Category Archives: community garden

It is our tiny farm

Woohooo!!!! As of this morning we have harvested a total of 201 lbs (91 Kg) of fresh and delicious vegetables from our tiny suburban farm. Although calling it a farm may be an overly optimistic exaggeration, as I have planted an area just under 200 square feet, and I have no livestock,  I makes me feel much better than calling it a garden. Our original hope of reaching a production of 150 lbs this season, has so far been surpassed by a heaping 30%, and if everything goes according to plan, we may even be able to reach the 250 lbs mark before winter arrives.IMG_5322 IMG_4140 IMG_3270

One pound of food per square foot of soil… not quite sure if I should brag about this or not, but the way I see it is that for one whole season, my family has been able to eat produce as fresh as it gets, knowing that no harmful chemicals have been used to grow them. Was it cheaper to produce them than to buy them? Well if you factor in the investment to build the raised beds, irrigation system, and other structures that I could not re purpose, probably not. But the way I see it, all that was an investment, not a cost, and the structures will still be there for a few more years.IMG_5337 IMG_5348 Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset IMG_5250

Our tiny farm provides us with much more than food, it is my laboratory, my school, and a place where I can be creative, daring and resourceful. It also makes me humble, I must admit not everything I try works every time, as a matter of fact I still have to grow one single beet to at least the size of a ping pong, or even smaller… Gardening has lit the fuse of my curiosity again, it has made me want to discover and learn new things, it has made me dig through (pun intended) and try to apply knowledge I gathered while working on fish farming a few decades ago, and best of all, it has made me want to share whatever little I learn or experience.IMG_2169 IMG_2140 IMG_2158

If you live in Suffolk County NY, let’s get together and exchange experiences and ideas over a cup of coffee. If you live elsewhere, let’s start talking, I really don’t bite. Please also visit, like and follow my facebook page.

 

 

 

A Harvest Celebration

A couple of weeks ago, our garden started showing definite signs of seasonal maturity, many plants were in full bloom, some others were steadily producing fruit, while a few, like the lettuces, had already called it quits. One very interesting group were those of the onion and garlic family, which after putting out their funky looking flowers were begging to be pulled out of the ground. It was time for a harvest party!

My two special guests were M and B, both 7 years old.  B you may remember from her internship last year, when she helped me by taking care of the garden (B Is The New Farmer In Charge.  and  Meet B Our Interim Farmer), and also  when she planted all the garlic bulbs (Planting Our 2014 Garlic Crop). I met M last fall, he is a member of the track team where I assist coaching. M is a great kid with a happy face and a curious mind, much like B.IMG_2173

I had thought of bringing B back to harvest the garlic she had planted, as a way for her to see the result of her work last fall. In conversation with M’s mom, I learned he had shown recent interest in gardening, so I thought he would perhaps also enjoy spending an afternoon picking fruit and veggies, and learning about worms, bees and where some of the food comes from.

It was a great afternoon, the stage was our garden, and mother nature set it up perfectly for us to find amazing goodies in every corner. We started by emptying out one of the soft containers where I grew potatoes. B and M had fun digging with their hands through the soft soil in the wheelbarrow looking for nice bright red potatoes.IMG_2140 IMG_2136 IMG_2141 IMG_2177 From there we moved to the zucchinis, tomatoes, and cucumbers searching for fruit ready to be picked. With amazement, they pulled carrots from the ground, and also picked beans from the vines.IMG_2144IMG_2146 IMG_2149

We stopped to look how the baby cantaloupes and water melons were forming, and made sure to smell some of the herbs growing. At the far end of our garden we found cabbages, onions and a small forest of garlic plants to pick from.IMG_2157

IMG_2165 IMG_2169We finished work by digging through a compost pile usually frequented by sub-foot long night crawlers to see who could find the biggest worm, and later took a look at how the worms in our worm farm recycle some of our kitchen waste.IMG_2175

It was a great afternoon, we gave the children bags to put in all their goodies to take home, and B proudly commented “I don’t eat any of this stuff…I am just taking it home for my family”. I often think how interesting it would be to include gardening as part of the elementary school curriculum, children could learn so much by getting their fingers back into the soil.  IMG_2153 IMG_2136 IMG_2158

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Hobbs Farm, volunteers welcome

In our travels we are always looking to meet interesting people, or visit awesome places or operations to learn from or exchange ideas. Today I want to share my recent visits to one of my neighbors, the Bethel Hobbs Community Farm, a place with a fantastic history and and great mission.

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The farm, which is located on Long Island in Centereach NY, sits on an 11 acre plot wedged among residential developments. The farm was donated by the Hobbs family in 1990 to the Bethel AME Church. In 2007 a group of concerned members of the church formed an organization to restore the farm house and the barn and created a two acre co-op garden. Their mission was simple, to provide fresh wholesome produce to those in need.

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Since its rebirth, the farm has expanded considerably, and now also has a greenhouse and 4 different planting areas: The Son Shine Acres, where most of the food is grown, harvested and distributed to the needy through a network of local food pantries and food programs. Excess production is sold at the farm produce stand, the revenue being used to cover operational costs.

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The Community Garden, a series of 24 5‘X20’ plots where members can grow their own flowers and veggies while helping with community tasks.

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The Education Garden, an area where individuals and groups can participate in specific educational projects while at the same time helping grow produce for the hungry.

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The last area was just recently developed with a grant from the Christopher Reeves Foundation, and the assistance of Stony Brook University and local patrons. I am not sure it has an official name yet, but I heard its main promoter and steam engine of the project, Ann Pellegrino,  calling it The Garden of Hope, a name that very well fits its purpose. This area  has a series of wheelchair-accessible raised beds, where persons with disabilities can not only learn to garden, but also may harvest and keep the production for their use.

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This is not your regular backyard garden, it is a real farm, run in a very efficient and ecologically responsible manner. The crops are drip irrigated to conserve water, and are never treated with pesticides. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this farm is the positive atmosphere that can be felt from the moment you are faced with the Volunteers Welcomed sign and are later warmly  and sincerely greeted  by a member who will proudly show you around.

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The farm is open to individuals and groups looking to roll up their sleeves to make a significant difference in our community. To learn more about how you can become involved with the Bethel Hobbs Community Farm, or to donate to their program please visit their website at  http://www.hobbsfarm.info/index.htm .