Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Terroir of Chocolate: April 3

When is the last time you ate chocolate? Last night? Last week? If you are anything like the typical American -- who eats roughly 9.5 pounds of chocolate a year -- it probably wasn’t that long ago.

Cocoa pod growing in St Lucia
(photo credit Tee La Rosa)
Chocolate begins as the beans within the fruiting pod of the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, which is native to Central America and parts of Mexico. Gardeners in Cottage Grove probably aren’t growing their own cacao (if you are, let us know!), because cacao trees grow in the tropics, within 20° to the north and south of the Equator. Today, while cacao is still grown in Central and South America, nearly 70% of the world’s crop is grown in West Africa.

Luckily for us, some of those cacao beans are making their way to Cottage Grove and into the hands of Mike Caven, owner of Sanity Chocolate. Mike began making chocolate from cacao beans more than 5 years ago as a hobby. His passion for “bean-to-bar” chocolate got out of hand and last fall, he and his wife Bob opened a store front on Main Street (at 1280 E Main St, by Rally Coffee).

Camino Verdé from Ecuador
(Photo from Sanity Chocolate)

Mike begins with the cacao beans that arrive in large burlap bags. Through a three day process which includes roasting, shelling, and grinding, the beans become chocolate bars. However, these are not ordinary cacao beans that may also end up in a chocolate bar at the local box store. "One of our core values is working with ingredients that are not just sustainable for us and the environment, but are sustainable for the farmer, and in most cases, their community,” Mike told KLCC last fall.

On Tuesday, April 3, Mike Caven will be joining Cottage Grove Garden Club to talk about chocolate. We’ll learn how climate and the environment can impact the taste of chocolate, Sanity’s relationship with its chocolate brokers and famers, and how Mike’s hobby transformed into a business. And, of course, we’ll be tasting chocolate! 

Please join us at the First Presbyterian Church, 216 South 3rd Street. Our informal business meeting begins at 6pm, and we start learning about and tasting chocolate at 7pm.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Making Compost & Compost Tea:
March 6 at Garden Club

Experienced gardeners will tell you, we are not farmers of our vegetables and crops alone, especially if we are striving for productivity and health. We must be farmers of the soil itself, and most importantly, the organisms dwelling within that soil. For without those hard working soil microbes, our gardens just could not be productive and definitely not healthy. Compost is a big part of this story.

On March 6, at Garden Club we will be learning about the composting process with Andrea Mull. We'll learn what works and what doesn’t. Andrea will also discuss compost teas and the benefits we can gain from them.

Please join the Cottage Grove Garden Club on Tuesday, March 6 as we learn about composting from our own Andrea Mull. Andrea has been living and gardening in the Cottage Grove area for over 15 years and has worked for Territorial Seed Company for over 5 seasons, assisting in Vegetable Trials/Research and Customer Relations. She is especially passionate for unusual vegetables, ornamentals, and flowers. If you’ve heard Andrea talk before, you know she is full of hands-on practical information.

Cottage Grove Garden Club meets at the First Presbyterian Church, 216 South 3rd Street (the corner of 3rd and Adams), Cottage Grove, Oregon. Our information business meeting begins at 6pm, Andrea’s presentation begins at 7pm after we enjoy light refreshments. All visitors and guests welcome.

Upcoming Programs
April 2: Chocolate Tasting with Sanity Chocolate
May 1: Improving Soil Health with Melissa Fery
June 5: Water Gardens with Faye Forhan

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Rain Gardens: February 6 Presentation

A rain garden is generally a small, planted depression or "sunken garden bed" in your yard where rain runoff from roofs, driveways, and other impervious surfaces is directed. Once in this garden, the rain water soaks into the ground naturally and is absorbed by plants and trees.

Rain gardens mimic the way that natural forests, meadows, and wetlands process rainwater. They are often planted with native plants, and besides being miniature stormwater treatment systems, rain gardens can also be designed to provide habitat for birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects.

On Tuesday, February 6, Kathy Eva, a public information specialist with the City of Eugene, will join Garden Club to discuss rain gardens, bioswells, and the plants that do well in them. Her presentation will include photos of rain gardens, discussion about soil types, plants, how to conduct a percolation test, and when and why a rain garden might be valuable.

Kathy's work with the city of Eugene focuses on informing and educating citizens about stormwater and surface water-related issues. She is also a member of the Lane Pollution Prevention Coalition, a multi-agency group, which works together to share pollution prevention tips about air, water, groundwater, drinking water, waste prevention and recycling. In addition, she on the steering committee for the statewide Clean Rivers Coalition whose mission is to help residents understand their role in protecting Oregon’s waters. This newly formed coalition is exploring how to reach and work with many groups and communities on a statewide and local level.

The Garden Club's informational meeting begins at 6pm and Kathy's talk on Rain Gardens begins at 7. We meet at the First Presbyterian Church, 216 South 3rd Street (the corner of 3rd and Adams). All visitors and guests welcome. Memberships encouraged! ($15 individual, $20 couple).

Mark your calendars for these upcoming presentations:
March 6, 2018: Compost and Compost Tea with Andrea Mull
April 3, 2018: Chocolate Tasting with Sanity Chocolate
May 1, 2018: Improving Soil Health with Melissa Fery

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Spring Garden Club Programs for 2018

It's a new year! That means a whole new line-up of programs and activities for the Cottage Grove Garden Club.

Get out your calendars.... here's a list of what's in store this spring!

January 2: Organizational Meeting. Catch up with your garden club friends, pay your dues for 2018, and help us do a little New Year's planning.

February 6: Rain Gardens and Rain Garden Plants with Kathy Eva from the City of Eugene. Learn about rain gardens, swells, and the plants that do well in them.

March 6: Composting and Compost Tea, with Andrea Mull. Learn practical steps for making and using compost.

April 3: Chocolate Tasting, with Sanity Chocolate -- a locally owned and operated company which specializes in making bean to bar chocolate.

May 1: Improving Soil Health with Melissa Fery. Learn how we can improve soil health in our gardens.

All of these meetings to take place in the Friendship Hall at the First Presbyterian Church, 216 South 3rd Street (the corner of 3rd and Adams), Cottage Grove, Oregon, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Guests and Visitors invited. Refreshments provided.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Opal Park Work Party

Thanks to everyone who showed up November 18th to work at Opal Park (a.k.a. All America City Square) to spiff it up before the holidays.

Thank you to Carlene Girouard, our new Main Street Coordinator for taking these photos!