Archive for June, 2011

June 30, 2011

BUG Curriculum Featured on Channel 10

Having kids survey the insects in your garden is a good way to stimulate their scientific curiosity and teach them about the food web.

The Biodiversity in Urban Gardens (BUG) ecological literacy curriculum we developed in collaboration with the University of Rhode Island Outreach Center and others was recently highlighted in a Plant Pro gardening segment on NBC-10! Click here to watch the video and learn how to do an insect collection activity with your kids.

If you’re looking for more ideas, you can check out the curriculum online through our Urban Agriculture Resource Center. You might also be interested in attending our free Plant Providence workshop on Cooking and Gardening with Your Kids coming up on August 27th—click here for more information.

June 28, 2011

Say Hello to Dana Wolfson, Our New Children’s Garden Coordinator!

Dana Wolfson at City Farm

We are pleased to announce that Dana Wolfson will be coordinating the Children’s Garden program for us this summer! Dana recently graduated from Bennington College in Vermont, where she majored in art and environmental studies with a focus on sustainable agriculture. While at Bennington, she lead the effort to create a campus garden and a student group centered on local food issues called the Bennington Sustainable Food Project. “The school has a history of farming,” Dana says. “It ran a farm during World War II. I thought, it happened before; it can happen again.” As proof of its sustainability, the garden is still going strong today, and the college now funds an internship program to maintain it. Plans are also in the works to get some of the produce into the dining halls and donate more to a homeless shelter. “Since it started, we’ve seen that there’s a lot of student interest in the garden,” Dana says. “It’s something that’s really important right now.”

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June 24, 2011

Little City of Greens

Neither snow nor rain nor heat stays urban farmers from their appointed rounds! Despite the dreary drizzle yesterday, the Little City Growers Cooperative was out in full force at the Armory Park Farmers’ Market, with glistening rain-washed greens and vibrantly colored beets, berries, and flowers. As featured in the Farm Fresh market preview, the co-op has recently added four new farmers to its ranks: Adam Graffunder from Florence & Manton Farm (named for its cross streets in Olneyville) and Fay Strongin, Tess Brown-Lavoie, and City Farm apprentice Laura Brown-Lavoie, all from Sidewalk Ends Farm on Harrison St. on the west side of the city. They join founding members Red Planet Vegetables, Scratch Farm, and City Farm in sharing market space at the Armory and pooling their produce for sale to area restaurants. Stop by next Thursday to pick up some of their items, grown right here in Providence! In the meantime, check out these smiling faces and their great selection of herbs and veggies:

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June 20, 2011

Bug Book Now Online!

Uh-oh. This doesn't look good.

You planned to share the fruits of your garden labors with others, but this wasn’t really what you had in mind. Your leaves look as though they’ve been through a war, one of your seedlings has been lopped off at the stem, and—HEY! Who ate my tomatoes!?

Yes, as we all know, the work doesn’t end when you get the plants in the ground; that’s when pest management begins! To find out what’s eating you (and your plants), consult our Bug Book. It’s available for free viewing online through the Urban Agriculture Resource Center on our website (look for “Controlling Pests” under “Growing Food”). There, you can pick your bug from a lineup of common troublemakers and find out how to fend them off using environmentally safe methods that will minimize harm to beneficial insects like ladybugs and praying mantises. The mug shot of the dastardly tomato hornworm is worth checking out alone—can you believe the size of that caterpillar?

In addition to pest control tips, the Urban Agriculture Resource Center has lots of other helpful information on growing food and videos that can show you how to test your soil, make a self-irrigating container, and compost your food scraps. We’re adding new content all the time! Take a tour and let us know what topics you’d like to see covered in the future.

June 15, 2011

City Farm Update

So many have expressed their concern about the loss of the huge old Norway maple tree that fell last week that we wanted to post a follow-up and let everyone know about the status of City Farm. As of today, the trunks have been cut into large sections by Sepe Tree Service and pulled to the side using a Bobcat; some logs were fed into a chipper to make mulch that City Farm can use on its beds. The remaining tree limbs have been piled up and set out for the city to collect.

There is now a large, empty spot which was once shaded by the canopy; anyone who has visited City Farm in the past would notice the difference now. That space had traditionally been used for the Children’s Garden and the display of perennial flowering plants during the Plant Sale. But City Farm is resilient. “As an agriculturist in these times of change, adaption is essential—to storms, to the amount of rain, to the temperatures,” Rich says. “We’ll adapt the farm.” He already has plans to put in full-sun plants and perhaps even fruit trees in the new open area.

As we noted earlier, the tree landed in the best spot it could have, all things considered. Rather than damaging well-established raspberry canes or crushing tomato plants and stakes, it fell on lettuce and herb beds; these plants can be regrown, and in fact Rich and Laura have already been hard at work turning over the cleared soil. City Farm even went to the farmers’ markets last week. Some of the produce they had for sale was a little bruised, but people were understanding and keen to hear about what had happened. It was a demonstration of what it means to buy direct from local farmers—to experience a storm at home and then see the impact of the weather on food at the market the next day.

We have to say that one of the best things to emerge from this misfortune is the outpouring of support from the community and confirmation of the deep emotional connection many in Providence feel with City Farm and its old trees. Thanks to everyone for their kind words.

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June 9, 2011

Storm Impact at City Farm

We are sad to report that last night’s massive thunderstorm knocked down the majestic old Norway maple at City Farm. Fortunately, the tree largely missed hitting two homes belonging to our neighbors Joe Britto and Deborah Schimberg and Kevin Neel. They had recently paid for the tree to be pruned and cabled; it’s likely that this maintenance prevented more extensive damage when the tree fell. The City Farm chicken coop, with what must have been frightened birds inside, was also spared, although a large limb on the silver maple next to the coop did split and is now hanging.

We are sorry to lose the beautiful, venerable tree that provided so much shade to the farm, and sorry to see so many across the neighborhood and the city coping with downed trees and branches. We wish everyone luck with the cleanup efforts.

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June 7, 2011

Arborial Alliance

Providence neighbors rolling up their sleeves to plant trees in Locust Grove cemetery.

Locust Grove Cemetery on Elmwood Avenue in Providence dates back to 1848. Yet until recently, this historic burial ground now owned by the city’s Parks Department was neglected, a dumping ground for garbage and a high crime area. It called out for improvement.

Another tree goes in the ground to provide food, clean the air, and beautify the park.

Enter the Urban Agriculture Task Force, a coalition of policy makers, farmers, gardeners, and advocates for a healthy local food system in Providence coordinated by Southside Community Land Trust. The vision of the UATF’s edible landscaping committee includes planting fruit-bearing trees, berry bushes, and other edible plants in public spaces, making their harvest available for free to families in the city. Locust Grove’s existing landscape consisted of only a few trees, and so the committee adopted the park as the site for the city’s first public orchard.

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