Monday, December 24, 2012

The Learning Garden, Dec. 30

Bugs on my broccoli

Flies in the fennel and aphids on the artichoke

They're everywhere!!

What does it mean? Is is something you did? Or something you didn't do?

Gardeners come nose to nose with insects sooner, and more often, than they'd like. Because insects are foreign to us of the modern world, we feel uneasy when we find them on our vegetables. But insects are a part of the world of nature and our gardens are but a window to that world.

How do we deal with them? Do we spray something? What sprays work? When do we apply them? How do we apply them? What are other ways of dealing with pests?

With more than fifty years of gardening experience, 10 of which at The Learning Garden at Venice High School, David King has come nose to nose with a number of critters. His 'post-modern' organic idea of insect and insect control is an easy way to get along with these critters and still grow lots of good food. He'll change your mind about pest control!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Rainwater Catchment and Harvesting, Dec. 23

Rainwater Catchment and Harvesting 

Newly-planted rain garden from
2012 Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase

Would you like to help the planet and reduce your water bill at the same time? How about also reducing toxic runoff, restoring our ground water, creating an emergency water supply and having cleaner, non-chlorinated water to use for your plants (and many other things)?  Plus reduce the energy, toxic chemicals, pollution and other environmental impacts of bringing our water from long distances?  
Wow! Who knew something as simple and inexpensive as collecting rain water and/or making a rain garden could do so much?  
Come find out why and how you can get started capturing and harvesting rainwater.  Local landscaper and ecologist Denise “Deni” Friese will be on-hand with more information about rain barrels, rain benches and the creation of rain gardens. 
Rain barrels make great “green” gifts for the person who has everything! Find out more at
Denise "Deni" Friese, owner of Eco-Friendly Custom Landscapes and and ecologist since the 1970's, is a trainer for the LA County Master Gardener program and president of the Culver City/Westside Garden Club. She teaches  and consults on many aspects of landscaping and low-water irrigation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Green Garden Showcase Info, Dec. 16

5th Annual Green Garden Showcase

This week's guest at the Green Tent is the MVCC Green Committee! We'll be there to tell you all about the 5th Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase, scheduled for Saturday, April 20. 

Did you attend last year's Showcase or show your garden? Come share your stories and photos with others.

Are you thinking about entering your garden this year? Are you wondering "what is the Green Garden Showcase"? Would you like to get involved as a volunteer? Come learn

  • What makes a garden "green"
  • Things you can do to get your not-so-green garden ready for the Showcase
  • How to enter your garden
  • What to expect during the Showcase
  • Volunteer opportunities
You'll also have an opportunity to see the Green Committee in action. Our monthly meeting starts at 9:30 at the Green Tent. We have several motions to consider.

The Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase is like a giant FREE block party. Last year nearly 100 gardens participated and there were over 2000 visitors. Many gardens had guest presenters: environment organization representatives, landscapers, solar consultants, even a Feng Shui advisor.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Solar Energy Expert, December 9

Which energy source do you want?

Home and business owners who choose solar solutions offset carbon dioxide emissions generated from traditional sources every single day. Generating safe, renewable electricity using the power of the sun helps combat global warming while reducing dependence on fossil fuels or nuclear energy.

You can make a difference! A typical solar power installation for a 3 bedroom, 4 person household will offset nearly 150,000 pounds of carbon during its first 20 years of operation. That’s the equivalent of saving over 10,000 gallons of gasoline. 

Come learn how easy it is for homes and businesses in Southern California to upgrade to solar power. Jeremy Stuart and a few friends visit the Green Tent this Sunday to answer questions and educate people on the current solar energy situation.  

Rebates. Tax Credits. Leases. Loans. There are many programs that make it easy and affordable for residential and commercial property owners to upgrade their buildings with solar electricity systems that 

  • Save the owner a fortune in electric costs
  • Create positive cash flow, locking down the cost of electricity without a large upfront cost
  • Provide service, maintenance and peace of mind
  • Positively impact the environment and the local economy

With strong local companies stepping up to assist in financing, obtaining rebates, installing, and all other aspects of the process, it's never been easier to go green. 

