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DREAMers Strive for Higher Education

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Editor’s note: While about half of the undocumented students interviewed for this article agreed to use their real names, The Santa Barbara Independent decided to use fake names for all of them in order to avoid the possibility of any legal repercussions.

Every Dreamer has a story about the moment they learned the truth. For Julia, it happened when she was a student at La Cumbre Junior High School. Planning to join her 8th grade class on a trip to Washington, D.C., she went to talk to her parents about buying a plane ticket. That’s when her parents sat her down to deliver the news: She was not a U.S. citizen.

Julia was shocked. It turned out that she was born in Mexico. Her mother, fleeing an abusive relationship, crossed into the United States with her one-year-old baby. She told the immigration officials she was attending a funeral but instead came to Santa Barbara where she had relatives. Julia has no memory of living anywhere else.

These truths made Julia’s mother and stepfather afraid of allowing her to fly to D.C. Her mother and father knew this day would come. To make it up to her, they gave her a beautiful quinceañera, the ritual coming-of-age ceremony that many girls of Latin American descent celebrate on their 15th birthdays, a celebration that is planned years ahead of time and often at great expense. She had a wonderful party, but she has still never boarded a plane.

“It’s such a strange feeling,” said Julia of learning that she has no documents regarding her citizenship. “It was like getting a bucket of cold water poured over me. … It makes me feel like I’m in a state of limbo. Yeah, I was born in Mexico, but the way I grew up here is totally different. Where do I fall on the spectrum? I’m not completely American, I’m not Mexican. What’s my identity?”

The term Dreamer has become the nomenclature for undocumented students brought to the United States through no choice of their own when they were young children. It’s shorthand for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, the title of a federal bill that has been kicking around Congress since it was introduced by Senators Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch ​— ​Democrat and Republican, respectively ​— ​in 2001. Despite Durbin and Hatch’s display of bipartisanship, Congress as a whole has not yet been able to meaningfully address immigration. As a result, California has taken steps of its own.

At the same time, the term DREAM entered the American lexicon in 2001, California passed AB 540, which allows any student who attended a California high school for three years and graduated from one or received a GED or equivalent to attend a public university. (Ironically, the law is mostly taken advantage of by native Californians who have moved out of state but wish to return for school and pay in-state tuition.) The California DREAM Act, actually composed of two separate bills, last year made undocumented students eligible for state-provided financial aid and institutional scholarships.

Nine Freaking Numbers

Unfortunately for Julia, she was accepted to both UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis as a senior at San Marcos High School before those laws passed. Equipped with a 4.0 grade point average and more than 1,200 hours of community service, she expected to attend a four-year college like the rest of her peers in Honors and Advanced Placement classes. But there was no way she could afford tuition. Telling them that she would not be going to a university invoked sympathetic frowns and words of encouragement that only made her feel worse. “It was devastating,” said Julia. “They tell you to do all these things in high school … and colleges will throw money at you. It’s everything you’ve been working for.”

bHELP IS HERE:/b  Jonathan Wang is the president of Adsum Education Foundation, which offers scholarships to undocumented college students. It was founded by four friends in 2010 when they realized there was no source of financial aid for undocumented students in S.B. County.
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

HELP IS HERE: Jonathan Wang is the president of Adsum Education Foundation, which offers scholarships to undocumented college students. It was founded by four friends in 2010 when they realized there was no source of financial aid for undocumented students in S.B. County.

“How do you tell a 4.93 GPA Santa Barbara High School student that local funders are giving out millions in scholarships, but you can’t get any?” asked Jonathan Wang, president of Adsum Education Foundation, a nonprofit that offers scholarships to undocumented students in Santa Barbara County. “It can’t be because of these nine freaking numbers,” pondered Julia.

Citizens and noncitizens alike go through the early years of their life without much need for a nine-digit Social Security number or “papers” regarding their residency status. For children, American-ness can mean a lot of things, but it doesn’t mean a line in a ledger book. Adolescence, however, brings a series of events that necessitate documentation. These include attaining a driver’s license (although California law that went into effect this year now allows undocumented drivers to get licenses), taking the SAT, or filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more widely known in its acronymic form as the FAFSA.

“Many of them do not even realize they are AB 540 until they are a senior in high school and going through the application process,” explained Sergio Castellanos, a counselor at San Marcos High School who, as part of the AB 540 Coalition of Santa Barbara, has for the past five years helped organize an informational night for undocumented students hoping to attend college. “When they find out,” said Castellanos, “then it’s like, ‘Is something wrong with me?’”

