A Featured Garden August 17, 2010
A few weeks ago, I got the chance to visit the Hernandez family garden. Although the family loves to cook, they had never been successful growing their own food. Enter, Backyard Harvest! After hauling in a truck full of compost/soil blend, farmer Dina has turned 100 sq. ft. of grass into a productive growing space, based on the permaculture principles of plant diversity, companion planting and succession.
The family is pleased. This summer, the kids have watched the garden grow and produce food that they enjoy. And, Carlos and Amy have been able to incorporate the ultra-fresh food into their family’s diet. They are hoping that with the knowledge that they’ve gained this season, they’ll be able to continue taking care of the garden themselves in the years to come.
This garden has been made possible through a partnership with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity and a generous donation from Backyard Harvest supporter, Michelle K. (featured in photo with Amy Hernandez)
Moving Towards Healthier Eating August 4, 2010
As the line for food was winding down last night at Rivertown Commons’ (140 unit affordable housing community in St. Paul) National Night Out, cooking coach and nutrition educator Tracey KS Yue was setting up for a cooking demonstration. Using green cabbage, kale, red onions, cilantro, basil and cucumbers from the Backyard Harvest garden on the property, she welcomed both kids and adults to help chop, stir and cut the produce that was picked just that day. ‘This is all fresh food from your garden!’, she would exclaim. The quizzical looks from residents soon turned to intrigue as a colorful salad took form. Lentils and an oil/vinegar dressing were tossed with the fresh veggies creating a delectable looking delight. Several of the child chefs took turns passing out samples to the residents. It was a refreshing finish to the traditional barbecue menu of the annual summer event.
My name is Lea Berg, and the garden at Rivertown Commons is one my primary responsibilities as Equal Access Coordinator with Backyard Harvest. For a first year project, the 400 sq. ft. garden at this urban apartment complex is going remarkably well. Many residents have been involved with the garden this season as planters, harvesters, observers or eaters. We’re already looking forward to duplicating this initiative at other multi-unit housing sites next year. Growing organic food and making it available to all people, regardless of income, is something we believe in!
If you believe in growing a healthy & sustainable food system for everyone, we invite you to support us via Kickstarter. The campaign runs through August 31. See the updater on the right to see how close we’re getting to our goal!
Rivertown Commons Urban Farm Tour July 20, 2010
If you’ve been following us this summer, you know that Backyard Harvest has partnered with the Cornerstone Development Group to install 435 sq. ft. of food gardens at Rivertown Commons, an urban apartment development located in Frogtown. This garden showcases our innovative model of food production at a multi-unit housing site. Residents are sharing the ultra-local harvest, following the garden through the seasons, and coming together around delicious food and garden-related activities.
The garden will be open to the community for touring (led by Farmer Dina) on Thursday, July 22nd between 10AM and 12 noon. Anyone is invited to stop by anytime during that time frame. We will be on hand to answer your questions!
Rivertown Commons is located at: 175 Charles Avenue, St. Paul (garden location is in the courtyard behind the building)
Come Visit Our Frogtown Garden! June 18, 2010
This summer, Backyard Harvest has partnered with Frogtown Gardens to maintain a Backyard Harvest garden as a demonstration site to Frogtown residents.
Frogtown Gardens’ monthly meeting is this coming Monday June 21 from 6 to 7:30, at 970 Thomas Avenue, St. Paul. This address is the home of Heather Wells, Backyard Harvest customer. If you’re curious what a Backyard Harvest garden looks like, take this invitation to see her veggies, strawberry patch and potato bin. Also, learn more about the upcoming Frogtown Farm and enjoy the longest day of the year…a solstice Happy Hour!
This comment was received at a focus group yesterday held at Rivertown Commons. In order to measure Backyard Harvest’s success and to facilitate relevant programming, a pre-season focus group was conducted with the residents.
Although gardening experience varied greatly among the residents who participated in the discussion, everyone agreed that getting fresh produce as well as the experience of having a garden was valuable to them. Residents expressed interest in learning about gardening practices, permaculture, different plant varieties and cooking and nutrition. Building community with each other was also seen as important. Residents hoped to have garden parties where the food served comes directly from the garden.
Residents’ agreed upon desire for this growing season was that they would have better nutrition and fresh, chemical-free vegetables. Like one resident said, ‘there’s nothing like the freshness of produce coming directly from the garden to your plate!’
Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower, Oh My! May 28, 2010
Over the past few weeks, our urban farmers have been installing all of the ‘cold weather’ crops in the gardens of Backyard Harvest customers. Don’t you wish you could have their help installing your garden?!?
If you have a minute, watch this short video of our 2010 farmer team planting at Rivertown Commons:
Earth Day Reflections May 4, 2010
Last Thursday brought a beautiful spring day as well as the culmination of a much anticipated event, Rivertown Commons Earth Day Kick-Off. For months, staff at the Cornerstone Group, Rivertown Commons and Backyard Harvest have been designing an event for residents that would celebrate spring, with a special focus on the new Backyard Harvest garden in the community.
Resident chefs jump-started the event by providing samples of an array of home-cooked specialties. Next, a presentation on nutrition was given by a staff person from Simply Good Eating (a program of the University of Minnesota Extension). Kids activities through-out the day included vegetable coloring pages, as well as painting flower pots and seeding them as a take home gift. Throughout the afternoon, residents were able to meet Farmer Dina and learn about the garden design, harvest schedule and upcoming planting event. Backyard Harvest staff were busy building potato bins and planting serviceberries and currents along the garden border.
Jamal Hashi, head chef of Safari Express, capped off the event with a fantastic cooking demonstration, including food samples. He used many fresh ingredients, giving reference often to the nutritional produce that will be grown in the garden this summer.
As residents expressed excitement about the garden, we knew the day had been a success. The enthusiasm surrounding this garden is a promising sign of the season ahead.
Food Shelf Garden Update July 31, 2009
It’s amazing how quickly a garden can progress, given the right conditions. Last night I met up with a few volunteers at our Food Shelf Garden to see how things were shaping up. I’m happy to report that the plants are looking really healthy and robust.
Having had such a long stretch of cool weather this summer, it’s a relief to finally see tomatoes turning color on the vine.
I’ll admit I was nervous knowing that the garden faced the alley with no rabbit-proof fencing to speak of, but there were no signs of any late-night feasting. Of course, it doesn’t hurt having Mary’s cat patrolling the area, or the huge marigold plants shrubs serving as a lush, colorful barrier. It’s exciting to think that in another week or so, our volunteers will start delivering fresh vegetables and herbs to food shelves within 5 miles of the harvest.
Vegetables such as gold tomatoes, leeks, heirloom purple chili peppers, spinach, bell peppers, broccoli…
…and herbs such as sage, coriander, sweet basil, and chives.
I’d like to give a shout-out to all the volunteers who have graciously donated their time and energy to keep the Food Shelf Garden looking spectacular. Thank you so much for your help in making this happen!