|Celebrating our rural traditions and heritage||
Saturday, March 20th, 2010
On March 17, Senator Blanche Lincoln unveiled her version of the Child Nutrition Act and scheduled the Senate Agriculture Committee to begin considering the bill on Wednesday, March 24.
Senator Lincoln’s draft increases funding for the child nutrition programs by $500 million per year, and strengthens nutrition standards and adds some support for Farm to School programs. She calls it a “record investment in child nutrition programs.” This is correct but only because Congress has consistently under-funded school meals in every Child Nutrition Act until now. While it is encouraging to see that new funding, Lincoln’s draft has merely half of the $1 billion proposed by President Obama. This is not enough to provide healthy school lunches during this time when nearly 1 in 3 children is obese or overweight.
We urgently need a Child Nutrition Act capable of:
• Helping schools serve healthier food by making the full investment of $1 billion per year for child nutrition programs.
• Including $50 million for Farm to School programs, which link schools to local farms and support local economies.
Email Slow Food USA staff member Gordon Jenkins if you have questions or have some time to volunteer to act quickly on this issue. When you’re done with the email, reach out to friends and colleagues – especially parents, teachers and school meal providers – and ask them to get involved, too.
You can learn more about Slow Food USA’s campaign to help schools serve healthier food at www.slowfoodusa.org/timeforlunch.
San Benito Bounty is in the process of creating a local Convivia (which is what Slow Food calls a chapter). We’ll keep you informed as to how to join to celebrate local food!
Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
Biologists at Pinnacles National Monument have verified the first California condor nest in the monument in over 100 years. Condor 317, a female released at the monument as a 1 ½ year old bird in 2004, has paired with a nearly seven year old male, Condor 318, originally released along the Big Sur coast by Ventana Wildlife Society. This is the first breeding attempt by either condor. The adult condors were tracked using radio telemetry and global positioning technology to the nest site. They were also observed performing courtship behaviors for nearly a month before an egg was confirmed.
”We are thrilled that after being involved with the Condor Recovery Program since 2003, the park has its first nest in over 100 years,” said Eric Brunnemann, Park Superintendent. “…and conveniently Condors 317 and 318 chose a nest cave that can be easily viewed by the public from the Scout Peak bench on the High Peaks Trail,” continued Brunnemann. Although the areas directly around the nest cliff will be closed to public use for the duration of the nesting period, public viewing is still possible. The strenuous hike to the viewing area is approximately two miles from the closest East or West Side parking areas. From the west, the elevation gain is approximately 1100 feet, and from the east it is over 1200 feet. Please ask in the Visitor Center for more complete directions to the viewing area.
A temporary closure area around the nest cliff is in effect during the 2010 breeding season. Park visitors interested in off trail activities within the Monument must consult with a park ranger for specific guidance.
Biologists will be closely monitoring the nest to determine if the new parents succeed in incubating the egg and rearing a young bird to fledge from the high rocky cliff. Condor eggs take an average of 57 days to hatch. Nestlings remain flightless for an additional 5½ to 6 months. Park Service biologists expect that if the new parents successfully rear a young condor, it would take its first flight in early October.
Pinnacles National Monument was chosen as a California condor release site due to historical documentation of condors in the area, good cliff nesting opportunities, and large expanses of intact habitat in the region. There have been six groups of condors released at Pinnacles National Monument, bringing the current total to 26 free-flying condors. 2009 marked the first year that a Pinnacles released condor nested. Condor 313 paired with Condor 303 who laid an egg in a rocky outcrop at the RS Bar Guest Ranch in southern San Benito County. Although Condor 303 died before her nestling took his first flight, the juvenile survived and continues to fly over San Benito County. With the approval of the National Park Service and others involved in the condor recovery effort, the owners and operators of the RS Bar Guest Ranch formed an unprecedented relationship with the Pinnacles Partnership, a nonprofit organization supporting the monument, so visitors could have the opportunity to take guided trips to the remote nest site, where the nesting pair and their offspring could frequently be viewed for extended periods.
National Park Biologists are working with partners at the Ventana Wildlife Society and community volunteers to build a self sustaining population of condors in central California over the next several years.
Condors maintained a strong population in the American West until the mid-19th century, when shooting, poisoning from lead and strychnine, egg collecting, and general habitat degradation began to take a heavy toll.
Between the mid-1880s and 1924, there were scattered reports of condors in Arizona. But by the late 1930s, all remaining condors were found only in California and the mid 1980s, the total population had dwindled to just 22 birds.
The California condor was placed on the federal endangered species list in 1967. In the early 1980s, an intensive captive breeding program rescued the species from extinction and in the 1990s reestablishment efforts began in southern California. Since that time, release sites have also been launched in northern Arizona, along the Big Sur coast, at Pinnacles National Monument, and on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.
