July 25, 2008

News: water collection, slow food, lazy locavores, and a Jersey tomato

More attuned than usual to storing water - the regional utility company has instituted water rationing - I've noticed several articles about doing so. For instance, Anne Raver, in her latest "In the Garden" essay, describes "garden reservoirs" in New York City. Raver features the 32 inch diameter, 165 gallon capacity tank at the home of Lenny Librizzi, assistant director of open space greening at the Council on the Environment. This tank is one of type of collector that Librizzi designs, mostly for community gardens. Rainwater is collected in community gardens over 20 cities and Raver visited several in New York: 1100 Block Bergen Street Garden (1,000 gallon tank); Long Island City Roots Garden (300 gallon tank), and Brooklyn Bears Carleton Avenue Community Garden (1,000 gallon tank collects water from the roof of an adjacent church).

Raver does not mention permit requirements for disconnecting the downspout from the NYC sewer system. In San Francisco, a permit is required, a fact I learned on a tour of permeable landscape sidewalks hosted by Walk San Francisco and Plant SF. Permits are also required to install greywater systems. The Greywater Guerrillas founder, Laura Allen, " built a home graywater system that bypasses the sewer system by reusing the water from her sinks, showers, and washing machine to flush the toilets and irrigate the deep-rooted plants and trees in her lush backyard garden advise residents on how to collect grey water." According to the East Bay Express, the system developed by Allen and promoted by the group "is a straight violation of graywater guidelines spelled out in the state plumbing code." The first permitted Berkeley and California residential greywater system is installed at the Ecology Center's EcoHouse. The EcoHouse also provides three "guerilla" greywater system installations but cautions they are unlawful.

The EcoHouse like Laura Allen of Greywater Guerillas uses greywater for landscape irrigation. EcoHouse grows native ornamentals and food plants. Harvesting greywater might be too "mussy" for the "lazy locavores" chronicled in the New York Times earlier this week. Journalist Kim Severson writes about city residents with gardens who outsource not only the maintenance but the harvesting as well. What's a food garden if you outsource the harvesting?! I wonder if San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will participate in the harvest of the Slow Food garden at Civic Center Plaza? Newsom was pictured planting with direction from Alice Waters in the print version of the Wednesday Times.

Very local tomatoes

I could not identify the plant Newsom was putting into the ground but it was not a Jersey tomato. The return of the Ramapo is good news for New Jersey whose garden state status was threatened by budget cuts at the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (I wrote about this news here). The agricultural department will remain intact due to greater than expected tax revenues from 2007. Surprisingly, there are only three Slow Food chapters in the garden state, but the Northern New Jersey Convivium will host Tomato Day on August 10 at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum.

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