This sense of shame animated Ernesto, who was born in Guadalajara and came to the Santa Ynez Valley at the age of 9. He obviously knew he was not a native-born American, but it was only shortly before his 16th birthday ​— ​the day he believed he would take his driving exam ​— ​that he learned he was not a legal resident. His family moved to Santa Barbara County after his father, an engineer in Mexico, was robbed at gunpoint after withdrawing money from the bank to pay his workers on a project. Ernesto would cover up this past by telling his friends that his overprotective mother forbade him from driving.

“Ni de aquí, ni de allá” (from neither here nor there) is a common phrase used by DREAMers, explained Lola, an environmental studies major at UCSB who grew up in the Highland Park neighborhood of L.A. after her parents fled from terrorism and a morose economy in Peru. They came on a temporary visa thinking they would return, but they decided to stay when a renewal was denied. “We still have a home video of our ‘vacation,’” she joked.

Lola learned that she was not a citizen when it was time for her sister to go to college. “I remember my parents telling us we don’t have papers, don’t have a Social Security number. I didn’t know what that meant. … I thought they were just waiting for something in the mail.”

By Paul Wellman

COLLEGEBOUND: San Marcos High School counselor Sergio Castellanos guides undocumented students through the application process. Many don’t even realize they are not citizens until this point, he explained.

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The Way of the ‘Food Forest’: Locavores planting seeds for the next phase of …

As green initiatives increase in popularity, the city of Austin maintains a complex relationship with urban agriculture. Many urban farm advocates viewed the controversial update to the urban farm code – which failed to include a proposed provision allowing for the processing of animals in single-family zoning – as a step back from sustainability. Then there are the new plans for Austin’s first indoor farmers’ market – planned for 1100 East Fifth Street and facilitated by a potential $333,829 city loan to development group 11E5 LLC – which have left at least some local farmers wondering if the city cares more for developers than producers. However, as farmers navigate the changing landscape, community organizers and grassroots activists are rallying around a new wave of guerrilla gardening – a food forest – in hopes of cultivating community growth and empowerment while increasing access to healthy food.

Modeled after the Beacon Food Forest in Seattle, the proposed East Feast Festival Beach Food Forest pilot project is slated for the south side of the Festival Beach Com­mun­ity Garden, just east of I-35 at Waller Avenue and Clermont Street on the north shore of Lady Bird Lake. Roughly 2.15 acres of land would be reimagined into an edible landscape, complete with fruit trees, a butterfly garden, kids’ play structures, and a stormwater wetland filtration system, in addition to other features. Though hardly a new concept – there’s a 2,000-year-old food forest in the Moroccan desert – a food forest will certainly be new to Austin, providing an additional layer of sustainable food production.

The idea took shape in the fall of 2012 as a result of community conversations initiated by the Parks and Recreation Depart­ment as part of the 90-acre Holly Shores/Edward Rendon Sr. Park at Festival Beach Master Plan. Holly neighborhood resident Elizabeth Walsh, concerned that the needs of the neighborhood were not being addressed, attended public meetings and began having conversations with her neighbors about the plans for the area. Residents indicated a strong interest in passive, edible landscaping.

A Palatable Landscape

For Walsh, one of the greatest joys of the food forest project has been seeing the way it inspires such a diverse range of people, from neighborhood seniors to environmental justice advocates looking for ways to expand food access. The East Feast Coalition came to fruition in November 2012 when 20 people representing different parts of an emerging sustainable food system in East Austin gathered in Walsh’s backyard. These groups included the Festival Beach Community Garden, the East Side Compost Pedallers, Urban Patchwork, HOPE Farmers Market, and Sustainable Food Center, among other groups and individual community members. Once established, the coalition began working with PARD to include edible landscaping in the master plan. As a result, “Community access to healthy foods through sustainable community agriculture” appears as one of the top nine priorities in the proposed final plan; specifically, the recommendation calls for sustainable edible landscaping near the Festival Beach Community Garden.

