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The Tomato Boys, BLOG

Posted by Bonnie Borucki on June 11, 2012 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Check out these enterprising young urban farmers who have a produce stand in South Berkeley:

"The Tomato Boys are three brothers who have been dabbling in backyard gardening since 2005. They grow all types of heirloom and open pollinated vegetables in their urban San Francisco Bay Area plot, however they specialize in heirloom tomatoes. In the summer of 2008, they were inundated with tomatoes. They grew enough for them to eat their fill and give away to neighbors and friends. But they still had more so they decided to have a tomato stand to sell off the extras. Since then, they have had unlucky tomato years because of cool summers and gardener laziness. But this year, 2012, their goal is to grow enough tomatoes to once again be overwhelmed with them. Follow them as they gear up for the 2012 growing season. Hopefully this year will produce beautiful vegetables and make a little money along the way. Maybe you’ll see them on the sidewalk in front of their house on a sunny, late-summer weekend selling their lucious tomatoes.

Tom, now age 14, is the Chief Executive Officer of The Tomato Boys and primary blogger. 11 year old Sam is Chief Operating Officer and Joe, age 16, is Chief Financial Officer. Financial support comes from the Mom and Dad Foundation."

Arms-free grocery carrying

Posted by Barbara Edwards on April 18, 2012 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (2)

Walking is great for your own health and the health of the environment and we're always looking for ways to reduce car trips but what do you do when you have bags of "stuff" to bring home? 

I am lucky to live in an area where I can walk to many places I want to go - to grocery and hardware stores, nurseries, library, crop swaps and Farmers Markets. Getting to my destinations is enjoyable.  The problem arises when I end up accumulating more than I can comfortably carry home.  I tell myself not to acquire so much, or just to take home less weighty produce, but how can I resist cantaloupe and watermelon, or all those beautiful persimmons or a bag of several different kinds of apples?  A bike with sidebags is a great solution for many people but because of stairs and no bike-size storage place, it's not a great option for me. I see "granny carts" being wheeled through the streets, but they are a little short for me and produce has to be stacked.

I saw someone using one of these Hook-and-Go carts a few years ago at the San Francisco Farmers Market and I thought the person had made it themselves from a golf cart, but it turns out that he bought it right at the market.The carts were made for leisurely shopping at the Farmers Markets by a Vancouver-based designer, John Hook, but Bobby Winston brought the cart to San Francisco and then bought the patent. Hook's idea was that a person could shop hands-free at the market and then wheel her goods to the car, load it up, then fold the cart and stick it in the trunk, but the cart easily traverses city sidewalks.  I find it easier to pull the cart behind me the mile or two I walk, especially on the uphill parts.The cart is made of steel, weighs 7 pounds and will hold up to 70 pounds. One small drawback is that the device was made for plastic bags and my regular cloth grocery bags have handles that are too long unless I tie some knots or wrap the handles several times.  

The Ecology Center sells the Hook and Go carts!

Colony Collapse Disorder and Honeybee Death Linked with Pesticide Use

Posted by Bonnie Borucki on April 13, 2012 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Several articles were published last week supporting a Harvard research study linking the pesticide Imidacloprid, manufactured by Bayer, to Colony Collapse Disorder in the honeybee population. The cause for colony collapse has been eluding scientists for many years. However, two studies that came out in Science showed a close link between neonicotinoid pesticides, of which imidacloprid is one, and another is, clothianidin, also manufactured by Bayer. (See article about Bayer's role in killing bees in the Articles section of this website)

Bayer earlier released a statement to say that the chemical has no effect on colony collapse. However, the Harvard research conclusively shows that the opposite is true.

Scientists in the past have been cautious about the connection between pesticides and honey bee collapse. However, lead author of the Harvard report, Chensheng (Alex) Lu has dismissed all caution and has made it clear that:

"There is no question that neonicotinoids put a huge stress on the survival of honey bees in the environment. The evidence is clear that imidacloprid is likely the culprit for Colony Collapse Disorder via a very unique mechanism that has not been reported until our study."

For more information on the study here are some articles to read and become more educated on pressuring Bayer to discontinue manufacture of neonicotinoids.

Food Ark- Seed Saving

Posted by Bonnie Borucki on March 8, 2012 at 3:20 AM Comments comments (0)

"To feed our growing population, we’ll need to double food production. Yet crop yields aren’t increasing fast enough, and climate change and new diseases threaten the limited varieties we’ve come to depend on for food. Luckily we still have the seeds and breeds to ensure our future food supply—but we must take steps to save them."- Charles Siebert, National Geographic, July 2011

The Bay Area has many opportunities to participate in seed-saving and exchanges. Listed below are two organizations. Please add your own ideas, events or seed saving requests.

Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library (Richmond Public Library):

Basil, Bay Area Seed Interchange Library (Berkeley Ecology Center):

March Crop Swap- Pepino Melon Starts

Posted by Bonnie Borucki on February 25, 2012 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Will it be in like a lion or lamb? Either way, our next crop swap should prove to be a treasure trove of late winter crops, and early spring cleaning finds. I expect the usual winter greens, collards, chard, kale, lettuces, and more, a well as the ever present lemon crop. But besides the harvested crops, now is a great time to share starts and cuttings for the upcoming spring planting season.

So, unless the lion appears, and we have a torrential rain storm, I am planning on bringing cuttings and starts from my latest crop discovery, the pepino melon. Not a melon at all, but part of the tomato/potato family, the beautiful purple-striped, egg-shaped fruit of the Pepino Melon is mild and sweet with a flavour reminiscent of cantaloupe. It also grows like crazy and can become a perennial if protected from the frost.

Last winter I rooted a couple cuttings from a plant that Nik Bertulis brought to the annual East Bay scion exchange. The cuttings produced two large bushy plants and many pounds of fruit, with no apparent pests. I have about a dozen cuttings (some already rooted) to give away, so if you would like to try a new exotic fruit (originally from South America and also called Pepino Dulce), come to the March 2nd crop swap and get them while they last.


Upcoming Events

Thursday, Jul 2 at 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Monday, Jul 6 at 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Saturday, Jul 11 at 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Monday, Jul 13 at 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM

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Every other Saturday through September 19th, Starts at 10:30am and ends at 11:30am

Cost: Free, bring your crops and other items to trade with neighbors

Location: Malcolm X School Garden, Ellis St, between Ashby & Prince, Berkeley. Wheelchair accessible. 

Info: 510-332-9456


Summer swap will be every Monday evening until October 5th

Bring your crops, seedlings, homemade yummies, ideas? Be part of this wonderful sharing economy! Could you lend a hand to keep the Swaps going? Contact Barbara at link below. Summer swaps are held every Monday from June to October. Clothing, books, prepared food and other items to swap are welcome. Music and neighborhood free fun for all!

When: New Summer Hours starting 6/1, Every Monday, starts at 6:30pm and ends at 7:30pm

Location: Ohlone Greenway @ Sacramento & Delaware, across from North Berkeley BART

Info: contact Barbara

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