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Archive for the ‘Do Good’ Category

Coat and Blanket Drive for Rockaway, Queens

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Grace Restaurant in Portland, Maine is putting together a night to benefit victims of Sandy. There will be live jazz, wine specials and they will be donating $5 for every person who has dinner. That night they will also be accepting coats and blankets for me to bring to Rockaway, Queens.


p.s. GO NAVY and Marines. Yay!!! I feel like you can always count on them to do the right thing. So, um hey FEMA and Red Cross maybe you should take a page or two from their book and SHOW UP! A week in, no excuses.

Rockaways Relief

Monday, November 5th, 2012



To all those who have emailed me (kitchens.sharon at gmail.com) THANK YOU for your generous messages!!  I’m planning on being there Tuesday, November 13 to drop off supplies and help however I can. Thinking sunrise to sunset and maybe the next day too.

In Rockaway donations can be dropped off at: Rockaway Beach Surf Club on Beach 87th & Freeway (this is a reliable location and where a relief center is located). They NEED blankets, coats, WIPES!! (for babies, for people to clean themselves), packaged underwear, flashlights w/ batteries, baby cough medicine, baby formula, food. Sorry, no phone number…I’m working on it and will post again tonight w/ MORE DETAILS.

I’m getting varied reports of whether FEMA is there, but here’s what I’ve got for how to help from a few online resources:

Rockaway Help – I do not know this organization personally, a fellow blogger recommended it.

Time Out New York - list of places that need aid, where to volunteer

Food Bank - for canned food donations…

Shelter information from the FDNY **If you are heading into a zone to volunteer I recommend printing this list out and taking it with you so you can point folks in the right direction.

NYC Service – organizing volunteers (just not sure about Rockaways presence)

Photo New Yorker

New York, The City and the Storm

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

New York, New York my heart goes out to everyone… I love you. Images from the past week.

Gorgeous cover, telling.

From Swiss Miss, an intimate design lab in NYC. Good deeds abound.

Rockaway Queens (part of Long Island). Devastated.

Brooklyn Grange (urban farm) lost  18 hives.

And, happier times…a couple years ago British architectural artist Stephen Wiltshire drew Manhattan’s skyline from memory. Wiltshire was diagnosed with autism at an early age. This extraordinary drawing was accomplished after a 20-minute helicopter ride over the city.

Edible Schoolyard New Orleans

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Better late than never??!  While in New Orleans last month (yes, this is my final for a while New Orleans trip post) I visited an Edible Schoolyard site at one of the FirstLine public charter schools in New Orleans.

The garden at the Samuel J. Green Charter School in the Freret neighborhood of New Orleans. Food grown in the garden is used in cooking classes.

The blue line in the cafeteria represents how high the water was after Hurricane Katrina. The school had only been open ten days into the school year when the storm hit. The school reopened in January, 2006. That fall Edible Schoolyard stepped in and began integrating hands-on organic gardening and seasonal cooking into the school curriculum, culture, and cafeteria programs. *Here is a solid piece on the corruption before and after Katrina in the New Orleans school system – sickening!

If you would like to donate cookbooks to their new family Cooking Matters classes and/or gardening hours… let me know and I’ll be happy to help coordinate with the folks in New Orleans. They are wonderful and the work they are doing so important.

p.s. The New Orleans Saints organization sponsored the athletic field at the school and their football team the Green Giants have been league champions to years in a row!   Go Green Giants!!

October is Adopt a Dog from the Shelter Month

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

For seven years I knew the joy of owning a shelter dog, so when I found out October is National Adopt a Dog from a Shelter Month I thought hey I know some folks who can help us celebrate.

Kiersten is one of my dog heroes (as of recent I’ve got a few). She’s dedicated a good part of her life to helping dogs find a permanent home and she’s a smart and loving dog momma. She is active with Almost Home Rescue, so be sure to check them out if you’re looking for a new dog/best pal!

