A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to Making Marmalade

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Something went terribly wrong.

Christina our 'senior focus' volunteer brought her cadillac juicer over for a spin

PGG volunteer, Christina (our senior specialist) brought her Norwalk (the cadillac of juicers) over for a spin

Not sure what, but after countless hours of prep and stewing, we just were not pleased with the finished product. The oranges were too bitter for our liking and we want to give our best to our friends at SaraCare.

I was pretty bummed but Krista simply said  “Well… not everything goes exactly as planned.”  A gentle reminder that man plans and God laughs.

And just like that, we switched gears and came up with a plan B. As it turns out, we feel it to be an even better representation of the farm: a garden in a jar.  Each senior will be presented with a jar full of rich, organic soil (with worm casting)  and seeds; an invitation to be a part of our Project Generation Gap family.

Why didn’t we think of this in the first place?

Through it all, the smile never left Toni's face!

Through it all, the smile never left Toni’s face!

Sometimes it’s all about going through the process.  While the garden in the jar is awesome, it is not nearly as labor intensive as making the marmalade.  The investment made last week in preparing the marmalade has tremendous value even though it will never make it onto a single piece of toast.

Funny how things work out right?

 

Our Fall Events were created to kick off our senior programming;

So George made mixed fruit and fresh carrot juice-ritas (our version of lemons to lemonade)

So George made mixed fruit and fresh carrot juice-ritas (our version of lemons to lemonade)

specifically our adopt-a-grandparent program.  We’ve identified senior care facilities, churches and community centers who work with our elders. We are partnering with them to provide an extra layer of support to our aging population. In addition to periodic gifts, we plan to bring our grandparents to  the farm to grow with us; we are even creating a garden with them in mind.  We know we will learn so much from them!

We are asking our friends near and far to donate toward our efforts. We’ve determined that a donation of $15 will cover the expenses surrounding this holiday gift and the next… Valentine’s Day. <3.  If you’d like to donate click here.  All amounts are hugely appreciated.

Can’t wait to see many of you next weekend at the farm.  S’mores, corn hole, live music… all with our favorite people. Can’t wait!

Figured I'd end this post with the beautiful fruit and mascarpone tart I brought to share. Why not?

Figured I’d end this post with the beautiful fruit and mascarpone tart I brought to share. Why not?

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Natural High: Getting to Know the Farmers of The High Garden Center

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You know how you find something so special that you want to wait until the perfect time to share it with others?  That is how I feel about George and Krista High, owners of The High Garden Center.

I stumbled into their booth at a Farmers Market last summer and instantly knew I was on to something major.  I have met many really amazing farmers/growers from all over the Southeast that have changed the way I see food and my community. Meeting George and Krista went a bit deeper; I had found true kindred spirits.

They are passionate about community, education, and nutrient dense foods. I could not imagine a better fit for Project Generation Gap.

George and Krista

George and Krista are trusted advisors to health-conscious people who want to include a variety of plants in their everyday diet. They are lifelong nature lovers who grow and consume a wide variety of plants (some are wild) each day.

In 2012, George and Krista started creating customized “Gardens to Go” for people who don’t have green thumbs, or simply don’t have the time, energy, or space to maintain a garden. Their handcrafted portable planters give clients easy access to live culinary and medicinal herbs year round.

George and Krista sell live herbs, microgreens, pet greens, and handmade planters/pots at farmers’ markets in Gwinnett County, garden stores, and festivals around metro Atlanta.

An explorer at heart, George discovered at an early age that there are dozens of nutritious and edible plants in our own backyards. He has been picking, identifying, and cooking dishes containing culinary and wild plants ever since.

While serving in the military (he has served in the Army, the Coast Guard, as a civil servant for the Navy, and civilian employee on an Army base in Iraq)  George planned and ran the Community Garden at a Coast Guard base in North Carolina. He also served as the Wellness Officer for the Coast Guard Air Station from 1996-2002. George became a Certified Green Consultant in 2011 to assist others in living harmoniously with the earth.

George owns 6,000 music albums, the entire Danielle Steele book collection, and a John Deere tractor.

Krista is a former Environment Scientist, who reinvented herself in 2003. She became a freelance copywriter specializing in the health, wellness, and spirituality industries. For the past 10 years, Krista has written copy for alternative health and wellness gurus such as Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. Al Sears, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Gerald Epstein, and Dr. David Blyweiss.

Krista is ambidextrous, believes there’s “a place for everything, everything in its place,” and enjoys most anything that contains caramel.

I  mean seriously. What is there not to love?

Connecting with this beautiful couple has been a game changer for our organization. The level of service we are set to provide to the community is mind-blowing.  Look forward to more information on nutritious/healing foods, classes and community events.

Speaking of great food, I made the most delicious soup yesterday! I decided that I would use primarily local, fresh, and seasonal food that I obtained from the market.  My oldest son’s girlfriend, Megan, is a very picky eater; I’ve made my personal mission to win over her belly.  She lifted her bowl for seconds!

Harvest Soup

3 tablespoons butter

I used a one HUGE sweet potato from the market and several smaller ones given to me by Ash-Lee farms.

I used a one HUGE sweet potato from the market and several smaller ones given to me by Ash-Lee farms.

