The Central Valley Region of California was honored to host Paolo di Croce for a regional event on Sept. 11 during his whirlwind visit to Northern California to connect with chapter leaders and Slow Food donors. Paolo is the Executive Director of Slow Food International and serves as International Secretary of the Slow Food International Board of Directors. With him was Shayna Bailey, a Slow Food International staffer who wears many hats, including liaison to Slow Food USA.
On short notice we brought together Slow Food members from 15 counties, including leaders from 8 chapters. Regrettably, three chapters who were signed up had last minute glitches. Those who made the long drive to the border between Sacramento and San Joaquin counties were inspired and energized by the witty, passionate, arm waving Italian. And Paolo was very pleased to hear from chapter leaders about the many and various projects being carried out up and down the valley.
We started with an intimate meeting at my home, where Paolo could hear from leaders of each chapter and could share his thoughts for the future of Slow Food International.
We moved down the road to MacFarland Ranch for the joint Sacramento and Lodi Chapter Heirloom Bean Picnic attended by about 130 people with talks featuring heirloom beans being farmed on the nearby Mohr Fry Ranch. We tasted chef-prepared bean dishes, heard from Ken Albala (author of Beans, A History), the farmers Chip Morris (California’s King of Beans) and Jerry Fry, and from Robert Klein of Olivetto in Oakland (whose Community Grains project is helping create markets for the beans as well as heirloom varieties of flint corn and red wheat). Once again Paolo inspired the crowd—especially to connect to this organization as a global effort. We heard about the Thousand Gardens in Africa initiative and learned that more than 100 chapters in Italy have already “adopted” a garden. We could do that!
The culmination of the visit was a tour of the bean fields. In the height of harvest season these talented farmers had mustered and labeled their equipment and labeled the bean varieties. We wound through the fields learning about the challenges, flexible thinking, and quick action that undergird success. The capper was an exuberant 8 year old who, at about the third stop, announced, “Mom! I want to be a farmer when I grow up, so I can grow beans!” Music to our ears.
Charity Kenyon, SFUSA Governor, Central Valley Region of California
Saturday September 24, 2011
Read about Charity Kenyon our Slow Food USA Governor, Central Valley California Region and Slow Food Sacramento’s Membership Director:
Ark of Taste Proposal: Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg AVA It is widely known that 3 regions produce the finest Chenin Blanc: 1) the Loire Valley in Northern France, 2) South Africa, and 3) Clarksburg, California. This often maligned grape is now being ripped out, and replaced with our new favorite varietal, Chardonnay. Darrell Corti acknowledges the unique character of Chenin Blanc from Clarksburg.
Slow Food Committee
Join this committee to gather information and resources to file proposal for Slow Food Ark of Taste. Desired completion of proposal in advance of Mr. Croce’s visit. Please contact David Baker (GRASacramento@gmail.com) if you are interested in participating in this committee, which may include vineyard visits and sampling of local and imported chenin blancs.
July 15, 2011
The town of Hardwick, Vt., has been celebrated as the scene of a local food revival. In recent years, lots of small farms have started up nearby.
Tom Stearns, president of a local organic seed company called High Mowing Seeds, says there are more organic farms per capita within 10 miles of Hardwick than anywhere else in the world. There’s also a thriving local grocery co-op; a busy farmer’s market; even a classy restaurant — Claire’s — where almost anything you eat grew or grazed on land nearby.
As the new SFUSA Governor for the Central Valley Region I will work to strengthen our regional network of Slow Food Chapters and to share information about activities of interest up and down the Valley. (Who knew that Stanislaus County is the nation’s sweet potato capital?) I hope we will join forces to host some multi-chapter events and look forward to visiting our counterpart leaders from Shasta to Madera County.
And I anticipate that forging relationships with California’s other three governors and the governors across the country will bring loads of ideas and energy to our efforts to promote good, clean, fair food for all. I’ve already learned that Slow Food Sacramento is a standout chapter in this region and state. I’ll point SFUSA our way when they are looking for replicable models and best practices for other chapters. I’ve also learned that I’ll be the main connector between the region’s chapters and SFUSA. I welcome your suggestions and counsel.
On a more personal note, we recently hosted an organic farmer from Japan, seeking refuge in California from the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. Read about it here.
18 we hosted our Third Annual Urban Ag Fest attended by 130 friends of Slow Food Sacramento. The event was on the lawn at the old Army Depot right next to the new garden we installed for Plates Café and Catering, a project of St. John’s Shelter for Women and Children. Sunny and breezy weather made this the perfect setting for learning about urban beekeeping, edible landscaping, chicken keeping, food preserving and more.
View the photos »
Everyone was pleased to see real progress on the garden, which was constructed by Bill Maynard of the Sacramento Community Garden Coalition with the help of volunteers from Slow Food Sacramento and St. John’s Shelter. Spring Warren’s talk was inspiring and many of us took home a signed copy of her Quarter Acre Farm. The food, supervised by Bobbin Mulvaney and made and served by Plates’ volunteer learners was delicious and plentiful. And the auction items were irresistible. We raised over $10,000 for the garden and introduced lots of new fans to the great café at Plates—open Monday through Friday 11-2. Visit and enjoy!
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Q: I know you say “vote with your fork,” and I do, as often as possible, but it seems so small a gesture. In what other ways can we, as consumers, speak out or act to change our food system?
A: Vote with your fork and vote with your vote. Today’s food movement gives you plenty of opportunity to do both. Voting with your fork means buying and eating according to what you believe is right, at least to the extent you can.
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