Working for Good, Clean, Fair Food for All - Slow Food Urban San Diego Convivium of Slow Food International

Girl Next Door Honey Pollinates Hearts and Minds

By Sarah M. Shoffler, SFUSD Board of Directors

Bees are critical to pollinating plants and to growing thousands of fruits and vegetables that we eat. They are the only insect who make food that humans eat. But since the 1990s, beekeepers around the world have noticed bee colonies are disappearing. Added to that, droughts mean less access to their food supply. These things together spell trouble for these amazing five-eyed, honey-producing critters.

DID YOU KNOW? There are three types of bees: worker, drone and queen. All worker bees are females. Their wings beet 200 times per second or 12,000 beats per minute. The average worker bee produces about 1/12th of a tablespoon of honey in her lifetime. Bees communicate through pheromones and dances. Plus watch this.

Hillary Kearney of Girl Next Door Honey

Hilary Kearney owner of Girl Next Door Honey

But you don’t have to convince Hilary Kearney, Owner of Girl Next Door Honey, of the importance of bees. Her whole business is grounded in making bees accessible to people on every level.

“First and foremost I am educating people about bees and I find that they are often less afraid of them once they have a better understanding of what they do. I like to think of it as ‘pollinating hearts and minds,” says Hilary. She does this by: teaching classes on backyard hives, managing home hives, relocating hives, teaching children about bees and giving Beehive Tours to the public. These efforts, she feels, will broaden bee knowledge among the public and lessen people’s fear of bees, which are critical to “engaging people with bees and on a larger scale their local food and ecosystem.”


Hilary cares about her bees. Under normal conditions, bees will produce excess honey, enough to supply us humans with the sweet stuff and still feed themselves. But during a drought, there are fewer flowers, which means less nectar, which the bees need in order to make honey. So they may not be able produce enough for themselves and may have to work harder and travel further just to find the nectar. To support her bees, who rely on honey as their only food, Hilary doesn’t harvest honey during a drought. So when people buy honey from her, they can be assured that the bees it was taken from have enough food and are not starving.

Hillary tending her bees.

Hilary tending her bees.

In addition, the drought has weakened the wild colonies in the area. They are producing smaller and weaker swarms (when a queen leaves a colony with worker bees to form a new colony). “When I do a bee rescue it takes more effort and resources to keep those bees alive and healthy” she says. Wondering what you can do to support bees?


  • Avoid neonicotinoids in pesticides. These are thought to weaken bees’ immune system and make bees vulnerable to disease, parasites, extreme weather, viruses, poor nutrition, and other stressors.
  • Plant organic bee-friendly flowers, like California poppy, citrus, sage, sunflowers and others listed here.
  • Make a bee drinking fountain: fill a baking dish or pet water bowl with pebbles or marbles and water. The bees will stand on the marbles while they drink, without drowning.

To learn more about bees, honey, beekeeping and how to help bees, you can check out Girl Next Door’s partnership with Suzie’s Farm and their new monthly Beehive Tours. You’ll be able to suit up and go into a beehive with Hilary. Or, come check her and our other bee-positive partners out at the Good Food Community Fair, Sunday, October 11th.

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Three Brewers and a Hop Farmer Walk into a Bar: at the Good Food Community Fair

By Sarah Shoffler, SFUSD Board of Directors


Our “Craft Beer and Local Hops: a Community Dialogue” panel discussion at this year’s Good Food Community Fair will feature three San Diego breweries and a local hop farmer. We selected these local producers because of their novel production practices, commitment to sustainability and community, along with their flavorful products.

The youngest brewery on our panel at just four months old, Duck Foot Brewing Company has a unique approach to serving delicious beer to all San Diegans. “With so many great breweries in the county it can be difficult to differentiate yourself, but we have a solid lineup of different styles of beers with a focus on balance,” says Chief Fermentation Officer, Brett Goldstock of Duck Foot Brewing Company. “Plus, we’ve uniquely positioned ourselves to serve a whole sector of the community not served before by brewing gluten-reduced beer. And our gluten-reducing process doesn’t affect the natural flavor, aroma or body of any of our brews.”

Bold and hop-centric Stone Brewing Co. is a San Diego king, both in terms of brewing and in terms of supporting the Good, Clean & Fair Food movement. Longtime supporters of local environmental non-profits, like Surfrider San Diego, sustainability is integral to their business practices: Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens is the largest restaurant purchaser of local, small-farm, organic produce in San Diego County. Their Bistro’s Meatless Monday menu prevents 110,448 lbs. of CO2 from being released annually and they source their vegetables from their organic Stone Farms. Stone also provides their spent grain to local dairy animals for feed. Stone sees operating their own farm as a hands-on demonstration of their commitment to sustainable food production.

