Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving From Our Family!

{In my parent's yard, turkey waiting for us inside...}

Happy Thanksgiving!

Right before we sat down to eat, I took some photos of my sister's family for her Christmas card, and then asked Uncle R to snap a photo of our family.

Were there 22 seated at the two tables? (My parents set a classic kid's table in the living room with a folding aluminum table and the piano bench pinch hitting for seating.) Or was it more? Anyway, a great meal and many more cousins and an Uncle joining us later in the day.

How was your Thanksgiving?


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tasty Beets and The Produce Project

I've had a booth selling my jewelry, photography and notecards at the Delmar Indoor Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings this season, and one of my booth neighbors is Capital District Community Gardens' Produce Project. 

{myself, Hannah and some gorgeous beets - see what I made in them at the end of this post!}
Hannah Savio is one of the staff on the Produce Project, a year-round training program at Troy High School. Students are employed and earn school credit at a really cool 2.5 acre urban farm and greenhouses in Troy. Hannah let me interview her on what The Produce Project means to her.

How did you get involved in Capital District Community Gardens' Produce Project?
I grew up in a rural community with a large garden in the backyard.  Working in the garden as a young person, I assumed that everyone got to (or had to) experience the challenges of growing their own food.  Moving away from home I realized how untrue that was and how amazing the opportunities I had were, so I graduated from college with copious student loans and a desire to teach young people about where their food comes from.  As an AmeriCorps*VISTA () with the Produce Project, I could work on both of those things at the same time.  Now that my AmeriCorps service term is complete, I am lucky to continue on with the Produce Project as the Farmer!

What's your favorite vegetable to grow, and why?
I enjoy growing carrots.  Growing carrots takes more patience than other crops because they are slow to germinate and you can’t watch the majority of their growth.  As with other root crops, not being able to see and track their growth adds excitement and requires a certain faith in the plants.  About 60 days after planting, you find out how well it worked!  We grow carrots outdoors in the warm seasons and in the high tunnel in the winter.  This year we are experimenting with overwintering some carrots – they are planted outdoors and will hopefully remain cozy and dormant under some nice snowfall this winter, resuming their growth in the spring for an early harvest!

{Troy High School student Cassandra at the market}
What's the most important lesson you teach the kids?
With a vested interest in the program, I hope that every moment our students spend at the Produce Project is a productive one, but our project’s unique strength lies is teaching them how to grow their own food.  As urban youth, the students we work with generally come into the program with little knowledge of how and where their food comes from.  I hope that teaching gardening skills and fostering their importance will encourage them to think about the origins of their daily meals and ideally to grow their own food in the future.  With basic farming skills under their belts, our students will be able to make their own informed decisions about what to eat with the opportunity and ability to operate outside of the commercial food system and grow their own food.

What else would you like others to know about the Produce Project?
We grow food year-round! Using two high tunnels (unheated greenhouses), we can grow produce throughout the winter.  Winter growth is slow (the low angle of the sun means the plants have trouble gathering enough energy to grow), but what we harvest and sell is incredibly fresh! During the winter, you can try our produce at various local restaurants (in Troy at The Hungry Fish Café and Jose Malone’s, and in Cohoes at the Dali Mamma Café) or at the Delmar Indoor Farmers Market.  During the summer we also have a farm stand right on 8th street in Troy on Tuesday evenings – check out where we grow and bring home some produce!

...and here's what I made with my Produce Project beets - a pizza! Delicious, and I had it all to myself as beets are the one veggie my husband does not like. He likes all the other veggies, so I'll pick something up for him next week!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Frost and the Tough Swiss Chard

{ice-covered oak leaves in the grass}
 We'll get our first frost in October here near Albany, New York. I think we had one hard frost day last month - and I covered the veggie garden up in tarps and towels to protect some of the plants...

{ice on the car windshield}
 But in November, it dips below freezing hereso often that I give up the tarps and let the garden freeze over.
{dead, dead, dead}
 The tomatoes vines look like this, and I've potted up a tall rosemary plant and hot pepper plant to sit on the windowsill so they don't meet the same brown, shriveled fate.

{Bright Lights Swiss Chard}

But the swiss chard will keep going...

{my little toughie}
... and keep going! So many people think this plant acts like spinach. But swiss chard is in the beet family, and so much hardier in hot and cold. Unlike spinach, it has a big, thick taproot to draw energy from.

Swiss chard doesn't bolt and go to seed in the hot summer sun, and it holds up to the cold better than anything else I've planted. With that big taproot, you can cut swiss chard down and it resprouts new leaves beautifully. So when I titled this post I'm saying swiss chard isn't "tough" as in hard to chew - but "tough" as in tough as nails. I may even get to harvest more this month...


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Interview for Craft Show This Fri & Sat

{Love this giant Earth beach ball!}
I will be at the Holiday Craft Show at The Woman's Club of Albany this Friday from 5pm-9pm and Saturday from 10am-4pm. If you are in the Albany, New York area, please come by and say hello!