Category Archives: Healthy Eating

Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems

Dear Tomato Book Cover

Bursting with flavor and just the right infusion of insight, Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems presents a collection of poems from thirty-four writers on the most universal topic of all: food. Featuring a wide assortment of styles, from haiku to acrostics to free verse, these poems touch on topics that range from lighthearted to seriously thought-provoking. Whether the focus of the poem is a child’s battle over eating peas or a celebration of fair trade, this collection introduces kids to a fresh new view of where their food comes from.

They’ll love following along as they track what they eat—from a tiny seed all the way to the fork that brings it to their mouth! Throughout the anthology, each entry’s words and ideas are brought to life by Norie Wasserman’s stunning black-and-white photographs, which themselves are poetry for the eyes. A fun and enlightening read for kids eight to twelve years of age, this collection will add to your family’s dinnertime conversation, while also providing an excellent resource for teachers and librarians.

Panel Discussion on California Proposition 37

This past weekend I attended the Seed Library of Los Angeles’ (SLOLA) presentation of “The Truth about GMOs.” Special guest speakers included:

Jeffrey Smith, Director, Institute for Responsible Technology, and the leading consumer advocate promoting healthier non-GMO choices; author of the world’s bestselling and #1 rated book on the health dangers of GMOs, Seeds of Deception.

Tom Newmark, Board Member, Greenpeace, Inc. USA. He is a founder of Sacred Seeds, a sanctuary in Costa Rica dedicated to conserving medicinal plants across the globe.

Please see this incredibly informative presentation in the video below.

In November, California voters will decide the fate of  Proposition 37, a Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Initiative.

A panel discussion has been organized by eight Hamilton High School science students and the South Robertson Neighborhood Council Green Team Committee to evaluate the issues and then make a recommendation to the Neighborhood Council which in turn will send its recommendation to the Los Angeles City Council.

The students have put together an impressive roster of advocates on both sides of the issue to explain their positions in depth.  If you think that this is not a nuanced issue, you might be surprised after hearing this interesting panel of speakers.  The panel consists of:  a biologist, a representative from Women for Agriculture, a lobbyist, environmental activists and a filmmaker.  The event is open to the community and there will be a Q & A following.  Any questions concerning this event can be directed to: Paula Waxman at or 310-559-2552.

WHEN: Thursday, September 6th
TIME: 7:00 to 9:00 pm
WHERE:  Hamilton High School Cafeteria, 2955 South Robertson Blvd., LA 90034

“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” ~  Thomas Jefferson

Good Food Day of Service 2012

Good Food Day at LA Leadership Academy

The 2012 Mayor’s Day of Service in Los Angeles aka Good Food Day LA is a citywide event focused on strengthening and celebrating our local food system.

On Saturday, March 31, volunteers throughout Los Angeles will be working together engaging in activities in support of good food at nearly forty different event sites including many community gardens and school gardens.

To find an event location near you, click on the Good Food Day map or download the PDF List of Activities from the Los Angeles Food Policy Council.

I’ll be volunteering at the Los Angeles Leadership Academy HS Urban Farm Project, 234 East Avenue 33, Los Angeles, 90031 from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.

The Network for a Healthy California will be holding bi-lingual nutrition education classes and healthy food tastings. UC Master Gardeners will be giving workshops in seed starting, transplanting and container gardening.

Come join us as a participant or come join us as a volunteer. Either way come out and support Los Angeles by helping to create a more healthy, fair and sustainable food system.

Hope to see you there.

A vast child obesity gap between affluent city, lower-income one

Manhattan Beach has the lowest child obesity rate in L.A. County, Bell Gardens the highest. Their demographics are starkly different, and residents’ perceptions on the issue can contrast sharply.

By Anna Gorman, Los Angeles Times

Doris Chang limits her three sons’ intake of sweets and doesn’t feed them any processed or frozen food. At their Manhattan Beach home, she monitors the boys’ time in front of the television and keeps them busy with baseball, basketball and karate.

