Edible Landscape Project – Where we are at the end of 2014

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November 2014

The garden is lush and wonderful as fall moves in. Herbs galore, young fruit trees and berry bushes, root crops, some from the Andes, and annual greens of all kinds grow in soil that is getting prgressively richer as we add spent organic matter directly back into the soil.

The City gave us the lawn between Carmel and the garden, next to the fence of the multi-purpose field, and we have spent many happy hours creating new hugelkultur beds that are especially good at holding water in times of drought. A donated self-fertile avocado sits in this area as well, and it is exciting to imagine the place ten years from now when the trees have grown in and it truly is a forest of food.

Last week we harvested gallons of Jerusalem artichokes – please let us know if you would like some. Recipes follow below.

If you’d like to get involved with the Edible Landscape, please use the contact form on this website and we’ll let you know when our work parties are happening, and/or give you n opportunity to help with our weekly maintenance sessions.

Jan 2014

We have a grant from Coming of Age that will focus on teaching permaculture skills and improving the signage at the garden. Delia Carroll is teaching a series of eight Permaculture Learning Labs on Saturdays through June 21, and dropping in is OK.

Our regular work parties continue, as well as regular maintenance. By request of the City, we are working on a proposal for transforming the lawn (that borders the north part of the garden and the multi-purpose park) into a productive growing area.

A week ago, we hosted the first of the East Bay Permaculture Guild’s “Permablitzes” and 27 people helped loosen and amend more areas of compacted soil for planting, transplanted fruit trees from less than ideal to better situations, and put in several bushes and ground cover plants that are especially useful to bees during the colder months

October 2013

This is a report from the Library meeting held Sunday afternoon October 27th to celebrate our progress so far and evaluate the Edible Landscape Project at Albany’s Memorial Park from the perspective of where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going.

Alexa, Catherine, Leonard, Ron, Lourdes, Bonnie. Stephanie, Wakana. Chuck, Tina and Paul O’Curry got together yesterday afternoon to look  What follows are notes from the meeting, along with additional inspiration for those of you we haven’t seen in a while. If you would like to add something, please contribute to the comments below.

We started by sampling three delicious dishes prepared by Alexa from some of the 45 pounds of Jeruslam artichokes she had harvested the day before (and there are as many still in the ground). Did you know that the name of this root vegetable is a corruption of the Italian for a sunflower (to which they are related) – “girasole” – and that they were often used like artichoke hearts?  We enjoyed a J. Artichoke slaw, roasted roots, and a puree which made an excelelnt dip with the pickled cornichons from the garden that Doug had made, Recipes will find themselves on the website soon, along with a delicious soup recipe. Thanks to everyone who brought something to eat and share.

We expressed what had been Highlights for us in our participation:Building the boxes together, the sense of community, watching people’s enjoyment of the space, watching the amazing conversion from bog to bounty, making local  friends, seeing tangible results at the end of each work session, gradually learning how to garden, networking and making connections, canvassing the neighborhood (despite misgivings), helping two other strong women build the herb spiral, building the path all by ourselves, the speed of the conversion, the inspiration of seeing what you can do when you put your heart in it, watching the expertise, ingenuity, craftsmanship and attention to detail, providing produce to Albany Senior Center, and to Bay Food Shed for Bay Area Rescue Mission.

In looking at What prevents or motivates participation (using survey replies) we identified the following (if you have more to add, please let us know below):

Prevents Participation: Heavy Schedules, “Life,” would like more opportunities to participate on ones own schedule

Motivates Participation: Community Sharing, Gardening Activity, Creating a replicable model, Vision of a permaculture food forest, Learning about gardening, growing food, Learning about possibilities, Eating together, Working together and making friends, Contributing specific expertise/Teaching, If it’s tied to something specific, like Bay Rescue Mission (Dignity Village?), City-sponsored, Opportunity for Transition Albany to build a positive relationship with the City, Seeing the results – kids and the public enjoying it

Please check out the lovely Brochure that Joyce Kawahata has created for us (attached). Within it is a slip for people who want to donate plants, time or money. Yes, we can now accept tax-deductible donations, with checks made out to Empowerment Works, with “For Transition Albany” noted in the bottom left.

