4.2018

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

Neighbors and organic greenhouse farming

Finally! We gathered in the greenhouse to officially launch this organic neighborhood suburban glassed-in farm on Saturday 1.30.15. Three families from the neighborhood with a combination of 5 children and one family friend from down the road with two more children all squeezed into the greenhouse, excitedly. Their ages ranged from 6 – 11 years old.

Getting Started

I began by explaining why I started a greenhouse — that I am concerned by the use of chemicals in the growing of our food, and that I choose to eat organically cultivated foods. Touching on not only our own personal health benefits from eating cleanly grown food but also the benefits to the water, air and soil when we grow food without chemicals, the youngest of the children piped up with, “Is what we are doing going to save the world?” I was both touched and amused by her innocent question. My answer, “yes, everything we do in this greenhouse is making the world a better place” was heartfelt and sincere.

We talked about the organic soil, which I had purchased at Worm’s Way in Bloomington, the cloth growing sacks that I had chosen for the plants to grow in, the growing pellets that were being used to start some of the seeds in their germination, and the compost tea that was dripping out of my compost barrel! As well, we talked about how the greenhouse heater worked and the hydraulic windows that opened and closed based on the greenhouse temperature.

We can have a giant neighborhood salad party!

In the weeks prior to this first neighborhood gathering, I had already planted many herbs, cherry tomatoes, okra, artichoke, cucumbers, broccoli and brussel spouts into the growing pellets and many were ready to be transplanted. As I showed the children what was already growing, and as we decided together what seeds to plant today, they became so excited! They tasted nibbles of parsley and rubbed the leaves of sage, oregano, and thyme for their heavenly smell, and that same sweet 6-year old child excitedly exclaimed, “We can have a giant neighborhood salad party!” Gotta love that youthful exuberance!

I gently split the larger veggies starts from their pellets, pointing out the root systems–cukes, artichokes, broccoli–and they took turns transplanting them into the growing sacks. Young hands tend to make broad strokes, a fact which lent itself to discussion about fragility and being gentle with tools and fingers.

Demo roots

 

 

The next step was placing new seeds into the new growing pellets; if you haven’t used them before, check it out here; they work well and are fun to monitor. The pellets had been soaking in water overnight and the children clambered to have their turn at “planting food”. We planted the seeds of peppers (which have not done well at my previous attempt a few weeks prior), cukes, broccoli, okra and beans and radish. Then it came time to water; of course they all wanted to use the hose; I could see immediately that my ability to finesse the hose nozzle to produce a gentle bath was not a skill set that these young hands possessed. After adjusting the hose bib and many reminders, they each were able to water some of the plants.

Eww! What’s that?

Onto the compost tea!

Initially, those kids were a bit grossed out by the drippings in the pan under the compost barrel. But when I opened the barrel in which lay many veggie scraps, and they could look inside to see that it wasn’t gross, it was just decomposing and actually smelled good–in an earthy way–they thought the idea of decomposing was very cool! Using a drippings baster, I spritzed each of the seedlings as well as the already established small plants with a bit of that hearty tea.

Worms!

One of them quickly surmised that worms would also help the soil, so off they ran on a worm hunt. Sure enough, 3 return trips yielded 5 worms, which the two youngest gently placed in separate growing sacks. We misted them with water and wished them well. Later that afternoon, those worms were nowhere to be found, leading me to believe that they are happily burrowed into the soil.

Worm1

Stay tuned for an update soon!

Robin Mallery

Robin Mallery

Robin Mallery is passionate about food! Starting from where and how it's grown, to how far that food travels to the dinner table, to how it is prepared and savored...Robin blends shopping, cooking, and eating tips with her unique Kitchen Zen and mindful meals approach to enjoying real food.

While you are waiting for her to finish the upcoming book, "Kitchen Zen: The Journey to Nourish Body and Soul in Our Changing World", you can find Robin's sporadic blog posts here or on FaceBook.
Robin Mallery

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"The Holiday Survival Cooking and Eating Class exceeded my expectations. It was so enjoyable to learn new ideas for healthy snacks and meals, taste the delicious treats we created and leave with an inspired hope that this will be my healthiest holiday season yet! I am impressed with the knowledge and care that Robin (and Wendy from In the Kitchen) both possess and I look forward to taking more classes in the future. Thanks again!"  --Rose M.   “What a wonderful, yummy class! Not only did we participate in creating several easy-to-make, delicious, nourishing dishes for the holidays and every day, we also learned strategies for surviving and enjoying the upcoming holiday season. Both Robin & Wendy were delightful and imparted their cooking and eating knowledge with love, humor, and enthusiasm. I highly recommend their classes to anyone who is interested in developing a better way to look at food, using thoughtfulness with mindfulness to learn some very valuable strategies for eating any time of the year!” --CAM   “I found the class delightful with great ideas for the holidays. In the Kitchen is a warm and welcoming place and you and Wendy were great teaching collaborators. Good new recipes. I appreciate your healthy eating information. I recommend this class to anyone wanting to enjoy the holidays without stressing over food. Actually, the information isn’t just for the holidays. I want to stay healthy all year and eat well.” --Pat B.   "I’ve participated in several classes at In the Kitchen, enjoyed them all immensely, but it is always a special treat when Wendy teaches a class. The recipes offered in The Holiday Survival class were easy to make and so delicious. And what a plus to have Robin co-teach the The Holiday Survival class with Wendy. Thank you, Robin, for all your great information on healthy eating, which was delivered so professionally, dovetailing beautifully into Wendy’s presentation. Hope you two team up again for more classes of scrumptious, healthy recipes. What a fun evening!!" --Carol B. _______________ I love this positive feedback! How gratifying it is to touch the lives of others in a meaningful way…and to be able to do so around a topic that is so dear to me, is just the icing on the cake (right—pun intended!). Wendy Van Wagner and I will continue to offer seasonal cooking classes in addition to the occasional specialty class…stay tuned!
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