Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

CEFS Internship

For all of you young’ns wanting to get involved in local food this is a great opportunity.

The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) is seeking highly-motivated undergraduate students from a variety of different backgrounds, with a strong interest in sustainable agriculture, to participate in a unique 8-week summer internship (June 6-July 29, 2011).  CEFS summer interns will learn about the concepts and practices of various aspects of sustainable agriculture from expert faculty and staff at CEFS and through hands-on farm work, lectures and discussions, community engagement, and field trips to local farms and markets.  Additionally, students will work in pairs with a CEFS faculty mentor to learn about an aspect of sustainable agriculture research.

For more information please see: http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu/getinvolved/internships.html

The deadline for applications is Tuesday, March 1, 2011.

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How to: Tomatoes

Tomatoes may be the most sought after summer commodity. They are colorful, juicy, and ideal for a festive summer salad, homemade salsa, or just to spice up a sandwich.

perfect to spruce up a summer sandwich

simple green bean and tomato salad

However, many gardeners end up with tomato plants that resemble willow trees or sprawling ground bushes, and tomatoes that are plagued by pests and diseases. Although the tomato plant can survive naturally  in this tangled mess, pruning the plant will result in fuller and healthier tomatoes for consumption (i promise).

suckers are found at a 45 degree angle between the vine and branch

While pruning is completely optional, taking a moment to cut back some of the expanding suckers will save both you and the plant time and energy.  Get the most out of your tomato plants this summer for a lush harvest of bright red and green!

The following videos provide some good groundwork when starting to prune your tomatoes

Pruning Suckers

Tomato Suckers

Gardens Become Educational in Greensboro

If you happened to drive by the Dunleith Community Garden last week, you may have been surprised with the upsurge of youth filtering through out the garden like ants busy at work.

the ant march commences

In fact, from Tuesday to Friday of last week tenth graders at Greensboro Day School graciously volunteered their time and labor with Urban Harvest in a weeklong educational experience off the limitations of school grounds. As a local private school, Greensboro Day School has developed an impressively humble tradition that allows students to participate in a week-long service partnership to help their local community and relieve local non-profits before embarking on summer vacations.

GDS volunteers stop for a break and picture in front of the garden

This year, Urban Harvest was one Greensboro’s non-profits selected to receive a group of student volunteers. Ranging in levels of gardening expertise (some with an extensive permaculture background since the 7th grade) the students assisted Urban Harvest in planting peppers, trellising tomatoes, building compost bins, and sheet mulching pollinator beds for the expanding community project.

Carrots, Carrots, and more Carrots

oh, more carrots you say

This service venture is a testament to the power of working in groups. Two hands shoveling mulch is obviously easier, more efficient, less sweaty, and generally more enjoyablethan one person attempting to complete the same task. (Unless you are a recluse like J.D. Salinger, for which you would find this post to be a complete waste of time).  But that’s besides the point. Truth is, volunteer partnerships demonstrate the value of having accessible gardens in local areas. In a society increasingly expanding in  eco-conscious  civilians, community gardens have the potential to evolve into outdoor classrooms.

Harvesting Turnips on Tuesday

Now i admit, the idea of gardening or gardens as educational spaces is nothing groundbreaking. In fact, we can look to Alice Walker’s Edible Schoolyard epidemic for proof that gardens  are perhaps the most versatile spaces for teaching individual lessons and cultivating personal values; Determination, growth, patience and organic integrity are a worthy handful that immediately come to mind.

But on a larger scale, gardening as education is one of those great ideas that is rarely pursued. Instead we find gardening workshops in the elite niches of America or as large scale farming in those roadside rural towns that seem both unfamiliar and familiar at the same time.

Ideas of widespread and educational garden spaces, especially in urban areas, are often abandoned when visioners reach obstacles such as installation, resources, or simply the risk involved in pursuing external support.

lets harvest arugula!

