Maya Shiroyama and Jim Ryugo run Kitazawa Seeds, a 100-year-old seed distributor based in California that specializes in Asian vegetables. The company was started by Gijiu Kitazawa in 1917, serving mostly Japanese-American gardeners on the West Coast. It closed for four years when the United States government sent Kitazawa and most of his customers to concentration camps during World War Two, and re-opened in 1945 shortly after their release. Maya and Jim had planted the company’s seeds in their home garden for years when a missing seed order led to them buying the company from Kitazawa’s granddaughter in 2000. In this episode, Maya and Jim talk with Devon about the 100-year history of the seed company, the global network of growers that supply their unique inventory of seeds, and the new and old varieties dear to Asian-American gardeners and farmers around the country.
Sandor Ellix Katz is a fermentation revivalist. Since publishing Wild Fermentation in 2003, he has taught hundreds of workshops demystifying fermentation and empowering people to reclaim this transformational process in their kitchens. The New York Times calls him “one of the unlikely rock starts of the American food scene.” Sandor grew up in New York City, where during the 1980s he was an activist with http://www.actupny.org, demanding medical and research resources to address the AIDS epidemic. He migrated from New York City to a commune in rural Tennessee in 1993 after testing positive for HIV. He now lives down the road from the commune and travels the world teaching fermentation. He published The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved (2006), a book about food activists and underground fermentors he met on his tours of fermentation workshops, and The Art of Fermentation (2012), an encyclopedic volume that won a James Beard award. In this episode, Sandor talks with Devon about the creative tactics and community of Act Up, the modern relevance of ancient food traditions
photo by Kate Berry
The People's Kitchen Collective (PKC) works at the intersection of art and activism as a food-centered political education project and cooperative business. Based in Oakland, California, their creative practices reflect the diverse histories and background of collective members Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik, Jocelyn Jackson, and Saqib Keval. Written in their family's recipes are maps of migrations and the stories of resilience. It is from this foundation that they create immersive experiences that celebrate centuries of shared struggle. Collectively cooking and sharing food is sanctified and celebrated community work in many cultures. With the passage of time, systems of imperialism--including capitalism and gentrification--have turned cooking into an inaccessible burden. In response to this inequality PKC has been creating accessible, healthy, and loving food spaces since 2007. Active in Oakland since 2011, they are committed to using local and organic ingredients whenever possible and sharing meals with as many people as we can. The goal of The People's Kitchen Collective is to not only fill stomachs but also nourish souls, feed minds, and fuel a movement. In this episode, PKC talks with Chelsea about nourishing a radical, beloved community, and feeding movement from the farm to the kitchen to the table to the street.
Norma Listman is a Mexico City and Oakland-based chef and artist. Her practice is shaped by her heritage, and she is most interested in traditional cooking methods and the historical periods of Mexican gastronomy. Norma’s passion for the preservation of her culture and her father’s life-long work with maize have ignited her interest for working with native varieties of the crop. She began her career in some of the most prestigious restaurants of the Bay Area, managing the nationally acclaimed Camino Restaurant and long-time Bay Area institution BayWolf Restaurant in Oakland, before deciding to follow her passion and become a professional chef. As a food scholar she teaches Mexican culinary techniques at 18 Reasons in San Francisco. She currently lives in Mexico City and is focused on her research on Mexican native corn and nixtamalization. In this episode, Norma talks with Chelsea about preserving traditional corn varieties in a changing cultural and economic landscape, and the meztizaje of food traditions in Mexico and California.
Peter Buckley is a blackberry grower, philanthropist, and co-owner of Front Porch Farm. Peter has had several careers— after closing his law practice in San Francisco, he moved to India to establish a buying agency, and later did the same in Argentina and Brazil. Later, unusual circumstances, luck and friendship resulted in him owning Esprit, a fashion business headquartered in Germany. After meeting Mimi and having two boys in Germany, Peter decided it was time to return to San Francisco. He sold his interests in Esprit and moved to Mill Valley. Together with Mimi they built the Greenwood School (K-8). Peter’s interest in Education lead to co-founding the Center For Ecoliteracy (Berkeley) and commitment to conservation lead to building The David Brower Center (Berkeley) as a home for the environmental community. Peter continued to work with his former business partner Doug Tompkins, building National Parks in Chile and supporting many forms of environmental activism. Embracing regenerative nature of farming, Peter and Mimi started building farms in Oregon and California. Riverbend Farm and Looking Glass Farm are organic blueberry operations in Oregon, and Front Porch Farm in Healdsburg is a highly diversified farm where Peter and Mimi currently live. Recently, he seems to have taken a great interest in blackberries. In this special summer episode, Devon talks with Peter about blackberries, and about the challenges and beauty of running a diverse farm.
