Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Circle of Life (food-compost-food)!

The first Composting is EZ with Elisa Zazzera has blown Roots & Wings’ simmering composting commitment into a steady heat—of 110 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact! (see below for details)

Two free Composting is EZ workshops are coming up this month: Thursday, July 16, a general class, and Thursday, July 30, geared specifically for apartment dwellers. Both classes are 6:30 – 7:30 PM in The Kitchen Garden. Register here!

The eight of us attending the first Composting is EZ workshop were already involved in composting. Elisa asked each of us to tell the group about our composting habit. We quickly moved from this composting confessional to composting coaching. Elisa looked over Roots & Wings’ compost bins, recommended two handy tools—a compost crank aerator and a compost thermometer, and answered all of our questions with can-do enthusiasm. 

Elisa gave us the encouragement we needed to open Roots & Wings' compost bins to the community.

CSA Manager Nancy Delmerico followed up by inviting all CSA members to participate in Roots & Wings composting. She says, “it’s wonderful to see people coming on Sunday mornings with containers and bags full of kitchen scraps.” 

CSA member David Starkey, co-owner of Sweet Grass Grill in Tarrytown, and Tomatillo in Dobbs Ferry, asked, "Can we bring restaurant veggie scraps? We compost at Sweet Grass but never had the room in Dobbs." Roots & Wings' Gabriela Munoz checked with Elisa Zazzera and got the thumbs up on veggie scraps but a “no” for meal leftovers, as they are likely to include oils/fats and could perhaps have some animal products mixed in. 

And Linda Jo Plat, dropped off rabbit manure from CommunityNursery School.

Says Marcello Taiano, Roots & Wings Garden Manger, “We used our new composting thermostat and found that our compost pile was at 110 degrees. The optimal range for organic material to break down is 120 - 170 degrees Fahrenheit, so we're getting there!"

Register for a free Composting is EZ workshop now! Thursday evenings 6:30 - 7:30 PM at The Kitchen Garden, behind South Church in Dobbs Ferry

Frittelle di Fiori di Zucca

Fresh and local deep fried zucchini flowers are a special appetizer at Sam's Italian Restaurant in Dobbs Ferry right now—thanks to a Roots & Wings CSA connection!

Nancy Delmerico and her husband Donnie Vitagliano were enjoying dinner at Sam’s and they got to talking to long-time friend Maurice Giliberti, the owner, about her new position as Roots & Wings CSA Manager.

Do they have zucchini blossoms, Maurice asked, adding that he’d been getting them shipped in from Israel. Donnie says, “Are you kidding?!” The rest is history.

Stop into Sam's and have a taste of Frittelle di Fiori di Zucca courtesty of Rexcroft Farm, the provider of Roots & Wings CSA!  (recipe below, too)

1-2 cups of roughly chopped zucchini flowers (with the stem removed and interior material removed)
1.5 cups of flour
2 tablespoons of baking powder
1 cup of milk
1 egg
¾ tablespoons of salt
1 pinch of black pepper
Oil for frying 

The technique is fairly simple: start by mixing the flour, baking powder and salt together.
Grab another bowl and mix the milk, egg and zucchini flowers.
Combine the dry ingredients well and fry until crispy and golden (about 4 minutes if your oil is at the correct temperature).


You can also simply take a single blossom, create a simple batter, fill the intact blossom flower with a single anchovy or a bit of ricotta and deep fry until golden brown.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

a trio of FREE composting workshops

Composting is EZ with Elisa Zazzera! 

attend one, or all! They are FREE but please register here.

Thursday, June 18, 6:30  – 7:30 PM
Thursday, July 16, 6:30  – 7:30 PM
Thursday, July 30, 6:30  – 7:30 PM (this evening will focus on composting for apartment dwellers--including starting a community compost site. Hear about success stories about composting in apartment buildings and complexes! 

The Kitchen Garden @ South Church, near the compost bins! The Kitchen Garden is behind South Church, at 343 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry, 10522.

Instead of sending your food and yard scraps to the, incinerator compost them to create ‘black gold’ for your garden, yard and houseplants.  Discover the benefits & joy of “closing the loop” with your own household food scraps in this hands-on demonstration of how easy it is to compost.

In this hour we'll cover what is compostable on your property and the variety of ways to compost as well as the many benefits of composting -how it can save money & help tread lighter on the planet. It's not just for land owners—apartment dwellers can do this too (vermicomposting, machines, and starting a community compost on apartment complex property.

