Saturday, April 30, 2011

New Workers on Campus

I recently received this message from the Seattle area and thought it was a great message to share with you.

Hello campus-

I'd like to let you know about some new "workers" on campus. They've just arrived from California and they'll be working hard in our campus gardens.

They are our new honeybees! 

Yes, it's true, Edmonds Community College now has two colonies of honeybees. They are located in the garden area northeast of Meadowdale, adjacent to the golf course. Soon you may notice the little critters flying around and pollinating our plants. If you see a swarm (a big ball of bees - very cool!), don't panic, they're not dangerous, and most important, don't spray with pesticides. Just call security. They'll know who to call. With luck, in the fall, we'll have honey for sale.

If you want to know more about honeybees in general, here are two upcoming events:

1. On May 18th, Tracey Miller will be showing the NOVA documentary Tales From the Hive in her biology class. The film will show in Brier 185 at 11:30, and there is room for about 25 additional people in the room. This film is a great introduction to bees and has great footage!

2. This summer, Continuing Ed will be running a training class for anyone who is considering becoming a beekeeper or who just wants to know more about bees. Here are the details about that class. Watch the ArtsNow/ULearn website for registration information once it becomes available.

Beekeeping 101 C306—What, when, and
how to become a successful backyard beekeeper.
Apprentice state Beekeepers Association course, with
hive-side hands on experience. Thompson/Wolcott |
$125 - 5 Tues., July 12-Aug. 16, except July 26,
6:30-8:30 p.m. | WWY 105 u

I hope you are all as excited as I am about our new bees. Between now and the end of the year I'll be periodically sending out e-mails with "bee-facts" so that we as a campus can be educated about our new guests. I'll keep them short and I hope you don't consider them spam. If you have questions you want answered, send them to me and I'll try to work them into the emails.


Thanks Mary for taking care of our California bees. We love you for that! Learn more about ECC's Horticulture program. If you're in the area, stop by for a visit.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Choose Sunshine!

2011 350 HOME & GARDEN CHALLENGE: *Choose Sunshine* from TINBIKE on Vimeo.

Go ahead - Choose Sunshine! Register your project actions and your gardens
You Owe it to Yourself!

Back to the Future

Give me two bits”, my Grandfather said to the gas attendant. And those two bits of gas (25 cents in those days) would power our car to church, the park, and grocery shopping for the weekend. Those were the days! During those same times I fondly remember that I knew everyone in my neighborhood. Most Saturday mornings were greeted with the early morning hammering from the friendly carpenter down the street. Shortly thereafter, a quick phone call to that same carpenter resulted in the much needed repair in my own home in exchange for a hot meal. Similarly, the plumber that I often only saw on Sundays at church could be called upon for a little plumbing job in exchange for a basket of homegrown food.  I remember walking down my street and enjoying the smell of freshly baked bread and seeing fruit pies cooling in the windows and hearing the laughter of children while they climbed the fruit trees to pick the bounty. I also remember well greeting the neighbors who were working in their Victory Gardens that were full of food and flowers. And one of my best memories was walking home from school to sit down for a fun lunch with my television friend Soupy Sales. He was the childrens television health advocate telling us what would be good to have for lunch that day.

During this time the war was long over yet everyone was reaping (literally!) the rewards of the crisis. Yes, you heard it, ‘rewards of a crisis’!  During the war, the country came together and rallied their resources, including their gardens.  In 1944, Americans produced 40% of their food from Victory Gardens. Since there was a shortage of tin; fewer canned goods were on the market shelves. A shortage of trucks traveling for miles with food goods was also contributing to less food arriving at the markets. According to the 1994 Victory Gardens Leader Guide, “this situation is a special challenge to parents, for children especially need a regular diet of vegetables to keep strong and healthy. We understand now better than ever before that adequate nutrition is the bed-rock of the nation.”
And the reward of a crisis was, 18.5 million food gardens developed to support the war and produce higher quality, local vegetables while saving money. When the war ended, the Victory Gardens remained. 
Today, we are back in a crisis – a worldwide climate crisis. Environmental scientists are declaring we have far exceeded our carbon footprint here on Earth; and we are being urged back into the sustainable limits we resided in back in the 1950’s. This was only 60-years ago, yet how do we regain 60 years in our lifetime and overcome the insurmountable pressure of a burdened planet? Perhaps we can adopt some the same strategies our parents and grandparents utilized during the war, depression and crisis in the 1940’s. What if we begin growing our own Victory Gardens again and shared the bounty with our neighbors and community?
Gardening can have a profound impact on global warming. Click here to learn more.

