Have you ever been curious about the men and women who are operating local, sustainable farms in the Twin Cities area? You have an opportunity this Saturday to meet some of them by taking the second annual Eat Local Farm Tour.
Sponsored by Twin Cities’ co-op grocers, “Meet Your Farmer!” encourages urbanites to discover where their food comes from, peek at the inner workings of farm life and sample products.
Eleven Minnesota farmers participated in the 2011 inaugural tour, which drew more than 500 attendees. The farms, which supply vegetable, meat and dairy products to local food cooperatives, are all within a 100-mile radius of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
The free, self-guided tour is Saturday, July 21. Hours of operations differ from farm to farm. Find a free, detailed guidebook with maps at all participating co-op locations: Eastside, Just Food, Lakewinds, Linden Hills, Mississippi Market, River Market, Seward, St. Peter, Valley Natural Foods and The Wedge.
For more information, visit the tour’s Facebook page: facebook.com/EatLocalFarmTour.coop.
Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’
Thanks to the Book ‘Em Sale this year, I’ve acquired the beginnings of a gardening library for pennies on the dollar. The book I’ve been most obsessed with is this 1978 Encyclopedia of Organic gardening. Thirty-four-years-old doesn’t seem so old for a gardening book.
In any case, I thought I’d post their definition of Urban Gardening:
In recent years, many people have discovered that gardening in the city is not simply fun, but is economical and produces better-quality food that is available in stores. Surprising yields of vegetables can be obtained from an intensively gardened, postage stamp-size backyard, and fruits and vegetables can be grown in contained on the roof, balcony or front porch. Some people manage to keep livestock in their backyards or on a roof; pigeons, chickens, bees, and rabbits can all be raised in the city if health codes allow and if the animals are not a nuisance to their human neighbors.
Although city gardening is similar in some ways to gardening in the country, it does require some special skills. Although city gardening has its disadvantages, one can learn to manipulate the microclimate of plants, in order to produce food over a longer period of time than would be possible in the country. By necessity, city gardeners learn to grow more produce in less space, increasing the theoretical productivity per acre.
There are many ways to maximize outdoor space for more efficient vegetable production. Use window boxed to grow small plants such are herbs, radishes, carrots, and onions. Plant vegetables such as lettuce, that, when cut, will continue to reproduce. Stick to compact varieties of plants that do not shade our other areas of the garden and avoid planting crops along a north wall. Build trellises or fences to utilize vertical space for plants such as tomatoes, peas, squashes, cucumbers, and beans.
Interplant slow- and fast-growing vegetables: the fast-growing vegetables will be harvested before they can crowd slower-growing plants. See also Intensive Gardening.
Some urbanites are fortunate enough to live in a city that has a community garden program In many localities throughout the country, city governments, social agencies, industry, public institutions, churches, and private individuals have made land available to gardeners in their cities, often at no expense to the gardeners. Such programs are proving to be increasingly popular as the cost of food increases, and people seeking to raise their own food should investigate their own communities to see if there is already a community garden project there, or should try to initiate one on public land that is currently not being used.
For you urban-gardeners out there, what do you do to maximize your space? My main approach is to use trellises pretty heavily, but other than that I’m not sure there’s much else that I do. Leave a comment with your ideas!
Thank you so much to everyone who came out for the West End Garden Tour. If nothing else, you at least saved my friends hours of “conversation” where I talk at them about my garden – and they smile and nod absently…
I was amazed that so many people came out, even during the pouring rain! I had a constant stream of people from the very beginning to the very end, and really got a feeling for the types of projects that I’m working on that people are interested in. I will be blogging about those soon-to-come.
This year the garden tour was a double-edged sword for me because while I did get to show my own garden off, I was unable to see the other incredible gardens on the tour. So, if you have a garden in the neighborhood and happen to see a hippie wading through your perennial bed in her running clothes, please just take it as a compliment of the highest order.
One thing that’s super-awesome about my neighborhood is that there are a ton of gorgeous gardens. When I go on runs I find that exercise is secondary to examining all the cool gardening spaces that I smell and see. Hence the beer-belly. I’m pretty proud of my garden, but it is a tiny little piece of poo compared to some of the other ones. I feel that my place is the tour is to show people that edible gardening is accessible to normal people who don’t really know anything.
The garden tour is free, and they have a plant sale from donations by the gardeners. They’ll also have master gardeners on-site answer all my questions – and maybe they’ll even have time to answer your questions, too! Here is a map of the event.
