Posts tagged ‘vegetables’
The Urban Agricultural Unit (UAU) is moving again. This time it’s rolling out of Providence to greener pastures in Attleboro, MA. Seven Arrows Herb Farm is adopting the UAU and improving its inputs (energy) and outputs (plants). Read all about it in today’s Providence Journal. Goodbye, UAU. Hello, SubUAU.
In honor of the UAU–ok, subUAU, get it?–here’s a new mobile agriculture project called the Truck Farm. Ian Cheney, one of the filmmakers behind “King Corn,” converted an old Dodge pickup truck into a rambling, roaming, rolling garden. The truck bed was drilled with drainage holes, fitted with a mat and soil, and planted out: tomatoes, nasturtiums, arugula, etc. A solar-powered camera snaps a photo everyday to show members of its CSA (yes!) how everything is growing on the streets of Brooklyn. Truck Farm rolls around the borough, going to parties and demonstrations, probably making deliveries too. Can’t you picture it in a parade?
Long live Brooklyn, from its dumpster pools to garden trucks!
I’ve been waylaid in the backyard, working on my vegetable garden. Some might say fruit and vegetable…there are tomatoes, tomatillos (thank you, Fox Point), cukes, peppers, and raspberries. Let ‘em say what they will.
A friend gave me a yardsale find: Victory Backyard Gardens: Simple Rules for Growing your own Vegetables (1942) by T.H. Everett and Edgar J. Clissold with an intro by Secretary of Agriculture Claude Wickard. He’s the one who initially told First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt that she shouldn’t plant a victory garden at the White House and later changed his tune.
Sixty-seven years later, the book gives a firsthand glimpse at how gardeners went about their task during World War II. Intensive cultivation was the key. This was the era of shortages. As gas rationing and scrap drives made Americans conserve, so they would make the most of their available land. Succession planting, minimal space between rows, etc.
Another gardener asked me what victory gardens looked like. Here’s a sample plan:This is a lot of food! I admit I had to look up what “catch crop” (a quick growing crop to plant before or after another main crop) and “hot bed” (a cold frame over a hot surface, like manure or a heating element) meant. And though fertilizer is considered a precious resource–see the bugs panel on the left–note the compost pile in one corner of the garden.
Finally, one of the distinctions of WWII victory gardens is that they were considered to be part of America’s Civilian Defense program. I love how the cartoon on the right encourages gardeners to share their surplus. Shouldn’t making sure your neighbor has something to eat make for a more secure community?
It’s the birthday of the USA, and it’s one year since I launched the Green Zone website.
What a difference a year makes. We have a new president, and there’s a thriving vegetable garden on the grounds of the White House.
New gardens are sprouting everywhere! A brand-new community garden in Davis Park, a new garden in the works for the Davey Lopes Rec Center in South Providence, and a bunch of new school gardens here and there. And so many first-time backyard growers, too.
In the Summit neighborhood, there are flowerboxes full of vegetables on porches, and so many people have dug up their front lawns to plant ornamentals or grow their own food.
I spied this brand new neighborhood garden in Mt. Hope (3 top photos). Neighbors have taken over an empty lot. Guerrilla gardeners? Dig the ankle high dry-laid stone wall and the badminton court, not to mention the used-tire composter. And not far away is the MLK School Garden, which looks on target to harvest A LOT of delicious vegetables.
On this Independence Day, get independent. In a pot or in a plot, grow your own food.
Apologies to KISS…
Yesterday, I went to a meeting for Providence’s Urban Agriculture Task Force. Launched 4-5 years ago, it’s a confederation of state, local, non-profit, and individual representatives. Some of the projects initiated and/or completed by members include:
- installing new community gardens around the city, including sites at Sessions St. Park, Early St, Davis Park, Pearl St., Riverside Park, and more
- introducing urban agriculture in community planning meetings, the Mayor’s Green plan, and the Providence Comprehensive Plan
- launching a citywide Community Gardens Network
- developing strategies to integrate food gardens with affordable housing
- holding 50-mile meals at Mount Hope Farm, Local 121, and Providence College
- creating the RI Farm To School Project to connect local farms with school lunch programs
- planning an edible landscape (an orchard!) in Locust Grove Cemetery
- working with the RI Dept of Health and Statewide Planning to ensure that urban agriculture is in local comprehensive plans
- preparing a series of reports on Providence Urban Agriculture
Amazing projects in Providence and beyond. And more to come. If you want to get involved, contact the UATF via Southside Community Land Trust.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by Firehouse 13 last night for Green Zones: From the War Garden to Your Garden and the first-ever Urban Ag Spring Start Party.
