PennyGrows

So I decided to learn about farming


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Your Temper, My Weather

Nuit Blanche… for those of you who do not live in Toronto (or other participating cities), Nuit Blanche is a sunset to sunrise celebration of art. I have attended Nuit Blanche many times in the past, but this year I was a part of the art!

It was lots of fun! It was a 6 hours commitment and in addition to coffee, tea, water, fruit, and sandwiches, we were also fed bread and “honey”. This will make more sense if you watch the video.

P.S. I make an sleepy, if not trance like appearance… watch for me!

 


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Red Pocket Farm – Second Visit

I was back a Red Pocket on Friday. It was sunny and a cool 10 degrees Celsius. My fingers froze and I got a little wind burnt on my face. Having said all that, suddenly I am starting to feel like I am keeping a farmer’s almanac.?

So amongst the beautiful green organic Asian vegetables and the garlic and chives was ever so subtle… not really, whiff of Kentucky Fried Chicken from the corner of Keele and Sheppard…. oh it was wrong… oh so wrong.

Farmer Amy and I weeded 300 bed feet (new farming term and is defined as the linear distance of 1 foot measured along a raised, mulched bed. The total  number of Bed Feet in a particular planting system that is the cropped area of real-estate). We weeded carrots greens, and kale as well as the crop that we planted 2 weeks ago. Wow! They have have grown so fast.

I have also learned first hand one of the benefits of SPIN farming. SPIN farming using 24″ wide beds and not 40″ or 48″, so when weeding you have the option of standing up over, and straddling the bed. There is not so much bending, squatting or kneeling.

Greens

Mustard Greens

Guy

Gai Lan (foreground with yellow flower), Bok Choy (center with purple stems) and Soy Chum (far)


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Red Pocket Farm

On Friday, May 3, 2013 I spend the day of Red Pocket Farm http://www.redpocketfarm.com with farmer Amy Cheng.

Amy has named her farm after the “… small red envelopes usually containing money or a candy treat…. given on special occasions such as Chinese New Year, birthdays and weddings as blessings for happiness, prosperity, health and good luck.  In farming, one certainly needs all four for a successful season.”

Amy’s farm is located at Keele and Sheppard in Downsview Park, Toronto. She grows, almost exclusively, organic Asian vegetables such as gai lan, bok choy and choy sum to name a few.

I don’t know where or how to begin to tell you what an amazing time I had on the farm!!! Amy is a great teacher and was very generous with her time and knowledge. My day was also very emotional as it was my first day on a farm since deciding this on taking this adventure, so I found myself smiling, kinda…. but not really, about to break into tears of joy, and giggling a little as I weeded, blended composts, planted, hoed, watered and set beds.

Things I learned…

  • If you take the time and do it right, care about what it is that you are doing, you will be rewarded
  • Vegetables that are loved taste better
  • Asparagus tastes WONDERFUL when picked and 2 minutes later eaten… and that says a lot for a girl who does really like green veg that has not been drowned in butter
  • Educate yourself on new planting methods (e.g. SPIN – small plot intensive) http://www.spinfarming.com/whatsSpin/
  • Have a plan (e.g. seed, beds, harvest…) and write it down
  • Take risks, but plan accordingly and write it down… and cover your plans with plastic inserts
  • When hoeing or shoving turn your blade inward toward the bed, so not to spill soil from the bed in to the footpath
  • The smell of fish emulsion is very…  super, difficult to remove from hands and clothes
  • Wear sun block, wear a hat, and clothes that you no longer care about.

GL

Gai Lan – Variety “Jade”

Field

Penny and Amy planted Gai Lan

photo (11)

Lunch – Freshly picked asparagus


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My First

These are the first vegetables (herb) that I have EVER.. really EVER grown from seed… I think.

I may have planted seeds when I was a kid, and  last year I scattered seeds across Toronto parks that I collected from my garden, but these will be the first seeds that I will have watched and cared for with such appreciation.

This past Sunday I transplanted my little seedlings outdoors… fingers crossed that mother nature won’t bring us another frost till the fall.

I am pretty sure that it is butter lettuce and parsley, but it could be cilantro. See I am off to a great start already with my plant identification skills!

Butter Lettuce

Parsley


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ROOFTech 2013

ROOFTech –  roofing industry types who gathered together for an educational experience. It was “… much more than just a… trade show.”

In addition to the manufacturer and designers commonly pedaling their wares at the International Centre, there was oodles of information available, and roof companies “on the ready” to help developers and building owner’s comply with the City of Toronto Green Roof Bylaw. http://www.toronto.ca/greenroofs/overview.htm#thresholds.

While there I attended a seminar on a rooftop gardens and was able to view common rooftop garden configurations.

ROOFTech2013

Surprisingly, most, if not all, of the information supported green roofs that have nothing to do with growing food. The technology and industry, while going in a good and green direction, are not building green roofs to feed families… communities (or profit), the green roofs are environmental and ornamental in nature.