In preparation for the food forest, the city’s Community Transformation Mini-Grant through the Sus­tain­able Urban Agriculture Community Gardens Program supported a series of public outreach and engagement sessions last summer. The first three were Bus-Stop Garden Parties where organizers and attendees gathered to build wicking bed gardens and bus benches for the 21/22 bus line near Metz Elementary. The sessions culminated in an Aug. 11, 2013, design workshop attended by more than 50 community members at the nearby Rebekah Baines Johnson Center, an independent living facility run by nonprofit Austin Geriatric Center; the food forest will join the Festival Beach Com­munity Garden in complementing and supporting the RBJ food pantry. Landscape architect Mitchell Wright, along with perma­cul­ture designer Chris Sanchez created the final plan for the forest; the entire collection of ideas from the meeting were arranged within the plan. Wright is working pro bono on the project. “It was a beautiful challenge for me to assemble the master plan with so many wonderful, spirited ideas,” he says. “I was just the fortunate one that got the opportunity to draw it up.” Next steps for the site include soil testing and completion of the permitting process. East Feast is aiming for an April dig-in date.

Though often perceived as a more feral form of a community garden, a food forest is actually highly organized, made up of tiers or families of plants with a symbiotic relationship, naturally contributing to a healthier, more productive ecosystem. These tiers, referred to as guilds, are integral to the overall health of the food forest as each component (soil, microbes, insects, birds, etc.) is essential. If done correctly, a food forest should be self-sustaining without the use of fungicides, pesticides, or herbicides.

Though the specifics are not nailed down, the idea is that people will have open access to what is grown on the site. Aided by educational signage to help people know what is available to eat and when, the concept is, more or less, “take what you will eat today.” The community-supported forest is expected to be dense enough and to flourish sufficiently to provide food products on a regular basis. According to Walsh, “Permaculture is more than gardening; it’s a philosophy, a style of living that is in harmony with the natural environment, a recipe book, and a medicine chest. Permaculture strives to re-create and/or augment natural patterns and systems that are already in place and predate us. It offers alternative economics of natural and social systems instead of imposing unnatural controls on our landscape that rely on artificial and often wasteful practices to sustain.”

Reconnecting With Food

The food forest is certainly ambitious, but with an almost 50-person waitlist for the Festival Beach Community Garden, the idea has thus far received widespread community support. Unlike the city’s recent updates to the urban farm code, which polarized a community, most people seem to agree that innovative agriculture in public spaces is a good thing. One of the most outspoken groups against the proposed urban farm code, PODER, or People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources, endorses the food forest effort. In a letter of support, PODER board chair Janie Rangel writes, “Since the Holly Shores public process began, many neighborhood residents have been working with a growing movement to develop the food forest concept. Our public land can support much more public produce. Edible landscaping can help people reconnect with the source of their food.”

If all goes well, the pilot forest will eventually expand, using underutilized spaces for edible landscaping and other beautification projects. “As we learn from our pilot project, we anticipate that there will be many opportunities to expand the food forest, or food forest patches, throughout the rich soil and wonderful parkland north and south of Lady Bird Lake,” Wright says. “We have heard an overwhelming consensus among neighbors and stakeholders that we hope to preserve the natural beauty and tranquility of this treasured parkland.”

The master plan was initially on the agenda for a Jan. 30 vote, but City Council postponed action until Feb. 27 to allow time for more community outreach. Though the forest is just one component of the larger plan, the Council meeting will include an opportunity for public comment, and East Feasters are asking those who support the food forest to tell Council why it is essential to the area. Says Walsh, “There are many reasons to grow food in the city: food security, food justice, building healthy communities, recreation, building skills, saving seed, providing wildlife habitat … As the cost of living and populations rise, making the most use of available land to produce more food locally will become increasingly important.”

Fundraising is also a priority, and East Feasters are currently scouting crowd-sourced fundraising campaigns and business partnerships. Eric Goff, co-founder of East Side Compost Pedallers, has already pledged his support to the project. “The food forest is a visionary educational opportunity that aligns beautifully with our mission to increase soil fertility and access to healthy food in Austin. As a show of support, the Compost Pedallers will be donating as much compost as we can to help get the project started,” he says.

While a food forest won’t take the place of better jobs for decent pay, like plant guilds whose cooperative work helps build a productive microecosystem, East Feast is certainly a step in the right direction. Says Wright, “Remember that this project is not just about food but about building relationships in the community; these go hand in hand – brothers and sisters finding common ground in fresh food abundance.”

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Seven different paths to take in retirement

When Carolee Duckworth, 67, of Sherrills Ford, N.C., retired as a Web design professor, she took a close look at her personality, passions and interests and decided to write non-fiction books, including travel books.

