After a week away, it was good to be back home and at work. Sadly we had ZERO rain, but thanks to our irrigation system, we’re still growing strong.
This year we’re hosting the Clintonville Farmers’ Market Kids Garden Club. I’m excited to be working in the soil with kids–seeing what works with little hands and lots of little bodies and what doesn’t.
The club currently has 8 members and we’ve had two meetings so far. We’ll be meeting formally ever other week, with some informal meetups and effort by Cora and other kids from our CSA in between to keep things growing. I have made a pact with myself to not work in the garden without at least one child present aside from watering.
Here are a few highlights from this week’s session.
Upon arrival, all members, including our youngest age 4.5, sign themselves in. This small gesture is a first step in giving the kids ownership of their time in the garden.
As I was setting up and getting my head together for our time together, I thought about how to bring the kids who missed the session (5 of 8!) up to speed on what they missed. I pulled out a composition book and started a garden club log. We’ll use this to keep track of what we do each session and I’ll record anything that happens when they are not around in the journal to give them a sense of what’s happening when they aren’t around. Each week, during our welcome time, we’ll review what happened the previous session and the interim. Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote for Week 1. The next pages included lists of everything we planted: transplants, seeds, and the volunteers we found on the site.
After the review, we went over the days agenda which I’ve been writing on a white board.
I planned for us to weed and then label plants but the moment we stepped into the space I realized that was backwards. We sat back down and the kids enthusiastically made labels to mark the plants we already had in place. Then we went back inside the gate, reviewed some of the common weeds we found – grass, sorrel (which we tasted and left a bit around for future snacking, and ground ivy.
We adopted a weed, seed, feed mantra for our work sessions. So, following some light weeding session, we spread compost and dug some fertilizer in around the tomatoes. We also planted a few seeds we hadn’t gotten in the ground the week before.
We ended the session with a scavenger hunt over the fence on the farm. The kids got to pick and taste a spectrum of things from sweet strawberries to spicy radishes. Not surprisingly, there were mixed reviews.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks since my last field report. I’ve started and saved this field report with three different dates. It’s gotten longer and longer every time and its time to let it go!
Made my first restaurant sale! 11lbs of greens to Rooks Tavern. Chef Aaron was a great customer. Flexible and appreciative. Not sure when I’ll get back down there again, but at least now I have an idea of how the wholesale thing works.
Carrots and radishes coming up where cucumbers will eventually dwell. Radish is supposed to repel cucumber beetles, one of my greatest nemeses! Will report more later on the results of this little experiment.
Visited with Columbus City Council member Elizabeth Brown to talk about the City of Columbus Green Business and Urban Agriculture Strategic Plan. This deserves a blog post of its own. Will get to that ASAP!
Beyond thrilled to be planting the majority of our sweet taters at our friends’ Melissa and Andrew’s new place, our farm annex this year. I’ve missed being in the garden with them, so much. If ever there were folks who wanted a BIG garden in their yard its these two and I’m so psyched to see them get growing.
I’ve been going out at night to hunt slugs. Seems to be making an impact on the cabbage patch. Next up, strawberries…
This is Leo.
In February, he wrote me this email:
Hi my name is Leo and I’m currently a freshman at Ohio State. I happened to find the Facebook page for Over the Fence Urban Farm, and immediately knew it was something I wanted to support. I’m originally from Hawaii, where through school trips and community service opportunities I was able to go to and help out at multiple local organic farms. I would love to be able to come and help out in your garden. Please email me back with any info regarding ways I can help.
I wrote back and let him know things would get going in March and gave him a rough idea of what days of the week might be good to come around. Low and behold, the first week in March, he got back in touch! He wanted to try to come around before he left for spring break. Things didn’t work out that week, but once he was back in town and completed his midterms, he reached out again. We went back and forth for a month and a half until, yesterday, we connected, just days before he leaves for summer recess.
Leo showed up on time. He was enthusiastic about what we’re doing here – asked questions, shared stories from his own experiences, smiled, helped with the chores, played with the chickens, and took a big bag of greens back to the dorm to make a salad for his friends.
Thank you, Leo. Thank you for reaching out and keeping in touch. Thank you for giving me hope for the future at a time when so many things in our country and around the world seem to be upside down and falling to pieces. Thank you for being a mensch. Have a great break and we’ll see you again in August!
(If you’d like to read more about young people working on the farm in this post from last summer, “Help from Abroad.”)
Happy Earth Day. Thanks for making this visit to the farm part of your celebrations. It’s cloudy today in Columbus. These photos were taken yesterday afternoon when it was a perfect combination of sunny and cool. The way spring ought to be.
This is a post dedicated to local greens geeks everywhere.
Napa cabbage. Interesting to see how it is doing up against various companions. Parsley and yarrow seem to be the winners.
Loads and loads of lettuce.
Garlic up front with radish, carrots, peas, and parsley in the back.
Red Russian Kale and Radicchio. Transplanted to the field in mid-March.
Radicchio transplanted to high tunnel in February.
Interplanted with fennel, cabbage, mustard, and tomato.
Overheated winter-sown spinach and transplanted onions.
Spring planted garlic up front, fall sown in the back.
Trimming and thinning recycling team.
It’s been a busy week and getting busier everyday. Here’s a quick look at what’s been happening on the farm.
We’ve had a busy and highly productive couple of weeks around the farm as winter surrenders to spring. We started a farm annex, weathered what we hope was our final arctic blast, and got lots of things growing in the fields.
This season we’ll be growing most of our potatoes and sweet potatoes at the home our friends and long-time CSA supporters, Andrew and Melissa Freuh. They bought a house in August and the yard is a blank canvas. Melissa marked out a 20′ x 60′ plot and we got a crew of friends to help us cover it in cardboard and compost. (We moved 10 yards in under 2.5 hours!) While we would have liked to have done this in the fall to give our lasagna garden some time to cook, we planted Groundhog Daikon Radish Cover Crop seed which should biodrill through the turf for us in the next few weeks.
I picked up ginger root then weighed, cut, cured, and tucked it in bed. Now we wait a few weeks and watch for sprouts. Lots of seedlings – kale, romaine, fennel, radicchio, and cabbage were hardened off and transplanted, once the cold past.
These onions were seeded in the cold frame. They lifted out effortlessly from the soil and were ready for transplanting to the field. I’m going to reseed the frame and try to stay on a cycle so we can have regular stock of scallions as well as some larger onions.
Temperatures got high enough that we were able to test the roll-up sides on the high tunnel.
And finally, we found a nest of baby bunnies under one of the low tunnels as we transitioned from winter plastic to spring row covers. We replaced them once our work was done to allow their mother to continue to visit and nurse them as we decide what to do next. They opened their eyes today. They are super cute which is super scary. I’ve been burned by bunnies a number of times before. The only things saving them right now are their sweet little faces and the fact that their mother didn’t touch a single plant under the tunnel when she nested. A recent read through Tammi Hartung’s The Wildlife Vegetable Gardener is probably also to blame.
This seems like a lot of work, and we got a lot of chores accomplished that weren’t sexy enough to make this post, but there is still SO much to do!