Urban Homesteading: Cherries

At Urban Harvest we’re all about Urban Homesteading. While the original definition of homesteading involved colonizing the wild west frontier, our definition: to grow and produce as much of your needed goods on-site. Summer is optimal time for collecting the fresh, ripe fruits of as much as possible and preserving them for the harsher months. And while we certainly don’t grow everything that we preserve, we collect it from regional sources so that we can, say enjoy tomatoes in the winter, without having to go to the store (reducing our carbon footprint).

Back at the beginning of June, we picked several pounds of strawberries and froze them. We use them in smoothies, made some ice cream, and when its not so hot out (November), we’ll use them to make jelly or jam. This last week, we went up to Levering Orchard in southern VA and picked about 25 lbs of sweet cherries! And then we had to pit them all! Fortunately, in my grandmother’s recent down-sizing we acquired 2 cherry-pitters which came in very handy! Now we’ve got frozen cherries, dried cherries and in about 4 months we’ll have Brandied cherries!

The act of climbing a wooden ladder propped in the higher branches of a cherry tree was a good challenge to my fear of heights, but the view and the vast quantities of beautiful cherries were well worth it! And while sour cherries are common in the Piedmont, the sweet cherry trees don’t do as well in this climate versus the mountains. The drive was also worth while, especially since we got to stop in at the apple orchard where Justin and I were married almost 4 years ago!

Check out the rest of the photos on flicker.

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.

the creativity of urban food

In honor of the last day of May, I’ve chosen to visually celebrate  a few noteworthy displays of international ingenuity and imagination in  urban farming…

rooftop vegetables

shoji of exterior lettuce

finally, wheels with a small carbon footprint

dumpster garden

recycled tire garden

a schooltop in Queens

a favorite, cabbage field planted outside of Tokyo Government building

Check out this video, and tap into your own imagination:

Happy Memorial Day.

http://www.urbanharvest-gso.com/

Spring CSA harvest overflowing at Dunleith Garden!

Nothing says good morning like turnips, radicchio, and red torpedo onions! These are just a few of the items that stocked the Urban Harvest CSA crates this week. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, a weekly initiative that Urban Harvest provides to individuals or groups that have purchased a seasonal CSA membership. Every Tuesday afternoon, Spring members receive a hearty array of fresh herbs, greens, and colorful veggies that have been harvested, packaged, and distributed directly from the Dunleith Community Garden.

harvested produce waiting to be cleaned 🙂

CSA’s are a growing phenomenon (even in fisheries by the coast!) to increase the proximity of the food produced to the food consumed.  Swing by the Dunleith site on a Tuesday morning, and you will find the founder of Urban Harvest, Dawn Leonard and other Urban Harvest volunteers harvesting and cleaning vegetables straight from the Earth.

Dawn harvesting delicious veggies!

fresh raddichio

The harvest is then distributed based on share into hand-made wooden crates with a  personalized news-letter taped to the side.  Around five-o’clock an onlooker will find Leonard sitting with her crates awaiting pick-up, talking with neighbors, or pilfering around the garden making improvements. One thing for sure, when a CSA member arrives to pick up their crate that afternoon, they can rest assured that their produce was given the care and attention we should expect of all our food sources.

recyclable CSA crates, packed and ready to be delivered to their owners

To learn more about CSA, contact Urban Harvest at urbanharvest.gso@gmail.com . In the mean time check out this really neat video made by other urban farmers in New York City:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcR2J63_44c&feature=related

Listen up, Greensboro Gardeners!

Hello all,

May showers have brought in a stunning growth of fresh herbs and vegetables to keep us gardeners’ busy at  Urban Harvest’s Dunleith Community Garden. If you haven’t visited the garden yet, or are just hearing about Urban Harvest, you simply have to use some of your summer free time to experience this local movement.The garden is located  close to Summit Avenue in the Aycock Historic District (681 Chestnut Street) and offers a beautiful location for youth, families, and school groups to come participate in a true “urban harvest”.

it's thyme to get outdoors and garden

In fact, groups such as Greensboro Day School and UNCG will be hosted by Urban Harvest at the garden in the upcoming weeks, so keep an eye out for updates and renovations!

