CommonWealth Urban Farms is a small urban farm located in near NW Oklahoma City. We provide fresh, nutritious vegetables to 30 families weekly from April through November. We fully support the proposed urban agriculture and urban hens ordinances that will clarify city code in relation to gardening and urban farming in OKC.
Being part of the cycle of growing food is a new and profound experience for many people who have grown up as city dwellers. I’ve watched it in the wide eyes of a child pulling a carrot out of the ground for the very first time, in the smile of one of our members as they walk through our farm and say, “Oh, this is where my vegetables come from!” and in myself, each time I watch a seed grow and push its tiny leaves through the soil’s crust.
Over the two years since we began, I’ve seen how eager our members have been to eat fresh, healthy food, and to learn where their food comes from. Members bring their children and friends over to show them our urban farm, they ask us questions on how to grow different vegetables, they volunteer for the chance to get outside and get their hands in the dirt.
Whether it’s planting a tomato patch in the backyard, or a pepper plant in the flower border, or reaching into the chicken coop for a still-warm egg, nothing can replace the experience of connecting with our sources of sustenance.
A new neighbor told me that his realtor listed our urban farm as one of the selling points before he bought his house. I receive emails almost weekly from people throughout OKC asking me to add their names to the waiting list for our “Veggie Club.” We field questions from people all over the city, in fact, from across the country, regarding urban farming, composting and bio-remediation.
We believe both ordinances will help make Oklahoma City a healthier, more vital community. Thank you for giving the urban ag and urban hens ordinances your serious consideration.
We are super excited to bring permaculture author and teacher Dave Jacke to OKC on November 15-17. A passionate and engaging speaker, Jacke will give a public talk on Gardening Like the Forest: Home-Scale Ecological Food Production on Friday, Nov. 15, from 7-9 pm at the OCU Chapel at Oklahoma City University, 2501 N. Blackwelder.
In addition, Dave will lead a workshop (limited to 27 people) on Gardening Like the Forest: Fundamentals of Ecological Gardening on Saturday and Sunday, November 16-17, from9 am to 5 pm. Cost is $200. Scholarships available.
This is a superb opportunity for the Oklahoma City community to learn about building perennial food systems and sustainable living.
Dave Jacke is the author of the award-winning two volume book Edible Forest Gardens published by Chelsea Green Publishing. He was trained by permaculture co-founder Bill Mollison in 1981, and has run his own ecological design firm, Dynamics Ecological Design, since 1984. He has consulted on, designed, built, and planted landscapes, homes, farms, and communities across the United States and overseas. More information at www.edibleforestgardens.com.
Our first mini workshop on Saturday was great! We had a good group turn up to talk about planting fruit trees and we got some pears and persimmons into the ground.
If you missed out, don’t worry, we have more workshops coming up. Mini workshops are on Saturday mornings from about 9:30-10, with a chance for hands on experience for those who want to stick around.
Our upcoming topics are:
Sat. April 6 – How to plant tomatoes; how to prepare the bed, selecting varieties, different methods of staking/caging, dealing with pests and diseases. A free tomato seedling to first ten participants. Additional seedlings will be for sale.
Sat. April 13 – OU Big Event volunteer day (No workshop)
Sat. April 20 – Flowers for Bouquets: what to plant to keep your vases filled all summer long. (Followed by our Earth Day celebration.)
Sat. April 27 – Composting with worms
Mini workshops are held at our Olie Avenue lot, one block east of Western between NW 32nd and Hill Streets.
For more information, or requests for future workshop topics, you can contact us at 405-524-1864 or email@example.com.
No! We sure don’t!
Our volunteers have been out in the bad weather and the good getting ready for the spring. Besides doing a lot of maintenance, cleaning and organizing – we have rows of garlic and other cold weather veggies growing and our composting is going strong.
A few weeks ago some of our volunteers learned about making soil blocks to start some of our seeds in. No more need for all those disposable plastic trays! This makes our budget and the environment a little bit happier.
A fantastic team of youth volunteers dug in and turned over our newest lot, all by shovel, sweat and muscle. We’re very impressed, and extremely grateful! Now this space is ready for our newest exciting project – bioremediation. We’ll be using mushrooms to reduce the soil’s lead content so that’s we can be sure it’s 100% safe for growing food. Is your interest piqued? I hope so! More to come on that in the next month or two – or better yet, to learn more, come get involved! We look forward to seeing you!
