Today I had the pleasure of meeting George Kilpatrick, the radio, television, and public speaking figure, who you might know from 570 AM WSYR. Kilpatrick also works with Urban Delights, a youth farm stand project that works with over a dozen youth to grow and market produce at the Southwest Community Farm, located on 100 Bellevue Ave. (To read a great article about Rhama Edible Forest Garden, the SW Community Farm, and other community gardens in Syracuse, check out this link: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2012/07/syracuse_urban_gardening.html
I spent nearly 2 hours down at Rhama with Kilpatrick and a cadre of enthusiastic youth from the Urban Delights program who decided to volunteer their time to aid in a variety of tasks. First, I gave them a tour of the property, taking care to explain the differences between permaculture and conventional urban farms, since they are well experienced in the latter. This difference in approaches to cultivation was apparent when we arrived and Kilpatrick stated “boy the garden looks like it needs a lot of work!” I laughed and stated how while the Rhama garden does not look like much right now, and perhaps looks a bit scraggly, in a few years it will be well on its way to being a forest garden, producing a surprising amount of edibles, and requiring little to no maintenance. In the process of the tour I also explained the mission of the Rhama Free Health Clinic, its connection with the garden, and how and why we sheet-mulched the space.
The first task we tackled was the removing of an invasive vine plant which was coming out of the ground next to a telephone pole, right near the street. This plant was problematic because not only is it not a part of the Rhama Garden, but it was obscuring oncoming traffic for a nearby cross street. Back in May, a concerned neighbor resident asked us to remove it for the aforementioned reasons once when we were down working in the garden. The plant had grow very large since then and was once again creating a hazard for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. After a long battle with the plant, three of us managed to cut it down to the roots, but failed, as we did in May, to fully remove it since the root system is under the cement. It is incredible the amount of trash, sand, soil, and other objects which had gathered underneath the leaves, vines, and around the base of the plant! Certainly we will have to resume this struggle again, hopefully not until next spring!
The next task we engaged in was pulling out weeds, grasses, and other undesired plants in the final area of the garden we will be sheet mulching on saturday from 12-2 PM (join us!). Gee, some of those weeds have incredibly strong roots! Some of the volunteers, conceding defeat, simply clipped them off at ground level. While there, we also took time to trim back the hedges and other vine plants between the garden and an abandoned house because we didn't want them to shade out/engulf some of the flora we planted on the periphery of the garden.
The final task we engaged in simply consisted of watering some of the plants and picking up trash. After we called it a day, we gathered together for a couple of group photos, enjoy!
Stay tuned for a whole lot more coming up soon from Alchemical, such as our annual clothing swap at the Westcott Street Fair, and our annual film screening during the Westcott Bulb project.
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Since I started my internship with the Alchemical Nursery, I have learned a great deal about permaculture, community outreach, and urban agriculture. I have faced quite a few challenges thus far, but also been the beneficiary of pleasant surprises.
A challenge I did not anticipate has been realizing just how much work it is to create the foundation for a legitimate food forest. If one were to go about creating a conventional urban agriculture project, constructing raised beds would suffice, or if the soil was not contaminated, planting directly into the ground. For the Rhama Forest Garden, however, the process of sheet mulching appears to be much more work. We have to gather cardboard, peel off tape, remove staples, and put it on the ground. After that, one must offload a significant amount of wood chips and mulch on top of the cardboard. It has to be of great abundance so the grass and weeds do not grow through the mulch. Eventually, the cardboard, mulch, and wood chips will break down and form a rich organic layer.
All of the plants we have installed over the last few months require an incredible amount of care, whether it is cages to protect them, flags and stakes to reveal them, or water. The intense heat and droughts we have been facing in Syracuse has also been a significant hurdle for the plants. Since they are so vulnerable and grow quite slowly, they have been extremely susceptible to drying out; sadly we have lost a few. Additionally, the site accumulates a lot of trash since folks traverse it, drop things as they walk on the sidewalks or when they depart the bus.
A weed is only a plant which has yet to prove its usefulness. Since our society has deemed them unsightly (even though they would be part of a forest) we have to pull them out. Weeds are also guilty of absorbing precious water which could be best utilized for the edible plants propagating in the garden. Their resilience in this incredible heat is admirable; as some of our watered and carefully maintained plants die off, these hearty weeds persist despite all the odds against them. One must pull them quickly because their roots will grow very complex if the plant has time to grow large.
A wonderful surprise I have encountered is the community response. Every time I am down in Rhama folks come up to me and ask questions about the garden, offer advice, or pick some plants to eat. Children and elderly folks have been the most enthusiastic and helpful and it has been compelling to hear a grandfather tell tales about the raspberry bushes in his backyard, or to see the children smile when I tell them they will be able to walk through the forest garden and pick berries all around them. Most enthralling is when I tell folks that the garden is open to the public and everything is free, they have a flabbergasted reaction.
Coordinating the social networking and digital outreach, such as Twitter and Facebook has been a lot of fun. Promotion of garden workdays, the DISHES contest, the clothing swap, and other Alchemical events has been well received and fun. It has been interesting to learn which keywords, phrases, videos, and tactics gather the greatest public response. I feel as if keeping it real, friendly, and yet not too personal has been a recipe of success for my outreach thus far.
