Over the Fence Urban Farm

Cooperatively farming small patches of Earth in Columbus, OH


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Farm School: Day 2

My head is spinning from class tonight which left me wishing I hadn’t ditched so many of my high school biology classes.

Our instructor for the evening, Jacqueline Kowalski came down from the Cuyahoga County Extension (that’s up near Cleveland from folks out of state) to give us a very quick and dirty introduction to plant science and soil quality. The three hours flew by as we worked through learning activities, like the following vegetable quiz, and listened to Jackie run through a ton of information. Lots of the terms and concepts were familiar, but I definitely walked away with a list of things I need to learn more about.

photo 1[For those of you trying this at home, the samples were beets, carrots, onions, garlic, spinach, tomato, potato, and  asparagus.]

I really enjoyed the discussion of soil and can’t wait for the ground to thaw so we can have ours tested to learn what we are really working with. The chart following chart shows the general makeup of viable soil. Seeing that 25% is air really helped me understand why you shouldn’t walk on your garden beds. I’ll be showing it to the kids for sure! I also hope to conduct a “shake test” with them to explore the makeup of our soil. See how it’s done at Far Out Flora, and watch for our results this spring.

photo 2

 

 

 


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“Experience the Germination Sensation”

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The seasonally-changing sign outside City Folks Farm Shop, our local urban homesteading store, currently reads “Experience the Germination Sensation.” It captures the magic I feel when we see seedlings peaking their heads out of the soil, or in the case of these little guys, out of the coconut husk fiber. So, the only question left to ask, “Are you experienced?”

Kale: Day 3

Kale: Day 3

Spinach: Day 2

Spinach: Day 2


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“Mastering” the Art of Urban Gardening

Tonight, I started a Master Urban Farmer workshop series. The class was scheduled to begin yesterday but a winter storm forced a late start. I hope this isn’t a bad omen for things to come this spring. I guess I’d prefer to focus on the kale seeds that germinated on our windowsill in 48 hours. Either way, we have our work cut out for us.

Kale. Day One.

Kale, day one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found out about this series of classes when local gardening guru Trisha Clark suggested I contact Mike Hogan at the OSU Extension about taking a GAPs (Good Agricultural Practices) course to learn about safe handling of produce for distribution. Mike recommended the seven week workshop series, which will cover GAPs as well as lots of other things one would need to know to start an urban farming project of any size or scope – from site selection and soil testing to management of labor and marketing goods for sale. Tonight’s session provided an overview of urban farming in the 21st century with a focus on Columbus (I’ve been reading a lot about the history of urban farming nationwide and will share some of that another time), setting goals and objectives, and identifying a site.

I think my favorite part of the class, however, was the introductions. With over forty people in the room, I wasn’t sure we’d get to any of the course content if we all had a chance to talk about who we were and why we were there. However, I was inspired to hear about community gardening initiatives around the city that I hadn’t heard of before like  an international garden for new immigrants and workforce initiatives for developmentally disabled adults. I also got a sense of why other individuals and their families are joining the food revolution, much of which echoed my own – everything from the pure love of growing one’s own food, to a desire for self-sufficiency, to wanting one’s grand-kids to know where their food comes from. It was welcome inspiration.

Never, in a million years, did I think I'd be in "school" again.

Never, in a million years, did I think I’d be in “school” again.