Composting is Cool!

by ZeBot, Lilliana (age 9) & the Planet DooF Kids

ZeBot Compost Sign

We went to visit Potrero Nuevo farm to learn about the best ways to grow vegetables, fruit and herbs. We also learned about the best ways to use scraps from those foods to help other plants grow.

It’s called composting and it’s a way to feed plants using the natural waste that comes from other plants. Composting is a way to break down organic material in waste so that it can become a fertilizer for a garden or a farm.

Kids AND zebras love the idea of recycling plants to feed other plants!

Kids AND zebras love the idea of recycling plants to feed other plants!

We walked around with Farmer Suzie who showed us the fields and greenhouses where everything grows. Then we went to where they have a compost pile. We did not want to get too close but our friend ZeBot the zebra said he’d have his picture taken so we did.

We asked how composting works. Basically you take scraps of fruits and vegetables and grass and whatever and put in in a pile on your farm or in your backyard. You can keep a container in your kitchen to keep your food scraps in until you are ready to put them in the pile.

Sitting near a compost pile is very, um, fragrant!

Sitting near a compost pile is very, um, fragrant!

When composting happens microorganisms in the soil eat the scraps and break it down to make a fertilizer. If you want it to happen faster you can add worms. You also have to move stuff in the pile around which is called turning the compost pile. It takes either weeks or months to make the compost. It depends on what is in it and the weather and other things.

There a lot of ways to use composting including the funny outhouse on the farm where we took a picture of ZeBot. You should not try to do this unless you are a compost expert because human and animal waste is poisonous for compost unless you know a bunch of expert things.

Proof that ANYONE can help make compost!

Proof that ANYONE can help make compost!

The best way for a beginner to learn composting is to start saving kitchen scraps then put them in a pile in your yard. Then wait for them to turn into fertilizer. Then put that on your garden to feed it. You could do this at home or your school garden if you have one.

Why should you have a compost pile? Because it is a way to recycle things like apple cores and vegetable peels and other things that someone might just put in a garbage can. And it’s really cool that the garbage plants can end up feeding other plants.

We should all compost because it’s good for the plants and good for us and good for the earth!

Save the Planet Painting

Wonderful Water Buffaloes!

Ramini Posterby Julianne, age 12

Today we got to see water buffaloes. The farm that we visited makes mozzarella cheese from the water buffaloes’ milk. You would think that water buffalo milk cheese would not taste as good as goat cheese or cow cheese. But really out of all of them, I think buffalo cheese is the best.

Every spring and fall the water buffaloes have babies and the mothers produce the milk that makes mozzarella cheese. Each water buffalo has a name that Craig, the farmer, gives them. I think that it is really sweet.

First-time mothers & calves!

First-time mothers & calves!

There were three pastures. The first pasture in the front was the babies and their mothers. They were mother buffaloes who had their first calves ever. The calves always stay with their mothers and never leave their sight.

The second pasture was water buffaloes who had their calves last fall. The third pasture had water buffaloes who were going to have calves this year.

Hello, I'm a water buffalo!

Hello, I’m a water buffalo!

The third pasture got split up. While we were there, Craig separated the young buffaloes from their mothers. It took about ten minutes. Usually it does not take that long but the cows were there.  A few times one of the mothers ran across the field toward Craig and made a loud honking noise. She wanted to know if her baby was okay.

We got to go into the pen where the young 1-2 year old buffaloes were.

These are 1-2 year old water buffalo.

These are 1-2 year old water buffaloes – don’t you love their hair?

We got to pet them. They loved when you scratched them behind their horns and ears, because their hooves cannot reach there. When you start to pet them, they lick you or chew your clothes.

Petting water buffalo is really fun!

Petting water buffalo is really fun!

They felt kind of rough and their horns were smooth. Their hair was parted down the middle. My favorite buffalo was Bob Dylan because he was the smallest of them all and really cute. His tag was #12. They were so cute. We thought that our friend Laura should take one home with her.

Craig Serving Cheese

This is mozzarella cheese — and Craig is serving it for us!

Craig gave us some samples of the mozzarella cheese to taste. It was a fresh new batch made yesterday at night. It felt soft and squirmy. It tasted creamy and different from other cheese.

Craig told us that a lot of people really want to buy mozzarella cheese from him because his cheese is really good. When you cut the cheese, liquid comes out and that’s hard to make that.

I think it was the best mozzarella cheese I ever had!

They start milking the buffaloes a few weeks after they just had their baby because that’s when the milk is there. When the mothers are milked for the first time, Craig brings their calf with the mother so the mother knows her calf is safe and sound. If her calf was not there she could get worried and not give her milk. That’s bad because they would be behind on milk for a day.

These are the barn cats! Super cute!

These are the barn cats! Super cute!

They milk the water buffaloes in the barn every morning at 8:00. Craig purposely spills some of the milk for the cats. There are about 7 cats who live in the barn. They were feral cats but now they are family.

When new hay comes to the farm, it is filled with mice, so the cats’ job is to catch the mice. The cats know when the hay truck is coming and you can tell because they all leave their beds and go by the back wheels of the truck. When is the hay is taken out of the truck, the cats chase after the mice and eat them. Sometimes they catch garden snakes and birds. Craig does not like when they catch birds because there are feathers all over the place.

Me!

Me!

I think it was an honor to go there and I think I will remember this trip for a long time! Thank you Craig for having us!!!

 Want to learn how the cheese is made? Check out this cool blog by my friend ZeBot Zebra, where he interviews the baby water buffalo at Ramini Mozzarella!

Want to write your own blog? Visit our project page at Green Ribbon Schools to find out how you and your friends can post your cool creative stuff — or email us at kidsfoodblog@gmail.com!

ZeMambo di Mozzarella di Bufala

Riding High Too!

When zebras think about good food, three things that naturally come to mind are family, friends and sharing.

So I guess it’s only natural that I’d want to share a story about the amazing cheese that starts with milk from my ultra-cool friends: the Ramini Mozzarella Water Buffalo Family.

If you’re a kid (or even a zebra), you’re probably thinking, “What’s so amazing about mozzarella? I mean: I eat it all the time!”

Ramini Mozzarella brings the flavors of Italy to California!

Ramini Mozzarella brings the flavors of Italy to California!

But guess what? Unless you’ve traveled to Italy, I’ll bet you’ve NEVER eaten mozzarella that’s been handmade using rich, creamy milk that comes fresh from the buffalo—or, as the cheese is called in Italian, mozzarella di bufala.

Why would you have to go to Italy? Because authentic mozzarella di bufala is extremely perishable, so just about the only way to enjoy the real thing is to go right to the source.

To learn about authentic mozzarella di bufala, I went right to the source!

To learn about authentic mozzarella di bufala, I went right to the source!

That’s usually Italy, where black water buffalo (different from our American buffalo, which are technically bison) have roamed the hills and fields of the Compania region for about a thousand years.

But thanks to Craig Ramini and his wife Audrey, you don’t have to go to Italy to meet these legendary creatures: you can hang out with them AND try the famous cheese made from their milk, right here in Northern California!

To really understand the story of mozzarella di bufala, you need to hear it straight from the water buffalo’s mouth.

For more cool music videos and an exclusive insider interview with three of the water buffalo calves, Sting, Petula and Lulu, hoof it on over to ZeBot’s Kitchen!

Ramini Cheese Collage