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Sunday, July 24, 2011

After Two Months at the Downtown Teaching Farm

The month of July is flying by at the Downtown Teaching Farm.  We've been working our tails off to combat with the weeds - old fashioned elbow grease and a whole lot of mulch.  We've been working out the details of our trench-flood watering system in some beds, and looking forward to not having to handwater after this year - thank you to everyone who has been helping with the watering through the heat!

Please come down to the farm for our evening work parties - contact if you'd like specific dates/times.

This chalkboard is where we are communicating what we've been up on a daily basis.  Please make a note of what you've been weeding/watering/discovering - and also a note there is something that really needs attention that you didn't have time to get to.  It is very helpful to have a chalkboard - thanks Quissell family!

Moving this giant pile of mulch all throughout the garden is one of our priorities right now.  Mulching adds nutrients, helps prevent evaporation off the surface (conserving water) and prevents light sensitive seeds (such as goatheads) from germinating.  It also keeps the soil soft which makes weeding easier.  If you don't know what to do when you are at the farm, mulch anything - everything - you can't overdo it with this nice mild mulch (stall sweepings from the horse track).

As you can see, the work parties are always a blast for the farm kiddos - and the crops are definitely growing.  The farm bounty should be coming on strong this week - lettuce, beans, zucchini, cold crops, and the tomatoes and peppers.  Volunteers - remember to be bringing home about one meal's worth of veggies for each hour you are down there working.  Seth WhiteEyes from Boise High is organizing our donation process - if you know of any organizations currently in need of fresh food donations, please let us know at  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Colored System of Communication

Colored Staking as a Way of Communicating with the Farm Families

One of the challenges on our farm is communicating with eachother when we are rarely there working at the same time.  We are experimenting with a colored staking system for watering, weeding, and harvesting, as well as a bulletin board to leave notes for eachother.  We are not using a formal CSA type of harvest system (where everyone picks up a box of food on the same day) instead we are using more of a u-pick situation for the farmers).  Farmers should be able to take home a meal's worth of vegetables for every hour volunteered, and to make sure that all of the families and students participating are taking food home to their families, and should not have to ask permission from one of the organizers - we are employing a stop-light colored (red, yellow, and green) staking system  for harvest makes good sense.  The other colors (orange and blue) will help people recognize what the priority weeding and watering beds are at that time. 

An added bonus is the the colored stakes are like a scavenger hunt for young kids to wander about and see what needs to be done and what is ripe for the picking.  These stakes also "quietly" teach people to recognize what various crops look like when they are ready for harvest (and harvest directions can be written right on the stake) and will make it easier to communicate with our harvest coordinator about donations ready to be made.  The stakes are stored in a color coded series of containers inside the shed so people can move them around as they weed beds or finish harvesting a crop.

Red Stake: Do Not Harvest (a donation will be made very soon with this crop)

     Yellow Stake: Almost Ready to Harvest, check back frequently

Green Stake: Harvest for your family please (one meal's worth per hour volunteered)

Blue Stake: Watering Priority (newly planted)

Orange Stake: Weeding Priority