Archive for August, 2011

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 24, 2011

City Farm Intern Spotlight: Kathleen Reed

Southside Community Land Trust is honored to have had Kathleen Reed work with us as City Farm’s Summer College Intern. For these past few months, she’s been involved pretty much full time at City Farm (a biointensive 3/4 acre urban farm in the southside of Providence) growing food, harvesting, helping run the City Farm stand at the Hope St. Farmers’ Market, and assisting the Marketing Collaborative at the Broad St. Farmers’ Market on Saturdays.

Kathleen is a rising senior at Providence College (PC) and has been involved with SCLT since February 2010. PC and SCLT have a great working relationship that has been going on for 10 years. PC provides a consistent supply of eager and willing college student volunteers in return for community experience on a working urban organic farm. Although students like Kathleen who volunteer at Southside think they are just getting some quality time outdoors growing and harvesting plants and food, they get a lot more out of their time here than just getting their hands dirty. “I love being at City Farm because it acts as a free-form community center. My experience here has definitely helped me become more engaged with the community and see an important part of Providence I wouldn’t normally get to see,” Kathleen says. “The relationships I’ve been able to form at the Land Trust are also really important to me.” Almost everyday, Kathleen, SCLT staff, City Farm interns and occasional visitors from the neighborhood and community have a communal lunch together.

Over the course of the next few years, she hopes to apply what she’s learned wherever she goes. “The values and skills I’ve learned from interning here have had an impact on my understanding of both agriculture and community. I want to be able to continue to grow food, share it with others, and learn more about how to serve the community.” Although Kathleen is ending her summer internship today, she’s looking forward to sticking around at least until she graduates. Thank you Kathleen for your dedication to Southside Community Land Trust!

August 23, 2011

Eating for Education Dinner at Local 121

What are your dinner plans this Saturday night? How about a Roasted Gazpacho and Spicy Maine Jonah Crab with roasted corn and olive oil croutons? Or an Arcadian Fields Panzanella Salad with cherry tomatoes, fairytale eggplant, pickled onion, arugula and balsamic vinegar? These are just a few of the uniquely delicious items made at Local 121 – a place that features locally raised and harvested produce, cheeses, pastured meats and sustainable seafood from the hands of New England farmers who care about the health of the environment and the integrity of your food. The restaurant also takes things a step further in actively incorporating anything from a locally made butter dish on their tables to the photographs taken by local artists on their walls.

This Saturday on August 27th, Local 121 (at 121 Washington St. in downtown Providence) is generously donating 10% of their dinner proceeds to Southside Community Landtrust’s (SCLT) Children’s Garden Program as part of the Eating for Education campaign. Eating for Education is a grassroots effort to create national awareness about school garden and school lunch programs. The campaign will culminate in homes and restaurants around the country on August 27th with special dinners celebrating the building power of Edible Education.

So come out this Saturday to Local 121 and have a dinner both you and your taste buds can feel good about! SCLT is grateful to Local 121, Eating for Education and of course members of the community for cultivating such invaluable support for our programs!

August 22, 2011

City Fest is Tomorrow!

Neighbors, kids, families and friends alike are invited to Southside Community Land Trust’s 21st annual City Fest tomorrow!

This free event will take place 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).

City Fest guests will get to hear from the kids about what they have learned from their time in the Children’s Garden program. They will also have a chance to enjoy tasty snacks featuring foods the kids grew themselves and harvested. SCLT will host a variety of crafts, music and games for kids and adults alike like face painting and double dutch .

The event will also provide generous donations to the kids, such as new books given by the Providence libraries and new backpacks for the school year from Citizens Bank.

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August 15, 2011

One Month ‘Til the Harvest Party!

