Alice Waters, original foodie and creator of Berkeley, California’s Chez Panisse, made a stop at Buford Middle School’s City Schoolyard Garden last week. (Cramer Photo)
This spring, goats have loomed large in what I think of as the headlines of our household: “Goats Escape; Are Recaptured. “Novice Farmers Await Birth of Unknown Number of Kids.” “Twins Born to Tan Goat; Cuteness Overwhelming.”
Last Tuesday, the headline read “First-ever Goat Milking.” Our second set of twins was born on Monday. The new babies looked great, but mama had a problem: Her udder was lopsided. One teat was very swollen, and the kids wouldn’t nurse there. The more they nursed on the other side, the more lopsided she became.
So we determined to try to milk her—a first for us. We got a few tips from friends with experience and read up online. Then we marched inside the goat fence with a bowl of warm water, a leash and collar, and a bucket of treats.
Mr. Green Scene lured the lady with celery, grabbed her horns, and held her while I clipped on the collar and leash. We secured her to a nearby tree and offered her grain. Then I washed her teat, to help her relax and let the milk down, and began milking with the technique I’d read about: thumb and forefinger around the top of the teat, other fingers squeezing in turn, top to bottom.
And right away, it worked! Milk squirted onto my shoes and onto the ground. Mama goat was very cooperative (for a goat). I milked and milked, feeling elated. Ten minutes later, she looked nearly symmetrical.
At this writing, we’ve milked three times and our goat family’s still not entirely out of the woods. But I still consider it a victory—for learning on the fly, in pursuit of larger green goals. It was our personal Earth Day. Milky shoes and all.—Erika Howsare
Money for honey: Governor Bob McDonnell just signed into law two bills—one sponsored by Senator Creigh Deeds of Charlottesville—that will award beekeepers in Vir-
Reel food: The documentary Food Fight screens April 26 at 7pm at C’ville Coffee. Learn all about an often depressing topic: agriculture policy and food culture in America. Then, brainstorm solutions during a discussion led by Paul Freedman of the UVA Food Collaborative and Stacy Miller of the National Farmers’ Market Coalition.
Planetary software: On April 14, the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization released its new Cville Bike mApp, which lets cyclists record trips and routes via smartphone. The data will inform long-term transportation planning. Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Forestry has developed, InFOREST, a program that lets users estimate carbon sequestration from forested areas and see how a proposed change (say, logging) would impact local waterways.
A foodie legend visits Buford’s garden
“Every child in this country deserves to be nourished and inspired,” said Alice Waters to a group of about 30 at Buford Middle School on April 18.
Waters, chef and owner of Berkeley, California’s famed Chez Panisse restaurant, was in Charlottesville last week for a dinner for big-ticket Monticello donors. She spent Wednesday afternoon visiting Buford’s City Schoolyard Garden, a small plot of land that produces vegetables and cultivates learning.
CSG program director Linda Winecoff said she was inspired by Waters’ own Edible Schoolyard, a 40-year-old nonprofit that supports the creation of educational kitchen gardens at schools around the country.
“With my background in landscape architecture and my kids in school, I thought, why don’t we have this in Charlottesville?” she said.
Two years later, with a grant from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, the City Schoolyard Garden is a vital component of the seventh-grade curriculum at Buford Middle School.
Garden educator Emily Axelbaum said students apply what they learn in science class to their garden efforts. They’re currently experimenting with homemade “compost tea” and predicting its impact. In groups of four, they tend to their plants, measure and record their growth, and are graded on the whole process.
Principal Eric Johnson said he also uses the garden as a quiet place to meet with students. “There’s nothing like being outside and talking,” he said, adding that students often feel more at ease in a “peaceful setting.”
Seventh-grader Elizabeth Beling is one of about 12 students who participate in the after-school gardening club. “It’s a lot of hands-on, which I really like,” she said.
Winecoff said she wants to one day see a garden at every school in Charlottesville. That’s Waters’ vision, too. She loves to see schools in “every little corner of America” introducing their students to gardening.
“It’s beginning to be a way of life here,” she said.—Laura Ingles