Saturday, October 30, 2010

just in time for halloween...

Garlic! Over this past week I planted 10 pounds of garlic.  Chesnok Red, Kettle River Giant, and Asian Tempest. I also planted a pound of Dutch Yellow shallots.  It went well, trying to get in the ground in between the rains. I'm not complaining- the timing of the rain has been perfect for germinating the cover crop!  The clover is well on its way to covering the north part of the field.

It may be hard to tell what's going on here. That's me, planting garlic.  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

amendments and tilling!

In our last couple days of sunshine-we had to push to get the amendments tilled in and the cover crop planted. So last Thursday and Friday I rented a tiller from Brian at Kennedy Rentals who was really nice and helpful. I spread amendments over the field- lime (lots of it) to raise the pH, alfalfa pellets for nitrogen and a little potassium, green sand for more potassium, soft rock phosphate for.. well, phosphate, and gypsum for a little sulfur. And more compost! We got the amendments (all 1100 pounds!) from Concentrates NW a great farm supply store super close to our house. Then all the amendments and the compost were tilled in with the massive tiller.

compost and bags of lime

Jeff and I finishing spreading amendments in the dark

Friday afternoon my friend Dave and I broadcast crimson clover seed over the north portion of the field and small seeded fava beans on the south portion of the field. The idea is that the clover will be tilled in earlier than the favas for planting earlier in the season. The cover crops we got from Naomi's Farm Supply, another great farm supply store in Sellwood!

building a shed- with help from the family

It seems that every time my dad comes to visit I make him help me some sort of construction task- renovating the greenhouse at the food bank in Tucson and building a chicken coop at my house. This time my dad and his wife, Beth, built a shed. They were a HUGE help. Actually more than help-they really made it possible.

Some interesting facts about this shed:  It was built only with human power!  hammers and hand saws, if you can believe it.  There isn't a source of power on the land. A lot of the materials-wood, plywood and door- came from the Re-Building Center, which is great because it's only a few blocks away. We bought our paint from Metro Paint, which you should follow the link because it's really cool.
my dad, Beth and Jeff

My dad, Robert, painting the shed "Crater Lake" blue.


Lauren beginning the tilling as I watch in awe.
Photo taken by Mike- owner of Pizza A Go-Go

On Friday, October 15th Lauren Hill, a really nice man from Estacada, OR, brought his tractor and tilled the field!  It was a sight to see.  AND he spread the mountain of compost I'd received the week before.

we thought about leaving the grass square in the middle... but didn't.

urban legend- truth or misunderstanding?

There have been many people coming by the land to see what's going on, which has been great! Most everyone is excited and encouraging - and some have been concerned. There are varying degrees of the story I've heard about the potential toxicity of the land I'm trying to farm. I was told by the land owner that there had been a chemical storage facility and that it had burned down and that the soil had been tested and that it was now fine. I did test for lead anyway and the results were well below acceptable levels. Because of others' concern, I thought it wise to research further and do additional testing. See the about the land page for the links to the DEQ study and test results.

From my research I haven't found anything that would cause me to believe that farming this land is unsafe. I am continuing my research and conversations with professionals in the field to ensure the safety!  I will keep folks updated on my results.

One of the many things I've learned from this experience is the power of perception. It makes me wonder even if I had loads of proof as to the safety of this soil would people not want to buy produce from this land because of their perception of what the soil may contain?

We'll see. This may be a good experiment into the future of our food system!

celebrate! the beginning of the farm

On October 8th, I signed a contract to be able to use a third of an acre vacant lot on N Williams in Portland, OR. After months of searching and waiting - it happened! We are starting an urban farm!

the land- facing the south east corner

Minutes after meeting with the landowner and her mother (who owns the Tropicana Restaurant and is really sweet), I got on the phone with a guy to bring over a load of compost first thing the next morning.

compost, waiting for a way to get in the soil

 After receiving the compost (and waiting out a bit of rain) Jeff and I began  planning the layout of the farm and clearing some overgrown vines on the west side of the property to make room for the shed.

Jeff clearing vines