However, i reiterate in one week a small community garden demonstrated the capacity to educate a group of high school students. No chairs or laptops required. So fellow visioners, whether gardeners or not, don’t surrender ideas you believe in to the first or second obstacle that presents itself. Any substantial idea worth pursuing was previously confronted with a great obstacle. To harp upon the words of an old friend, “if it was easy everyone would do it (except breathing, and a couple of other exceptions if you want to get technical)”.

That’s all for now.

Toby Hemenway and Some Permaculture Principles

This last weekend Justin and I attended a lecture and workshop with Toby Hemenway, a prominent Permaculture visionary and author of Gaia’s Garden. One of the great points that he made was in the definition of sustainable:

Sustainability is just the mid-way point between degenerative activities (like coal mining, and applying chemical fertilizers) and regenerative activities (like soil-building, and walking instead of driving). And if we think of sustainability in terms of where we want to be; if someone asked you how your marriage was going, and you said it was “sustainable,” would that be acceptable? Toby Hemenway is my new hero for the year because he was so interesting to listen to, so informative, and so realistic about some fantastically optimistic solutions!

If you’re not familiar with the concept of Permaculture, there are several ways to define it. One is that it is a toolbox in which to house all of the possible solutions. This toolbox doesn’t tell you what to do, but gives you a set of principles for decision-making strategies. Another way to show this is with with the almighty Venn diagram.

care for people, care for planet, return the surplusCare for People, Care for Planet, and Return the Surplus are Permaculture principles. When you care for people, you are caring for the planet, and visa versa. Anytime you care for the planet, the planet will create abundance and surplus. This surplus will be returned to the people. In this way, moving toward regenerative processes, we will be allowed to survive on this planet.

Food in Public Spaces

Yesterday, Diane Rehm had a hour dedicated to discussing Urban Agriculture. Guest Derrin Nordahl, author of “Public Produce” and a city designer explained how growing food in urban, public spaces can help feed the hungry, supplement the existing agribusiness model, and promote good health for all. This is exactly in line with both our mission and our methods at Urban Harvest. In fact, when Justin presented the idea at a recent public meeting, the mediator acted as though it was one of the best ideas he’d ever heard! Maybe now the city will be a little more cooperative in our efforts to access and “develop” remnant properties.

Teeny Tiny Farm Engines

A recent paper was published on what many of those in the organic community have suspected: that Colony Collapse Disorder in honeybee populations may be linked to pesticide use. And the non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council is suing the EPA for trying to cover up such evidence. While pesticide use may not be the only cause, a recent article in Mother Earth News helps explain what may be happening.

Why should we care so much about honeybee populations?

“The USDA has stated that one out of every three bites of food we eat is dependent on bee pollination. We have the opportunity to take a look at yet another facet of our industrialized food system. . . As one researcher asked Congress, “How would our government respond if one out of every three cows was dying?” “

Fall Harvest

It’s hard to imagine because we’ve been dealing with soaring temperatures recently, but Autumn is quickly on its way! It seems like just as we can’t take anymore of the high temperatures and humidity, Fall steps in to give us a breath of relief. But with this much anticipated temperature change comes a change in the Garden.

Now is the time to start thinking about the yummy veggies that we will be enjoying in a few weeks. Plants such as carrots, broccoli, onions, cabbage and lettuce will be thriving in our gardens and filling our plates in a short amount of time. As a gardener, this is one of the most exciting times! It’s always thrilling to see large growth in the garden that you’ve started, but there is a different energy that comes with planning where and how the garden will be set up.  Whether it be the reassurance of the seed catalogs that make you feel like you CAN grow anything or the control of planning out just where the plants will find their final resting ground, a change in harvest time brings about a renewal of energy for us.

For the next few weeks you will be able to see us at Dunleith Community Garden pulling the spent summer plants and planning for the future. If you feel like you need to be re-energized towards your personal garden or you’re looking for general knowledge on how to plant a Fall harvest, feel free to stop by Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4pm-7pm to talk to us.  For more information on the Fall plants that you can start and how to prepare for a Fall garden visit this website: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-8001.html