Friday, April 18, 2014

It's a Musical Friday

This morning I started my day early as usual. But, something seemed different about the day. Here's what I shared on my Facebook page this morning with a call to action that I repeat in this blog ...

Does the day feel like you're in a musical? This morning I was at Home Depot in the self-checkout. The clerk came over without a word and scanned everything for me. Instead of a 'simple' Thank You So Much. I broke out singing "Happy." WoW! The smile I received was incredible.

Then, I turned on my windshield wipers and there was no washer fluid. No worries! Here it comes ... "I'll see clearly now the rain is gone .." And just as I'm reading Higgins Sean 'be yourself' post ... wait for it ..

" I just want to be me ..." was playing on the Smooth Jazz in the background.

Are you having one of these days? If not, make it happen. Share your song with me and others today on "I'm a musical Friday!' #IAMF It's okay to sing to someone you meet today! Tell them, #ItsAMusicalFriday That smile can carry you through ... Share the Love ...
 Now, I'm not a singer ... my song voice is suspect :) But, nevertheless, I'm comfortable adding a sway to my voice with words from songs that come to mind. I bet if you try it you'll find that your day becomes so uplifting especially if you sing a song to stranger!

Making someone's day will make your day!

This is just one challenge to begin the Victory Garden Challenge for Community Resilience. During the Basic Gardening and Water Conservation class that I taught at the Berkeley Library West Branch last evening; I spared 5 things that I like about gardening. As I think about it ... there is the one thing that ties all of these together for me ...  

connecting and building relationships!

When you're working together with others on a common goal that has the potential to be life changing ... Wait for it - here's another song coming to me "Ain't no sunshine when she's gone!" You see, #ItsAMusicalFriday for me. Try it and share how it goes for you. It's just plain inspirational. [comment below].

I hope it also inspires you to share and Take the Victory Garden Challenge for Community Resilience this year. Start today ... Go here to Be Counted. Learn more about the challenge here. This is our 5th season of challenging myself and others to Be Counted for resilience. It starts with YOU! Year after Year, many continue to challenge themselves. I remember most of you (and there are hundreds). Let's do it again!!

Transition US and Daily Acts are leading the Community Resilience Challenge this year as national and local partners. Victory Garden Foundation continues to connect with these organizations to get the word out with inspiration-sharing from YOU to get  ...
Past years, we've offered 'things' - incentives to coax you to join in like offering seeds to plant and sweepstakes, compost and mulch. We may do some incentives again this year.

But, I'm more interested in your stories being the incentive to move the ground we walk on to become our inspiration to plant flowers, vegetables, herbs, and fruit. To share with others - your harvest; your story; your positive reinforcement; your presence in someone's life to make just a little bit better.

These good folks started a compost business going door to door; collecting raw materials and returning with the black gold that our gardens so desperately needs. And, it's helping nature recycle waste to where it belongs.

The joy this young lady felt was felt by me and others. She'd just removed a Sorrel plant with a deep, deep tap root. She forgot about any troubles she was experiencing in her life. The joy of accomplishment meant so much. You see the length of that root? That's how far she had to dig. Not knowing how deep she had to go; she stuck with it until it was accomplished. And this was her first time working in the garden!! I felt her joy. "Making someone's day made my day!" And, all I did was provide the opportunity.

Let's do this friends. Getting at least 3500 people to take the challenge is our goal. (It's not about the numbers for me ... it's about gathering people together for positive growth and change, if needed.) Imagine what we can do together. You represent all parts of our planet and we may never see each other in person. But knowing you're there is powerful!

That's what this year's challenge is about for us. We will know where to go based on your efforts and connection with this Challenge. Let us hear from you that you'll be counted and how you want to do that!! We will be connected throughout this Challenge and beyond. ("Ain't no sunshine when she's gone!" ) We won't do this alone ... uh oh, wait for it "Vagabond" is playing (Paolo Rustichelli) - only together can we make a difference!

Do not let the 'Silience' in Resilience take over. Raise Your Voice!

Wait for it .. "I don't want to wait in vain .. " (Dianne Reeves)

is singing this as I wrote the above sentence.

