Saturday, September 20, 2008

Need-a-Bag? project update 09.20.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

We've gotten a bit better this week, in the midst of a produce famine at that farmer's market. We actually got there a little bit before the opening bell, with just enough time to put out the paltry 3 bags we had with us. We had so many left over bags that I didn't bother to put them all out. I feel like we are beginning our stockpile for the late season rush. The weather was beautiful, the musicians were making lovely music, and all was well with the world, actually, except for the paucity of produce.

Last week (and my apologies for getting around to just now to report on it) we put out 4 bags, but Need-a-Bag's intrepid put-er-away-er, Stace, reports that there were 7 bags left out when she came by to put things away. So, some lovely person gave the project 3 bags while we weren't looking, especially given that we were about 10 minutes late after the opening bell! Thank you anonymous (but probably Jean :)) person who gave the project some lovely new bags! I'm still thinking about that Tower of London bag and hoping that it found a good home!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Local Milk from Kurtz and Sons

DG and I were shopping at our local, local food supermarket after Need-a-Bag yesterday, and I remembered that DJ, my son, needed milk. As I was carrying away a half-gallon of Organic Valley 2%, DG ran back to the dairy case and gave me a half-gallon of local milk from Kurtz and Sons Dairy in Lake City. Of course, I wanted to be local so I put the Organic Valley back -- it is so automatic to buy that brand of milk that I didn't even see the local options. It's neat-- it's got cream pooled at the top. When we were checking out I said, "hey, I could make butter from cream at the top," to which DG replied, "sure, you just get yourself about 8 of those and you can make a stick of butter, maybe." I wonder if I could freeze the cream clumps and then, when I have enough saved, I can make it into butter by shaking it up in a mason jar.

When I got home with the milk I started having second thoughts. First of all, the milk is full fat unless you take the cream out -- I just wasn't sure how DJ would cotton to this after drinking 2% most of his young life.

The test came this afternoon, when I made DJ a turkey sandwich and he wanted some chocolate milk to go along with it. When I started pouring the milk the cream starting glopping into the cup, so I ended up using a strainer and putting the cream back into the jug. DJ did not have anything to say about the milk at all, and drank it all.

At about $4.25 for a half-gallon, it's maybe a little more expensive than any of the non-local organic brands at Publix. I'm willing to pay that little extra for grass-fed cow's milk that comes from a dairy about 70 miles from where I live.

Here's a link to Slow Food Tallahassee that has a blog post about Kurtz and Sons Dairy that explains the stuff better than I can.

Need-a-Bag? Project update 09.6.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

We were very late getting to the market and when we arrived it had already opened. We brought the shopping bags I had purchased from Publix and Target and the two Etsy bags designed by Eng by Nik. She has started sending us her bag seconds and we waited until I could photograph them to put them on the fence. One got snatched up pretty quickly -- they're lovely, big bags just perfect for reusing because they are sturdy. I hope it found a good home and whoever got it enjoys the hand-written card by Nik explaining its imperfections and the pen with her business info on it. It's stuff like that that causes me to want to buy more single-producer items, because craftspeople like Nik care about their products and how they are received.

As you can see from the above photo, the lady who usually sells plants and shrubs was not present today, as many of the regulars were missing because of low turn-out. The one thing I have found, though, from this lack of customers, is that the people who do remain are less busy and more accessible to talk to. The fellow DG bought her chantrell mushrooms from, for instance, was able to stand around for a couple of minutes and tell us about how hard it is for him to find them and how happy he gets when he does, saying, "you can hear me yelling and jumping up and down in the woods when I come across them."

We also ran into Jean who was waiting to help some people get set up and she agreed to be our keynote speaker at the Need-a-Bag? Project first anniversay banquet. She is a wonderful conversationalist so I know it will be an excellent 5-10 minute discussion on the topic of her choice! As we talked with her two of the regular farmers came up and told Jean that they didn't have anything to sell because the recent deluge from Fay had submerged their crops. When Jean expressed sympathy that they would have to start over, the woman said, "well, that's what you do when you're a farmer, you're always starting over."

