Just like there are many children without parents awaiting adoption all over the world, there is a movement happening across the country to bring together orphaned schools with no gardens and willing “parents” with resources the help them grow and thrive.

The non-profit National Gardening Association is bridging the gap creating many happy gardening “families” with their Adopt-A-Garden Program. We all know how powerful it is to teach our children about sustainable practices and in turn the impact it can have on our future when they know how to grow their own food.

You can make a straight donation or buy varying levels of grow kits which contain all materials needed to get a local school in your town started and you can even present it to the school yourself. To find a school near you in need search here.  If you have an orphaned school awaiting fruitful seeds and want to register to be in their database you can add here.

How precious new life can be… http://assoc.garden.org/ag/asg/

Nestled in the foothills of the southern Berkshires, in the northwest corner of Connecticut in Falls Village, is the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center.  It is an oasis of pristine beauty just a mere few hours from hustle bustle of major city life in New York and Boston. So what makes this retreat center different than all other retreat centers?  Surely other facilities have gardens and grow their own food, but what’s a unique here is the Adamah fellowship.

This intensive 3-month program takes a select group of young Jewish 20-somethings, immerses them into organic gardening culture and sustainable living, mixes in concrete Judaic values and then disperses them back to their respective home towns to help infuse their newfound skills into the community. These are the very types of programs that have a ripple effect and will take us into, and perhaps save us, in the not so distant future.

Organic, green and kosher, now how much more pure and divine can you get? Check it out http://isabellafreedman.org/adamah/fellowship

Not So “Uncommon” Anymore

While I mainly think of rooftop gardens as things that only happen in warm weather places, or more progressive cities, I’m learning more and more how it’s actually becoming quite a regular occurrence, either that or how progressive Chicago really is when it comes to being green, LOL. But with some parts of the city that don’t even have recycling bins for residences just yet, I am intrigued as in a cozy little north side neighborhood sits a fairly nice looking, good old-fashioned American style restaurant and bar that is changing the way things are done in the whole country.

The Restaurant “Uncommon Ground” with its long-standing reputation here in Chicago, just happens to be the first certified organic rooftop farm in the country. Now you usually don’t think of a bar kind of place with live music, burgers and beer on the menu as donning a rooftop garden, but if you look a bit closer at the menu, you will see it bursting with flavor, herbs and fresh vegetables that make anyone’s mouth start watering for a little taste of the fresh produce above you.

They play host to an organic product market this year every Friday from June to October, and support many green environment events as well. I don’t know, but this may just become my new “common” place for dinner…

Visit: http://www.uncommonground.com/

While it’s great that many people these days are trading their yards for gardens, it really is worth noting, that it is truly a lifestyle choice. It is a path that some people choose to walk to its fullest and it takes courage, commitment and dedication to stand-up and be different; to blaze a trail and create a pathway and opening for others to follow. That’s what one family in Pasadena, California has been doing for nearly two decades.

Meet the Dervaes, a true urban homesteading family. Back in the 80’s, they set out to grow their own food on their tiny little lot of under 1/4 acre of land. Fast forward to the present day, they grow 6000lbs of produce on a 1/10 acre garden, utilize alternative energy, water conservation techniques and more to create a nearly 99% self-sustainable lifestyle. They are basically a family of four living off-the-grid right in the heart of an urban sprawl, demonstrating that it can be done.

They are on a path, a green path of sustainability that has created a whole movement they named “A Path To Freedom” back in 2001. Providing outreach programs and services they are sharing their passion and knowledge of everything green, inspiring people far and wide. With the new documentary film about their family called “HomeGrown”, their green path is truly creating a revolution, encouraging people to grow greener home pastures filled with abundant gardens.

Now while I have to admit, I don’t see myself being nearly self-sufficient anytime soon, I can say that I am indeed inspired when I hear stories like this. It makes me want more than just a tomato plant someday. And isn’t that how we begin to cultivate change in the world? One small plant for man, one giant crop for mankind?

Tree of Life

It’s no secret that in California, if you’re lucky, you might move into a house that has a fruit tree or two in the yard.  They are abundantly dispersed throughout the city. It might be lemons, avocados, oranges; it’s usually a real treat for most homeowners. I know it’s always a delight for me anytime I go over to a friends house who happens to have one, it’s like my own personal farmer’s market and I leave with a nice bag of fresh produce.

But what happens when you have a life giving tree and it’s too much fruit for you? Sure you can give it to your neighbors or bring it to the people in your office, but all too often homeowners aren’t  keeping up on their harvests and fruit starts to go to the ground. Here’s how one group out there is making sure nothing goes to waste!

“Harvest Westchester” is a group with a simple mission. They collect  fruit from your trees and donate it to the Food Pantry LAX which then distributes food to those in need.  You can box up your fruit and drop it off yourself, they will come pick it up from you, or if you are a senior or need assistance, they will even come and harvest the fruit for you. Their collection is a local  5 mile radius from the Sepulveda and Manchester intersection in the Westchester neighborhood.  So if you are nearby be sure to register your trees if you have more than you need….and if you aren’t nearby, take a look at their sight anyway and see how a few simple acts of coordinating can actually get food to those that need it. Some pretty good food for thought if you ask me.


Look Up!

Who says there’s no room for a garden in the big city? We all know that green building is a hot topic these days. And while green roofs specifically are growing by leaps and bounds each year, many urban dwellers are taking the concept to the next level. More and more individuals, as well as businesses, churches, and even elementary schools are looking up towards the sky to create sustainable vegetable gardens right above their heads…Read more inspiration here in the New York Times:

It only takes the inspiration of one person to create sustainable change in all parts of the country and even the world. Taja Sevelle has just that kind of spirit. A singer and songwriter for the likes of Prince and many others, it was an idea that came during a recording trip to Detroit. Unused parcels of land were abundant in this struggling city in 2005. With her own initial investment, what started as 3 gardens yielding 1 ton of food for the hungry souls of Detroit, has flourished and now dozens of gardens provide food for the hungry in Los Angeles, Newark, Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Hawaii and even Jamaica, with Atlanta, New Orleans and West Palm Beach being the next new frontier.

The mission of the Urban Farming organization is that it…”intends to eradicate hunger while increasing diversity, motivating youth and seniors and optimizing the production of unused land for good and alternative energy…We plant gardens on unused land in cities, on rooftops, on walls, in planters in malls and sidewalks cafes and have Green Science Gardens in school campuses k-college.”

There are many ways to donate and/or get involved in local growing efforts. From volunteering your own organizational manpower for gardening to being and intern, to buying a ticket to your favorite concert at Tickets-for-Charity, be sure to read all about this wonderful organization at: UrbanFarming.org

And check out these great before and after photos of some of their current Urban Farming Food Chain (c) Projects where even the residents of places like Skid-Row are now getting fresh food thanks to The Edible Green Wall Project. It’s truly inspirational: View Photos