A month from today, we’ll be celebrating our 30th anniversary under a big tent at the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center with chefs, farmers, and friends. There will be food stations set up with delectable creations featuring produce from local farms, as well as music, drinks, door prizes, and sparkling conversation with community gardeners and fellow supporters of the Community Land Trust. Will you be there? Buy your tickets now if you haven’t already! Every ticket is a tax-deductible gift in support of our urban gardens and educational programs, helping to give even more people the opportunity to grow their own food. So make plans to join us for a perfect fall evening as we share in the harvest and honor thirty years of transforming our city into a greener, greater Providence!

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!

August 8, 2011

Welcome Our New Community Growers Network Coordinator!

Cindy Llamas, the new Community Growers Network Coordinator for the Community Land Trust

Cindy Llamas is the newest addition to the Southside Community Land Trust staff. She will be helping to expand the recently launched Community Growers Network alongside its director, Liza Sutton, giving community gardeners, home gardeners, and school gardens in Providence the resources they need to be successful at growing food in the city.

Cindy comes to us from the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, where she had been conducting outreach around Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits—formerly known as food stamps—at soup kitchens, food pantries, and senior centers in her hometown of Newport. Her goal was to educate people about how to qualify for the program, what is covered, and how to maintain good nutrition. She also worked to get EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) payments accepted at area farmers’ markets. “There’s actually a high poverty rate in many cities in Rhode Island, and a lot of people aren’t accessing their benefits, even though they’re eligible,” she says. “Once I started working with the Food Bank, I really saw the poverty here, and I wanted to improve quality of life for these people by getting them access to good food.”

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August 7, 2011

Have You Hugged Your Farmer Today?

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has declared August 7th-13th to be National Farmers’ Market Week for 2011. The occasion is designed “to further awareness of farmers markets and the contributions farmers make to daily life in America” by improving the health of their communities. Read the official proclamation below and then head out to a market near you this week to show your support by picking up some local veggies “in their freshest possible state.” Tell them Vilsack sent you.

August 2, 2011

Food Growers Unite!

According to the most recent statistics from the National Gardening Association, an estimated 36 million U.S. households (about a third of the country) are participating in food gardening these days, meaning they cultivate their own vegetables, fruit, berries, and/or herbs. Of those who said they planned to grow food in 2009, the year the survey was conducted, over a fifth reported that they would be new to gardening! These figures confirm what many have said—food growing is on the rise. People are returning to the art of agriculture and taking up their trowels in order to enjoy better-tasting produce, save money, and control how their food is raised.

Another encouraging result from the survey: about a million U.S. households—or about 3 percent of the population—are currently growing their food in a community garden, but five times that many are interested in having a plot nearby! We’re glad to hear it. We’ve been building community gardens in Providence for thirty years now, and we aim to continue creating new spaces every year to accommodate even more people.

Growing food in Rhode Island is getting easier and easier. Our Providence Community Growers Network is helping to connect both home and community gardeners to compost, workshops, fellow growers, and other resources they need to be successful. And, thanks to Rhode Island legislators, gardening is now formally sanctioned as an activity! About two weeks ago, Governor Chafee signed H 5707 into law; the act allows “plant agriculture” within all residential zoning districts across the Ocean State. (On a related side note, the city of Chicago is also currently considering an ordinance that would permit the expansion of urban farms in that city.) Why would anyone need to establish that food growing is a right protected by law, you ask? Well, people have actually been threatened with fines or even jail time for having vegetable gardens instead of lawns in some cities (click here to read about one such case in Oak Park, Michigan)!

Thankfully, Rhode Island is moving in a different direction with this progressive policy aimed at supporting local food systems—in fact, it may be the first state to pass such a measure. So kudos to Senator Susan Sosnowski, Representative Eileen Naughton, Governor Chafee, and the Rhode Island Farm Bureau for creating this forward-thinking piece of legislation that enshrines food growing in state law. Let’s hope it inspires even more people to get out there and exercise their rights!

P.S. The key findings of the National Gardening Association survey have been gathered into a charming infographic for you by Mother Nature Network. You can also read the full report by clicking here.

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