New England Snowy Dreams of Seedlings

Dreaming of the Garden on a Snowy Bay Day

The snow is swirling outside, covering my tracks out to the chicken house as quickly as I step out of them.  I have covered the Southern Magnolia 'tree-lings' (baby 1-year old trees) with an old wheel barrow, trudged out to the compost with way too many days of peels, skins and eggshells in my trusty coffee can container.  (Oh what do those k-cup users do without a big old coffee can for their compost?)

Will she ever run again to the Farmer's Market??
Now is the time to order all our seeds and tubers.  I have been lucky to be remembered by pals who sent me the local university seed sharing program.  Through donations from local vendors, they are able to offs non profits and schools seed packets from the previous season.  They are still plenty viable and offer communities a good chance to try out some new seeds that they normally couldn't afford. Check out your local Agriculture college for seed bargains.

Time to plant them is a ways off, but be on the lookout for good planting containers.  Yes, again those coffee cans, plastic pastry and salad containers, cookie and cake containers from the big box stores like BJ's and Sam's.  The ones with the clear cheap plastic tops are perfect 'greenhouses for seedlings.
Ah, I saved this pepper plant from the cold winter and it is rewarding me with flowers and peppers every day this winter

Providence Children's Film Festival

  • The Providence Children’s Film Festival (PCFF) returns this February for its sixth year, February 12 to 22, showcasing 18 feature films including both a USA and Rhode Island premiere, over 50 shorts from around the world and the 2nd Annual Youth Filmmaker Showcase. The Festival presents the highest quality independent films for ages 3-18, with compelling stories and worldwide adventures. The festival also offers an ever expanding  variety of film talks and presentations to deepen the movie-watching experience.
    The festival  has forged a new community partnership this year with the Providence Public Library/Providence Community Library. Free movie screenings, post-film discussions and workshops will be offered during school vacation week at four libraries in Providence, Rhode Island.
    Song of the Sea featured at Providence Children's Film Festival
    This year’s international programming  brings a wide range of storytelling and experiences from around the globe, including France, The Netherlands, China, Brazil, U.K., Sweden, Denmark, Japan, and Germany. The program also include a wide variety of genres and forms—classic cinema, live action, animation, and documentary—paired with an expanded offering of “Film Talks,” PCFF’s own brand of post-screening discussions that aim to deepen understanding of subject matter and foster critical watching skills.

    The festival  nurtures the work of young “amateur” filmmakers showcases films from  Rhode Island and around the world by providing an opportunity for young filmmakers to talk about both the fun and the challenges they face during the creative process. These screenings are developed to  encourage up-and-coming young filmmakers  This special screening includes a Q&A and discussion with those filmmakers who are able to attend plus a group workshop reel created by students whom attended the PCFF filmmaking workshops.

    Finn, a family feature featured film
     at the Providence Children's Film Festival

    Some highlights of the 2015 Festival:
    THE OKEE DOKEE BROTHERS Through the Woods: An Appalachian Adventure (Music Documentary) – All ages.
    GRAMMY® Award-winning Americana Folk musicians, the Okee Dokee Brothers, composed the songs for Through the Woods while hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail. Join them on their journey in the wilderness as they hike, camp and compose some foot stomping, knee slapping music.

    ANTBOY (Comic book super hero comes to life.) – Ages 8 and up.
    A young boy bitten by a very special ant is suddenly endowed with incredible powers, and learns that with great power comes great responsibility.

    BELLE AND SEBASTIAN (1960’s TV series turned feature film) Ages 8 and up.
    Set during WWII in the Snowy Alps, a young boy and a giant mountain sheepdog become friends and have their loyalty to each other and their village put to the test.

    ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL (Cesar Award 2014 – Best Documentary) Ages 8 and up.
    Follow four incredibly inspired young students from four different countries as they display heroic effort and overcome physical obstacles to get themselves to school on time each day. This award- winning documentary travels through Kenya, Patagonia, Morocco and India and leaves you in a state of awe.

    • FINN (Family Feature Film) Ages 10 and up.
    A young boy mourning the loss of his mother finds solace and a passion for music while his father insists he play soccer. Why?! The answer to this mystery will make you want to watch again.

