An Actual Urban Farm

I mentioned earlier that I was moving to a new house, meaning we wouldn't have our community garden plot anymore, but that we would have something (and I quote) "EVEN BETTER!"

Our new place has a super cool rooftop that will likely have a few plants, BUT it also has an even cooler opportunity: a neighbor in our (new, awesome) neighborhood purchased the plot of land next to her house a few years back and turned it into a small farm.  Since then, she has returned to working full time and doesn't have time to maintain it.  A few weeks ago, she asked a few of us if we'd like to help her farm and to reap the benefits collectively.  And the best part is: it's literally right up our alley!

Ummm... yes please?

IMAGINE!  An actual, completely urban farm, collectively sowed and tended by friendly neighbors, all learning along with each other.  What kind of hippie utopia have I stumbled into?!

Here's the full scoop: our neighbor Meredith is a landscape architect, and she and her husband purchased the piece of land in 2013.  At the time, there were several dilapidated buildings and quite a bit of garbage on the site, including over 40 tires and probably some other nastier things.  They demolished the buildings and filled the basement holes with fill, and the entire lot got a layer of topsoil and compost.

Unfortunately, the demo work was done pretty quickly and with a ramshackle crew, and Meredith was apprehensive about the quality of soil in the crop area.  There was a chance that the site infill was mixed with the topsoil, bringing some of the nasty chemicals into the food layers.  Prior to this summer, she had been doing all her gardening in straw bales, but in order to expand, we needed to get a better handle on what was going on here.

Beds to the far right show her previous use of straw bale gardening; to the left are two raised beds that are super interesting and deserve more time to talk about.

Beds to the far right show her previous use of straw bale gardening; to the left are two raised beds that are super interesting and deserve more time to talk about.

Cue: ANOTHER NEIGHBOR!  Seriously, people, this single block is basically self-sufficient in this world.  Another neighbor on our block WORKS IN A SOIL TESTING LAB.  Whaaaaaaaaaaaat!  She is going to run some tests for us to see if our soil is safe and healthy, and then we can make a plan for planting.  I'm getting giddy just thinking about it.

In the meantime, we've had a few work parties to get this baby up and running.  The last year was a very hectic year for Meredith, with a toddler and returning to work full-time, and she is very quick to point out that the plot of land has really gone rogue.  Here is what we have accomplished thus far:

Weeding

This should be a gravel patch and fire pit.  Not a weed garden.  Thanks to the valiant efforts of neighbors, it has returned to its proper state.

This should be a gravel patch and fire pit.  Not a weed garden.  Thanks to the valiant efforts of neighbors, it has returned to its proper state.

Spreading Wood Chips

The hub and I laid down cardboard and coffee bags to prevent weed growth, then covered it all with wood chips to re-define this path: wildflowers to the left, garden beds to the right.

The hub and I laid down cardboard and coffee bags to prevent weed growth, then covered it all with wood chips to re-define this path: wildflowers to the left, garden beds to the right.

Planting

And of course, we've purchased a few plant starters (and I'm donating mine that I started at home).  Soon it'll be time for some full-fledged planting and gardening.  Stay tuned for more updates from the farm on topics like: a potato tower! Chickens! Greyhounds? And what about that OTHER neighbor I haven't mentioned yet who is a freaking BEE KEEPER?! *swoon* I love this neighborhood.