Santa Claus arrived a bit early for me this year and now I’m becoming an urban farmer!!
Originally, I’m from the Brazilian countryside. As a kid I remember tending our ‘horta,’ or vegetable garden, that had a couple of ‘canteiros,’ or beds, where we grew parsley, collard greens, various lettuces, spring onions, fava beans, pumpkins, choyotes, okra and many more vegetables. There is nothing like growing your own veggies. Have you ever smelled the milky sap that comes out of a head of lettuce that’s been freshly cut from the ground? Amazing! In Italian, lettuce is ‘lattuga’ which derives from the word for milk. Have you eaten arugula that has been newly harvested? It has an exciting grassy and peppery flavor that you can’t quite get out of the bag. I wanted to experience that again and finally I’m getting the opportunity! I registered for a plot in the community gardens of our neighborhood and several years later I am a proud gardener/urban farmer with my own plot at the Arkansas Friendship Garden. Thank you, Santa!!!
Community gardens are basically underutilized swathes of land in cities that get converted into gardens for the benefit of the population and wild life. Normally these lots belong to the city, so they’re public, but they can be private too. San Francisco has numerous empty spaces that over the years have been converted into community gardens. Often these gardens lie close to existing parks, near highways exits, and because of the dramatic hills, along stretches from the original road grid that proved too steep for cars to pass. I love walking by these gardens as I feel more in touch with nature. There is more wild life around than on conventional city blocks. You can tell by the buzz from the bees or the hum of the birds. It is a very cool thing. You can visit the site above and add your name to a waiting list for a plot.
I am super excited about learning how to grow vegetables in this sort of temperate, Mediterranean, desert-like climate. Last week Steven and I cleaned and weeded the plot then planted two types of radish and Italian parsley. Right now, it’s too cold for other vegetables.
Inspired by our recent visit to the Green Festival and the book Coming Home to Eat I want to fill my organic garden with as many heirloom kinds of produce as I can. I’m even flirting with the idea of collecting some cow and horse dung from grass-fed animals off hiking trails around the Bay once the dry season returns. Steven thinks that I’m insane. But that is the best kind of fertilizer for an organic veggie garden. I might have to do it on my own.
To prepare, I’m going to order a variety of heirloom seeds out of the Seed Savers Exchange catalog that arrived in the mail just this week. We went by their booth at the Green Festival before I even had the plot. Fortunately, we thought to sign up for their mailing list. Kismet, perhaps?
What do you think that I should grow?