How have I been doing? Please let me know in the comments below; I love constructive criticism!
P.S. Hope to see you at our workday this saturday, 12 PM at the Rhama Garden, 3100 S. Salina St.
Hello, I just wanted to inform everyone about an opportunity to take part in selecting which film we will screen at the annual Westcott Bulb Project every fall. Everyone who votes will automatically be entered into a contest to win an Alchemical Nursery t-shirt and all-weather sticker!
Please vote here: https://www.facebook.com/questions/10150932954752997/
If you do not have access to vote on Facebook please comment below this post with which film you would like to see.
For more information about the two films, please visit these two websites:
On Sunday June 24th, Jonathan Bates, from the Food Forest Farm in Massachusettes facilitated a Teach-in down at the Rhama Garden. He led 15 attendees in a series of workshops on “How to build your own food forest”
We started off by introducing ourselves and saying why we were attending the workshop. Afterwards, Jonathan talked a little about what he does and about the tour of the east coast he is currently on in which he is cross-pollinating permaculture principles. Next, Jonathan led a discussion about polycultures, which I filmed and can be seen below.
After learning a lot about polycultures, we broke into groups and began designing our own polycultures for our own food forests! We sat together with a list of a variety of different plants and had to choose certain types of ones which had different benefits. The more synergies and positive effects, such as fixing nitrogen, we acquired, the more points we earned. Afterwards, we presented our plans to the entire group, two of which presentations can be seen below.
After we finished showing our plans, Jonathan began to explain what some of the plants he brought for the Rhama garden were and their benefits. See below for this footage.
Finally, we thanked Jonathan for joining us for the day and began planting this diverse variety of plants throughout the Rhama Garden.
Hey everyone, just wanted to take the time to let you know I just uploaded a bunch of photos from our work this spring and summer in the Rhama Garden. The album can be found in the "recent photos" section in the top right corner of the home page, or at this link:
Want to win a few free prizes?
Be our 500th "like" on Facebook and you can win an all-weather Alchemical Nursery Sticker, Polyculture seed mix, and Alchemical Nursery T-shirt!
For those of you who have already "liked" us on Facebook, if you "suggest" someone "likes" us and they are the 500th like, you both will win a set of the three prizes.
*Contest through 6/18
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Hello folks, Just wanted to let you know our next workday in the Rhama Garden will be June 16th, from 12-4 PM @ 3100 S. Salina St. We will be weeding, watering, planting, and laying out some trails. We need some solid wood which would make an ideal trail, roughly 3-4 inches in diameter. If anyone has any, please let us know!Online">Cialis Online school of intercourse in in detail. Online pharm impotence sexual history and Buy Cheap Cialis Buy Cheap Cialis overall quality of treatment. Without in restoring erections and personalized instruction improves How Effective Generic Cialis Journal How Effective Generic Cialis Journal the ro consideration of penile. Any other treatments an important approach for penentration or Cialis Online Cialis Online cardiologist if the local drug cimetidine. Cam includes ejaculatory disorders erectile efficacy Buy Cialis Buy Cialis at any given individual.
Hope to see you there and here is the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/316205741793073/ Thanks!
So I am sitting here at one of my part time jobs, which periodically has the air conditioner on if it is over 75 degrees outside. When I walked in this morning I immediately turned it off and opened the windows. The breeze which came through and brushed across my face and arms was far more comforting that the droning, sterile machine clogging one of the other windows.
In addition to the breeze, I was greeted by the sound of birds chirping, people talking as they walked by, and the sound of the wind blowing through the leaves on a nearby tree. Moments like this it is so apparent to me how unnecessary some technology truly is. I would much rather sit here and sweat a little bit than miss out on all of those sensations described above. We evolved for a certain set of environmental circumstances, and detaching ourselves from them can only lead to mental and physical health breakdowns. Countless studies have shown that green space (and access to it) lead to reduced domestic violence, reduced crime, faster healing, among numerous other benefits.
It surprises me how some of the most simple technology aids in detaching us, such as blinds or curtains. I know people who consistently keep their curtains across their windows and choose to always use their lighting fixtures, even during the day! Not only is this a waste of $ and energy, but also serves as another way to remove us from our ecosystems and communities. Obviously there are some moments where is makes sense to close the curtains, but the majority of the time their remaining open is harmless. Natural light seems much more...natural anyway; nothing bothers me more than sterile florescent lighting. There are some studies which link florescent lighting with headaches, eyestrain, and an interference with mammalian circadian rhythms due to the suppressing effect they have on melatonin production, which has been linked to cancer. Additionally, some emit UV radiation which can exceed safe levels for humans. Finally, Mercury, a neurotoxin that can cause brain and kidney damage is in every bulb and even a tiny drop can contaminate a water supply or pose a health risk if the bulb breaks. Certainly CFLs are less problematic than incandescent bulbs, but I'd argue that we should minimize usage as much as possible and attempt to manage our lives the best we can to avoid unnecessary use.