Jeremy Stuart is a local solar energy expertHe works directly with Solar Choice Solutions and American Solar Direct and also makes referrals to SolarCity.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Food Forward, December 2

Putting our surplus food to use

Come learn about the Food Forward Backyard Harvesting Program, Farmer's Market Recovery Program, and other ways to help make an impact in Southern California by getting fresh fruits and vegetables to those needing them most. Food Forward volunteers will teach booth visitors about harvesting equipment, such as fruit pickers, fruit harvesting gloves, and pruning/cutting tools. 

Food Forward is a volunteer powered grassroots group of Angelenos who care about reconnecting to our food system. Food Forward’s vision is to reconnect our community with the abundance of food already present in our everyday lives, while creating change around the issues of urban hunger, food waste and food justice. 

Food Forward’s mission is to reconnect people with people – through food – by bringing together volunteers and neighbors to share in the gleaning and distributing of locally grown food from private homes and public spaces which is then distributed to local food pantries and organizations serving those in need.

Food Forward volunteers convene at properties they've been invited to and harvest their excess fruits and vegetables, donating 100% to local food pantries across southern California. Combined, their numerous distribution partners provide food to over 40,000 clients a month across Southern California. 
Since forming in 2009, they've harvested hundreds of properties with 100% of what they pick going to feed the hungry. See their total harvested poundage to date counter on their home page.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Kristoff the Clown, November 24

Eco-entertainer Kristoff the Clown

Welcome to the amazing world of Kristoff the Clown!

Kristoff the Clown has been successfully entertaining children and adults alike for many many years with his exciting mixture of magic, music and all-round fun!

He is multi-talented and has for 30 years been teaching all aspects of green and sustainable education, especially in schools. He is also an entertainer and engages his audience as a clown and musician. He writes his own eco songs.

Kristoff the Clown, a.k.a. Chris Philpott, is a visitor from the Transition Towns movement in the UK. Stop by the Green Tent and meet him. Kids are welcome but optional! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Master Gardeners, November 18th


This month at the  MVGC booth MV Farmers Market, Nov. 18 the Master Gardeners will have the following seedlings to give away:
  • Red Russian Kale, an heirloom variety, originally brought to the West by Russian traders.  Enjoy the young leaves in salads or cooked like other leafy greens.
  • Bloomsdale spinach, an old time favorite with crinkled leaves.  Loves cool weather so now is the time to plant.
  • Bok Choy, white stem have a mild, Swiss chard-like flavor, but slightly sweet, tender and delicious.  Harvest young for “baby bok choy”.
  • Lettuce, an oak leaf blend, both red and green. Loves cool weather
  • Calendula, also known as pot marigold, an edible flower, easy to grow and also a long lasting cut flower. Grows well in containers.
  • Cilantro, usually grown in the summer, we’re hoping it will do well in our mild winter climate and not bolt so quickly.
  • Shungiku Edible Chrysanthemum, came to the U.S. from Japan. Tender edible greens and flowers have a unique zesty flavor.  Flowers also make beautiful leis and garlands.
  • Garlic Chives. Leaves, flower buds and flowers have a delightful mild garlic flavor.  Easy to grow, nice in containers.  Can be grown indoors!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Butterflies & Caterpillars at Walgrove School!

Stop by the Green Tent on November 11th to learn about the exciting greening transformations at Walgrove School!

See how their Walgrove Green Garden includes a Monarch Initiative that introduces the kids to the joys of observing insects and plant life cycles and learn about their Growing Great’s health program and upcoming Green Space!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why Do We Need To Know What Is In Our Food?

Note - there is no guest at the Green Tent on October 28th so that we can focus on the MVCC elections. 
Please vote! 

Stop by the Green Tent on November 4th to learn why labeling GMO's is important!


Does your salmon contain eel genes? You wouldn't know unless it’s labeled. Genetically engineered foods are labeled in 60 other countries, all of Europe, even China. It’s time all Americans had the same basic right. 

Stop by the Green Tent and talk to Andy Shrader - learn why the MVCC passed a motion urging that foods be labeled if they contain GMO's and why our City Council is addressing the issue.

This is about being  empowered  to make the right choice for our families, by providing a simple label to tell us if our food has been genetically engineered or not. Learn why Farmers, food industry, science and health experts advise that we need to label any food product containing genetically-engineered ingredients so that consumers can make an informed choice in the food they eat and the food they feed their kids.

In 2004, Congress instituted the Food Allergen Labeling Act, which required labeling of potential allergens like peanuts, soybeans and dairy. This is no different.