As we all know, summer is one of the best times of year to experience something new (perhaps because the kids are out of school, the weather is beautiful, the pollen is gone, your boss is on vacation, …. and the list goes on).  So why not seize this opportunity to become involved in a fresh local food movement expanding right here in the Triad! What’s stopping you? It’s simply too easy and enjoyable to pass up.

Currently, there are an array of promising projects, from tomato trellising to sprout production, that you could become involved in. Bring a few  friends, maybe a pal from work, or simply do something for yourself in June! Come learn techniques to expand your own garden, start a neighborhood garden, or simply feel more knowledgeable when you’re picking out groceries.

If you have never planted a seed in your life, or if you have been green thumbin’ it since diapers, it’s all the same. Come join us  for an unforgettable experience at the Dunleith Community Garden!

In one day you truly can make a difference.

To schedule a day of adventure at the garden or if you simply want to make a donation to Urban Harvest,  please contact urbanharvest.gso@gmail.com.

Lets go to Terra Madre

Check out this 10 minute video that we created. Urban Harvest and the Greensboro Children’s Museum teamed up to apply for a scholarship for the Terra Madre conference in Italy this fall.

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.

Spring CSA Subscriptions and 2010 Plot Rentals at Dunleith

Plot Rentals
Urban Harvest is happy to announce that we have space available for Aycock and non-Aycock residents to rent garden plots at the Dunleith Community Garden. A community plot rental is a small financial investment but a larger time commitment. If you want to be out in the garden growing your own stuff, we respect that! Plot rentals give you 7 months to tend your own community spot.  Download a Plot Rental Agreement form here.

CSA Subscriptions
Residents will be accepted to the CSA on a first-come-first-serve basis, so please submit your applications as soon as possible. What is CSA, you ask? Community Supported Agriculture is a benefit to farmers and consumers alike: a fee, or subscription, is paid at the start of the season to the farmers, who now have the capital necessary to start growing. In return, the consumer recieves a bag of fresh produce every week for the length of the CSA season. You don’t have to get your hands dirty if you don’t care to or have the time to do so. However, we won’t prohibit you from helping if you want to! We hosted a basic planning meeting for the Spring CSA, and have spaces (or shares) available for the 10-week spring season. Download the info sheet and registration form to learn more and to sign up for your Spring CSA. And remember, residents will be accepted to the CSA on a first-come-first-serve basis, so please submit your applications as soon as possible.

Growing more than veggies

We’re all aware of fads. They seep into our fashion, our reading, and our vocabulary. Most fads I can do without (leggings, IM-speak, side ponytails) but a new awareness of the environment mixed with an urgent call to action has produced a fad of new vocabulary that’s creeping into every corner of our lives. The terms “green”, “organic”, and “local” have become staples in this ecologically minded movement and are next to impossible to avoid.  Though there’s much debate about the determining values behind these words, the only word that this particular post concerns itself  with is ‘local.’

Greensboro, though typically slow to jump on the proverbial bandwagon, has really embraced the ideology and production of local food. (Our definition of “local” is within a 150 mile radius of Greensboro. This food is typically considered coming from small production farms and may or may not be grown in a certified Organic environment.) From an increase in foot traffic through the Curb Market to several restaurants featuring locally grown produce, Greensboro is keeping step in a movement that will last longer than snap bracelets or Tickle Me Elmo. I’m glad to support the efforts of the “Gate City” and want to highlight a few local establishments that have gone above and beyond to promote a localized food movement.

Mentioned first (and properly so) is the Curb Market. This is a place where farmer’s come to sell their veggies and vendors tote their local produce. Here one can find a variety of vegetables, fruits, prepared goods, breads, cheeses, meats and flowers. Table 16 is a restaurant located in downtown Greensboro. The menu is constantly changing and touting many local, in-season dishes. If your taste buds haven’t yet delighted in the cooking of chef Graham Heaton, I strongly recommend checking it out. For locally milled flour (not lucky enough to have it locally grown – yet) visit The Old Mill of Guilford. The Old Mill is a great resource for flour, cornmeal and GREAT recipes; I always leave with something new to bake!

Those are a few of the MANY Greensboro hot spots dealing in local food. Please check out Slow Food Piedmont for a list of more restaurants, farms and stores that carry local products. We’re always looking for more recommendations—let us know if you have a favorite place that has local food.