Category Archives: Fall 2012

What’s in the Garden Right Now?

Hey all! What a wonderful first quarter it has been this year, we have done so much together! I just wanted to give everyone a more thorough update on what the state of the garden is like and will be like for most of next quarter. Click here to see what’s in the PICA Foundational Roots Garden.

63711_10151266080389154_790539103_nSo what we have planted is a winter garden, which is fairly different than a spring/summer garden. We do not have as much heat as in the summer, so plants don’t want to put as much energy into reproduction and making fruits. Instead they are just focused on growing and getting ready for that time of year. The plants we have reflect that and are mostly going to be things that the plant will make no matter what; things like leafy greens, roots, shoots and stalks. Also very prevalent are some trees and shrubs that are putting out their fruits before they go more dormant in mid-winter. These winter veggies are going to be slower growing so we may have to wait a little while for all of these crop to be ready. There should be some good greens and veggies in the greenhouse to keep you happy in the meantime.

58386_10151199791954154_1465420926_nSo hopefully you can read the map, here is a brief key: wcc = winter cover crop, brass = brassicas which include broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco, collards, and kale. If you couldn’t tell, the most popular veggies in our garden this winter are tat soi, brassicas, and scallions. These are all things that grow great here in the winter and some of them are more pest resistant. Here is a brief little guide on some ways to use these guys:

Tat soi- This is a thicker leafed Asian green and generally is better cooked. It works great in stir frys, soups,

Asian greens – These greens are less tough than others, and sometimes can be used fresh. They typically have more of bitterness to them than some lettuces we are used to, but they are still a great addition to salads. They also do quite well in cooked dishes, although I would add them near the end of making your meal because they don’t need much time to cook.

426338_10151199791884154_122207397_nBrassicas – This is a wide variety of plants. We have all those listed above (if the gophers haven’t eaten them by the time you have read this) and many of the can be used in the same way. Collard greens and kale can be cooked in the same ways, with the exception that collards are not as good fresh. All of their leaves can be cooked like collard greens, but generally we try to save the flowering ones (like broccoli) for their delicious buds. All of the buds or flowers on these plants can be cooked like either broccoli or cauliflower would.

Scallions – These guys are the perfect middle ground between a strictly green onion and a bulb onion. There is the white base at the bottom which is very similar to a regular white onion and can be used in the same way. The green upper parts can be used in the same way that green onions would be used, and are even similar to leeks in some dishes.

Then, don’t forget to eat your fruit! The figs are coming in this time of year, and they are right behind B1 by the tool shed. For those of you who aren’t sure when to eat them, they should be dark and pretty squishy(squishier than you would think at first). There is also the amazing pineapple guava’s all along the compost area, pick them up after they have fallen off to get the good ripe ones. And the lemon tree right outside of B1 is starting to make yellow lemons.

So, keep your eyes open and eat your veggies!

About the Author

jaridJarid Kroes is the Garden Coordinator at PICA and is part of PICA’s leadership team. He loves garlic and wants more of it in the world.


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The Silience of Good Vegetables

217038_10151142783604154_1502985193_nFood brings us together in so many ways. Planting, growing and harvesting the produce for a meal requires collaboration and physical work. Cooking and preparing food requires planning and skill. But the most important aspect about food that binds us the most is the sharing of the ultimate product: eating.

Before a community meal is dished up, everyone gathers in a circle. The cooks announce the dishes and the origin of the ingredients. This practice makes us aware of where our food came from. It gives us a certain pride whenever a community dish is announced to have come from the PICA garden, and a cheer goes around the circle. The usual proud, happy chorus of “KALE!” always rises up out of the work group in response to the salad dish announcement and members expectantly nod when a local farm is mentioned.

47089_10151199793079154_1277123091_nIt’s great to know where our food comes from and it is even better when the dishes we make from sustainable sources taste good. My favorite part of PICA is the deliciousness of the community meals. When I first came to PICA, I shared a child’s fear of vegetables. I would pick at my plate and avoid all green things. Then I discovered PICA.

