Blogs for October, 2013
checkout the archived city farm blog articles to learn about our takes on farm & city life
checkout the archived city farm blog articles to learn about our takes on farm & city life
The purple sheen of eggplants caught my eye, tumbled in a bin, juxtaposed against the traffic of Columbus and 79th.
These aubergines, as they’re known in British English, hailed from Kernan Farms in Cumberland County, New Jersey. Gleaming in the sun, they rested beneath the farm’s sign that gave them away as Jersey, bridge & tunnel visitors to the city.
Everyone in NYC has a dream, right? A story of why they’re there, why they’ve stayed, and what they plan to do. I envisioned a Pixar-like storyline for these veggies: growing up on a small farm, hustled onto a truck, and making the trek to the city that never sleeps. I hope they planned to be delicious ratatouille, or to be stuffed with artisanal cheeses, because that’s what I had planned for them.
It was my first taste of New York City, and it didn’t disappoint. Known for bustling traffic, a sea of diverse humanity streaming through city streets, cabs honking, people shopping, a history of cultivating writers, dancers, and performers of every breed, including that man painted in silver sitting on the subway bench. And? Farmer’s markets and farm to table eateries, serving fresh veggies and meat sourced from the bucolic farms just north of the city.
I was excited to visit Central Park, that oasis of green and water and growth in the midst of cement, cinder block and asphalt. Arriving in late October, the leaves were just starting to flame in yellows, oranges, and fiery reds.
Stepping outside the park onto the streets of the upper west side, we stumbled upon a sidewalk farmer’s market, bins full of apples and root vegetables reminding us, along with the changing leaves, that fall has arrived.
How will you eat your eggplant this fall? Do you plan to plant them for next season? According to Organic Gardening, these nightshades need warm growing conditions for three months. Check out their site for tips on starting them indoors, or planting them in raised beds, which heat up fast in the spring. And share your favorite aubergine recipes with us here or on Twitter, @RebeccaSnavely and @TheCityFarm!
A chilly fall night marks the last day in October. The neighborhood streets glow with the soft, orange light of flickering jack-o-lanterns, grinning or glaring at passersby. Kids carry bags or buckets or trashcans if they’re extra-hopeful, dressed as bugs or batman or LED-lit skeletons (SO cute, watch here). Garbed in costumes made by DIY dads, moms, or aunts, kids struggle to walk in garbage bags and milk jugs magically transformed into Darth Vader’s imposing wardrobe. Masked, they stumble up your porch steps to beg for candy.
It’s Halloween! How will you decorate and celebrate? Do you have the tools of the trade for more intricate jack-o-lanterns? Meet the “Maniac Pumpkin Carvers,” Chris Soria and Marc Evan, here, and get a little how-to and inspiration from their gorgeous work. Have you heard the history of the jack-o-lantern? Check out our GROW blog to revisit the story, and learn about planting your own pumpkin patch for next year’s revelries.
How do you light your walkway? Luminaries in bags or created in mason jars help those little feet find their way to your door. Check out Martha Stewart’s guide on making them. How do you add your own touch of creativity?
And most importantly, what are you wearing? Do you go traditional, or are you inspired by the latest headlines? (Oh, NO. Will there be multiple Mileys twerking in your town?) Have you already made or bought a costume for you or your wee ones? Pinterest, that wonderful world of inspiration, has many-a-board to get your creative pumpkin juices flowing if you’re still stuck.
Are you an expert Halloween DIY-er? Are you that house on the block that has the best candy? OR, are you that neighbor, who dresses up, sits stock-still on the rocking chair, and scares the kids with a quick “Boo!” when they dare to come close enough to decide if you’re real?
Share your favorite memory, photos, and tips and tricks of how to have the best pumpkin on the block! Leave a comment or talk to us on Twitter @TheCityFarm. Happy Halloween!
I’m sitting this morning, looking at this view …
I KNOW. A cup of coffee beside me, computer open on my lap, I’m living my “Maine” dream. It was an alternate version of my life sparked in my 6 year old imagination the first time I read Robert McCloskey’s One Morning in Maine. Growing up in Oregon, I longed to live in Maine, to put on boots and go clamming with my dad.
