Friday, April 17, 2009

Sustainability In The Community

'Isle Garden Project in Trenton, New Jersey'

, in a broad sense is the ability to maintain a certain process or state...

I have been heading in a sustainable lifestyle direction for many years. In my early twenties, having my first child diagnosed with birth defects that blatantly became 'terminal', or a 'chronic illness' in many medical arenas; I will never look at life the same way again. Having to face the fact that we had no choice but to live and breath in the healthiest way has helped shape me into a more health conscious chef; although I am not claiming to be perfect in any way. I just feel that other children like her and their families deserve to have a better chance at a good and healthier life, and by sharing I somehow hope to help.

In the past four years I have met or become friends with similar experiences. For instance, Maman and Gourmand AKA Mistress of Cakes is also raising her step-son who is just a year younger than my own daughter, and suffers from the very same illness, Pulmonary Artresia! My experience in dealing with the difficulties hopefully have lent support to them and others...

Also, growing up in a large family and being poor was the beginning of my journey to sustainability. If you get it; you begin to learn that every aspect of daily life has to be planned- from lifestyle choices, grocery shopping, meal preparation, recycling, safety and sanitation practices, and eventually even home schooling my children to keep my daughter well. I did find that gardening incorporated science and health education into their studies. Sure I had a full load with tedious monthly doctor appointments, school work, running my own businesses, so that I could be flexible. The joy of watching my children plant seeds, recycle papers and plastics, helping neighbors, and wanting to cook fresh and healthy meals with me in the kitchen using our edible flowers and vegetables that made it all worth the energy I had to put forth.

INVITATION: Enjoy a spring afternoon in the garden with Bent Spoon ice cream and a lecture by Meredith Taylor, Senior Project Commissioner, Isles Community Garden and Nutrition Division. Ms. Taylor will speak about community and school gardens.

'Sage grown in the Princeton Garden Project helped make this ice cream we all shared'!

Much of the garden goods go to the campus 'Dinner Halls' to feed the students...

Location: Forbes Garden Project, 79 Alexander St.
Date/Time: 04/15/09 at 4:30 pm - 04/15/09 at 6:00 pm
Sponsor: The Garden Project

*Due to rain, this lecture has been moved to the pink house next to Forbes.

'Princeton students Eva, Colleen, and Sierra help run and maintain the Princeton Garden Project, and threw great questions at Meredith about how they could partner in the future...'

I attended Wednesdays event with Sue Albert, a fellow Open Mic participant/musician and fellow blog- She and I are partnering on a project she had already begun- a butterfly garden for inner city dwellers of Trenton, NJ. She in return is helping me with starting a sustainable garden for my culinary class at Isle Youth Build Institute of Trenton, NJ.

This gathering is part of the "Ethics, Politics, and the American Food System" lecture series that was hosted by The Garden Project of Princeton University, Eva Marie Walsh, and presented by Meredith Taylor, Senior Project Commissioner of the Isles Community Garden and Commission. In helping with awareness and ideas for their sustainability projects this was organized to help educate local college students. Meredith talked about how in her job with Isles she is the Senior Project Manager for the Environment & Community Heath division. The Isles Organization was founded in 1981 in New Jersey is a nationally recognized community development and environmental nonprofit organization in Trenton, New Jersey. Isles- Fostering Self-Reliance...

Meredith told the students how she helps a school locate spots on their property; developing, building, and maintaining sustainable gardens for teaching purposes. She also teaches cooking classes that provides family members with nutrition, simplistic cooking instruction, as well as how to shop for the ingredients in a budget conscious minded way. Isles provide the tools, education and skills that enable families to help themselves and improve their neighborhoods, over the long-term.

Meredith and I took a few minutes discussing how I could possibly benefit her program through my own education and experience. The conversation opened up so many possibilities for us. I can give back even more to community, as others helped me through my childhood and parenting difficulties. I know many of you are looking forward to starting your gardens soon, but if you live near a community garden...please take a few hours out of your schedule to volunteer. You too can make a sustainable difference!

Sites I found Useful for gardening/cooking from the garden, and other cool sustainable gardening reads:

As you are reading this I am already on my way to help set-up, and get so lessons in food photography and more! Here is what everyone will be enjoying...

Hello Garden Diners!

Everyone at the Princeton Garden is excited to welcome you tomorrow, Sunday, April 19th! Chef Alex from Forbes will be serving up a tasty local meal while the Princeton String Quartet plays live! During dessert our Garden Manager will be giving you all some information on garden activities and answer any questions you may have. We are hoping that this is the start of a garden tradition!


Dinner will be served promptly at 5pm. Plan to get to the garden early to meet new friends and enjoy the live music which starts at 4:45pm. Dinner will be leisurely and you can enjoy a brief overview of the garden by our current Garden Manager over dessert!

The Menu:

Spiced Chilled Carrot Soup with Yogurt and Ginger

Frisee and Bibb lettuce with Radishes and Spring Onions

Fresh Pea Hummus Crostini with Pea Tendril Garnish

Grilled Asparagus with Kosher salt and extra virgin olive oil

Grilled Kennett Square Portobello mushrooms

Sautéed dandelion greens with cannellini beans and garlic

Served with grilled flat breads

Brewed green iced tea with fresh mint

Blueberry honey with sprig of mint