In this issue:
• 11th annual potluck picnic will be Aug. 8
• Tips for safe, effective mosquito control
• T.C. Williams Garden Club builds compost bin
• Track blooms with Project Budburst
• Movie review: “Food, Inc.”
• Newsletter articles welcome
11th annual potluck picnic will be Aug. 8
Make plans to attend this year’s Chinquapin Gardens
Potluck Picnic, which is sponsored by the Chinquapin Organic Gardens
Join your fellow Chinquapin gardeners at the 11th annual event, which
will be held Saturday, Aug. 8, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Chinquapin Park
Gardeners are invited to bring a potluck dish and share their harvest
with their fellow Chinquapin gardeners. (Because of City of Alexandria
health regulations, please do not bring meat-based dishes and use care
when preparing foods with eggs or mayonnaise.)
If you have a recipe you would like to share, bring a copy with you to
the picnic. Grilled hot dogs and fixings will be available free for
picnic attendees. Friends and families of gardeners are welcome!
Gardeners are invited to bring their best Chinquapin-grown tomato for
the annual Tomato Taste-Off. Awards will be given for the biggest,
best-tasting, weirdest, most appealing and smallest ripe tomatoes.
The picnic pavilion is covered, so the event will be held rain or
shine. Join us for good food and good company on Saturday, Aug. 8.
For picnic questions, e-mail Marlin Lord, chair of the Chinquapin Organic Gardens Advisory Board.
Tips for safe, effective mosquito control
Article courtesy of the
Alexandria Health Department, Environmental Health Section, Vector
Borne Illness Prevention Program
Mosquitoes are not only a nuisance that can ruin a backyard
cookout or a pleasant day in the garden, they also can transmit
One mosquito in particular, the Asian Tiger mosquito, breeds almost
exclusively in artificial containers with standing water and is very
capable of transmitting many diseases to humans. These black and white
mosquitoes will lay their eggs in a variety of containers, including:
- Rain barrels
- Uncovered trashcans and trashcan lids
- Flowerpots and saucers
- Blocked gutters
- Toys (particularly plastic)
- Tarps over woodpiles or equipment
- Pet water bowls
- Corrugated plastic drainpipes
- Swimming or wading pools
- Unused planting containers
Once Asian Tiger mosquitoes hatch into adults, they do not fly very far
from the containers and are active biters all day long. The easiest and
most environmentally friendly way to reduce the mosquito populations in
your area is to simply dump the standing water from the containers or
leave unused containers upside down so they do not fill with water.
Mosquito larvae and pupae must have water to survive, and it takes five to seven
days for them to complete their life cycle. Dumping water once a week
will interrupt this cycle and kill them before they can become adults.
If you can not dump the water, there are some biological control
products available to use in standing water that will kill the larvae
stage. These products are bacteria that are specific for
mosquitoes and will not harm fish, other insects or plants.
Using a mosquito repellant while outside will reduce your risk of
getting bitten and the chance of getting a mosquito borne disease.
There are three ingredients registered with the Environmental
Protection Agency, and two demonstrate a higher degree of efficacy:
DEET (N,Ndiethyl-m-toluamide) and Picardin (KBR 3023). Oil of Lemon eucalyptus
(p-menthane 3,8-diol -PMD) demonstrates sufficient protection similar
to low concentrations of DEET. Not all repellents, even those
considered "all natural" should be used on small children, so please
read and follow the labels carefully. Other tips to reduce mosquito
bites include avoiding outdoor activities in mosquito-infested areas
and wearing loose, long and light-colored clothing when outdoors.
For more information on mosquitoes and mosquito control, please contact the Alexandria Health Department Vector Borne Illness Prevention Program at 703-838-4400, extensions 326 or 327.
From the newsletter editor: Our
thanks go to Chinquapin Organic Gardens gardener Lisa Marie Guli, MPH,
for her work in coordinating this article for the newsletter. The
Chinquapin Organic Gardens Advisory Board reminds gardeners that all
gardening activity at Chinquapin Organic Gardens must be organic.
T.C. Williams High School Garden Club builds a new compost bin
You may have noticed a new addition at the top of the gardens this summer: a handcrafted, student-built compost bin.
The T.C. Williams High School Garden Club, which has a plot at the top of the gardens, spent nine hours building the new bin.
“Each bin is about three-feet square and the six wooden slats in
front can all be removed, one at a time, for easy access,” said
Brad Kukuk, one of the co-coordinators. “We decided to just let
it set on the ground to make it easy to get in and out.”
The group is also planning to build two picnic tables and a raised
bramble bed. All of the wood used in the project came from a
green building company and is treated organically.