When Marie Langworthy, 65, of Columbia, Conn., retired as a school administrator, she also did a self-analysis and decided to supervise student teachers during the day, teach technology skills to adults at night and work as a writer on the side.

People who are retiring sometimes just think about getting another job doing the same thing they’ve done all their lives, Langworthy says. “But they really need to step back and go through a self-discovery and self-assessment process and ask: ‘What do I really want to do? What do I enjoy doing? What am I good at?'”

Langworthy and Duckworth have written Shifting Gears to Your Life and Work After Retirement to help people take a look at themselves in a totally different way. “We want people to open themselves up to possibilities they never knew existed,” Langworthy says.

Duckworth agrees. She worked for years as a career-change counselor helping displaced workers, homemakers and 55-plus career changers find new job opportunities. And she and Langworthy interviewed hundreds of retirees.

STORY: Living happily ever after in retirement

STORY: Preparing yourself for retirement

STORY: Retirement is a good time to pump up exercise

People need to put careful thought into what they’re going to do in retirement, Duckworth says. They need to research it, read about it and determine exactly what they want to do.

The authors suggest asking yourself a series of questions: Do you have a creative side that has gone unfulfilled? An interest you have never been able to explore? Do you have an entrepreneurial urge? Humanitarian interests? An adventurous streak? Have you dreamed of a role as a teacher, guide or mentor that you’d like to fulfill?

“Our goal is to help you come up with a mission statement for the rest of your life,” Duckworth says.

The authors have identified seven different paths that retirees might take. Most pursue a combination of several of these:

Life of leisure. Many retirees cultivate at least a partial life of leisure, pursuing hobbies, sports, passions or interests, such as fishing, golfing, sailing, gardening and writing, Langworthy says.

This is one of the traditional views of retirement, and a lot of people stop there when they could combine this with other things, Duckworth says. For example, she says, “I met a man who retired as a corporate executive, and his dream was to move to the mountains and have time to read. That was as far as his dream went. Before the first year was out, he had read 232 books, and then he closed the last book and said, ‘Now what?’ He needed a longer dream, so he became a real estate agent.”

Life of the volunteer. Volunteerism can provide structure, meaning and purpose to retirees’ lives, can offer opportunities to establish social contacts and can lead to fulfilling paid employment. “Volunteers often say it’s more rewarding to give than receive,” Langworthy says.

Life of a traveler. Some people enter retirement with a bucket list of places they want to visit and experiences they want to have. Rather than just travel as a visitor to places, “I suggest staying in places for a week or more so you get to know the people, not just see the museums,” Duckworth says.

Life of engaging new work. This is work that’s something completely different from what you did most of your lifetime. “I know a retired accountant who got a job doing landscaping at a golf course, and he loved it,” Langworthy says.

Life as an entrepreneur. Retirees are often primed and ready to create a business that may contribute to the health, happiness and well-being of others. This involves identifying a need that could be fulfilled and going after it. Give yourself permission to explore ideas, Duckworth says.

Life as a creative. These are people who create art, music, new ideas, services and solutions to complex problems. They may be doing this to make a living or for pleasure or for both. “Coming back to your creative self is one of the glories of retirement,” Duckworth adds.

Life of a student. Some study for the pleasure of learning or to train in a new area of work or to become skilled or knowledgeable in an area of interest. “There is a thrill that comes with learning new things,” she says.

If you don’t like the first few paths you pursue, then try something else, Langworthy says.

She told her grandson the other day that what she really wanted to be was a film editor or cartographer, and he said, “Well, why don’t you?”

Retirees “have so much to contribute,” Duckworth says. “We’ve got tremendous experience. We need a social movement where every retiree is planning the next phase of their lives and making contributions until they’re 80, or even 90 or 100.”

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Pat Munts: Conservation workshops can help you become better steward

In the last decade or so, many gardeners have adopted much more sustainable gardening methods, reducing use of water and chemicals while working with nature to protect soil health and conserve habitat for local wildlife and beneficial and pollinating insects.

In the process, many gardeners have also found that using sustainable methods reduces the amount of work needed to maintain a garden and saves them money.

The process of recreating a sustainable garden in the shell of an existing garden is, by necessity, an individualistic one. Every garden is unique with different types of existing plants that may or may not be adapted to our growing conditions; inefficient irrigation systems; and insect, weed and critter control methods that use too much of the wrong chemicals. We also don’t acknowledge that as gardeners, our gardens should be a place that welcomes local wildlife and provides beneficial and pollinating insects the shelter, food and water they need to thrive. Yes, with planning, even the deer should be part of our gardens.