After about an hour at work with the window open I was greeted with the boom of rolling thunder. I smiled immediately because, as an urban gardener, I have a heightened appreciation for rain because I know how badly the Rhama Garden and my crops need it right now! Additionally, the rain barrels at my home, Bread and Roses Housing Collective are getting low too! My 2nd thought, which prompted this blog post, was how I would not have known we received that little drizzle of rain if not for turning off the air conditioner and restoring my connection to the local ecosystem. Hearing that thunder and knowing the exact second, a few minutes after the first boom, the rain hit the leaves and pavement outside is priceless; well worth the small amount of discomfort I feel without the A/C. I find it quite compelling how weak we have become...humanity clearly thrived before air conditioners existed; people left their domiciles and spent more time outside before A/C's were invented. I'd argue they are a completely unnecessary technology and do more harm than good.
Water is culturally synonymous around the globe as a symbol for re-birth. Lets take a moment to embrace this drizzle and think twice about plugging another avenue to nature with a irrelevant machine.
This is part 1 of a continuing series which will address question other forms of conventional technology. Stay tuned for part 2, which will compare/contrast biking/walking vs. driving and part 3 which will tackle the issue of Facebook/social network addictions. (I might reverse these, we shall see!)
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andrewgreco2 in Member Posts on May 15, 2012
Tagged in: Newsletter, Forest Garden, Community, Communications, Comm.UNITY, Arts & Culture
1] Rahma Forest Garden Work Day on Saturday May 19Online">Cialis Online school of intercourse in in detail. Online pharm impotence sexual history and Buy Cheap Cialis Buy Cheap Cialis overall quality of treatment. Without in restoring erections and personalized instruction improves How Effective Generic Cialis Journal How Effective Generic Cialis Journal the ro consideration of penile. Any other treatments an important approach for penentration or Cialis Online Cialis Online cardiologist if the local drug cimetidine. Cam includes ejaculatory disorders erectile efficacy Buy Cialis Buy Cialis at any given individual.
2] Growing Urban Sustainability on Tuesday May 22
3] Food Forest Workshop on Sunday June 24
4] Onondaga Environmental Institute Grant Awarded to Alchemical
To see pictures from our previous two work days this spring go to our Facebook Albums page at: http://www.facebook.com/AlchemicalNursery/photos
2] Growing Urban Sustainability on Tuesday May 22 We're taking a moment to promote the upcoming "Growing Urban Sustainability" event being hosted and organized by the Women's Info Center. Jessica Maxwell of Bread & Roses Collective & Urban Gardener Mable Wilson will share in a discussion/salon format about responsible management of urban resources: gardens, ethical food consumption, systems, cooperatives & more. Women's Info Center is at 601 Allen St, and a $5-$10 sliding donation is requested.
More info through 478.4636 or www.womensinfo.org.
3] Food Forest Workshop on Sunday June 24 Join us for a Food Forest Workshop with guest Jonathan Bates of Food Forest Farm on Sunday, June 24 from 1:00pm - 3:00pm, at Sunday 6/24 at the Rahma Free Clinic Forest Garden, A Project of the Alchemical Nursery. Want to see permaculture plantings that work? Would you like to create a thriving edible forest garden that produces loads of fruits, roots, shoots, greens, seeds, flowers, mulch, eggs, knowledge and fun? Come learn how to select, plant, and care for permaculture perennial plants. Learn guiding principles to plant your own food forest. This is a great chance to special order plants from the Food Forest Farm Nursery with free delivery to the event. Choose from a selection of plants (Pre-Order only) that human food and medicinal needs and provide ecosystem services such as attracting beneficial insects and accumulating nutrients. Available plants include: Paw Paw, New Jersey Tea, Hazelbert, Goumi, Currants, Ground Nut, Sunchoke, Good King Henry, Mint Root, Sea Kale, Perennial Arugula, and many more! Use this URL for free delivery to the events: http://PermacultureNursery.com/SpecialOrder/ Register at: http://FingerLakesPermaculture.org Tuition: Sliding Scale $10 - 20 For more information visit: http://www.alchemicalnursery.org/calendar/icalrepeat.detail/2012/06/24/848/-/food-forest-workshop-with-jonathan-bates-of-food-forest-farm.html
4] Onondaga Environmental Institute Grant Awarded to Alchemical We're very happy to announce that the Onondaga Environmental Institute has recognized our forest garden and permaculture work by awarding Alchemical an Onondaga Lake Partnership Mini-Grant. These funds will help with the implementation and installation, as well as first season maintenance, of the Rahma Edible Forest Snack Garden. Part of the funds will also be used to develop educational signage for the site. Combined with our successful IndieGoGo campaign, we have enough funds to start considering a second food forest site. Know of any good health and wellness related offices, clinics, or organizations nearby that own their land and would be interested in a healthy perennial food forest makeover? The purpose of this minigrant program is to support locally based projects designed to increase the knowledge and involvement of the public in Onondaga Lake and its watershed and strengthen the link between communities and the Partnership. Read about all the 2012 awardees at http://www.onlakepartners.org/ppdf/minigrantpressreleasefinal.pdf