Last night, we had a lovely potluck picnic to wrap up the Urban Agriculture course. Amongst good food and friends, the students shared their final projects (check the posts out on their group blogs) and we talked about what we learned both in and out of the classroom, from major discussion themes to garden lessons.
On behalf of BU’s Urban Agriculture class, I would like to thank Leo and Casa Romero, Sarah and theBerkeley Community Garden, Tyler, JD and Patrick from the Organic Gardening Collective at BU, Victoria of the Fenway Victory Gardens, Lisa of theBoston Tree Party, Charlie and the Boston Truck Farm, Marianne and the Carter School, and Noah ofBest Bees.
A special thank you to Mike and the Fenway Victory Gardens for giving us the opportunity to grow food in this city during the course.
And of course, to Dr. Rachel Black, thank you so much for such an amazing opportunity. This was truly a wonderful experience!
So you have been working hard in your garden weeding and fending off the pests and it’s now time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Here are a few tips for harvesting your bounty and saving your seeds.
The biggest question here is: “How do I know when to harvest?” Bigger is not always better: many vegetables taste better and are more tender when they are smaller. If this is your first time gardening, you may have trouble with this concept. It can be tempting to watch your vegetables get as big as they possibly can. If you take this road, be prepared for not only tough produce but also to share your crop with insects and other garden pests. To help you make that decision of when to harvest, check out this harvesting guide put together by the University of Indiana Extension. Cornell University also has a handy downloadable guide. As you gain experience, you will be able to tell when to harvest by inspecting your crop and sampling the vegetables as they mature. Read more here
by Garden Group 4
Word origin: contraction of Permanent and culture or agriculture
The phrase “permanent agriculture” was first coined in a book in 1911 by Franklin Hiram King writing about agriculture that could be sustained indefinitely. It was scientifically developed by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970’s after seeing how destructive industrial-agricultural methods were to the land (resulted in problems such as reducing biodiversity, depleting topsoil, and poisoning the land and water.) In 1978 they explained their approach with the publication of Permaculture One. Mollison began teaching their ideas in over 80 countries and by the 1980’s the concept had spread and expanded from beyond just agricultural systems design towards the idea of complete, sustainable human habitats. Today there are several permaculture institutes and classes all over the U.S. and other countries such as this one is based in Santa Fe, or this one in San Francisco.
Read more here –>
by Jennifer McJunkin
Producing compost and growing a garden seem to go hand in hand. Having never grown up with a composter, the idea of composting is as mysterious as it is fascinating. My first introduction with composting was, as a child, watching my grandfather set out soybean grounds left over from the few occasions of making soy milk at home. The grounds would sit outside for about a week or so (I’m not sure if anything was added to them
) despite the constant complaints from various family members about the odorless but ugly heap. Yet, the grounds fertilized and helped produce some of the biggest roses in my aunt’s garden. Turning waste into proper nutrients with the purpose of feeding plants directly relates to successful gardening. As we are taking nutrients straight from the earth, it is only fair to put it back in order to perpetuate the growth of the plants.
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by Kelsey Laws
At the garden plot, I keep getting the urge to dig up the Johnny jump-ups growing through the cracks between the walkway stones and adding them to our group garden patch. I can’t quite bring myself to do it, because I still feel like I’m on borrowed land, but I’m not sure it would be wrong. They don’t belong to anyone’s plot in particular. And while they may not be terribly productive as a source of food, they are edible, like the few other flowers I’ve planted in our garden.
In gardens I tend to be drawn more to the flowers than to the vegetables. I like that they’re beautiful, of course, but I also like the way a showy bloom may have hidden uses. I like knowing what flowers I can eat, because almost anybody can figure out a bean or a pumpkin, or a head of lettuce if it grows long enough, but it’s like I know a secret.
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by Kristen Merrill
I am not a patient person. It has never been a strength of mine. I finished undergrad in three years with a double major because I didn’t want to waste my time and my parents’ money by dragging it out for another year. The oven never cooks fast enough for me and I’ve ruined more than one batch of frosting by applying it to a cake before it had a chance to fully cool. I come by it honestly as both of my parents are the kind of people who will do something themselves instead of waiting for someone else to do it. New Englanders through and through, they need to get where they’re going fast and soon. No time for lollygagging. My father is a champion tailgater. He once tailgated a logging truck on a rural Vermont road for 25 miles before passing it. There were no other cars on the road. We were not in a hurry. But he found the only other vehicle around and followed it closely enough to let the driver know that my father did not believe he was driving fast enough. My brother has the same impatient gene. While stopped at a crosswalk, waiting for the pedestrian light to change, he said “50 seconds! Who needs 50 seconds to cross the street?”
Patience: not a Merrill family virtue.
So for the life of me, I can’t understand why I chose to start the container garden on my deck from seeds rather than sprouts.
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By Garden Group 3
It’s safe to say that organic agriculture has assumed the role of poster child for alternative food production. The USDA lists it under Alternative Farming Systems and defines it as “a system [of production] that integrates cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” Organic food in the United States is associated with a national program of accreditation–The National Organic Program. The regulations that govern this process of accreditation are determined by the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA) of 1990.
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