Dan Imhoff is an author, musician, and artisan food producer who has written for 25 years on ecological sustainability. His books include Farming with the Wild, Food Fight, and Building with Vision. Dan is the president and co-founder of Watershed Media as well as president and a co-founder of the Wild Farm Alliance, a national organization that works to promote agriculture systems that support and accommodate wild nature. He lives on a small homestead farm outside of Healdsburg, California. In this episode, Dan talks to Devon about how the wild got pulled out of farming, how to make farms hospitable to wild nature.
Amy Franceschini is an artist and educator who creates formats for exchange and production that question and challenge the social, cultural and environmental systems that surround her. An overarching theme in her work is a perceived conflict between humans and nature, and her projects reveal the ways that local politics are affected by globalization. In 1995, Amy founded Futurefarmers and in 2004, she co-founded Free Soil, an international collective of artists, activists, researchers, and gardeners who work together to propose alternatives to the social, political and environmental organization of space. In 2008, Amy worked with the City of San Francisco to transform the plaza in front of City Hall into a modern victory garden, and to build gardens in people’s back yards. She is currently sailing from Oslo to Istanbul as part of Seed Journey, bringing seeds found in Norway and other points in the northern hemisphere to their center of origin in the Middle East and connecting with seed savers, farmers, bakers, activists and others along the way. Amy grew up on a farm in the Central Valley of California. In this episode, Amy talks with Chelsea about her victory gardens project in San Francisco, a Seed Journey to the Middle East, and the importance of not finding a common language.
Photo: RS 10 Christiania by Martin Høy
Jezra Thompson is the Program Supervisor of the Berkeley Public School Gardening & Cooking Program, where she leads a team of garden educators and works with schools and community organizations to provide hands-on, place-based education to all students. She is a food system planner who focuses on community development, land use planning, and education. Jezra has worked on healthy food access and education at DC Greens, the California Farmers Market Association, and the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, and she writes for Civil Eats. In this episode, Delicious Revolution intern Rebecca Murillo talks with Jezra about the ways school gardens and kitchens provide a unique learning environment and an opportunity for students to be their own leaders in the world.
Kristyn Leach runs Namu Farm at the Sunol AgPark east of the San Francisco Bay. She grows vegetables for San Francisco restaurant Namu Gaji and seeds for the Kitazawa Seed Company. Kristyn grows both traditional and whimsical produce, focusing on Korean varieties and using organic, biodynamic, and permaculture practices without any fossil fuels. She discovered the foods of her Korean heritage further on in her life, as she was adopted as an infant and grew up in New York, where she later became a part of the urban gardening movement. Her fascination with shiso led her back to her roots and connected her with her Korean roots. In this episode, Devon talks with Kristyn about finding roots and community through plants, adapting Korean vegetables to California, and figuring out farming without fossil fuels.
In this special episode of Delicious Revolution, Chelsea speaks with Kathleen, a trainee at the Homeless Garden Project, about her experience. This episode is a companion to episode #30, our interview with Darrie Ganzhorn, the director of the Homeless Garden Project.
Darrie Ganzhorn is the executive director of the Homeless Garden Project, a 3-acre organic farm and garden in Santa Cruz, California where, as the mission statement reads, “people find the tools they need to build a home in the world.”
Lexa Walsh is a longtime artist and cultural worker based in the Bay Area. She has also lived, worked, exhibited and toured internationally. She founded the experimental music, performance and film venue the Heinz Afterworld Lounge, worked for many years as a curator and administrator at CESTA, an international art center in Czech republic, whose team created radical curatorial projects to foster cross-cultural understanding. She co-founded and conceived of the all women, all toy instrument ensemble Toychestra. She founded and organizes Oakland Stock, the Oakland branch of the Sunday Soup network micro-granting dinner series that supports artists’ projects, and launched the Librarification tumblr, which hosts artist resources. Her silo-busting project Meal Ticket brings people who don't normally eat with each other together for a meal. In this episode, Lexa talks to Chelsea about meals that bring people together across difference, creating temporary utopias, and collecting recipes for food end everything.