Thursday, March 10, 2011

Community Supported Education

Hello Everyone!
As some of you know, Wil and I have had a difficult year in many ways. We've made it through and are officially here to stay in Lancaster (we almost moved over the winter) and are so happy to be part of this dynamic community.

One of our mentors in the gardening world is Dave Jacke. Author of Edible Forest Gardens Vol. 1 and 2, he is a leader in the field of edible landscape design. Our dream is to see some Edible Forest Gardens spring up around Lancaster for people to share and enjoy. We also believe that forest gardening is an important part of caretaking the land and rebuilding damaged ecosystems.

Dave Jacke has partnered with Wild Meadows Farm in Schellsburg, PA to offer a Forest Gardening workshop in April. Wil and I desperately want to attend this workshop, but the price is prohibitive for us. Not only do we need to pay for the course, but we also need to pay for transportation and cover the expense of missing work for 10 days.

We're asking our family, friends and community members to support us in this endeavor. We'd like to use the information we learn during the course to implement forest gardens in Lancaster. We'd also like to share the information with everyone upon our return.

So, we're asking for donations to help make this possible. In exchange for a monetary donation, we will offer a 3 part, 15 hour workshop (5 hours each class) within 3 months of our return from class. The workshop will cover the subjects we learn about in the class and all who contribute will be welcome.

We have already received a generous $300 scholarship from Wild Meadows Farm, so we need to raise between $1000 and $1500 to make this possible.

If you are interested in making a donation please send me a message in my facebook inbox and we'll go from there. Feel free to pass this message around via facebook or e-mail to anyone who might be interested.

We also encourage other people with ideas like this to share them as they come up. Our community benefits when we share information and education!
Thanks to everyone. We feel blessed to be part of this community.
Natasha and Wilson

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Lancaster Backyard Farm Initiative

The Lancaster Backyard Farm Initiative

The Lancaster Backyard Farm initiative is an urban/suburban personalized CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it is a method that enables the food buying public to enjoy a personal relationship with a farm and to receive a weekly basket of produce. By making a financial commitment to a farm, people become "members" (or "shareholders," or "subscribers") of the CSA. Most CSA farmers prefer that members pay for the season up-front, but some farmers will accept weekly or monthly payments. Some CSAs also require that members work a small number of hours on the farm during the growing season. A CSA season typically runs from late spring through early fall.

The Lancaster Backyard Farm Initiative
is a personalized CSA that transforms small, individual backyards into a collective of mini-farms. Each Backyard Farm is designed according to the owners’ eating habits, preferences and growing conditions.

Homegrown will install your garden and continue to care for it throughout the season. We will visit your garden weekly, weed, harvest and leave a basket of fresh produce from your own backyard on your doorstep. You get the health benefits and savings that come with growing your own vegetables without the work and upkeep.

This is just like a CSA, only made to your specifications, and you get to keep the garden year after year.
Due to the various growing conditions and over yielding qualities of many food plants during the growing season, produce from the backyard farms can be shared throughout the network to create a more diverse harvest for each member.

If you choose to join The Lancaster Backyard Farm Initiative, we become the farmers, your yard becomes the farm, strangers become friends and neighborhoods become communities.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Lancaster Backyard Farm Initiative

Mini-Greenhouse/Cold-Frame Design and Installation

In our climate, mini-greenhouse are the key to making the most of the growing season. They make it possible to start seeds early in the spring, and extend the growing season late into the fall. Cold hardy plants, which include several members of the mustard family(broccoli, cauliflower etc.), lettuces, greens and many others, can even be grown year-round in a mini-greenhouse, providing fresh veggies all year- even when there is snow on the ground! We use all local, recycled or discarded materials in our designs.

Above is an example of a cold-frame or mini-greenhouse.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Home Composting System Design and Installation

18% of the waste sent to landfills is food scraps. As these food scraps decompose they produce millions of tons of methane gas which is released into the atmosphere where it becomes a major contributor to global warming. There is an incredibly simple solution to this problem. Make compost! Food scraps make some of the most nutrient rich
compost, which can then be used in the garden to feed the plants.

Homegrown uses recycled, local or throwaway materials for our compost bins, so they are kind to the environment every step of the way. Vegetable scraps, old bread, cereal, leaf litter, grass clippings- these can all go straight to the compost bin. As microorganisms do their work breaking down the organic material, the compost
begins to heat up, effectively destroying any harmful bacteria. The finished product is a richly colored, odorless plant food!

For those of you with little or no space, an indoor worm composting system is a great solution. Red Wigglers, which are often sold in bait shops, can eat their own weight in food scraps each day. Their bodies are coated in mucous which is antibacterial in nature. As the worms wriggle and eat in the food scraps, any harmful bacteria or pathogens are destroyed. The worms eat so fast, there is no odor, and the end result is high quality compost. This is also a great addition to an outside composting system, particularly for the winter months. The bins are small, and can be kept out of sight- we keep ours in a cupboard in the kitchen!

Above are three great examples of compost bins from the U.S. There are many different versions which can be tailored to suit your needs.

The top example is a basic indoor worm composting bin.

Design and Installation of Rainwater Catchment Systems

Families in the U.S. spend thousands of dollars each year paying for water. We pay for bottles of water, tap water, water for washing cars and clothes, water for drinking, water for the garden and many other uses. For many, the water and sewer bill is one of the most expensive utilities every month. All the while, there is free water falling from the sky- in the form of rain! With a simple water catchment system, a household can save thousands of dollars every year. The water collected in barrels can be used for washing cars, watering the garden and many other household tasks.

Without treatment, collected rainwater is not safe to drink, but for those who are interested, methods of water treatment using aquatic plants and microorganisms can also be discussed.

The chlorine in most tap water is harmful to plants because it sterilizes the soil from which the plant absorbs it's nutrients. Rainwater will help your garden thrive!

In today's world, fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce and/or expensive. If everyone in Lancaster County had just two rainwater catchment barrels, we could save millions of gallons of water, and thousands of dollars. Rainwater catchment is a great insurance policy for times of drought or emergency. What an easy way to make Lancaster more sustainable!

Homegrown uses discarded or recycled food grade barrels for our water catchment systems, so they are inexpensive and environmentally friendly.

The pictures above are examples of two simple rainwater catchment systems from the U.S.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Organic Vegetable Garden Design and Installation

Examples of raised beds(top) and a container garden(below). You can even grow a garden on your balcony!

What if you could save thousands of dollars each year, improve your family's health, and do your part to help the environment without ever leaving your backyard? The answer is as simple as starting an organic vegetable garden in your yard, or even on your balcony. Homegrown will help you design, create and care for your garden for a fraction
of your yearly grocery bill. We offer several options:
*Design: Using your input, we will design a garden that perfectly suits your family according to your vegetable consumption, family size, favorite foods, time, space available, land contours and budget.
*Installation: We can help you install your dream garden, or we can install it for you depending on your preference. Installation consists of digging, putting up fence, adding compost, building raised beds and putting plants in the ground.
*Continued Care: For those families who want a garden, but may not have the time to care for one, we will continue to care for your garden by watering, weeding and harvesting according to a schedule that works for your time and budget.
*Winterizing: Homegrown will put your garden to bed for the winter- prepare the beds and soil, collect seeds and remove any plants that are finished with their growing season.

Some families may want all of these options, and others may just prefer help with the design portion, or the design and installation. Any combination is possible. We will try our best to work with any budget. A garden is an investment that will pay for itself for years to come.