Over the Fence Urban Farm


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Field report: 2.16.17

The sun was shining bright in Columbus, Ohio today. The temperature only got to about 38°F, but it I had a purpose to be outside, down on the ground, with my hands in the soil. And I was glad for that.

I transplanted onions I started inside and moved around field sown spinach seedlings so they were more evenly distributed.

This is the last night forecasted to go below freezing for the foreseeable future. While it seems awfully weird, we’re going to take advantage of it. Hope this inspires you to do the same.

 

 


Inside the high tunnel.


Spinach sown in high tunnel November 5.


Winter density lettuce transplanted in January, Radicchio transplanted 2.15, Mizuna sown in November, Sassy salad mix sown in January.


Tatsoi, Kale, Chard transplanted in October. Pac Choi transplanted early February.

 

 

 

 


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Validation by Six Year Old

An important mission of our farm is demonstrating that good food, lots of good food, can be grown within city limits. I am particularly excited about passing this knowledge on to children, so they might imagine a new future for our public and private spaces. And so, it was with GREAT joy that I opened this text from one of our CSA families this morning.

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And then…

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So yeah, I’m feeling pretty validated today. Thanks Ezra.

Note: This post was previously called “Validation by Text Message” but after thinking about it, I realized it wasn’t the texting that made this exchange so powerful, it was the sic year old behind it.

 

 

 


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2015 Post-Compost Post

I’m tired.

There’s still a pile of compost on the driveway, but it’s less than half the size it was this morning. And it’s only there because I didn’t let folks mulch non-farm related areas. Those feel like personal responsibility. Not because we couldn’t have moved it all in a single day. So, once again, I am amazed by what a small group of people can accomplish when we come together and set our head, heart, and hands to it.

Here are a few highlights from the day.

The kids went worm hunting,

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and they took the new wheelbarrow out for a roll.

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Henry and Marc assembled our new farm toy – the broadfork.
Then Henry, David, and Andrew put it to work.

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Cora, Melissa, Kate, Pam, Elizabeth, and I planted and transplated – leeks, cabbage, radicchio spinach, radish, kale, chard, peas, and fennel.

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Then Carrie and I put them all to bed under a nice frost blanket.

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And, of course, we moved about 7 yards of compost! (Go early team that didn’t get caught on film – Jess, Kathy, Damon, Emily, Mark, and Joanna, and Sarah!)

Looking Southeast – Before and After

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Looking Northwest – Before and After

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It was a VERY good day.


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Seedbed

This past fall we were on a tour at Swainway Urban Farm when our pal Milan, from Peace, Love, and Freedom Farm, asked Joseph Swain who inspires him. It was a great question and without hesitation, Joseph cited Eliot Coleman, the guru of Four Season Farming. I was somewhat familiar with Coleman’s work from articles he published in Mother Earth News, but we promptly checked a few of his books out from the library and haven’t looked back.

In Four Season Harvest (1999), Coleman offers advice on sowing seeds and raising seedlings in the coldframe. Knowing full well we are in for a few more weeks of very cold weather, we decided to give his method a try today as temperatures soared above 50. As promised, I picked up a soil thermometer and found the soil was fluctuating between 45-60 degrees for the past few days. Perfect for kale, beets, onions, chard…

With the coldframe already cleared of old growth and the soil smooth, we laid a 2-3 inch blanket (about 1 yard) of Happy Frog Potting Soil over all but the small section where we transplanted some seedlings earlier in the week. We set the seeds down in well marked rows and gave them a drink. And now, we wait.

It used to be if I heard the term “seedbed,” my thoughts turned to performance artist Vito Acconci’s (1972) work of that title. If you don’t know it, look it up. (Just be warned, this work is not appropriate for all readers.) I won’t go into it here except to say, that I have new understanding of the term. These seeds are warm and cozy and we’re going to do all we can to keep them that way.

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[Quick note on the transplants. They seem to be doing okay. We moved a few straw bales that were lying around to the west and southwest sides of the coldframe as a windbreak to help these next last few weeks of winter. The transplants aren’t growing as fast as the seedlings still sitting in the kitchen, but they are holding their own, gaining inner strength and waiting to flouirsh as soon as temperatures stabilize. As soon as the grow lights we got are installed, we’ll move some of the guys on the windowsill under there and then they will really start to take off. Can’t wait!]

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Check out our “true leaves!”


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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.