One local food meal = one step toward reducing foreign oil dependence

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Change, Community, Conservation, Consumption, Energy, Food and Drink, Local Economy, Locavore, Oklahoma City, Peak Oil, Resiliency, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Sustainability, Sustainable OKC, Transition OKC | Posted on 14-04-2011

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A couple of weeks ago Transition OKC helped host a Local Food Meet and Greet. The Meet and Greet provided a host of folks passionate about growing a local food system the opportunity to network and get to know each other better. It was enthusiastically and well-attended, with more than 110 people coming on a sunny Saturday afternoon to IAO Gallery in Oklahoma City to nosh on locally produced food, wine and do a little “speed meeting.”

The event was organized by the “Going Locavore Group,” a loosely organized and growing grassroots coalition (or alliance) of several Oklahoma City organizations focused on catalyzing and transitioning our food system to a healthier, more sustainable and resilient one – and one strategy for doing so is to localize it. The team organizing the event was for the most part all-volunteer, and although we were scrambling up until the last minute to put all the details in place – we pulled it off – a total team effort if there ever was one. If you have any interest in networking with this group, or want more info, email us at localfoodokc@gmail.com

As one of the volunteers working on this event, part of my task was to put together a slide show about the reasons for transitioning to eating local food, and to provide a high-level overview of some of the initiatives in other states focused on growing regional and local food systems. As we researched, we discovered coalitions in New York City and Vermont have aggressive strategic plans for regional and localized food sheds and the body of work on this topic is growing exponentially — encouraging.

Above you’ll find one of the slides from the presentation and I’ll be sharing more of these in the coming days. Eventually will put the whole presentation online at ThinkLady and here on Fresh Greens as well Transition OKC’s website so if it is useful in any way to other local food efforts, it’s available for anyone to use and adapt.

In the meantime, given the high price of gas these days, the fact the era of cheap, easy-to-produce oil is over, and the growing production decline in one of the U.S.’s major suppliers of oil – Mexico — thought this slide might be a good one to start with. It illustrates one way we can begin to reduce our dependence on foreign oil imports. Ebullient and grateful hat tip to Barbara Kingsolver and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, for helping us imagine a different way of eating in the world.

Imagine abundant local food. Imagine the jobs it will create and the ways it will strengthen our local economy. Envision the health it will bring to our school kids, our communities, the resilience it will give our communities. Imagine how much we can reduce our country’s oil addiction if we eat not just one, but two local food meals a week, three, five, etc. Imagine. And then try it. I think you’ll like it.

If you’d like info on how to get started eating locally head over to Transition OKC’s website where we have a page full of local food resources.

– post by Shauna Struby, this post originally appeared on ThinkLady 

Urban agrarian market takes off in Oklahoma City

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Farming, Food and Drink, Local Economy, Local News, Locavore, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Urban Gardening | Posted on 24-06-2009

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by Shauna Lawyer Struby

Woohoo. I’m so excited to write this post. Here’s another great way to support your local farmers, ranchers, producers and eat healthy local food. Blooming on the Oklahoma prairie is the new mobile Urban Agrarian Local Foods Market. I’ve been hearing about and watching Matt’s progress on this project and am so thrilled to write just a little about this. Other great local food goodness is on its way as well. Bob Davis and I chatted on Facebook last night and the way is clear with the City of Midwest City for a new farmers market in that area.

Both Matt and Bob are absolutely passionate about local food and are stellar examples of what happens when people set their minds on being the change they want to see in the world. Kudos to them! Now let’s all get out and support them! Eat, enjoy, spread the word!

urban agrarian Urban Agrarian Local Foods Market

Local, sustainable food delivered with local, sustainable energy

· Sunday, June 28, 2009

· 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

· Across the street from Cheevers on the SE corner of NW 23rd and Hudson, Oklahoma City.

The Veggie Van is making a stop and setting up shop on 23rd street every Sunday for an outdoor market. All local food transported by waste vegetable oil. Displays are made out of recycled fence panels and if you get your stuff bagged, it is in a second-use bag from a local retailer. It is an official part of Sunday-funday in the historic district.

