Jules gives presentation at UCLA

Speaking Engagement

Jules Dervaes of PTF was invited to speak at Peter Sellars’ World Arts and Cultures class, Art as Social Action, at UCLA as a guest speaker along with food writer Michael Pollan on Monday (yesterday). Peter Sellars is known for getting his students to think outside the box. The class topic is Slow Food, with guests such as Alice Waters and Eric Schlosser, among others. Over the weekend, we hurriedly scrambled to put together a short, 10 minute video about our commitment to growing closer to home. Jules gave a brief intro.

Here are the notes:

I sold 10 acres in the country of central FL to buy 1/5 acre lot in 1985. In 2000 because of the genetically modified food threat I was forced to undergo basic training to become a lean mean growing machine. Q: How many of you seen the Inconvenient Truth? My family and I are trying to walk the inconvenient solution. Headlines: Endangering pollution/explosive Mideast/unpopular war/political quagmire/gas prices soaring to over 35 cents/galThis was the news from the time –over 40 years ago—when I was sitting in your seat. Here is a video clip about how I came to be standing before you.

The short film ‘A Homegrown Revolution™’ with clips from the urban homestead and voice over by Jules ended with a scene of a trowel being lifted in the air. This dramatic climax brought cheers, whoops and applause from the nearly 300 students. The video was followed by a short speech by Jules Dervaes. Notes from speech:

As in all matters of life it is all about the choices we make. As global citizens today we face tough choicesOffering this class is a good starting choice. Your taking this class is another good starting choice. Means there is hope. Because there is bad news all around.

Bad news: we in the modern western culture are lost. BUT Not wanting to be dogged by or weighed down by serious matters that infringe on our happy fun times.

Many would like to offset that downer with the good news that we are accomplishing things with record speed. Can we even think slow anymore? As technology brings increased speed without limit, we are forced to play catch up –think and live faster and faster. Think slow

Here’s an idea. It would be neat to create a huge demand for this food product.

In the box: I have one food item … the market cannot handle this product it would crash the system. [Jules slowly pulls out the a huge tromboncino squash.] Paper or plastic? Same family as pumpkins… Pie bread cookies and soup soup soup [reference to Justin’s 007 soup quip on the video]

Do you know what your great grandparents ate? [Jules holds out a dollar bill]

Do you know how much you eat today? [Jules holds up three cents]
All the varieties of food eaten then VS what is on the table today

After 100 years we have lost 97% of food stock. If this happened to the stock market, we’d be going crazy and jumping out windows. Unbearable depression.

Around 10,000 plant species have been used for human food since the origin of agriculture.

Today about 150 plant species make up the diet of most of world population. Just 12 species provide over 80% of our food with 4 crops –rice, wheat, maize and potatoes—alone providing 60% of our diet this is a risk— wonder who is watching the store?

Diversification—companies do it

Slow food is one step at a momentous time—–but we should be scared that our food security is not being taken seriously by most people.

Q: How close to the edge do we have to get? We have a history of neglect and a proclivity for delay so if we fail to act prudently in the cause of slow food one day we will find ourselves having to face the dire issue of no food.

After the watching the well received video and listening to the inspiring food presentation Michale Pollan came up to Jules Dervaes and said “I’ll check out your website.”

Welcome all you UCLA students who visit the website. We were unable to touch on every aspect of our homegrown food operation . If you have any questions, feel free to email us.

Fall crops

Fall Garden

Finally some cooler weather, good for both our garden and the rash of wildfires that has caused considerable destruction. Again we hope our readers down south are well. The fall garden is filling in nicely. As the tightly sown greens grow, they form a vibrant, colorful carpet. Going about chores and gardening tasks, one never tires of such lovely and striking surroundings. As the summer crops fade, fruit trees lose their leaves and perennial herbs need to be pruned back. We’ll finally have the time to re-landscape around the house while also hoping for some decent winter rains. Fall is a time, too, for major clean up and composting around the urban homestead. Places that were hard to access with overgrown, rambling or climbing vegetables now are easy to get to and need tending. When the world is in such bad shape and when surrounded by such a edible paradise, one isthankful for the blessings of an urban homestead.


