Archive for ‘Education’

July 12, 2012

Taming Your Tomatoes

A City Farm volunteer picks tomatoes that have been trellised for supporting the plants, making sure they grow and produce fruit well.

A tomato seedling usually costs about the same as a pound of tomatoes at the store! That means that growing your own tomatoes is a great way to save money on food while enjoying juicy, ripe, and flavorful tomatoes right in your garden.

Tomato plants definitely require some maintenance, If you want to enjoy tomatoes right off the vine from your backyard, window box, or hanging basket, check out some of these resources we’ve compiled. SCLT also hosts a  “Taming Your Tomatoes” every early summer on our Plant Providence Calendar. Check back for updates! The workshop provides practical advice about planting, staking, tomato care (watering, mulching, fertilizing, weeding), and ways to fend off the pests that enjoy the taste of tomatoes as much as we do.

Here are some great sites we found for all your tomato care needs!

 Tomato care that includes pruning, staking/caging, and watering

• Pest identification and control

• Diseases

• Growing tomatoes in containers

 Varieties that do well in containers

For more resources on growing food, visit our Urban Agriculture Resource Library

June 22, 2012

Seed it, Stake it, Sow it: Garden Savings Strategies

Gardening is a very popular and potentially inexpensive pastime.  However, if you’re not careful how you spend your gardening budget, you could run out of money fairly quickly.  Instead of wishing you had the money for the latest in garden gadgets and a wide variety of fancy plants, think of ways to cut costs and make the most of what you do have.  The trick is to choose items that are discounted or less expensive when it comes to the plants you grow, and to try do-it-yourself projects for some gardening accessories.  The following are a few ideas for how to improve your garden without spending too much.

Build your own trellis for growing vines:  Whether Cucumber or Clematis, a trellis can be a great way to showcase the vines you grow.  Purchasing a pre-made trellis is often expensive.  A better option is to make your own bamboo trellis. With only a few items you can have a beautiful and sturdy trellis.  You’ll need lashing cord, a hand saw, a tape measure, a pencil, and several canes of bamboo.  The steps are fairly simple, but require some accurate measuring of the bamboo canes prior to cutting them – envision  how expansive you want the final masterpiece to be and plan for that early on.  After you have cut them to the appropriate size, you’ll use the lashing cord to lash them together.  Then your trellis is ready for your garden.

Grow vegetables from seed:  Growing your own vegetables from seed is much less expensive than starting from a potted plant.  Starting from seed can be intimidating, however. Luckily there are some vegetables that are very easy to grow from seed and will almost guarantee success, even to the novice gardener.  Treehugger.com lists five vegetables that you can easily start from seed:

  1. Beans
  2. Chard
  3. Carrots
  4. Cucumbers
  5. Radishes

These vegetables are sure to increase your confidence in gardening because they are so easy to grow.  The instructions on the seed packet will give you the best information about when to plant and harvest.

Choose perennials instead of annuals:  The University of Delaware recently published an article, which states that choosing a lot of annuals for your garden can be really expensive since you will have to replace them every year.  Instead, a mix of perennials will give you variety, and will cut costs since they keep coming up on their own year after year.

Gardeners everywhere may find their passion for plants causing them to make extra, unnecessary purchases in their search for the perfect garden.  But having a pleasing and useful garden doesn’t have to mean spending lots of money.  Instead, take the time to find inexpensive plants and easy, low-cost projects that will enhance the garden you already have.

February 10, 2012

Seeds of inspiration!

It was a full house at last Wednesday’s Seed Starting Workshop at Hope Artiste Village! Faye, Tess, and Laura from Sidewalk Ends Farm gave an informative and compelling lesson on how to start your favorite seeds at home in time for the growing season. They showed us that you can use anything from old soda cans, to seeding trays, to old milk cartons! Keep your plant babies happy in a grow box (pictured right), which provides UV light to help with seed germination. Faye, Tess, and Laura prefer a method of “upside down” watering to just using a spray bottle (which can miss the roots). Upside down watering involves putting your seed containers on a tray with 1/2″ water, which allows the roots to absorb water as they need it.

Missed this workshop but still want to learn about seed starting? Swing by Southside Community Land Trust’s Urban Agriculture Spring Kickoff on March 3rd at the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center, where City Farm Steward Rich Pederson will be doing a workshop demo. There will be other fun workshops around food and gardening at the event. Get your hands on SCLT’s 2012 Plant Providence Calendar — a city-wide educational and affordable workshop series around growing food. Here’s to a productive growing season!

January 25, 2012

NOFA RI and SCLT host Advanced Growers Series Workshop

Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) of Rhode Island and Southside Community Land Trust invites farmers and growers to its Advanced Grower Workshop series on Sunday, February 5th at Smith-Buonanno Hall (Room 106) at Brown University. Eliot Coleman, owner of Four Seasons Farm in, long-time organic advocate, and author of The New Organic Grower, will be teaching a workshop on high tunnel production.

