborhood Resilience Teams that share local food, help each other garden, and much more. You can start one in your neighborhood, or help others who are willing to take the plunge now.

 

On Saturday, March 25 from 4:00 to 6:30, people from all over Tucson will gather to share locally grown food. You can bring something from your own garden, or check out these links to local Farmers Markets). You will find out how you can either start your own Neighborhood Resilience Team or join the Resilience Champions network to help others who want to try. You hear about the experiences of the first NRTeam. And you will enjoy a friendly meal made with lots of fresh local ingredients on a beautiful spring evening. (The potluck is near 22nd St and Country Club.)

 

Please let us know that you are interested by using this Doodle link. Or if you prefer, you can use this FaceBook event page. Even if you can’t attend, it will let us know you are interested. We will send you the actual address when we hear from you.

First Neighborhood Resilience Team kickoff

The Food Resilience Project supports small groups of neighbors who get together to enjoy locally grown food, help each other, and generally create a more cohesive local community. This is the report of the first Neighborhood Resilience Team.

The Arroyo Chico Neighborhood Gardening Collective (ACNGC) held our neighborhood kick-off event on Saturday, February 18th.  Twelve people attended, in spite of the blustering rainy weather, and we quite enjoyed ourselves! 

Our event included time to get to know each other a bit, an introduction to the ACNGC and why it was created, an overview of the Food Resilience Project (FRP) that we are part of, and sharing basic gardening information and resources.  Then we visited three gardens in our neighborhood, discussed specific approaches for each garden, and shared some of our delicious home-grown produce.  Neighbors were invited to schedule work parties to install home gardens with our assistance.  

We will be planning work parties and following up with each person who expressed interest in getting involved with the ACNGC or the FRP, as well as planning future neighborhood events.  In addition, two people from the adjacent Broadmoor neighborhood attended; and we have been invited to collaborate with their neighborhood as well. 

This was indeed a very successful kick-off to the Arroyo Chico Neighborhood Gardening Collective, and we look forward to working more with our neighbors!

 

 

 

What will it be like to live in a sustainable Tucson?

What will it be like to live in a sustainable Tucson?Part of our challenge to making this transition before we have no choice, is to really imagine what it will mean.

Sustainable Tucson took a small step toward understanding what that will mean with our Valentine’s Day Party and Creativity Workshop: “Love in the Time of Climate Change”. It was a social mixer plus brainstorming session. And we had chocolate!

The main activity involved a mashup between the Permaculture design tool called Random Association and the board game Clue. People worked together to create ideas for what we could actually do in our neighborhoods, all of Tucson, or this region to live more sustainably. Using over 120 different actors, actions, places and tools, representing Who (You, Elderly Neighbors, Kids, Local Businesses, Wildlife, etc.), Do What (Eat, Share, Ride, Cross, etc.), Where (Neighborhood street, Pocket park, Local business, backyard, etc.), and With What (PV panel, bamboo, chicanes, shade trees, garden, etc.), people came up with dozens of ideas for ways to transform their neighborhood or community into a more Beautiful, Delicious, Safe, and Fun place to be a part of. At the end, we all participated in the Dances of Universal Peace.

Another goal of the meeting was to recruit people for the new Sustainable Tucson initiative “The Opposite of Helpless”. This year, we will be exploring the “Hows” of making Tucson more sustainable, not just the “Whys”. It is critical that our ST Partners (that’s YOU) help organize these monthly meetings on topics ranging from “Aging in place and in community” to “Prioritizing Water for Food and Nature” to “Financing Sustainability”.

In the end, we can’t do this without you. Please look at this survey of upcoming meeting topics. If you have other ideas to suggest, please add them. If you find one that is important to you, please sign up to help organize it. This is a one-time, limited commitment, but it is really important that you get involved.

 

Resilience Champions Network – meeting notes

Meeting NOTES
Resilience Champions Network
Date: 10/5/2016
Location: Rincon Market
With: Josefina Cardinas, Javier Lopez, Jim Lootens, Donya Meggs, Jack Strassberg, Dusty Jacobs
Agenda:
Discuss w/ Champions: What are you hoping to do? And how can we help?
Organize ETSFestival signup

Summary:
Two Food Resilience Champions groups attended: Josefina Cardinas, Donya Meggs/Dusty Jacobs.
* Josefina has a neighborhood group with almost all pieces for a community garden, but there are internal conflicts that need to be overcome, in order to move forward.  Rcmd: Resolve internal conflicts (become NH President from VPres) and approach Ward 1 office to ask for assistance to move forward.
* Donya has a neighborhood group that is starting.  They are organizing a work party on Monday and can provide their flyer as blank form for other groups.  Their primary need is a cheap/free source of compost.  Work party on Monday (Oct 10) at 4pm at 2208 E 17th St.
Action: Javier L will connect them with source of sheep manure.  Jim L is master composter and will conduct training at later date.
* FRP will have a table at the Envision Tucson Sustainable Festival on Oct 16 to recruite potential Neighborhood Resilience Teams and Resilience Champions.
Action: Most people plan to participate.  Tres has prepared Doodle <http://doodle.com/poll/c27htrz5gcpqzn59> for people to choose times.

