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!
Welcome to the new blog for CommonWealth Urban Farms! This will be a great way keep both community members and onlookers informed as we progress in this new venture.
So you might be asking yourself…what exactly does CommonWealth Urban Farms do?
Our vision is of a vibrant local food network in Oklahoma City, through which every person has access to real food while supporting the health of the environment and of the community.
Our mission is to grow food on vacant lots throughout Oklahoma City, to provide training and resources for a network of urban gardeners, to create jobs that contribute to individual and community health, to expand retail outlets for locally grown food, to turn local waste into compost, and to connect neighbors and neighborhoods so that our common waste and underutilized resources become our common wealth.
Peace of cake, right?
Not so fast. As our name implies, our end-goal is to benefit the common good, the community. To do so we rely on the strengths and resources of community members to pitch in and make things happen. The more involvement and support we receive from the community, the more we have to collectively give back to the community.
If you’re looking for a way to get involved, come to our weekly work party, CommonWork, Saturdays from 8am-11am.
We hope this blog will serve the purpose of connecting and keeping people connected to the work we are doing. Feel free to look around on the site for more ways to get involved!