About 20 miles to the northeast, Lorena Hernandez takes her 6-year-old daughter to McDonald’s at least twice a week and frequently gives her Kool-Aid and soda. They go to the park often, but when they are in their Bell Gardens home, the television is usually on.

The families’ divergent attitudes toward food and exercise reflect just part of the challenge facing officials as they try to close a vast and costly gap in obesity rates across the region.

Just 4% of children in affluent, mostly white Manhattan Beach are considered obese, the lowest rate countywide, according to public health officials. In poor, predominantly Latino Bell Gardens, the rate is 36% — higher than in any other city.

Click link above to read entire article.

Santa Monica Good Food Festival Schedule of Events

Santa Monica Farmers Market is celebrating its 30th Anniversary with the very first Southern California Good Food Festival & Conference. This unprecedented multi-day event will focus on regional and national issues integral to building a local and sustainable food system while supporting the needs of California family farmers.

Please see schedule of events below, in particular, the school garden events on Saturday, September 17th.

Grow Your Own! Workshops
Grab your gardening gloves and hat and bring your questions, your curiosity, and your family to Grow (and Preserve) Your Own! A variety of local experts will demonstrate what you need to know about garden basics, seed starting, seed saving, fruit trees, container gardening, food preservation, backyard chickens, beekeeping, worm composting, pest control and more.

Scheduled Events – Saturday, September 17

10:00am – 10:45am — Gardening for Kids — Main Garden
Plant the foundation for healthy eating. Be an elementary school student in the garden, connecting nutrition and nature with classroom curriculum. Presented by Marika Bergsund,

11:00am – 11:45am — What’s Cooking in your Classroom? — Chorus Room
Learn how to incorporate a Culinary Program into your school’s curriculum. Find out how talented chefs and directors are teaching our kids the importance of eating well. Presented by Lisa Fontanesi, “Kidding Around in the Kitchen;” Chef Gino Campagna,“Gino’s Kitchen” (Disney Channel); Julie Cotts, Director 24th Street Garden School; Megan Hanson, Root Down LA, James McGroarty, Network for a Healthy California.

11:00am – 11:45am — Kids Can Compost! — Hay Bale Classroom
Marianne P. Brown presents “Kids Can Compost,” Wen-Chia Tsai Parker’s workshop demonstrating how composting can be fun for the whole family.

12:00pm – 12:45pm — Better School Lunches: Filling Half Their Plate with Fruits and Vegetables — Cafeteria
Dona Richwine, M.S. RD, Nutrition Specialist, SMMUSD Farmers Market Salad Bar, explains how MyPlate, the new USDA nutrition education tool, can and should influence school lunches. Demo and salad bar sampling included.

12:00pm – 12:45pm — Using Social Media Marketing to Promote Your School Garden — Chorus Room
Santa Monica High School students present their creative plan on how to engage an entire school community to grow a school garden. Includes social marketing and cross curriculum lesson plans.

12:00pm – 12:45pm — Organic Pest Control with Beneficial Insects — Main Garden
Learn about earth-friendly solutions to protect against pests that can damage plants. Organic Control’s beneficial insects—ladybugs, green lacewings, praying mantids, beneficial nematodes and others—defend gardens from “bad bugs” such as aphids, whiteflies, mealy bugs and mites.

1:00pm – 1:45pm — Mystery Lunch Box Cook-off! — Cafeteria
Vegetables are delicious! Five teams will complete at least three recipes using one vegetable per session guided by a mentoring student chef from Santa Monica College. Five teams means 15 different plant based recipes to share at the end of the cook-off! Yum! Presented by Jennie Cook,

1:00pm – 1:45pm — How Worms Make Our Lunch — Hay Bale Classroom
Explore ways to reduce waste and incorporate Vermiculture into your life and garden. Presented by Gina Garcia, Sustainable Works,

1:00pm – 1:30pm — The Need for Seed — Rose Garden
Save seeds, save the planet! In a world full of GMO plants, learn why it’s important to save your own seeds and how to do it. Presented by David King, Seed Library of Los Angeles,

1:30pm – 2:45pm — School Garden Models — Chorus Room
School garden designers discuss how they have successfully created unique and distinctly different programs that are changing the way schools feed and teach children. Presented by Marika Bergsund, Growing Great; Laurie Dill, Herb Project – 24th Street Garden; David King, The Learning Garden at Venice High School; Roger Lowenstein, Los Angeles Leadership Academy; Johann Hampton-Walker, Larchmont Charter School (Edible School Yard Program). Moderated by Yvonne Savio, University of California Cooperative Extension, Los Angeles County Common Ground Garden Program Manager.