Manufacturers have an on going practice of special labeling for specific customers. Special labels for the state of California will be no more challenging.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Master Gardeners, Oct. 21

Autumn garden plants & advice

This month and next, the UC Cooperative Extension/LA County Master Gardeners are at the Green Tent earlier: the third Sunday of the month instead of the fourth. 

This week they'll have some seasonal seed packets, information on what to do in garden in the autumn, and the following plants to give away:
  • A lettuce/mesclun mix called Valentine.  These are heirloom varieties of lettuce in rich shades of red, burgundy, magenta and cranberry touched with green.  They're easy to grow in garden beds and containers.  
  • Red Russian kale. It's an heirloom variety that will mature into full sized plants, but the Master Gardeners think they are best harvested young like lettuces. Scissor-cut the leaves when about 4" tall.
  • A few spinach, rainbow chard and cabbage plants.
Catch the Master Gardeners as well as the Master Food Preservers at the Mar Vista Fall Family Festival on Saturday, October 20. Hae Jung Cho will show you how to make kimchi and Angela Choi will share her knowledge about preserving tomatoes. Here's what the Master Gardeners are growing for you:
  • Sugar snap peas -- delicious, eat them, pods and all.
  • Cilantro/Coriander plants. "Santo" is a slow bolting variety and grows well in good containers. Use the fresh leaves for their intense tangy flavor.  Allow some plants to mature and save the Coriander seed.  Can be grown inside in a bright sunny window.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Our TIme Bank, October 14

Our Time Bank

Our Time Bank (OTB) is a community of people living in the Culver City, Palms and Mar Vista area who support each other.  For every hour you help another member, you earn a TimeBank Hour. Then you can use that TimeBank Hour to have a neighbor help you. There's no minimum or maximum time commitment. It's like bartering time, but you don't have to trade directly with the person who helps you. Members use a simple internet-based system to list the services they want to give and receive and to keep track of hours exchanged.

Our Time Bank coordinator Melissa Minkin started the group in 2009 with many hours of support from other founding Time Bank members. OTB is open to all people who live and work in Culver City, Palms, Mar Vista. Membership has grown fast but it still small and working on building community. 

Come by the Green Tent to learn more about Our Time Bank from several OTB members.  See how you can become part of this growing community. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Transition Mar Vista/Venice, Oct. 7

Transition Mar Vista returns to Green Tent

Learn about Good Karma Gardens--an opportunity to get help starting an edible garden. The mission is to enable people to grow and eat nutritious, delicious and sustainable food, starting small and paying it forward. Whether you live in an apartment or home, rent or own, have a yard or patio or balcony, Transition Mar Vista/Venice welcomes all comers, providing free guidance and help to participants who are willing to show up for each other and learn. 

See a Little Free Library--and sign up for help building your own.  What is a Little Free Library? It's a weather-proof box you can install outside and fill with books to share. People in your community then leave a book or take a book. Little Free Library's goal is to promote literacy and reading as well as build a sense of community.

Talk to Kevin Rudy about his DIY Solar Panels Workshop. It teaches how to put together a personal solar panel and provides resources for finding materials. Explore your own creativity, save money and having fun doing it! Perhaps you can power a light for your Little Free Library. 

Transition Mar Vista/Venice is a local grassroots group with a vision of guiding our community from oil dependency to local resilience. They raise awareness about the issues of peak oil, climate change and economic contraction, and seek to address these challenges through community-building and other projects.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Arts:Earth Partnership, Sept. 30

Recycling our trash

Does LA recycle this?

How about this--
blue bin or black?

Come play The Waste Game at the Green Tent. Kids will guess what trash goes in a recycle bin and what trash goes in a black landfill bin. Adults are also welcome!

photo by Hitoshi Ozaki
Arts:Earth Partnership is an official green business certification for cultural facilities, theaters, museums, dance studios, art galleries, performing arts companies and individual artists. Its certified artists and facilities form a coalition collectively committed to achieving environmental sustainability. AEP works with arts organizations to expand their mission to include sustainability and to harness the immense creativity, innovation and leadership within the cultural sector to help solve the issues around pollution, climate change and the preservation of our precious natural resources. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Master Gardeners + Preservers, Sept. 23

We'll be hopping with activity

UC Cooperative Extension LA County Master Gardeners and Master Food Preservers are bringing a bushel full of activities to the Green Tent on September 23rd. 

C'mon down and say hi!! 

