White Center Food Bank Offers Free Garden Beds For Community Use

WC Food BankWhite Center Food Bank wants everyone to know about the availability of garden beds for community use. These beds are FREE, with only a commitment to care for the space as it’s provided.

The Food Bank also offers a tool check-out for use in the garden, though their selection is limited so the West Seattle Tool Library might also be a useful option.

Anyone wanting more information can contact Mara at gardens@whitecenterfoodbank.org.

The Mission of the White Center Food Bank is to minimize hunger, while nourishing community, nurturing self-reliance and embracing our rich cultural diversity.  They are located at 10829 8th Ave SW Seattle (White Center).

Washington Department of Ecology to Begin Yard Sampling & Cleanup in Tacoma Smelter Plume Areas, Including Vashon

Tacoma SmelterThe Washington State Department of Ecology is about to start a  Tacoma Smelter Plume Yard Sampling & Cleanup Program and has an open Public Comment Period from March 14 through April 29.

This year, Ecology will begin sampling and cleaning up residential yards.  This “Yard Program” will focus on the most contaminated areas of the Tacoma Smelter Plume – Ruston, west Tacoma, and southern Vashon-Maury Island.

To see more information about the comment period information and to view the program service area map, go to http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/sites_brochure/tacoma_smelter/2013/yard-Sampling.html.

The program will run a little bit differently in the Ruston/North Tacoma Study Area (Superfund site).  There are separate fact sheets for the different regions the program serves, and a Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet.

The Tacoma Smelter Plume website is http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/sites_brochure/tacoma_smelter/2011/ts-hp.htm.

Please submit written comments to Amy Hargrove at Amy.Hargrove@ecy.wa.gov.  She can also be reached at 360-407-6262.

More information on the entire program is available from Hannah Aoyagi, PhD, by phone 360-407-6790 or email at hannah.aoyagi@ecy.wa.gov.  Hannah is the Community Outreach & Environmental Education Specialist, Toxics Cleanup Program, Southwest Regional Office, Washington State Department of Ecology

Sustainable West Seattle Forums To Feature Quarterly Themes: First Up Is Successful Gardening with Nature

COWSJoin us Monday, March 18, at South Seattle Community College’s Horticulture Center for a new approach to communtiy forums. Sustainable West Seattle is changing the way we conduct our monthly community forums.

For over 5 years SWS has had monthly meetings on the 3rd Mondays of the month to bring interested West Seattleites together over a variety of topics. Much has been learned and shared and many community alliances have been formed.

Now, a new concept is being unveiled to extend the conversations as well as put action into our forums.  Three-month themes with a variety of workshops in between each forum will give SWS a chance to bring about a more lasting legacy to our forums. Each quarterly theme also will culminate in a permanent offering to the community in the form of a project accomplished or a new service initiated.

A very timely first effort will be the Spring quarterly theme of Successful Gardening with Nature. Starting with the first forum on soil building, experts from SWS will share their secrets for the foundation of successful gardening.

The first Successful Gardening with Nature forum will take place this Monday, March 18th  at 6:00 pm at the West Seattle Community Orchard located in the north end of South Seattle Community College near the Horticulture Classrooms. This new hands-on style of learning will demonstrate the process of creating garden beds that sustain fertilizer and water as well as keeping weeds at bay. This portion will be followed by aQuestion-and-Answer session and the movie “Permaculture Soils” by Geoff Lawton in the SSCC LHO classroom 2.

Several workshops at the Community Orchard will follow in coming days. The West Seattle Tool Library will also be hosting a Fixers Collective March 21st 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, offering a chance for local gardeners to sharpen their tools and repair wheel barrows. With parts, tools and experts at the ready, the WS Tool Library would request a donation of $5 for members and $10 for the public.

The April forum will be on garden planning. April’s subjects will include the selection of crops, what different plants require, sister planting for beneficial reasons and pest control and will answer the question, what does a tomato need that a cucumber doesn’t want?

The final forum in the series, in May, will be a one-day garden creation to benefit a yet to be determined community group, school or church. You can nominate a spot in need of a garden by logging onto www.sustainablewestseattle.org and leaving a comment on our website or at the end of this article.

Food and Cooking Tips for Healthier Thanksgiving Meals

The Environmental Working Group has posted tips on how to have a healthier and safer Thanksgiving.  There are three upfront and simple ways you can do this:

Choose Food Low in Pollutants and Added Chemicals

Food can contain ingredients we don’t want to eat — from pesticides to hormones to artificial additives to food packaging chemicals. Some simple tips to cut the chemicals:

  • Buy organic when you can. Make sure fresh fruits and vegetables are on the menu, and go organic when you can. Organic produce is grown without synthetic pesticides. Organic meat and dairy products also limit your family’s exposure to growth hormones and antibiotics.
  • It’s OK to choose non-organic from our “Clean 15” list of less-contaminated conventional fruits and vegetables, too. EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce ranks popular fruits and vegetables based on the amount of pesticide residues found on them. Check out our Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce (and get the iPhone App).
  • Cook with fresh foods, rather than packaged and canned, whenever you can. Food containers can leach packaging chemicals into food, including the estrogenic bisphenol A that’s used to make the linings of food cans. Go for fresh food or prepared foods stored in glass containers. Pick recipes that call for fresh, not canned, foods.