My friend grew up on Orr’s Island in Maine, and I’m finally visiting her childhood home. I can’t stop taking pictures, or asking about what grows in this colder climate (other than clams). We island hop, crossing short bridges. She points out places where she and high school friends took boats out, the apple trees, the last of the swiss chard in her mom’s garden, and rose hips she remembers eating, a tart treat.
I’ve never eaten a rose hip, and I’m always surprised how much of nature we can actually consume. Apparently I should have stuck it out with Girl Scouts, because, now? If I were lost in the woods, I’d never make it. Looking up why you might want to eat a rose hip, the round part of the flower, just below the petals, WebMD tells me that it’s high in Vitamin C, and can be used to treat and prevent colds, flus, as well as to treat stomach issues.
Do you have roses? Then you have rose hips. Drying rose hips often removes the potency of the C inside, so some of the teas or supplements might be enhanced with other C. And, apparently some garden hybrid roses offer nothing when it comes to aroma or flavor. This is where the Maine dream comes in to play – beach roses and their hips are the perfect tonic for what ails you.
If you live in the Northeast, you can pick your own and jar for a yummy jam, a mixture of tart and sweet flavor. Chelsea Green has several recipes, including one with a touch of honey. They all recommend picking the rose hips after the frost, when they’ve become soft. I recommend you eat while reading One Morning in Maine.
Have you had rose hips in one form or another? I’m also curious, any childhood book that sparked your imagination to live in another place?
I’m off for more Maine adventures (aka LOBSTER)!
It was a magical night, with the twinkle of tea lights in mason jars lining the table, knives and spoons covered in pumpkin goo, the smell of pumpkin seeds sprinkled in olive oil and rosemary roasting in the oven. As each pumpkin was carved into a jack-o-lantern, we lined them along the patio wall, placed a candle inside, and watched them come to life as the sun set, highlighting owls, skeletons, and a “pumpkin PI.”
This weekend Action Kivu, the nonprofit I co-founded to support women & children in Congo, teamed with our Fair Trade partner, The Peace Exchange – Fair Trade Initiative, to host a fundraising carving party, asking for a suggested donation toward the one-time startup budget to launch a Fair Trade program for the grads of our sewing workshops. Inviting our L.A. friends to BYOK (bring your own knife), and we provided the pumpkins, wine, cheese, chocolate, and design templates to inspire ideas.
As people pondered the blank canvas of an untouched, orange gourd, a silence fell over the party. Knives were wielded with care (there was a strict “no hospital runs” policy, tricky when serving wine at said knife-filled party) and then everyone dove in, scooping the innards out, sawing out eyebrows and mustaches and toothy grins.
It was like we were kids again, willing to get a little gross for a good cause. Would you host a carving party for your favorite organization? Whole Foods in Sherman Oaks donated 6 pumpkins, and my Action Kivu partner Cate and I went and wiped out Trader Joes, packing home 24 more pumpkins!
In July, I wrote about planting your own pumpkin patch, and the history of the jack-o-lantern. Autumn has arrived, with its shorter days and longer, darker nights. And Halloween is just around the corner! Did you grow your own pumpkin? Have you carved a lantern yet? Let’s have a show & tell on Twitter! @TheCityFarm and @RebeccaSnavely.
Modern Farmer has a fantastic piece on what to grow each season, to keep you grazing on your garden greens all year round. Bonus: the image kind of looks like a quilt (inspiration, modern quilters?). If you’re a neighbor here in Southern California, you don’t have to worry too much about freezes this fall, but if you live in an area with frosty nights and mornings, you can still grow your spinach, lettuce, and mustard well into October, as long as you protect your greens from the freezing temps and bites of frost. Check out The Old Farmer’s Almanac for tips to grow and harvest your fall spinach.
I adore spinach. In honor of this, my boyfriend actually gave me a the gift of a microwave for Valentine’s day. Some might think this less than romantic, and at first, I was baffled, seeing it unwrapped in the back of his car. Umm… “thanks for the radiation?” But when he opened it to reveal the bunches of spinach that I eat daily, and the ease with which to blanche/nuke it, I fell in love. The boyfriend’s not so bad, either.