• 12:00 – 4:00 PM:  Advanced Growers Workshop on High Tunnel Production. Taught by Eliot Coleman, the workshop will teach RI Farmers to maximize high tunnel vegetable production throughout the year.

• 4:30 – 6:00:  NOFA/RI Annual Meeting & Potluck (Bring a dish and your own utensils).

• 6:00 PM:  Keynote talk by Eliot Coleman and discussion “Organic Farming: The Next Steps.” This is open to the public and costs $10.

The cost for the workshop and keynote is $35. The keynote is open to the public and costs $10 (or free for NOFA members). For info, contact NOFA/RI at nofari@live.com, 401-835-2346, or 401-523-2653.

Coleman is known for producing year-long farming on his farm in Maine. Under harsh winter conditions, he uses unheated and minimally heated greenhouse structures to grow vegetables year-round. He is an advocate of small-scale organic farming and fostering strong relationships with customers.

This workshop and keynote event is brought to you by NOFA RI, the University of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Brown University, and Southside Community Land Trust. NOFA RI is an organization of farmers, consumers, gardeners, and environmentalists working to promote organic farming and organic land care practices. NOFA RI aims to foster a healthy relationship to the natural world through advocacy and education. Their goal is to increase the acreage of certified organic land in RI while also increasing the access of local organic food to all Rhode Islanders. NOFA RI is affiliated with the other NOFA chapters through the NOFA Interstate Council.

January 9, 2012

Wintertime Food-growing Workshops!

It might be cold outside (well, not THAT cold, it’s actually pretty nice for January!), but it is the perfect time to start planning for the growing season! Southside Community Land Trust and Farm Fresh RI invites the public to attend two free workshops on urban beekeeping (a primer that focuses on what it takes to raise bees food in the city) and seed starting. These workshops will be held at the Wintertime Farmers Market greenhouse space on Wednesday January 25th 6-7pm and Wednesday February 1st 5:30-6:30pm, respectively.

Want to learn what it takes to raise bees in the city? Learn more about it at the urban beekeeping primer workshop, which will be taught by Kelly Smith, Davis Park Community Garden coordinator. Kelly owns 5 beehives and has taken bee school classes and a week-long intensive advanced course by the Eastern Apicultural Society. Kelly will give a basic overview about what it means to keep bees in the city, going over topics such as materials required for urban beekeeping, resources and available education options for bee school.

Seed starting will be taught by Sidewalk Ends Farm’s Laura Brown-Lavoie, Tess Brown-Lavoie and Fay Strongin. This workshop will help people get a head start on preparing their favorite vegetables and herbs as well as accommodate for those who have limited growing space in their homes or apartments. The lesson will also provide information on growing sprouts and building your own indoor grow box to start seeds inside. Southside Community Land Trust will be offering free seed packets (lettuce, summer squash, etc.) at this workshop.

Register by emailing SCLT at amber@southsideclt.org or online at www.plantprovidence.org.

These workshops are an extension of the Plant Providence educational workshop series. First introduced in 2010, the Plant Providence calendar is a full-color poster printed annually that lists programs and events taking place throughout the year related to urban agriculture. In addition to the upcoming workshops on urban beekeeping and seed starting, the 2012 Plant Providence calendar will debut at Southside Community Land Trust’s Urban Agriculture Kick-off on March 3rd at the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center from 1-4pm.

The Plant Providence calendar is a project of Southside Community Land Trust and is sponsored by the Albin Family Foundation, the Urban Agriculture Task Force of Providence, Brown University’s Center for Environmental Studies, Casa Buena Builders Inc., the John T. Howard Agency Farm Family Insurance, The University of Rhode Island Outreach Center, What Grows On in Rhode Island, and Whole Foods Market.

More information about Southside Community Land Trust is available at www.southsideclt.org

October 4, 2011

Medicinal Herbs and Foraging

Taken from our Plant Providence blog.

Saturday’ workshop on Medicinal Herbs and Foraging was an engaging and fascinating lesson that helped open our eyes to the plentiful variety of medicinal plants growing right on Rhode Island soil. We chewed, smelled and tasted leaves, flowers and herbs that Farmacy Herbs uses right in their store. Mary Blue, founder of Farmacy Herbs, shared her wealth of knowledge that plants can be effective remedies and supplements for a variety of purposes – nettles for vitamins, iron and bladder health; violet for lungs; sage for sinus clearing, digestion and memory; hops (not just good for beer!) for stress relief and nerves. These plants are minimally processed into tinctures, teas, and ointments. When taken consistently in the proper doses, these herbal remedies can be highly beneficial for preventative care and holistic health.  “It’s another step towards self-sufficiency,” says Mary, “a lot of people that come here are looking for that. If you have access to this kind of knowledge and resources, you can rely more on yourself to care for your health and wellness.”