**Please read the last part and take it in – where Kiersten shares how to prepare for adopting a dog. It can be heartbreaking bringing home a new dog and having to let them go, because you did not do your homework – it’s tough on the dog and you and unfair to you both. I’ll be posting  on dog adoption and will provide a list of books, examples of pros to talk to… OK dear readers, the fabulous Kiersten….

Number of dogs you have adopted from shelters, from where and how you found about them.

When I graduated college, the only thing I wanted was a husky puppy. Our family had had huskies all my life and I was ready to have my own. However, fate intervened and I didn’t get that puppy… At the time, my aunt had a 6 month old husky of her own (Kenobi) and since she was driving from NJ to CT and then up to Maine to see my graduation, she called the kennel we trusted in CT to find out if she could board Kenobi there when she headed north for my graduation. When she called, the people there (who had known us for a long time) asked if she happened to want another husky. It turns out a local family had dropped off their 2.5 year old husky to be boarded as they went on a family vacation and on their way home from the kennel to pick up their luggage, they were hit by a drunk driver. The results were devastating leaving the mom dead, the kids injured and the dad in a wheelchair. SO they asked the kennel to find another home for Penny. When I heard this, I drove home from college (it was short term anyway – 5 weeks of partying which I was pretty much over at that point) and went over to meet Penny. She was skinny and stressed and shedding everywhere, but when I took her for a walk, she jumped into my car and it was the start of a beautiful friendship. 
I had Penny through a year at law school, 4 years in New York City and my move back up to Maine. She passed away at age 15 in July of 2009. It was the hardest time of my life. 
But a few months later my friend Jill who owns Camp Bow Wow (and who had known and loved Penny) told me about another husky they were fostering through Almost Home Rescue. I wasn’t sure I wanted another dog yet – and Pepper was almost 8 years old already – but I went over to meet her and she was a love. Apparently she was depressed in foster care and didn’t want to play with other dogs. I ended up visiting her a couple more times and each time Jill told me that she perked up after and was a different dog. When I found myself buying her toys and treats I knew I needed to bring her home.
She is 11 now and is wonderful. And during that adoption I got to know the amazing people at Almost Home Rescue. And since then, I have volunteered to do their marketing, fundraising and merchandise. I have never met a group of more caring people who sacrifice so much to help so many dogs in need.
Type(s) of dogs you have adopted and a little bit about attracted you to the breed(s).
We have always had huskies in my family so I grew up with them (and a stray poodle or two). They are very sweet and vocal. The downside is that some are complete escape artists. But other than that – and the constant shedding – they are a great breed. One note, they can be very stubborn and it would be helpful to know the breed before taking one home.
What adopting a dog from a shelter means to you?
It’s hard for me to understand people who buy dogs from breeders when there are so many out there in need of love and a home. And with so much love to give. Dogs are so resilient.They go through so much at the hands of people and yet still love people. Rescue dogs deserve the right people and I am very proud to have rescued dogs – and to work with Almost Home Rescue to help other dogs find their forever families. It’s such a small thing I do that can bring joy to so many – dogs AND people. 
Tips, based on your experience(s), for persons considering adopting a dog from a shelter.
Always visit a reputable shelter or use a state licensed rescue. You don’t want to inadvertently help breeders by using a rescue that does not have the correct licensing. 
Obviously, I work with Almost Home Rescue, but through my work, I have also worked with the folks at Lucky Pup Rescue. Both are run by wonderful, caring volunteers and are worth checking out.
Ask lots of questions. Talk to the local vets and see who they’d recommend you adopt from. Some vets even foster dogs themselves. And if you know other dog people, talk to them as well…
Rescues tend to have their dogs in foster care before they are adopted which is a great way to find out how the dogs will behave in home situations. Talk to the foster families and find out the dog’s true nature. Some dogs are super sweet, but just don’t belong with certain families. If you have young children, you may not want a high energy or larger dog. Or if you are an avid hiker, you may want a dog who is high-energy….
And meet the dog! A dog may be great in pictures but sometimes you just won’t click.
DO your research and be prepared to spend time and money. Dogs are not cheap nor are they easy. It’s a commitment you have to be willing to make. But it’s so worth it…

On the Road Home

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

After only three days in Vermont I was ready to get home, but inspired and energized by all the wonderful people I’d met from all over the country who are making the connection from farm to school and community a reality.  So many food heroes, people who smile and ask questions – who engage, and come from a diversity of backgrounds – a terrific conference experience.

