Over the Fence Urban Farm


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Kids’ Club Harvest Party

The Clintonville Farmers’ Market Kids’ Garden Club finished the season this past weekend with a delicious harvest party featuring fresh food from their garden.

First, they harvested lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, chives, and basil to make a colorful salad. They didn’t all agree on what to add to the bowl, but agreed they could just eat the parts they liked, and maybe, just maybe, try a bite  of something new.

They used pre-made tomato sauce and radish leaf pesto as toppings for pizzas we cooked outside on the grill.

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Some of the kids hadn’t tried pesto before our second market day in August when we ran a pesto taste test for people who stopped by our booth – radish leaf versus basil. The basil version won, but only by a couple of votes. The kids, the participants, and I were all surprised by the results. (If you missed the post about our first market day, you can find it here.)

The kids had a great time working together to put the meal together in between playing and feeding scraps to the chickens.

Since the party didn’t cost that much, we paid for the few supplies we needed (like cheese and beer for the grownups) out of our dwindling supply budget leaving the entire $84 dollars we collected in market profits available for a donation to the Clintonville Resource Center.

I’ll admit I had mixed emotions about running this program. I have wanted to add some formal programming to our farm activities – drawing on my experience as an educator and our mission to help others learn how to grow their own food. Until this time, however, I hadn’t made the move to offer any classes or workshops. This opportunity pushed me into that and I’m so glad! I learned a lot. I hope the kids did too.

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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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Catching up with the Kids Garden Club

The Clintonville Kids Garden Club has been chugging along. So far we’ve talked a lot about weeding, seeding, and feeding as well as working with what you find at your site, including volunteer plants and the bounty they offer with minimal effort. Two weeks ago the kids harvested 3 pounds of potatoes from plants that came back from last year within the bounds of their garden. This week, we harvested seed from an overwintered cilantro plant. As we collect things, we discuss how we might sell them at our first market day – July 15th.

This week we had a pretty small group. The girls who were with me harvested a nice bunch of cucumbers. They had a snack at club and took a few home to share, maybe, with their families….

Here they are harvesting cilantro seed. We talked about how amazing it is that one little seed made this plant, which produced so many more seeds!  We also talked about selling packets of these seeds and encouraging people to plant them now. It’s never too late to “seed” afterall!

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After some weeding, feeding, and seeding (radish, beets, and squash), the girls and I made some line drawings of flowers we’ve been growing. We hope to get a little coloring book together to sell at our stand.

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Everyone went home with a small bouquet.


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Kids Garden Club

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.

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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.

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After the review, we went over the days agenda which I’ve been writing on a white board. IMG_9961

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.

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Weeding the potato patch.

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.

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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.

 


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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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We GREW Our Own Protein!

DSC_0074My freshman year of college, I heard John Robbins speak about his book Diet for a New America (1987). It was my first  introduction to the impact our food choices have on the planet. I was already a vegetarian, though I can’t remember why. After hearing Robbins and reading his book, however, I could articulate a clear rationale for giving up meat. Robbins cited quantitative comparisons between the amount of resources it takes to grow a vegetarian versus a meat-based diet. For example, 20 herbivores could live off the same amount of land it takes to feed just one carnivore. He argued fewer people would be starving to death if everyone ate less meat. His observations seem all the more relevant today in relation to current discussions about irrigation in California. The idea that one pound of factory-farmed meat requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce makes those one gallon almonds seem downright sustainable.

I’ve read countless other arguments for eating a vegetarian diet since that talk. I’ve been inspired by folks who have tried to grow a well-rounded diet including Quarter Acre Farm and Shagbark Seed & Mill in Athens, OH. And so it was with tremendous pride that I cooked a pot of chili tonight using beans we grew ourselves. Beans that were fed purely by rain showers.

IMG_2841Last year our friend and CSA member Pam brought us a packet of Scarlet Runner Bean seeds she’d saved from the previous season. She said they would grow pretty vines with bright red flowers (see top of post) the humming birds would coming flying for.

They did. And when they were gone, we gathered the beans and saved them to plant again this season. While we planted the seed beans all along one fence last year, this year we spread them throughout the garden in keeping with our goal of providing invitations for pollinators throughout the farm. The bees, birds, and beans have benefit.

With extra room to roam, the beans are flourishing. Last week Cora shelled a full cup of dried ones that I soaked and cooked to use in the chili in place of kidney beans. See this post from Eat the Weeds and Other Things, Too for more information on harvesting and processing these little gems. We’re looking forward to getting a few more cups this season and sharing seed beans with our supporters next year.

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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!