Be on the "Side of Cool" ... (Barry Finnerty)

I'll sign off now while you sign on or I'll write a book in song today :) #ItsAMusicalFriday

Love you all! ... Turn Up!! ... V!
Victory V Lee, Founder
Victory Garden Foundation
Victory Garden Foundation

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hops ‘n’ Harvest Celebration—Come Thirsty and Hungry!

Local beer and food pairings to be featured at the Hops ‘n’ Harvest Celebration

(Oakland, Calif.) October 23, 2013 —Great craft beer has always been a perfect match for great food. On Saturday, Nov 9th at the Hops ‘n’ Harvest Festival, Bison Organic Beer will be teaming up with local food vendors to showcase a flavor-packed array of food & organic beer pairings.

Hops ‘n’ Harvest is a celebration of harvest and the partnership between the Victory Garden Foundation   Now harvested, it serves as a special batch of Bison’s Hop Cuvee, appropriately dubbed the Oakland Hops Harvest Ale. Sample it – and learn to brew beer – on Saturday, November 9th from 1 – 5 pm in the gardens at 5316 Telegraph Avenue. Outside the festival facility for Hops ‘n’ Harvest attendees and the community will have many locally-sourced  food options. 

These will include:
and Bison Organic Beer. This spring, the organic brewer planted Cascade Hops locally throughout Oakland - much of it in the Peoples Victory Gardens in the Temescal neighborhood and at Lake Merritt.

Rosamunde Sausage
Rosamunde Sausage Grill, a San Francisco sausage-and-craft-beer restaurant, opened their East Bay version (911 Washington St., Oakland, 510-338-3108, in Swan's Market.

Fist of Flour Pizza
Fist of Flour Pizza Company, located in Oakland is all about keeping it local, fresh and tasty. Their mobile oven will be fired up to serve attendees and the local community. 
Onigilly Japanese Restaurant
Onigilly [Oh-Knee-Ghee-Lee] is a traditional Japanese fast food known as onigiri, or rice balls that dates back over 2,300 years. The Onigilly Japanese Restaurant will bring its daytime cart to the festival offering attendees and the community another great food offering.

As part of the festivities, in the garden area; attendees will be treated to a hearty garden harvest soup presented by volunteers of Victory Garden Foundation’s Stone Soup Saturday program. This program was launched in 2012 as a pilot at the Phat Beets Produce Farmer’s Market and has subsequently moved to team up with the Peoples Victory Garden program at the Telegraph Community Center.

Hops ‘n’ Harvest is a festival with music, entertainment, education and fun for all ages; garden games and activities; brewing demos and a beer tasting by Bison Organic Beers; garden workshops, information seminars and products by local experts and vendors; harvested, garden-fresh refreshments and more!
Hops ‘n’ Harvest is an opportunity to give back to the community by supporting the work of the Victory Garden Foundation.  That work is grounded in improving the quality of life for people in and around the garden.  Your donation benefits its essential garden programs and is tax deductible. 

Tickets are available at or by calling 800.971.6620. Advance tickets - $10 adults, $5 students/children (under 12 is FREE). Day of Event - $15 adults, $5 students/children (under 12 is FREE) 

WHAT:           Hops ‘n’ Harvest
 A fundraising festival celebrating the Victory Garden Foundation’s Peoples Victory Garden Program
WHEN:           Saturday, November 9th from 1 pm – 5 pm
WHERE:         Peoples Victory Garden @ Telegraph Center
                        5316 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609

TICKETS:       Go to or call 800.971.6620
                        Advanced Donation $10 adults, $5 children/students, under age 12 is FREE
                        At the door - $15 adults, $5 children/students, under age 12 is FREE

About Victory Garden Foundation
Founded in 2008 by Victory V. Lee, Victory Garden Foundation began as an Oakland CA neighborhood grassroots movement founded in the spirit of the historical Victory Garden movement of the 1940’s. Incorporated and receiving its nonprofit status in 2009, the Victory Garden Foundation Inc (VGF) mission is simple: Encourage people to grow their own food at and near home! VGF has a hands-on relationship with people in East Bay CA while reaching out globally throughout the Internet to others to inspire them to grow food at and near home. Be part of the Victory! Information is shared with the community of all ages and level of edible gardening knowledge at VGF’s websites:;;;; Facebook pages: VictoryGardenFoundation; PeoplesVictoryGarden4U and Twitter: VictoryGarden2U; TheVictoryPatch; PVGarden
The goals of VGF are to support the growth of food at home through connecting and sharing with individuals through the sustainable growth and harvest of Victory Gardens in communities throughout the East Bay California and beyond. VGF is committed to achieving these goals through education and outreach, financial and technical assistance, mentoring, and advocacy through the Internet, workshops, and hands-on participation. The Victory Garden Foundation Inc is a non-profit public community-benefit (501c3) organization Tax ID# 27-0598299.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Proven Energy Boost