Watch a slideshow of the compost bin being constructed online, or check out the bin in-person at the gardens.
Help track blooms around the nation with Project BudBurst
Think that flower in your garden or tree down the street is the first one to bloom this season? Log on to Project BudBurst
online, upload your find and share it with thousands of plant-watchers
around the nation. You’ll be helping scientists
as they document the environment and changes to our climate.
Billed as a national field campaign for “citizen
scientists,” Project BudBurst engages the public in making
observations of the “phenophases,” such as first leafing,
first flower and first fruit ripening of trees, shrubs, flowers and
grasses. The project site contains a list of
targeted plants that are common across the nation — such as
pinkladies, yarrow and columbine — though observations of other plants are
The project, started as a pilot program in 2007, is operated by the
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Chicago Botanic
Garden, and University of Montana.
An analysis of thousands of Project BudBurst observations from last
year and the 2007 pilot shows that volunteers have established a
baseline for the timing of key plant events. Volunteers can compare
these observations to flowering and leafing in future years to measure
the impact of a warming climate. Overall, 4,861 observations were
reported online in 2008 from participants in every state except Hawaii.
"Plants provide a wonderful context for learning about the
environment,” says Project BudBurst director Sandra Henderson of
the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research’s Office of
Education and Outreach. “They respond to changes in temperature
and precipitation, which are things that climate scientists are very
interested in. By observing plants, our volunteers are providing
information about our climate that would otherwise not be available."
So the next time your spiderwort opens its first blue flower or
dandelions pop up with their big yellow heads, visit Project BudBurst
and share it with the world.
Project BudBurst Web site: http://www.windows.ucar.edu/citizen_science/budburst/
Movie review: “Food, Inc.” sheds light on U.S. agriculture industry
By Jordan Wright, the Georgetowner/Downtowner, May 2009. Reprinted with permission
In his new documentary, “Food, Inc.,” scheduled
to premiere here on June 19, producer Robert Kenner lifts the veil on
the shameful underbelly of food production in this country. Kenner is
the producer of the Academy Award-winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,”
narrated by Al Gore. It’s now the fourth largest-grossing
documentary of all time. After the screening I wondered, could
“Food, Inc.” have the same radical, policy-changing
influence on business as usual in the food production world as
“An Inconvenient Truth” did when it challenged and informed
us on climate change? Could we continue to ignore the realities of an
industry gone haywire?
Featuring interviews with the iconic food author and activist, Michael Pollan,
of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “The
Botany of Desire — A Plant’s Eye View of the World;”
Eric Schlosser, author of “Fast Food Nation;” and Joel
Salatin, real-life farmer of Polyface Farms,
a sustainable, organic model farm in Swoope, Va., and author of
“Holy Cows and Hog Heaven,” the directors have proffered
the reality of agri-business in this country. This is an inconvenient
truth of a different kind. It reveals how our nation’s food is
being raised, produced, slaughtered, cloned, genetically-modified, seed
patented and engineered, and co-opted and controlled by a few
mega-conglomerates. Monsanto, Smithfield and ConAgra top the list of
The film further enlightens us that Monsanto holds the patent for a
genetically-modified soybean, called “Roundup Ready
Soybeans,” that produces 90 percent of all soy-contained products
consumed in the United States. (Soybeans are found in tens of thousands
of our food products). It renders the beans impervious to the popular
pesticide Roundup. Over 100 seed companies are owned and controlled
worldwide by Monsanto, which is also the world’s second largest
agrochemical company. Check out http://vicinsea.blogspot.com/2008/07/seeds-of-shame.html for a lengthy yet partial list.
I should mention here that the European Union does not allow any
genetically-modified foods or seeds but is under constant pressure by
agro-lobbyists bringing lawsuits demanding sole use of their products.
In Germany, Monsanto has been suing to overturn a cultivation ban
against the genetically-modified “Maize Mon 810” as it
works to consolidate the world seed market. You have to ask yourself
why the USDA and FDA have not protected us as well.
Third-world countries do not have the luxury of refusing these seeds.
They are foisted on them through corporate domination and food/seed
donations. The United States soybean industry has been co-opted as
well. American farmers who try to use their own seed stock are
threatened with multi-million dollar lawsuits and dogged by
surveillance teams working underground, who often use the testimony of
neighboring farmers to turn them in to Monsanto who is determined to
prosecute all farmers that do not use their patented seeds. It has
created a culture of fear among farmers who are forced to purchase
these seeds against their will.