In addition to free seasonal seeds, the Master Gardeners have the following plants to give away:
  • Red Russian, "Ragged Jack" and Vates Dwarf Blue kale, 
  • Five Color swiss chard
  • Bloomsdale spinach
  • Baby cabbage 
  • "Pixie" and Super Sugar snap peas
And for the first time they'll bring an interactive kiosk from UC Davis Integrated Pest Management. Using a portable touch-screen computer, you can look up pest management information for over 65 common home and garden pests in both English and Spanish. 

Master Food Preserver and breadmaker extraordinaire, ROSE LAWRENCE of Red Bread in Venice, will be on hand to answer your food preservation questions from 9 to 11 a.m. 

Don't forget: 25 Grow LA Victory Garden classes. Master Gardeners teach these four-week low-cost basic gardening classes throughout the county, with three on the Westside: Samohi starts 9/29; Uni High and Venice Community Garden start on 10/6. Click here for registration information. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Theodore Payne Foundation, Sept. 16

California Native Plants

Theodore Payne Foundation member J. Shields tells all

Stop by and learn about the benefits of planting California natives in your garden. Pick up some FREE poppy seeds as well as penstemon seed pods from J's garden. The next month or two is the perfect time to plant natives. And the Theodore Payne fall plant sale is coming up!

J has been growing and experimenting with different species of California natives since 1995. A Mar Vista resident, he knows which ones do particularly well in the Mar Vista area. He'll provide the information you need to get started: soil amendment, garden design and plant selection. He's bringing some specimens in 1 gallon pots as well as books to look through.

California natives use vastly less water compared to a lawn and many other plants found in local gardens. They provide habitat for native birds and insects. Some have medicinal and other native American uses. And they are beautiful, as these photos from J's garden demonstrate!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Attracting Beneficial Insects, Sept. 9

Attracting Good Bugs - will be rescheduled

Unfortunately, John is sick and unable to present tomorrow and the Green Tent will be dark We look forward to seeing you next week and will reschedule John for a future date.  The good news is that the Mar Vista Farmers Market is going to take the space and Tommy Peltier of Ladybugs Forever will be in the space to offer us all the chance to learn about (and purchase!) beneficial insects! 

Which are the good bugs? What do they need? How can you attract them to your garden?

Sustainable landscape architects from Tikotsky & Associates will talk with you about pollinating and beneficial insects and how to attract them into your garden, including "the buzz" on how to make a bug watering way-station.

Good...or bad?

Tikotsky & Associates is a landscape architecture firm focused on environmentally sustainable design, including
  • ecological pest management
  • sustainable water management technologies
  • selection of appropriate planting materials
  • energy conservation using solar panels as well as recycled materials
Stop by and have your questions answered.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Greenstation at the Green Tent Sunday, Sept. 2

Earth Man Dan visits the Green Tent


Green Zoning is how Dan Mabe and The Greenstation are gradually improving our environment one property at a time. 

Did You Know:
  • The EPA estimates each weekend approximately 54 million Americans mow their lawns, using 800 million gallons of gas per year. That’s enough gasoline to fill the Rose Bowl 8 times to the rim!
  • Gas powered lawn equipment is not subject to the same emission regulations as cars and is a major contributor to the emission of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, hydrocarbons, lead, ozone and sulfur oxides?
  • Despite improvements over the years, the Los Angeles area remains the most ozone-polluted regions in the country, according to a report released by the American Lung Association.

Earth Man Dan will explain the typical practices of residential maintenance mow and blow crews and how you can work with your gardener to reduce gas consumption, toxic emissions, noise levels and the toxic and solid waste being created at your house.  He'll conduct hands-on demonstrations of emission free, mowers, mechanical sweepers and other gardening tools and techniques that will immediately improve the quality of life for you and your neighbors—and your gardener.

Learn about the benefits of the Green Zones already sponsored by the city of Santa Monica, Santa Monica College, The South Coast Air Quality Management District and The Malibu Country Mart.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Master Gardeners & Preservers this Sunday, August 26

ABC's of seeds

& seedlings

UC Cooperative Extension LA County Master Gardeners and Master Food Preservers take over the Green Tent on August 26th. Master Food Preservers' Erik Knutzen (co-author with Kelly Coyne ofThe Urban Homestead and Making It) will show you his sauerkraut kit, while Shelley Marks brings some of her delectable and beautiful preserved food in jars, all to encourage you to learn the art of food preservation to enjoy seasonal produce all year long at home.

