Wednesday, September 12, 2012


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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Upland High School Garden Dedication

On Tuesday, June 5th, the folks at Upland High School celebrated the completion of their garden by hosting a garden dedication. English teacher, Mrs. Jennifer McAdams, and Environmental Science teacher, Mr. Bo Whieldon, were instrumental in securing the grant from the Garden in Every School program as well as ensuring the successful completion of the garden.

However, Mrs. McAdams and Mr. Whieldon are quick to point out that the kids deserve all of the credit. The English and Environmental Science students wrote grants, fundraised, created promotional videos, constructed vegetable beds, installed irrigation, raked mulch, planted trees & seeds, built a fence, dug up rocks (sometimes boulders!), and watered and weeded the garden. They did a super job and should be very proud of themselves!

During the dedication ceremony IEUA President, Mr. Terry Catlin, spoke to the crowd about how pleased he was with the school garden and the importance of teaching the next generation about water conservation.

Student Body President and gardener extraordinaire, Garrett Lee, spoke about the benefits of the garden and how working on it has influenced what he will study in college.

Mr. Rick Abilez, Grounds Foreman Supervisor for Upland Unified School District, was honored by being recognized for his assistance and enthusiasm with the Garden in Every School program. Mr. Andrew Kanzler, the Garden in Every School Coordinator, presented Mr. Abilez with a certificate of gratitude at the end of the ceremony and praised his hard work and willingness to help.

Toward the end of the event, the participants moved from the cafeteria to the garden for the ribbon cutting ceremony--Mrs. McAdams did the honors! Representatives from several public agencies were there to commemorate the garden as well, including the Superintendent of Upland Unified School District, Mr. Gary Rutherford, Upland City Council Member, Mr. Gino Filippi, and IEUA President, Mr. Terry Catlin.

The kids were excited to share their knowledge and experience with us regarding the garden and they were generous enough to share the fruits of their labor!

Several students emptied out the potato bins they planted in January and passed out fresh potatoes.

It was great day and a great experience, not only for the teachers and kids, but for the Garden in Every School staff as well. Working with the people at Upland High School was a joy and makes us excited to build more school gardens! We wish them the best of luck with their garden and future endeavors.

The Three Sisters: Squash, Beans, and Corn (Maize)

An agricultural staple of the North American Native American diet was the intercropping of squash, beans, and corn. The combination of these plant types was so important to Native American culture that it took on a spiritual nature. In the Iriquois mythology, squash, beans, and corn are three inseperable sisters who must grow together and depend on each other for survival. The Three Sisters agricultural technique was practiced by Native Americans from Mesoamerica all the way to the Great Lakes in Michigan.
 Photo provided by Sarah Braun
The Three Sisters intercropping system is efficient both ecologically and nutritionally. Typically the three plants are planted together at the top of a raised mound. The corn provides a tall sturdy base for the beans to climb allowing them access to sunlight; the beans in turn fortify the corn stalk making it less vulnerable to wind. The squash leaves grow and spread along the ground which blocks sunlight from reaching the earth creating natural weed suppression. The shade provided by the squash leaves also creates a cool microclimate under the canopy of the leaves and helps the soil retain moisture allowing roots access to water for a longer period of time. Beans fix nitrogen into the soil, which provides added nutrients for the squash and corn plants. Some tribes add a fourth sister, a bee plant, which attracts pollinators to the plants and adds to the ecological richness of the intercropping. This symbiotic planting will allow all three crops to extend their growing season while using less water and nitrogen imputs.
Nutritionally, this is an efficient combination because beans contain amino acids that are lacking in the corn plant. When eaten together they create a more balanced diet (

If you would like to plant your own Three Sisters garden, follow the design provided by Renee's Garden in the following link:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Le' go my Oregano

Oregano is a very pungent and aromatic herb from the Mediterranean Region. There are several species of oregano, but the most common seed available to home growers is Origanum Marjoram (Common Oregano). Oregano loves a warm, dry climate and will grow as a perennial in mediterrenean and other dry climates. It can withstand some cool weather, but it will typically die off if the temperature drops for sustained periods of time. Oregano oil is well renowned for its anti-microbial and health properties due to its key constituents: thymol and carvacrol
                                           Photo of Oregano provided by Hidetsugu Tonomura

Oregano can be grown in the ground or in a pot, but be careful, this herb spreads quickly.