Products from local growers and vendors such as: Earth Elements, High Tides & Green Fields, Seasons Catering, Briarberry Farm, OM Gardens, Peach Crest Farms, Redland Juice Co., Rowdy Stickhorse, Urban Farms, Wichita Buffalo, Snider Farms Peanut Barn, Bob’s Best Bon Appetitin’ Bulgar, and others available seasonally. Plus local garden extras.

Questions: Contact Matthew Burch, matthewrburch@gmail.com.

The Next One in the Nest

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Current Affairs, Local Economy, Local Government, Nancy Love Robertson, Oklahoma City, Public Works, Travel | Posted on 16-05-2009

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by Nancy Love Robertson

I love Oklahoma
City. I really do. I am a life-long resident and have watched our community ebb
and flow over the span of my 53-year lifetime.

In my life, it
seems we’ve ebbed more than we flowed for so long, and I, like many of us,
experienced discomfort when people from other parts of the U.S. would grimace
when I’d tell them where home was.

Today, however,
I sing a different tune. I defend my hometown with the fierceness of a momma
lion. I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past 15 years or so.

As a community,
we invested in ourselves and made the first MAPS happen in 1992. We marveled at
our pretty new ballpark, and applauded when we stepped into the Civic Center,
Downtown Library and Cox Convention Center for the first time. It all looked good
and making progress FELT good.

We the people
stood tall on April 19, 1995 and survived the Oklahoma City bombing with
dignity and compassion. The whole world watched us in awe, and through the
profound sadness of that time, we found our voice as a community with heart.

The momentum of
the 1990s propelled us to further our city’s promise when we took a stand to
advance public education in our city in 2001. We made a down payment toward our
future by telling children in our town that they mattered when we passed MAPS
for KIDS in November of that year. “Good for us,” I thought at the time. “I’m
proud of you, Oklahoma City!”

So, that’s our
community basket of golden eggs we laid over the past 15 years. And, to
paraphrase a Joni Mitchell line from For the Roses, “Who’s to know if the next one in the nest will
glitter for us so?”

Don’t mistake my
question as doubt or as a complaint. That’s not my intention at all. On the
contrary, I have an idea on how we can produce another golden egg that will
sparkle for our city long into the future.

Thankfully,
Oklahoma City as a micro-society is finally beginning the dialogue of what the
pressing environmental issues of the day mean to our way of life. Don’t forget,
we used to pride ourselves on being the largest city, in landmass, in the
United States. Thankfully, Jacksonville, Florida, now owns that dubious
distinction. However, in our quest to “be somebody” back in the 1950s and
1960s, Oklahoma City sold its soul to developers and thus created a scenario
that took decades to create. Now, it will take decades to unwind.

For what it’s
worth, I am throwing my voice behind my fellow Oklahoma Cityans who’ve been
calling us on our BS for the past several years about having one of America’s
most livable cities. They’re correct. If we really want to be a livable city
then where are the sidewalks? Where is the network of running trails and bike
lanes? Nothing spells “l-i-v-a-b-l-e c-i-t-y” more than a community that
encourages walking, running and cycling. 
So, what have we done to put our collective muscle to work on this
issue? First of all, doesn’t it make sense to create a world-class city for the
residents who live and work here before we cast our net to the larger world?

Fortunately,
we’ve been blessed with the hard work of a few. A case in point: Every year,
thousands of us enjoy the fruits of the labor of those dedicated staff members
and volunteers who breathe life into the Lake Hefner Trails. I have personally
logged many hours and miles running or cycling around that lake. And, as a
birder, I truly enjoy the opportunity to connect with nature in such close
proximity to my home.

Or, take the
mountain bike trails at Lake Stanley Draper. In less than half an hour, my
partner, Shelly, and I can be resetting the little computers on our mountain
bikes (one of us captures time, the other distance) at the Draper trail head.
Generous people give their time and sweat equity to creating and maintaining
the patchwork trail system at Draper Lake so folks like Shelly and I can have a
getaway that is restorative far beyond the two hours we spend flying through
the woods, practicing German and playing like two little kids. For those of you
responsible for making that space the oasis that it is, I say, “Thank you.”