To help with the process of evaluating your existing garden and taking a few steps toward sustainability, the Spokane Conservation District will be offering its monthlong Backyard Conservation Stewardship workshop series again this year. The workshops will be 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday evenings, March 5 through 26, at the Spokane Conservation District’s office, 210 N. Havana St. in Spokane. The cost is $25 per person and registration is required. More information and online registration is available at the Conservation District’s website,, or by calling (509) 535-7274.

The series is designed to help backyard gardeners become better stewards of the land and to encourage the use of organic and sustainable practices. This year’s workshop topics will include landscaping with native plants; xeriscaping, or low-water usage landscaping; soil health management; permaculture; organic gardening; compost making; managing invasive plants; attracting pollinators and beneficial insects; and landscaping for native birds, small animals and the evitable larger animals like deer.

The workshops will be led by local experts from the Washington Department of Fish Wildlife, the Spokane Audubon Society, the WSU Spokane County Master Gardener Program, the Master Composter/Recycler Program, the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, the Washington Native Plant Society and the Spokane County Noxious Weed Control Board.

If you can’t make the workshops, here are a few tips to make your garden more sustainable:

• Take proper care of your lawn by watering it so that moisture gets down 6 to 8 inches. And, mow the grass at the right height; Kentucky bluegrass should be mowed 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall.

• Plant plants with similar water needs together to use water effectively.

• Encourage pollinating and beneficial insects by planting flowers that provide them with food, breeding sites and shelter. Check out the Xerces Society for lists and more information at

• Use deer fencing to keep deer out of your favorite plants.

Pat Munts has gardened in Spokane Valley for more than 35 years. She can be reached at

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Janet Moyer Landscaping Offers California Drought Emergency Advice for Home …

SAN FRANCISCO, CA–(Marketwired – Feb 13, 2014) – With the official announcement that California is now in a “drought emergency”, Janet Moyer Landscaping (JML) in San Francisco is advising its clients and home gardeners on a variety of simple yet efficient ways to reduce water use in the garden. The company specializes in addressing the unique challenges of urban gardens.

“While Governor Brown is calling for voluntary reduction in water use from all Californians, this may become a mandate in the future,” says Janet Moyer. “We all want to do our part to conserve, but it can seem daunting, especially with all the measures we’ve taken over the years to reduce daily water consumption.”

She points out some practical ways homeowners can still do this:

1. Choose plants carefully. Natives and arid-climate plants typically require substantially less water to thrive.

2. Remove weeds and unnecessary plant material that compete for water.

3. Use less fertilizer to slow growth and reduce the plants’ water requirements

4. Apply adequate mulch (up to 3 inches) to reduce the evaporative effect of wind and sun. Be sure to keep mulch away from the trunk of plants.

5. Use a SMART irrigation controller to minimize excess water use and maintain good health in the garden.

6. Install drip systems that water only areas that need it.

7. Reduce irrigation gently to minimize the effects on plants.

8. Monitor the garden for signs of over-or under-watering.

9. Use shade cloth to protect sensitive plants and move containers to the shade. Use glazed containers and mulch to help retain soil moisture.

10. Utilize specialized polymers to hold water in the soil.

11. Sand decks instead of power washing them.

12. Consider replacing natural lawn with artificial turf. Today’s modern turf material is very realistic in appearance and easy to maintain.

About Janet Moyer Landscaping
Founded in 1990, Janet Moyer Landscaping is an award-winning, full-service landscaping company based in San Francisco, CA. It has designed and installed more than 600 unique and customized gardens in San Francisco’s varied terrain. The company specializes in the creation of custom residential landscapes that address the unique challenges posed by San Francisco’s climate, significant grade changes and architectural constraints. Owned and managed by Janet Moyer and Michael Hofman, JML applies sustainable practices to its residential landscape design, installation and maintenance services. In 2013, JML was a sponsor of the Garden Bloggers Fling held in San Francisco, and in 2012, the company received an “Outstanding Achievement” award from the California Landscape Contractors Association. For more information, visit or call 415-821-3760. Become a member of the JML community at

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Garden calendar: Get to know earth-kind gardening techniques

BUTTERFLIES: Texas Discovery Gardens hosts its annual Valentine’s event, Butterfly Kisses. Guests are invited to stroll through the Butterfly House at sunset. Hors d’oeuvres, champagne and chocolate-covered insects will be served. A discussion on insect reproduction is also planned. 6 to 8 p.m. Friday. Texas Discovery Gardens, 3601 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Dallas. $35 per person or $50 per couple. Advance registration required.

