By Michelle Soto
Meg and I thought we could use this rainy day to our advantage and show some photos of our muscle powered tools that we use to create the gardens. As we were planning and budgeting to create new gardens and revitalize more green spaces at Healcrest, we made a decision to not rent heavy gas powered machinery and to invest in quality earth moving tools that we can use for years to come.
We still use lawn mowers for grass cutting, but pretty much everything else up at the farm is a hand tool. This definitely increases the time and energy it takes to build a garden bed, but the finished products are high quality beds that will be around for years to come, completely free of knotweed roots, rocks, and anything else that might impede the growing process.
We’ve found that the beds that we built last year have needed a few wheelbarrows of compost of them and some leaf mulch in the aisles, but are free of invasive weeds. The hard pan clay that is just right under our top soil was turned with compost last year and has matured into a dark rich layer of soil, perfect for growing.
Planting into these beds will continue for a few more weeks! Official volunteer days are on Sundays from 11-4. We won’t make you jump on a broad fork for you can help some baby seedlings find a good home!
Michelle loves to use the little digging fork to turn earth
Meg attacks knotweed, clearing a new path through the woods
Michelle jumps on the broad fork, using all her body weight!
Meg is shifting soil with the brand new shifter that Suzy built or the farm
By Michelle Soto
This past week my family came into town ready to work on the farm! Many of my memories of childhood involve helping my dad in the yard and in the garden. Every spring we’d get a load of wood mulch delivered to the house and I would use my child sized shovel and wheelbarrow to mulch the rose bushes and the edges of garden beds. I loved the smell of the mulch. It smelled woody and alive and signaled that spring was here. My dad’s biggest hobby was working in the yard, he’d come home every day after work, take a power nap, change into work clothes and spend the rest of the afternoon outside. He’s the type of guy who only has ONE kind of grass in his yard, and absolutely no weeds. Anywhere.
It was reminiscent of these afternoons to spend some days with him at Healcrest. His assignment: tree stump removal. And not just any tree stump. A 50 year old black locust (he counted those rings during a break one day) which was in the middle of our newest garden. While my dad worked on the stump, my mom and aunt weeded our garlic patch, which had mulched itself with garlic mustard plants. They caught them all before they went to flower, and the garlic patch is vibrant and sending up what soon will be delicious garlic scapes.
Other areas of the garden are quickly growing as the days and nights are warming up. The mints: lemon balm, peppermint, horehound, catnip, catmint, and chocolate mint are providing us with new herbs to harvest every week. About half of our seedlings are moved into the greenhouse and awaiting transplant. And of course, the lovely wild cherry trees are going to burst into bloom any day this week.
Till next time,
Michelle and the Farm Team
Healcrest is hosting herb walks and classes with Michelle!
We’re kicking off our season:
this Sunday MAY 18th – 3 to 5PM
It’s a Weed Walk!
to learn about the plants poppin out NOW that its spring!
We’re going to walk and talk about what’s growing now and what it looks like. Curious about how to harvest burdock to get the most out of it? Or simply want to know what burdock is and looks like? We’ll talk about medicinal uses, cultivation techniques, wildcrafting habits, and whatever you want. There’s going to be a number of these kinds of classes this year where we can visit the same plants in different seasons and growing stages and identify and use them is a variety of ways.
the walk and talk is $10 and our rain date’s set for may 20, 4-6.
Register Here let us know if you have any questions, 615-804-0064 thanks! and happy spring,
Whew! Spring has sprung and we are seeing the evidence of that all over the farm!
The daffodils are in full bloom, the forsythia has one whole garden in a wash of yellow, the hawthorns are budding out the cutest little leaves, and our perennials are coming back from the intense winter hibernation we were all in.
Meg and Michelle have been busy tilling the ground in several gardens to get beds ready for the hundreds of plants we have started inside. Many herblings are more delicate than vegetable starts so we’ll wait till after the last frost to plant outside.
We are orienting garden beds differently this year in one garden and are breaking ground the what we used to call “the knotweed field”. Although it does have medicinal qualities: the knotweed root contains high amounts of resveratrol- the feel good chemical in red wine, we are striving to eradicate our pristine piece of land from this invasive creature. Slowly, but surely.
Suzy has built a rain barrel system to catch rainwater off the roof of our shed so that we can water everything grown on the farm with water collected from the farm.
As usual, the chickens have the run of a garden during the day to dust bathe and sun themselves.
We will post soon about upcoming classes and volunteer days! Here’s to spring!
Where does all your food waste go? Would you rather have it be beneficial waste instead? In this workshop you will be introduced to a few easy methods for turning food scraps into soil, or composting, in dense spaces.
Whether you have a huge yard or none at all you will go home with a method or modified method that will work for you. We will explore bin, trench, and vermi-compost. You will also have the opportunity to take part in our Healcrest Compost program, where your waste is our treasure.
Dana Launius will share her experience and love of sustainable living in this fun and educational series. Simple techniques for a waste-resource lifestyle. Each participant will leave with some materials to get their compost started or enhanced! Bring water to drink and come prepared to get icky!
Join us at Healcrest Urban Farm Aug 20th – Tues 6:30 at 5200 Hillcrest St. Garfield. Register here at http://www.healcresturbanfarm.com/classes.html or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Cost: $10
The Healcrest Apiary is Buzzing with Activity
We are so fortunate to have 3 groups of folks managing hives at Healcrest. It began last Spring 2012 with Jen and John, and the tradition has continued with Natalya and Dana with new hives this spring season.
Soon Meg will add her hives to the mix and the results will be amazingly delicious!
ANNOUNCING! The Healcrest Tea-pop Shop!
Last year Maria Graziani had an inspired idea, what if we combine tea, herbs, fruit, berries, and delicious sweetness in a frozen treat. After some tasty and not-so tasty experimentation Healcrest tea-pops were created. With growing interest in healthy treats, artisanal food, and locally grown produce, things we love in great quantities at Healcrest, we thought what a wonderful novelty item for Pittsburghers to enjoy this coming summer.
Well, WE DID IT!
We are ecstatic and elated to announce the arrival of the Healcrest Urban Farm cold-plate push cart! With the help from friends and supporters at Awesome Pittsburgh, CatapultPGH and KivaZip Micro-Lending, we made the BIG acquisition. You will recognize it as your standard ice cream or Italian ice cart, locate us by umbrella at your favorite event!
Try all of our seasonal flavors!
Please follow more of this story and watch Healcrest in the NEWS on Pittsburgh’s KDKA and in The Bloomfield-Garfield Bulletin
Whether Rain or Shine, at Healcrest It’s Always Teatime!!
Now we’ve made it even easier to bring our delicious, specially brewed hot and cold tea to YOU, for your enjoyment, at any event, anytime! You’ve enjoyed our hot and cold tea samples at every event. Now delight as you enjoy a FULL cup of our hand-crafted, locally-grown herbal blends!
Whether you enjoy hot Coconut Green Chai or Everyday Iced Tea….not Ice-T
… Iced Tea! Brewed just the way you like to enjoy it, smooth, hot, warming, cold, refreshing, and ready to enjoy when you want it!!
FIND US AT A MARKET NEAR YOU! Come say hello, Meet, Drink, Be Merry!