I am certain
there are many more examples in our city that illustrate my point. All of them
can inspire us to do more to make our city livable and sustainable. And, these
examples of what could be might be the indicators of the next golden eggs we
produce in our nest.

So, how does a
grassroots initiative get traction in Oklahoma City? In reality, it starts with
civic and business leaders.

Attention please!
Mayor Cornett, take note. Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, tune in and pay
attention. Your constituents might be onto something here.

How marvelous it
would be if the next MAPS project involved a network of sidewalks and
cycling/running trails that would be the envy of forward-thinking cities like
Portland, Oregon? We’ve had MAPS and MAPS for KIDS. How about MAPS for LIFE (Living in
Full Enjoyment)? Like two of the other three MAPS
projects, (MAPS for Millionaires was a step backwards) this MAPS project,
Living in
Full Enjoyment…of our community, of our healthy bodies, of
our scenic beauty (our sunsets have been known to take one’s breath away) and
of each other…has something in it for everyone in our community. I also like
the metaphor of a network or web of life for our city. What a gift to be
connected to people and places, via a bike trail, to parts of town that are off
of our beaten paths. How awesome it would be to figuratively stumble onto a
celebration of a culture that’s different, while running along a trail that
connects one part of town with another.

I like imaging how
this could weave together for the good of our community.

In addition to
promoting recreation, fitness, a sense of community, sustainability and
livability, there’s a pragmatic side to bike lanes, running paths and
sidewalks, and it’s called safety. Here’s what I mean, and it begins with an
image that’s burned into my mind’s eye that I never want to see again. It’s an
image borne from years of unsustainable city planning for our way of life and a
visual that would’ve been less painful to see had there been a sidewalk.

Right before
Christmas, Shelly and I were driving on May Avenue just north of N.W. 63rd.
It was a freezing cold and blustery Saturday afternoon. Against the curb as
close as they could get for safety, was an elderly couple. The man was bundled
up in a wheelchair and he had an oxygen tank in his lap.  Behind him a few paces, was an old
woman in a car coat, clutching her purse and holding onto what was left of her
dignity. In the face of this dangerous situation, both of them appeared stoic.
Shelly and I were stunned at the sight, and I am confident that the other
motorists who saw it were equally as horrified. There was so much traffic,
there wasn’t an opportunity to stop and help them, so we moved our car as far
to the left in our right-hand lane to give them as much room as possible under
the circumstances. Nothing was in the headlines the next day, so I trust they
made it to where they were going.

Now, back to
sidewalks. Is this the image we want to project as a city?  Does the scene I’ve just described
bespeak a community that’s forward-thinking, sustainable, livable?  For those whose jobs it is to bring
commerce and people into our town to expand our tax base, it might be a wise
investment of time to take a look at an initiative that has broad implications
for the common men and women in our city. MAPS for LIFE would not only promote
a healthy lifestyle for our community, therefore enhancing the quality of life
for everyone. It could also say to residents and ultimately the rest of the
country that we are doing our part to be sustainable and leave a smaller
footprint as a city. While this utopian network of sidewalks and trails isn’t
the light rail system many of us dream will someday connect our suburbs with
the city center, it is likely to come into being more quickly and for less money.
Yet the long-term benefits would be far-reaching. 

What about the next
golden egg? MAPS for LIFE could be the next one in our community nest that
could glitter for us so. 

What’s red hot, green and fun?

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Events, Local Economy, Oklahoma City, Recycling | Posted on 15-04-2009

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Answer: Rethink: Recycle: Redesign

Special preview party 

imageSaturday . April 18 . 2009

7 – 11 p.m.

IAO Gallery . 811 N. Broadway . Oklahoma City

Purchase preview party tickets here.

Proceeds from the preview party benefit Sustainable OKC and IAO. More info at www.rethinkrecycleredesign.org.

Local art, local food, local thinking. Hang out with old friends, make new friends, tap the green vibe!