There are days when the thought enters my mind ... 'I'm tired, in pain, I need a long break. It's okay, I won't be missed. Take off.' Then, that thought changes before it takes hold on the path to action ... 'I'm not tired, true I am in pain, and I need a break. It’s time to get into the garden.' This changed thought sends a renewed energy through my mind, body, and soul. Off I go to one of the five community gardens that I'm supporting through Victory Garden Foundation’s Peoples Victory Garden program. And, then, WoW!

Amazing things happen. More than 50 families accept the opportunity to receive fresh, organic herbs and vegetables. This all started with me and a few volunteers harvesting herbs and vegetables while taking the opportunity to do some garden chores at the Peoples Victory Garden at the Telegraph Center because the Victory Garden Crop Swap and Harvest to Feed opens on the front lawn giving clients of the food pantry, neighbors, and passersby organic produce harvested from the garden in the past hour. Fresh! Garden members of the Peoples Victory Garden harvested for themselves and the Harvest Table around 11 am. From noon until 2 pm; we met people, had some great conversations, made new connections, and shared lots of smiles and hugs.

Collard greens, mixed spicy greens, cilantro, sorrel, radish and radish leaves, nasturtium leaves and flowers, yarrow, squash, Japanese eggplant, pak choy, peppermint, oregano, thyme, lemon balm, peppers, sage, dried beans, celery, tree kale, tree tomatoes (tamarillos), onions, chive ... This is the list of produce abundance shared to feed about 50 families. 
Kevin and Kate share smiles with a view of some of the day's bounty!

 Now it’s 1:45 pm and just a handful of produce remains. As I help pack up the Harvest Table food stand, I'm thinking about next Friday to do this again. More harvest and tell more people about this opportunity. Then, quickly, the thought of gardening on Saturday enters my mind. It’s excitement, tranquility accomplishments, and the tastes of good food that rush over me. Looking forward to …
Garden entrance weeded and sheet mulched ... much more to do!
Next day … early morning into the garden, growing more food to share. I'm tired, in pain (I have chronic back pain-sciatica and stenosis), and I need a long break. Yes, a long break in the Peoples Victory Garden. Now that’s an energy boost! Sharing!!

The Peoples Victory Garden is accepting new garden members to grow food. Community work days at the Telegraph Center location (5316 Telegraph Ave, Oakland 94609) are Saturdays, 1 to 3 pm and 1st and 3rd Saturdays at the Lake Merritt location (Edible Gardens at Lakeside, Bellevue Ave, Oakland 94610) through November. There's no charge to join. Contact the Garden Director at for more information about the program.

Victory Garden Crop Swap and Harvest to Feed continues through November 8 on Fridays; 12 -2 pm. Contact Kevin at for more information.

Bring your extra crop and take some home!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Voices of sharing food

2011 Crop Swap
Last year August marked the first South Berkeley/North Oakland Crop Swap at the historic Lorin Station at the corner of Alcatraz and Adeline. It was such a warm occasion to start new friendships and to engage in an age old tradition brought to life – sharing homegrown food. And, the day marked another chance to share, make new acquaintances, help others, and to remember that we all have some common touch points. We all have reason to remember to celebrate what we have by giving to others. It is with this spirit that the Victory Garden Foundation and Transition Berkeley share with you the voices from our previous Crop Swap. 