Actions:
Jim: Develop list of composting resources (TOG pamphlet, video on composting, etc.) and send to Tres
Tres: Create/add to FRP Information Portal information on how to compost in desert.
Javier: Will provide contact info on sheep manure

Raw notes:
Q: Is there interest in gardening in your NH?
JLoo: Not really.  Used to be.  Some discussion about restarting.  There may be a piece of property that could be used.

Q: Champions – What do you need?
JC: There is a garden on City property, but we need a NPO to sign lease with City.  Was working with CGT, but they have withdrawn.  Has talked with Regina Romero, but there are internal politics within NH.  Need to restart garden under NPO and it will get going.  There was conflict over gardening policy with CGT.  There are a lot of resources in place, but there is personal conflicts that are preventing someone from signing contract with City.
TE: Clear up NA issues and go to Regina’s office and ask what is next?  Send letter to NEST.

DM: 3 households, 4 people.  (DM, DJ, John Jorgenson)  On Monday, we are starting with a planting party.  Will purchase NS/S seeds and plant garden.  Are working on flyer.  Will be a distributed garden group.  Goal is to share work.  Distribute flyers and invite neighbors to see gardens.  A few kids and an elderly couple in area.  Can offer flyer.  Need compost.
Sources of compost: Tank’s Green Stuff will sell 1CY (you pick up) for $38.  Beryl Baker has small sheep herd and will gladly donate sheep manure.  TOG prepared a video on desert composting, and Jim is a Master Composter.  Javier has a 7 HP tiller that could be used.  Also a small tractor.
JLoo: ** There is a video and pamphlet on composting.  Could do class on composting, once DM are farther along
JLop: **  Will help ID manure sources.

DJ: Our neighborhood group is holding a work party at 2208 E 17th St, on Monday at 4pm

Food Resilience Project meeting notes (9/22/2016)

If you are interested in the next Champions Network meeting, fill out this Doodle link <http://doodle.com/poll/wkd2t3zhkzr9i5kp> and let us know your availability.  I will post the final date on the Feeding Tucson FB page.

Introduction
The global Just-In-Time supply system has left us entirely unprepared for disruptions to our local food supplies, and Global Climate Change threatens long term global food supplies.  Communities will have to produce a significant fraction of their food in the future.

Metropolitan Tucson receives roughly 85 billion gallons of harvestable rainfall and has over 100,000 acres of land without structures. In theory, we could harvest more water than utilities pump from the ground and produce more food than Tucsonans eat.

As a result, neither water nor land impose the least upper limits on the amount of food we can produce.  We do.  The process of increasing our food resilience will allow us to create a more cohesive community, beautiful neighborhoods and lots of delicious food.

Summary
Twenty four people from all over Tucson and surrounding communities participated in the kickoff meeting of the Resilience Champions Network.

Five individuals/groups volunteered to be the first Neighborhood Champions and try to organize Neighborhood Resilience Teams in their neighborhoods.

Winston Larkins – Needs information in how to set up community garden
Josefina Cardinas – Needs to form or partner with 501(c)(3)
Donya Meggs/Dusty Jacobs/John Jorgenson – Wants guidance on how to contact neighbors
Gary Vender – Volunteered after meeting
Steve French – Volunteered after meeting

Initial information/services to help initial Neighborhood Resilience Teams
Winston – Assistance in setting up community garden
Josefina – Set up NPO to allow to keep community garden.  (NEST Inc could be fiduciary agent)
Donya/John/Dusty – Ways to meet neighbors & organize teams
Information Portal – Community contacts
Develop FAQ
Sources of free compost – may be course in how to do NH composting (TOG has DVD on composting in Tucson)
How to set up harvest potluck
How to set up work exchange
How to set up determine group’s capacities
How to set up buying co-op
How to set up community garden
Create template for flyers to announce kickoff meeting
Develop skills assessment tool for new groups – may be able to get ideas from former PRO Neighbors staff (Judith Anderson, Joanie Sawyer)

Additional issues
We need to set up several ways to communicate with people – email, FB, phone
Potential information source – FoodIsFree.org
Ask for answers to questions about what we want to do to help NRT

Future tool kit elemets
Need video on Gardening 1 (not even 101) – DM will check CFB
Develop tools for networking contacts

