Thursday, December 16, 2010

Resting Farm

We’re finally putting the farm to rest for the winter. We harvested the last of our protected winter and African squash fruits. Now they’ll cure at least a week so their sugars develop and the fruit will be even tastier. The severe frost this past week bit many of our lettuce and cabbage plants. In the spring, we’ll break up and mix in the decomposed plants that belong in the Brassicaceae (Mustard) family to increase the health of our soil. Cabbage, collards, bok choi, and broccoli all belong in this family.

We appreciate the folks from Slow Food Le Cordon Bleu and Slow Food Emory!

Julie Shaffer, Director of Southern region Slow Food, is helping prepare veggies for market.

They mulched most of our farm paths with wood chips, and donated two bags of composted cow manure. Thank you! All-star volunteer Laquita finding worms by the handful. Thanks goes to our beautiful compost.

So now it’s time for our cover crops to take over. We have Johnny’s Fall Mix out in the field. I just took a soil sample so we know what amendments need to be added so our soil and plants will be healthy. Want to test your own soil? See the University of Georgia’s recommended steps:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Farm Stand Update

Our farm stand at The Atlanta Friends Meeting is off to a successful beginning. It's exciting to hear from repeat customers who are enjoying our greens at home during the week. Bunches of customers were happily buying greens for their family feasts. The Burundi women are doing a great job of setting up our farm stand, keeping track of inventory, taking payment, making change, and breaking down the farm stand. Our salad mixes and bok choi have been fast sellers. In the coming weeks, we'll be giving out a recipe for arugula pesto. We hope to see you there soon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Produce for Sale!

The farmers of Our Community Farm Project are now selling their all-natural, pesticide/chemical-free produce in Decatur! Come visit The Atlanta Friends Meeting near Decatur High School [Directions]. We sell produce from 11am-12pm on Sundays, except for 11/28 (Thanksgiving). Contact Robin with questions and market availability. So far we have sold arugula, mixed leaf lettuces, spinach, and mustard greens; soon we will be selling winter squash and cooking greens like collards and swiss chard.

Our team comes from Clarkston and St. Mountain to staff the farm stand.

What is our harvesting process? Some plants, like arugula, are pulled up from the field, roots and all. This ensures that the plant stays as fresh as possible. Our lettuce is a cut-and-come-again crop, so we shear off the tops of our lettuce leaving 1/2'' inch above the crown. We harvest everything the preceding day. How about some clean greens? The women have set up a thorough washing system minimize the amount of dirt.

Washing greens.

Weighing and bunching greens

Market Location

Atlanta Friends Meeting
701 West Howard Avenue, Decatur, Georgia 30030 [Directions] Phone: +1 404-377-2474

Monday, November 1, 2010

Harvest Festival & Picnic

Thank you to all those who joined us at our first annual (we hope!) Harvest Festival & Picnic. We had a great turnout for our family-friendly event, complete with a picnic lunch, face painting, children's activities, and a kudzu basket market from our friends at Bhutan Baskets. We spent the lovely Saturday afternoon celebrating our hard work, eating delicious food, touring the farm, and of course, taking pleasure in the song and dance performed by the Burundi women. The video below briefly captures their performance, which they created especially to thank everyone for coming out to the farm. They told us that their song is about coming to Atlanta and growing vegetables here.

As a fundraiser, the event was a huge success. We exceeded our fundraising goals, thanks to generous support from the community, which puts us in an excellent position to continue our growing efforts next year.

We will post more pictures from the event soon.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ticket Information

Harvest Festival & Picnic
A Celebration and Fundraiser for Our Community Farm Project

WHEN: October 23rd, noon - 4pm (food served 12:30 - 2)
WHERE: At the farm (121 Sams St, next to Avondale MARTA Station)
WHY: To celebrate our hard work and raise funds for education

Ticket Information:
$15 adults in advance ($20 after 10/20/10!)
$10 children (10 & under)
free for children under 4
  1. Buy tickets online ($2 ticket fee) until 10/20/10: click here
  2. Mail order tickets (no fee): print this form and mail to RFS by 10/20/10
  3. Visit us at Peachtree Road Farmers' Market on Saturday, September 25th, to purchase tickets directly

Monday, September 20, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

In the news!

Families find comfort in familiar food, companionship in Atlanta suburb.

Buggin' Out on the Farm

In less than 6 months of working to create a microfarm, the ecosystem at 121 Sams St has exploded with diversity. The space is completely transformed and now is teeming with life. While some of the bug species do inflict harm to our plants, we still welcome their presence because we know we are re-introducing balance to the land. I've been accumulating pictures with my trusty iPhone camera, which I can no longer resist sharing. If I've misidentified anything, speak up!

Praying Mantis on African squash

Two lady beetles, enjoying each other's company

An acrobatic grasshopper

Two grasshoppers, displaying their acrobatic abilities a bit differently

Aphid eggs covering our okra! (Spraying soapy water on these does this trick)

Squash eggs on squash plant. We systematically check for these and crush them before they hatch.

Leaf-footed plant bug, sucking the juice out of our tomatoes. They fly, too!

Japanese beetle on okra.

Monday, August 23, 2010

August Update

Annike picks up a Monarch butterfly that likely paid a visit to the farm on its northward summer migration.

Forgive me for the crass picture of the check, but we are extremely excited about our very first restaurant sale! Duck's Cosmic Kitchen hosted a farm-to-table dinner, featuring Our Community Farm Project (specifically, our tomatoes, okra, and mchicha). Susan, Maria, and Robin enjoyed a fabulous five course meal and answered other diners' questions about the farm and project.