I use spinach as a bed for my soft-boiled eggs, a leafy addition to my corn tortilla wraps, my sandwiches, my pasta, my (fill in the blank___). I have a healthy obsession, I admit it. Are you a spinach-a-holic? Or not quite convinced by Popeye’s muscles? WebMD, that hypochondriac’s dream of a Website, confirms it: you’ll be strong to the finish if you eat your spinach. “The leafy green also helped [Popeye] fight off osteoporosis, heart disease, arthritis, and several types of cancer. Plus it’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants — ranking third behind garlic and kale.”
How do you eat your spinach? Ina Garten has the guide to garlic sautéed spinach here. And while we transition into fall, I plan to sub out the strawberries of my favorite summer salad with Fuji apples, adding a crisp bit to fresh spinach, goat cheese, and walnuts. TreeHugger.com highlights 30 ways to add spinach to your meal, including dessert! What’s your favorite spinach recipe? Do you grow your own? Share with us in the comment section or on Twitter: @RebeccaSnavely & TheCityFarm!
This is Red. Red is a beautiful Afghan hound, and we used him on the movie Titanic.
There were animals on Titanic I hear you say? Why yes, there was! We actually had the same breeds of dogs that were checked onto the ship along with their human owners, the four dogs we supplied for the production were the Afghan, a French bulldog, a wirehaired terrier and an Airedale.
Gentle Jungle supplied all the animals and they also provided a slew of horses for the opening scene where all the people were boarding the ship, being pulled up in horse drawn carriages. There were also had a few stray dogs, milling around the dock.
It was a fun shoot – mainly because we were in Mexico, it was my first BIG movie to work on and being on a slightly scaled down version of the Titanic was incredible! We would stay up until 4am in the morning to watch the night shoots (when we weren’t working) especially when they tilted the ship into the “sinking” position and the stunt people were jumping off – quite spectacular.
This is me on set waiting to work with our dear little wire hair fox terrier, she was a sweetheart.
And below – I am in wardrobe with the two “stray dogs” that we let loose to run around the dock while all the passengers were boarding. I was in wardrobe to keep a close eye on them.
Years ago, PBS launched a reality show about frontier life, and a fellow Los Angeles-based friend thought it a good idea that we apply – pitching ourselves as a “modern” family of 20-somethings who could create community, grow food, harvest crops and live off the land.
My mother had a different take on it. “You know,” she said, “that if you want to eat chicken in frontier life, you’d have to KILL said chicken.”
For someone who names her bathtub spiders before she rescues them with a cup and sets them free, it was a definitive moment. It was then that I decided I could be a vegetarian if needed. And it was also then that my friend and I realized that NONE of our L.A. friends were down with living the hard prairie / farm / homesteader lifestyle.
Maybe it was being raised on healthy doses of Laura Ingalls Wilder, both in book and via Michael-Landon-as-Pa-Ingalls-on-my-TV, but I *may* tend to romanticize what it means to truly live off the land. In reality, I do want to appreciate the everyday, common occurrences that Ingalls Wilder wrote about:
“The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies.”
“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness — just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”
―― Laura Ingalls Wilder, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist: Writings from the Ozarks & Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder – Volume One: On Wisdom and Virtues
How does one homestead in the city? A friend jokes that to live in Echo Park means to own at least one chicken. Do you have farm fresh eggs delivered to you from your backyard hen?
If you’re hankering toward homesteading – check out a few sites to see how other city-dwellers are doing it. Urban Homestead began in 1969, in search of a more self-sufficient lifestyle. Read the history and follow what is, in the face of our ready-made lifestyle, a truly pioneering way of living via their blog. And check out WebEcoist for 14 steps to an urban homestead.
If you want to add a tome to your book club reading list, check out The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City. One review calls it “A delightfully readable and very useful guide to front- and back-yard vegetable gardening, food foraging, food preserving, chicken keeping, and other useful skills for anyone interested in taking a more active role in growing and preparing the food they eat.”
How about it? Are you a modern day Laura Ingalls Wilder? Let us know – tweet us your photos, struggles, success stories @TheCityFarm!