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Save the Honey Bees via Kickstarter!

The Yummy Tummy Farms LLC Kickstarter 2015 project is up and running! Yummy Tummy Farms LLC is passionate about helping honey bees thrive in our urban / suburban environment. We do significant outreach through every medium and opportunity; for example, various Farmers Markets, Holiday Fairs, Facebook, our website and our blog. One of the many subjects that we engage visitors to our table and or booth is about the possibility of hosting honey bee hives in their backyards. The main reason we ask people if they can host honey bee hives is that we get significant calls in the spring and summer months to come and rescue homeless honey bee colonies. Honey bees become homeless as a normal genetic drive to procreate as demonstrated through swarming behavior. The result of swarming behavior frequently is that honey bees take up temporary residence in people’s homes and businesses. Home and business owners are naturally concerned for their family’s and or customer’s respective safety. The best case scenario is that we can calm and reassure them allowing time to go and retrieve the honey bees and put them in a proper hive. Sometimes it is difficult to calm people due to irrational fears around being attacked or stung and the call turns into a race against an exterminator.

In order to save the most honey bees possible, we need to have hives pre-built and homes ready to receive the honey bees. One obstacle we face, due to funding issues, is that we have had to decline to help because of lack of funds to buy hive supplies. Another obstacle we face is the inability to timely extract honey to give us enough inventory to sell with which we could reinvest in equipment and hive supplies. Yummy Tummy Farms LLC does not own its own honey extracting machine and relies on borrowing an old manual extractor that requires significant time and energy resources to utilize.

I, Farmer Donald, am coming to you asking for your help to successfully fund this project. The project goal is to raise $2,500 for several needs some of which I named above. I hope you find my request compelling and take personal action by navigating to our Kickstarter campaign page and fund our project.

Respectfully,

Farmer Donald
Yummy Tummy farms LLC

It’s Honeybee Swarming Season!

 

 

Honey Bees in my Plum Tree

Honey Bees in my Plum Tree

Why do #honeybees swarm? Because they are honeybees. Honeybees swarm for a number of different reasons, but the overwhelming most reliable reason why honeybees swarm is due to genetics. Genetics make honeybees swarm and it is also one of the primary ways that honeybees expand the population and genetic diversity of colonies in a geographic area. Honeybees can also swarm due to inhospitable living conditions such as, too crowded and not enough space, poor beekeeping skills (i.e. the beekeeper is new or not paying close enough attention), and pest infestation. Even though a swarm of honeybees looks very threatening, it is my experience that while honeybees are swarming, they pose little of no risk to people. Prior to an actual swarm, a pheromone based signal is given off, likely from the Queen, to prepare for swarming which causes many actions to start happening. Some of which are: scout bees go out and find a new suitable home and report back and the nurse bees build a queen-rearing honey-comb cell for a new future queen. Once the queen-rearing honeycomb cell is built, the existing senior queen deposits a fertilized egg inside. About twenty-eight days later a new and future queen bee emerges, soon thereafter, she takes a mating flight and the male bees all chase her, where I have read, a queen bee will mate with as many male bees as she can, sometimes over fifty!

Once the new and future queen returns from her mating flight, the existing senior queen has decided to leave, relinquishing the hive to the new and future queen. The senior queen already has made a crucial decision of where the next home will be and then she takes roughly 50% of the worker honeybees with her and by the tens of thousands, they take flight. Presto! You have a swarm of #honey #bees.

Over the next couple of weeks to two months, I will be out capturing honeybee swarms, where and when possible, I will post pictures of the little darlings wherever they land a give you all an update of honeybee hijinks.

Holiday Farmers Market

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Festive seasonal organic honey and jam. Spring honey tastes of fruit tree blossoms; summer honey tastes slightly spicy- very complex; fall honey tastes of fennel and anise almost like very mild licorice flavor. Jams are plum, persimmon,  fig, Mandarin marmalade,  several other flavors. Patrons are using words like delightful and delicious to describe their tasting experiences. Happy farmer.

Okra

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Red Okra Flower

Okra flowers are stunningly beautiful. Okra- generally, you either love it or hate it. Call me Switzerland because while I have not found very many recipes where okra is the star and not a supporting ingredient, I remain hopeful. I planted six red and six green okra plants with the intention of preparing pickled okra. I am planning to pressure can several jars with different brines and see how I liked it.

How do you feel about okra? Do you love it, hate it, or are you searching for okra greatness like me? When you comment, suggesting fried okra does not count because almost anything is delicious fried. What say you?

Do You Know the Definition for Natural?

Natural Food?

As a result of innate curiosity as a young child of four years old, I can remember watching Julia Child’s The French Chef and being absolutely fascinated. I am unclear why, like my childhood friends, I was not watching Saturday morning cartoons; moreover, there I was watching my family’s little black and white television, fidgeting and exclaiming, “Bon Appétit!” I trace my passion for food, food quality, food safety, culinary cleanliness, and an overall joy around food preparation back to Julia Child. The fact that both my Grandparents’ homes were always full of items cooked from scratch only fueled my innate instinct to gravitate towards the domestic arts. My Grandmother, Dorijean Graham, was a domestic goddess of the highest order and she deserves the majority of the credit for shaping me into the food-passionate adult that I have become today. My uncle exposed me to healthy eating, exercise, and fitness at a very young age which propelled me into eating nutritionally dense foods. From those foundational experiences, growing up, I avidly consumed classes in college focusing on nutritional science and put myself through an undergraduate culinary program. From there, I have been expanding my culinary knowledge that has propelled me to start the San Jose Urban Farming Meetup via meetup.com and become the founder Yummy Tummy Farms. I give you dear reader all of this background because sometimes, even with my education and experience, I feel embattled by words that have no official definition, such as natural. Do you know the definition of natural as it relates to food?

