ARCHIVE: Farmer’s Market Celebrates Local Food, Nurtures Community

 

Image copyright Pamela Price

 

Story and photograph by Pamela Price

This story originally appeared in the Leon Springs Community News, July 2010 edition.

When it comes to open-air markets featuring fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s the large, urban Pearl Farmer’s Market that gets most press coverage locally. As it happens, the more intimate Leon Springs Farmer’s Market is slightly older and has its own dedicated fan base. Plus, seeing as it’s situated between Leon Creek and the emerald-green hills from which the community’s namesake spring gurgles forth, the market’s air is fresher, too.

Admittedly, this reporter is partial to our community’s Saturday morning market, having been a customer since it’s inception. In interest of full disclosure, I’ve helped prepare the market’s newsletter and pitched in with special projects over the last two years, too.

It doesn’t take an insider to appreciate the market’s unusual history, however. Founded in August 2007, the market came to be when then-city council candidate Mario Obledo promised Leon Springs voters that he’d create a market for them even if he didn’t win election.

Yes, Obledo lost his bid for the District 8 seat, but Leon Springs landed a market manager. Continue reading “ARCHIVE: Farmer’s Market Celebrates Local Food, Nurtures Community”

Entrepreneurs Find Success in Diverse Economy

 

Story and photos by Pamela Price

Originally printed in April 2010 issue of Leon Springs Community News

Rick and Kat Pennington, Rickati's Espresso and Gelato Shop

 

Sixteen years ago a Dallas Morning News journalist described Leon Springs as “not so much a town as a laboratory.”

The writer went on to relate how then-upstarts Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q and the first Romano’s Macaroni Grill were running full-tilt on the IH-10 frontage road, attracting an estimated 15,000 visitors each weekend. Although the Macaroni Grill location closed in the late ‘90s (The Grill at Leon Springs has since opened in its place), both then-young businesses mentioned in the story went on to greater success—and franchising. 

Mike Taylor, Leon Springs Business Association president, recalls dining at Phil Romano’s Italian restaurant. “Going to the chain-style versions today is not the same. It did have a real country store, family flavor and of course waiting for a table was never an issue because the wine flowed ‘freely.’”

Taylor regrets that kind of local story isn’t more top-of-mind for residents, especially given how businesses and entrepreneurs past helped shape the community today. “I would personally like to see Leon Springs devote more attention to recalling its history,” Taylor says. “I think everyone on our board would welcome any organization to work with us to put some of the history back into our community.” Continue reading “Entrepreneurs Find Success in Diverse Economy”

The Five People You Meet on Twitter (#4)

This li’l Twitter series of mine began with The Celebrity

The Bore

The temptation to call this category “The Spammer” is great, but that’s really too narrow a definition. Yes, it’s in this group that you’ll find the hot babes pitching their hot sites and the arguably creepier crowd promising that we can all work from home and yield millions in a year or two. But there’s also the people who only ever tweet out their own site links, conduct searches using keywords to “market” their product to specific users, use trending topics inappropriately to drive traffic to their site, or only use Twitter to find new targets for their diatribes and ramblings. Oh, and then there’s the folks that tweet the minutiae of their days.

Sub-category: People who habitually hit “update” too many times on the same tweet, whiners

Word to the Wise: Unfollow or block ’em. Or, if you’re feeling generous and know them personally to be otherwise decent folks, try to point out the error of their ways. Whatever you do, don’t feed the worst offenders by chatting about their presence or linking to their profile in your own tweeted rant. They like that.

Update: I should have mentioned that if it’s true spam you’ve encountered, you can report it to Twitter HQ Spam (@spam) via DM. You’ll need to follow ’em first.


Next in the series: The Marketer

The Five People You Meet on Twitter (#3)

Other people in my li’l Twitter taxonomy began with The Celebrity

The Crusader 

They spring up from the political spectrum’s left, right and middle, chomping at the bit to promote their respective messages.* Go green! Shut down the McDonalds! Stop Sascha Baron Cohen’s bizarre brand of humor!  

When Crusaders are good at what they do, they can advance their case with dignity. When they’re ham-fisted and rant-cid or get spammy or pugilistic with their tweets, they fall… flat.  And by that I mean they only really ever succeed at reaching the proverbial choir and supplying, to the rest of Twitterville, nothing but a steady stream of stridency.

The best of the lot know that to pitch their platform, they have to mind their manners just like the rest of us and share something more than a 140-character plea or rant with regularity. I’ll show you two examples in a sec.

Subcategories: charities, supporters of specific parties/candidates

Word to the Wise: In my experience, Crusaders have the easiest time keeping a favorable image if they are willing to dialogue with the converted and non-believers alike. That can be tricky on Twitter, but creating a hashtag and dedicating a specific time weekly to chat up the cause is a good place to start.

The best individual Crusaders are those who blur the line with another group in my Twitter taxonomy, the Real Deals. Take, for instance, Rob Smart (@jambutter).  He’s created the new sustainability-themed #profood hashtag (explanation on his blog). He’s thoughtful, respectable in his tweets and is willing to “agree to disagree” gracefully. But don’t try to bully him, either–he will push back. In short, he’s an honest broker and he advances his cause because of it.