For more information about Farmacy and the kinds of workshops and classes they offer visit them at http://farmacyherbs.com

To see a slideshow of the workshop, visit our Plant Providence blog.

 

 

 

September 14, 2011

Learning to over-winter greens and build low tunnels

(from our Plant Providence blog) Saturday morning was a beautiful day to learn about over wintering greens and building low tunnels at the Davis Park Community Garden. We learned that plants like chard, parsley, spinach, arugula, carrots and collards are able to survive the winter if kept full grown. These vegetables won’t grow again until March, but you’ll yield a lovely harvest once spring hits!

Seed in September (even October). Cover your garden bed with row cover in November. In December, put up hoops and plastic. Keep the plastic on until mid to late March, not harvesting on sunny days to prevent wilting.  Once your direct seeded salad greens are about 7″ tall, you cut the leaves about an inch above the crown of the plant (being careful not to cut off the crown). In doing this, the leaves will grow back, slowly if it is cold and dark, and quickly if it is warm and sunny.  Katie Miller of Scratch Farm suggests “planting claytonia, spinach, ruby streaks mustard, collards, and lettuce all in mid September, plant more spinach than anything else, and pick everything but the spinach in the late fall when it is ready, save the spinach for the really cold dark days, it will survive better than the rest.”

Once you build your low tunnels you won’t need to water the entire season. Try to “aerate” your low tunnels on sunny days to regulate humidity. If you wanted to harvest, don’t be scared if your plants look really bad after they get exposed to the cold air. They will be shocked by the sudden fluctuation in humidity levels but they’ll bounce back in a few days (aren’t plants amazing?). Any questions about over wintering greens and low tunnels can be directed to Katie (katie.miller@gmail.com) of Scratch Farm! Thanks Katie for doing the demo for us!

Read more about over-wintering greens on our Urban Ag. Resource Center.

September 9, 2011

City Fest Re-cap

Last month’s City Fest was an absolute hit! Close to 200 kids and adults attended the annual block party at City Farm, which celebrates the end of the summer Children’s Garden program. There was music and dancing, potato stamp making, double dutch, watermelon and popcorn eating, face painting and of course, the Big Nazo puppets.

Thank you again to everyone who joined us that day, and thank you to our sponsors–Citizens bank for donating new book and backpacks for the kids to start of a new school year!

Our video certainly captures the fun we had that afternoon!

August 31, 2011

After the storm: show your garden some love!

Tens of thousands of people were affected by the storm this past weekend. Hurricane Irene (well, tropical storm Irene by the time it made it to Rhode Island) damaged power lines, ripped out trees and left quite a few major and minor inconveniences in her wake. Gardens and farms were amongst these innocent victims of nature’s wrath. So what are some important garden care steps to take after a huge storm?

1. Storms not only cause physical damage at the time, but can leave gardens vulnerable to diseases and soil erosion. Implement these general steps to keep soil and plants healthy!

2. For tree damage and repair, minor damage can be removed by getting rid of injured bark. Trees actually have a great natural defense system and only need intense care when there is major bark, trunk or root damage.

3. Prepare for fall. Don’t be discouraged if the summer growing season has been rough. Make room for fall planting, which can be a much more forgiving season even with sudden low temps: beets, dark leafy greens, carrots and turnips – we’re giddy at the thought!

August 9, 2011

City Fest in Two Weeks!

A message from Dana Wolfson, our Children’s Garden coordinator:

I’ve had an amazing time exploring the garden with all of the kids this summer, and now that the program is coming to a close, it’s time for City Fest! Each summer we organize a neighborhood block party that also serves as a celebration of the participants in the Children’s Garden program. It’s a time for the kids to share the experiences they’ve had and the things they’ve learned with their families and other members of the community (such as how to make things like fresh salsa—recipe below!). You can read more about City Fest and see photos of last year’s event here.

This year, City Fest will take place Tuesday, August 23rd from 2 pm to 5 pm at City Farm (located at the corner of W. Clifford and Dudley Street in south Providence—click here for directions). We’ll have games, crafts, and other activities, as well as food and music. Kids will be able to go home with new books donated by the Providence libraries and new backpacks for the school year provided by Citizens Bank! Feel free to stop by to celebrate with us, and please be in touch if you are interested in volunteering at City Fest: email me at childrensgarden@southsideclt.org.

City Fest usually involves some sort of watermelon-eating contest, which the kids love!

Children’s Garden Fresh Salsa Recipe

Ingredients:

tomatoes (from City Farm, of course!) – about 2 cups, chopped
cilantro – 1 small bunch
onion – 1 small, red or white
salt & pepper – a pinch
lime juice  – about a tablespoon

Directions:

Dice tomatoes, cilantro, and onion (or chop in a food processor). Add about a tablespoon of lime juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and serve with tortilla or pita chips. Enjoy!

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