2:00pm – 2:45pm –Garden Harvest Party! — Main Garden
Make your own salad directly from the garden, picking fresh fruits, vegetables and edible flowers. Enjoy a holistic approach to edible education with a dynamic lesson which integrates social and academic skills. Presented by Samantha Barnes of Kitchen Kid,

2:00pm – 2:45pm — Introduction to Permaculture — Hay Bale Classroom
Larry Santoyo, founder of EarthFlow Design Works, will demonstrate the basics of permaculture (permanent agriculture using design principles that mimic nature) to help you beautify your garden and save the planet at the same time.

3:00pm – 3:45pm — Doctor, Doctor, Give me the News — Chorus Room
What does “healthy” look like? A distinguished panel of experts discuss childrens health and nutrition and what parents can do to improve their child’s diet. Dr. Rebecca Crane, M.D., Pediatrician, Kaiser Permanente; Emily Ventura Ph.D., California Obesity Research Center; Dr. Ernie Katz, Director of Behavioral Sciences Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Psychology, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; Dr. Lauren Feder, M.D., The Medical Group of Lauren Feder and author of Natural Baby and Child Care; and Jennie Cook, give us the scoop.

3:00pm – 3:45pm — Plant the Foundation for Healthy Eating — Main Garden
Be an elementary school student in the garden connecting nutrition and nature with classroom curriculum. Presented by Marika Bergsund, Growing Great,

3:00pm – 3:45pm — Keeping Backyard Chickens — Hay Bale Classroom
Learn all the basics of backyard chicken keeping from Dare 2 Dream Farms, who raise chickens and build coops for purchase, and will teach you how easy it is to do it yourself! Presented by Megan Coulter, Dare2Dream Farms.

10:00 am–5:00 pm All-Day Activities – Saturday, September 17
Learn all about companion gardening from LA County Master Gardeners Debbie Harding and Lucia Burke, who will demonstrate how to grow a Butterfly Garden, Pizza Garden, Salsa Garden, and 3 Sisters Garden.

Visit the Fruit Mobile! — Rose Garden
Food Forward reconnects the community with the abundance of food present in our everyday lives by harvesting fruit from backyard trees with a volunteer crew and then donates the bounty to food banks across Los Angeles. Find out how you can get involved. Presented by Meg Glasser, Food Forward.

Vertical Gardening with Woolly Pockets — Rose Garden
Get hands-on experience and learn to garden vertically instead of horizontally with woolly pocket wizards! Presented by Shauna Nep, Woolly Pockets.

SAMOHI Team Marine Teaching/Information Booth — Rose Garden
Learn how what you eat affects the planet! A group of audacious juniors and seniors at Santa Monica High School have been rallying their neighbors around the global on issues of climate change, plastic pollution, and ocean acidification. Presented by Team Marine students.

Scheduled Events – Sunday, September 18

10:00am – 10:45am — Biodynamic Gardening — Hay Bale Classroom
Denise DeGarmo-Ritchie of Malibu Compost demonstrates an ecological and sustainable system that respects Nature and is designed to support a self-perpetuating ecosystem.

11:00 am – 11:45am – Organic Culinary Gardens — Main Garden
Learn how to succeed in the garden! Learn the fundamentals of culinary gardening including germinating and transplanting seedlings, soil and gardening materials and the importance of organic plant nutrition. Presented by Kathleen Hiraga, culinary garden designer and President of Organics Rx, a retail line of organic gardening products.

11:00am – 11:45am — Backyard Beekeeping — Hay Bale Classroom
Learn about bees and their care; beehives, equipment and harvesting honey; and the organic care of the bee colony. Presented by John Lyons.

