Over the Fence Urban Farm

Cooperatively farming small patches of Earth in Columbus, OH


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Victory-Over-the-Virus Farming Report: April 3

Morning on the farm.

Well, we’re another week into the Covid-19 pandemic response in the United States and my email is overflowing with requests from individuals to join the CSA, purchase seedlings, and come work on the farm, as well as from organizations (including Green Columbus, Local Matters, and Ohio History Connection) interested in partnering on Victory-Over-the-Virus programming. I’m literally overwhelmed by the response.

As I wrote last week, one silver lining of this horrible disaster seems to be that people are becoming more aware of where their food comes from and increasing their desire to grow more of their own and/or find local sources to purchase from. Environmental, spiritual, and culinary reasons aside, a friend sent me this image which appeals to our growing awareness of how many hands touch the things we touch and, in this case, eat.

I tried to find attribution for this but can’t. If anyone knows, please update me!

Last night, on a call with the Jewish Farmers’ Network (JFN), I learned of a national initiative to get more people planting food gardens in response to the virus. Cooperative Gardens Commission (#coopgardens) was started by a JFN member, Nate Kleinman of the totally amazing Experimental Farm Network and a veteran of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The initiative started with an Instagram post, moved to a Google Form, and within a week had 1,000 participants assigned to different teams to help convert supplies and expertise into action. The New York Times and Civil Eats have already reported on the project. I was thrilled to learn about it and I’m excited to see how our Victory-Over-the-Virus Garden initiatives might fit in.

This past Wednesday, I piloted “Live from the Farm!” a lunchtime program on Facebook, geared mostly for kids but also appealing to grown-ups who have watched and given me feedback. The first week’s theme was Seeds (click here to watch the recording), and next week we’ll be talking about Worms followed by chickens, bees, water, and compost.

Preliminary plans are also in the works for a sister series, “Happy Hour on the Farm,” in which I will answer questions from folks who purchased Victory-Over-the-Virus seedlings and others who are getting new and existing gardens going this season. Follow the farm on Facebook for more on that.

Over the Fence is quickly getting cleaned up and we have more than half the beds seeded or filled with transplants plus a few germinating spring cover crops (fava and cow peas). We moved most of an enormous pile of woodchips, but still need to clean the chicken coop which keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the list. (Sorry ladies! Totally unfair since you have been doing your part to supply us and the extended family with tons of beautiful eggs.)

Hope all’s okay where you are and that if you haven’t already, you find a spot where you can grow something to feed not just your stomach, but also your soul.


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Happy Hour Report – April 26th, 2015

We had a great day on the farm yesterday with lots of friends stopping by and helping us get through our chores.

Thanks SO much to Damon, Elizabeth, and Julian for completing the important, but not too exciting task of clearing weeds from the east and west pathways. (I promise to buy more wood chips like those we have in the central path to try to keep that task to a minimum in the coming months and years.)

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Thanks to Melissa, Julian, and Nina for setting up the trellis netting for peas, beans, cucumbers, and squashes.

Thanks to Melissa and Nina for helping harvest greens.

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And to Ezra, Asa, Cora, and Maya for harvesting our first (small) round of radishes! (There really are few things more magical than pulling edible roots out of the ground.)

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Thanks to Emily for mounding the soil up around our tender leeks.

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And thanks to Nina, Cora and all the kids for watering.

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See you next Sunday!


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Early Spring Progress Report

I hereby declare our first “Happy Hour on the Farm” of the 2015 season a smashing success. Thanks to Sarah, Melissa, Andrew, Julian, and Liz for coming out. I know it wasn’t easy, it being the first truly lovely afternoon this spring. The weather really was perfect for working outdoors and we’re so grateful that you put in your time with us.

Here’s a quick round-up of what we accomplished.

I started reading up on potato planting and got our potato seed out of the basement and into a sunny spot to sprout…We had such great success with sweet potatoes last year, we’re hoping to get these Satina multiplying.

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Sarah and I thinned radish seedlings and set a few more seeds in the ground here and there. This is a before shot. You can see how overcrowded the row in the left-side bed were.

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As with any great happy hour, Andrew and Dan dressed up for the occasion.

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Melissa put her nimble fingers to work thinning and transplanting spinach seedlings. (Photo credit: Juilan Haliday)

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Dan and George started pouring concrete footings for the chicken coop! (Chicks are coming May 4th.)

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Liz leveled our work area to better accommodate the work table we got at the end of last season, the wash tub we got from a neighbor and will be installing soon, and the shed roof Dan has planned so we can store some hand tools and supplies on the farm including some speakers for a radio.

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Andrew got the irrigation system up and running on the west side beds. He makes it seem so easy. (Photo credit: Juilan Haliday)

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Julian communed with the kale – transplanting some overwintered, but now misplaced plants, and doing some light weeding. Liz and Melissa followed him with arugula starts to will out the space to either side of the kale.

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I tucked everything in for the night. (Photo credit: Juilan Haliday)

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See you next week…


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Getting Garlic in the Ground

DSC_0014Happy hour today was all about garlic. Spreading compost and tilling the soil to get the beds ready, then digging a few hundred deep holes and pushing the cloves underground. I don’t think we’ll have quite as many bulbs as we did this year, but hopefully what we have will be better. Last fall we were so late ordering our seed (because we didn’t take possession of the property the farm is on until mid-November) that we had only one option – one supplier, one variety. This year I ordered early from Green Mountain Garlic in Vermont. They had a wide range of options and I got some with nice big cloves – Music, German X Hardy, and Romanian Red. The Chesnook Red we had this past year had good flavor, but the itty bitty cloves are a pain to deal with in the kitchen. We put some of the largest we had in the ground with the rest and gave them all plenty of space. And now we wait. Til next July.

The Hughes family was back and, as always, looking totally hip. Elizabeth fit right in. It was a productive visit.

Larry. Tilling.

Larry. Tilling.

Liam. Raking.

Liam. Raking.

Katie. Pulling beans.

Katie. Pulling a few beans. (Her favorite…)

Not your granny's work boots. Elizabeth (left), Katie (right)

Urban farmer footwear. Elizabeth (left), Katie (right)

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2015. Here we come!


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Happy Hour on the Farm

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It’s official. Over the Fence has our first tradition. Happy Hour on the Farm. Sunday afternoon. One hour of intense working followed by (more working) and a beer. It’s a high energy event that generates really good vibes and gets a lot of stuff off our perennial “to do” list.

Yesterday was about 90% harvesting, 10% pruning/composting. Next week will be all about planting garlic. Here are a few shots from the day.

DSC_0054I took a shot like this in June. Need to find that for a comparison post…

IMG_7909LOVE, love, love to have people working side-by-side.

DSC_0035So long irrigation.

DSC_0063Finally, we were awash in green beans.

DSC_0019Those beans don’t pick themselves…

IMG_7905Sneak preview. We’ll be harvesting the bulk of these babies next week. It’s gonna be sweet!

DSC_0033Not a bad haul for the first week of October. (Note to self: Fall CSA 2015)