Saturday, May 29, 2010

Phila Street Art :: St. Bernard Street

M noticed this incredible little guy nailed to a telephone post along our walk to the garden one day. There seem to be a number of wonderful things along that walk. I don't know who the artist is, but it resembles Maurice Sendak a bit.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

One of these mornings

One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing
Then you'll spread your wings
And you'll take to the sky

"Summertime," George Gershwin

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rain Garden

At The Woodlands, things are moving right along. We've sorted our donated lumber in order to make a picnic table (which is in progress right now), and we planted a rain garden!

Gardeners Mandy Katz and Todd Greenberg from Bartram’s Garden generously donated the plants to us (and Mandy suggested the idea in the first place, she's one of our brand new gardeners!).

A rain garden is planted in a depression where runoff from surrounding impervious surfaces (like asphalt and rooftops) can be directed. The plants help the water soak into the ground instead of running off and causing erosion and pollution of surface water. Our rain garden is in a depression where water naturally collects from the surrounding asphalt, and water from the roof of the neighboring building is diverted to the spot (the black tube in the photos). We’ve planted wetland-tolerant plants, some of them native. Inkberry holly, Ilex glabraDensa; white turtlehead, Chelone glabra; swamp hibiscus, Hibiscus moscheutos; and Joe-Pye weed, Eupatorium fistulosum.

This kind of action will become increasingly necessary for storm water mitigation in The Woodlands and surrounding areas because residents of the city of Philadelphia will soon be charged for the amount of storm water their property produces. Here’s the Philly Inquirer article about it.

The plot that M and I tend is also doing incredibly well. We harvested lettuce and kale (to freeze, I'm almost kaled out for the season), and the potatoes are coming up (4 varieties). I'm afraid that we planted more than the space can handle, but that seems to be the case every year, so time can only tell!

The other gardeners are also doing fun things with their own space. The plot behind ours has a huge bean trellis, and another one has a large, elaborate cage around it (this was originally to keep out the deer that lived in the cemetery). When we designed the garden we decided to build 8x8 beds and split them between people, so as to maximize wood and the number of gardeners participating. It's worked out wonderfully, and it's been fun to see people making new friends, figuring out how to share their space, and being creative!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Beautiful Progress

We've been holding twice-monthly work days at the Walnut Hill Community Farm and they are going incredibly well. At the last one, we planted, staked, and trellised our summer crops: over 20 varieties of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and basil. We also thinned our radishes and beets. The broccoli is coming along nicely (despite a little bit of mealy bug), the cabbage is starting to head up, and the kale is going gangbusters.

We also cleared out the weeds from the pathways between rows and laid down a bunch of salt hay to mulch. I think it looks terrific!

At every workday we attract kids from the surrounding houses and the general neighborhood; at one of the workdays in April there was a party happening down the street and everyone under 15 came over to help out at the farm! This is probably my favorite part about the farm.

Look for more updates as things progress!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Saving my Spinach

Check out my latest entry on Farm to Philly, all about how to freeze your garden greens!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

First Sale!

This week the Walnut Hill Grower's Co-op had its first sale! The guys sold 9 bushels of kale to Milk and Honey Market in West Philly. Here are some pics of Dontae and Keenan harvesting and washing the kale at The Enterprise Center, and humoring me while I take photos of them during their first sale as a Co-op.

Here they are with Annie Baum-Stein, of Milk and Honey, our first customer. Thanks Annie!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Corners of My World

A while ago I posted about the corners of my home, but as I was out walking the other day I realized that there are a lot of little corners that are special to me, some of them outside of the home. So I've set about to document them (after all, isn't that the whole point of writing a blog?).

This is a wall that I pass all the time on my way to the St. Bernard Community Garden. It's been decorated with chalk, and if any of you have ever used chalk on brick you know that it doesn't easily come off. I think I'll be appreciating this wall for a long time.

This is a vacant lot that I pass on my way to work in Camden. I'm not sure if those steel beams were present in the house before it was knocked down, or if they were put there afterward to help the surrounding buildings from following suit. Either way, I want to put a garden there really badly.

This is just a moment in time along the walk to the St. Bernard Community Garden.

My friend Nicole recently wrote a thought-provoking post on her blog, Blue Bicicletta, about appreciating each moment of the day with reverence. It's a word that doesn't get used that often, and it's really quite beautiful. To quote Nicole, "my pocket Webster’s dictionary defines reverence as: awe mingled with respect and esteem." I think we could all use a little bit more awe and respect in our lives. These little corners of my world allow me to be awed by the art of every day life, and to live that life a bit more purposefully, with reverence.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

In Other Community Garden News

Our St. Bernard Community Garden plot is full of broccoli, onions, kale, collards, swiss chard, potatoes, lettuce, peas, cilantro, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, beans, herbs, sunflowers, and marigolds (this pic was taken before the warm season crops were put in).
I also just found out that a fellow Philly blogger, Doris of Doris and Jilly Cook, has a plot in this garden too! We're meeting for coffee and a jam exchange next week!

Our Woodlands Community Garden plot is full of potatoes, kale, escarole, chives, leeks, lettuce mix, cilantro, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, dill, and herbs (again, photo taken before summer crops).

We had a few arborists come to trim the trees at The Woodlands (for free!! they're friends of one of the gardeners), and we now have room for six more plots. Everything is moving right along . . .

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Walnut Hill Community Farm

It's high time for an update on some of my garden projects. The Walnut Hill Community Farm (we've changed it from "Mini-Farm") is looking amazing. We've had about two work days a month with neighbors and volunteers from all over the city and we've built six long raised beds for the farm and nine square raised beds for the community garden. I also blogged about it on Farm to Philly.

The immediate neighbors have started to show a more sincere interest in the project, and many of them now have plots in the community garden. At the last work day we had a bunch of neighborhood kids come out and help, they had a blast shoveling compost!

We've planted cold crops, herbs, and strawberries, and the kale is almost ready to harvest! The kids in the Grower's Cooperative are starting to take initiative and farm on their own (which is the ultimate goal) and they will start selling at local businesses and the Clark Park Farmer's Market in the next couple of weeks.

We had a visit from Mayor Nutter in early April because our site was highlighted as part of the city-wide clean up day and he was really enthusiastic about the project (he even shoveled compost!).

(photo by Imanni Wilkes, The Enterprise Center CDC)

The front slope is also looking wonderful and flowering like crazy!

The next steps are to write grants to fund further construction, build a tool shed, continue to build raised beds, get woodchips delivered to mulch the paths, and figure out our water situation.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Phila Street Art :: Rittenhouse Square

This is the largest "yarnbombing" I've seen in Philly, but I'm sure there are more.