• Agromin Donates Soil to New Homegirl Cafe Vegetable Garden
    Friday, June 25, 2010 at

  • Homeboy Industries, Urban Farming, Woolly Pocket and Farmlab collaborated to create a 24 foot "edible wall" at downtown L.A.'s Homegirl Cafe. Agromin donated all the soil for the garden that will grow fruit, vegetables and herbs. The fresh produce will be used in Homegirl Cafe dishes.

    The vertical garden will be grown in Woolly Pocket, modular gardening containers made sustainably from recycled plastic bottles. The edible wall project at Homeboy Industries is the fourth created in Los Angeles by Urban Farming. The gardens are intended for urban areas where ground space is scarce.

    Homeboy Industries assists at-risk and former gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training and education. After a visit from Chef Alice Waters, Homegirl Cafe became fully organic, growing much of its own produce. Now, with the introduction of the edible wall, even more of what is served at the Cafe will come straight from the Cafe's own gardens.
    For more information, go to:

    Homegirl Cafe & Catering - http://www.homeboy-industries.org/homegirl-cafe.php

    130 W. Bruno St., Los Angeles, Ca 90012
    P 213.617.0380 | 323.526.1254 x301

    Urban Farming - www.urbanfarming.org

    Farmlab - www.farmlab.org

    Woolly Pocket - www.woollypocket.com

    Agromin - www.agromin.com

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  • Interview With "Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth" Author William Bryant Logan
    Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at

  • A feature article by Linda Harmon, (805) 640-0381

    Whether you’re a weekend gardener or you simply care about the environment, mark your calendar for the Saturday, June 26, screening of Dirt! The Movie at 4:30 P.M. The film is based on the book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth by William Bryant Logan. I spoke with Logan last week while he was in town for a Thacher School reunion.
    Logan, now a New Yorker, spent four years at Thacher. He later became an award-winning translator of Spanish poetry and a writer-in-residence at Manhattan’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, as well a well-known author. At first glance, Logan looks as if he would be more at home working the fields than living in a Brooklyn apartment. I soon learned that he is also a certified arborist, trimming New York’s trees to supplement his income.
    A former New York Times columnist, Logan has just finished Oak: The Frame of Civilization, which Publisher’s Weekly has called a “sprawling biography of a tree,” and is researching his next book, Air.
    “I found the most wonderful quote for Air,” Logan told me. “The clouds pass, the rain does its work, and all beings come into their forms.”
    Of the three topics of Logan’s books—dirt, oak, and air—the author said, “My wife, who is a landscape painter, pointed out that these are the three planes of landscape painting: the earth, the trees, and the sky. They all work together.”
    I asked him what started it all.
    “Dirt was one of the things that just came out,” said Logan. “It had to be written. I was living in New York, and people didn’t believe in it dirt. Nobody believed in it. They were doing the stupidest things, not out of ill will, but out of complete ignorance. What everybody knew a hundred years ago, we had forgotten.”
    Logan wanted to write the book to put his readers back into a child’s world, filled with the wonders of dirt, and thus give dirt its due. “That’s why I used the word ‘dirt’ in the title instead of soil. I wanted to say, ‘Start again! Start again and we can have a relationship with this thing which is our mother.’”
    Logan’s book looks at human history and the human relationship to the land. For example, it looks at Presidents Adams and Jefferson and their very different approaches to the soil, viewing Adams as the more traditional and Jefferson the more experimental. “Both were great agrarians,” he said, adding that, by using both approaches, “we can really change something.”
    And change is what William Logan and the film are after. The writer doesn’t want people to go back to all the old methods, but wants them “to reach way back and take whatever we need to go forward.”
    We talked about the open space movement, community-supported agriculture, and the approaches that organizations like the Ojai Valley Green Coalition are taking.
    “It was striking to see this town look so much more like it did forty years ago than I expected,” said Logan. He remarked on the local greenbelts, saying, “You’re blessed to be on the edge of the National Forest.”
    Logan also spoke about his experiences back east. “In New York, there are a lot of community gardens. There is actually a great Italian pizzeria, Roberta’s in Bushwick, I think, that is now growing all the herbs for their pizza on their rooftop. I think this year they’ll also be growing all their own tomatoes.”
    He brought up his sister-in-law’s restaurant in Brunswick, Maine, where they use entirely local food. “The hope is that this kind of model can spread,” Logan said. “It won’t solve the world’s food problem, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.”
    Logan believes that the main thing that needs reawakening in our time is not grand ideas but “the sense of neighbors.” Paraphrasing one of his favorite French philosophers, Gabriel Marcel, he added, “All changes come about because a few people of good will get together for a common purpose. I believe we can’t resolve all the problems of the world but we can resolve to solve the problems directly in front of us.”
    And that can’t fail to inspire others.
    Come be inspired by seeing Dirt! The Movie at the Ojai Theatre, sponsored by the Ojai Valley Green Coalition and local organic recycler and soil-amendment purveyor Agromin, and with a special appearance by Andy Lipkis, founder of L.A.’s TreePeople. For more information, go to ojaivalleygreencoalition.org or call (805) 669-8445.

