Monday, August 22, 2011

Speed dating at the crop swap

On Sunday, August 21, Victory Garden Foundation and Transition Berkeley saw about 30 people during an hour of meeting neighbors and swapping backyard produce at the historical Lorin Station (corner of Alcatraz and Adeline). This was the first of a monthly event happening every 3rd Sunday; 1 -2 pm through October. 

There were herbs, vegetables, fruit, flowers, services traded and exchanges of ideas happening at a fast pace in just one hour that seemed like 2 hours. If the food could talk, I imagine they were saying, “Wow, speed dating taken to another level,” because the food was interviewed, discussed, and explained like the orĂ©gano brujo, the mullein leaves, Lovage, and pineapple sage. And, this inspired people to try new fruits, vegetables, and herbs by coming to the crop swap. Many visitors thought that setting of this event amidst the native plant garden at Loren Station was ideal. Karen White found that “… watching medicinal herbs draw people to them to aid with what ails them was interesting.”

People from near and far neighborhoods shared the excitement and food. Some people just walking by; were able to receive some of the backyard crops. It is amazing how many different types of produce are being grown by neighboring backyard gardeners. Victory Garden Foundation and other gardeners provided vegetable seeds, six-pack planters and compost to start growing food at home or add to the backyard collection.

The really fun part of the day was the meet up. The conversations were robust and you could just tell that friendships were budding. Under cloudy skies, the area was beaming with excitement. Good, healthy food has a way of brightening a day. And just as we were leaving; the sun came out to let us know that our gardeners are waiting for us to tend to and plant more crop to share with others.

This will truly be the beginning of a tradition at the historic Lorin Station site and the celebration of last October’s transformation of native and drought tolerate plants officially establishes this park space a community meeting place coming alive once a month with food for the community and by the community . Go here to see what happened at this corner last October.

We look forward to growing this event. Volunteers are needed to help spread the word about the crop swap, setup/take down and greet visitors. If you have crops to swap but cannot attend; arrangements may be made to pick up. Both Carole Bennett-Simmons, Transition Berkeley along with Victory V Lee, Victory Garden Foundation thank the many volunteers that contributed to launching this event.

For more information about the monthly Lorin Station Crop Swap, contact Victory Garden Foundation at or call 800.971.3006. To learn more about the sponsoring organizations, please visit and
Victory V Lee, Founder, Victory Garden Foundation
Laurel (L) and Carole (R), Transition Berkeley

Sunday, August 21, 2011

We Threw Down for Community Seeds

Last Saturday, August 13th, volunteers gathered around the city of Oakland to Throw Down for the Town. It was an amazing gathering. Volunteers worked at all points on the Oakland compass to help beautify, prepare for, and maintain edible gardens.

Victory Garden Foundation teamed up with People's Grocery at the California Hotel urban farm to plant vegetable seeds. The resulting seedlings will be distributed throughout the community to backyard gardeners around the East Bay. This was truly a labor of love by just a few volunteers that did amazing work.

More than 900 planter cells and 2700 seeds were planted by 5 volunteers working on shifts of 1 to 4 hours. Special thanks to volunteers, Bonnie, Emily, George, Karen, and Melody joining me to plant the seeds. And, thanks to George for lending his muscle to helping with the urban farms maintenance work.

Our seeds are now at their foster home at the California Hotel where urban farm volunteers and workers will keep an attentive eye on their needs to help them grow for distribution to community adoptive homes to serve as nourishment.

Special thanks to the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights for organizing and sponsoring this very special community event that benefited so many people. We look forward to his being an annual event that grows - literally. And the after party celebration of accomplishments and volunteers rocked!!

Thanks Everyone!!

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Jazzy Crop Swap

I had a fun day at the North Oakland Farmers' Market swapping, trading, and bartering fresh produce and eggs. It was a great pleasure chatting with the market's patrons. I'm between engagements; but I just had to stop for a moment to tell you all about it.

At 10 am this morning; I arrived to Max and Mickey setting up the Crop Swap space and already there were collard greens, parsley, onions, Swiss chard, purple mustard greens, cactus, dried dill herb and more. I added herbs from the Victory Garden Foundation's garden: lovage, rosemary, pineapple sage, chicory, basil, and more.

First, I needed a cup of the wonderful dripped coffee from Chris and his coffee partner. 

Throughout the morning, many people stopped by; and I grabbed a bag of dehydrated, seasoned kale. Oh, how yummy.

By 1 pm, we swapped, bartered, traded Asian pears (Thanks Marcy), peppermint, trade to volunteer to forage, a trade to give a chicken to a new home (Let me know if you have a home for a chicken that needs a little love), a trade to create a recipe from some of the ingredients on the table, and just sharing time together sharing stories.
We provided packages of Swiss chard, Brussel sprouts, lettuce, and broccoli seeds while Phat Beets provided six packs of Asian purple mustard greens to grow right at home.

The tamale cooking class kicked off at just about 11 am and everyone at the class received a hardy plate of tamales. People's Grocery had a great selection of vegetable and herb plants for sale including tree collards and lavender.
Before the crowd and the live jazz band arrived at this unique farmers' market; I got a chance to snap a few photos to share with you.

And I couldn't leave without purchasing a Beet Box or two. I gave one of the Beet Boxes away for a family in need. The cukes, squash, corn, broccoli, green beans, sweet potatoes, watermelon, nectarines, carrots, onions, and more are just wonderful. (I didn't get a chance to take photos of everything - besides I ate half the watermelon already.) I'm looking forward to dinner this weekend.

Every 1st Saturday of the month - Come on out to 57th and Market to the North Oakland Farmers' Market to swap, barter, and trade your home grown food. If you missed it today; please come out in September. Some people actually traded their contact information for food. And, I look forward to sharing with you the Crop Swap Veggie-Herb recipe that we'll receive from Kenner.

By next month, we should have plums, Asian Pears foraged by Pilar, Becca, Linci, and Sophia. I'm also looking forward to the lemons, zucchini, and tomatoes from Glory, apples from Victoria, and the many surprises from your backyard gardens.

Please be sure to spread the word about this fantastic Monthly Crop Swap at the North Oakland Farmers' Market. Make this a weekly stop on Saturdays to Order your Beet Box for pickup;  to purchase your organic fruits and vegetables from our local farmers along with edible plants from People's Grocery. Let's support our local farmers and backyard gardens.

Gotta go ... but will see you soon .. V!

Victory V Lee, Founder
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