Lowe’s recognizes Sustainable Renton as Local Heroes

It all started with a solicitation letter to Lowe’s for garden supplies. Sustainable Renton was requesting help with things such as garden hoses, hand tools, weed trimmers and seeds. The next thing that happened was we received a call from Patrick Miskelly, the store Manager at the Lowe’s Renton branch. He asked if Sustainable Renton might want to be considered for their annual in-store Local Heroes Project. We obviously jumped at the opportunity.

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Patrick Miskelly, store manager

Next, Lisa Williams, the Human Resource Manager called and asked us about our mission and what services we provide for our community. We spoke about our history, about the plans and ideas that we are working towards. She asked about our obstacles and what we thought Lowe’s could do to help. After five years of gardening at our site located behind Celebration Church in the East Renton Highlands neighborhood, we had become frustrated with the amount of food the deer were helping themselves to, so a deer fence was at the top of our priority list. Also, we knew with a greenhouse that we could save ourselves a lot of money every season as well as create a stream of revenue by growing and selling our own starts in the Spring and in the Fall. Lisa made note of these things and asked us to come in for a face-to-face meeting.

At this meeting we met the appointed project lead, Adam Drummond, who served as the contact between Sustainable Renton and Lowe’s.

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Adam Drummond, Project lead

Adam made a site visit and saw what kind of tools and situation we had for gardening. Admittedly we were working with hand me down tools, either donated by gardeners over the years or purchased used at garage sales.  Adam asked us if we had a wish list of things we may want if they had any extra money to throw at this project.  So we told him about all of our hopes and dreams, not dreaming in a hundred years that we would get what we asked for.

Sustainable Renton has been asking for help through grant writing and donation solicitation for 7 years with limited results. When Lowe’s showed up on September 27th with a crew of about 15 people, a greenhouse, a

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Brand new tools!

locking tool shed, the means to install a deer fence, complete with 6′ gates, a variety of tools, 400′ of 3/4″ hose, hose reels, weed trimmers, wheelbarrows and approximately 300 packets of seeds, we felt as though we had won the lottery!

These folks were great that day! They arrived around 7 am and made a whole day of it at our garden working to improve our ability to bring organically grown produce to Renton!!

Sustainable Renton is truly grateful to Lowe’s for their generosity. Not just generosity of things, but of time, which is perhaps the most valuable commodity in these times of extreme business.

The lesson for us here at Sustainable Renton is to keep asking for what we need and to remain humble and grateful for all that we have been given.

 

Fermentation 101

fermented-veggies

One of the many benefits of a community garden is-community! The most interesting people can become friends and relationships that help facilitate learning and growth can enter into the everyday things that make life wonderfully abundant.

An example of this is the other day, when I was visiting one of my new found friends, she suggested that we try one of her pickles from a jar she had been fermenting on her kitchen counter for a couple of days. Now, I have been curious about fermentation, and tried my hand with some kefir curds but those soon became so plentiful I had to stop for lack of people to share them with. Anyone who has harvested kefir curds knows this dilemma. I have also heard about the digestive benefits of fermented foods for years, but the only thing that came to mind was Kim Chi, which was not at all interesting to me, so I  just never investigated any further than that.

But, I had tried this friends fermented string beans a few months back, and enjoyed it, so I thought it would be safe and possibly satisfying. Lo and behold the fermented cucumber I tried was the single best pickle I have ever eaten in my life! It was unmistakably a dill pickle, but it had a flavor that rocketed beyond mere dill. Being a novice at spice experimentation I wasn’t sure what was in the brine, but my palette had never been happier.

Needless to say I got the recipe, and have a jar fermenting on my counter as we speak. If this works for me I will have an answer to the many cucumbers that are waiting for my attention.

A word about fermentation and its history: Fermenting happens naturally and predates humanity, however humans took control of the fermentation process and have been using this method from as far back as 7000 BCE . In short, fermentation is the process of converting carbohydrates or sugars into alcohols and carbon dioxides using yeasts and/or bacteria under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions.

This process is employed in the making of wine and beer, or for foods like yogurt and sauerkraut. The science of fermentation is known as zymology. Fermentation is also what happens during the pickling process however, with the common techniques of canning the fermentation process is ceased when the jars are boiled and sealed. With straight fermentation the process is halted when the jar is placed below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The jars are not subjected to heat or pressure, which allows the lactobacilli to remain in tact and give our digestive systems the some of the healthy enzymes it needs to function properly.

I am sharing my friend’s recipe with you, I am sure you can use whatever spices you like.

A note of caution: there is always a risk of botulism with the consumption of canned foods, so take care to not use plastic containers when making fermented foods and follow all directions carefully. Glass canning jars are nice and greatly reduce the risk of illness.

Fermented Cucumber Pickles

1 t. coriander seeds

½ t. ground black pepper

1 t. yellow mustard seeds

1 t. dill seeds

1 t. caraway seeds

1 t. celery seeds

9 cloves fresh garlic

6 dry bay leaves

6 T. Kosher salt

1/2 t. dried red pepper flakes

Dry dill heads & stalks

Take 1 quart boiling water; add salt & dissolve. Place 2 bay leaves, 3 garlic cloves & cucumbers in quart jars. Add 1 1/3 c. salted water to each of 3 quart jars, add 1/3 of combined spice mix, top off with fresh filtered water, leaving 1” head space.  Cover jars and shake to distribute salty water within jar, & make sure all veggies are still submerged. Place glass cup or custard cup into jar as needed to make sure all garlic and cucumbers are completely submerged.  Leave in dark, cool place for up to 2 weeks, checking and tasting as needed till pickles are as tangy as you like. When taste is right, cap tightly and store in refer or root cellar for 6 months or more, or till pickles are tangier than you like.

If this information has tantalized your curiosity please make a note of our Basics of Fermentation Workshop coming up October 7, 2017 at 11am at Red House restaurant located in downtown Renton at 410 Burnett Ave S Renton, WA 98057

This workshop has a $5 suggested donation. All proceeds go to support Sustainable Renton projects.