Category Archives: organic farming

A Rainy Day Photo Shoot!


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!

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Michelle loves to use the little digging fork to turn earth

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Meg attacks knotweed, clearing a new path through the woods

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Michelle jumps on the broad fork, using all her body weight!

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Meg is shifting soil with the brand new shifter that Suzy built or the farm

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Filed under Events, Gardening, organic farming, organic gardening, Pittsburgh, Sustainable Living, Urban Farming, Volunteer

Family Time on 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.

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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.
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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.
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Till next time,
Michelle and the Farm Team

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Filed under Gardening, organic farming, organic gardening, Pittsburgh, Urban Farming

Spring Has Sprung at Healcrest Urban Farm!


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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.

046Meg 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.

IMG_2791We 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.

IMG_2789Suzy 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.

 

 

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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!

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Filed under Gardening, organic farming, organic gardening, Sustainable Living, Urban Farming


Farm-to-Freezer: Locally Made Popsicles Popping Up Around Pittsburgh

We ‘re pleased and grateful to be featured on The Allegheny Front! Thanks to Hal B Klein and Kara Holsopple for visiting with us.
Farm-to-Freezer: Locally Made Popsicles Popping Up Around Pittsburgh

You’ve probably heard of farm-to-table by now, but what about farm-to-freezer? There is a Pittsburgh farmer who’s helping pioneer that movement by taking a familiar summer treat in an unexpected direction. Read more…

See more Healcrest NEWS here

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August 26, 2013 · 11:42 am

TeaPops and Tea Upcoming Markets

  • AUG 25th 11am-5pm – @Green for All Larimer Street Fair
  • AUG 25th5pm-9pm – @ Weather Permitting, Shadyside Nursery
  • AUG 31st@PRVT Event Wedding Reception, Pittsburgh, PA
  • SEP 6th – First Friday Garfield Night Market, Pittsburgh, PA
  • SEP 7th – Healcrest Hafla with Amun Raqs
  • SEP 8th – Station to Station at Station Square
  • SEP 20th-22nd – @Mother Earth News Fair, Seven Springs, PA
  • SEP 29th, 11am-4pm – @Green Innovation Festival, Hartwood Acres, PA

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August 22, 2013 · 10:06 pm

Composting in the City: How, What, Where, and Why!


Composting in the City: How, What, Where, and Why!

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 healcresturbanfarm@gmail.com. Cost: $10

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August 14, 2013 · 4:21 pm

Healcrest On The Farm Fest!


Healcrest On The Farm Fest!

Join Us at the Farm for a Tea Time Mini-Fest
Sunday MAY 19th, 3pm-6pm

We invite you to take an urban trek to our little natural oasis in the East End. If you haven’t seen the farm yet or enjoyed a Tea-Pop this is the perfect opportunity to come visit us.

Come see what’s blooming and growing at Healcrest. Enjoy the scenery, aromas, and soundscape. Walk, Lounge, Mingle, Play, Learn, Enjoy!

We’ll Have Farm Tours, Play Area, and a Mini Market Including –
— Tea-Pops
— Hot and Cold tea
— Seedlings
— and more…

HEALCREST URBAN FARM – Garfield, PGH, 5200 Hillcrest St.
the corner or Hillcrest and N. Pacific

Contact us at healcresturbanfarm@gmail.com and visit our website at http://www.healcresturbanfarm.com

*all proceeds support Healcrest projects

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May 13, 2013 · 11:06 pm

NEW TEA-POP FLAVORS


NEW TEA-POP FLAVORS

photo by Luiza Sarbu

FLAVORS THIS WEEK
Peaches or Pear & Lilac Cream (vegan)
Apple+Rosemary
Rose Lassi (yogurt)
Cherry Vanilla Smoother

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May 5, 2013 · 11:26 pm

Orchards and Flowers Budding::Happy Earth Day


Orchards and Flowers Budding::Happy Earth Day

Healcrest is literally Springing to Life! Thanks to help of dedicated helping hands who love getting their hands a little dirty and tending to the soil and plants.

Buds, Bees, Birds, Blossoms! We’re lovin’ life, enjoying the spring showers of rain, help, motivation, creativity, and abundance! More Here http://www.healcresturbanfarm.com/

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April 22, 2013 · 7:06 pm

ANNOUNCING: Healcrest Tea-Pop Shop at PGH Public Market!!


ANNOUNCING: Healcrest Tea-Pop Shop at PGH Public Market!!

We are so excited to announce Healcrest Tea-pop Shop will be at Pittsburgh Public Market the 2nd weekend of every month!

Beginning APR 12th-14th, 10am-5pm
TEA-POP SEASONAL MENU
– Coconut Chai Pop
– ChocoMint Condition
– Apple Butter Better
– Everyday Pear
– Cherry Surprise

Come by have a pop and say hi!

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April 9, 2013 · 12:20 pm