If you’ve got some money to spend on your message, then groovy graphics, contests and giveaways can be useful to raise awareness. Just like with traditional fundraising letters, connecting your cause to the lives of real people can lend a compelling human touch on Twitter. Along these lines is another good role model from the charity subcategory: the Livestrong Foundation (@Livestrong) which has been known to tweet messages of goodwill and support to individual cancer survivors. Earlier this week they introduce a great little yellow Livestrong bracelet that you can superimpose over your Twitter avatar.** 

Those are some do’s.

Now for the don’ts.

Don’t call people that believe differently than you stupid or any synonym thereof. D’oh!  You can, of course, question the rationality of your opposition’s argument. And you can point out when someone’s arguing for argument’s sake (a quick glance at their feed will offer a good clue if your hunch is right) and then politely disengage.

Don’t forget that your potential supporters may be on Twitter after work and at weekends. If you’re tweeting on the clock, then this is an instance when something like Tweetlater might be worthwhile.

• Don’t try to route your followers daily to your other online resources (blog, website, Facebook) unless you’re freshening the content regularly. Your profile should be enough bait.

Know a great Crusader on Twitter? Do tell!

Next in the series: The Bore


*Disclosure:  Yours truly started out on Twitter.com to promote my bipartisan, pro-victory garden themed blog, hence the patriotic moniker (@redwhiteandgrew). I’ve evolved with how I use my account a bit, but I still choose to follow a diverse array of opinionated people because I find it interesting and, yes, inspiring. 

**The avatar gimmick is effective now. I do wonder that if everyone jumps on the bandwagon with this kind of freebie that it might become overdone.

The Five People You Meet on Twitter (No. 1)


The Celebrity

Whether they’re promoting a flick/show, a cause, a campaign, a product/career or just trying to save face, these  tend to be the tweeple that provide fodder for the tired theory that Twitter’s an exercise in narcissism. Politicians, talk show hosts, novelists, sports figures, celebrity chefs and garden gurus, moviestars*… with a few noteworthy exceptions**  their tweeting is driven more by a desire “to control the message” than to actually share connect.

Never mind the fact that in the age of micro-sharing/blogging or whatever we’re saying Twitter is this week, being authentic matters more than being a spinmeister. So if good spin is your sole motivation, you’re in trouble from the get-go. And, oh lordy, if it’s a staffer writing your tweets and you’re not upfront about it, start praying now that it never gets out. Because you will be mocked and, gasp,  unfollowed. 

Subcategories: Famous bloggers and minor local celebrities, including preachers, newspaper columnists, metro-area lifestyle show hosts. 

Word to the Wise: Remember: everyone is “famous” to their own Twitter flock o’ followers. So if you want us mere mortals to pay attention to your feed (and “your message”) with regularity and respect, consider employing the occasional retweet or response to a direct question. For the time-strapped, you can set aside a specific day or time to correspond with followers in real time. Alyssa Milano  (@Alyssa_Milano) did this just last night, as one of my followers (@starbreiz) notified me this morning. Whoa… did you catch that? People will keep talking about your tweets for a day or two if you play right. Do that kind of thing once or twice a month and you can legitimately claim that you “use Twitter”–as opposed to just employing it to send out teeny-tiny press releases. Yay, you!

Got a fave celebrity worth following? Tell us why.

Next in the Five People series: The Real Deal


*No, I’m not naming names of ne’er do-wells. Besides if you use Twitter, then you already know of whom I speak. And if you don’t, then you likely don’t care.

**Example: Lance Armstrong ( @lancearmstrong) blends his personal and professional tweets exceptionally well. I don’t follow him daily, but I do pop in to read his feed regularly.

An English Rose Remembers Her Plot

ARCHIVE

This story appeared in the 2 July 2009 issue of Northwest Weekly.

An English Rose Remembers Her Plot

Local gardener recalls wartime garden

Story and photograph by Pamela Price

 

Joyce Hartley shares her scrapbook.
Joyce Hartley shares her scrapbook.

First there was the White House organic vegetable garden and beehive, an effort by Michelle Obama to spark interest in good nutrition. Then in June came word of a new veggie plot at Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth’s own nod to the current “grow your own food” trend.

 

Of course, there have been high-profile kitchen gardens in Washington and London before. In WWII, then-Princess Elizabeth was photographed gardening at Windsor Castle as part of the United Kingdom’s “Dig for Victory” campaign, an effort to shore up nutrition that was similar to the American victory gardens espoused by Eleanor Roosevelt.

Closer to home – in Leon Springs to be precise – is an English-born woman who helped tend a North London garden during the Blitz. And though Joyce Hartley now lives thousands of miles away from her native land and prefers to cultivate flowers to raising potatoes, she carries with her vivid memories of raising food during hard times. 

