Tapping the Apocalypse

The garden is not going to sleep, though it really should. Like a wily toddler, it’s trying to convince me to just stay up just a little longer. It does that by continuing to produce tomatoes. To ripen a few more figs. The pumpkin plants were even making new flowers. But there is a moment when you have to be mean, and just pull everything up, force the garden to focus on the rooted things like leeks and garlic; and greens planted long ago like kale and broccoli and salad mixes. The bees are even in the game, out in huge numbers during these sunny days. I’m betting December will be the month when the garden quits needling, gets sleepy, and finally falls asleep.

Here’s a photo from the last farmstand–thanks to everyone who came!
honeytasting
My plans this winter include writing a new syllabus for a writing class I’m teaching at University of San Francisco. It’s called Tapping the Apocalypse. Here’s the class description, if you know of someone who’s going to USF:
ENV390
Urban agriculture tends to take hold first in places that can be defined as apocalyptic. These damaged zones, in cities like Oakland or Detroit, have suffered from years of poverty and neglect, and are now hosting some of the most vibrant–and urgent–urban farms. This class will begin with an examination of how agriculture came about in the first place and how industrial agriculture (creating an apocalyptic landscape of its own) came to dominate our food system. The class will then delve into the revival of small scale farms and urban farms, questioning what forces came to pass that allowed this turning point to occur. We will take field trips to urban farms and meet guest speakers who work on the ground. Students will create a food experiment loosely based around an apocalyptic or catastrophic event. We will also write personal essays based around a turning point in our lives where everything changed, when an old self was destroyed, allowing a new self to germinate.

We will probably read Rebecca Solnit’s Paradise Built in Hell; excerpts of Octavia Butler’s The Seed Sower. Not The Road. Let me know if any of you have suggestions for other great apocalyptic literature.

I’ve actually been thinking it might make sense for me to teach this class at my farmlette in the Fall. Let me know if there are any interested students!

Back Safe and Sound, Tour October 19

Hi, thanks to everyone for your warm wishes, comments, and emails. I flew up to Idaho, stayed a week, and did what I could to make sure my dad is okay. Like everything, it will be a process. I was blown away at the kindness of the people in Orofino, my birthplace. Everyone–bank tellers, people on the street, waitresses, bartenders, retirement home operators, and neighbors–went out of their way to help me and my dad. It was humbling and quite miraculous.

So…about that tour. I know it’s last minute, but let’s reschedule the tour for October 19, this Saturday. 10am-1pm. We’ll extract honey, do tours on the hour, and I’ll be selling produce (tomatoes!) and books. My neighbor has some cute succulents to sell as well. See you Saturday.

When: October 19, 10am-1pm
Where: 2727 Martin Luther King Jr Way, entrance on 28th street
What: Last pop up farm stand of the year

Oh no family emergency

Sorry everyone, have to cancel Friday and Saturday’s open farm. My dad is sick and I am flying to Idaho tomorrow.

Pumpkins and Honey

Thanks to everyone who came out to the farm last Saturday. It was a great day, though it was too hot. I swear, I’m going to buy an umbrella. I’m also going to perfect the samples so everyone gets to try everything without cutting off a finger (eg employing a useful tool called a cutting board).

This weekend, I will get to put these new ideas up to good use because here comes another flurry of activities at GT Farm.

This Friday, Oct 4, 5pm-7pm, we will be celebrating Oakland First Friday art walk by having a little open farm stand. Maybe we will be carving pumpkins. Maybe doing a honey extraction. Definitely I will be selling produce. I still have some tomatoes and pumpkins, and a couple plant starts too.

Here’s a pumpkin growing in the garden….

Image

Then, Saturday Oct 5, 10am-1pm, it’ll be another, and the last of the year, open farm day. There will be tours at 10:15, 11:15, and 12:15. Come on by and meet the chickens, buy some honey, and snag a pumpkin.

The address, as always: 2727 Martin Luther King Jr Way (that’s 28th street and MLK, entrance on 28th Street).

Also: thanks to that guy who brought me that giant beautiful green pumpkin!! That was sweet.

We are ON

People: Yes, open farm day this Saturday, Sept 28. 10am-1pm. Tours on the hour. I’ll have honey, dino kale starts, and tomatoes for sale. Also a few books and t-shirts. The farm is at 2727 Martin Luther King Jr Way, at 28th and MLK. Entrance on 28th Street. The sign marking 28th street is MISSING. Look for the abandoned building and a bent stop sign. See you then.

How Novella Got Her Chickens (Groove) Back

I got my first hens in 1998. I was living in Seattle at the time, Beacon Hill, in a house we called the Hen House. Not because we had chickens. Bill and I found the remnants of an old Chinese restaurant sign, written in that funny chopsticks font, on a street corner. Being hoarders, we took the sign home and hung it on our porch awning. The word in chopstick font, cut off in the “N” area was HEN. Then I got chickens. Maybe it was a sign from the universe.

Anyway, I didn’t know anything. I remember feeding them cornmeal. Only later did I figure out they will lay more eggs if you feed them actual chicken food, specially formulated. I also built a very questionable chicken coop. This type of construction would continue until I finally figured out that carpenters/builders are worth their weight in gold, and make things look beautiful–and can make a fully functional (ie predator proof) coop.

Since that first flock, I’ve had several more, but none feel quite as special as my current flock. When I got pregnant with my daughter, I was so sick and tired, I couldn’t do anything. Including shutting the chicken coop up at night. I lost that flock to predators–raccoons? oppossoms? I don’t know. But there were feathers everywhere, and I had to face the facts: my life as a mom wasn’t going to be as easy as it was when I was single and able to do everything on the farm that needed doing.

Fast forward two years, and I have a new flock of hens. Here they are.
chickens

Some came from a friend who raised them from chicks, some came from Dare 2 Dream Farm, which sells chicks and chickens, coops, and cool t-shirts. The pullets we got from Dare 2 Dream started laying a few weeks ago! Here’s the nest o’eggs.

eggphoto

Note that the dark brown one is a wooden egg, which fools the girls into thinking no one (no one!) is taking their eggs. Sneaky. Post-baby (I have a toddler now, I’m told), the chickens feel so right, so good. They are easy to care for (just some feeding and cleaning). Putting them to bed, shutting their door, is part of our bedtime ritual now. Frannie says, Goodnight chickens, and helps shut the door. I know, it’s sick how sweet that is. And…eggs.

eggeater

We like ours poached. Served on a small rickety table. We eat them in our pajamas. They are the Best Eggs Ever.

If you have any chicken questions, and you live in the Bay Area, I’ll be at the Biofuel Oasis’s Harvest Festival at 3pm on September 21. The BFO is having lots of fun events that day, like a honey tasting and kombucha making class. Here are the details.