A Good Crop

Our garden is going stupid! It is producing massive amounts of very healthy large looking veggies. Christine is SOOO diligent with her hand watering. Today after work she went out and gathered about a tenth of our potatoes and yet another big bucket of beans, some celery, carrots, zucchini, basil, onions, there is such a lot still in there to pick….oh and the fish look like they have had babies.

We have not used anything artificial in the garden whatsoever. I was out there for the last 2 nights with my torch picking off slugs and snails and green caterpillars which the chooks eat. I would say the success has been in the soil, the timing and the layout, and my wife’s good looks.veggie-garden-nov-12-08

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A Garden Justice Story

I have posted on this issue in the past. It was first brought to my attention when I saw the farm destroyed on the DVD “Escape From Suburbia” (Sequel to The End of Suburbia). When I saw the DVD I thought it was the end of the story until I recieved an email from one of the activists involved saying that it was far from over. Here is the latest –

For Blog Action Day: LA’s South Central Farm

October 15th, 2008  by Susan Harris

Thousands of bloggers around the world are participating in Blog Action Day today by focusing on  poverty, a timely issue that got a lot more so in the last couple of weeks.  But don’t worry; my contribution to the event won’t be about Wall Street but about 41st and Alameda in Los Angeles, where the 14-acre South Central Farm once was the heart of a poor, mainly Latino community and fed 350+ families – until the powers that be allowed a developer to bulldoze it to erect a bunch of storage warehouses.

Yes, that’s the unhappy ending to the documentary “The Garden”, which chronicles the fight to save the urban farm.  The movie, by acclaimed documentarian Scott Hamilton Kennedy, premiered at the American Film Institute, where it won the highest award at its Silver Docs Film Festival. (See my review on GardenRant.)  Truly, you have to see the movie to appreciate the depths of corruption that led local politicians to support the bulldozing and the depths of racism exhibited by the odious developer.  The sight of the bulldozing of not just 400 garden plots but the livelihood, community and culture that had been created by them will break your heart.

But the story – and the fight –  isn’t over yet.  The 14 acres could be returned to garden if they win the next stage – the environmental review, which was demanded by South Central gardeners.  In it, they’re making the point that turning the land into huge storage warehouses will bring a swarm of noisy, polluting diesel trucks to the site, and that using the land as green space is far better for the environment.  But has it really come down to purely environmental factors?  Will the human environment be considered, including crime reduction and the sheer amount of food – really healthy food – that was grown there to feed poor families?  Let’s hope so.

THE SPIRIT OF THE GARDEN LIVES

On a positive note, some of the South Central farmers took their farming skills to Bakersfield, 120 miles north of LA, where they grow food that’s then brought back to the old neighborhood via a CSA (community-supported agriculture) – the cheapest one available to the neighborhood.  So for a fee, they can continue to get really healthy food, admittedly a poor substitute for growing it themselves.

South Central Farmers have also created a grassroots economic project aimed at bringing “green jobs” to the neighborhood, called “Bringing Food to the Hood“.  Its regular events around the perimeter of the old garden are all about food, music, teaching urban farming and nutrition, and keeping the spirit of the farm going.

And you’d better believe they’re using all their grassroots political skills and connections to lobby the City Council and Mayor Villaraigosa to stop the warehouses.  The long battle to save their garden has turned these urban farmers into savvy, experienced community organizers (a term that, incredibly, evoked derisive laughter at a certain party’s convention in St. Paul).

HOW YOU CAN HELP

If you’re in Los Angeles, express your support for the garden to the mayor and City Council.  If you know someone in  LA, send them this article.
Help get this important and very entertaining documentary distributed.  Just contact the filmmakers.
Bring more urban farms to your city.  Here’s a good roundup about urban farming today.

Sabath Economics & Living Organically

Here is an extract from a great article Harry from Peace Tree put me on to, I loved it.

It dawned on me that what I was witnessing was a near perfect example of a local economy in action.  And when Andy started talking specifically about economics, which he will do if pressed although normally he is quiet and reserved, he “brought home” the significance of what I was looking at. He and Jan delight in their frugal life style which is the main reason they can afford to keep on being such small farmers producing such high quality food. Their house, partly underground, is modest and environmentally sane. They heat it with their own wood cut and split from their own woodlot. Parts of the house and of other buildings are made from salvaged  materials. They raise most of the food they eat, obviously. They are keen practitioners of home medicine. They are very artful recyclers of material our wasteful society throws away. And they are content with their lives. “We would rather do without many things that modern society strives for,” Andy says, “so as to have the time to grow really good food while enjoying the natural and spiritual world around us. We could expand, work ourselves to distraction and make more money. We choose to avoid that trap.” I have used Andy’s observation about their life style before: “It is rather easy to live comfortably below the so-called cost of living because the government keeps raising the index.” This is something that today’s society needs to hear, especially now that the international economy has come near to collapse because so many people are so unwilling to live sensibly and have therefore borrowed  themselves into bankruptcy.

