Skip to main content


Showing posts from April, 2010

God Bless Melissa Angel

Melissa Angel got in touch with me a few weeks back about a project for her photo journalism class. Would it be alright, she wondered, to do her class project on my work around food gardening here in Tallahassee? Indeed. I was honored to be profiled. Upon viewing the final product, I am super-impressed with her work. Thanks Melissa. Anytime you need a reference, just let me know.

Take a look:

Great Things Happening in Jacksonville

A recent article in the Jacksonville Times-Union, Poverty, But Obseity: The Hunger Paradox describes the ways in which the lack of nutrition in "energy dense" foods and the availability of healthy food have contributed to a simultaneous obesity epidemic and increasing food insecurity.  It's a great article about kids gardens, food security, nutrition, and the growing food movement.  Also, take a look at the following video about The Bridge Community Garden.  Great things are happening in Jacksonville.

"He's Definitely Pro-Growth" -- Tallahassee Democrat, 4/15/2010

"The Man in Overalls Wants you to Have a Garden"
By Kathleen Laufenberg

For Nathan Ballentine, gardening began as an elementary school pastime. Now, however, the 24-year-old Tallahasseean is on a mission to grow his own food, convince you to grow your own food — and get everybody to share some of what they've grown. "I love how food is able to bring so many different and disparate communities together," said Ballentine, who also is known as "The Man in Overalls" and is a regular blogger about his gardening adventures at

His gardening career — he makes a modest living mostly by building raised-bed gardens, teaching gardening workshops for kids and adults and, occasionally, substitute teaching — allows the 2004 SAIL graduate to unite his all-consuming interests of community organizing and edible landscaping.

"I really like what he's doing — he's got it right," Brandy Cowley-Gilbert of Just…

Gardening 101 at LC Sustainable Communities Summit, May 6th and 7th

(And a couple notes about community gardens and the food movement)

Perhaps you've been wanting to catch me in action or have been looking for an opportunity to get some get-going gardening tips/ideas/instruction.  Volia!

I'll be leading a Gardening 101 workshop at the Leon County Sustainable Communities Summit May 6th and 7th.  Take a look at the website. Should be fun-- planting a raised bed garden inside a conference center.  Heck yeah.  Plus, there's going to be a community garden forum.

The entire Summit is focused on local, sustainable food systems and local economies.  Brilliant.  This is the kind of work that needs to be done.  Read up on the Summit, register, see you there.

It's not everyday that you're included on a list of speakers with internationally renown authors like Bill McKibben and John Robbins as well as with a local super-star like Maggie Theriot, Coordinator of the Leon County Sustainability program.  That is to say, I'm honored to be in…

Decent Math Encounters Reality

Last week, I put together this raised bed for Andreas, Sandra and Ted.  It's made of cedar construction treated with linseed-oil.  Take a look.  Also note the micro-irrigation tubing sticking out in preparation for filling with soil and compost

The bed is 8x4x2.5ft.  If you multiply that out you get 32ft x 2.5ft or 80 cubic feet.  My truck bed holds a cubic yard, i.e., 27 cubic feet, so you could reasonably calculate that it would take less than three truck loads of substance to fill the raised bed  (72/27 = 2.9).  Such was my calculation when I began filling the raised bed.

However, the soil I filled the bed with was magic soil, or so it seems because in order to fill the bed, I had to shovel in four truckloads of soil and compost.  That's approximately 108 cubic feet.  
Try to wrap your mind around that.  And in the meantime, you can rid your mind of the notion that mathematics adequately describes the world around us.

Community Gardening Gathering of the Big Bend

Community, School, Church and "Give-Away" Gardener Gathering
Pot luck, 12-2pm, April 10th
@ the FAMU Community Garden
on Orange Ave between Adams and Wahnish Way

It is time we joined to support one another and to chat about community gardens’ contribution to healthy,  affordable food in the Big Bend.

Come hear the history of the FAMU garden; learn and share with fellow community gardeners, garden educators and activists; and explore how we can encourage and further the community gardening movement in our area.

Please bring stories of garden successes and a challenge or question you are currently facing, and if it works, bring a covered dish to share.  Drinks will be provided.   Meet under the big live oak.  Bring a chair.  We look forward to meeting and learning from fellow community gardeners.

Please touch base to let us know your coming.
Jennifer Taylor (famu.register at gmail dot com, 412-5260) or
Nathan Ballentine (maninoveralls at gmail dot com, 322-0749)

"Food Gardening Expert: Man in Overalls" -- Alley Sprouts Zine

April 2010
"This semester one of the goals of Alley Sprouts was to create a raised vegetable garden.  Local Tallahassee Food Gardener, Nathan Ballentine also known as the Man in Overalls met with us in the alley to give a few pointers on how to create a successful food garden...." For the rest, click here.

Or, to find out more about the Alley Spouts and their Get Green initiative, visit their blog.  They're doing great beautification and food growing work in an abandoned alley behind Fat Sandwich on Railroad Ave.

Community Garden Growing Gang-busters

Driving by, I peeked through the fence to look at a community garden that I set up a month and a half ago.  Take a look.  Warmth and sunshine does wonders for a newly planted garden.  Wow:

Notice the shallots, kale, collards, spinach, cabbage and lettuces.  The tomatoes were recently planted in the back and have not yet popped up into view.  Here's another angle:

And folks worry about the aethetic qualities of food gardens.  Honestly.  I struggle to understand.  With sufficient sunshine, this is the kind of results, the kind of beauty, the kind of food, you can grow.
Compare to the photos taken on 2/18:

Birthday Party!

Well, today's my birthday.  I turned 25 years old.  For the first nine months of my life, I didn't have a name.  My parents were waiting for me to "tell them what my name should be."  I was known as "Mr. Baby."  For most of the next 23-24 years of my life, folks referred to me as Nathan.  Though my aunt did call me Brian up until I was about 15 because she named me ahead of my parents and thought it would stick if she stuck to it long enough.  Of course, growing up, there were a few "NATHAN WILEY BALLENTINE's" thrown in there and a few "migit's," (I didn't break five feet until 9th grade).  (Just in case you didn't know, "Wiley" means "tricky and cunning.")

Then, last September, I took on this new persona, the Man in Overalls.  Promptly, I began doing things like standing beside the road to drum up business and to create a "buzz" around growing food.

And today's my birthday.

So, I thought…