Photo of Groundcover Oregano provided by Mestra Ashara

RECIPE: Fingerling Potatoes with Oregano Pesto
Like many herbs, oregano can be used fresh, dried, or pressed for its oils. In our featured recipe, fresh oregano and other greens are blended together into a lemony, nutty, and fragrant Pesto and tossed with fingerling potatotes.
Photo of Drying Oregano provided by Ian Sommerville

Recipe is from Marquita Farms: Oregano Recipes (
Any kind of potatoes will work in place of the fingerlings. Just cut them up into 2-inch chunks.
2 cups torn spinach leaves
2 cups fresh parsley leaves
1 cup fresh oregano leaves
2 tbsp. grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. sliced almonds, toasted
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsp. olive oil
16 fingerling poatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Combine first 8 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. With food processor on, slowly add oil through food chute; process until well-blended. Set aside. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place potatoes on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Place potatoes in a large bowl; add 1/3 cup pesto, tossing gently to coat.

Monday, April 30, 2012

It's About Thyme

Thyme is a mediterranean herb that is characterized by variety. The genus Thymus contains approximately 350 species of thyme, but the one we're mostly familiar with is Thymus mongolicus (Common Thyme), which is primarily used in culinary applications. Depending on the species, thyme is a woody, perennial low-lying plant or a small, subshrub. It developed in the Mediterranean Region, in the temperate coastal regions of southern Europe and northern Africa. Humans are not the only species to use thyme as a food source; the larvae of certain butterflies and moths (Coleophora niveicostella, Coleophora serpylletorum and Coleophora struella) feed exclusively on Thymus.
Photo of Thyme provided by Andy Ciordia

In addition to being a culinary staple, thyme has incredible properties that make it a great plant for drought-tolerant gardens. One species of thyme in particular, Thymus Serpyllum, also know as Creeping or Magic Carpet Thyme, spreads along the earth as a low-lying groundcover. Groundcovers are particular helpful at increasing soil stability, moisture retention, and weed suppression. Also, Creeping Thyme is a perennial that flowers all summer and looks beautiful when it creates a bed of flowers.
Photo of Creeping Thyme provided by Andrea_44

RECIPES: Zucchini and Thyme & Green Beans with Almonds and Thyme
Thyme is used as a spice in meat and veggies dishes, and also in sauces, soups, and as a garnish. We've chosen a couple of recipes (see links below) that you can try over the summer as they are paired with seasonally appropriate vegetables. Zucchini are notoriously prolific in the summer, as are green beans. Please enjoy and let us know if you liked these recipes!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Wise Sage

Sage, or Salvia, is the largest genus in the Lamiaceae (mint) family. There are approximately 700-900 species of sage, but the species used most often for culinary applications is referred to as garden sage or Common Sage (Salvia officinalis). Sage is identified by its green/gray leaves and blue to purple colored flowers. It is a perennial, evergreen subshrub with woody stems. It actually does originate from the Mediterranean region, but has since spread, or naturalized, all over the world. Sage is renowned for its culinary and medicinal applications. It has numerous uses in fresh and dry forms, and it it also useful as an essential oil. See Salvia Officinalis for more information.