For me, natural is a word used to describe food that is produced without the use of synthetic chemicals, synthetic additives, synthetic hormones, and synthetic preservatives, right? I thought I knew the definition of natural until I went to the USDA website to get confirmation of my definition of natural. I entered, “definition of natural” into their site search tool, a couple of additional clicks, and was directed to a document from 2006. This document was a call for public comment on the definition of the word natural, ironically prompted by a petition the USDA received from Hormel Foods. What could possibly go wrong?

According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) summary, the Hormel Foods’ petition (the petition) goes on to question how many of the commonplace food processing techniques routinely used in 2006, as opposed to 1982 when the policy on labeling foods as natural was originally established, would be allowed on a food product and still be eligible to be labeled natural in 2006? This seems like a reasonable inquiry to me, but hang on, it’s about to get strange. The petition goes on to question if chlorine use in poultry chillers, high pressure meat processing, and modified atmosphere packaging could qualify as natural meat products? Hormel goes on to claim that other large food processors may be gaming the system to take undue advantage through labeling food as natural when in fact they fail the previously existing definition of natural. Hormel Foods goes on to question what is consumers understanding of words like, “minimally processed” and “artificial and synthetic” and “preservatives” especially with respect to meat production? I continued searching and found a USDA Material Working Group paper from 2009 that had a purpose of defining what a “synthetic substance” was and as part of that work had to define nonsynthetic wherein this USDA Material Working Group used natural as a synonym for nonsynthetic. After an hour of searching, I found no official definition for natural on the USDA website.

I ended my search at the FDA website where I found this, “From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.”

I gave you my definition of what natural is, what is your definition of natural? Knowing that there is no official definition for natural, how is this new information going to affect how you shop and what you eat?

Food Warrior

Sun Lu-t'ang

Sun Lu-t’ang

I, Farmer Donald, am blessed to have the experiences associated with farming the land around my suburban home. I had motivation from many sources, but key sources of inspirations were family lineage, supporting the honey bees, feeding myself and my family healthy food right from the garden. In my personal quest to understand more about where my food comes from, how it was raised, how it interacts with my body, both in the short term and the long term, I have found maintaining clarity is very difficult. Food is personal.

My health is all that I have for without health; everything else in life becomes more and more challenging. I feel that it is imperative to arm myself with the latest information, protect myself and my family from industrial food companies, and defend my community from lies and deceit. It is difficult not to feel embattled from the many foodborne illness headlines, GMO produce, GMO meat, packaging contamination such as BPA in plastics, vitamins and supplements that work one day and the next week they are linked to a malady, and on and on it goes. Speaking as a farmer, I feel a certain energy and zeal when speaking about food, nutrition, and health; therefore, I am going to evolve this blog into discussions around health, diet, food, nutrition, recipes, and how-to guidelines. There are a lot of people doing similar things; however, I hope that I will inspire you, dear readers, to follow this blog, recommend this blog, like my posts, leave a supportive comment, and even visit the farm some day. In becoming a Food Warrior, I hope to enlighten and bring a bit perspective to the wide and diverse subjects around food; moreover, I hope to interact and learn from other bloggers and learn from the fine community of readers too. Lastly, while being a Food Warrior will be an evolving term, it is my goal to fight for enlightenment, peace, and a long healthful life for me, my family, and my community.

2013 Silicon Valley Tour de Coop

Come and get it at Yummy Tummy Farms!

Come and get it at Yummy Tummy Farms!

The Silicon Valley Tour de Coop 2013— a self-guided bicycle tour of chicken coops and urban farms between Menlo Park and San Jose.

The second annual Silicon Valley Tour de Coop, bike ride and coop tour is taking place 9am – 4pm Saturday, September 14, 2031. This free, self-guided bicycle tour of chicken coops and backyard urban homesteads, including honey bees, worm composting, and organic gardening, and, of course, chickens. Experienced urban farmers will show off their coop handiwork while sharing their joy of raising chickens and the benefits of creating backyard ecosystems that support the residents and neighborhoods, as well as the planet.

Your very own local suburban farm, Yummy Tummy Farms will be a featured urban farm stop where Farmer Donald, friends, and neighbors will be greeting cyclists, offering delicious farm samples, and leading regular farm tours. Full details are available at: http://tourdecoop.org/yummy-tummy-farms/

In addition to providing a fun, family friendly, community building event, the organizers also hope to energize those “on the fence” to jump into the urban homesteading movement. As Michael Pollan says in his book Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, “What we eat determines to a great extent the use we make of the world– and what is to become of it.” In a time when lists of ingredients are virtually unintelligible, raising chickens or honeybees, and gardening organically provides wholesome, fresh, nourishing food, as well as being a balm for the earth.

This year’s tour features a variety of coop tour routes, with individual city loops (5-10 miles) and a larger 50 to 100 mile loop including stops from San Jose to Menlo Park and every city in between. Participants, or “tourists” register for a limited number of reservations on Eventbrite and a few days prior to the tour receive a printable map showing the tour route. Full details are available at the Coop Tour website, http://tourdecoop.org.

So grab your bike, your friends, and family and join us on the Silicon Valley Tour de Coop! Find out for yourself how to reconnect to the great outdoors of your own backyard. Enjoy meeting your neighbors and making new friends while cruising between urban farms on bikes!

Yummy Tummy Farms: "Harvesting Healthy Happiness"

Yummy Tummy Farms: “Harvesting Healthy Happiness”

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