If you stop by my garden (#3) on the tour and mention that you read this, I’ll give you a pack of seeds that it’s not too late to plant (while supplies last!).
I’m going on a fantastic adventure to Bolivia for the next couple weeks, and I can’t help but feel a [tiny] bit sad that I’m going to come back and my garden will be almost an entirely different creature.
My cascade hops are now growing 6-12 inches a day, and even though I’ve strung up lines for them to crawl, I have no doubt when I get back I’ll have to reroute them.
By the time I get back, my lettuce and radishes will be ready to harvest, and I probably will not recognize my swiss chard, kale, and beets. My experimental square foot of oats and barley will probably have another foot or so on them (more on the grain, later), and my strawberries will have set fruit that might even be starting to ripen!
Every morning before I go to work, and every evening when I get home, I can’t help but stroll around and examine every bed for the tiniest changed details. So when I get back from this journey, I will have missed a lot…and that is just a little bit sad.
In any case, I gotta get to the airport, but here are some recent pics of the yard:
I am so-very excited for this trip. Catchya in two weeks!
Sierra Club Magazine had a fantastic article this month on some unique edibles to grow in your garden (click on the image of the edible to see the details). On the list was fava beans, figs, kumquats, small eggplants, and hardy kiwi. In zone 4, figs and kumquats will need a container and be transferred inside during the winter, but the fava beans, eggplants, and hardy kiwi are very doable.
I am a huge fan of edamame (young soybeans), and it sounds like fava beans are pretty similar when you harvest them young. Based on that above article, and some other reading I’ve done online, the plants are very productive, and have been cultivated for centuries. The plants are very cold-hardy, and as I perused some online seed catalogs I found that some varietals of fava bean are hardy down to 15°F! In fact, fava beans do better in cool conditions, and it may even get too hot for them here, too soon. Crazy, huh? It seems like the hardier varieties might be ideal to plant as early as March…and they might be a good plant very late in the season, like in September. NPR has an article describing the process to prepare fava beans for eating. After calling many of the local gardening stores, I finally bought some fava beans seeds at Bachman’s. Although there’s no sign of the plants above the ground, I took a peak at one of them yesterday and it is definitely germinating. Hooray! Does anyone out there have experience with fava beans?
I had never heard of hardy kiwi before this season, and I’ve noticed a few garden centers are carrying them this year. With a fenced-in backyard, vining plants are doable and so I might have to consider it (even though I have a slight allergy to tropical kiwi…my guests can have them if I can’t!). The Wikipedia article suggests that cats are known for destroying the plants, however, because they are super-attracted to the scent of it. We do have a few cats in the neighborhood, so that is something to seriously consider. The Friends School Plant Sale will be carrying hardy kiwi this year! Keep in mind you need both a male and female plant to get fruit, and UMN Extension wrote an article about growing hardy kiwi, and says it takes a couple years for them to start fruiting.
This winter I ordered a Red Colonnade Apple Tree from Spring Hill Nursery. I was, and still am, amazed that an apple tree can take up so little space, and impulse-bought with immediacy. The width required of normal trees is just not do-able in our .005 acres of yard space. This tree, however, only needs a TWO FOOT diameter. That’s smaller than some of the okra and tomato plants I’m growing!
I haven’t decided where to plant it, yet, but I found out this morning that they’re shipping it out today! I’ve decided I won’t keep it in a container so I don’t have to mess with it in the winter and I won’t have to fertilize it as much.
I noticed Erica over at Northwest Edible Life posted about her backyard orchard, and I have to say I’m really excited about taking some time to read up on this approach to a fruit orchard. I *might* be able to do one of the “quartets” in my back yard, which would be amazing!
Spring Hill Nursery also shipped my order of Cabot Strawberries, which I will be putting in my raised bed to deter some of the local critters (who, incidentally, ate ALL my strawberries last year), and Heritage Red Raspberries, the location of which I have not decided on.
One big inspiration for me is Fritz Haeg’s project Edible Estates, where he created prototype gardens around the world to feed the masses. I am a bit worried about the aesthetics of my front yard after this whole debacle (especially early in the summer when there isn’t too much green yet), and so his project will provide me with ideas for the lay-out of my own lawn. Number 6 (the Estate in Baltimore, Maryland) is the “canvas” that I think most resembles my own: rectangular and flat. Although, obviously, they have a bit warmer climate (zone 7! Lucky jerks!) so I’ll be looking at it more for aesthetic qualities than the actual plant life.