Today we were lucky to have Lauren Samuelson from Alternatives 'Federal Credit Union join us to talk about financial opportunities- what our idea of success is, who is most easily afforded that success, what a hard working full time job leaves someone's life looking like depending on how high up they are in management, who makes the decisions on where money is allocated in a business and what factors in determining wealth are fair versus unfair. These are hard topics, but Lauren made them fun and engaging through a couple of activities and discussions.
Next, our very own Kirtrina Baxter (see above) spoke to us and showed some films about food justice. After giving a history of Black farmers, she showed the people's grocery video shown below which highlights People's Grocery, a nonprofit provider of fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income residents in West Oakland, California.
When Kirtrina's wonderfully informative talk was over, we welcomed Meredith Palmer back as our chef. She taught us how to make pizza on a grill using fresh ingredients. It was absolutely delicious!
Things got switched around a bit today: we started with something other than weeding. Pre-teens from GIAC came to visit, so we decided to put their time to good use by helping us weed. The rest of us continued with the task of trellising our many tomato plants. Some of the tomatoes needed stakes and others needed stringing. After break, we harvested hot peppers, ochre, kale, collards, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and summer squash.
Once we were done with all of this, we just about finished up the major weeding. Unfortunately, we are going to go back through and re-weed a lot of the rows that had initially been cleared so that the weeds won't grow back again when we lay down straw.
This morning a photographer from the Ithaca Times and a journalist from the Ithaca Journal visited the farm. Keep an eye out for this press coverage! When they came, we were in full swing with our morning weeding duties and having a little more fun with it than usual. There was a lot of cross-communication between rows and two people even had a weed-filled wheel-barrel race towards the compost pile. I think everyone is really starting to come together as a group.
After break, we got a lot of planting done. What went in were watermelon, diakon radishes, pickling cucumbers, napa, watefield, and red cabbage. Those who weren't planting were either weeding within the leek bed or trellacing another row of tomato plants.
Because we will be low on staff during the next week due to both Dan and Ann going on vacations, we are asking that volunteers from the community join us Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday this week from 9-1 and Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday of next week from 9-1 as well. Thanks!
Dirt and Rice balls (not together)
Today was another rainy one, which is nice for the farm but unfortunate for us. We were supposed to go on a field trip to a permaculture farm but weren't able to. Instead, we watched Dirt! The Movie (trailer below) which was a very informative film about the importance of keeping dirt healthy.
After the movie, Yoshiko Hogg and Mari Snyder came in to teach us about Asian agriculture, specifically rice cultivation. They also taught us how to make rice balls. What a delicious treat!
Our chef today helped a few of the teens make chicken stuffed with ricotta cheese, spices, and kale; mashed carrots with parsley; and string beans with garlic, almonds, and butter. It was great! I think most people really enjoyed this meal.
Stick and Stone Farm
Today we headed over to help out at Stick and Stone Farm in exchange for one of their farm managers on a later date. It was really neat to see a successful organic farm in action. One group worked on trellacing tomatoes by clipping them to a metal wire fence that was already in place. We also trimmed the branches so that the plants can focus their energy on the most productive stems. The other group saw how a larger-scale farm can move planting along faster with the use of a tractor that punches holes in the ground. A couple people sat on the back of the tractor and plopped seeds down into the holes while others covered them up. The other group helped them out by weeding. It was a fun day! We learned a lot and felt accomplished by the end.
As we trellaced tomatoes, our hands turned yellow, black and then green from the plants. Don't worry, it washed off pretty easily.
Hooray for Rain! (says the farmer)
Although it stormed for most of the day, which stopped us from finishing a lot of what we had planned on getting done, we still accomplished a great deal today.
Before the rain came, we weeded in a very unorganized fashion. Although some people did some great work, we decided that next time it will be better to stick with the groups for this task. After break, one group worked on getting some lettuce starts going. Another group transplanted dill, but didn't quite get to the pickling cucumbers, beets, and pole beans that were meant to go in before the rain. The last group started clearing large rocks out of the upper field so that we can keep planting up there too.
Lots and lots of fingerlings
With the clouds patchy in the sky, some threatening to pour rain and some that looked happy and fluffy, the farm crew worked wonders once again.
In the morning, we started off with a word game and then split up into new groups per the request that was made on Friday. In the morning, one of the groups used scuttle hoes to clean up some of the smaller weeds in the U-pick section of the farm so that we can lay down some straw there soon. Another group weeded around the summer squash. The final group continued trellacing the tomatoes.
After break, the work continued with one group planting beets, cilantro, and a field mix of lettuce. Another group continued the much-needed weeding. The other group planted six 100 ft rows of fingerlings potatoes! Although it’s a little late to plant tomatoes, we’re hoping they do well anyway.
Composting and African Cuisine
On Fridays, we always start off with a discussion of how things have been going and what needs to change. We decided it would be best to switch up the work groups every two weeks.
Our first set of speakers for the development session today were Liz Falk and Talia from CCE who came to talk to us about composting. They spoke to us about how compost works and why it’s important to do, especially on a farm. Then we talked about how composting is going to work at Southside specifically. We decided to have a bucket next to each trash can at Congo Square Market, as well as one in the kitchen, as long as we know someone is going to be able to remove the waste each week. Two people volunteered to have signage made for next Friday.
Our second speaker was a Cornell professor named Jackie Sayegh-Birch who gave a presentation on the culture of African foods. In her presentation, she described a bunch of festivals in different African countries that are focused around celebrating food. She came back from Wegmans after her presentation and gave us some samosas, a traditional food from Liberia, her native country.
After the presentations, Kirtrina Baxter helped a group prepare a meal for the rest of us which included some lemon parsley chicken, spinach linguini with garlic sauce, sauteed collards, and zucchini. I’m hoping that more and more people will be interested in eating the vegetables that are cooked for them. As of now, there are a few people that are hesitant to branch out from the foods that they’re used to. However, most of the group thoroughly enjoyed this lovely meal.
Today was a nice day for farming, and once again we got a lot done! In the morning, we started out with a little game of catch phrase to get everyone’s minds ready to start work. We separated in our groups of three right away. The tasks were weeding thistles over at the far end of the farm, staking tomatoes, and preparing lettuce, collards, and kale starts.After our usual twenty-minute break at 11:00, one group measured out remay and cut it into strips to cover the brasica plants. Remay is a fabric-like sheet that covers some of the leafy vegetables. This is an organic farming method used to reduce the chances of the crops being eaten by insects. The other groups planted beets and strung up tomato twine.
Thursday is the day that we harvest for the Congo Square Market, since the market is held on Friday. Today we were able to harvest kale, a bunch of zucchini and summer squash, plus collards and parsley.
Our First Group of Visitors
After a brief talk on tardiness and responsibility, such as how everyone should strive to be the kind of worker that has drive towards the final product instead of just doing one task at a time and then waiting to be given a new task, we got to work on the farm. The weather today was a lot cooler than it has been lately and started out with mist that turned into an on and off rain. However, we were able to work right through! Tasks included weeding in the morning, and then one group planted carrot seeds while another planted and watered basil. The last group finished putting up the tomato posts.
Another cool thing that happened today is that members of a class on sustainable food systems visited the farm. The class included students run through Groundswell from IC, TC3, and Cornell. After getting an overview of the farm and a background on the Youth Farm Project they helped us out by weeding between some of the beds.