Back in San Francisco for good this time, we're working on multiple fronts (as is essential to any movie project). To try to maintain some interest in this blog, I will be updating all the rest of the visits we made in February and since, slowly but surely. This entails me reaching into the vault of my memory-mobile to write of the fun times we had. This may take some time, I warn you.
Also, I will be adding updates on our progress in actually making the first segment of the series. Today, for example, Sascha and I will be shooting some of the remaining "Rick Steves" type portions of the first segment. This will help Sascha continue to edit. I saw a brief (3 minute) section of what he's done so far, and of course, it looks great and is fully exciting.
So here it is:
While in what many would consider the epicenter of Humboldt County culture, the Arcata/Eureka area (population around 59,000), we visited a couple of interesting projects.
One was the Humboldt State University’s Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT). This project had its origins, like many other university institutions, in a student led movement for better and smarter living. I have been told that the UCSC Farm and Garden project was similarly started with no school support, and eventually gained recognition as a valuable part of the school. CCAT was similar back in the early 80s, and now has yearly funding from HSU. When we got there, we were a little disappointed (but not surprised) to find out that the school had recently moved the CCAT house 150 feet or so south to make way for a huge ugly building. Why does this matter? Well, CCAT is a demonstration site for “appropriate technologies” like solar power, greywater systems, bike-powered washing machines, and the like. Required to showcase a sustainable living lifestyle is, of course, a garden. So, had we visited months prior, we would have seen a garden and site that stood 20+ years developing, not one that was just getting started. And, of course, the new site was on heavily compacted clay soils, in the shade of planted redwoods and other conifers…not the best place to start a new garden.
Anyhow, we got a nice tour of the site and a description of its history from Sara, took some footage of a mycological bed planting (mushrooms being one edible that doesn’t take sunshine to grow-therefore “appropriate” for this site), and headed on our merry way.
We talked to both Anne and Katie at the local food bank, called simply enough “Food for People”. Katie, director of the gleaning program, talked about the support the food back receives from the local farming community, through the “plant a row” program. Farmers plant an extra row of some crop with the direct intention of donating it to the food bank. This has helped Food for People maintain a large supply of fresh fruits and vegetables in addition to the canned and packaged foods which form the mainstays of most food bank fare. Some of the produce is organic, and it is greatly appreciated by food bank clients. The gleaning program also harnesses the power of volunteers to collect left-overs from farmers markets and farm harvests, bringing what otherwise might be considered “waste” into much appreciated use. Anne, the executive director, talked about the challenges of recent cuts in USDA funding for subsidized food bank purchasing, the role of the farm bill in supporting those most food-insecure, and how important feeding the poor is to sustainability.
Food banks, to me, are an indication of a sick food system; when large sections of the population cannot afford to buy the basic necessities of life, something is wrong.