Spring Creek Homesteading – Updates & Strategic Musing

January 26 Potluck – Featured Idea is Food Cooperatives

The first of the monthly local foodie potlucks for this year will be Thursday, January 26 at 6 p.m. at the Community Room (201) in the State College Municipal Building. The featured idea will be restarting a food cooperative in State College, benefitting from the experience long-time residents gained in the 1970s with the Our Store Food Co-op, which had almost 200 members.

Three ways to sign up for the potlucks:

  • Online at SignUp Genius
  • By email: katherine_watt@hotmail.com
  • By phone: 237-0996

Reskilling Workshops – Update

If you signed up by phone, email or SurveyMonkey, you can check to make sure your registration went through at the Workshops page – there’s a list of people signed up for each course over there.

Three ways to sign up:

Enrollment Update:

  • Cooking Winter Soups & Stews – Feb. 4 at 9 a.m. at Friends Meetinghouse (10/20 spots filled)
  • Making Mittens & Scarves from Old Wool Sweaters – Feb. 4 at 2 p.m. at Friends Meetinghouse (10/20 spots filled)
  • Home Beer Brewing – Feb. 4 & 18 at 2 p.m. at 156 W. Hamilton Ave. (No more enrollments unless we find bigger kitchen or there are cancellations. Email katherine_watt@hotmail.com to get on wait list)
  • Making Yogurt & Granola – Feb. 5 at 2:30 p.m. at Friends Meetinghouse (6/20 spots filled)
  • Making Herbal Balms & Salves – Feb. 11 at 9 a.m. at Friends Meetinghouse (7/15 spots filled)
  • Making Silk Scarves with Salt-Painting Technique – Feb. 11 at 2 p.m. at Friends Meetinghouse (6/12 spots filled)
  • Building a Cold Frame – Feb. 12 at 1 p.m. at 156 W. Hamilton Ave. (7/20 spots filled)
  • Making Sauerkraut: Vegetable Lactofermentation – Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. at Friends Meetinghouse (10/20 spots filled)
  • Worm Composting – Feb. 18 at 9 a.m. at Friends Meetinghouse (4/20 spots filled)
  • Making Homemade Pasta & Authentic Red Sauce – Feb. 25 at 10 a.m. at Friends Meetinghouse (8/20 spots filled)

Centre Daily Times Sustainable Centre County page – December 29, 2011

Strategic Planning/Musing

I’m in some sort of personal transition in local sustainability work. It’s not exactly burnout, but it seems be a realignment of some kind.

Between the peak oil/economic collapse writers predicting a sudden, wrenching change and those predicting a more or less gradual, yet permanent decline in standards of living, I tend to go with the gradualists. As John Michael Greer put it pithily this week in Waiting for the Great Pumpkin:

“…The only way out of the trap…is to accept a steep cut in your standard of living before it becomes necessary, as a deliberate choice, and to use the resources freed up by that choice to get rid of any debts you have, get settled in a location that has a fair chance of keeping a viable degree of community life going, and get the tools and learn the skills that you will need to manage a decent life in an age of spiraling decline. To those who cling to the idea that they can maintain their present lifestyles, admittedly, it’s hard to think of any advice less welcome, but the universe is in no way obligated to give us the future we want—even if what we want is a sudden blow that will spare us the harder experience of the Long Descent.”

So, I had been planning to spend January and February working on the 501(c)3 application for the fund (still planning to do that), and researching and applying for grants for local food infrastructure projects (not so sure).

Converting today’s dollars into durable, useful kitchens, bake ovens, tool libraries, workshops, gardening plots and so forth seems like the community-scale equivalent of making those preparations at the household level, and the project that grabs my imagination most powerfully is a community kitchen.

Thanks to LaCreta Holland (instructor for the upcoming Cooking Winter Soups and Stews workshop) for sending a link to In the Kitchen/Wendy Van Wagner community kitchen in Nevada City California, which is also a certified commercial kitchen.

In The Kitchen, photo by Debbie Costa

I would LOVE to see our community build something like this in downtown State College, the sooner the better, to ramp up for more cooking & canning classes, catering and small batch processing rentals, and other programs. I’m also very intrigued by Toronto’s The Stop Community Food Centre, which offers a huge array of programs at two locations:

“At our main office at 1884 Davenport Road we provide frontline services to our community, includingincluding a drop-infood bankperinatal program, community action programbake ovens and marketscommunity cookingcommunity advocacysustainable food systems education and urban agriculture. The Stop’s Green Barn, located in the Wychwood Barns at 601 Christie Street, is a sustainable food production and education centre which houses a state-of-the-art greenhouse, food systems education programs, a sheltered garden, our Global Roots Garden, community bake oven and compost demonstration centre.”

I’m hoping to get up there to see their facilities and programs in March.

But I’m skeptical about the grants programs, because as the economy keeps sliding, government and NGO budgets keep shrinking. And I think commercial rents downtown will drop too, eventually moving within reach for local community organizations rather than the large chain retailers who dominate right now.

Timing seems crucial – maybe gathering the equipment and financial pot for some of these projects while waiting for the rents to drop? On the other hand, I think funding organizations will only support so-called “shovel-ready” projects, and often don’t provide money for commercial leases. Plus the purchasing power of the dollar is likely to drop along with the rents.

Anyway, pondering these and other things…

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One Response to Spring Creek Homesteading – Updates & Strategic Musing

  1. LaCreta Holland says:

    Hi Katherine,
    I am glad that you liked my link to the CA community kitchen. I loved the concept, although it seems that it was probably built with private money. And I agree with you that federal money is drying up.

    I was in the DC area in December and while shopping at Dulles Town Center, stumbled upon Cookology, also private, run by a woman who hires chefs to teach “recreational culinary school.” It’s an interesting concept, although retail, not public/community space.

    Two ideas: One–If you have been to our food bank, so much of what is there is processed food. I know that there are many donations of fresh food from local farms, but I wonder how many people using the food bank can cook and really know what to do with fresh food. Is there a push to teach these people to cook; can the money supporting the food bank help with a set up for that?

    Two—I know and have talked with Jeremiah Dick , the chef/instructor for State High’s culinary courses. He is someone who has lots of plans for the future of cooking in this town. He is a graduate of two cooking schools and works on the weekends instructing at the culinary school at Penn Tech in Williamsport. The kitchen at the high school for the cooking classes (this is not home ec/FCS) is a commercial grade kitchen for the students who are in the technical program at the high school. I wonder if he would be interested/could give information about a community kitchen? My daughter is one of his students.

    I guess the thought is if we get like minded people thinking about this concept of a community kitchen, can it get done that way? A variety of funding and donations for a variety of uses from a variety of people.

    Any thoughts? LaCreta Holland

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