Robin leads a tour group from the American Community Gardening Association Conference. We were a part of the Clarkston Tour, also featuring friends at Tobie Grant Garden, Jolly Ave Garden (World Relief), Clarkston Community Garden, and Birch Grove (Bhutanese Garden).

Monday, August 9, 2010

In the news!

Check out this article by Josh Smith from On Common Ground:

Preparing for fall

For the past few weeks, we have begun preparations for our fall planting, including seed starting.

The women showing off the seeds brought from Burundi. These are seeds for enormous African squash (like a giant butternut) and mchicha (an African green in the amaranth family). These will be directly seeded into the ground. Reportedly, the vines from a single African squash plant can travel upwards of 100 feet.

Stirring up our super secret seed starting mix.

Seeding trays of lettuce and cabbage, with Obed looking on. In about a month, we will transplant these into our rows. In Burundi (and later Tanzania), the women told me that they started seeds in small bags.

Summertime (and the livin's busy)

Our two farm managers, Venance and Obed, being silly on a Saturday morning. These two never fail to make us all laugh.

Sky high sunflower.

As expected, our sunflowers shot up into the air seemingly overnight. They are upwards of 10 feet tall now. It's a toss up on who likes them more: us or the bees.

Our tomato production peaked in mid-July, but we are still harvesting several buckets of tomatoes each week. We currently track our harvests in bucket loads, since we don't yet have a scale (hint, hint -- we'd love one!)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

American Community Gardening Association -- Garden Tour

Our Community Farm Project will be one of the stops on the ACGA's garden tour, which is a part of their annual conference to be hosted in Atlanta this year.

We will participate in the Clarkston Tour, which will also include our international farming friends at Tobie Grant, World Relief, Jolly Ave, and Birch Grove.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Robin.

Dinner at Duck's Cosmic Kitchen

Duck's Cosmic Kitchen will be featuring produce from Our Community Farm Project in their August 19th "eat local dinner." Please call Duck's directly in order to purchase tickets to this event. Robin and Susan will be in attendance, hopefully in the company of at least one of the Burundi women, in order to answer questions about the farm.


Mchicha is a leafy green in the amaranth family. One woman brought the mchicha seeds all the way from Burundi, and the women began referring to is as their "African basil," since it someone resembles a basil plant they saw in an American seed catalog. The seeds turned out to be incredibly productive, and the women enjoy being able to eat such a familiar vegetable that they would never be able to find in a grocery store here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Field Trip

Two Saturdays ago (6/26)was our big trip to Truly Living Well, a certified organic, urban farm located in East Point, GA, with a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. It was a great opportunity for everyone to learn more about alternative farming practices and marketing techniques.

Mr. Rashid Nuri the owner of Truly Living Well Natural Urban Farms gave us a tour of one of his farms.

Our first group trip together with everyone who works at OCF.

The children came along and shared in the experience as well!

The women and men were interested, engaged, and asked many questions while the kids explored the farm on their own.

Mr. Rashid demonstrating the importance of ventilation in a compost pile.

The women were especially keen on learning about Mr. Rashid's cinder-block worm farm.

The brave and curious examining Mr. Rashid's bee hives.

We ended the day with the women singing a song to show their appreciation to Mr. Rashid for hosting them.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lots of activity

On Saturday the women learned the English names for all the different types of squash we grow at the farm. Among them the women found the patty pan squash most amusing to pronounce ("Pah-DEE pan sqwashh!").

A handsome patty pan squash the size of my hand.

There were many teaching examples to from which to choose after the big harvest this week. We literally had a cascade of zucchini bouncing off the table before figuring out a good way to pile them.
It's amazing how much the farm has grown... From looking at pictures taken just a few weeks before, you could barely say it was the same place! The best part is, people from around the farm are noticing it too.

Over the course of the week we acquired a ridiculously heavy contraption that would allow us to convert water from a nearby hydrant into low-pressured, usable water for irrigating the farm. The next step is figuring out how to best rig up a watering system with hoses.

Robin and Mr. Obede discussing watering solutions.

The tomatoes are looking good! A few of them are looking ripe for the picking soon.

Also, this week I learned how to set up a climbing system for the beans with the bamboo poles, and how to do a Florida weave to trellis the tomatoes.

Of course, one of the best parts of the day- lunch!

Those watermelons really hit the spot.
Susan made a beef-and-beans stew to show everyone that our kind of beans (although not quite as hard as the African variety) are also edible and quite tasty. After lunch the women divided the harvest.

Mr. Obede (also known as Papa Roza in the community, a title that comes form the anme of his eldest child) and one of the daughters helped divvy up the squash and bean harvest between all the women who participated this week.

To the victor goes the spoils!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Women's Day Off

Last Saturday was the women's first day off from the farm in many many weeks.

Mother nature waits for no one! Susan, Robin and I still had a Saturday work day on the farm.

Robin had harvested some wild bamboo the day before, so our first job of the day was cutting the extra branches off to make some sturdy trellising posts from these guys.

We also had a surprising stream of visitors that day, including a local journalist. It's good to see the community showing so much interest in our project.

The zucchini was literally rolling off in bucket loads.

Contrary to popular belief, BIGGER does not always mean better. Zucchini grows tougher as it gets larger. They also accumulate bigger and larger seeds.
However we did find a very impressive-looking one which had grown to roughly the size of a baseball bat.

Susan showing one of the men the right size to harvest a zucchini.

We managed to pick a bucket of green beans, which was promptly distributed to the happy folks in the career center next doors.
The men had to leave soon after they arrived, leaving quite a bit of work left to do. On an immediate note is trellising the beans and tomatoes!! Hopefully we'll have an extra-productive workday next week.