Tuesday, June 2, 2009

First CSA

May 20th was our first CSA and it went well. We picked our 60 peas on Tuesday and came out Wednesday morning to pick the rest and beat the heat. It was great to see all the customers new and old and our blogger friend, Becky made it out too. Our kale got a little wilted by the end of the day but the lettuce, swiss chard and green onion looked great. We learned that you've got to keep everything on ice but we'll do that next time.

A couple of share holders actually got to take a tour of the farm too. Besides the chiggers, I think they were impressed. We actually got to trade gardening tips too. I wish they would come out and volunteer but that's just how the cookie crumbles.

Thanks for everyone who came out volunteers and shareholders. I hope it was as rewarding for you as it was for me.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Church of Latter Day Saints

I always think that when you start talking about the weather in a conversation it has officially ended, but where did spring go? Despite the heat wave we had a great time with the volunteers from The Church of Latter Day Saints. Hands On Nashville was there again too and we were glad to have them. This past weekend we were bombarded with weeds so that was number one on the list despite the over grown tomatoes that needed to be planted also.

We concentrated on the front bed where the horseradish was planted a couple of years ago. The weeds had gotten away from us and we decided that we should dig them up and plant asparagus. For anyone that does not know this is a big undertaking for us because this means that we will remain behind the Standard Motor Parts lot for at least 2 years because that is how long it takes for you to get a harvest. I guess that old saying good things come to those who wait really holds true again in this situation. It also applies to the hops we have planted that are coming up in force. After we weeded the bed we dug down a little and discovered a very hard concrete underneath the topsoil and decided not to plant there. We did however plant flowers and other beneficials that will look great in a couple of months.

Sarah led a crew in the back planting tomatoes and pounding t-post in our fresh beds. We actually got to use our own transplants this time despite the size. We planted Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, and Moschovich. We don't have any small varieties in yet. For one, we aren't big on romas because they are too hard to peel when canning and secondly the sun golds aren't ready to be transplanted and they are really just candy anyways.

Our friend JJ came by too. He is a CSA shareholder that didn't get to be in it last year. It was great to see he and his little brother little sister out for an hour. The kids were so excited to be out. It was too bad Stella wasn't there to play with them. It would have been nice because I didn't feel that I gave them the attention they deserved. It is very hectic trying to manage 20+ volunteers. JJ is a great person and if anyone hasn't seen his 12 Minutes to X-mas spectacular you should check it out this next season.

After everything was done at the farm. Hugh Hansen and I went to pick up a couple of hay bales that my landlord had leftover from the winter. We needed them badly for our cucumbers so that they wouldn't cook under the row cover. They may keep the weeds out but in this heat they will wilt in no time sitting on a black surface. This will have to be put off for this week. Thanks again for everyone who came out.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Earth Day

We should definitely start out by saying, wow, and thank you to everyone who made it out this busy busy weekend. Not only did we have forty + volunteers out but they came at a time when Vanderbilt was having their Rites of Spring Festival, Grimey's record store was having their Record Store Day event and Centennial Park was having their annual Earth Day celebration.

We had a ton of folks out from the Sigma Alpha agricultural sorority from the University of Georgia, a few folks from Hands On Nashville and the Vine Street Christian Church. I think everyone genuinely had a good time and we got a great deal of work done. We were a little more organized for this day so we had stations laid out for everyone from painting new signs to planting potatoes. I also got to start my symbiotic project with the wheat bales, elm oyster mushrooms, and tomatoes.

It was also a sad day not to have Tim out at the farm. He is on his bike journey to California but he left us with a beautiful hoop house that the U of G girls painted. He and I started it on Tuesday and with the help we had this weekend we are two to three steps from being complete. Tim and I made the frame and put together the pvc pipe from a sketch he found from an agricultural extension program. We still have to make the door frame and put up the plastic but when it is finished we will really be able to adequately start seedlings. I must say that we've had some ruff starts this year on that end. The artificial light no matter what spectrum you use does not match a green house by any means. Ohh, and I failed to mention that we got all the material for well under four hundred dollars. You are missed Tim.

While some of the Sigma Alpha's were painting, the others were down on the other end helping our new volunteer Rob and our intern Justin measure out drip tape and prepare the new beds we made a couple of weeks ago. Rob grew up on a farm so we are lucky to have someone with a little knowledge on agriculture. He also teaches French at Vanderbilt so he can handle a large group of college students. After they were done with the rows they planted zucchini, squash, and cucumbers. Hopefully since they are in the row cover that will help with the vine bores we've had so much trouble with in the past.

Sarah had the help of a couple of Sigma Alpha ladies in preparing a bean tee pee that will be surrounded in a maze of sunflowers. The beans they used are an heirloom variety that Amanda had gotten from her mother who got it form her mother. I'm not sure how far the lineage goes with these beans but we are grateful to have them and help pass down this rare variety. I can't wait to see them in full effect!

