Over the Fence Urban Farm


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Kids’ Garden Club: Sold Out!

The Clintonville Farmers’ Market Kids Garden Club sold out their first market booth this morning! We brought a few pounds of new potatoes, a dozen or so cucumbers, bouquets of flowers and a few purple green beans (just for sharing as taste tests). The kids raised $50 which we’ll spend on provisions for an end of the season harvest party.

We organized the morning into three shifts – one hour each with two kids working each hour. It worked out well, no one had any meltdowns, no one got lost, all the kids got to interact with customers and one another as they learned new things, and we had fun!

I brought a bunch of activities to keep us busy.

A clipboard to tally our sales:

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a scale to weigh things:

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and buckets of flowers, jars, scissors, and string so they could arrange bouquets.

We discussed how to greet customers, did lots of addition and subtraction to figure out sales totals and make change, and thanked everyone with a smile. We’ll work on a few of these a little more before our next sale.


We didn’t get a ton of folks at our booth–we were a little hidden by a road block sign and often mistaken for the token booth sales booth–but those who did take the time to stop and say hi were excited about our project. One woman told me, “I didn’t want any potatoes today but then I saw the kids and I was like, “OK!”

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We’ll be back at the market August 19th. Come see us!

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 


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Foraged & Sown

This afternoon we were blessed with what The Weather Channel app predicted would be “a steady soaking rain.” But before it started, I threw some flower seeds in the cold frame, transplanted some watercress seedlings, and visited with Kate from Foraged & Sown.

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Kate, with support from Thompson, foraging blackberry canes in the easement fenceline behind our place.

She helped us pull a few blackberry starts from along the fence line and the easement behind our yard. If you’ve ever been to Pacific Northwest, you know that blackberries can be really invasive. We started with one plant about 6 years ago and now we have at least a dozen. And then there are the volunteers. When their canes reach down to the ground, blackberries send out roots and produce new canes; which produce new plants. After a few years with little attention, our plants were reproducing faster than the bunnies living under our shed.

The canes we harvested this weekend will go in the berry beds Kate’s starting at her place this season. We’re so excited to hear a final count of how many shoots we gathered and to see what becomes of them in the space Kate is cultivating!

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Buckets of blackberries!

You can find Kate every weekend starting April 25th at the Clintonville Farmer’s Market. Be sure to stop by her booth to check out what she has for sale and pick her brain about edibles that may be hiding out in your backyard. Today we learned that this little weed is Hairy Bittercress. It’s edible and tastes an awful lot like broccoli.

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Weed no more! Hairy Bittercress.