Urban Farm Updates, May 4th, 2017
Fun on the Farm!
Did you know? An herb comes from the leaf of a plant, while a spice comes from the seed, bark, root, berry or bulb of a plant? And did you know, that making a strong tea out of 2 TBSP of dill seed supposedly cures the hiccups?
What’s Growing On?
Well guys, I have officially been working here as the Urban Farm Manager for a whole year now! It has been such a wonderful experience, with a multitude of challenges and so much progress! I thought that I would share with you a before and after of what the farm looked like a year ago (photo courtesy of our Board Member, George Dickert) and one of my own photos from this past week.
So much has changed at the farm in just one year! When I started as the Farm Manager, it was hard to tell where the weeds ended and the crops began; compost had not been added in some time and the soil had reverted to the parent material of heavy, red clay. Just 14 of the 28 outside rows had irrigation drip tape on them, there was no fridge or cold storage for produce, and there was only one water source on site.
In the last year, I have had several truck loads of trash have been removed, the weed problem has been addressed, coolers have been installed in the greenhouse to keep it in operation longer into the summer, a fridge has been installed for harvested produce, compost has been incorporated back into the outside rows, a working cleaning station has been installed, a water source has been installed inside the greenhouse, a tarp has been installed along the back wall to prevent glyphosate drift over from the neighboring property, etc. It is amazing what a year, some financial investment, and a lot of hard work can do!
All of the cold crops are doing well, in fact this little cooling trend this weekend is doing wonders for my spring plants! My cabbage plants are starting to form heads and will most likely be ready for harvest in early June! Over the next 2 to 3 weeks my first onion bulbs will be ready to harvest, and my transplanted Marigolds are happily shining out in the garden. Marigolds help attract beneficial insects, pollinators and help to prevent diseases and pests. These are a good flower to add to the garden each year, to help the health of my other crops and add a bright pop of color in and amongst all of the green.
I had a surprise visit from a student at Wofford, who came down to the farm on Wednesday to work on a photojournalist project for school. It is great to get to see how much more incorporated into the community, the farm has been recently. People from the community are becoming more invested and present here at the Urban Farm, and it is truly serving its mission within the city of Spartanburg. Thank you all for getting involved, for stopping by on our Open Farm Saturdays, and for playing such an integral role in helping me to grow this Hub City Farmers Market Urban Farm! Without a hard working Farm Manager, the community’s involvement and the Board Member’s commitment, none of these changes could have been possible!
As summer rolls in on us here in Spartanburg, Thunderstorms become an all too frequent challenge to contend with. Over the past several weeks, we have gotten a number of heavy rain storms and thunderstorms which have sidelined all outside work for the day, and resulted in a muddy/messy farm. However, any rain storms we get, means one less day where I have to water the farm, so I will take the blessings where they come! Instead of working out on the farm during the downpours, I have been using this time to prepare and re-develop the next series of gardening classes which will be held at the farm, as well as schedule and coordinate volunteer groups at the farm.
With the help of two volunteers here at the Urban Farm last Friday, I was able to get the vertical towers planted along with the linear beds at the front of the farm. The towers will be used to grow greens, herbs, cucumbers and other vegetables throughout the year; the front bed has been planted with herbs, greens and edible flowers, while the fencing along the bed will be used as a natural trellis for any vining plants. These towers and front linear beds have increased the production capabilities of this farm, while adding to the visual aesthetics and increasing the education component. I had a visitor to the farm this week that was so excited to see the vertical towers and he wanted to know exactly how I built them. It is inspiring to see that these new features are already serving as an educational resource; that they will continue to inspire people and serve a necessary purpose on the farm.
I am also in the process of adding to the farm by means of container and vertical gardening systems. I started the vertical gardening wall several weeks ago with the hanging shoe organizer and the pallet garden, and now I am starting to add small containers and raised garden beds which people might be inspired to replicate in their own small spaces. There is an extended amount of space at the end of some of my rows, where I will place various container and sack gardens for people to garner ideas from. Over the course of 2017 and 2018, my goal is to continue maximizing the use of what remaining space we have on the farm, to compensate for the loss of rows to the Butterfly Creek project, as well as continuing to grow the farm in general. These new features add additional growing space for us, and also continue to give ideas and inspiration to anyone who visits the farm. You don’t need to have a large space, in order to garden. From a vertical pallet garden and container garden, to a kitchen counter herb garden, the options of space saving techniques are endless!
As usual, if you have any questions, comments and feedback please feel free to send me and email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I look forward to hearing from you, and to sharing more with you all again next week!