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.

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