Meantime, the Master Gardeners will give away seeds and seedlings as usual. Master Gardener Julie Strnad says: 

We are now in the in-between season: too late to plant summer veggies, too early to plant fall. But the Master Gardeners are pushing the season, expecting that it will continue to be warm and sunny.  They'll have:
  • Poblano peppers
  • California Wonder Bell peppers
  • Swiss Chard
  • Velvet Queen Sunflowers
  • Pickling Cucumbers
  • Lemon Cucumbers
  • 3 flavor melons (a cantaloupe type melon, could be one of 3 different kinds)
Our wonderful Master Gardener volunteers complete an intensive training program in all aspects of gardening and are a font of information. The Master Food Preservers complete an intensive training program in the basics of safe and successful food preservation. They both give their time teaching others, especially in low-resource communities.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

LA Beyond Coal at the Green Tent Sunday, Aug. 19

Saying "No!" to dirty energy

Los Angeles gets 39% of its energy from two dirty, out-of-state coal-fired power plants. These coal plants discharge vast quantities of air pollution, consume huge amounts of water and emit destructive global warming gases. Instead of giving our money to these heavy polluting facilities, the Sierra Club's LA Beyond Coal Campaign wants DWP to invest in local clean energy, energy efficiency, and jobs here in Los Angeles. You can help.

Clean energy is the smart phone of electricity -- it is sleeker and cheaper every day and makes lives better. Iowa already gets 20% of its energy from wind. Texas has enough wind turbines to power 2 million homes. 

The fast-growing wind and solar industries each already employ more people in the U.S. than the coal-mining industry.  With more than one in four of them working in manufacturing and exports, clean energy is one of the best ways to continue seeing "Made in the U.S.A." stamped on products.

Come find out more at the Green Tent.  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hands-on Workshop at the Green Tent this Sunday, August 12

Got dirt? 

Sure you do. But mix in a little sand and straw and do you know what you've got? Building material! 

The earth (dirt) beneath our feet is used for building by 80% of the world's population. Some of the most beautiful homes right here in Los Angeles are made of Adobe.  

What if LA's cityscape was filled with earthen buildings? Aside from beautiful adobe Spanish houses, we would also see  self-sustaining Earthships (tires rammed with earth) and hand-built Earth Domes (polypropylene bags filled with earth). 

On August 12th, join EarthWorks Natural Building for a hands-on earth-building workshop. We will make a cob mix  and find out more about the exciting revival of hand-built houses.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Local artist James Sullivan at the Green Tent this Sunday, Aug. 5

Using recycled materials to create art & awareness

Kids and adults are invited to make handmade paper at the Green Tent this Sunday. 

It will be wet and messy and fun! 

Artist James Sullivan is bringing tubs of homemade pulp, made from old junk mail, wrapping paper, lint, leaves & flower petals, seeds, and other odds and ends. You'll dip small screens into it and press the pulp into wonderful, one-of-a-kind sheets of paper.

The focus is on repurposing and reusing any local items close at hand. You don't need to buy things to be creative & have fun! 

James is primarily an abstract painter. He's done a lot of printmaking as well as craft and building projects that recycle/repurpose. See more examples of his work at

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bring Your Cell Phone to the Green Tent This Sunday!

All politics is local.  How many times have you heard that?  But how can you have a voice in your state government when Sacramento is so far away?  How can you have an impact on the rapidly-deteriorating state of our oceans?  Besides bringing your own bag and bottle, how can you really help address the problem of plastic debris?

Join marine debris activist, Andy Shrader, this weekend at the Green Tent to find out about two state bills the Mar Vista Community Council supports, whose passage is essential to the health of our oceans: a statewide ban on plastic bags and a statewide ban on polystyrene food containers (aka, Styrofoam). 


Bring your cell phone and, on the spot...

Call your State Assemblymember Holly Mitchell, Betsy Butler or Steven Bradford and leave a message with your address, asking him or her to vote YES on SB-568 (Lowenthal) (Styrofoam ban).

And call your State Senator Ted Lieu or Curren Price, and leave him a message with your address, asking him to vote YES on AB-298 (Brownley) (plastic bag ban).

Statewide Ban on Styrofoam Food Containers

Statewide Ban on Plastic Bags

Your State Assemblymembers and Senators really do pay attention to your phone calls.