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  • Agromin Special Blend Is Foundation for Coldwater Canyon Reservoir 5-Acre Rooftop Park & Garden
    Monday, June 7, 2010 at

  • When American Hydrotech, one of the country's top rooftop garden construction companies, needed a special soil blend for its five-acre rooftop park and garden project at the newly upgraded Coldwater Canyon Reservoir in Beverly Hills, it turned to Agromin. Agromin is American Hydrotech's source for lightweight rooftop soil blends in Southern California.

    The original Coldwater Canyon subterranean reservoir was built in 1928 and damage sustained from earthquakes required a complete reservoir replacement. The project began in May 2007. After the new underground reservoir was dug, an 8 1/2 million-gallon tank installed and the roof's concrete waterproofed and covered with a waterproof membrane, a layer of Agromin materials was applied. Agromin started its portion of the project in May 2009 and finished in January 2010.

    The blend consists of mostly volcanic rock, peat moss, compost and sand. It was incorporated into the landscape throughout the five-acre site. The project required 6,200 cubic yards of material--easily one of the largest special blend projects in Southern California over the past several years. Delivery involved 310 trucks hauling 20 cubic yards of materials each. Special permits were needed to run semi trucks, which, because of city restrictions, could only deliver between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

    The now-opened park includes a synthetic jogging track, shade trellises and seating areas, a water fountain, landscaping and trees. Vegetation used on the reservoir rooftop is drought tolerant--succulents and native varieties--and all have proven to do well in the specially designed soil blend.

    With American Hydrotech's construction expertise, a creative landscaping design and suppliers such as Agromin, the Coldwater Canyon Reservoir Rooftop Garden is a natural and beautiful addition to the Beverly Hills community.

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  • Ventura County Star: Green Center in Oxnard a hub for sustainability ideas
    Friday, June 4, 2010 at

  • By Sigourney Nuñez
    Posted June 3, 2010

    After a year of planning and decades of outreach services, Community Action of Ventura County held the grand opening Wednesday of its new Green Center.

    With the help of nonprofit organizations, local businesses and vendors, the Green Center offers the community a wide range of information about going green.

    “It’s a hub for information on sustainability and energy efficiency,” said the Green Center Manager Javier Saucedo.

    The facility focuses on different sections — food, energy, water, transit and homes. Through demonstration centers, displays of energy efficient technology and exhibits, the Green Center is meant to cater to families and local contractors.

    Local vendors showcase green products and services, ranging from water-saving plumbing supplies, soil products made from recycled yard waste, to organic handmade rugs.

    The facility also serves as a learning opportunity for youth. With hands-on displays and interactive activities, children can learn about green building supplies and energy and water conservation.

    The Green Center also can provide its “mini Green Center on wheels” mobile exhibit for events.

    Saucedo said Oxnard has been working toward going green since 1978 and is proud to have helped establish a facility that can benefit the community.

    “I always knew I could teach people that they could save energy,” he said. “They can come here to get knowledge and go home with ideas to make their home more energy efficient,”

    Saucedo has been involved with weatherization of homes for three years. He said he finds many people are not aware they can use green technology to help lower their gas, water and electric bills.

    “They struggle with bills; they can use energy efficient products to help them,” he said.

    Solar World is one of the businesses that collaborated with CAVC, donated a solar panel to help demonstrate energy conservation.

    “Through awareness of options in building materials and things like alternative energy and through the ability to help contractors, we educate them about solar energy,” said Jamie Skenderain, the product-marketing engineer of Solar World.

    The idea to have the Green Center was sparked after attending town hall meetings, said Socorro López Hanson, the executive director of CAVC.

    “I noticed they were saying they needed ways to save money due to the economic downturn. We needed programs and this was a good way to help the earth and people,” she said.

    The Green Center will also serve as a learning site for local contractors and the group hopes to help people find jobs through its outreach programs.

    “The future is in green technologies,” said López Hanson. “Individuals today, in order to have a better opportunity in long term careers, need to be informed.”

    Saucedo said CAVC has been helping the community for 45 years.

    “This is just one more step,” he said.

    The Green Center is a free exhibit open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 3401 W. Fifth St., Oxnard.

    © 2010 Scripps Newspaper Group — Online

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