So we have been running the farm all summer and haven’t had much time to create blog posts. Today the team harvested compost from the compost piles created with waste product from Whole Foods Market. Today’s picture is of that compost being spread over a row that will be planted in the next two weeks.
The Community Supported Agriculture subscriptions have been going since Earth Day this year and delivering a basket of food, about once a week, to 20 families.
We had a wonderful, warm and sunny winter day today to prepare two additional beds for early spring planting. They had a lot of roots and stubborn nut grass. Nut grass is a new one for me so I looked it up: Wikipedia Entry for Nut Grass. From Wikipedia:
Cyperus rotundus is one of the most invasive weeds known, having spread out to a worldwide distribution in tropical and temperate regions. It has been called “the world’s worst weed” as it is known as a weed in over 90 countries, and infests over 50 crops worldwide. In the United States it occurs from Florida north toNew York and Minnesota and west to California and most of the states in between.
Its existence in a field significantly reduces crop yield, both because it is a tough competitor for ground resources, and because it is allelopathic, the roots releasing substances harmful to other plants. Similarly, it also has a bad effect on ornamental gardening. The difficulty to control it is a result of its intensive system of underground tubers, and its resistance to most herbicides. It is also one of the few weeds that cannot be stopped with plastic mulch.
The carrots have germinated! You can see the tiny green seedlings, reaching their leaves up out of the soil. These were the first food-crop seeds we have planted, which made October 21 a quietly momentous day for CommonWealth Urban Farms. The carrot seeds will germinate and grow this fall, then grow more slowly over the short days of winter, and be ready for harvest in the spring. Cold weather changes the starches in carrots into sugars, so winter grown carrots are the sweetest. We watered daily; carrot seed is very picky about drying out and won’t germinate well unless it’s kept moist for the two week germination period. Because they are so slow, it is especially exciting when we finally see the little seedlings appearing out of the ground.
With the help of 25+ volunteers we are making progress on the preparation of garden beds and other planting areas. David Braden has done an excellent job overseeing the design and creation of the garden beds.
The pictures below provide an idea of how things are going, although more beds have been created since these pictures were taken.
We’ve also moved right along in planting vegetables for the Spring CSA harvest. So far we have planted carrots, garlic, onions and shallots. We hope to put more plants in the ground that will over-winter in the garden within the next few weeks.
We have also begun ground preparation for the backyard lot adjacent to the central lot. We hope to plant cover crops at the next CommonWork event.
If you’re looking for a way to be involved, join us every Saturday at CommonWork from 8am-11am at the central lot. For directions send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CommonWork today was very satisfying work.
After we had processed 7 barrels of beer grains, done some work in the garden and worked on a time line for when we would need the compost ready, we went back to the compost piles with Lia and began turning the piles for the first time. We wanted to check on the progress of the piles because we’re wanting to start planting our first crops the first two weeks of October. Turns out the piles are composting, but not at the rate we had hoped, so we worked on turning and watering a section of the pile. This should greatly increase the rate of decomposition.
We all felt very satisfied after digging through and turning the piles for 45 minutes. There’s something about turning the compost, witnessing the progress, and instigating further progress that is a different quality of work than say digging in the soil to weed.
Come out and experience the joys of composting (or other garden preparation) with us every Sat. from 8-11am.
CommonWork is a new weekly workday on Saturdays from 8am-11am. CommonWork is a time for the CommonWealth community and neighbors to get their hands dirty for the preparation and maintenance of the CommonWealth gardens.
We had a blast working on the Ollie lot this week. Lia, Hannah, and Clem spent most of the time weeding and replanting in open spaces where the cover crop (Cowpeas) didn’t germinate.
The other project was maintenance of our ever expanding compost pile. David and Terry processed 4 barrels (1,400 lbs.) of spent beer grains (kindly donated by the folks at Coop Ale Works) and layered them with wood chips. We also watered the compost pile for the first time this summer.
It may sound ridiculous to water a pile of waste, but water is an essential ingredient in the composting process. For the little microbes in the pile to work at maximum efficiency any compost pile needs the proper mixture of green (Nitrogen) and brown (Carbon) matter and water. If there’s no water, the microbes die out and the decomposition process grinds to a halt.
We all had a great time. Hope to see you there next week!