What if we made an effort to get to know our neighbors a little bit better to see how we might share our gifts with one another?  What kind of change could you and I create today to have a positive impact on the climate crisis?
It is estimated that present day there are more than 43 million food gardens nationwide. Imagine 43 million people in their gardens on one single weekend in May taking the Challenge to raise their voices AND their shovels to do something about the global crisis at hand. It is up to each one of us to improve our world including creating a sustainable economy and a healthy and affordable food supply. One way to do this is to grow your own Victory Garden!
We cannot leave this to others; we must each stand up and be counted. Join the nationwide movement and be counted to grow your food at home. Share your bounty with your neighbors, the homeless, the elderly, disabled, and the under-served. This is how we can create the world we wish to have--one garden at a time.
Learn about the history of Victory Gardens and the parallels of yesterday with today by heading on over to our website. Join in the sustainability movement and register your voice of support at the National 350 Home and Garden Challenge or the 350 Victory Garden Challenge -- a partner of the national challenge. Let your ‘two bits” be counted!

Written by Victory V Lee, founder, Victory Garden Foundation – Victory may be contacted at Victory is an Alameda County Master Gardener and Family Herbalist. A native of Detroit MI, Victory has lived in California for over 30 years.
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 home!
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.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Victory Garden Foundation and TransitionTeam Up!

Transition US Takes the Challenge

The Victory Garden Foundation is thrilled to share that we are collaborating with Transition US. This is an incredible non-profit organization that provides inspiration, support, training, and networking for Transition Initiatives across the United States. 

Like the Victory Garden Foundation, the Transition Movement is a vibrant, grassroots movement that represents one of the most promising ways of engaging people in strengthening their communities resulting in a life that is more abundant, fulfilling, equitable and socially connected.

As a media partner with the Victory Garden Foundation, Transition US is helping us spread the good word nationwide about the 350 Victory Garden Challenge! Please join Transition US on  Facebook, Twitter and check out their very informative website to learn how you can get involved.

Our visions are the same. By acting local and taking the personal challenge of co-creating healthy, vibrant communities via growing edible gardens and more, we impact the earth on a global scale in a positive, empowering way. 
Show your support for community building, homegrown food, and sustainability by taking part in the 350 Victory Garden Challenge on the weekend of May 14th and 15th. Register your garden project today by clicking here. You can schedule your garden work party, join a work crew, and/or become a sponsor with financial assistance or in-kind donations. Together we each are co-creating the beautiful mosaic of heath and sustainability.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Rays of Hope

Volunteers: This week, we celebrate you and the work that you do. Personally, I celebrate you everyday. We could not reach out to help others grow food at home without you. Along with hugs and kisses ... these tulips are for you! Really, they are tulips! I wish I could send a bunch to you all to show my appreciation for your service. You are all Rays of Hope!
The President of the United States proclaims, "America's story has been marked by the service of volunteers.  Generations of selfless individuals from all walks of life have served each other and our Nation, each person dedicated to making tomorrow better than today.  They exemplify the quintessential American idea that we can change things, make things better, and solve problems when we work together."

We could not say  it any better!

I can think of many stories of unselfish service by volunteers like the lady that doesn't have a garden but shows up many weekends to help in another persons garden. She takes the bus across town to help. And, then there's the gentleman that does the same. And, then there's the long time community organizer that tirelessly helps neighbors gather there friends and neighbors to help prepare their food gardens for production. Kudos to a group of ladies we call the 'fantastic four' who volunteer their time and even digs into their pockets to provide financial assistance for the good of the community to become more sustainable. And, the lady that would help out whenever she could pruning, digging, laughing and just having big fun. Who knew that she needed hip replacement surgery? And, the mothers that volunteer with children in tow. That's dedication to serving others!

I could go on and on. There are so many stories. I take this opportunity to say again "Thank You" and
If you're reading this tribute to our fearless volunteers; and you haven't taken the opportunity to volunteer; we encourage you to do so. There are so many ways that you can help others. As a volunteer and listening to other volunteers; there's a great feeling of hope being with others that need our services ... being a Ray of Hope!

Join in the 350 Victory Garden Challenge ... there are so many opportunities to help others and somehow in the process we help ourselves by softening our hearts to build a better now and a better future.

We'd love to hear your stories and stories of others that volunteer their precious time. Post them here ... you could be one of 10 volunteers to receive a cinchpak:
350 Victory Garden Challenge May 14-15
 Are you taking the Challenge? Let us know at Facebook.comVictoryGardenFoundation
Learn more and Register at

Wishing you the best!
Victory V Lee, Founder
Victory Garden Foundation Inc

Sunday, April 3, 2011

First Ever Best New Garden Biz Award

This morning has started as a lazy day. It's time to take out the week's kitchen scraps to the compost bin. So, I'm thinking about this and I remembered that I had not read the Sunday newspaper - it becomes the next ingredient for the compost bin. Sometimes, the newspaper isn't read but goes straight to the compost bin - such dread is reported too often.

Before I start in the garden, I wanted to connect with my friends on Twitter and Facebook. Now, it's a bit late to be in the garden. The bees are visiting. I like to leave the bees free to roam without my play in the garden.