We evaluated our Harvest, or Yield, to date (obtained in only seven months of growing):

A new relationship with UC Berkeley (student garden), friends, jerusalem artichokes, basil, satisfaction, pole and bush beans, parsley, peas, tree kale, cucumbers, daiakon radish, mustard greens, mizuna, lettuce, apple trees, pickles, herbs, geerosity, international connections, goodwill, appreciation, inca berries, sunflower seeds, shiso, strawberries, raspberries, cornichons, mache, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, useful paths, defined beds, raised beds, drip irrigation knowledge, fava beans, herbs, pickles, a herb spiral with a number of useful medicinal herbs, custom-made hoops to support deer-repellant netting.

If we could find a way to easily weigh produce in the future, that would be very helpful.

Still growing: More inca berries should be available into the fall, and were a hit with a one-year-old looking for interesting things to eat the other day (eat when they’re orange, usually when the husk is completely dry).

Mashua and Yacon await harvesting, as well as a lot more (green?) tomatoes, plenty of green leafy vegetables, and an asian herb whose name I’ve forgotten.

The clay soil in several areas is being amended with green manure, compost and mulch (important not to step on it)

Fruit trees are getting established: Trovita orange, lime, Fuyu persimmon, Gala and Fuji apples, Meyers lemon, greengage, a small Emeryville grapevine (by the lemon tree); we have a small fig waiting to be planted as well as another apple to be moved from the too-shady student garden; three very small currant bushes are getting established to the west of the chimney in the picnic area.

The Herb Spiral is flourishing, and the corner of the north section closest to Carmel and the concrete pathway is becoming a bee garden, along with more bee-attracting plants scattered throughout the garden.

The Student Garden is currently the scene of several UC Berkeley Agroecology student projects, which they will develop over a semester, then hand back to us with operating instructions!

We looked at suggested Improvements and prioritized the following:

  1. Hardscape Improvements – Alexa offered to write a grant for $2,500 from Coming of Age, an organization that is looking for gardening-related activities for its members (50 and over). The grant would support building structures that increase people’s appreciation of the space, such as an entry arch that supports the grapevine at the east end of the new path, a bench/storage container behind the chimney, with a small visual focal area, possibly a cob-oven/bench, and creating signs that describe the project and how to harvest and use the various perennial plants within it.
  2. Establishing a new hose bib at the north end of the site – Alexa will approach the City on this issue
  3. Extending the drip irrigation to cover all the growing areas – Chuck and Catherine will take care of this.
  4. Planting a year-round succession of bee forage plants – Wakana would like the support of others in getting this done.

Other Suggestions (all of them good but requiring participation and/or leadership to make them happen:

More art, including online outreach; shared leadership/stewardship (teams for areas such as watering, soil improvement, succession planting, etc. were suggested); getting schools involved; getting seniors involved (see Coming of Age grant); getting on a Green Tours garden tour; continue developing a self-regulated food forest; provide educational opportunities/classes (permaculture, medicinal uses of plants, gardening techniques, use of unusual plants); grow more recognizable food plants!; expand venues and participation; develop value-added products such as medicinal preparations, pickles, conserves etc.; clear labeling of plants donated so that we can plant them appropriately (i.e. bush or climbing bean?). establish a kids garden.

Note: thanks to our friends the bees, saved seeds from the squash family, or volunteer squash seedlings, unfortunately produce hybrids that have few, if any of the desirable features of the “mother” squash. We suggest growing squash from organic, untreated seeds from a packet.

That said, here is a partial Wish List to extend our perennial plantings:

A young apricot tree, a Santa Rosa plum, pineapple guava, passion fruit vine, more bushes, including manzanita and ceanothus for year-round bee forage. (We still need two pineapple guavas as of Jan 30 2014)

 

Recipe for Jerusalem Artichoke Soup (serves 4)

750 g j. artichokes, cubed

1 T butter

1 large leek, finely sliced

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 very small potato, cubed

1 liter chicken or vegetable stock

leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme

2 T heavy cream (optional but delicious)

salt and pepper

handful of hazelnuts, toasted in the oven with skins rubbed off if possible

I small raw artichoke chopped fine (optional but gives a cool texture like water chestnut)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the vegetables and cook until softened. Add thyme. Ann stock and cook about 25 minutes. The J. artichoke and potato should be very soft by now and easily smushed with a spoon. Blend the soup until completely smooth (wait until the mixture has cooled a little if using a standard blender). Stir through the cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with hazelnuts and raw artichoke if used.

A Brit who came to the US in 1988 and found California and the Transition movement to be a perfect fit. Now my life is replete with a dear husband, a small but productive permaculture backyard, a loving family and a very full calendar of work I love.

Posted in Community Building, Economy, Edible Landscape Project, Food and Agriculture, Health and Healing, Social Justice on October 28, 2013