I first came to PICA during a sustainability project with College 8 as a requirement for my core course. The whole class was invited to stay for lunch after working in the garden. As one of the few who stayed for the meal, I can tell you that it was well worth while. I happy devoured everything on my plate, including all the veggies and was pleasantly surprised. Delicious green vegetables were unheard of to me before that point on my life. I decided at that point that I can and should eat better. I should be eating vegetables to maintain my health as well as eating local, organically grown food and little meat. Every meal at PICA is vegetarian and/or  vegan.  This is another way that we can eat sustainably. Living and eating at PICA has changed my life for the better and has had a small impact on the world around me. I am so thankful that PICA has allowed me to broaden my horizons and helped me learn to love new things. Without PICA I would have never discovered that veggies could be so inhumanly tasty.


Bread and cheese workshop

And clearly, I’m not the only one who thinks so. Every Saturday, after working in the garden, everyone settles down with their dish of amazing sustainable food and a silence falls over the community. A silent appreciation for all that has been done to create the plated masterpieces in front of us. The group occasionally nods their head and smiles.  The occasional hum of “mmmm this is so good!” is heard over the quiet hungry mass of garden workers.

The PICA community meal tradition is a recipe for a happy, sustainable community. I hope that the practice is carried on through PICA’s existence and that the current and future members of PICA continue the tradition within their own lives, no matter where it may take them.

About the Author

loraHi, I’m Lora Johansen, the events coordinator here at PICA. I am a sophmore studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology here at UCSC. I love sailing, gardening, cooking,reading, and meeting new friends. So please feel free to introduce yourself!

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The Mentality of a PICAn

Living in PICA is great! Isn’t it? So much to do here! We get to: garden, cook, eat, live in an awesome community, and enjoy life to its very fullest! So much fun! It’s just so great and ridiculously awesome. And apart of living here in PICA is to foster a positive attitude that will encourage not only yourself, but everyone around you! You’re an inspiration! Be proud!  As the famous Jordan Partida once said, “PICA is a season where everyone is pleasin’.” PICA is just great; you’re great; we’re all great!  And as we head towards the end of the quarter, let us go into holidays with one of the best tools ever: a great attitude! If you can dream it, you can do it! So without further ado, here is a list of lessons that I’ve found to be positives in my life, and hopefully, you will as well.


Cob Oven Workshop

1.     Appreciate the great people and things you have in your life. We have so much awesomeness surrounding our lives. We live on campus that you can view the entire Monterey Bay, while still being in a vast redwood forest. We get to share meals together as community. We get to have all these opportunities to grasp life at its finest and ride at full throttle. We are truly lucky! Be grateful!

2.     Ignore other peoples’ negativity. What good does negativity breed? None. You shouldn’t have any of it because you are the maker of your own feelings—you can’t let others get you down. People have no right to judge or label you. You are you, and that’s so cool! So other peoples’ negativity shouldn’t get you down but make you even more determined to ascend to levels of more awesome!

3.     Be who you really are. You are special. I know it’s cliché but its valid. Don’t change because you’re unique, and that’s a gift nobody can take from you. If people scoff at you for being different, then laugh at them for being the same. You’re your own person; embrace the uniqueness that life gave you!

4.     Leave the past behind.  Living in the past is about as useful as a broken rock. There’s absolutely no point to continue to grasp on past gripes and feelings because they’re only something that drags you down. The past shouldn’t steal the present and future you. You are here reading this, at this very second, and you will be no younger than that second that just passed. It may sound grim, but really it’s optimistic; you have an infinite amount of possibilities to do what you want now. Take advantage of the beauty of all the life there is to be lived ahead of you. Go out and do it!


Jarid leading the Wild Edible Plant Identification Workshop

5.     Love yourself. With today’s unattainable standards of perfection portrayed throughout the media, people look only look at their so-called “flaws.” But that does nothing good for us! Ask the question: If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend? The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others. You must love who you are or no one else will.