In two short months there will be an opportunity for everyone in this country to celebrate healthy, affordable, and sustainable food with Food Day.  Created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the Earth Day like movement is powered by a diverse coalition of (food movement) leaders, organizations and people from all walks of life. Last year, in the inaugural year of the Food Day campaign, over 2,300 events took place in all 50 states. I’m the volunteer organizer for Portland area events, which basically means I register them with national and get informational materials from national for local events. The University of Maine’s Orono campus and Colby College are both supposedly working on events, which is great – when I was in university there were a lot of events like this I attended.

Thanks to all the connections I made at the conference I’ve got plenty of real food friendly folks to exchange ideas with about this and other ways to bring real food to everyone’s table.

The organizations represented in the workshop I participated in:










YMCA in Granby, CT


Alpine Berry Farm in Batesville, IN




















Bottom image by Sea thos.

Burlington School Food Project Tour (Part Four)

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

The final stop of the field trip was the Intervale Community Farm and Food Hub. *I’m still grasping the largeness and complexity of “the Intervale.” This link provides a bit of history on the sustainable agriculture experiment.

ICF is a member-owned CSA Farm. Since 1990 (when Bonnie Acker became involved) it has been tied to the community with members picking up their shares at the farm (vs. in boxes at drop sites as is often the norm for consumer convenience). The benefit of picking up at the farm is eaters meet growers – there is no barrier, no disconnect…members have their farmer’s face to identify with not a billion dollar advertising campaign. I believe the farm is 15 acres with several hundred CSA members. They offer a little bit of everything at an affordable price. The farm’s commitment is to education, working with the local community and providing a food emergency system (think about it if you can get food locally and not trucked in you’re better off in case of disaster, contamination, striking truck drivers….). There is a tangible connection to school children who visit the farm, see a cabbage being cut open and can then stand there eating it.

*The bottom picture in the above series is of a field that was knee deep in water after Irene hit around this time last year.

The Food Hub serves individuals and businesses through a multi-farm Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. In addition, the Food Hub facilitates farm connections to wholesale buyers including retailers, restaurants and institutions (including the Burlington Public School System).

Burlington School Food Project Tour (Part Three)

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Next up on the field trip, a quick stop at Archibald Neighborhood Garden located on a vacant lot to the east of Dot’s Market and H.O. Wheeler School. It is maintained by Grow Team O.N.E.

Burlington School Food Project Tour (Part Two)

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Another partner of the Burlington School Food Project is Healthy City Youth Farm. HCYF is an initiative providing job and life skills training for at-risk youth, to ensure better education about food, better nutrition in Burlington schools, and to address the needs of low-income families for fresh produce. The hands-on farm-to-school program teaches basic cooking and gardening skills, boosts physical activity and increases healthy lifestyle choices for Burlington students.

The half-acre farm on the grounds of Hunt Middle School provides spring and fall programming for 380 students, features 50 production beds, a large raspberry patch and a flatbread oven built by New North End Youth Center students in 2011.

During the Healthy City Summer Program, teenagers learn job skills as they maintain and harvest the Youth Farm and other school gardens throughout the city. Healthy City also provides garden-based activities at district summer programs such as the SOAR program at the Integrated Arts Academy and the Summer Transitions Program at Burlington High School.