Jordan Brownwood tending hops at Nopalito Farm & Hopyard. Photo by M. Brownwood.

Jordan Brownwood tending hops at Nopalito Farm & Hopyard. Photo by M. Brownwood.

Among the pioneers of the local IPA movement, Green Flash continues to experiment to find the next great beer. “Our Genius Lab allows any employee with an idea for an experimental beer to convince a brewer to brew it on our 5 bbl. pilot system,” says Erik Jensen, Head Brewer of Green Flash Brewing Company. “We serve these beers in our tasting room and many are the basis for future production beers. Cellar 3 is a separate facility dedicated to wood-aged sour beer and spirit-aged beer.”

Nopalito Farm & Hopyard is a two-and-a-half acre certified organic hopyard in north San Diego County providing high-quality local hops to local brewers. “While we do dry some of our hops, we prefer to supply brewers with fresh hops, which are typically hard to come by this far south. Plus, we grow damn tasty hops,” says Jordan Brownwood, Farmer and Owner of Nopalito Farm & Hopyard. “Water is the number one issue for farms all over the West Coast, so the drought has heavily affected us,” which is, in part, why they use drip irrigation, heavy mulching and other techniques allowing them to minimize the farm’s water use.

And while our local breweries have not yet faced big water restrictions to their operations, the drought is on all their minds. “The dirty little secret of the brewing industry is the brewing process consumes a large amount of water to make a gallon of beer,” says Brett. Most breweries use 3-7 barrels of water to produce one barrel of beer, depending on their production practices. Duck Foot, Green Flash and Stone evaluate water use at each step in their beer-making processes. And Stone is trendsetting in its water practices having implemented an on-site water reclamation system and water conservation practices years before the drought’s regulations came into effect.

Our panel, moderated by JuliAnna Arnett, a local food systems expert, will explore the ways our local beer and hop industries support good, clean and fair food (and beer!) for all, the impact of the drought, and how they can implement water-wise production. Plus, beer. Really good beer.

Join the discussion and enjoy a quaff with these good folks at 2pm, Oct. 11th at the Quartyard:

     Brett Goldstock, Chief Fermentation Officer, Duck Foot Brewing
     Tom Modifica, Water Reclamation Supervisor, Stone Brewing Co.
     Erik Jensen, Head Brewer, Green Flash Brewing
     Jordan Brownwood, Farmer/Owner, Nopalito Farm & Hopyard


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How Recycling Food Waste is Water Wise: An Interview with San Diego Food System Alliance’s Elly Brown

By Kathryn Rogers, SFUSD Board of Directors

 FSA article photo_Full

With no end in sight to the California drought, local organizations are seeking sustainable solutions to address all aspects of water use. The San Diego Food System Alliance, coordinated by Elly Brown, is collaborating with other local non-profits to process and minimize food waste  – a surprising issue of importance in the water conservation dialogue.

According to a recent Natural Resources Defense Council report, getting food from the farm to our forks eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. This means that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year and wasting a significant amount of water at the same time. What’s more, researchers at the NIH have found that food waste accounts for over 25% of total freshwater consumption. Not to mention the approximately 300 million barrels of oil per year for transporting this wasted food along with the methane and CO2 emissions from decomposing food in our landfills.

water-sprinklers-880970_1280The good news is that the state of California recently passed legislation to begin addressing some of these issues. Governor Jerry Brown signed AB1826 in October 2014, which requires local jurisdictions to have an organic waste recycling program in place by January 1, 2016, and businesses to recycle their organic waste by April 1, 2016.

A forward-thinking policy, no doubt, but how will it be implemented locally?

The Food System Alliance is working in San Diego County to create polices and solutions to address huge gaps in terms of infrastructure for handling food waste. Food System Alliance researchers recently estimated that San Diegans produce 500,000 tons of food waste, but local composting facilities can only process an estimated 10,000 tons of this waste. We still have a long way to go.

Public awareness about how much food waste we are producing and how to store and recycle this waste properly is a critical piece to the story as well. “The National Resource Defense Council and Ad Council are doing a national awareness campaign around food waste launching in early 2016, and we plan to dovetail and build upon that locally,” says Brown.

Ground-level efforts are also helping to educate community members about waste issues and engage them in opportunities to create change. The Food System Alliance has collaborated with the Wild Willow Farm, Hidden Resources, and Sweetwater School District to pilot a Food Recovery Program. The Food System Alliance will also convene groups and individuals for a half-day summit on food waste on October 6: the Food Waste Solution Summit.

“Water conservation should not only be happening in our homes but also in our food system as well by creating less waste and encouraging efficiencies,” says Brown.

To learn more about local efforts to conserve water, join the Food System Alliance and other community partners at Slow Food Urban San Diego’s Annual Good Food Community Fair on October 11.


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