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.