It was at HCYF I met another food hero…the incredible Bonnie Acker. A parent of a (former) Burlington student she has been actively trying to improve nutrition in Burlington schools for years by working with students to develop recipes, running field trips to Intervale Community Farm (Acker is a board member) and always putting her best foot forward. She is also (when one talks/writes about Bonnie there are bound to be two words used a LOT “also” and “incredible”) a member of the Burlington Food Council, a group made up of farmers from the Intervale, Burlington food service manager (Doug Davis), parent/volunteers, teachers and nutritionists. Their mission is to explore ways to ensure that Burlington creates and nurtures a healthy, equitable and sustainable food system for all members of the community. Bonnie is also (see!) an artist creating food art in school and community gardens, at Intervale and Burlington High School. I’m fairly certain this incredible (!!) woman is also responsible for some of the hanging food art at the conference’s temporary base at the University of Vermont.

Letting the pictures tell (most of) the rest of the story…


Some of the youth sang and danced for us.

Denise Foote from the Sustainability Academy

Stitching vegetable art with Bonnie Acker (photo at the top of this series). I chose an eggplant, because it is one of my favorite vegetables (I’m growing some this year) and it would be easy to complete in the 25 minutes +/- we had for this activity. Sarah, my field trip buddy (and the reason I found the garage early that morning) chose a pumpkin – hers is so well done. Sarah lives in D.C. and sharing a background in PR had an interesting talk. She throws pumpkin parties and people bring dishes made of pumpkin (but no pumpkin pie, that’s getting off too easy). How fun! Laurel, a nutritionist from Sonoma (wish I’d gotten her information) made a carrot. She reminded me how vineyards take up a lot of farmland – I guess I’ve got mixed feelings there. I’m all for family owned vineyards producing sustainably made wines…still isn’t there enough for all? A woman from Little Rock, Arkansas made strawberries. Her presence was a reminder of just how much of a farm to school movement is afoot in the state that is responsible for so much of my youth.

Lunch, so good!  The apple kohlrabi salad, potato salad (most of us went for second helpings as we tried to figure out what the non-mayonaise base was) and pizza. *Everyone else had pizza with cheese on it, but when I told the chef I am lactose intolerant he said he’d make me one without – I’m not the kind to bring attention to my rather annoying food deficiency and it was so nice of him to do this!

Back on the bus to the next stop  (Part Three)

Return to Maine

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

There is so much to tell you about what happened in Vermont at the conference. I met so many people with good intentions and green thumbs who taught me much and were impossibly nice. My presentation turned out all right, and the overall workshop more than all right. In the middle of summer in glorious Vermont to have spent two days among everyday heroes of the pure food movement was a very rich experience. The stories, the details all of it will come soon…

A few housekeeping details first. Last night and this morning I weeded and then had to get down to paperwork. All that everyday stuff had piled up/grown out while I was eating delicious foods and walking around (primarily school!) farms. Upon checking the squash bed I am happy to report everything in it is taking off, phew! My pride and joy last year were my “blue ribbon” Green Hubbards (no one needed to tell me my 15-pounder was worthy of best in show) so I’m relieved/excited to see them coming along.  The squash is beautiful to look at, and will be delicious in breads, cookies and pasta this fall. The watermelon, like the corn and sunflowers I’m just plain old giddy about!  It shall be eaten by hand in the field, seeds spit and remnants shared with the chickens.

Green Hubbard, Blacktail Watermelon, Sweet Reba Bush Acorn Squash

A very exciting thing happened last week as well. I decided to  adopt a dog! It’s been a little over a year since Paige passed, and while my heart is not fully healed (could it ever be?) it seems time. Bacchus found me (I believe animals find us) via a friend of a friend in New Orleans (my favorite American city, the place I found my smile), and next month I head there to pick him up and bring him to Maine. There’s much to do to prepare for his (our) travels and arrival here.

Bacchus walked into Cheryl’s yard, skinny, flea infested, with parvo and scared to death.  After a few days at the vet’s in isolation she brought him home and nursed him back to health. The funny thing is I’d seen pictures of him on her Facebook page since that time and thought what a cutie pie. Being a publicist for vintners and chefs, she named him after the Roman god of wine and intoxication. How perfectly New Orleans!

He’s about a year old, loves people, is interested in cats (in a friendly way), gets along with dogs (she has two small ones) and goes through stuffed animals at record speed. In a few weeks our adventure will begin…

Now, to get Kirkland on board…