For those of you who have not yet met Steve Palecki, we highly recommend you drive out Newburg Road and introduce yourselves. As Steve is always hard at work, I don’t often get a chance to speak with him. Fortunately, the two of us were recently able to get together, and I had a chance ask about his reasons for starting the garden, and what his plans are for the future.
“Tell me about what inspired you to start this garden project?”
“The whole idea arose out of seeing an acre and a half of land being used to grow hay grass for cattle. I looked around and I saw such a need in this community for good, wholesome, nutritious food. After volunteering at St. Joseph’s Pantry Shelf and seeing the type of foods available to the poor—highly refined, simple carbohydrates—I saw a real need for the inclusion of fresh produce in these people’s diets. That’s when I began Continue reading
Yes, the garden project is up and running at last. During the winter, Steve Palecki, our Garden Coordinator, planted potatoes and garlic, and we expect to harvest any day now. And, in addition to white potatoes, Steve planted blue potatoes, and we’ve seen the first come out of the ground. They look like lumpy blue amethysts, purple as cobalt, just ready to be peeled and cooked. For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, blue potatoes taste and cook like white potatoes, but are far more nutritious. In this special garden issue of the FACS Newsletter, look for a recipe for patriotic potato salad, and we’ll tell our health-conscious eaters why blue potatoes are a guilt-free indulgence. We’ll also talk about what’s going on out at the garden and how the Lord is poised to bless Humboldt County with fresh produce.
The idea of a community garden is certainly not ours to claim. In the past few decades,
community gardens have sprung up all over the United States. The FACS community garden project is a little different, however. Rather than providing land space for individuals to plant as they see fit, our garden is dedicated, first, to providing fresh produce for local foodbanks, and second, to providing education for community groups who wish to grow their own produce. The unfortunate reality is that foodbanks must rely heavily upon processed, non-perishable food items. These tend to be low in nutrition, and Continue reading
Photo by Jesse Perry
Yes, there is a new washing station out at the garden, thanks to a generous donation from Andy Rulofson, Boy Scout Troop # 17, an ambitious young man who, in build- ing this station, merited the rank of Eagle Scout. All labor, time and materials were donated, and, as the picture reveals, this is a well-appointed wash station. Under a protective roofed structure, made from high-grade, pressure-treated lumber, it features a stainless steel, commercial grade, three compartment sink, a high-pressure sprayer for rinsing produce, and a French drain to carry away the runoff. With this, we will be able to clean our vegetables to sell to local businesses and farmers’ markets. Thanks, Andy. Humboldt County is healthier because of your generosity.
Photo by Jesse Perry
It seems silly, I know, but we’re very excited about our new pile of dirt. Large gardens have a continual problem: soil must be amend- ed in order to reach its growth potential. For most of us, that means a couple bags of steer manure, but when there’s 10,000 square feet of soil to amend, it begins to get expensive. (Who’d’a thunk that what comes out of the south end of a steer would be so pricey?)
A few weeks ago, Steve was working out at the garden, and a man stopped by, a local businessman and purveyor of premium topsoil (certified organic, no less!). He offered to donate 10 yards of his best, if we could arrange to collect it. After a bit of research to insure that this donation would not interfere with our organic registration, Steve contacted a member of our church (I won’t tell you his name, but there’s an asphalt road at campmeeting named after his grandfather) and asked if he could help us to collect our wonderful pile of dirt. This church member just happened to drive a 10-yard dump truck and decided to donate his time and the use of the truck to our garden. That’s how the Lord blessed us with $1,400.00 worth of premium topsoil for nothing more than a few gallons of diesel fuel. And it’s beautiful stuff to those who know topsoil: worm castings, coconut fiber, bat guano, mushroom compost, rock phosphate, peat moss, steer manure, and other lovely stuff, all composted so there’s no weeds in it.
God loves to get us involved in his blessings. He could’ve made the dirt appear magically, but instead he used a man with too much topsoil, and a generous church member who just happened to have a 10-yard (translated: enormous) dump truck, and now we don’t have to buy soil to get us through the next year. Ain’t it grand?
Photo by Jesse Perry
Most of us have heard that potatoes are part of the reason that Americans are overweight. Starch turns quickly to fat and potatoes don’t have much besides starch. What those studies don’t tell you, is that they’re all about white potatoes, the kind we eat in French fries, fish and chips, and mashed potatoes. Blue potatoes are a different story.
