Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kin Schilling and the Cornucopia Project

Kin Schilling was the guest speaker Tuesday night at the Food Writing class at Brown University. Kin, talented painter, gardener and cook, told us about her Cornucopia Project in New Hampshire and her organic garden, and how she teaches children to grow food. Kim brought two of her board members to the class: Ricardo Barreto, an art project manager, curator and consultant who also has experience in public art for community development, and Jessie Benthien, culinary school graduate and former chef at the Montalvo Arts Center in California. Jessie shared her knowledge of the food movement that began in California with Alice Waters and Chez Panisse and some of the happy changes in the Berkeley, CA school lunch program.

Conversation among “foodies” is always passionate and wide-ranging and below are links to some of the topics we discussed. Kin’s final advice was to start with a tiny plot and grow carrots or radishes, something simple. Something delicious, as home-grown organic foods taste so much better than supermarket varieties.
The class agreed that Kin is an inspiration to all. Thanks to Carol DeBoer-Langworthy, our instructor, for finding such a cool guest scholar.

Listening to Kin talk of the children's enthusiasm for gardening, I recalled my young son’s first growing efforts back in Illinois and how the rabbits decimated the green beans, leaving only stems. He never lost his optimism, and gardens to this day as time and space allow. At my funky little place in Nevada, we have apples, pears, plums and peaches and even a cherry tree. The plums are tiny, barely bigger than large grapes, yet tasty, even succulent, and I still remember the delicious compote I made this fall, and the freeform plum tart that was soooo good.

A hint to all of you who would garden. My grandpa believed that you must plant root vegetables in the dark of the moon, and above-the-ground crops in the light of the moon. It worked for him, and his garden was the envy of his small Kansas town.

This summer my little patch of heritage beets was modest, as was the green pepper plant and the tomatoes and all the herbs, but they were a beginning. Starting small, we grew some of our own food, and we even inspired the guys next door to do a bit of gardening. These are the same guys who tossed a perfectly good tomato plant out with the trash a few years ago, and the lawn maintenance people snapped it up before the garbage truck came. I heard one of them saying, “it just needs a little water.”

Our young guest gobbled up the beets, and we all enjoyed the tomatoes, especially with the fresh basil and some fresh mozzarella drizzled with EVOO. The green peppers tasted so sweet that I could hardly believe they were actually GREEN.

We donate the Halloween pumpkin to the critters in the woods and even the acorn squash seeds. The Scottish Highland cattle get the acorn squash skins. Waste not. Worms like coffee grounds and then make the soil more friable.

Here are the links to all sort of things and people you should really know about.

The Crotched Mountain Foundation and the Cornucopia Project

Vendana Shiva is an Indian Woman who has spent years studying food and society

1 comment:

Jodi said...

Thanks for expressing so well what all of us came away feeling after Tuesday night's "Food Writing" session. Let's all continue the conversation beyond the last class. --Jodi