And, you won't believe who tweeted with some very good news! Compost Cab! Located in Washington DC, this is a venture that picks up compost ingredients and delivers finished compost to the community. How cool is that! Incredible. So today is in honor of Compost Cab! Not only is Compost Cab a garden business inspiration; they are the inspiration for our first ever award.

The recipient of our first ever Best New Garden Biz Award.
Compost Cab is a production of Agricity LLC,  a Washington DC based company committed to building healthier, more sustainable, more productive cities through innovative agricultural, manufacturing, and clean-energy ventures. We also define “agricity” as a quality or state of balanced, sustainable, connected urban life.
Thank you Compost Cab for what you do and your inspiration! There should be "Compost Cabs" all over the country. Anyone out there ready to take the challenge? This is a great example of  taking the 350 Victory Garden Challenge.

So, now back to our garden composting. Feeding the worms and decaying the food scraps.
What an inspiration.

Happy Composting!

Remember to take the 350 Victory Garden Challenge May 14-15 ... learn more.

Let's stay connected   

Friday, April 1, 2011

Can't Beat 'Em? Join them!

It's time to clear the weeds. But do we know which are weeds and which are edibles? Oxalis (wood sorrel, sourgrass), dandelion, purslane and more. I was start thinking about this as I looked out my windows and all around the building there are yellow and white flowers just smiling at me. I can hear them even singing ... "I'm here for you and will always be here for you!" I think, Yes, you're right. But, I know your secret. And, I can include you, Ms Purslane, Mr Dandelion, and Madam Oxalis in my 350 Victory Garden Challenge because you all can be a challenge on your own. But, not this year! Into my food bin you go!

You're not just a pretty flower growing everywhere I can see! I can't beat you so I'll join you. So I invite you to join them.

All parts of the dandelion are edible:

  • Dandelion root can be roasted as a coffee-substitute, or boiled and stir-fried as a cooked vegetable.
  • Dandelion flower can be made into a wine, or boiled and stir-fried as a cooked vegetable.
  • Dandelion leaves can be boiled, as you would spinach, and used as a cooked vegetable, in sandwiches or as a salad green with some "bite." This was my favorite way to eat dandelion as a child as the main course of my summer outdoor tea parties with my neighbhood friends.
Why pay money for fish oil when you can grow your own Omega-3 fatty acids as part of your edible landscaping? Just leave that weed to grow. And what weed would that be? Purslane, of course. It's an herb, a succulent herb!

To preserve purslane's juiciness for eating, harvest this delight in the morning or evening, when you won't have to compete with intense sunlight. Purslane can either be used raw in salads or sauteed as a side dish. In addition to the crispy texture you would expect from a succulent, purslane also has an interesting peppery flavor. Try it in a Purslane Pilaf or add it to a Yogurt Cucumber Salad.

And, then the dreded oxalis aka wood sorrel, sourgrass. it has a sour taste and is great on salads. It's medicinal property is a diuretic. It's been said that this plant helps with minor stomach complaints and nausea. Do not mistake this plant for sheep sorrel which is poisonous. You can tell the difference because sheep sorrel leaf is wider at the tip and the lobes are not typically aligned directly across from each other. You cannot see the veins in sheep sorrels leaf unless you light it from the back. The flowers are small and red. So beware. The edible oxalis bears yellow flowers.

  • Making a rhubarb pie? Add some Oxalis.
  • Try a Sour Grass Soup
Do you have a favorite weed to eat? Let us know about here. And, remember, if you can't beat 'em, join them!

Happy Weed Eating! This is not a April Fool's Joke!

Remember to take the 350 Victory Garden Challenge May 14-15 ... learn more.

Let's stay connected   

Let's go for 350

On a single weekend, May 14-15, 350  landscapes will be transformed into bountiful Victory Gardens that use water wisely to grow food all while educating and empowering community and supporting local businesses. We had a great time last year in gardens and seeing gardens from around the country. Some of your photos are posted in our photo album.

Taking the challenge
The activities on that weekend can be as simple as planting a fruit tree or a tomato plant in a pot. You could simply invite some friends to your place to chat about gardening, the environment, and how to reduce our carbon footprint. This is an opportunity to create innovative gardens on front yards, apartment patios, school and church grounds, and business premises while being waterwise. I use the term "waterwise" to emphasize the need to conserve water in all aspects of life including you food production.

Rewards of the challenge
And, look at what you can have on your plate in a short time.
Over the next six weeks or so, I'll provide some tips for organizing your challenge, starting, and maintaining your garden. If you start today sowing seeds; you will have radish, spinach, lettuce, basil and more ready to put on your plate.

So, help us sow the seeds and spread the love -  be a fan at our Facebook 350 Victory Garden Challenge page and follow us on Twitter.

Just click the Facebook Like button and Follow button on Twitter ... and you're on your way. Ready to register your garden? Or, help in other ways? Just click and you're on your way!

Let's stay connected and Go for 350!
Victory V Lee, Founder