Man in Overalls helps you #GrowYourGroceries!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Words of Praise from Turkey Hill Farm (Louise Divine)

Hey Everybody!

Really busy this week, getting beds ready and planting for the fall. Lots to do in the greenhouse as well. We sent some plants into town with Kelly Des Maris, to the new garden at Kate Sullivan Elementary School.  They are off to a rousing start, even have a website. If you want to get a garden going at your child's school I am sure they will be happy to hook you up with the resources they have used.

I had the pleasure of sharing information about the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance this week with the Tallahassee Food Network. I shared with them the mission of the Small Farm Alliance and did a little show and tell about our Online Market. If you want to connect with other groups and people working to support the Tallahassee and regional food systems this is the crucible. There is a group working to make a celebration for National Food Day in October, a group working to coordinate and connect our community gardens; a group working on a plan for educational outreach; and a group working to build a comprehensive directory of local farms, gardens, businesses, and agencies that are involved in our local food system. Priscilla Hudson and Alexa Warwick representing The Small Farm Alliance and Qasima Boston DrPh(candidate) with Project Food are coordinating and constructing the directory. This loosely knit organization of organizations is set to make a real difference. If you are interested in pitching in with this enterprising and dedicated group, contact Nathan Ballantine, Tallahassee's Man in Overalls. They meet monthly.

So what to plant now? Well, not saying you should do as we do, but this is what we have done lately:
seeded asian greens, carrots, kale, collards, fennel, basil, parsley, lettuce, arugula, onions and leeks.
Prepared beds, irrigated beds, mowed, tied up eggplants and peppers, side dressed eggplants and peppers with organic granular fertilizer, harvested field corn and put it up to dry, weeded ginger and turmeric, plowed in cover crops, worked on repairing big green tractor, mowed, ate pears and grapes and mangoes. The sun is tracking fast to the south and the Autumn Equinox will be here in a blink.
Next thing you know leaves will fall.

With the FARM BILL coming up for a vote in 2012 it is a good idea to learn more about how the farm bill affects all our lives. King Corn is a great and entertaining introduction to the world of commodity subsidies. The new movie on the block is FARMAGEDDON. It will be an opportunity for farmers and friends to gather and get a view of what we know but don't see. Bring a friend who hasn't even seen Food Inc. See the Calendar* below.

Thanks for your support,
Miss Louise and Farmer Herman

(Turkey Hill Farm on Local Harvest)

*September 16   6-10PM- the movie FARMAGEDDON hosted by Red Hills Graziers. The film explores the policies that favor agribusiness and factory farms over small family operated farms that sell fresh foods to strengthen our communities health and local economies.
Meet Your Local Farmers from 6-7 the movie starts at 7:15.  Bump elbows and hobnob till 10:00.        Movie will be shown at FSU in building HCB 101,   east of the Mendenhall Parking lot.   Parking available in Mendenhall Parking Lot A.
There is no charge for the movie, donations will be accepted to pay for movie rental and further the cause. As per campus rules food and drink are not allowed in academic spaces.Hope to see you there, BRING A FRIEND OR TWO.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Life!

Some days we get to live the life we imagined.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of presenting on Community Gardening at the Second Harvest of the Big Bend Annual Agency Conference.  Of the 150 or so agency partners (largely food pantry coordinators and volunteers), 35 folks attended my workshop.  For starters, to demonstrate the inseparable link in my world-view between gardening and food security, I shared stories about my 93-year-old grandmother who shaped my childhood with stories of surviving the Great Depression via her family's garden, milk cow, and chickens. Next, we walked through Food Gardening Basics like sunlight, water, garden bed preparation, how deep to plant seeds, etc. Then, after a quick overview of the three major types of community gardens (Allotment or Subscription, Educational, Donation), we brainstormed, "What Does it Take to Start a Community Garden?" which brought to light the need for people, commitment, communication skills, and other human elements beyond the basic garden supplies of seeds, soil, amendments, and water.  In terms of building a community garden team, we discussed the "Four W's and R," wisdom, weight, work, wealth, and representation.  Let me elaborate.

In gathering a team to successfully develop a community garden, it's essential that you've got folks with wisdom.  Gardening know-how is essential, but that's far from the extent of the knowledge you need at the table; group process, communication, how to make fliers, how to talk to one's neighbors, how to manage teams of youth, and how to approach potential funders or sponsors are just a few of the pieces of wisdom that could aid the effort.  Weight, or community credibility, or community influence is also critical.  Who are the folks in the community to whom others listen, respect, follow?  It's good to have these folks on your team-- even if only in an advisory fashion.  Then, of course, you need folks that are actually going to show up to work: dig, plant, sweat, and harvest.  A room of folks who think a community garden is a "good idea" only makes a good team if a dedicated core intend to garden personally.  It is also beneficial, of course, to have some money or wealth on (or within reach of) the team.  Lastly, if one is organizing a garden team, it's essential that you organize the leadership from the community in which the garden will be; i.e., representation is essential.  The question is: who do you want to be involved eventually, and how can you work with them from the beginning?  This is where it's essential that leadership reflect community demographics (gender, race, income, age, etc).

Finally, we wrapped up the session with pictures of various community gardens from the area: Havana, Fort Braden, Southwood, Faith Presbyterian, St John's Missionary Baptist's plot at the FAMU gardens, the 4th Avenue Garden, Ruediger's school garden, FBMC Benefits Management's garden, and the 2x2 in the park at 9th and Terrace.

When I told the Second Harvest conference coordinator that I was honored to present, what I meant was: I started my food garden gig in hopes that I would, some day, some how, contribute to efforts that would aid hungry and malnourished folks in town.  Yesterday was indication that, perhaps, I am walking in the right direction.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Staying Busy Amidst the Heat

In spite of the heat, folks are eager to get planting.  Below are a couple raised beds we built for folks aiming to plant their own gardens.

(2) 4x4 raised beds installed in pre-existing mulched bed.
FYI: It's not too late to throw in some last minute summer veggies like green beans, basil, okra, peppers, maybe some cucumbers, (if you've got lots of sun) sweet potatoes, and you just might be able to squeeze in a second season of plum or cheery tomatoes. 

"r" shaped bed, custom built to fit the contour of the deck and Roberta's distaste for "too many straight lines."
Then again, Fall planting is just around the corner: cooking greens (chard, kale, cabbage, collards), salad greens (lettuce, spinach, arugula), roots (other than potatoes: carrots, turnips, rutabagas, radishes), the onion/garlic family (including chives, shallots, scallions), and the cool-weather-preferring herbs (parsley, cilantro, dill, fennel).  September, October, November are your primary fall/winter planting windows.  Get ready.  Let me know if I can be of help.

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