EARTH-KIND GARDENING: Learn to combine the best of organic and traditional gardening and landscaping principles. Class will cover water conservation, reducing use of fertilizer and pesticide, energy conservation and more. 10:15 a.m. Saturday. All Calloway’s Nursery locations.

TURF TALK: Learn about different grasses that thrive in North Texas. The free session will also cover weed management and fertilization. 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Bruce Miller Nursery, 1000 E. Belt Line Road, Richardson. 972-238-0204.

GROWING VEGETABLES: Learn about growing vegetables from a Dallas County master gardener. 10 a.m. Saturday. Ruibal’s Rosemeade Market, 3646 Rosemeade Parkway, Dallas. Free. 972-306-2899.

GARDEN CLASSES: Nicholson-Hardie Nursery is offering a variety of spring gardening seminars, 5060 W. Lovers Lane, Dallas. Free, but reservations are required. 214-357-4674.

Urban vegetable gardening, 9:30 a.m. Saturday

Gardening with herbs, 11 a.m. Saturday

Enhancing your life with herbs, 1:30 p.m. Saturday

Cooking with herbs, 3 p.m. Saturday

Baking sourdough herb breads, 4:20 p.m. Saturday

Butterfly gardening,

11:30 a.m. Wednesday

Cottage cutting garden, 1:30 p.m. Wednesday

Agave, cactus and succulent gardening, 3:30 p.m. Wednesday

HERBS: The Greater Fort Worth Herb Society welcomes garden educator Marilyn Simmons for a discussion on fresh, local food. 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Texas Garden Club Building, Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd. Free.

GARDEN EDUCATION:  North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northaven Road, Dallas, offers the following free events.

Valentine’s Day gifts, 4 p.m. Thursday

Chicken sale, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday

Gardening in cloth pots, 1 p.m. Saturday

Plentiful potatoes, 2 p.m. Saturday

Rose pruning, 1 p.m. Sunday

Plant now, 2 p.m. Sunday

Iris Society, 3 p.m. Sunday

Terrariums, 2 p.m. Feb. 22

HERB GARDENING: Learn how to create and maintain your own herbs in containers or raised beds. 11 a.m. Saturday. Covington’s Nursery, 5518 Bush Turnpike, Rowlett. Free. 972-475-5888. covington

PRESIDENTS DAY AT THE ARBORETUM: The Dallas Arboretum is planning a patriotic celebration for Presidents Day. Activities including a children’s costume contest and a tree scavenger hunt are planned. $1 hot dogs, $1 popcorn and $1 fried cherry pies will be available. Admission will be $5, and active military personnel will be free. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. 8525 Garland Road, Dallas.

WILD ONIONS: Texas master naturalist Carol Clark will discuss wild onions in North Texas at the monthly meeting of the Native Plant Society of Texas. 7 p.m. Monday. REI, 4515 LBJ Freeway west of the Dallas North Tollway, Dallas. Free.

CACTI: The Garden Club of Dallas will feature a presentation on cactus and succulents. 7 p.m. Tuesday. Nicholson-Hardie, 5060 W. Lovers Lane, Dallas. Free.

SUCCULENTS: The Rockwall-Rowlett Garden Club’s monthly meeting will include a presentation on seductive succulents by Roseann Ferguson. 7 p.m. Wednesday. Rockwall Community Center, 815 E. Washington St., Rockwall. Free. 972-463-4989.

DRUNKEN BOTANIST’: Author Amy Stewart will discuss her book, The Drunken Botanist. She will offer advice for growing your own cocktail ingredients. The evening will include botanical cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. 6:30 Feb. 20. Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 1700 University Drive, Fort Worth. Advance ticket purchase required. $30.

PLAN YOUR LANDSCAPE: Discover the basic steps in planning and designing your landscape. Learn how to plot features such as irrigation, utilities and existing plants. 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, Feb. 18-27. Collin College Courtyard Center, 4800 Preston Park Blvd., Plano. $59. Register at and search for “plan your landscape.” 214-770-6252 or 972-985-3711.

CONSERVING WATER: Half-day workshop will explore water-efficient property management. 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Feb. 21. Eastfield College, 3737 Motley Drive, Mesquite. $49. 469-554-9202.