1.5 cups chopped onions

5 cups cubed sweet potato

4 cups cubed butternut squash

sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

8 cups chicken broth

2 sweet but tart apples (I use fujis)

Cinnamon and Nutmeg to taste

1 cup of milk or cream

Yogurt

Saute’ onions in butter until soft and translucent. Add the sweet potatoes, butternut squash, chicken broth, salt and pepper to pot. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the diced apple and either: mash the everything together by hand (for a chunkier soup) or  use a  blender to puree soup in batches (I use my Vitamix of course). Be careful not to fill the carafe more than halfway, the soup is hot and needs its space. 🙂  Pour the blended soup into a clean pot.  If desired, add a dollop of yogurt atop individual servings.

*Notes:

*I purchased everything (except the seasonings) from local farmers including the chicken to the make the stock, and the milk.

*I use raw milk because we digest it better. I suggest organic half and half or cream if purchasing pasteurized/homogenized dairy (so it will be creamy).

*My husband makes our yogurt but if purchasing, I recommend organic greek yogurt for a thicker consistency

*The veggies and fruits I used are all seasonal and fresh but it is ok to let Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods do your chopping for you. Typically not local, and REALLY expensive (I made close to a gallon of soup for around $6,) but trust me, I get it…do what you gotta do!

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If You Build It….

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Some time ago I wrote about starting a health, wellness and community revolution.  After spending years hoping ‘somebody’  would show up and step up, I realized that person was me. 🙂 My close friend, client, and colleague Janice had a similar epiphany at about the same time; we were both overwhelmed with the need to do something.  With that, Project Generation Gap was born.  We incorporated our non profit organization in December of 2013 with the goal of supporting an accessible, healthy, sustainable food system. As we see it,  the key to it all is community; placing a high value on our elders and nurturing our children.   We learned early on that we had to create an organic experience through relationship building.

While our efforts are not new to most of you, this major, exciting announcement is!

The vineyard at The High Garden Center

The vineyard at The High Garden Center

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Real food abounds here!

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The original barn

Project Generation Gap has partnered with The High Garden Center.  Our office will be housed at their farm along side a community center we are building together.  We will work together to bring quality nutrition and food education to our community. In my next post I will introduce you to  the dynamic duo behind HGC, George and Krista. They have been quietly working on their garden center… they seriously have their hands on a little slice of heaven.

One thing I have learned in the last year working with farmers/growers is that they rarely see the magnitude of what they offer. I am blown away with how humbly they work the land and then graciously share the fruits of their labor with their neighbors.  In addition to the supporting the growth at The HGC,  we have identified other farmers, growers, and tradesmen/women to support.  We sent 11 kids to farm camp, facilitated  (along with our partner firm Atlanta Food &Farm) an opportunity for The High Garden Center to create 10 rooftop self watering planters  at the Pittman Park Community Center and  we’ve organized/ participated in volunteer work days on area farms.  Each of these efforts engaged the community, provided education, and supported farmers directly.  Our work is just beginning!   We are  creating a comprehensive internship program  that will provide an array of services to our farmers (we just brought on our first official intern to help us at the High Garden Center and she is AWESOME) and we have partnered with like minded businesses and other non profits to provide the funding and manpower needed to create quality programming. We have family and community events planned and ultimately (through our partner farmers/providers) we will provide access to array of seasonal, local fresh vegetables, humanely raised and  processed antibiotic free meat, and minimally processed prepared food.  It is our goal to make our neighbors aware of the importance of supporting local growers and the value of good quality food.

Equally as important to the work we will do to support the farmers and consumers is our outreach work.  We have found a great fit coordinating  food demonstrations for preschoolers. Such FUN!   We will continue to offer programing to children and adults of all ages  in the form of classes and seminars.  We will be in local schools, at community centers, and presenting at events across the community.  We will also share all that we know and learn about nutrient dense food and self-sustainability to our friends and supporters across the country.

So how on Earth are we going to do it?

Well, it’s a family affair! We’ve been working hard at establishing relationships in our community. The outpouring of support has been incredible.  Our  vision started with a small board of directors and has grown include the ideas/work of  farmers, business owners, other non profits, and agencies.  No need to re-invent the wheel!  We also  did outreach at local farmers’  markets during the summer in order to get to know our community better.  As a result, our network of volunteers has blossomed. The PGG team has  social workers, registered nurses, college students, nutritionists, chefs, social workers, teachers, accountants, health/wellness professionals, horticulturalists, artists, a graphic designer, saleswomen, consultants, a cosmetologist, engineers, stay at home moms, homesteaders, general contractors, a fireman… I am sure I am forgetting something!  We are Caucasian, African American, Columbian, Indian, Mexican, Biracial, Vietnamese, West Indian. We range in age from 9 months to 70+.

The point is, we are the community.

Look forward to getting to know our team better. You are going to love them!

Here are few ictures from our recent work weekend at The High Garden Center.  Magical things are happening there. If you’d like to be a part of it, please email us here. We’d love to have you! Next up:  a community bonfire!

Taking it down to build it back again!

Taking it down to build it back stronger!

Malik and Clarke are smiling!

Malik and Clarke are smiling!

The inside crew had more fun then should be legal. lol

The inside crew had more fun then should be legal. lol