Over the Fence Urban Farm

Cooperatively farming small patches of Earth in Columbus, OH


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

OTFUF Supports Local Matters

Five years ago, The Spurgeon General and I attended our first Local Matters Harvest Ball. We bought tickets to the event to force ourselves out of the house to which we’d been tethered for some years by our love children – one human, the other agricultural.

That night we learned about the organization behind the bumper stickers as we wined, dined, and danced. Each year since we have become more invested in the mission of this organization that partners with so many central Ohio organizations working on issues of food security, health and wellness.

This year, we donated $1,000, about 1/4 of our CSA proceeds, and challenged our friends and followers on Facebook to match us. While we didn’t meet our goal of $1,000 in a weekend, we got pretty darn close. Check one more box in the “Hope for Future” column. (Click through the link for another example from OTFUF history.)


Leave a comment

“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.