Hydrofarm Humboldt County Office of Education, Karen Brooks

Imagine the chilly Humboldt coastal climate…not too hard to do — with the humidity on the coast the cool weather seems cooler and 60 degrees can seem uncomfortably hot.  Then imagine stepping from the chilly winter, spring, fall or summer day — into a sauna.  That is what it is like entering the greenhouse Hydrofarm  the Humboldt County Office of Education is operating on the Redwood Acres property.

But it isn’t that easy to just step into the Hydrofarm.  Because it is an enclosed system any introduced pathogen will run rampant.  First you must set aside any purses and jackets — then wash your hands when you enter.  Does it sound like a laboratory?  Then I’m describing it correctly.  In this lab students are learning to use soil-less blocks to grow vegetables for a small farmers market as well as local restaurants.

Listen to Part 1 of the 2-part interview with Karen Brooks here.

Listen to Part 2 of the 2-part interview with Karen Brooks here.


Jeanine Cava, Hungry for Change

Talking with passionate, articulate, bright young women always gets me charged up for our future.  I know — it’s easy to get pessimistic about that these days, but really, I’ve found it so rejuvenating to talk with young women.  Jeanine Cava is no exception.  She is wanting to educate people about hunger in our society using a curriculum called Hungry for Change which uses the  North West Earth Institute’s discussion based course and materials.  This course discusses issues of food security, climate change, agroecology, and sustainable food systems.

Interested in finding out more, listen here!


Kyle Shamp and Travis Franco – Eureka High School Ag Program

I still can’t believe my unbelievable luck making contact with Alissa Sarvinski.  The daughter of local farmers and an Agriculture instructor in Humboldt County, Alissa has been my mentor in all things Agriculture in the schools.  A while ago she invited me to a meeting of Ag teachers from Humboldt and Del Norte counties, and introduced me to them.  I was able to share the information about the Food for Thought film series which will be completed this fall (with any luck and about a zillion hours of film editing).

Anyway, I digress.  Alissa hooked me up with Ag instructor Kyle Shamp and his student Travis Franco.  Travis is working on a beekeeping project for his class at Eureka High School. While many children throughout the US are laying on the couch playing video games, Travis is learning about bee biology, harvesting honey, and tending his hives.  To hear more about Travis and his teacher “Mr. Shamp”  listen here!

Master Food Preservers 2017 Training Program

I think everyone knows that I have a soft spot for the Master Food Preserver Program — For me, it all started when I first learned about the program back in the early 1980’s.  I was going to college at Humboldt State University and down in Alameda, my mom enrolled in the program.  The next thing I knew she was shipping up pasta she had made and talking about pickles and jerky — when I was home the next summer she dehydrated onions in the basement…so yes, we all make mistakes!

I was downright jealous — I wanted to be a Master Food Preserver (MFP) with the University of California — but Humboldt didn’t have a program.  So I started talking to Food Guru Joyce Houston about what it might take to get a program off the ground here in Humboldt — and along with Deborah Giraud from the UC, Lauren Fawcett from the North Coast Co-op, and most importantly Lifetime Master Food Preserver Lee Ann Moore (then Duclo), we made it happen.  In 2012 we graduated the first class and it has been going ever since, with over 40 people to be volunteers sharing information on safe home food preservation.

But, to become an MFP — there is quite a bit of training involved.  Orientation is January 21, 10am-12pm at the UC Cooperative Extension Office. Classes are Saturdays and Mondays, February 4 – March 13. Saturdays 9am-4pm and Mondays 5:30pm-8:30pm. Class location: Bear River Community Kitchen in Loleta. Graduation will take place on March 13, 5:30pm-8:30pm at the UC Cooperative Extension Office in Eureka. For an application you can contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Office at 445-7351.

To hear more about being an MFP and the 2017 training, listen here to an interview with Joyce Houston and Christine Lewis.

Alissa Sarvinski, Agriculture Program Eureka High School

I have been known to joke that if you plan on eating in the future, you better support youth who are pursuing a career in farming, fishing, ranching, and other forms of food production — but really, if you think about it…it’s not really funny.  The average age of a farmer in the U.S. is 58.3 years…and if you go down to the marina to pick up albacore tuna, check out the average age of the person who owns the fishing boat…it does not bode well for those of us who want to keep on eating.  So do I think there won”t be food in the future?  Of course not — China has already tapped into this ready market of people who are willing to shop in big box stores and only want the cheapest price.  I’m talking about high quality, fresh, local produce…and really, truly organically produced (not just the label) by people who care about the people who eat the food.

I know — yawn!  If you are reading this you already get it.

I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Alissa Sarvinski, a young woman who not only grew up on a dairy farm, with family owning the Corn Crib in Pepperwood, but also someone who feels it is important work to teach youth about the possibilities of a career in Ag.

Listen here