TRINITY BIRD COUNT: Join the Trinity Bird Count at Elm Fork. Participants should bring water and binoculars. 7 to 10 a.m. Feb. 22. Bird’s Fort Trail Park, a quarter mile north of Northwest Highway on Riverside Drive, Dallas. Register with Stephen Fuqua at

ROSES: The East Texas Garden Lecture Series will educate attendees about growing roses in the first of seven seminars. The event will cover new rose breeds and pruning techniques. 9 a.m. Feb. 22. Chamblee’s Rose Nursery, 10926 U.S. Highway 69 North, Tyler. $15 per lecture or $45 for a season pass to all seven sessions, which are set for March 22, April 12, May 17, Sept. 13, Oct. 25 and Nov. 15. 903-590-2980.

CUT FLOWERS: The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers will offer a program on growing flowers for bouquets and more. Attendees will make hand-tied bridal bouquets using locally grown flowers. March 3 and 4. Fort Worth Botanic Garden, 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd., Fort Worth. Advance registration required.

Send event details at least 14 days before publication to garden

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Jane Griffiths Shares Seven Top Tips for the Perfect Gardening Kit

Jane Griffiths Shares Seven Top Tips for the Perfect Gardening Kit

Jane's Delicious HerbsJane's Delicious Gardening Calendar 2014Jane Griffiths, author of Jane’s Delicious Herbs, has shared her seven top gardening essentials.

Griffiths has been involved in gardening for over 15 years, and believes that knowledge is a gardener’s “most essential tool”. Her tips range from the practical – sharpen your tools and wear a hat – to the creative.

1. Sharpen your tools – From small hand secateurs to large clippers with extendable handles, don’t underestimate the power of an excellent set of gardening tools. Add a hand hoe to your list – this is one of the most useful tools that I own.

2. Smaller is better! – Spades that are smaller are more energy efficient and reach into little spaces better.

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Cats: Green, Lifestyle, Nature, Non-fiction, South Africa
Tags: All4Women, English, Gardening, Gardening Tips, Green, Jane Griffiths, Jane’s Delicious Gardening Calendar 2014, Jane’s Delicious Herbs, Lifestyle, Nature, Non-fiction, South Africa, Sunbird, Sunbird Publishers
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Tips for homeowners inheriting a garden with their new home

North Americans are a restless bunch. They change locations with a frequency that would tire a migrating songbird.

But there is more to moving day than unpacking boxes; there’s also learning to care for that garden inherited with the new home.

If you were thinking ahead, you asked for an inventory of the plants and accessories that came with the house.

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“There’s no problem with asking owners for a list of landscape items and for an explanation about the plantings,” said Shirley French, an agent with the Woodstock, Va., office of Funkhouser Real Estate Group. “Usually, the owners are more than happy to give you a list. In fact, if they know the purchasers are interested, that will make for good feelings on both sides.”

Gardening priorities are determined mostly by the seasons. You won’t be mowing the lawn in February, although you might be combing the seed catalogues.

But where to start with a newly purchased property?

Michael Becker, president of Estate Gardeners Inc. in Omaha, Neb., suggests that putting safety first.

“Check out the dangers,” said Becker, a spokesman for Planet, the Professional Landcare Network that certifies green industry professionals. “Are the retaining walls stable? Are any trees leaning or diseased with dead branches?

“Assess the hardscape,” Becker said. “Is anything heaving, creating tripping hazards? Examine the drainage around the house. More often than not, it isn’t correct and may be damaging the structure. Bring in some professionals to help sort things out.”

As for plantings, be patient with the perennials.

“Go through the seasonal changes,” Becker said. “Learn what things look like in your yard. Determine if it’s aesthetically what you want, or if it’s so high-maintenance you won’t have the time to care for it. Most perennials need pruning and deadheading.”

Other things to consider when dealing with an unfamiliar landscape:

  • Make note of the average frost dates. Do soil tests. Map the yard for sun and shade. “If you live in the city and all you have is a porch or a patio to work with, where is all that water going to go that you’ll be putting on plants?” asked Josh Kane, president and head designer at Kane Landscapes Inc. in Sterling, Va. “Also, where do you get the water? You’ll have to figure out how to care for everything.”
  • Water fixtures. “Look for care instructions when dealing with special features,” Kane said. “A lot of people get put off or are scared of things like koi ponds, pools and fountains that require startups, maintenance and attention during the seasons.”
  • Don’t try to do everything the first year. Mulching will keep the weeds down. Composting will improve the soil. Bringing in some annuals for window boxes, hanging baskets or containers will provide instant colour. “Nothing gives you as much impact in a garden as planting annuals,” Kane said.
  • Anticipate. Avoid planting trees or shrubs near sewer or water lines, to prevent root damage. Study the plat map for restrictions that could prevent expansions or additions. “A lot of people might want to build a big outdoor room or pool and find they can’t do it because of an easement on the property,” Kane said.