Ali, Kate and her friend Tara from Brooklyn got together with the Vine Hill Church and Hands On Nashville crew to make much needed signs for the garden. They hand painted wood that we can use to identify what is growing, why we do certain things and so that folks can look around without a guide with some understanding of what is growing and how we operate. My favorite one is Composting 101.

Old Hugh Hansen stopped by too with his daughter Stella and put up a new trellis for the hops. He also gave us some tomato plants to use in the wheat bales that proved to be a little harder than we anticipated. Shoving a spade into a bale to make a hole large enough for a tomato plant is no easy task. They were a little dry which exacerbated the situation. Our new friends Will and Jenny worked on it all day and we still had to put some elbow grease into it later. We got 12 out of the 19 bales filled with toms but I still need to plant the mint and cilantro. Mint is a good companion plant for tomatoes because it wards off bad bugs. We also used a t-post to hold up the tomatoes when they grow a little larger. The tomatoes were a little tall but with the effort it took just to get them in the bales I decided to take a chance and roll with it anyways. We also got some of the starts from the Delvin's farm which apparently was started by Hank Sr (not to be confused with the Williams) a little early and rose to great heights at the "amusement" of Hank Jr. Thank you Hank for the tomatoes. They have a wonderful CSA if anyone didn't make our CSA this year.

I took the group to the fresh rows that Rob carved and planted the Kennebec potatoes we got from Johnny's last week and the New Orleans potatoes we got from Tana Comer at Eatons Creek Organics . You've got to plant your potatoes deep so they don't see the light of day and grow many more potatoes. Before you plant them though you've got cut them up with two eyes per potato. After they have dried for the night you plant them eyes up about eight inches apart. MMMmmm, I can't get enough potatoes.

After the volunteer session Sarah, Justin and I went to the Earth Day Celebration and gave a speech on what we do at the community farm and why we think it is important. We had a good turn out and really made some head way with some of the folks we didn't know. We ended the day watching the Dynamites and eating chips and salsa we got from the Whole Foods Stand. It was a good day and hopefully a good one for the Earth as well. Peace.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Every Little Bit Counts

You never know how many folks will come out and volunteer. For everyone who has worked in the restaurant business, you know when a party makes a reservation and the party tells you they will have between 10 and 20 people that means 7 people are coming to the party. Well it applies to every field, but you should never pass judgment on a party based on their size, you never know how much you'll get out of them.

We had two amazing volunteers out a couple of weeks ago from Vanderbilt's Synergy program. It was a pleasure working with all of them. We got a ton done, and it was good to give all of our attention to just a few people. We were doing all the same things we usually do, lay card board and drip tape, but the two kids were really into it so it made it so much more enjoyable. Regular NUH volunteers should take note!

Check out this great video they made.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Woad! What Happened to My Wire Cutters?

We had a great day with the college kids from David Lipscomb on Monday. At first, I thought they were not coming but they had gotten mixed up with the address and were found by Sarah at a church on Indiana Ave.

They arrived around 10:30 AM and I introduced them to the farm and our mission. I knew right away that we would get a ton done. They all seemed to connect to our message and were eager to get started. The first thing we tackled were the weeds in the raised beds around the tree canopy. It was an easy thing to get started on and we talked about where everyone had come from. There was also talk of the evil agricultural giant Monsanto and how their GMO seeds negatively effect plant diversity. That conversation didn't last too long because no one wants to get to stressed working at the farm but it was good to know that people are starting to perk up about food security and abuse of corporate power.

Next we rolled out the fencing for the beans to grow on in the next couple of weeks. It was difficult to cut the wires especially when I dropped the clippers in the grass and couldn't find them for thirty minutes. I felt crazy and even went to a neighbors house to get another pair only to find that they were just lying in the tall clover. We were able to put the fence up and I learned a valuable lesson of keeping your tools in one place while working on projects.

While we were doing that the others were pulling up woad from the back of the farm that the women from Ask Apparel planted a couple of months ago to make dye with for their clothing. Woad is also used by the Chinese for tea for health reason but they call it Ban Lan Everyone was making jokes with the word woad. I will refrain from saying one because most don't translate well in this medium but it kept everyone in good spirits towards the end of the day. Thanks to everyone who came out and to the Bradley/Bellos for wire cutters.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Third Eye Has Been Opened

It seemed like every time we mentioned we were going to take a mushroom cultivation course, no matter how old, people always said, "Are you going to learn about magic mushrooms? I'd say that after this course I did indeed learn about the magic of mushrooms, but not "magic mushrooms". Out of the 100,000 species of mushrooms, we've classified 10,000 of them, and know how to grow maybe a hundred or less. To those that have "opened their third eye" from eating psilocybin mushrooms, it is only half open.