Photo of Sage provided by feministjulie

There are several other species of sage that are useful for more than just cooking and medicinal applications. Most of the California coastline and some inland areas, particularly in the central and southern parts of the state, are home to coastal sage scrub (see map of California for locations). 'Sage scrub' is a catch-all term that encompasses several plant species, not just those in the genus Salvia. For example, the scientific name for California Sagebrush is Artemisia californica, which is outside of the genus Salvia. The most common species of Salvia that grow in the coastal sage scrub areas are Black Sage (Salvia mellifera), White Sage (Salvia apiana), and Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla). The coastal sage scrub range has been reduced over time because of development practices. In many counties and cities, it has been given a protected status and permits are required to remove it for further development. In addition to preserving coastal sage scrub for its unique character, these plant species are protected because they provide habitat for several animal and insect species. Most notably, the California gnatcatcher is a federally-listed threatened species, and requires coastal sage scrub (critical habitat) for its survival. Other species commonly found in coastal sage scrub are: Red-Diamond Rattlesnakes, Orange-Throated Whiptails, Cactus Wrens, and Sage Sparrows (see picture below).
Photo of Sage Sparrow provided by Dominic Sherony

RECIPE: Burnt Butter and Sage Sauce (with pasta or gnocchi)

Common Sage has a strong, peppery taste that can be quite pungent and earthy. It is usually used in meat rubs, stuffings, and sauces. The recipe that we're showcasing today uses sage as the main flavorant for a burnt butter sauce, which is absolutely delicious. There are several variations of this recipe. The one from the Food Network link (provided below) includes red pepper flakes, but you can omit it if you like (check the comments to see how other chefs personalized this recipe). If you're not sure what to pair it with, I really enjoy this sauce with pumpkin or squash ravioli. Homemade potato or sweet potato gnocci is fabulous as well.

The sauce is easy make. First add the indicated amount of butter to the pan and cook on medium-high heat until it starts to brown and the aroma deepens. Then add the sage directly to the butter. The sage will immediately begin to fry and crisp up. If you are going to add gnocchi or pasta make sure you time it to finish at the same time as the sauce (it only takes a minute or two to make). Toss the pasta/gnocchi with the sauce and serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rosemary, the Dew of the Sea

Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis, is a woody, perennial herb that is part of the Lamiaceae family (aka the mint family). The name rosemary derives from the latin rosmarinus, which broken down further means ros~dew, and marinus~sea. Many contend that rosemary was given this name because it required very little water to survive and could literally sustain itself and even thrive on moist on-shore breezes.

Photo of Rosemary provided by Cinnamon Cooper

Rosemary is a plant that can grow under many climactic circumstances, however it originated in the mediterranean climates of Europe and parts of Asia. It maintains its hardiness in cool temperatures and can withstand droughts, but it is best situated in warm, mediterranean climates. Rosemary can flower year round with the proper climate; it produces petals in white, purple, and blue--these are also edible, or they can be used for garnish. Rosemary can be started from seed or you can take a cutting of an existing plant and plant it in your own backyard.

To use the cutting technique, look for a stem without flowers that is about 4-7 inches long. Clip the base of the stem at a 45 degree angle. Place the newly cut stem into a clear glass of water (if you can't submerge the stem in water right away, wrap it in a wet cloth until you can). After a week the rosemary cutting will begin to grow roots and after two weeks the roots should be long enough to replant the cutting. If your cutting does not sprout roots after 9-10 days, try taking another cutting and start from scratch. The best time to try the cutting technique is in the fall, when the stem will spend more energy developing roots as opposed to trying to produce flowers.

Rosemary is a highly aromatic herb that has many culinary properties. It has been used as a meat preservative, a flavorant, and in smoking applications (since it is rather woody). It has a very strong scent and flavor and people tend to cook or pair it with other robust flavors like red meats, mushrooms, and red wines, but rosemary has some subtler applications that many cooks can appreciate. For example, the recipe described below mixes rosemary with sugar, jam, and cream:

RECIPE: Rosemary Scones with Jam

Photo of Rosemary Scone courtesy of esimpraim

Rosemary scones are not your typical sweet and candied confection. The addition of rosemary brings a whole new layer of depth and flavoring to the scone. To achieve the subtle flavoring, make sure you chop the rosemary leaves finely and toss out any of the wooden stems. Also, you may add whatever jam you prefer to the center of the scone, but I prefer raspberry or strawberry. Here is a link to a Strawberry and Rosemary Scone recipe created by Giada de Laurentiis: