Let's Garden! JULY 2016 Workshops at GFE
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This Saturday, July 9th, 2016 | 10am - 12:00noon

Saturday, August 6th 2016 | 10am - 12:00noon

Spend a morning in the garden with this dynamic and hands on compost class! Learn to make your own black gold, meet our worms, and discover why compost is the gateway to garden love.
GROW YOUR OWN FOOD THIS JULY: Monthly Vegetable Gardening with Carey
This Saturday, July 9th, 2016 | 10am - 12:00noon

Saturday, August 6th 2016 | 10am - 12:00noon

You can grow your own food! Whether you have small container on your balcony, or a large backyard, we will help you learn what to grow and how to care for it, so you can cook from your garden all year long.
Applications due Friday, August 12th

Have you been longing to learn how to garden?
Now is your time.

Join our 2016 Garden Training Program.

The Get Up! course is an excellent introduction to organic gardening, urban composting & urban agriculture. Designed for novice gardeners, we will teach you the basic skills of organic gardening which you can use anywhere, anytime, in any garden.


Join the next class of future urban organic gardeners, environmental educators, and sustainable food ambassadors.  

Applications due: Friday, August 12th

September 10 to December 7, 2016
Every Saturday from 10am to 3pm at Garden for the Environment
Some Wednesday evenings (7 in total) from 6:30pm to 9pm, location TBD
Fall Party at Garden for the Environment

Saturday, Sept 10th! 
4pm - 7pm

Join us in the garden for beer tasting, grilling and true San Francisco September summer!
We'll have music, fall fruits, and flowers galore.
More info to come! Tickets available at the end of July.

Week of September 18th - 23rd | Esalen | Big Sur, CA

Whether your “classroom” is a farm, a kitchen, a school garden, or an urban lot, cultivating the love of food grown well and food grown right is an impactful, satisfying, and critically important vocation. This unique five-day workshop will hone your skills and deepen your sense of purpose as an educator and communicator. You will learn from and with your peers andan outstanding team of instructors, and get to experience one of the country’s most beautiful and celebrated gardens in majestic Big Sur.

Through interactive lessons, participant teaching practicums, and facilitated feedback sessions, the aim of this workshop is to give farm and garden educators the skills and confidence to plan and deliver effective, inspiring, and memorable lessons and curricula. The classroom will be Esalen’s beautiful hand-scale garden and three-acre farm, and the week will culminate in an intimate farm to table dinner prepared by the renowned Esalen Kitchen. Participants are welcome and encouraged to join the Farm and Garden crew for morning harvests and fieldwork during the workshop.

For more information, visit the Planting the Seed page on the Esalen Institute website. Please note: Participants must apply and be accepted to this program before registering. To apply, please contact farm.coordinator@esalen.org with subject line “Planting the Seed Application Request.” Some scholarship support is available.
Program Director Interviewed by Bay Area Focus

Last month, GFE Program Director Maggie was interviewed on the local program Bay Area Focus. She spoke about what to plant to withstand our summer dry climate, why everyone can learn to garden at GFE, and what the Get Up! program is all about. Watch the interview here!

Summer is officially here! Our raised beds are filled with zucchini, beans and even butternut squash. We've harvested cherries and tens of pounds of plums so far with pears and apples to come. The sunniest most protected corner of our garden is our sunflower patch, and this giant, Mammoth sunflower occupies one whole corner. Come see it for yourself!

Follow us @gardenfortheenvironment to keep up with the garden this summer as we continue the harvest all our bounty.
Basil Pesto

Sorting and displaying produce may be my true calling. I worked at the farmer's market for three summers and being around all the freshly harvested crops was intoxicating. Sometimes would organize tomatoes in a rainbow from the dark Cherokee purple, through Green Zebra and out to Pink Brandywine. I relished in stacking savoy cabbages into huge piles, turning them so their curly leaves opened up and splayed out towards customers. 

We kept large coolers in the back of the booth during the summer to keep basil out of the hot sun. We were careful to never get the leaves wet or they would get brown nearly immediately. When our big display basket was running low I would open the lid of the cooler and grab an armful of basil bunches, my favorite and most aromatic task.

I heard something recently about the emotional memory wrapped up in smell, and how through cooking we can bring emotions to the table simply through scent (this was in a recent episode of the excellent Netflix documentary Chef's Table). For me, basil immediately jogs memories of summer - grilled corn, deep joy, and warm lazy breezes. Even as gloomy Bay Area summer is upon us, sniffing a fresh bunch of basil transports me away from thick fog to somewhere warmer where the pace is slower.

Maybe this is why I've been making batches of pesto weekly lately - to combat the cold, bright white sky and bring a little of summer into my kitchen. While you can easily whip this stuff up in a food processor, I've been enjoying the scents, time and ritual of pounding pesto with a mortar and pestle. It's enjoyable work, and crushing the leaves into a paste brings those aromas to the forefront.

A quick note on storing basil, which tends to wilt quickly. I typically leave it out in a jar of water on my countertop like cut flowers. I trim the stems, making sure not to let any of the leaves get wet, then keep the jar away from direct light. I love the way it makes my kitchen smell and looking at it brings me joy. To help it last even longer, you can loosely tent a plastic bag over the top to create a little greenhouse effect. You best option, though, is to use right away.