6.     The time is now. Stop procrastinating. Stop putting it off for tomorrow. Stop making excuses. The time to do what you want to do is now! Life in most cases will not give you what you want. If you have goal, go out and achieve it! You can do it! The hardest part is starting. It may take a day, a week, or even 4 years but it will make you a happier, and more accomplished you.


Wild Plant Identification Workshop

7.     Change your routine. We as humans are cyclical; we have 24-hour days, specific meal times, times to sleep, times to be awake, and times to go to school and do homework. It seems that we get trapped in this vicious cyclical beast that makes everyday mundane with the same pattern over and over. We merely let the days past rather than live them. But when we change our routine, we become more awakened and aware of the where we are, what were doing, and the feeling we’re experiencing. It’s fresh, new, and oh so fun! Why is the first day of school so fun compared to the middle? Because it’s different, a new change to the system that revitalizes you to become aware of the present. And that’s so cool! You know why? Because we can do this on a micro-daily scale that will make everyday a little different and special. Try and do something new for 30 days and I bet you that will remember that month better than any month of the year because of all the fun, new experiences.

DSCN02888.     Reciprocate. To give mutually is so important. Especially in a community setting like PICA. We live in a place where people cook for us, and we cook for them. They feed us, and we feed them. It’s a vicious cycle of giving to one another, and it breeds absolute excellence. It not only shows others that you care for them, but it makes you feel good because you did something for someone else. And this altruism helps kinder a tightly bound community of love because knowing that everyone has your back is a great feeling! This reciprocity is the essence of PICA—we garden, cook, eat, share, laugh and live with one another and that’s what will keep this community thriving.

9.     To fail is to succeed. “”You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretsky”. You’re going to fail at some point in your life. Not at school necessarily but you will fail at some aspect of your life. However, it’s up to you how you interpret that failure; you can wallow about it and let it consume you or you can learn from it. Ask yourself: Is it better to try and fail or to never do what you wanted to do? Hopefully the answer is clear. You may not get the outcome you hoped for but you learn from it and that’s what matters. Should I have tried to compost multitudes of plastic? Of course not! But now I’ve learned to not do that because it doesn’t break down (and has a horrendous smell). This is your life and failing is going to make you a more successful you. Take the shot you get and you won’t regret it.

10. Don’t take life so seriously. I saved this one for last because it’s something I cannot emphasize more. Your time here on earth is temporary—there will be highs, there will be lows. But you have to make the best out of the wonderful gift of being alive. The opportunity of life is so wonderful, and people these days take things so seriously that they forget about all the awesome things surrounding them. You’re not an old grouch; you’re a special individual with limitless options that can do whatever they want to do with their life. You don’t have study here in college just to get a paying job, you can learn. What you study now isn’t going to define who you are 5, 10, or 15 years from now! And you for sure don’t have to listen to what I’m writing; you can read this and say, “Wow, Matt’s crazy in the head. That guy has issues.” Perhaps I do (most likely the case) but I want you to enjoy yourself, PICA, and life. Your time here is limited and sometimes being too critical of yourself and others around you, will leave you clouded with pessimism. But when you: appreciate (1), block out the negativity (2), be you (3), let go (4), love yourself (5), don’t procrastinate (6), mix things up (7), give back (8), and fail (9), you realize that all of things tie in with not taking life so seriously. So be you, and go out conquer what’s to be your dream. Carpe Diem is what they say but have a little fun on the way.

About the Author- Matthew Sanford

MATT2I am Junior, ENVS/Economics major, and I’m the Compost Liaison in PICA. My hobbies include: gardening, running, reading, playing uke and guitar, brewing, snowboarding, yoga-ing, drinking coffee and tea, cooking, eating apples, wrestling alligators, and having fun. I am from Oakland, CA where I was lucky enough to grow up with: compost, gardens, delicious food, and lots of activities to do. Oh, and I also like long walks on the beach.

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