Thursday, April 30, 2009

Homegrown Happy Valley is Moving!

Hi everyone,

Homegrown Happy Valley is official.

We’ve been busy making changes, figuring out the best way to stay in touch with you.

The latest:
We’ll use some of those photos—and give you the credit, of course—for our blog posts.

Please help us spread the word. Join in and keep it local.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Buy local, save the world!

Spring has finally arrived in State College. (And so has summer, apparently.) Grass is greening, flowers are blooming, and everyone is sneezing. My own long awaited milestone: sandal day. This record day usually begins with a fresh coat of toenail polish and ends with a new pair of sandals. It’s my favorite time of year!

This year Appalachian Outdoors  is helping me shop with a purpose. From now until May 5th, you can trade a pair of gently used shoes for a 20 percent discount on a new pair of Chaco footwear. Appalachian Outdoors in partnership with Soles4Souls will distribute the donated shoes to those in need. Since 2004 Soles4Souls has donated more than 4 million pairs of shoes worldwide.

As I head off to search for a used pair of shoes (or five), I’m reminded why I support this great local store. Join me by cleaning out your own closet and finding something to donate.

Buy local, save the world!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

Every morning when my kids eat breakfast, we watch an amazing show outside our window. Squirrels fly from tree limbs, flowers sway in the breeze, and birds dart back and forth, working harder than a employee on an assembly line. It's more interesting than anything I've seen on TV and I don't have to fight Comcast to watch it. 
Earth and all it encompasses is free. Hopefully, we celebrate it every day, whether by watching the show out our window or appreciating our surroundings on a walk to work, but today we observe it as a holiday.
A few days ago the Sustainable Agriculture Club in conjunction with the Center for Sustainability (both at PSU) started the celebration a bit early by opening an Organic Community Garden for its inaugural season. The folks who run the community garden, located by Beaver Stadium off of Porter Road, tell Homegrown that they filled it just one week after releasing the application. (Could it be the Michelle Obama effect?) For a $30 membership fee, the 98 members--a mix of students, PSU faculty and staff members, and community members--get a 10X15 ft plot, as well as tools and discounts on organic gardening workshops. 
On Earth Day or any day, the garden is a reminder that the tastiest, healthiest food comes straight from Centre County soil. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Local gets national love

The May issue of Country Living magazine echoes what we already knew: Tait Farm carries the best locally made products in the region.

A one-page spread asks Liz Thorpe of the famed Murray's Cheese in NYC to recommend some artisanal cheddars handcrafted in America. Among her picks is Goot Essa's Mountain Valley Sharp Cheddar, aged for at least three years. And Tait Farm Foods is listed as the source.  

Goot Essa (German for "good food" or "good eating") is a group of Amish dairy farmers in Howard, Pennsylvania who have been turning their milk into high-quality cheese since 2001. While the rest of the country orders online, we'll turn down 322 for this block of creamy goodness. 

The remnants of my own purchase, which I paired with some dried figs for today's afternoon snack, can currently be found on a Spiderman napkin on my desk. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

5 Questions for the Co-owner of Spela

5 Questions for Regina Brannen, co-owner of Spela Children's Store and Cafe, which opened a few months ago:

1.) Name one product you can't find at Target.

PeaceLoveMom T-shirts. The company advertises to moms who don't have pregnant bellies. The most popular tee says "Happy Mom."

2.) What's your hottest selling item?

Resa Design birthday tees (the tiny tees feature a groovy applique of a number, which corresponds with the tot's age).

3.) How many kids comprise the Spela clan?

We have 6 right now; in August we'll have 7.

4.) Spela features an enclosed play area, where parents can watch their kids while drinking coffee, perusing magazines, or taking advantage of your wireless hookup. Is Spela the new Starbucks for the locally minded stroller set?

Yes, absolutely. I can't tell you how many times people say, "we met here because it was cold, I hope that's ok." That's totally ok, that's what we want. Bring your playgroup; bring your music class. On Fridays through April we have a story time at 10:30. On Fridays in May we're having a toddler movement class.

5.)  Both you and your co-owner are State College natives and you feature locally made items. How do you hope Spela will impact the community?

This month we're starting classes so moms can attend a workshop while their kids play. And we support community groups associated with children. We try to choose an item every month and donate a portion of the proceeds to a local charity.

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