The talks and discussion went over really well, and the seed-swapping table was hopping. I got a chance to connect with gardeners, historians, and gardening historians from all over.
A spring party was a great outlet for gardeners with seeds, plants, and stories to share. As RI’s food gardening network continues to grow, imagine another garden event this fall?!?!?!?!
The UAU (that’s Urban Agricultural Unit) recently moved to a new home on the grounds of Wolcott Eco-Office on Wolcott Street in Providence. Part large-scale recycling effort and part science fair project, the UAU is a mobile greenhouse constructed from a discarded shipping container. You may remember it from its appearances at ProvFlux or from its long-time residency at the Steelyard.
Plans are forming for the growing season at UAU’s new home. Perhaps some hops climbing up its corrugated metal walls and some native landscaping plants and some veggies and herbs growing inside. Word is that its hydroponic set-up allows you to grow basil from a seed to a plant the size of a kindergartner in four weeks.
I get a kick out of the fact that this giant shipping container–duly labeled, see below–is now the ultimate container garden.
If you would like to learn more about the UAU or would like to be part of the team that is planning its rebirth, contact Anna or stop by the Urban Ag Spring Start Party that’s part two of the Green Zones event on May 5. Thanks to the UAU crew for helping out with posters, posting, music, and more.
Check out the updated page for Green Zones: From the War Garden to Your Garden, a presentation on Victory Gardens, the Women’s Land Army of America, and how/why gardeners are growing their own food today. The event takes place on Tues., May 5, starting at 5:30pm at Firehouse 13, 41 Central St. in Providence.
A plan is stirring to hold an Urban Agriculture Spring Start Party afterwards. This will include seed/plant swapping, exchanging ideas, food, music, and kicking off the garden season together.
Community gardeners, backyard gardeners, local foodies, green folks, farmers, teachers, kids. . .can you help out with this emerging event? Contact me at szurier at wesleyan dot edu or leave a comment, and I’ll be in touch.
The front page of Thursday’s New York Times Home section features a story titled “Slow, Easy, Cheap and Green.” It profiles Felder Rushing and what he calls “Slow Gardening.” It’s a gimmicky name that means going with the flow of the seasons, rather than rushing to transform your garden all at once.
Whatever. What I liked about the article was the photo of Mr. Slow Garden tending a bunch of lettuce planted in a pile of tires.
Slow? if that’s the trendy word to use…
Green? you betcha, but in case you didn’t get it, paint your tires green.
Oh, now I get it. Green tires. Guess I’m a slow gardener.
Yesterday, I was catching up on some research at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library, which holds 43 linear feet of collections relating to the Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company. I’ve mentioned Brown & Sharpe in previous posts, because National War Garden Commission founder Charles Lathrop Pack singled out this Rhode Island firm for sponsoring War Gardens in 1917.
I focused on a dozen of the 43 linear feet: materials related to Luther D. Burlingame and wartime activity. Burlingame worked for Brown & Sharpe as engineer, and he was active in Rhode Island’s environmental movement in the early 20th century. He not only coordinated the firm’s War Gardens during World War I, but he also launched the state’s subsistence garden program in 1932.
In the last section of the last scrapbook in the last box I had requested, I found several items related to Brown & Sharpe’s activities during WWI. The prize was an 1918 article by Burlingame on “Shop Gardening as a War Measure: How Factory Employees Can Help Increase the Food Supply.” Glancing at the sample list of employees who tended garden plots, I saw a familiar name:
That’s my grandfather, Louis Zurier, who worked–and gardened–at Brown & Sharpe in the war years! I was stunned to encounter him on the pages of a magazine article, in a scrapbook, in a box, at a library. There he was, with 14 bushels of potatoes worth $24.80 in 1917. Good growing, grandpa!
It may be beyond freezing cold on the streets and in the backyards of our fair city, but the Providence Journal has been thinking about Victory Gardens lately.
The ETV website has a petition you can sign and a timeline of White House landscape history, with highlights like John Adams’s vegetable patch, Thomas Jefferson’s fruit trees, Edith Wilson’s grazing sheep, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden.
Today, Projo Food Editor Gail Ciampa wrote about the National WWII Museum‘s upcoming project, “Kitchen Memories: A National Conversation about Food During World War II.” The museum invites Americans to send in their personal recollections about wartime foodways, from food rationing to growing victory gardens. While you’re at it, Rhode Islanders, send your victory garden memories to me, too!
Even more Victory Gardens in the Projo as of Sunday: “Victory gardens reappear.”