The current world population of California condors numbers 348. Ninety-five birds are flying free in California, eighteen in Baja Mexico, and seventy-four in Arizona. An additional 161 are in captive breeding centers.
This information came to San Benito Bounty from the Pinnacles Partnership. The cool photo is courtesy of John Maio. This is another great reason for coming to San Benito County!
Friday, March 5th, 2010
The Health Trust’s mission is to lead the Silicon Valley community to advance wellness. The vision of The Health Trust is to make Silicon Valley the healthiest region in America—a place where every resident can achieve optimal health throughout their lifetime, no matter their background, income, race, ethnicity or age. It believes that health care does not just take place in a doctor’s office and clinic or hospital. For everyone to achieve optimal health, the community itself must become a place that supports the health of all its residents.
The Health Trust was founded in 1996 as a charitable foundation with the proceeds from the sale of three local nonprofit hospitals. Since then the organization has been a catalyst in Silicon Valley for community partnerships that identify health issues and work together to find innovative solutions. In January of 2008, The Health Trust announced a $30 million investment in three initiatives – Healthy Living, Healthy Aging, and Healthy Communities.
San Benito Bounty has become a member of Silicon Valley Food System Collaborative, an offshoot organization formed to bring together producers, consumers, educators and advocates to cultivate a sustainable, regional food system that provides all Silicon Valley residents healthful and affordable food. Its three year goals:
• Establish a functional organization that preserves individual identities and does not duplicate efforts
• Increase the total amount of food grown and eaten locally
• Generate and obtain new resources for food system change
• Increase awareness of and engagement in a sustainable, regional food system
• Increase the capacity of organizations to reach people with the highest level of need
Its vision is to transform the local and regional food systems to be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable resulting in better health and well being for people and the land by 2015.
San Benito Bounty is proud to be a member of this action-oriented collaborative of over 25 organizations. Updates will be coming on this exciting adventure.
Thursday, March 4th, 2010
The San Benito Medical Society was founded in the 1950s to bring quality medical care to the residents of San Benito County, and the work continues today. Concerned with the rising levels of childhood obesity and diabetes, they have partnered with San Benito Bounty to create a program suggested by chef Jamie Oliver, 2010 TED award winner. Part of Oliver’s Food Revolution, his acceptance speech shared his wish to ensure every person in knows how to cook 10 healthy meals. Children in our schools will have this skill by the time they graduate from high school. What a great concept: San Benito Bounty and the San Benito Medical Society can both get on top of this one! This is a life-saving skill which seems to have gone by the wayside in an ocean of golden arches and frozen corn dogs. Plans are underway for a series of cooking classes, free to the attendees, to be held in the community. Each class will focus on a delicious, healthful meal comprised (whenever and wherever possible) of local produce and meat. Emphasis will be on affordablity and ease of cooking. San Benito Bounty is currently compiling recipes. If you have ideas, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. See you soon for fun, healthy food classes!
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
The 23rd California Small Farm Conference in San Diego, CA was attended by two San Benito Board Members. Entitled Sustaining our Bounty, this year’s event was a great opportunity for learning, networking and providing small farmers the tools they need to sustain and grow their farms in these tough economic times.
The Monday breakfast Keynote Address was offered by Rayne Pegg, an administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.
Breakout sessions focused on five tracks: Resource Conservation and Management Strategies; Marketing and Business Practices for Successful Small Farms, Building your Bounty: Production Strategies for Small Farmers; Strategies for Successful Farmers’ Markets; and Hot Topics in California Agriculture.
The California Alliance with Family Farms, San Benito Bounty’s partner in the Harvest of the Month program introduced this year in local schools and after-school care sites, hosted a roundtable discussion on agriculture-based education.
A second Keynote Address came at the Awards Banquet Dinner. Russ Parson, food columnist for the LA Times was amusing and warm. The 2010 Tom Haller Award Winner, recognized for exceptional and exemplary commitment to helping small farms strive and excel, went to Pompea Smith for her creation of the non-profit Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA) following her creation of the Hollywood Farmers’ Market. She has opened the Farmer’s Kitchen, a 1500 sq. ft. community teaching and retail kitchen to provide job training for residents while delivering farm fresh food to the community with a retail café and innovative marketing programs. San Benito Bounty will be exploring some of these successes with an eye to application in our area in the coming years.
The final Keynote Address was held at breakfast the following day. Josh Viertel, the President of Slow Food USA shared his views on changing the face of our food system and our eating.
Next year’s conference will be held in San Jose, CA. San Benito Bounty is hoping to be part of the planning process. Perhaps you will be there in 2011!
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