Monday, March 1, 2010

Around town: Call for kale

This much is true: Austin is full of people who would really rather not do things the regular way. And I happen to be interested in more than what comes out of my own kitchen — even while in the middle of a gigantic baking project. So, in an effort to return to the idea that this blog began with, I'm getting out of the kitchen and talking to folks with big ideas about the way they eat, share and grow food.

A new project I recently heard about fits this big-idea bill so perfectly that I had to pull out my reporter's notebook. Daily Juice is looking to make some of its fresh juices using organic kale grown in pretty much the most hyper-local origin possible: Austinites' back yards. Is that innovative or what?

The way it's planned, even those like me who aren't too confident in their growing ability can join in. Resolution Gardens is in the business of installing raised bed gardens to get folks started in growing all kinds of vegetables, and they can be hands-on (or -off) in maintaining the garden once it's going. They're pitching in by leading kale-planting seminars specifically for this effort.

Resolution Gardens plans to buy the harvest from growers all over town, then sell it to Daily Juice, where it could end up in a salad or be transformed into a Green Party smoothie, for example, by blending with organic celery, cucumber, romaine, spinach, parsley, cabbage and cilantro.

You can imagine how healthy a juice blend containing kale must be, and growing its main ingredient in a way that puts urban yard space to use and contributes to the local food infrastructure sounds pretty karmically healthy, too. The cool thing is that this is just the pilot phase of a larger idea: Resolution Gardens' founder, Randy Jewart (also of Austin Green Art), told me he's collecting info on cost and time and yield for kale crops during this planting season so that the whole plan can expand by this fall.

"If we're supplying kale for a juicing operation, we could supply other things they use," he said. "What we'd like to happen is we could have thousands of people growing things for lots of restaurants and small grocery stores. This is just the beginning."

Interested in playing farmer? Johnny Barnett, a green-thumbed guy I talked with at the farmers market last weekend, wants to hear from you:

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