Blue potatoes get their color from the same substance that makes cabbage purple, and it is this substance that makes blue potatoes especially rich in antioxidants. Basically, when we eat the purple stuff, it protects us from cancer. Blue potatoes are also ridiculously high in vitamin C, a key part of preventing heart disease. But the best part is that they taste just like white potatoes, only a bit stronger.
Blue potatoes are a medium starch potato which means they’ll mash just fine, but hold their own in potato salad. And blue potatoes, along with all brightly colored potatoes, preserve 75% of their nutritional value even after cooking them to death. And, if that weren’t enough, they’re a bit more tasty than white potatoes, so there’s no need to slather them in butter and salt. So wrap them in foil and bake them, fry them in olive oil, boil them, or do whatever you want to them, they’ll stay nutritious and taste great.
Recipe taken from Food.com
1 lb small red potatoes 1 lb small white potatoes 1 lb small blue potatoes 1 red bell pepper, julienned 1⁄2 small red onion, julienned 4 small radishes, cleaned and sliced thinly
1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil 3 tbsp distilled white vinegar 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 1⁄2 tsp salt 1⁄2 tsp cracked black pepper 1 tbsp flat leaf/Italian parsley, chopped
Boil potatoes until softened. Drain, cool, and cut into 1⁄2” rounds. Whisk together the dressing ingredients except for the oil. Whisk in oil slowly. Combine the potatoes, bell peppers, onions and radishes and gently toss with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley and serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate until ready to eat. Best eaten at room temperature.
The produce truck made its last delivery on Wednesday, October 19, and once again, we gave out nearly 5,000 lbs of fresh produce to the Eel River Valley’s most vulner-able residents. Not to worry, though, the truck will return in June 2012. Until then, our foodbank will open its doors every Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:30-11:30 to those in need. The ongoing generosity shown by our community and our church gives us confidence that we will be able to help our clients all through the winter, but we still need donations of fresh produce. The next time you’re grocery shopping and you see a super sale, buy a little extra and bring it over to the Center. Our refrigerator and freezer are just waiting to take your donation.
Please call 725-1166 to arrange a drop time.
Vincent Van Gough once defended his painting technique with the statement, “I am always doing what I can’t do yet in order to learn how to do it.” Well we don’t have many critics for customers at Tabitha’s Place, but we are definitely still in active learning mode. A peek in the front door will reveal that changes are on-going, and each one gets us a tiny bit nearer to that unattainable efficiency for which all shopkeepers strive.
Thanks to the help of our volunteers, the back room has been sorted and organized and any day now we’ll sweep the floor and call it clean. Of course, as it’s our sorting bay, it will get messy again, and we’ll clean it again; but for now, our volunteers have turned the monster pile into an organized inventory and we could not have done it without them.
Now that we know what we have, we’re thinking of expanding several sections of our store, including making a dedicated electronics corner. We have lots of quality vintage stereo and video equipment, and we hope to create a working display. That will involve a bit of shelf-building, some wiring, and a good dollop of elbow grease, but we have both the time and the resources to do it right.
All donations for Tabitha’s Place are processed at the Community Services Center, so if you would like to donate, please call 725-1166 and arrange a drop time.
One person’s junk is one woman’s treasure. Linda, a regular at Tabitha’s, found her treasure and gave us a picture to prove it. Come down to Tabitha’s Place and find your treasure. I have been working here for 5 months now and what a treasure it has been to meet the regulars and all who pass through. I love it.
I can’t run this store alone, and I want to thank all of you who have helped me on this new journey. I have received so much love and support from everyone, that the names are too many to mention here. But when you come to the store and see the new clothing racks in the kids room, and the new lights in the main clothing room, you should tell George Miller how much nicer they make things look. Chris Miller and Marilou Yanez worked hard to get tons of Christmas decorations up into the loft above our storage room, and Mr. Huffman laid down the plywood to give Chris and Lulu a place to put all of it.
Most of all, though, I want to thank the entire volunteer crew, who I have the pleasure of working with every day. Without them, there would be no Tabitha’s Place. It took a lot of work to get the back room cleaned out and organized. We worked on our days off, and a little extra here and there to get it done.
The store has gone through a lot of changes in the short time I have been here. I’m sure there will be more along the way, and it warms my heart to know that all of you will be with me through it.
Thank you all
If you would like to volunteer to help at Tabitha’s Place, call Cherie Porter at 725-1166, or Tami Miller at 725-3339.