Basil Pesto
From The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

1 bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked from stem yielding 1 lightly packed cup
1 garlic clove
pinch of salt + more to taste
1/4 cup walnuts, lightly toasted (or pinenuts if you can afford them)
1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Peel garlic and place in bottom of the mortar and sprinkle with salt. Pound to a paste and then add nuts. Continue to pound until incorporated, then add parmesan. Place mixture in a bowl then roughly chop the basil. Add basil to mortar and pound into a paste. Notice your arm muscle may begin to burn and keep pounding!

Dump the bowl of crushed nuts and cheese back into the mortar and pound together. Once incorporated, slowly stream in olive oil while you continue to pound. Taste and add more salt if it needs it. Toss with pasta, slick on roasted vegetables, dip your bread into it, fold into your omelets, pour over goat cheese, freeze the rest if you make a big batch.
By Stephanie Pressler, Opa's Garden


Summer is a super exciting season for gardeners. Even in San Francisco’s unique summer climate of cool temps and heavy fog, gardeners are still buzzing with the anticipation of harvesting summer crops. Unfortunately many garden pests are just as excited about the summer vegetables that we are growing during this season. We’ve had a number of different pests in the GFE garden this spring and early summer, so we thought we would share what we have seen and the techniques we are using to combat them in sustainable and organic ways.

Leaf Miners
Leaf Miners hit our leafy green plants, like chard and spinach, year after year. You can identify leaf miners by the gray or light green trails and blochy spot damage that they create on the leafs of plants. Leaf miners are the larvae of various insects that feed on the plant cells inside the layers of a leaves. As soon as you notice you may have leaf miners in your garden, remove the leaves on your plant that have been damaged and discard them, as they most likely still have larvae in them. The next step is to cover your plants with row covers. This will prevent adult insects from getting further access to the leaves and laying eggs. Many leaf miner species have natural predators, like parasitic wasps, that help keep leaf miner populations under control. It is not recommended to spray any kind of insecticide for leaf miners since it will kill the leaf miner predators too.

Cabbage Moths
If you remember from our newsletters and Instagram posts last year, we were so proud of the big purple cabbages we grew at GFE last spring. This year, as we grew cabbages again, we found that cabbage moths were also enjoying our cabbages. Cabbage moths are worms before they become moths. These worms eat plant leaves - they especially like cabbages and brassicas like cauliflower - and can often be identified by the trail of dark excrement they leave behind on leaves. Once again, checking plants regularly and handpicking cabbage worms as you see them is a good way to control them. Keeping plants covered with row cover also helps, as it keeps adult cabbage moths from laying more eggs. Promote biodiversity in your garden by planting lots of flowers and plants, which will attract a variety of insects which can also manage pests like cabbage worms and moths in a non-harmful way.

While they are slow, slugs always seems to sneakily find a way into our gardens, don’t they? Slugs like damp and overcast conditions, so the fog in San Francisco easily brings them out of hiding. You can identify that slugs have been in your garden when you spot faint shiny trails of slug slime around your gardens in the mornings and irregularly shaped chew holes in leaves, as slugs feed at night. An easy way to help control slugs is to handpick and remove them whenever you come across them. Modifying your garden environment can help as well, since slugs make themselves at home where they feel comfortable. Clear out areas where slugs may hide like weedy undergrowth, and thin out full leafy green plants. Another favorite slug control technique at GFE is to place copper tape around the base of plants. Snails and slugs feel an electric shock when they come in contact with the copper tape, and will not be able to access a plant surrounded by it.  

Aphids are another garden pest that we see season after season. (They particularly love our kale!) Aphids are small grayish blue insects with oval shaped bodies. They are often found gathered on the underside of leaves. A sign that you may have aphids in your garden is when plants start to have leaves that are curling and have a change in color, often yellow mottling. One of the best methods to control aphids is to handpick them out of your plants by removing infested leaves or stems. You can also plant a variety of other plants and flowers in the area that attract beneficial insects which can in turn help control aphids. A natural aphid predator is the ladybug, so we recommend planting things that attract ladybugs to your garden, such as yarrow or letting your cilantro go to flower. A third technique to combat aphids is to spray a light soap solution on them. Mix a tablespoon of eco friendly dish soap with a gallon of water and spray it directly on the areas where you see aphids.
And the winner is...the Methley plum!  

Never heard of a Methley plum? Don't worry, you're not alone. "Methley" is a variety of plum which, while lesser known, performs extraordinarily well at the Garden for the Environment. It is easily our most productive variety of plum and often the tastiest. The variety is self-fertile (which means you won't need another variety of plum to ensure pollination and fruit set) and hangs large clusters of deep purple plums on upright branches. And really, fellow gardeners, what more could you ask for from a plum?  

Garden for the Environment teaches youth and adults in San Francisco to garden organically. Founded in 1990, GFE provides hands-on education to 2,000 youth and adults each year at its ½ acre organic teaching garden. 

The Garden for the Environment is a non-profit Park Partner of the San Francisco Parks Alliance. We are supported by donations from gardeners like you, workshop fees, and with support from public and private foundations and the City and County of San Francisco.

Copyright © 2016 Garden for the Environment 

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