We'll look into the biology (a bit) of composting. Mostly we'll answer your questions and discuss issues you may be having with composting, such as:
  • What type of compost method is best for you
  • Where to locate your compost
  • What to put into your compost (and what to avoid)
  • How to manage your compost
  • Troubleshooting
  • Harvesting your compost
  • Alternatives to a backyard bin - Vermicomposting, Kobashi & possibly finding places to take your compostables

Elisa Zazzera is involved in Sustainability projects and Environmental Activism in the Hudson River Villages as well as India and Nepal. Elisa participates in and manages the Hastings/Stoneledge Farm CSA group. As a member of HoH Conservation Commission she heads the subcommittee on materials management/sanitation.

Elisa is pictured here with her husband James Dean Conklin. Together they run

Monday, June 8, 2015

What do we want?

What plants and trees should we be putting along our streets and in our yards? How can we ensure access to fresh, affordable local food?

These were some of the questions posed to Dobbs Ferry during the May 3 "Community Conversation" about Gardens, Trees and Local Food, hosted by Sustainable Dobbs.

We wanted to share the feedback with you particularly because we're using it to shape and inform Roots & Wings vision for serving the community. Want to get involved? Let us know!
  1. Classes re gardens (Getting started, protecting gardens from critters, preserving)
  2. Village composting
  3. Mulch in place
  4. Town could buy leaf shredder
  5. Village code needs to require developers to plant certain number of trees (or preserve existing ones)
  6. How is DF tree commission working? Can improvements be made?
  7. Pursue TreeCity USA designation; DF has tiny budget for planting trees
  8. High Street Park- what is the right amount of clearance?
  9. What is the carbon impact of removing mature trees? Are there types of shrubs, trees that are better at absorbing carbon?
  10. Trees along Cedar and Main need attention
  11. True pruning can be done in way that unifies streetscape
  12. Village should hire tree specialist; Town of Greenburgh has one
  13. Belden Ave—1 day when an arborist or contractor does audit/estimate on street trees
  14. Is there interest in creating community gardens? Is there space? Next to Aqueduct trail trailer? at the Juhring Estate? At Memorial Park? the new High Street Park? at the schools but for the broader community? Get seniors involved, too.
  15. Do inventory of farmable land
  16. Seed saving groups—create seed bank; have 1 plot for plants to go to seed (for seed collection only)
  17. Outreach, developing plan and framework for community garden key to success. Once people become more aware of issues related to local food, climate change
  18. How can existing trees be protected.  Trees are damaged by village mowers in parks
  19. Raise awareness of importance of trees. Trees are an investment
  20. Environmental education re trees—tree tour, nature walks in schools and communities
  21. Take into account flood patterns impact of weather on new gardens, trees, etc

Roots & Wings emerged out of the Dobbs Ferry Task Force on Energy and the Environment, (which subsequently became Sustainable Dobbs). Back in 2010, the Dobbs Ferry Energy Task Force hosted a gathering in which the need for a group to lead the way--to show how to compost, collect water, garden emerged. Roots & Wings was formed, in part, to be that group. Read more here.

We're glad they're working for our community. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

got chickens?

Roots & Wings hosted a presentation on Backyard Chickens
back in 2013--it may be time to do this again!
Do you know someone who keeps chickens? 

From Texas to Virginia to London there are reports that backyard chickens are trendy. Right here in our rivertowns, I know four, maybe five, yards with chickens. 

Why would you want to have chickens? Well, once you build your coop, and obtain water and food dispensers, you probably get a bit more value in eggs than you spend on feed. But it is also magical to get those beautiful fresh eggs . . . 

Where do people get the chicks from? One friend orders hers from The rest of the people I know get theirs from Springhurst Elementary School! Each year the first graders hatch chickens. As the school year comes to an end, most of the ittle chicks go to a friendly farm upstate. And some are quietly dispersed throughout the community. We’ve gotten chicks from the school for the last 5 or so years.

One of the biggest problems with picking little chicks at the elementary school is that you have to figure out what gender they are. Our rule of thumb was to NOT pick the loners since they would obviously be roosters. That rule of thumb has been proved wrong year after year. In fact, only just now did I actually research it and found this simple piece of advice. (MyPetChicken guarantees that they only send hens—but they've been known to be wrong, too.)  

If you keep chickens, let me know! Perhaps there's a need for a Chicken Help Line of sorts for newcomers to this hobby. 

Where to get the feed. What kind of coop. Can they be outside when no one is home. Can you feed them table scraps? Organic vs non organic feed and a new one for me this year—did I want medicated starter feed.  

Right now we have three chicks. Stay tuned—will they make it through the summer? (We’ve been hearing raccons at night—scary!) Will they all be female? More to come!