© The Associated Press, 2014

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TV’s Bake Off winner gives garden centre caterers "foodie trends" tips

By Matthew Appleby
Thursday, 13 February 2014

Great British Bake Off winner Jo Wheatley says hybrid pastries such as crookies, cronuts, jonuts, cragels, cupnuts, cheeselovas and townies could be options for garden centre caterers wanting to keep up with foodie trends she finds through social media.

Speaking at the HTA catering conference in Coventry, the BBC TV show winner said Van Hage Ware was her favourite garden centre, where she visited the cafe and bought ‘bootfuls’ of products.

She said cannoli and mini cupcakes as well as traditional cakes such as lemon drizzle, teacakes, rocky road, traybakes and Victoria sponge were trendy.

Tea campaigner Jemma Swallow said the ‘theatre of tea’ was a trend, despite the projected £8.7bn UK coffee market for 2018.

She said UK-grown tea “did not make the cut” in her ranges but matcha, puerh and white tea were exclusive beverages set to become more mainstream. 

The Garden Centre Group food and beverage director Jason Danciger gave a history of catered coffee. He praised Tesco for buying coffee chain Harris  Hoole and said the branded coffee shop market would be worth £4.1bn in 7,000 outlets by 2018.

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Cancer Survivor Shares Health Tips in Tropical Garden Cooking Classes


Tropical Garden Cooking Classes

Photo of Christine Laemer at Tropical Garden Cooking Classes, by Arianna McKinney for Voice of Guanacaste

A year ago, in August of 2012, Christine Laemer went for a mammogram and found out she had breast cancer. This news changed her lifestyle and diet completely, and now she is sharing some of what she has learned about health and nutrition through Tropical Garden Cooking Classes.

Originally from Germany, Laemer has lived in Samara for more than 20 years now. She related that she was a vegetarian before coming to Costa Rica, but after marrying a Costa Rican, she adapted to the local diet. Through the years, she noticed that she suffered from frequent headaches and infections and when she was diagnosed with cancer, she realized her immune system must be weak.

After having surgery in October of 2012, she began researching other treatments besides chemotherapy, which she decided against. In the process, she learned that many people successfully battled cancer through diet. She decided to try to do the same, cutting out coffee, sugar and processed foods and eating mainly vegetables and juicing, along with a little fish, nuts and whole grains.

“When I changed my diet, I quickly saw improvements. My headaches went away, I looked younger, I lost weight,” she noted. “I felt like I was before. I found myself again. I remembered the passion of preparing a nice salad again and taking time for yourself and putting love into your food, and that love comes back to you.”

As others in the community, even people she didn’t really know, began to take note of the changes she had made, the idea of offering classes developed. She is offering two types of hands-on classes.

The cultural cooking class explores the Costa Rican food heritage with a healthy twist, for example learning to make empanadas in a pan instead of fried in oil, as well as learning to cook over a wood fire. Other possible menu items include gallo pinto, tortillas, fried cheese, plantains, tamales, traditional rices and more.

On the other hand, the nutritional cooking class focuses on living a healthy lifestyle with a nutritional balanced diet to feel better, younger, healthier, more empowered and happier. This class features juicing, homemade lemonade with ginger to detox, and how to prepare dishes such as hummus, garbanzo burgers or veggy casseroles.

“I love the natural setting and that she uses all local ingredients,” commented Keisha Boulais, who attended one of the classes. “It was very informative. I learned a lot about how to eat healthy using local ingredients.”

The classes are held at her home right next to the Buena Vista River, about 5 kilometers from Samara and include a tour of her garden, which includes numerous varieties of fruit trees, herbs and other plants.

Classes can be for lunch, dinner or both, including a bonfire cookout at night. Groups of one to four are welcome, and personalized individual sessions are also available. To schedule a class or get more information about healthy cooking in the tropics of Costa Rica, call 8320-2358.

Article Voice of Guanacaste


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