Well its here Folks! Warm sunshine, warm rain and apparently hail storms and all! Spring has arrived.
Check out this Video! – http://s63.photobucket.com/albums/h155/podtrippin/?action=view¤t=DSCN0702.flv
March 21st rolled around and I was unsure whether or not this whole spring thing even existed. After almost 2 years away from seasons, (an endless summer from Philly to California to New Zealand and then the seasonless Northwest) this winter really beat me up. I was a flat tire, loud music and “not another piece of garbage” away from finding the quickest way out of Philadelphia. But then I got my new job at Greensgrow, we received our seed donation from High Mowing Organic Seed, I finished our “cold frame”/greenhouse and started those seeds and suddenly my return to the “City that Loves You Back After Beating You Up a Few Times” really doesn’t seem that bad!
I woke up this morning bright and early with the birds, 6:00 to be exact. My eyes were foggy and my alarm clock just wouldn’t understand what snooze meant. So in my early morning daze I lay under my warm sheets and realized that aside from my alarm clock, there wasn’t a singe abrasive noise entering my eardrums. My neighbors weren’t blasting their awful second rate hip hop, there weren’t mopeds and mini pocket rocket motor cycles roaring by and there wasn’t a single person screaming, as if the sky were falling, across the street. All I could here were birds, yes birds, a chorus of birds. I was dumbstruck. I lived in this city for almost 5 years, 2 of them were in this neighborhood, and nothing ever bothered me about the garbage, the noise, the lack of nature or the anger in any given person walking down the street. But a year and a half in California, New Zealand and Oregon will turn you into a person that forgets what life in the city is all about. Honestly, as much as life on the west coast and that exotic island on the other side of the world was easy going and surrounded by beauty, I realize how much the true and sometimes harsh realities of life that exist here in Philadelphia are what make life exciting and allow you to appreciate each breath, each swallow and each chew. It is easy to forget that the birds still sing, the sun does shines, the trees bloom and plants do still grow after the dreary and dark months of Philadelphia winters.
So as I was sitting on my back porch, enjoying my much needed strong coffee and watching the birds dive into the lots of the future Emerald Street Urban Farm for nesting materials, I looked around and realized how much we have accomplished since our last blog post. Elissa and I dusted off our “Timeline” last night and ended up crossing off basically everything!
On March 4th, Natalie brought over her drawings she has been working on for our farm design and we had a little pow wow! The drawings were AWESOME! We played around with ideas, erased, scribbled, and by the end had a great picture of what we hope to create here. 10 beds total for growing, a mini orchard, tool shed/rain water catchment, composting area, outdoor kitchen/community classroom, flower beds and signage were all included! Although it won’t all happen this summer, its nice to have a firm vision and goal to be working on.
Rachel and I went on a serious and adventurous search for construction sites to dumpster dive lumber for building projects. It didn’t take long for us to find a house on 16th and Ridge that was being rehabilitated. I had seen it before but this time we got out of the car and went and talked to the guys working on the house. There was copious amounts of lumber from 2×4’s to 2×12’s and sheets of ply wood scraps galore! The guys working on the house told we could take what we wanted, everything in sight was free for the taking. We rejoiced and took 2 full loads worth. It was enough to build a small house.
So with all that wood I finally had the motivation to start building our cold frame/seed starting greenhouse. It was complicated and I wanted to do it right so it took about 2 weeks to actually compete but it really turned out well. I used two double paned windows we got for free through Stan “the man” Gable, some 2×10’s and some fancy finishing wood we bought at home depot! Here are some pictures! Check out the awesome splinter I got…right through the skin of my whole finger!
So, now that we have our seed starting “device” I spent a few hours seeding several flats I was given at the Circle of Hope Urban Farm Team meeting! Oh yeah I forgot! I started a dialogue and getting involed with the Circle of Hope’s “Urban Farm Team”. I hope we can collaborate in the future!
So I got some compost and seeded Broccoli, Green Wave Mustard, Spinach, Chard, Parsley and Kale, all of which were donated by High Mowing Seed Company. Thanks High Mowing! But of course every success comes with some failures! So first off immediately after seeding 5 more flats of tomatoes and peppers for resale as a fundraiser at the Trenton Avenue Arts Fest, we met with our friend Aaron about business plan and incorporation stuff. It was a great meeting but it was abruptly ended because a CRAZY hail storm rolled in…pictures and video follows. So we lost a few plants in the hail storm.
But worst of all, I didn’t anticipate how hot our cold frame would get and on Monday I came home from work to find the inside of the cold frame close to 100 degrees. Most of the plants were fried but that’s not the end of it. I opened the lid to cool down the inside before I let Elissa’s “ADORABLE” new dog Honeypie out for a “pee and poop”. Then I left real quick to buy some stuff at the hardware store and when I returned Honeypie decided to have play time with our flats and sadly destroyed any life that existed. “Bad Farm Dog”! Sadly she is no longer with us…APRIL FOOLS!
Finally, our most recent accomplishments: I went and talked to the NKCDC about our project on Monday. They were super friendly and seemed to be interested in our project. We have been sending emails back and forth and I hope we can have a good relationship with them! Hopefully we can write an article for the Star’s column “Sustainable 19125” in May about our project! After our meeting with the NKCDC Corrie and I got a truck and got one load of compost from Fairmount Park and One load of dirt from some ranomd guy off craigslist. We brought it back and finally filled in a bed and planted it with peas, beets, radishes and carrots.
As much as we have gotten a lot done, and the prospect of spring as finally arrived there is just one thing that has truly made this whole project worth it. Our neighbor Shenea, an 8 year old from around the corner stopped by and asked if she could help us plant. As she peaked through the chain link fence with her face painted like a butterfly, I thought, “Wow this is it, this is where it all begins”. She came in and we started planting peas together. She said she didn’t like peas very much but stated “There isn’t anything I can think of thats more excitin than plantin a garden!” Corrie and I looked at eachotehr smiling and it was that moment that I knew what we were doing here was a good thing, a fair thing and most definitely an important thing. She asked when were going to be working in the lots next and I told her Saturday. She was quite upset about that and exclaimed “I have to wait 5 whole days inside!” I told her to come by the next day and see if we were planting or seeding. She didn’t end up coming over but I really hope she comes back and helps. Her excitement and her awe really affected me. Now I can’t even wait 5 days to get back to work in the lots. I don’t think I’ll be sitting around twittling my thumbs inside any more…not after what Shinea told me thats for sure!