My recent lean toward the hermit side of the social butterfly spectrum leads me to believe I have it in me to be a country mouse. My one requirement, however, would be a good espresso machine because I love me a steamed milk beverage and coffee shop hang! The urban farm, should we one day be able to live on it, has the potential to be the best of both worlds- proximity to city amenities with a fair bit of green buffering. As it turns out, our proximity to coffee shops is good for more than just my snobby caffeine habits.
Compost compost compost!
The very first step the Urban Farmer took to launch his urban farm dream was to get to work on the soil, and that means composting! If there is one idea he constantly stresses it’s that health begins in the soil! Healthy soil = healthy plants = healthy food! (He had his work cut out for him. Remember what the farm looked like way back when?) To accelerate the composting process, he reached out to several local breweries, coffee shops and restaurants and began the weekly cycle of picking up spent grains, grounds and scraps to convert into nutrient-rich compost.
Since the beginning, the Urban Farmer estimates he has diverted 30,000 gallons of waste from landfills and converted it to compost for the crops. Imagine if there were more of him! Imagine if every city dweller with a yard or every community with a shred of green space banded together and worked on their own composting efforts! (These are the scenarios that keep us up at night.)
The other lady who gets really excited about compost? ^That one there!^ In between groundhog hunts and butterfly chases, she tries to sneak some bites, so we always have to keep one eye on her.
To emphasize the community aspect and the cycle of waste-to-compost, we did something brand new this year: Seedling Sales! The first seedling sale was at Commonplace Coffee in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Coffee grounds from the shop contributed to the compost that nurtured the very seedlings we were selling. Full cycle!
My Commonplace Drink of Choice: Lavender Vanilla Latte (their syrups are made in house)
My favorite customer was the little girl in neon seen here strolling toward the stand. She so adamantly wanted a plant of her own and ever so politely listened to the Urban Farmer ask her whether she wanted a pickling or a slicing cucumber variety. To see a child be that excited over a plant that yields a vegetable was so inspiring. Grownups always want to blame kids for their junk food habits, but if you plant the right seeds, this girl was proof that vegetables and green activities can and will prevail!
Seedling Sale #2 was at Caffè D’Amore in the Lawrenceville neighborhood, another contributor to the compost heaps.
Caffè D’Amore Drink of Choice: Ancho Mocha (spice + chocolate helped fight off the chilly gray spring day)
Up Next: A Seedling Sale at East End Brewery as part of Crafts and Drafts
The victory garden era ensemble really inspired me, as you can see:
East End Brewery Drink(s) of Choice: Chocolate Covered Cherry Stout (for indulgent sipping), and Along Came a Cider (for hanging out)
Spirited jams provided by the Employees of Funk. Nothing keeps a girl jamming at her plant stand like a funky cover of “Africa.”
Whatever didn’t sell, the Urban Farmer has tucked into the ground, and soon enough, he’ll harvest it for a local restaurant or two (a change from last year’s CSA model). Pun fully intended when I say these seedling sales were a symbol of growth. Without the initial hurdles of clearing land, planning rows and building a hoop house, the Urban Farmer was able to start his seedlings much earlier, which enabled this economic experiment.
These humble plant stands represented progress and the community connection the Urban Farmer has always aimed to achieve. The smell of the tomato seedlings takes me back to last year’s harvest days, and I can’t wait to have sweet tomato juice dripping off my chin and fingers.
Time to get weeding (& sipping an iced latte)!