Come see our giant toxic stew! {SFGate}

Have you heard? Did you see? It’s called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (or Pacific Trash Vortex, among other awesome nicknames) and it’s a staggering phenomenon indeed and after reading up on it, I fully believe we must now revise our master list. Because surely this thing must be one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the grand sociocultural melting pot of our time. Except for the fact that it’s, you know, revolting.
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Preserves become ideology in a jar {TheStar}

Home canning isn’t just about preserving produce. For many, it’s a way to support farmers and resist the corporatization of food.
….Like many Canadians, Pratt is a home canner – surprisingly, it’s not a dying art – and, like many, she has given a lot of thought to the enterprise. It is more than simply putting up food from the harvest, or the back garden. Preserving is an ideology, a political act, a hands-on vote in support of local farmers and their produce. It is a way of withholding, even in small measures, from the vast corporatization of our food. And in its subtle and serene way, it is a link to the past.
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The victory garden generation would be proud to see that there’s movement finally returning to our roots. Hope it stays that way.

If you haven’t a clue how to can, this website is very helpful with online, video tutorials.

American kids, dumber than dirt {SFGate}

My friend often summarizes for me what he sees, firsthand, every day and every month, year in and year out, in his classroom. He speaks not merely of the sad decline in overall intellectual acumen among students over the years, not merely of the astonishing spread of lazy slackerhood, or the fact that cell phones and iPods and excess TV exposure are, absolutely and without reservation, short-circuiting the minds of the upcoming generations. Of this, he says, there is zero doubt.
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Ozone Could Slash Global Crop Yields by 40?y Century’s End {TreeHugger}

We recently told you of a study warning that global warming could prompt the large-scale collapse of the world’s crops by 2080; now comes another study concluding that rising levels of ozone could achieve the same result by century’s end.
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Global Warming or Not: The Debate Over California’s Wildfires {TreeHugger}

Indeed, in the wake of the wildfires that ravaged large sections of Southern California, a debate that had largely remained on the sidelines – whether global warming was causing an increase in the number/intensity of fires – surged to the fore with environmental groups, scientists and pundits alike weighing in with their respective takes on the issue.
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Revisiting Wood {EnergyBlog}

… I was cautioned not to think of wood as renewable.Whoa. If wood is not renewable, we are in deeper trouble than I thought. I know it is fashionable to think of trees as “the lungs of the planet,” but as someone who heats with wood, I prefer to think of them as batteries. They sequester the carbon, which I release with fire, to keep my family warm.
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Not cold enough yet to start our wood stove. We usually wait till to use the stove when the rooms are cold to use as a meat locker and that’s usually around January.
Cooking out of the box {Haaretz}

Sometimes, when people want to describe a sweltering summer day, they say it’s hot enough to fry an egg on the hood of their car. Channeling the sun’s heat for cooking, however, is nothing new to Ruthie and Yaakov Dorot of Netanya. “We want to tell you about the oven we built by ourselves,” they wrote me, following a recent article in these pages (“Delayed gratification,” September 7) on the virtues of slow cooking. “Since 1996 we have been cooking a variety of tasty, healthy foods at low temperatures. Our oven uses energy from the sun, and of course is more efficient in the summer.”
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Another solar cooking convert from the 1990’s. I remember we built our first solar oven around 1995 using these plans. Since then, solar cooking has gained in popularity, and you can even buy (via PTF’s online store) sun ovens if you don’t have time to make one yourself.

No Comments

  1. robin says:

    Yay! Mark Morford! Best writer at the SF Chronicle.

    Thanks for linking to his column.

  2. David says:

    I too believe that wood/trees are a renewable resource, that used responsibly, can bring balance to our environment.

    Patrick Moore, one of the founding members of Green Peace also finds that responsible nuturing & use of trees is the answer to environmental woes & to help bring about equilibrium on our emerald orb, http://www.greenspirit.com/trees_answer.cfm .

    Thanks for highlighting our oxygenating & carbon dioxide munching trees in this journal posting :).

  3. Jeff S. says:

    I am curious as to what those black looking mats are on some of the garden beds.

  4. Lucy says:

    How do you get your greens sown so close together?