When planning a grocery trip, check in with EWG’s Healthy Home Tip: Go organic and eat fresh foods.

Use Non-Toxic Cookware

Using a great pan makes a huge difference when cooking. EWG staffers skip the non-stick so that their families don’t have to breathe toxic fumes that can off-gas from non-stick pans over high heat.

  • Non-stick cookware is in most American kitchens. Is it in yours?
  • For safer cooking, we suggest cast iron, stainless steel and oven-safe glass. Yes, there are many new products on the market, but most companies won’t tell you exactly what’s in them. Even if they’re advertised as “green” or “not non-stick,” manufacturers do not have to release their safety data to the public.
  • If you’re ‘stuck’ with non-stick, cook safer with it. You can reduce the possibility of toxic fumes by cooking smart with any non-stick cookware you happen to own: Never heat an empty pan, don’t put it in an oven hotter than 500 degrees F and use an exhaust fan over the stove.

Learn more about cooking safely in our Healthy Home Tip: Skip the non-stick.

Store and Reheat Leftovers Safely

Leftovers can extend the joy of a holiday — by giving you a break from the kitchen! But be sure to avoid plastic when storing and (especially) when heating them. Here’s why — and how:

  • Skip plastic food storage containers if you can. The chemical additives in plastic can migrate into food and liquids. Ceramic or glass food containers (such as Pyrex) are safer.
  • Don’t microwave food or drinks in plastic containers, even if they claim to be “microwave safe.” Heat can release chemicals into your food and drink. Microwave ovens heat unevenly, creating hot spots where the plastic is more likely to break down.
  • If you do use a plastic container, handle it carefully. Use it for cool liquids only; wash plastics by hand or on the top rack of the dishwasher, farther from the heating element; use a paper towel instead of plastic wrap to cover food in the microwave. Also, avoid single-use plastic as much as possible — reusing it isn’t safe (it can harbor bacteria) and tossing it out fills up landfills (and pollutes the environment).

Read more about heating and storing food safely in our Healthy Home Tip: Pick plastics carefully.

CropSwap Website Offers Local Gardeners & Farmers An Online Trading System

A Tacoma gardener named Kevin Freitas and friends started a local crop sharing website  – CropSwap – in June this year.  They’ve focused getting the word out in Tacoma and Seattle and now have about 150 swappers signed up mostly from the two areas but a few in other states and countries.

They just had their first bartering meet-up with Pierce County’s Fair Tradin’ group but look forward to pairing with other like minded groups soon. The biggest thing they tell users is to let people know they’ve posted on the site to make more local bounty available to all so instead of people first going to the farmers’ market or grocery they’ll first make a swapping list.

From their website comes this tale:

“The CropSwap story is simple. We garden. We have friends. We have friends with gardens. In recent years, our friends have become more serious about their gardens. Maybe it’s just that we’re all getting older… but we don’t think so.

“Our friends see their gardens as a different way of life. Gardens support their values of going local, supporting their own communities, promoting sustainability and eating really tasty food. It’s branched out to be more than just gardens.  We have chickens. We have bees for honey. We make our own jam and we brew our own beer. And, we’re getting to be pretty darn good at it!

CropSwap is the next step in the continuum of creating healthy and sustainable local communities. It lets each person in the community trade his or her excess yield with a neighbor or a new friend for something else they’d like to have, allowing each of us to take advantage of whatever we do best, or like to do best.

CropSwap is a member-supported online community. We encourage members to be creative.  Your don’t have to just swap “crops”. Trade whatever you would like to trade… just because we haven’t thought of it doesn’t mean someone doesn’t want it. Add it to the database. We’ll all learn as we go.

“As the CropSwap community grows, we’ll keep finding new ways to be connected – live swapping events, member forums. Let us know what you think should come next by emailing at info@cropswap.me. We want to hear your ideas on how to enhance the value of our online community. Because, like life, Your Garden Is Bigger with Friends.”

So, if you’re growing vegetables, fruits, herbs or ornamentals, check out their website and help enlarge and grow this crop sharing site.

Green America Has Green Halloween Ideas

Green America has posted a series of links and suggestions on ways to have a Green Halloween® and National Costume Swap Day™.

This October Green America will be helping families across the US swap the standard Halloween junk for healthier and more sustainable holiday treats, and also to swap gently used costumes within their community – a green and affordable way to celebrate!

There are lots of ways to get involved:

1. Host a Costume Swap in your community – National Costume Swap Day is October 13th, but you can choose to hold a swap on any day that works for you.  For tips on how to organize and promote your swap check out how-to here.  And be sure to register your swap here so that others in your area will know the details.

2. Attend a Green Halloween Celebration – Green America has officially joined forces with zoos, aquariums, andcommunity partners across the country to host Green Halloween celebrations.  Activities at these events will include trick-or-treating, face-painting, hay rides, and more, and ALL will be perfect for kids of all ages, featuring healthy treats.  See a complete event listing here. 