Minutes of Food Resilience Project Working Group

Minutes of Food Resilience Project Working Group
7/15/2016

Attending: Paul Tynan, Josefina Cardinas, Winston Larkins, Paula Schlusberg, Donya Meggs, Tres English, Camille Kershner

Actions:
TE: Draft script/questions for resource survey of food-related groups. Provide list of food-related groups that might provide some assistance to FRP Neighbors Groups. Set up Listserv group.
PT, DM, WL: Review/revise draft script
WL, JC, DM: Write ¶ of what possible assistance their neighbors groups might need from potential resource group
All: Contact 4-5 resource groups, using the script, to develop Resource List for Food Resilience Portal

Next meeting: Two weeks. Organize thru Doodle

Starting suggestion:
Provide information for how to:
• Organize FRP Neighbors Group
• Determine current capacities of group
• Set up Garden Exchange
• Set up Work Exchange
• Set up Harvest Potlucks

Online Information Hub
• Calendar of events and classes
• List of local resources

Discussion:
Focus on defining the “Minimum Viable Product” which is the least we can do that will be of sufficient value to a sufficient number of people we serve.

Things that might belong in a starting product:
• Information on how to preserve and use local ingredients
• Buying co-op to get reduced prices on mulch, …
• Tool exchange
• Coordinate list of advisors/ mentors/consultants
• Provide “white papers” on things like legal issues (ex: health codes and potlucks)
• Promoting the use of local/seasonal ingredients
• Information “Clearing house” or “Portal”

Portal:
• Calendar of events and classes
• Resource contacts on:
• Vetted individuals (Start with recommendations. Need ways to aggregating feedback)
• Organizations that provide _____________ (Q: What do you do? How can you help? Who do you serve? …)
• Reading list (Need to get people to share their knowledge)
• Networking between FRP Neighbors Groups and others
• Stories – videos, written. Success stores.

Next steps:
• begin to develop the Resources section of the Food Resilience Portal. Everyone will contact 3-5 existing groups (Tres/Paula have list of ≈15 local groups) and use a common script to guide questions. We can use the three neighbors groups represented in this working group to provide a focus for some of the questions.
• Develop an online calendar for the Resilience Portal that can be updated by partner groups

We will ask about help for specific groups:
• Barrio Kroger Lane
• Nobles Oblige Mobile Home Park
• Proto-neighbors group (Donya)

Urban Farm Tour – Home Aquaponics & Urban Farm

Urban Farm Tour

Home Aquaponics and Edible Landscping

We toured Steve’s house with special interest in his aquaponics installation. But he has a number of other proj500 Bahamas - water storage tankects in process that are turning this 1950’s house into an energy efficient and almost self-contained mini-farm.

First we visited his back yard were we saw his rain water harvesting system. Steve has installed five tanks for capturing rain water. The large tank below holds 3200 gallons and the four smaller tanks hold 550 gallons each. Note the vertical pipe to the right called a “first flush” system. It traps debris from the roof before it enters the tank. Steve got most of the parts for this trap from Home Depot.

 

Note the chicken coop and composting pit in front of the large tank. Steve once had about 11 to 12 chickens but, unbelievably, a bobcat penetrated deep into this residential area and wiped them out. Steve caught the cat in the500 Bahamas - chicken coop act but the animal, unperturbed, casually climbed over the back wall – dead chicken in tow. The composting pit is still working and Steve collects sawdust from local wood working shops for his composting mixture.
Steve has been replacing his original windows with more energy efficient versions and has added a layer500 Bahamas - straw bale house of straw covered with adobe to the existing walls. He is debating about adding a waterproof final layer (a lime layer) but that will significantly raise the cost of the project.
Here is a wall with straw awaiting the adobe coating.

500 Bahamas - straw bale w mudHere is a section of wall that has been covered with adobe.

We did not discuss them in detail but Steve also has solar electric and solar hot water systems.
We moved to the front of the house to see the aquaponics systems. The key elements of the system are modified plastic IBC containers (Intermediate Bulk Containers used 500 Bahamas - Aquaponicsfor shipping). He has added stucco and decorated the outside of some of them to make them more attractive. He has three systems, two in a green house and one out front of it.

The decorated system in front of the green house has an elevated fish tank in the back and water flows down to the tanks that hold the plants. The plants clean the water which is pumped back to the fish tank. A float valve automatically adds water to the tanks as needed. The greenhouse systems operate the same way.

One difficulty with this system is timing the planting of different crops so that he has a consistent supply o500 Bahamas - AqP Greenhousef vegetables all year. Also some plants like the lava rock based system (lettuce and chard) and some root plans do not. Of course he harvests and eats the catfish as well. The aquaponics system can extend the growing season for water-loving plants because it is too expensive to provide that much water to an ordinary garden here in Tucson.