All soybean seeds in America are owned — yes, owned —
controlled and patented by Monsanto. Try to digest that. They have
control of our foods from seed to supermarket. It’s a stunning
reversal of our government agencies’ past protections of grower
In “Food, Inc.,” workers with hidden cameras document our
nation’s slaughterhouses, the cruel treatment of the animals, the
appalling conditions of the packing plants, and the slave-like abuse of
workers — mostly undocumented, and therefore unprotected by
unions. The film asks, “who else would perform this dangerous
work without decent pay, any hope of promotion, horrid living
conditions and no medical insurance?”
The power of this film cannot be overstated. It is a call to arms for those who eat, cook, garden, farm and love animals.
We see Salatin on his iconic farm against the backdrop of the
Shenandoah Mountains surrounded by his adorable happy pigs. He shows us
the caring relationship he has with his animals in stark contrast to
the grisly feedlots and abbatoirs used in industrial farming practices.
In his book, “Holy Cows and Hog Heaven,” Salatin writes,
“for too long the food system has rewarded producers who flaunt
human cleverness in the face of nature and believe human arrogance can
trump nature’s principles forever.” The message suggests
that in our world, science trumps nature.
Since my food and gardening awareness was heightened in the 1970s while
living in Berkeley, Calif., in my small way I have tried to convince
friends that they should buy or grow organic foods as much as possible,
not only for our good health (the film informs us that one in three
Americans born after 2000 will contract diabetes) but also to support
and encourage these dedicated farmers whose philosophy of soil
conservation, planet preservation and animal-friendly ways are the
compassionate fabric that reflects a civilized society.
Our family still keeps a small garden, growing vegetables without
pesticides, where we can be sure we have fresh herbs and produce
throughout the summer. If you don’t have the space or a back yard
check out a community garden whose plots are rented annually for about
the cost of a few pounds of hothouse tomatoes and a bag of micro greens.
For concerned readers that may be skeptical that our government would
ever change, or in some cases enforce its existing policies against the
irresponsible behavior of these multi-national corporations, there is
hope. They changed labels to reflect additives and preservatives,
genetically-modified food and fat content, percentages of vitamins and
country-of-origin (this after China’s addition of melamine into
baby formula). They labeled, too, for organic which operates under
strict guidelines. And they fought and won against the one of the
biggest industries in the world…tobacco. Consumers demanded it.
There is already a plan in place for each citizen to take part.
Here’s how it can work. What if I were to tell you that there is
a special national election going on right now you may not be aware of,
one whose influence will be felt far and wide? And just suppose you
have been nominated to be the sole candidate and your election to this
powerful position has been guaranteed.
You won’t need to ally yourself with any known national party or
hire a high-priced K Street lobbying firm to promote your agenda. Your
campaign won’t need placards or direct mail, robocalls or public
appearances. You’ll be free of outside funding and won’t be
beholden to special interest groups. Any lobbying will be strictly up
to you…you can canvass your friends and family or neighbors and
businesses at will. And the payoff is huge. The future of your health
and the health of those you love and feed is at stake. If you want to
get on board, here’s how it works.
Every time you purchase organic foods and locally produced foods you
are insuring the health of the planet and your own too. And by using
your food dollars, as the film suggests, you can vote three times a day
for breakfast, lunch and dinner. How empowering! This is why Giant,
Safeway, Wal-Mart and others decided to join the organic movement. It
just made good business sense. The consumer, that’s where you
come in, drove the market.
Okay, I’ve heard the arguments, such as “it’s more
expensive.” Here’s what Pollan in “The
Omnivore’s Dilemma” has to say to that: “As a society
we Americans spend only a fraction of our disposable income feeding
ourselves. Americans today spend less on food…than any other
industrialized nation, and probably less than any people in the history
of the world.”
“It’s hard to find.” Make an effort to find the
farmer’s market that is selling local farm products, plant your
own, have a few meatless days a week. It’s a start, and if you
pay a little more for organic, think of it as an investment in the
health of yourself, your family and your planet.
“I don’t have time.” Get in touch with your food.
Carve out one day a week to make a soup or stew that makes enough to
freeze for later. You will notice the difference in the taste and
quality of freshly picked and organically raised product and it will
touch your soul.
You hold the power to change the system every time you shop for
groceries or don’t stop for fast food. See this film, meet the
farmers who care about us, and vote with your wallet!
Check out these Web sites for more information:
For nearby farmers markets and pick-your own farms:
For comments and queries on this article, e-mail Jordan Wright, a gardener at Chinquapin Organic Gardens, or visit her Web site, http://www.whiskandquill.com
Volunteer to write an article for this newsletter!
This newsletter is produced and written by volunteers who garden at
Chinquapin Organic Gardens. New writers are welcome! If you’d
like to contribute an article to the newsletter, e-mail Michele Late, newsletter editor.