Today in her home’s spacious study on the edge of the hot, hardscrabble Texas hill country, Hartley keeps a scrapbook that includes images and text related to her family’s life in England. Sitting down with her to review the book is an invitation to witness history through one woman’s eyes.

At the start of England’s involvement with WWII, Hartley was 11 years old. She and a younger sister, Peggy, were evacuated along with thousands of other school-age children to Walton-on-Naze, on the English coastline.

“Why on earth would they send us to the east, where we could see France?” Hartley wonders.

In a dramatic twist, the nearby town of Clacton became the first place a German bomb landed, when a bomber was shot down on April 30, 1940, killing two and injuring dozens more. 

“I saved my milk money to buy a stamp. And then I stole an envelope, so that I could write a note to my mother to come get us,” she says. “Mum came very soon and took us away.”

Returning to the family’s home at 2 Rayleigh Road soon after the incident, Hartley found her parents, Edward and Florence Carter, engaged in a grassroots effort at survival. 

“That’s what we did to some degree even before the war,” she says. “We raised plants, food. Tom (Cahill, Hartley’s long-time significant other) and I talk about that often now, about how it was just a different time when we all had to do that back then, in England and America.”

With the war came the need for greater self-sufficiency. Because England was highly dependent upon imported goods, Italy and Germany sought to starve off the country by attacking ships bearing cheese, sugar, fruits, vegetables and other goods. To address the shortages, the government created a rationing system. 

But the rations could only go so far. Even after the war and as the nation struggled back onto its feet, English residents would receive rations for several years, into the mid-1950s. When Hartley married her late husband, Gordon Hartley, in 1949, clothing was rationed, so the bride wore a borrowed dress and veil.

Hartley keeps an old food ration booklet from the ’50s with her scrapbook. She recalls that during the war the government provided a bit of meat and one egg per week. No vegetables were provided, hence the garden. Hartley remembers vividly what her family grew in their vegetable plot. They raised all the usual suspects: peas, beans, lettuce, potatoes. There was even a bit of protein. In her scrapbook, she writes that her father “bought fertile eggs, took a drawer out of our chest of drawers, fitted it up with electric light bulbs, and waited for them to hatch. Within just three weeks, we had a drawer full of chicks. Dad built a large chicken house at the end of our garden and after a few months we were getting eggs. … Dad could never kill [the chickens] himself and usually got a neighbor to do it for him.”

There was something else in the family’s suburban garden. An Anderson air raid shelter with a corrugated iron top provided cover for the family at night.

“The shelter went down several feet under ground,” recalls Hartley. “It held two bunk beds and one double bed. From above, you could just see a mound of earth with flowers on top.” 

Hartley moved to America in 1958 and became a U.S. citizen in June 2004. Today she is pleased by the recession-induced interest in home gardens in the wake of a worldwide recession. From the back window of her suburban home, she casts an admiring glance at a neighbor’s large vegetable garden.

“Oh, I think it’s wonderful to see people gardening again,” she says. “We were just so much healthier back then, because we only had to eat what was good for us.”

Postscript:
Red, White & Grew readers will recognize Joyce Hartley from a post made last year. It was great fun to re-interview her for this story. If you read my MySA.com blog, then you’ll recognize the photo from an entry regarding fun garden history projects.

My Twitter Wish List (Then Again, Maybe It’s More of A Rant)

Ever heard of “Christmas in July?” Well, if Santa’s listening on this last day of June, how about:

• An End to Spam Followers. Seriously, I will PAY for Twitter if it means I can review new followers without fearing my kid will see full-frontal naked people. I mean, c’mon. (A conspiracy theorist might even suggest that this is all a cunning plan on behalf of the Twitter masterminds to get us to surrender our credit card information, but I won’t go there.)

Rational RTs. Is there anything worse than someone retweeting misinformation? Yes, people who do it repeatedly. Sure, we all make a mistake now and then (guilty!), but just because information is zipping past or pops up as a link in Trending Topics does not mean it’s accurate.

And as for the dreadful Jeff Goldblum/George Clooney/Natalie Portman death rumors, one didn’t even need to check Snopes.com first to see that the site where two of the the stories originated were fake. The tip-off? The big ol’ disclaimer at the bottom of the “breaking news story” page that it was… a fake news site. (More)

Look at it this way: if we want Twitter to be a credible source on par with traditional news organizations (and I still think that’s a bit of a stretch), then we need to try to tweet as responsibly as we can. Sure, the potential is there as the Iran Election story has shown, but it’s like my 8th grade computer literacy teacher taught us in the ’80s: Garbage In/Garbage Out. For the youngsters, that means that the end-product of technology (including social media) is only as good as what we regurgitate, er, contribute

• Secret Twitter Police. Am usually not a fan of tattle-telling, but the above situations merit some sort of underground network capable of putting out fires left to build while the folks at Twitter HQ plot the next round of upgrades. I’m not saying we need to censor people’s freedom of speech, but a measure of decorum can keep Twitter from becoming passe, as more of us seem to be burrowing behind Facebook’s privacy screen. 

Got a wish? Feel free to share. Unless, of course, you’re a spammer. Then kindly go away.