Full article here

Lockridge Community Garden

It was a great few hours out at Lockridge to their open day today. They had Josh Byrne (ABC guy) doing workshops and also available out in the garden for a chat and Q&A.
The garden pizza oven was going full speed, people from all walks of life wandering around chatting, playing, listening to the live music and catching up with old friends.
I was quite surprised just how many people I knew out there, the garden is an interesting case study in bringing people together, it’s not just people who like to garden, but people who like…well people. It seemed to me that there were people just sitting on the lawn chatting over a pizza and drink etc.
I loved being there as I would love to see something like that here in Joondalup, it propped up my vision a little.
In the meantime it helped me get just a little more excited about my own backyard, which, by the way, in terms of veggies is at full capacity. It will be a few weeks before the garden looks ‘full’ as they are all seedlings. Christine is the master gardener…I just write about it 🙂
Peas – beans – lettuce – chili – potato – onion – zucchini – pumpkin – carrot – sweet corn – garlic – herbs – celery – tomato – spinach – cucumber – capsicum – 

Veggie Garden Makeover

Christine and I (and sometime the kids, but not often!) have been transforming the veggie garden. We wanted to have separate beds with paths between them (…and a shrubbery… -python fans?). We wanted the paths so you don’t have to walk on the beds. The less you walk on beds the less you compact the soil and the less you have to turn it…that’s what the worms are there for, to turn and aerate the soil.
As you can see from these early snaps, Christine is doing most of the work!
I have not taken snaps of the finished product but will post them next weekend maybe.

2 Weeks Leave

I have 2 weeks leave. It seems a long time since I had 2 or more weeks leave, honestly I can’t pin point when it was, probably a few months ago, ho hum.
Not the point, the point is…
This is enjoyable, I like my place here in Joondalup, I am a bit of a home boy. So this first week is pretty much about me!
Day 1 (Tuesday) – Garden, Shed, biodiesel. – Kids at Mum and Dad’s
Day 2 – Same. – Kids at mum and Dad’s
Day 3 – Same. – Kids out with cousins
Day 4 – Same, but I promised to wash the floor. – Kids hanging out at home with friends.
Day 5 and 6 (Weekend) we are going to Badgingarra to get fire wood, sheep poo and hang out with good friends.
Day 7 (next Monday) – Garden, shed.
Day 8, 9 and 10 – Camping with family at Contos, just near Prevally, Caves Road.
Day 11 – Hang around, Forge intensive begins tonight.
Day 12, 13 Forge intensive, but I am also meant to be in Northam at a friends farm…not sure how to do both, hmmm
Day 14 – Chill read, centre myself to go back to work in the morning.

I have a list of jobs that need doing. They are pretty much run of the mill. A rattle on there car, a leaking roof, wire up the shed, relocate the bio diesel processor and the bowser. I want to install a water pump for the rain water tank. I would like to get some rocks from the farm for around my new pond (the pond was a bulk rubbish find!).

This arvo I sat out in the sprinkling rain looking at our efforts in the garden today. I felt quite satisfied. We grabbed a heap of green roof tiles from the tip and made raised garden beds. I bought some good organic compost and straw as well as a few big bags of saw dust to make paths between all the beds (as well as adding to my own compost). We installed the new pond and solar powered pump. This pond is not so we can have fish, but rather to attract more insects into the garden for cross pollination of plants. Some plants (Zucchini for example) wont grow fruit without a bee or insect (or Christine with a small paintbrush!) germinating them. Having a water feature helps create a greater and fuller life cycle or ecosystem inside our small back yard. The insects attract frogs, frogs eat slugs and bugs and mozzies. They say frogs are a healthy sign in a garden. Tonight after a drive to “dispose” of some waste product from the biodiesel production, I grabbed my head torch for a one more look over our garden work. I wandered around the new beds and walked up to the pond, what should be sitting up on the edge of one of the beds overlooking the new pond…a big shiny black frog! It was as if he was saying, “now that’s what I’m talking ’bout!”

So here’s to the good life!