Rattlebox Farm

Paul and his wife got interested in farming when he served in the Peace Corps in the mid-90’s in Cameroon. He worked with farmers there to help them farm without chemicals. In 98 he left the corps, worked on a few farms and got a degree in agriculture. He met his wife Dana at school. Dana had worked for the Community Food Bank on their backyard gardening program. She also started a 12 acre farm in Marana for the food bank.
Paul then started an agriculture naturel resources program at Tohono Community College in Sells. Dana started Menlow Farms which was a distributed land farming enterprise. She learned how to run CSA’s from this effort as well as other aspects of the agricultural business.
Eventually the couple wanted to stRattlebox Farm - Farmer Paul & hoop housesart their own farm. They had learned what grows, when to plant, how to plant, how much to produce, how to run a CSA, how to distribute the produce and how much to charge. They had also learned much about soil, insect control, water management, and irrigation.
It took about a year and a half to find the right location in the southwest but eventually they found the 4.5 acres that is now the two and a half year old Rattlebox Farm. They named it Rattlebox after a flowering legume that, when it dries out, rattles when you shake it. Or the name could have come from their noisy old tractor – you can pick which story you like best.
They needed good soil, reliable water and no Bermuda grass. The soil near the rivers is good in Tucson – in their case a sandy loam. The best feature of this farm is that it has pre-1980’s water rights that allow them to pump enough water to farm it. It has an allowance of 11 acre feet of water which is more than enough (2.5 feet deep if you dumped it all at once).
Shown below is their main field but they are developing another one-acre field that will leave trees in place. They want to preserve the land for animals and bees while still farming it and have applied for a grant to help them accomplish this more difficult but environmentally friendly form of farming.

This field has 32 beds, each 130 feet long. They are organized into eight blocks of four beds each so the irrigation system can do one block at a time. They do fall, winter and spring growing seasons and skip the heat of early summer, that is, they hold off planting until the end of June or beginning of July. They grow unions, broccoli, Asian greens, head lettuce, turnips, radishes, cilantro, carrots, cabbage, beets, fennel and others. The fabric cover your see prevents frost damage as well as reduce insect infestation. The covers also help even during hot months because they retain humidity and delay wilting.Rattlebox - Work are
We saw his produce preparation area. For every one hour of harvesting it takes two hours to wash and package the produce. Note the washing machine salad spinner in the shed on the left.

Rattlebox - Walk in coolerRattlebox - CoolbotHe has a home-built cooler popular with farmers because it hacks a standard AC window air conditioner. A farmer just needs to insulate and seal a room or trailer, install the air conditioner and modify it with a module (called a Coolbot) that tricks the AC into cooling the room down into the 30’s. This trailer is used to temporarily store produce to protect it from frost before packaging and it can also be towed to farmers markets.

Asked about saving seeds he said that can be tricky because you have to leave plants in the ground longer to harvest the seeds and then they become infested with insects. They do, however, save seeds from an heirloom watermelon they grow.
The backbone of their business model is the CSA. Farmers markets and restaurants are more variable and so it is hard to plan ahead for them. Asked if he noticed a shift in the climate he said he has not been at this farm long enough to tell but neighbors claim that there seem to be fewer severe frosts than in the past.
See www.rattleboxfarm.com for more information.

Mission Gardens

We had a great walking lecture on the history of this 4100 year old agricultural area that is now Mission Gardens. It is one of the oldest cultivated locations in the US. The gardens is really a living agricultural history museum divided into sections of plants that represent agriculture from nativeMG - Introduction American times to modern agriculture and there is even a garden of the future. Even at that, the project is only half finished and they would appreciate any help (money or labor) that Tucsonans can provide.

We circumnavigated the walled garden (the wall was build by the Spanish missionaries) and visited the different sections. One interesting native plant MG - Panic grasswas an Ancient Sonoran Wheat which some claim can be eaten by gluten sensitive people with no ill effects. Some plants, of course, were brought here by those who migrated to or invaded the area. The agricultural zones and varieties of plants shown are too numerous to list here. Gardeners must take the tour themselves and be ready with pad and camera to capture the flood of information the docents provide.MG - Timeline canalMG - Timeline garden

After the tour we were treated to a delicious lunch created with mostly local produce. Organizers took the opportunity of asking each of the six tables what they thought were the key areas of concern related to local food production.
The final element of the tour and lunch was to address the question “What do we need to do to produce and eat a lot more local food?” Some recurring themes included the need for education and exchanging information, developing ways to connect producers and eaters, and helping urban farmers find land that is suitable for their needs.
At the followup meeting in a few weeks, we will continue the discussion about what can and should come next.
If you want to be a part of this discussion, be sure to follow this Doodle link, and let us know what times work for you. <http://doodle.com/poll/7a4abexft9aew4kw>

by Paul Tynan

Creating a Secure Food Supply with our rain