12:00pm – 12:45pm — Garden Party with the Dragon Pizza Oven — Cafeteria
Gaze out at the Pacific while enjoying a market fresh brunch. Quiche will be cooked in Ray Cirino’s magical dragon oven. Sample goodies from the UCCE/LA County Master Food Preserver class.

12:00pm – 12:45pm — Backyard Chickens — Hay Bale Classroom
Learn the basics in this introduction, including chicken varieties, housing, feeding, disease control and correct coop design. Presented by John Lyons, The Woven Garden.

12:00pm – 4:00pm — Gardening Basics (Empezando el Jardin) — Main Garden
Workshops throughout the afternoon presented by University of California Cooperative Extension/LA County Master Gardeners, with sessions on soil preparation, seed starting, transplanting, container gardening, composting, fruit trees for homes and schools, including a bilingual workshop on seed starting and transplanting. Presented by Nancy Cipes, Herb Machleder, Julie Strnad, Araceli Perez-Ocejo, Bruce Woodside and others.

1:00pm – 1:45pm —  How Worms Make Our Lunch — Hay Bale Classroom
Explore ways to reduce waste and incorporate Vermiculture into your life and garden, Presented by Gina Garcia, Sustainable Works.

2:00pm – 2:45pm — Food Speak 101 — Chorus Room
Cage Free, Free Range, Grass Fed, Organic? What do they all mean? A panel of experts will clear up any confusion to help you make informed choices. Bruce Palma, General Manager, Santa Monica Co-Opportunity, Bonnie Modugno, Registered Dietitian, Nate Peitso, Maggie’s Farm

2:00pm – 2:45pm — Watering Edibles — Hay Bale Classroom
Learn how to efficiently irrigate edible plants, including those in containers. Discover water saving design strategies including living mulch, plant guilds, and soil remediation. Presented by Russell Ackerman, Water Resources Specialist, City of Santa Monica

3:00pm – 3:45pm — Conserve Today/Preserve Tomorrow: Organic Pest Control — Hay Bale Classroom
Learn how to manage common garden pests without harmful pesticides. Presented by Karl Bruskotter, Environmental Programs Analyst, City of Santa Monica.

4:00pm – 4:45pm — Backyard Composting — Hay Bale Classroom
A demonstration of everything you need to know to turn kitchen scraps into valuable compost. Presented by Wes Thompson, City of Santa Monica.

10:00 am–5:00 pm All-Day Activities – Sunday, September 18

Backyard Gardening — Rose Garden
Learn all about Companion Gardening from LA County Master Gardeners Debbie Harding and Lucia Burke, who will demonstrate how to grow a Butterfly Garden, Pizza Garden, Salsa Garden, and 3 Sisters Garden.

How to Create a Vertical Garden — Rose Garden
Woolly Pockets demonstrates how to garden vertically with woolly pocket wizards! Presented by Shauna Nep, Woolly Pockets.

Eat Cheap – Save Your Seeds — Rose Garden
Seed savers from SLOLA: Seed Library of Los Angeles will be on hand to demonstrate and answer questions about seeding saving.

Take home some seeds for your own backyard. UCCE/LA County Master Gardeners will have seeds and seedlings to give away.

Jamie Oliver’s TED award speech

Famous chef and 2010 TED Prize Winner Jamie Oliver expresses his wish to teach every child about food and fight obesity. You can read more about it here.

School Garden Preparation – Dorsey High School


Preparing a garden bed for seed sowing is a difficult task, in fact it is the most difficult task we’ll perform in the garden all year. Over the summer, weeds grows unfettered, plants die, and the soil is depleted of nutrition.


All those planting beds need to be cleared and amended.


Thankfully, at Dorsey High School, we had a few students show up for garden work on a Saturday and they did a fabulous job.


For approximately two and a half hours students weeded, removed bermuda grass, old plants, and completed some seriously needed site prep work.

See video, How to Amend a Raised Bed, to view the process of adding amendments (preferably organic compost) and turning (or aerating) the soil.