Tag Archives: plants

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

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

ANNOUNCING! The Healcrest Urban Farm Tea-pop Shop!


ANNOUNCING! The Healcrest Tea-pop Shop!

ImageLast 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!

ImageWe 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

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Filed under Events, Gardening, local food, organic farming, organic gardening, Pittsburgh, Urban Farming

Beautiful Burgh Summer


 Greetings followers!

Its been an amazing journey in July with high temps, electrifying thunderstorms, sunshine tanning our skin and growing our plants up tall. The farm feels amazing – like you have stepped out of the City of Pgh and into a grotto of earthly delights – big flapping butterflies, crickets chirping, bees buzzing, flowers in blooms, grass soft under your feet, apples growing, berries sweetening! Oh we are certainly relishing in the summer months knowing here that soon enough we will cycle back through to our winter cold!

We are having an entire weekend of volunteer opportunity at Healcrest. Join us on Saturday or Sunday (July 30-31st) from 9am-12noon for general garden work. We are re-seeding some raised beds and the greenhouse, harvesting medicinal herbs and general garden bed maintenance. Its an easy three hours and we finish in time for trips to pool or finding cool rest in a shady spot.

Here is the RSVP form….please complete if you think there is a STRONG POSSIBILITY you will be coming this weekend!

For those interested permaculture, biodynamic farming and general eco-spaces, Healcrest is beginning to define itself as a Food Forest and a permaculture site. We have always been apt to allow nature to work its magic-  keeping tree lines growing, incorporating wild, northeast herbs into food beds and pairing fruit & nut trees with the general landscape. We are not your traditional raised beds, straight rows, bare spaces – we are an ecosystem in the city, a place of green life.  That said, we invite nature enthusiasts to visit us and share in the development of our natural resources.

Here is a link to the Permaculture Institute. They give a great description of Permaculture Food Forests and you can get a better sense of what we work towards here everyday at Healcrest.

http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/Permaculture-Food-Forest/

In fact, here is a list they generated for plants in the permaculture food forest garden. I starred off what we have here at Healcrest:

Daylilies        **                                 Lemon Balm Melissa    **

Alfalfa                                                  Egyptian onion         ** (we have a heirloom German variety)

Walking onion **                            Chives  **

Strawberry   **                                Raspberry  **

Red  Clover  **                                 Stinging nettle **

Clary Sage                                          Garden Sage  **

Purple Sage  **                                 Rhubarb **

Hairy Vetch **                                 Ox eye Daisy (Black-eyed Susans & Garden white daisies) **

Oregano  **                                        Siberian Pea Shrub

False Indigo Bush                            Lovage **

Mullein **                                           Valerian

Echinacea **                                     Lavender **

Yarrow **                                          Anise (Chocolate, Mountain & Spear) Mint

Cherry (shrub and tree)               Pears, Plums, and Peach trees **

Apple **                                             Apricot

Mulberry, black  **                       Hops, kiwi vines

Grapes (wild and cultivated) **

Black Walnut **                              Blackberry brambles

As you can see, we are well on our way to permaculture, biodynamic, conservation space. Healcrest must continue to grow and develop as the City of PIttsburgh grows and develops. As houses go up around us, and young people fight the economic slump and stay in this great city- preserving an active, natural and healing green space will be asset to not only property values, but to the health & wellness of community. This is our mission. We are working to be a part of economic & community growth – not an opposition to it.  Read on fans & followers, support and grow with us!

Of course, fans, some pics….for inspiration….we hope we see you tomorrow or Sunday!

The berry/herb garden...lavender, rasberries, blackberries, sage, Greek oregano...

 

Volunteer at work w/ greenhouse in the distance

 

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

A new season, A new beginning


Healcrest Farm has been growing food and building relationships with our community since 2005!!!! It has not always been an easy road, developing those relationships. I have met many different people, of many different walks of life – from elders who grew up in the deep south and have lived most of their lives around fresh food, to youth who would rather throw an apple at their peers than eat it.
I have seen over 60 youth at the Farm in our summer internships and worked with 3 public schools in greenhouse educational programs. I am humbled at the progress that has been made in this small site tucked away on a hilltop in Pittsburgh.

I and this Farm might not be everything to everyone and often Healcrest UF falls short of being the local food source or the community-food educators or the neighbor we strive to be, but we never give up trying. Always with empathy to our neighbors unique experiences, to racial and social tensions, to all the things that oppress and strangle our communities and hold at arm’s length those things in Jah’s great earth that are LIFE. We press on.

Here is a small photo series of our times and growth so far. Enjoy!

Circa 2004

Land b4 the Farm, 2004

Building the garden beds

Summer Inters Building the Shed, 2008

Students at the greenhouse

Youth hard-at-work planting in the spring

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