Including the Eng by Nik bags, we put out 7 bags. We didn't even bother putting out the signs, or the drop box. I've sent out an email to the Need-a-Bag? Project Associates, hoping to rally them into helping to construct Totey the Tote Bag before Halloween. I've been crazy busy as has everyone who has stated their wish to see this part of the project come to fruition -- I hope we can pull it off!

Friday, September 05, 2008

ReJAVAnate Reusable Bags

The guy at this business sent me a link to this business. As some may know, I am not fond of cold call emails promoting "green" products, but this time I felt I could make an exception. ReJAVAnate reusable bags recycles the burlap bags that coffee is shipped in and, in partnership with members of the ARC, creates durable, reusable tote bags. One 15"x15" tote costs $7.00, which is relatively inexpensive when you consider they are handmade. They are also re-purposed, which makes them especially sustainable.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

UF #7 Sierra Club Cool School Ranking

The Sierra Club, even though they still keep sending me renewal notices in the mail and email even after I've already renewed with them (this is the second year this has gone on and it's very boring) -- even though they have their problems, they still take the time to honor the universities that try to make an environmental impact by leaving less of a footprint. They just released the Top 10 Cool Schools, schools that apparently "get it." And, lo and behold, UF, my hallowed soon-to-be alma mater, is #7! Woo-hoo! We're #7! We're #7! They also have loser schools and stuff about green-collar jobs.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Bring Your Bags

On the reverse side, it says:
Here's a great way to remember to bring our reusable bags into Publix every time you shop. Just place this cling inside your car's windshield (on the edge so it won't interfere with visibility) and it will remind you.
What I want to know is how a 1x2-inch window cling is going to cause a blind spot, and how will it remind me to bring my bags, after I get into the car and am rolling down my street? You think I'm going to turn around? Ha!

Here's what happened: DG and I did our weekly weigh-in for this weight loss challenge we signed up for, and then ran a bunch of errands. At Publix (my stop, because DG would not be caught in a Publix, much less be caught buying anything in one), DG saw that I was buying a Publix reusable bag for my purchases and we got into a debate that went something like this:
DG: (alarmed) Why are you buying that?
ME: (somewhat sheepish) This is my new strategy for giving totes to the Need-a-Bag? Project. You know, I told you that, you were fine with that...
DG: Not if you're just buying them when you don't need to.
ME: What? I need them...I have purchases...
DG: I could easily carry your frozen pizza and 12-pack of seltzer!

And on an on, down the express check-out line, until we reached the cashier. She was alert to DG's distress and offered me one of these stickers, so I would no longer forget my bags.

I'm thinking more and more that my new approach is wrong-headed, and I should just budget time to go thrifting. I'm so time-management oriented these days, with two classes and senior thesis hours, so maybe I'll do that tomorrow, and forget this stupid idea...

Monday, September 01, 2008

Slow Food Article in WSJ, Wendell Berry, and Growing Things

It's the first day of September, Labor Day, and the quasi-official last day of summer. Wahhh! It hasn't hit me until now -- Summerisover!!!

Dang. Anyway, Stace sent back positive reports of her first outing as Need-a-Bag? project putter-away-er and also sent this link to a Wall Street Journal article on the first Slow Food Movement Festival, held in San Francisco. The thing I liked about the article was that it featured a speech given by Wendell Berry, who I very much admire for his steadfast principles to sustainable ecology, crunchy outside and delicious, curmudgeonly center.

The only experience DG and I have had so far with the Slow Food Movement as it stands in the Gainesville area was when we totally skanked the Gainesville Slow Food table at the quarterly festival at the farmer's market, which also marked the introduction of the Need-a-Bag? Project almost one year ago. Ah, memories...

In honor of Labor Day, the Slow Food Movement, and Wendell Berry, I (finally) planted the loofah vines I got from Farmer John's table at Ward's. I need to work in some lighter soil but threw a couple of handfuls of compost (purchased, unfortunately) to get them started. We'll probably get some rain bands from Gustav (unfortunately, others are getting more rain than us). David from across the street said they'll take over the yard -- If they do, I welcome the intrusion in a spot that's not seeing much cultivation action; I'm just hoping they make it past my rough housing with them to get them into their appointed spots by the bamboo-pole teepee I made for them.