Category Archives: field trips

Denver Report

Howdy, just took a quick trip to Denver. I was invited by Lisa Rogers of Feed Denver, an urban farming organization that was putting on a conference for folks in Denver growing food in the city. I was blown away by some of the urban farmers I met. It’s always so humbling and fun to meet some fellow dirt grubbers. We have many of the same troubles and triumphs.

Here’s Lisa, a farmer from Seattle named Patrick, and Steve, a farmer at 5 Fridges Farm.
denvergh

5 Fridges was really cool. Steve uses 1.5 acres of a 13 acre nature preserve (yes, in Denver city limits) to grow a CSA for 70 families!! Holy bio-intensive planting. Besides veg, they also had goats and chickens.
denvergoat
And they had built a commercial kitchen that they were going to rent out for classes and pickling sessions.

One of the big problems in Denver is the dang land is so expensive! I was shocked to hear about the high rents and property values. Some of it is that Denver is having a boom, partially driven by the legalization of recreational pot. Seems like every warehouse was growing the stuff, and so there are fewer places to live so rent is high. Denver rents were as high as those in Oakland/SF!! It actually made me worry about what will happen when (if?) California passes recreational pot legislation. Will it be another giant land grab? Sadly, one of the oldest urban gardens in Denver–Gabrielle’s Garden, run by UrbiCulture Community Farms–has to relocate because developers are selling the land for $3 million dollars. It reminded me of Hayes Valley Farm (RIP).

But then there was good news, too. I met a husband and wife team who have 7 acres of family land in Denver that they are cultivating. Everitt Farms is hoping to become a community center and market, selling produce and flowers.

The scale, the wide open spaces, the potential–that is Denver.

Farm Tour: June 13

Oh goodness. I’ve been in deep dormancy for the past three months, only now just feeling like peeking my head up and checking in on the blog. Here’s the report:
-The two bee hives are doing extremely well. They are heavy with honey and lots of signs of new hatchlings.
-I expanded the chicken run. The girls were not getting enough exercise, so I opened up the back area for them. In addition to weed control, they are now eating dead bees, disturbing ant habitat, and probably eating codling moth larvae under the apple trees. Their eggs have turned a much darker orange color.
-I have been eating way too much broccoli. Got a little crazy with the planting and now we have to eat it every night for dinner. Good problem to have.
-Planted the last fruit tree in our mini-orchard a few weeks ago. I read about the new Zaiger’s NectaPlum in Sunset magazine and had to buy it. Only 300 chill hours!!
-Finally, finally, replaced the yucky, disappointing sour orange (supposed to taste like a Seville but it never did) with a Bearss lime–to recreate the one that died a few years ago.
-Gearing up for a couple turkeys. Getting poults in May, raising them til T-day.
And, I’m going to be part of the Institute of Urban Homesteading’s Urban Farm Tour 2015. June 13, mark your calendars, and check in soon to buy tickets. It’s such a fun event, and I can’t wait to show off the trees, the turkeys, and maybe a drip irrigation system if I ever get that off the ground.

Urban Farm Tour, June 7

I’m humbled and honored to be part of the Institute of Urban Homesteading‘s annual Urban Farm Tour this year. Every year, Ruby connects urban farms (and their farmers) with people who are interested in learning more about urban farming in the East Bay. Here’s the description of the event:

Come see what established home-scale urban farmers are up to and what is possible on a small. medium, large, or extra large urban lot.

You will see fruit & vegetable gardens, composting systems, rabbits, goats, bees, greywater and more, plus you will get to sample some of what these urban farmers are producing..

How it Works
Join our mailing list at iuhoakland.com and we’ll send you details the week before the event. Once you have the locations, plan your itinerary and bike, drive or walk yourself there. Visit as many of the sites as you have time or interest for.

Guided tours with tasting and Q & A are lead by the farmers once per hour on the hour . Each tour lasts about 45 minutes.

10am-4pm, last tour at 3pm

It’s going to be a blast. You can either buy advanced tickets or pay as you go at each site (it’s $5/site).

Advanced Tickets can be bought here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/628998

I think I’ll be doing a homemade sauerkraut demo, and will have carrots and honey to taste. Tell yer friends–it’s going to be really fun.

Food community

First off: GO RAIN!!! I love this deluge.

So, you can call me Professor Carpenter now. I’m teaching two classes at University of San Francisco this semester, and sometimes the students do call me professor, and I don’t hear them because that can’t be me, right? I don’t have a Ph.D, so normally it would be hard to get a gig teaching at the college level, but USF took a chance on me, and I am so grateful.

I’ve talked about the writing class–called Tapping the Apocalypse–here on this blog already, but the other class is called Community Garden Outreach, and you know what? It kicks ass. Basically I just coordinate helping the students build community.

Everyone talks about building community as an ideal and these days, universities are figuring out that students need, want, crave, to learn how to actually do that. Our mode is to use food to engage the students and community outside the classroom. The first step is to tell the students that they will be sourcing/harvesting/gleaning enough food to feed 60 people at a free community dinner. Students then scampered to farmer’s markets at the end of the day and asked for donations, they harvested food from the student garden, they went to Rainbow Grocery Food Co-op to collect the fixings for a vegetarian meal. It’s amazing how gracious everyone was, especially the farmers at the markets.

Then we met at St. Cyprian’s church near campus to cook up the food in their kitchen. Nothing makes friendships faster than cooking together in a big group. After some gentle food safety and basic beautiful food rules from chef Jessica Theroux, it was showtime. “Go! We gotta feed 60 people tonight!” I yelled (my role was to be Gorden Ramsey, if you can imagine that.)

classphoto

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical. Did they really know how to make pasta for a large group? Would the soup suck? Would the salad be soggy? Would anyone come to the dinner? By 6pm, it was clear the students had made an amazing meal–crostini with herbs from the garden, potato/rutabaga soup, an amazingly beautiful green salad, pasta with greens and broccoli.
CGOplate

And then the people came: old and young, rich and poor, food snobs, vegans, freegans, students, faculty members, clergy members. It was truly amazing. They ate all the food up. They talked. They hugged. People met each other, and socialized, and loved being part of something like this dinner. It made me wonder, what if we did this in all our communities, in our neighborhoods? Cooked dinner together, then ate as a group? Go here to see more photos.

I didn’t get to sit down and eat–too busy and nervous–but during clean up, one of the students gave me a bag of the pasta to eat on the bus ride home to Oakland. I snarfed half of it down–delicious with its sauce of olive oil, green onion, and broccoli. Then I saved the rest to eat with Frannie and Billy; they were going to be amazed. I can’t wait for the rest of dinners. If you want to come, the next dinner will be at St. Cyprian’s Church in San Francisco on Turk at Lyon; March 6, from 6-8pm. Mark your calendars, it’s really fun.

Oh, and I just wanted to say how honored I am to be working with Melinda Stone, David Silver, and Rachel Lee, who blazed the trail of this class. All photos by Sam Wilder.

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.

SF Reading/Presentation

The garden is really, really coming together. Yesterday my neighbor and I jack-hammered up a bunch of concrete. Last week I tried to use a concrete cutter, to no avail. The concrete on the lot, we discovered, is 6 inches thick and is very old, very limey. It’s a nightmare. But that jackhammer, that jackhammer went through the concrete like butter. I need to add compost and gypsum before planting the trees. Can’t wait.

Anyway, I’ll be doing a reading and presentation April 1 in San Francisco! I’ll have some slides to show how the garden is getting transformed, in addition to the back story. So, come on over to the Presidio!

USF Presidio Campus 112 – Classroom
Monday, April 01, 2013
5:00 PM – 7:30 PM