Sustainable OKC presents an art event and juried show created to challenge artists and designers to RETHINK objects that have reached the end of their lifecycle. The event promotes and encourages green design and sustainability and rethinking how we use objects. The idea is to RECYCLE and REDESIGN by repurposing and transforming objects into art—functional and non-functional. Included works were considered according to various criteria with emphasis on originality of transformation, effectiveness of repurposing, and aesthetics of design. Exhibit runs through May 8.

Rethink:Recycle:Redesign (RRR) is proud to present work from many artists including: Jacine Arias, Paul Bagley, Nick Bayer, Bryan Dahlvang, Bill Derrevere, Ron Ferrell, Helen Grant, Preston Greer, Aaron Hauck, Susan Horton, Reta & Vana Howell, Brad Humphreys, Amy Jones, Trent Lawson, Darci Lenker, Tanya Mattek, Michelle Himes, Regina Murphy, Rebek & Holmes,

Diana Smith, Julie Strauss, Sue Moss Sullivan, and David Surls.

RRR preview party features:

  • A silent auction with great items available for bid including: an Oklahoma State Park stay, a “made in Oklahoma” product basket, Oklahoma Today magazine limited edition Centennial Collection and subscription, private yoga lessons, Yard Dawgs tickets, OKC Thunder basket, a Colcord Hotel stay and more.
  • Educational information will be presented including: Trash Factoids, Green Event Guide, Guide to Green Living, Art Class Contest, World Population DVD, and a geospatial mapping project with information about urban food deserts, 100-mile diet and sustainable dining.
  • Tasty food provided by local restaurants and food producers. Gratitude to: Kam’s Kookery, The Wedge, Earth Elements, Hardesty Cheese, Seasons, Cuppies and Joe, Flip’s Wine Bar & Trattoria, Prairie Gypsies, and Pure Prairie Creamery. 
  • Local music provided by 13 Seeds.

Our generous sponsors: Sonic America’s Drive-In, Sierra Club, Weatherizationsource.com, Arts Council of OKC, Frankfurt-Short-Bruza Associates, Amanda Ewing, Jennifer Alig, Shelley Branum and Matt Leveridge, Jamie MacIvor, Shauna and Jim Struby, Vicki VanStavern.

For downloadable educational information about how to put together a green event, lower your carbon footprint, resources and more visit www.sustainableokc.org.

Census of Agriculture

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Direct Farm Sales, Farming, Local Economy, Tricia Dameron | Posted on 09-03-2009

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by Tricia Dameron

Data from the 2007 Census of Agriculture was released in early February. The Census of Agriculture is conducted every five years; this is the third time it was conducted by the USDA. Prior to 1997 it was conducted by the Census Bureau. It's full of fascinating information about agriculture in our state and country. For example:

  • Compared to 2002, 10,350,621 more meat chickens were sold in 2007, from 235 fewer meat chicken farms [Table 27]
  • The average age of the Oklahoma farmer is 57.6 [Table 1]
  • The number of female farm operators in the U.S. increased 30% between 2002 and 2007 [Table 50]
  • U.S. sales of organic foods rose to $1.7 billion from $393 million in 2002. That's an increase of 335% [Table 2 and Table 48]
  • Oklahoma had 46,224 acres of harvested cropland, of which 8,887 acres (19%) were organic crops [Tables 8 and 48]

But here's the kicker: In Oklahoma direct farm sales rose to $11.5 million from $3.7 million in 2002. That's an increase of 209%. How does this compare with our neighbors? New Mexico: 70%; Texas: 51%; Arkansas: 44%; Missouri: 43%; Colorado: 30%; Kansas: 3%.
In fact, Oklahoma had the largest increase in the country! The runner-up was Oregon with an increase of 163%. [Table 2]
Venues for direct farm sales include farmers' markets, roadside stands, CSAs, pick-your-own sites, online sales, the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, and farm-to-school programs.
So, what can we do to encourage this growth? Are there any public policy changes that would nurture a thriving local agricultural economy?

Note: Revenue figures are not adjusted for inflation. All figures are rounded up.