2012 Crop Swap starts May 20
We look forward to seeing you this year at the Crop Swap starting on Sunday, May 20, 1 – 2 pm. Since the 2011 Crop Swaps were such a success; this year, it will be held  Sunday. We want all backyard gardeners in the area to participate and we’re seeking volunteers to help manage the event – it’s an easy thing to do. And, as always, if you do not have produce to swap; please come out anyway and engage is inspiring conversations while meeting new and old neighbors and just enjoy the hour – pick up something to take home. It’s also a great place to learn what’s happening in your ‘hood.
Come on out and enjoy an hour of fun and music with The Crane and The Crow (formerly known as Gods+Others) -

The Crane and The Crow
These Crop Swaps are for you and you can shape the focus. We hope that the voices of sharing food will inspire and encourage you to participate in this community building and connection event. Here’s what people said last year and a glimpse into what happens at a Crop Swap:

“The event was beautiful and brought life to an underutilized corner. Setting this event amidst the native plant garden at Loren Station was ideal.”
Crop Swaps and urban agriculture are clearly catching on in a big way, reconnecting people to the earth and to each other, empowering people and making the community stronger. The large number of people interested in sharing home grown food is encouraging and their enthusiasm is contagious. People who came to the first Lorin Station Crop Swap were talking about their crops, how to grow them, their nutritional benefits, and how to prepare them. Patches of recipes could be heard in the friendly conversations between people meeting for the first time. 

“I am amazed by the variety of foods being raised by neighbors who live all around us from eggs to Asian pears, to cucumbers, hot peppers and summer squash. “
Green beans were the most plentiful in August and leftover produce was donated to a local Berkeley shelter. People who currently aren't growing food picked up produce, potted plants, flowers and seeds. They often had stories of their childhood gardening experiences. This tells us that to teach a child about vegetable gardening is to give a lifelong gift. Teachers, neighbors, grandparents and parents; let's all keep giving our children this precious gift.

“I liked the baskets and other containers people used to carry their abundance to market.  Some of the finer details, such as hand decorated clay pots allowed people to share their creativity as well as their bounty.”
“This is amazingly energizing! “
“Today I took about 10 bruised apples and 5 perfect, if green ones, and came home with a bunch of green beans, zucchini, Asian pears, one beet with beautiful greens, tomatoes, oregano...and all of my Gravensteins were snapped up!”
This location seemed to bring about the spirit of days gone by when we were all neighbors and friends and we met at the Lorin Station, the last stop before Berkeley along the Berkeley Branch line of the Central Pacific railway. This was the settlement of Lorin (before annexed to Berkeley).

 “I just met a lady today who said something nice. I stated I didn't feel worthy to take the painted clay pot when I just needed the basil to add to my herb spiral. She said I should think of it as a gift, but then plant something else in it next month and return it to the swap if I really don't need it. She also said she could use the adorned porcelain saucer that accompanied it. So we each took a piece.”
And the energy that emanated from Lorin Station moved some to write about their experience in their blogs. This is just the beginning of spread the word of sharing, engaging, extending and building community.
Kristi's meal
This amazing one hour meeting of like minds seems endless in time since so many that gathered at the first Crop Swap continue to communicate and share ideas and energy.

“I had the opportunity to share some of the oregano bruja I got at the Nuestras Raices farm last year and have been keeping going using cuttings. I have been making a lovely salad dressing using it, lime juice, olive oil and hot peppers, perfect on a tomato, cuke, corn & pepper salad. Everyone was so generous with their harvest, time and knowledge.”
This is just a sample of some of the impressions and conversations at the Lorin Station Crop Swap. If you want to contribute to this exciting meeting of neighbors; join in at the local Crop Swap at Lorin Station – an historical site bringing back the neighbors connecting for a common good. Plant some extra radishes and greens, glean produce in your neighborhood, and bring a recipe, something to help the gardeners continue to grow backyard food like seeds and planter containers. Experience a new vegetable, herb, or fruit.  And, just stop by to meet your neighbors and talk about ‘things.’ All are welcome – gardeners and consumers. 

“The remains of the day: many green beans, Asian pears, cucumbers, and oregano to the Berkeley Food and Shelter place on Dwight just a half block East of Shattuck."

Many thanks for Carole Bennett-Simmons and Barbara Edwards of Transition Berkeley for teaming with Victory V Lee, founder/president, Victory Garden Foundation to co-produce and co-sponsor the Lorin Station Crop Swap. 

For more information about the Lorin Station Crop Swap, contact Victory V Lee, founder, Victory Garden Foundation at Visit the foundation’s Facebook page ( and follow on
Or, contact Carole Bennett-Simmons at Be sure to visit for more information.