    For more information, visit
    Visit the 2015 Film Directory for a complete list of films screening at the 2015 Festival.

    Volunteer to Save Frogs & Toads Close to Home

    Become a FrogWatch USA Volunteer

    You do not have to be a frog or toad expert to be a FrogWatch USA volunteer! All you need is:
    An interest in frogs and toads;
    A willingness to become a trained volunteer and join a local FrogWatch USA Chapter, hosted by zoos, aquariums, and conservation organizations across the nation; and
    A commitment to follow the standardized protocol to monitor a wetland site for 3 minutes multiple evenings throughout the breeding season.

    Help Monitor Local Frogs and Toads

    Frog and toad breeding season generally extends from late January through September depending upon temperature, rainfall, length of the day, for a specific locality, and biological factors for each species. FrogWatch USA data collection targets peak breeding season for all species across the nation and takes place from February through August.

    Join a local chapter and attend a volunteer training session to find out which frogs and toads are in your area and when each can be heard calling. Learn to identify species by call, locate and register a wetland site, and collect and submit observations to the nationwide dataset.

    You can also review the Frogs and Toads by State List or a field guide. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Macaulay Library, Western Soundscape Archive, and AmphibiaWeb feature frog and toad calls for look up and practice.You can test your identification skills by taking the U.S. Geological Survey’s Frog Quiz.
    Receive Volunteer Training

    Volunteer training emphasizes the nature of science as it relates to frog and toad call identification and reporting. Lecture and course material focus on the ways in which volunteers contribute to FrogWatch USA’s long-term, large-scale scientific knowledge base. By following systematic and standardized data collection protocols, volunteers contribute to the understanding of local frog and toad species presence as well as their natural history, range, and behavior. Volunteer training opportunities are available in person and online.

    Become a FrogWatch USA volunteer
    and attend a training near you! View the video to learn more.

    In-person Volunteer Training Sessions
    FrogWatch USA chapters offer a variety of in-person training opportunities tailored to the local frog and toad species and wetland habitats to be surveyed. More than 100 volunteer training sessions are held annually across the United States. View the FrogWatch USA volunteer training schedule.

    Online Training
    An online volunteer training module will be released in winter 2015 for volunteers who cannot attend an in-person opportunity or would like additional training for further enrichment. *Check back for the announcement of course availability*

    Questions may be directed to
    Join a FrogWatch USA Chapter. FrogWatch USA Chapters are hosted at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and other like-minded organizations. Chapter Coordinators recruit, train, and support local volunteers. There are currently 122 chapters established throughout the United States:

    Mad Hatter Meets Horticulture

    Alice in Wonderland Un-Birthday Party

    A Botanical Tea-Making Workshop and Mad Hatter Tea Party
    Saturday, January 24, 2015

    To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” The Horticultural Society of New York is  offering an Alice-inspired tea-making workshop and very merry unbirthday tea party for the whole family.

    Parents and kids will concoct their very own blend of teas using a variety of herbs and botanicals. Hort educators will teach you and your kids about the natural properties of herbs and help you design the maddest tea around! Then enjoy a tea party with your family, complete with Mad Hatter hat making and festive Alice inspired treats.

    Kids and parents are encouraged to come in costume. Enjoy your Mad Hatter tea as Alice, the White Rabbit, or the Cheshire Cat! You’ll get to top off your costume by handcrafting your own custom Mad Hatter hat.

    Noon to 2pm, January 24, Saturday
    Recommended Children’s Ages: 4 to 12 for more information

    First Salad Bar Moment for Kids

    Mission Nutrition

    The New Lunch Box
    Chef Ann Foundation has been supporting salad bar implementation as part of the reimbursable meal long before the USDA made fruit and vegetable servings mandatory at lunch. What do we love about them? Choice! Kids are empowered and part of the meal when they choose. And fresh! Fresh, whole foods create an immediate transformation to the familiar school meals. The new Lunch Box has a new home for all our salad bar tools – helping schools have their first salad bar moment. - The Chef Ann Foundation has teamed up with Skoop, a superfoods company committed to bringing the health benefits of superfoods to every American. Together we have launched Mission Nutrition: Fruit and Veggie Grants for Schools. These $2,500 grants assist you in exposing the students you serve to a diversity of fresh fruits and vegetables, expanding their palates, and encouraging increased consumption of fresh produce through fruit and vegetable samplings and lunchroom education experiences. Offering these events to all kids whether they bring or buy lunch requires additional funds. Mission Nutrition grants can help you fill that gap.