The positive implications that mushrooms can have on the world are countless. From bioremediation to the immunization building aspect of Reishi tea mushroom will save the world.

Ok, enough of the serious talk, we had a great time at Mushroom Mountain in Liberty SC even though mapquest is horrible if your not staying on the interstate. Yes, I know google maps is great too but they didn't even register the address. However, we made it and learned a great deal about using mushrooms in every aspect of our lives.

The Hansen family and I drove up on Friday afternoon and stayed the night in Greenville SC. Half of us stayed back for a birthday party and Hugh and I drove 45 minutes to Mushroom Mountain. We were greeted with tea and homemade bread and sat down on a straw bail awaiting for the rest of the students to arrive. Tradd Cotter and his wife Olga were there to provide instruction and a little comic relief. We learned that you can use mushrooms to eat paper and cardboard, which really helps with recycling. You can then add it to your lager compost pile and have perfect compost or you can use it to spawn more substrate, cool huh?

After that he showed us how to make a mushroom bed to grow Morels but if you do it it will take about a year to cultivate. It is definitely worth the wait. People have been trying to patent a good method for sometime now and this is the best one so far.

He then showed us how to grow mushrooms from logs. You have to use hardwoods and it takes up to a year to fruit but it is well worth the wait considering it can produce for two years delicious mushrooms.

Another use of mushrooms that I'm eager to try is the symbiotic use that you can use with them. If you grow them along with tomatoes you can grow five times as much and only have to water them 3 times a month. Here is a picture of mushrooms growing with swiss chard. You can't see them but the mycelium are in the wheat bales.

We had a great time at this work session and I would recommend it to anyone who likes mushrooms. It is one of the easiest things you could raise and can be very beneficial to you and the environment.

Monday, March 9, 2009

University Students Lay New Paths for NUH

We all arrived a little earlier than expected Saturday to take full advantage of the weather. We had kids from the University School of Nashville come out and give us a helping hand. They laid more cardboard on the rows for us to help suppress weeds and pulled the weeds up in the first beds before we applied mushroom compost from Nashville Nursery. We got 4 rows completed just in time for us to plant lettuce and cabbage. Most of the kids seemed to really enjoy themselves and some of them even promised to come back.

Tim and I planted onions on Tuesday of last week. We didn't check the bio dynamic calendar so we planted them on a day when the earth was exhaling. We will see how the onions produce so I will keep everyone posted on their growth. I'm definitely not up to date on my bio dynamics so if anyone has any tips let me know.

We also had three new volunteers come out. One of them raked up all the leaves herself and said that she was really wanting to partake in the bounty when it comes. Luckily, I dug up some carrots we forgot about from this past fall and was able to give her something right away. They were little fingerling carrots but we had enough to make a delicious salad.

A man from the neighborhood stopped by for the first time this summer. He asked us if we wanted to use his front loader, which is what we've been looking for for a long time. He's coming out today and I think we are going to take out the hideous compost bins that we tried but failed to establish. It would take this stuff 100 years to decompose. Thanks Norman!

Sorry I don't have any pictures up from this past week. My camera battery was dead. I'll be gone this next weekend because we are going to a mushroom cultivation course in Liberty SC. It is at Mushroom Mountain and it is going to be amazing. Thanks again for everyone's hard work. We are off to a great start.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

New Faces New Manure

Yesterday was really pretty cold and wet outside but it didn't deter new volunteers from coming out. We had three new faces whom did not object to turning the compost pile, a true test of someones dedication to the farm. We actually turned the two that are almost finished and we have a new one on the way. Alright! It really does put a smile on my face to see a heaping pile of steamy humus. I explained to everyone that the best compost piles have a 30/1 ratio of carbon to nitrogen. This lead me to believe that we should make signs that say certain instructional things like that. It lets someone know whats going on and also for people who don't speak English very well they can continue to look over it rather than relying on some redneck with a funny accent to get his/her point across...just a thought.

We also laid down cardboard between the rows. This proved to be advantageous in that we could pull weeds afterwords without getting our pants wet from the mist. I could see that everyone was getting cold but they still seemed to want to persevere. I think there is great spirit in people under such hard times to better themselves and help the community. It's something that has been missing for a long time and I can only say it is going to get better.

On that note, we had a couple come out from the neighborhood that had been to the farm before and they brought us a pumpkin plant that they had grown over the last couple of months. It was good to see them because I hadn't seen them since our spring party. I hope we can grow a pumpkin from what they gave us because they have a little boy that comes around with them from time to time that we have a picture of with a watermelon from last summer. It would be great to have a picture of him holding a pumpkin for the fall.

Thanks to everyone that came out. I hope that we can see you again next week. It is supposed to be nice and I think we are going to actually plant our cold weather crops. I ordered a broadfork and I'm eager to put it to use.