3. Organize a Green Halloween event in your area – Anyone can organize a Green Halloween celebration for your town. Green America has an official “how-to” kit to guide you on how organize fun and sustainable Green Halloween events, all contained in their online “Volunteer Coordinator’s Guide”.

4. Hand out sustainable treats on Halloween — If you’re looking for greener sweet-treats, or candy alternatives, to hand out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween night, check out the list of suggestions here. It’s not too early to stock up.

West Seattle Barter Fair Geared Toward Holiday Season – Saturday @ Camp Long

Join Sustainable West Seattle and BackyardBarter.org this Saturday, November 10,  at the Camp Long Lodge from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm for a fun and unique barter session geared toward the holiday season.  There will be pot luck selections for the hungry so plan on bringing a dish.  The event takes place in the historic Lodge at Camp Long.

Camp Long is accessible via SW Dawson Street, in the 5200-block of 35th Avenue SW.  The Metro #21 bus goes right by the park.

The object of the Barter Fair is to promote more meaningful gifting of products through exchanging services or items made from raw materials (jams, birdhouses, quilts, etc.).

Categories include:

  • Services
  • Art and Crafts
  • Home Crafts
  • Food Crafts
  • Salvaged and Refurbished Items

This year’s fair will be held in cooperation with BackyardBarter.org.  Folks from BackyardBarter.org will guide the trading during the afternoon.

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SWS Winter Solstice Party December 14

Its that time of the year when the days get short and Seattlites meet to share company and food.

Lets get together to celebrate the successes of 2012 and talk about what will be in 2013!

Sustainable West Seattle’s Winter Solstice party will be at the home of Bill Reiswig and Tonya Hennen on December 14 from 6:00 pm until we go home.

The house is located at 7102 30th Ave SW. We’ll have beer from Big Al’s and food to share. And, you should bring a dish, a salad, a side or a dessert to share as well.

You should also bring a funny or thougthful White Elephant gift from your house… no need to buy anything new… just something you want to pass on to others!

Kids are welcome! Conversation, frivolity, music, and holiday decor will mark the evening. See you there!

Sustainable West Seattle meets on the Third Monday of January, 2013, January 21, for our annual review and Board member elections.

Sustainable West Seattle is a 501(c)(3) non-profit registered in the State of Washington.

  • Our Mission Statement says that “Sustainable West Seattle educates, creates and advocates for urban sustainability in our local community.”
  • Our Vision states: “We envision a West Seattle community of empowered citizens who actively lead us toward greater self-reliance, local democracy, social justice, and existence in harmony with life on earth.”
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Sustainable West Seattle @ Farmers Market This Sunday; Bring Unwanted Stuff for Tool Library

Visit the Sustainable West Seattle booth at the West Seattle Farmers Market this Sunday, October 14.

Also bring your tools to donate to the West Seattle Tool Library.

We also have the West Seattle Walking Trails map and the South Park, White Center and Central District walking maps.

We’re here to help you with your questions about being more sustainable, about being a bit more green, and we’re here to take your left-over or under-used tools for the West Seattle Tool Library.

We also have the latest information on the many projects SWS members are involved with, including permaculture and wastewater.  Concerned about earthquakes?  We have information on Emergency Preparedness here in West Seattle, as well as other community info from partners like CoolMom.

We’re tabling at the Farmers Market and working with the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance folks to keep a non-profit and green presence in the Market area.

If anyone is interested in tabling, drop by and leave your name and contact information and we’ll be happy to schedule you for a shift.  This is a great way to meet your fellow West Seattleites and a great way to make a better acquaintance with the farmers and producers who help keep the West Seattle Farmers Market such a great place to shop healthy and local.

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EWG Publishes Guide to Good Food on a Tight Budget, Including School Lunches

The Environmental Working Group, in collaboration with Share Our Strength, has published a new shopping guide that looks at 100 foods that are healthy, inexpensive, clean and green. The guide features simple tips for eating well, tasty recipes for meals and kids’ snacks, as well as proven money-saving tools for tracking food prices and planning meals.

Check out EWG’s Good Food on a Tight Budget – including 15 recipes that average less than $1 per serving and tips like:

  • A pear a day keeps the pesticides away – more fiber, potassium and folate than an apple and fewer pesticide residues;
  • Eat your garnish – parsley packs a punch as potent as kale for a quarter the price;
  • Not a carrot lover? Sweet potatoes pack twice the fiber, potassium, and vitamin A as carrots;
  • Super okra? Okra beat out more than 100 other veggies to rise to the top of our lists.

Did you know: one serving of filling oatmeal is about half the cost of a bowl of sugared cereal? For animal sources of protein – roasted turkey tops the list. But to eat on the cheap, you can’t beat pinto beans or lentils for one-fifth the cost.

These tips are perfect for back-to-school, too – and to help you plan out those important meals, the guide’s lead author, EWG nutritionist Dawn Undurraga, pulled together visual suggestions for a week of easy lunches, click here to see the guide.