Sunday, April 18, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me and Tidbits

The last week and a half has been filled with tidbit types of work, nothing overly transforming in terms of property renewal. So this blog will probably go forward like a train of thought as I look at the calendar with its scrappy Sharpie-ed in reminders.

After the speaking event, there were about two or three days of correspondence coupled with some medium-core seeding and transplanting work. I built a raised bed for carrots at the house. The damn carrots still haven't sprouted yet and likely won't as they were treated to a good hot house solar oven baking when it got really sunny on the 10th and I didn't remove the glass until several hours later. At that point, there were literally voluminous amounts of steam coming off the soil when the glass was lifted. I've heard of mushroom farmers in Africa pasteurizing straw in a similar way.

On Saturday the 10th, I went to a workshop at Cleveland State that instructed us, Re-Imagining Cleveland grantees, on the website. I found a level of comfort when I learned that everybody's project is moving slowly, maybe even more so than mine. However later that day, I found a great level of discomfort when I went over to Ryan Kennedy's Crop Mob at his Turning Point Farm on Barber. This dude is getting more done without grant money than the rest of us are getting done with. Hot dogs, snakes, trash, extreme sulfurous odors, big rocks, little rocks, fire, good times.

On Tuesday the 12th, me and about 20 others graduated from the OSU Extension Office's Market Gardener Training Program, but not before we passed a 300 question scantron exam. The picture above is our serious administrator/teacher, Morgan Taggart. To make matters worse, I forgot my pencil! The class itself felt like a true meeting of minds with so many future forward pro-Cleveland farmers. That Lynn Rodemann is doing amazing things at the Pear Street spot, I can't wait 'til she gets her Devil's Backbone Garden up and running (which can be subsequently said for my Old Husher's Farm). Us, OSU Market Gardener Training Program Alumni, need to stay in touch.

Tax day is technically my birthday. So a giant happy birthday to me. I'm actually excited about this one.

And on the 16th, me and my buddy, Mike, shoveled, hauled, carried, and spread a dozen 32 gallon trash cans of leaf humus onto the farm. You can see the birth of rows, as well as why Subarus completely and totally rule, holding two dudes and six Rubbermaid Brute trash cans full of humus. At 158,000 miles, Subee-1 seems to be going strong. The interior is completely beat/gross, but its soul is still there and purring. Old Husher's Farm will probably be the eventual cause of death for Subee-1, but at this point I'm still amazed at how well it has held up to my abuse.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Mighty Totonka Thanks for Last Night!

Last night was the first public forum for the Re-Imagining Cleveland program, and I was asked to give a five minute presentation on Old Husher's Farm! The event was held in the Great Lakes Brewing Company Tasting Room and put on by E4S and Local Food Cleveland. The place was packed with 250 attendees, making the room a little warm in a good way even in a short-sleeve. The energy felt like a Sedona-vortex with everybody riding the same wave of fervored excitement.

Peter McDermott emceed. Lilah Zautner from Neighborhood Progress briefed the crowd on the whole Re-Imagining Cleveland program. Morgan Taggart from OSU Extension explained the unique hurdles us farmers are currently facing in terms of zoning, fences, sheds, etc. and what Cleveland is and will be doing about these hurdles. Ifeoma Ezepue talked about the amazing only-in-Cleveland grant program called Gardening for Greenbacks. My peers, Barb Strauss, Mansfield Frazier, Virginia Houston, and Jamel Humphrey also presented their projects. Mansfield, let me tell you, I'm looking forward to a bottle of your wine in a few years.

At any rate, I had a total blast and met so many kind people wanting to help me and Cleveland Urban Ag in so many ways. A mighty totonka thanks to everybody in attendance and those who wanted to attend. And a special mighty totonka thanks to these individuals:

To Peter McDermott, who invited me to present last night, who literally created Local Food Cleveland and is generally like Voltron's head guiding this nebulous grassroots food movement in Cleveland.

To Bobbi Reichtell for buying me a beer, being the guidling light behind Neighborhood Progress and Re-Imagining Cleveland, and for initially helping me navigate through

To Angela Shuckahosee, who I had the pleasure of meeting last night, who helped me get the thumb of approval from Councilman, Martin J. Sweeney's office so many months back, and who is still willing to help.

To Brad Deane from Senator Sherrod Brown's Cleveland office for making it out last night and offering his hands to get dirty on Old Husher's Farm. Brad's immediate re-iteration of this point via a personal email this morning has made my day.

To Councilman Joe Cimperman for being in attendance and just keeping his ear to the floor of what's going on in Cleveland.

To Jared Earley from Whole Foods Market. The fact that a giant corporation cares enough to come out and listen to what these micro-scaled farm projects are all about is really encouraging. Thank you again for potentially wanting to help with Farm Aid and sales outlets. I will be in touch.

To Carl Skalak, who is the weather-hardened trailblazer of the Cleveland Farm scene with his Blue Pike Farm. I appreciate the offer for drip irrigation help.

To Hank Habermann and his offer of a small supply of paw paw trees and the opportunity to help teach a mushroom growing seminar for the Green Triangle Project.

To Eric and Annabel Stoffer of Bay Branch Farm, who have been just good social people.

To Ryan Kennedy, whose infectious positive energy is something to be felt. I look forward to bouncing ideas off of him in the future.

To Molly Vaughn and Vikki Horowitz for wanting to help with Farm Aid.

To E4S and Local Food Cleveland for having me and providing these networking opportunities.

To Neighborhood Progress, Great Lakes Brewing Company, and Ohio City Pasta for sponsoring these events and in helping anchor the Cleveland Food Scene. I'm having the last of last year's homegrown and made spaghetti sauce on three bundles of Ohio City Pasta's linguini for dinner later tonight. Yum.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Seedlings, Speaking, and Speaking of Seedlings

About a week ago, I had some friends over to jam some music of the generally very-loud rock variety. Coincidentally, this jam session coincided with the first emergence of the sproutlings from the first set of soilblocks. Everybody was checking out the sproutlings and somehow our conversations migrated to the whacked out and glorious scientific research of the 1970's, where researchers would subject plants to classical music or grating noise/heavy metal to see which plants would grow best. Of course, the classical music plants always grew best. Awww, the 70's.

Ultimately, we subjected my sproutlings to a similar test that evening. And ultimately, the sproutlings died because of heavy metal. Whoops. It turns out extreme low-end frequencies like those created by bass and keyboards will physically shake the soilblocks off their perch, and those soil tests and sproutlings ended up like Humpty Dumpty.

As a result, I ended up moving the seedling space from the jam room to the neighboring storage room in my basement. There's a picture of the new incubating space. Emergence has been pretty good except for some dryspots and me covering seeds that are not supposed to be covered when sprouting.

Me and my buddy, Mike went out to the farm for the first time this Spring on Wednesday. We covered a 300 square foot area with a literal ton of coffee grinds from Loop Coffeehouse and did a real cursory till. It smelled so good! My sandled feet and bare hands were stained brown. Also of note, I got my first redneck of the 2010 season. Now I just gotta cut the sleeves from my old heavy metal t-shirts for the whole package. In addition, we picked up three loads of trash while we were there, re-using the coffee grind bags. If you can't tell, my car's a total mess.

TOTALLY EXCITING NEWS! I have my first speaking engagement since this whole undertaking. It's on April 5th at Great Lakes Brewing Company. Entrepreneurs for Sustainability and Local Food Cleveland are co-sponsoring the event. It's meant to be a showcase of the Re-Imagining Cleveland project. I encourage everyone to go. You will need to RSVP at any of the sponsors' websites.