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Five Ways to Be a Better Locavore…

…or just a local who loves food

March 10, 2010, 12:00 am

By Marin Sardy

1 Shake your honey maker: Topbar Beekeeping class
Although the instructor of Ecoversity’s Topbar Beekeeping class, Talon Van Howten, got into bees because he wanted to get stung—he was trying out a treatment method called “apitherapy” for chronic pain in his arms—most people who sign up are in it for the honey. And if the warm, sticky, sweet stuff you end up with after going through the full seven-class “super-hands-on” course ($325 for the class, plus approximately $300 for materials) is half as delicious and sensual as Van Howten makes it out to be, you’ll get more than your money’s worth. The class, which meets for one three-hour Saturday session each month from March 20 to Sept. 11, takes you through a full seasonal cycle of starting and raising your own hive, which you can do concurrently at home. Van Howten covers—and demonstrates—all the basics, from the “dynamics of bees” to key skills such as getting your queen situated, maintaining hive health and harvesting your liquid gold. Beyond the purportedly inimitable experience of eating fresh honey straight from the hand-pulled comb, you’ll also get the range of flavors (like purple sage or orange blossom, depending on when you harvest) and the allergy-dampening benefit of a product made from local pollens. Besides, Van Howten says, you really only get stung when it’s your fault. 2639 Agua Fria St., 505-424-9797,

2 How to cook without actually cooking: Raw Vegan Cuisine tutorial
Some of us don’t like meat. Or eggs. Or cheese. Or milk. Or anything that’s been cooked. Oh wait, that’s totally not true. But some of us choose not to consume these foods for very good reasons. Mariela Rodriguez, the chef/owner of the acclaimed little breakfast joint Vegan Santa Fe, quit meat when her father developed colon cancer, dumped dairy to reduce her dependence on her asthma inhaler (she’s since been “pump free”) and discovered the high nutritive value of raw foods while teaching herself vegetarian cooking. One of the few local raw food experts, she has, since opening for business in 2008, managed to stun the populace of this meat-heavy town by disproving “this misconception that the only thing we eat is tofu and lettuce” with rich, creative offerings. But since most mortals have to prepare their own meals, Rodriguez also teaches three-hour Raw Vegan Cuisine cooking tutorials catered to each client’s specific needs—up to four people at $50-$80 per person. Inside a professional kitchen, she explains the fundamentals, introduces important equipment (blender) and ingredients (“almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk”), and then walks students through a half-dozen recipes. One favorite: the uncooked, sugar-free, non-dairy cheesecake. “It’s almost like magic,” she assures me. “It tastes just like the real thing.” 323 McKenzie St., 505-920-1270

3 How to start a community kitchen for local-food businesses: Green Drinks lecture
To combine your foodie skills and ethos of sustainability into your own little green-meets-green-thumb business—maybe selling your famous piñon-nut bizcochitos or organic Chinese medicinal herbs—your biggest challenge will be to gather enough dead presidents to get it off the ground. Although any startup can tap the New Mexico Community Development Loan Fund for financial support for “green and innovative” ideas, it’s also important to keep overhead low, which is hard if you need a kitchen that meets health and safety code standards. Given that food-sector businesses “tend to be riskier,” Vicki Pozzebon, executive director of the Santa Fe Alliance, says the local independent-business support organization is looking at ways to help establish community kitchens, which area food-product entrepreneurs could use collectively at a fraction of the cost of having individual spaces. Right now, she says, the Alliance is gathering data about “what’s needed, what people are interested in doing.” Call Pozzebon to throw your input into to the fray. Then head to the monthly networking event Green Drinks to pepper San Francisco-based serial eco-entrepreneur Scott Cooney with questions when he speaks about his book, Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur. ($20; $15 for Alliance members). 6-8 pm Thursday, April 22. Free. Rio Chama, 414 Old Santa Fe Trail, 505-989-5362,

4 How to grow a recycled garden: Babylon Gardens Salvage Nursery items
Maybe you grow your own salad in a backyard garden, or compost anything that ever built a cell wall. Maybe you think you’ve thought of every conceivable way to amaze friends and family by adding yet another “green” superlative to your organic, local, sustainable lifestyle. Well, here’s one you maybe haven’t taken advantage of yet: recycled plants. In other words, try populating your yard with your neighbors’ remainders rather than imported seedlings from a nursery. It’s so simple, it’s almost absurd, and that’s why Richard Balthazar of Babylon Gardens Salvage Nursery & Plant Recycling has been capitalizing on the idea since 1998. Dealing primarily in perennial flowers that tend to spread rapidly, he removes for free massive amounts of daylilies, penstemons, Maximilian sunflowers and especially irises each summer, for residents with overrun yards. This includes occasional windfalls of raspberry and strawberry plants, too. At the Santa Fe Farmers Market every week from late March through October, he sells these at a fraction—typically $3 to $5 each—of what the same varieties would cost from a nursery. “I’ll just dig out a shovelful of the clump and throw it in a plastic bag,” Balthazar says. And unlike seedlings, they’re ready to take off right away: “Dig a hole, shove it in and off it goes again.” 1901 W. Alameda St., 505-983-9745

5 How to make goat cheese and stare at goats: South Mountain Dairy volunteer program
Yes, you could just stare at the goats, but from March 14 to June 15 you might prefer instead to help bottle-feed the newborns of South Mountain Dairy’s 71 pregnant does. Starting the first of April, the farmstead in Edgewood (approximately 60 miles south of Santa Fe, between Albuquerque and Moriarty) also takes one or two volunteers at a time for making goat-milk-based chèvre, chevarti and feta cheeses. Return as often as you need to learn all about raising your own goats while getting to know the famously playful “girls”—the milk producers whose surplus goes into several varieties of artisan cheese (as well as pasteurized milk and yogurt in spring and summer). Proprietors Donna Lockridge and Marge Petersen sell the products at the Santa Fe Farmers Market each week. With cheese-making taking place on the farm daily and a new variety started each day, returning regularly for a week or two gives you the chance to learn every step in the process—ladle, mold, package, wax, even “turn bloomy rinds”—for free. To sign up, find the dairy’s Farmers Market booth or click the “Sign Up To Volunteer” link at It’s the ultimate food-world symbiosis: You gain do-it-yourself skills while helping a responsible, local farm stay afloat. 48 Katzima Road, Edgewood,


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