    Who Can Apply  Any district or independent school participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is eligible to apply.

    Grant Requirements

    Grant funds must be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables; they may not be used for staff hours, transportation, collateral materials, or other programming costs.
    Grant funds are intended for the additional food purchases required to offer your food education event to all students in the cafeteria at lunch, regardless whether they bought or brought their lunch.
    The fruit and veggie samplings must be accompanied by a lunchroom education component such as a Rainbow Day at your salad bar, seasonal fruit and veggies tastings, vegetable recipe contests, chef-at-school events, farm-to-school events, or events of your own design. We provide more ideas for Lunchroom Education here on The Lunch Box.
    Priority will be given to schools that have a free and reduced percentage of 50% or higher and that have made initial steps toward creating a healthier school lunch program with a focus on greater access to fruits and vegetables. 
    We strongly encourage schools to use their Mission Nutrition funds to purchase locally produced fruits and vegetables when possible.
    The application will close November 21, 2014.  Initial grants will be awarded by December 31, 2014. The fruit and vegetable sampling events must be completed by June 30, 2015.
    See more at:

    When Art Meets Agriculture


    Art & Nature Symposium
    Amy Lipton, ecoartspace
    Peter Nadin, Old Field Farm
    Andrea Reynosa, SkyDog Projects
    Alan Sonfist, Environmental Artist
    Linda Weintraub, Art Now Publications
    Thursday, November 13, 2014
    The Hort’s first annual Art & Nature Symposium focuses on the intersection of art and agriculture, and how both are used as catalysts for creative thought, environmental stewardship, and economic development. Join us for a reception and panel discussion with some of our most important artists, curators, and advocates as we explore the role art and culture play in cultivating and protecting our environment.

    148 West 37th Street, 13th Floor | New York, NY 10018 | (212) 757-0915 

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    The Horticultural Society of New York | 148 West 37th Street | 13th Floor | New York | NY | 10018

    Good Food Guide Advice

    Food Tank & James Beard Foundation Develops
     2014 Good Food Org Guide

    The James Beard Foundation and Food Tank, along with a prestigious advisory group of food system experts, developed the first annual “Good Food Org Guide.” This definitive Guide highlights nonprofit organizations that are doing exemplary work in the United States in the areas of food and agriculture, nutrition and health, hunger and obesity, and food justice. Only nonprofit, scholarly, and municipal initiatives have been selected in order to spotlight efforts that are focused on community building and engagement, advocacy, and service.
    The vision and objective of this annual publication is to focus attention on the dozens of nonprofit organizations (listed in alphabetical order, not ranked) who are working in fields, kitchens, classrooms, laboratories, businesses, town halls, and Congress to create a better food system. The list was determined by distinguished experts, including past recipients of the James Beard Leadership Award and food and agriculture leaders.
    “We hope this guide will serve as a resource for chefs, farmers, students, advocates, and others to find the resources they need about the growing good food movement in the U.S.,” says Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation.
    This annual guide will be launched at the James Beard Food Conference on October 27, 2014 as the definitive guide to organizations—national and state-by-state—who are making an impact with their work.
    These groups include organizations who combat childhood obesity, malnourishment, and physical inactivity; prevent food waste; educate consumers on healthy, nutritious food choices; create networks of social entrepreneurs; protect food and restaurant workers; highlight solutions for restoring the health of people and the planet; work with indigenous communities to preserve traditions, culture, and biodiversity; inspire and educate individuals to cook more of their own food; and protect public health, human health, and the environment.
    “Food Tank is delighted to collaborate on this effort with the James Beard Foundation—we’re thrilled to highlight so many great organizations who are working to educate, inspire, and cultivate a better food system,” says Danielle Nierenberg, President of Food Tank.