Over the Fence Urban Farm


Leave a comment

Scenes from the field: 5.16.17

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.

The high tunnel is always thirsty.

Raddicchio in the tunnel – almost ready!

Winter sown spinach is going to seed.

Moving the compost to make room for more flowers. Here’s a cross-section. Inside its all broke down and ready to go!

The mild winter harbored last year’s Dahlias which I was overjoyed to see. Then the near freezing temperatures took a bite. They’re back again now but this just seemed too ironic not to document.

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.


Itty bitty field sown fennel.

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!

First bouquet of the season. Happy Mother’s Day to me!

Pulled the final bulbs of 2016 garlic out of storage. Wondering if we’ll be able to stretch it until the 2017 scapes come in…

Trying some new bush varieties of sweet potatoes this year.

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…

 

Advertisements


1 Comment

Failure in the field

Like all bloggers, I tend to emphasize our successes in the field. (I did write about some ugly carrots at one point and I stand by my love of fruta feia.) Today I thought I would share a failure.

About 3 weeks ago, we set out some red cabbage starts. You can see them on the bottom right of this image. Looking back on them now, they definitely look like they could have used a few more weeks under the lights inside before transplanting. But, it was warm and the plants on the other side of the tray were ready to go.

FullSizeRender-2

Before planting, I consulted folks on the Ohio Homesteaders and Gardeners Facebook group.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 11.02.07 AM

As you can see, I wasn’t alone in my poor previous attempts. I took the comments about feeding cabbage well and providing a stable environment to heart and set them out with a nice dousing of fish emulsion and a frost blanket. I should have taken more seriously the post wishing me luck.

I’m sad to those seedlings are not looking great at this point. In the photo below you can see a few (top let and bottom right) which are pretty leggy and have burnt leaves. These were two of the best looking ones I found.

Thankfully, I had some cilantro and boc choi in need of a home so I spent yesterday afternoon interplanting those between a few cabbages that will get one more chance to get going. With overnight temperatures in the 20s expected on and off this week, their outlook is not all that great.  I might try starting a few more red cabbage plants before we get much closer to the frost our date. Maybe.

Below is another problem we’re facing. The Napa cabbage we set out the same day as the red is looking good — leafing out and emitting a gorgeous green glow. However, slugs have been feasting on them. Yesterday I set out a few beer traps and hope to find some treats for the chickens later today. This is my first try with this so I’m not sure I did it right. I’ll be sure to report later.

Below is a shot of shows some of the plants that haven’t suffered much from slug attacks (see center row). I believe there’s hope for them yet…

IMG_5321


Leave a comment

Jodi Kushins, Urban Farmer

I was recently asked to consider the following questions as part of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) Women Grow Ohio project. The group’s leaders are putting together a website and plans for a second annual farm tour and wanted input from urban growers to balance out the voices of those in more bucolic settings.

How do you view your title? Are you an urban farmer, homesteader, grower, livestock farmer, gardener, or something other?

The responses shared by others before me were so eloquent. So beautiful. So confident. I felt not only at a loss for words, but humbled to be included in their group.

See this response from Sarah Campbell Taylor, for example:

Well we do call our business Jedidiah Farm. But at the risk of sounding contrary… Even though I grow on a larger suburban plot and do sell my products I don’t consider myself a farmer. I feel like throughout history and even now in many places people have done what I do- working hard to nourish themselves and others, sharing the bounty of their harvest with their community- and not necessarily considered themselves farmers. Maybe because it was just a way of life and didn’t really need a name? I hope that what I am doing won’t be unique for long, and that even people who don’t aspire to be farmers can see something in my lifestyle that they can envision for themselves.

Things I consider myself:
A mom who loves good eats.
A producer.
A revolutionary (I hope?)
A gardener/orchardist/goatherd[er]!
An experimentalist.
A person with a conscience.

You know the saying “if you want something done right, do it yourself.”? Well I love food. So I grow it and I share it.

When asked if she’d describe her approach “a homesteading lifestyle”, she responded:

Our lifestyle definitely includes homesteading, but I don’t think it encompasses the scope of what we are trying to accomplish because homesteading focuses on self-sufficiency while we our interests lean more towards sustainability, stewardship, community building and regenerative living.

Like Sarah, I named our project Over the Fence Urban Farm but felt a little funny about it for the first few years. Ultimately I called it a farm because it sounded better than Over the Fence Urban Garden. I second guessed my decision repeatedly and felt like a bit of a fraud when visiting larger operations. But, after a few weeks of thinking and living with this question, I am happy to call myself an urban farmer. Here are a few things that ran through my mind that helped me come to this conclusion.

After hardening off approximately 100 spring greens seedlings, I started sprouting another 100.

FullSizeRender-2

Spring Greens Seedlings, Round 2

My yard doesn’t look anything like the (sub)urban lots around me. It looks like a farm. A small farm, yes, but a farm nonetheless.

DSC_0312

Through my efforts I am feeding others. Our small, backyard CSA fed 20 families last season. Granted, we didn’t meet all of their produce needs, but we made a healthy contribution.

DSC_0033

In the end, like Jedidiah Farm Over the Fence is not just about growing good food. I often refer to it as a community kitchen garden and feeding ourselves and others is certainly at the top of our agenda. But a large part of our mission is developing healthy soil and beneficial insect habitat, educating others to better grow their own gardens, and creative community building (see more on this in “Art Education in My Backyard: Creative Placemaking on an Urban Farm.” I don’t think these things are exclusive of being a farmer. To suggest otherwise ignores the role farmers play in our lives, communities, and ecosystems.

 

 


Leave a comment

Welcome to the 2016 Season!

In keeping with the unusually mild winter weather we enjoyed this year, overnight temperatures  are predicted to be above freezing for the foreseeable future.  That means it’s time to get the farm back in action. Here’s what it looked like yesterday morning. IMG_4994

The chickens have wrecked havoc on the beds all winter, scratching and kicking straw and soil every which way. Going into our third season it was time to remark our beds anyway – some had shrunk by a couple of feet on the ends – so the girls kind of did us a favor.

With help from die-hard CSA member Melissa, we got started measuring, moving and prepping the soil, and put a few trays of greens in the ground.IMG_4995

These babies were hardened off and ready to embrace the cool crisp air. (clockwise from top left- radicchio, lacinato kale, buttercrunch lettuce, rainbow chard, and romaine)

IMG_4984

Melissa pulled the plants from the trays…IMG_4991

…and I tucked them into their freshly (re)made beds.IMG_5010

Then we covered them with a frost blanket (sorry no photo), just in case Jack Frost comes back around this way.

Next week: The Return of Happy Hour on the Farm!