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Urban Agriculture Report – July 6, 2015

Urban Agriculture Report – July 6, 2015

Week of July 6, 2015

Abbreviated Weekly Farm Report

From Friendship Farms & Fare

http://www.fffsite.org/

A Community Service To West Pasco’s Urban Agriculture Community

July 6 Farm Report now available.  Go to:

http://media.wix.com/ugd/643592_9757a5526c2c4e659ef21304a80d1e66.pdf

Seedings:  none

Garden Starts: Red Malabar Spinach, sweet bell peppers

Harvest Notes:  okra, eggplant, herbs, red malabar spinach, sweet potato leaves

DRY & HOT

Here in this little part of the Springs Coast Watershed, we are not getting any rain.  This may seem surprising to readers in other areas of the region, where rain has been abundant. We had rain only twice in June and no rain yet this month.  The lack of rain and lack of overcast creates destructive conditions for the crops.  Even the hot weather crops (like okra and sweet potatoes) are struggling.  Every day they are wilting by 11:00 AM, and we must irrigate twice each– once just to cool the plants and again to nourish the roots.  The lack of rain and overcast means temperature remains at or above 90 from late morning until dusk.

Sweet Potato Leaves

Proving Popular

A number of shares have tried the sweet potato leaves, and most have come back for more.  These leaves area  wonderful summer green – dense in nutrients and high in vitamins.  Try some, if you have not yet Some folks prefer the flavor and texture of SP leaves to more well-known greens, like spinach or kale.  Here is a site with nutritional information on SP leaves and links to recipes: http://www.epicurious.com/archive/blogs/editor/2012/08/cooking-with-sweet-potato-greens.html

3F & Urban Agriculture in New Port Richey

Friendship Farms & Fare is working with several local property owners and some local not-for-profit organizations to develop community gardens (and hopefully, urban farms) at least three sites in New Port Richey.

We’ve been a leader in urban agriculture in New Port Richey and we look forward to again pioneering new opportunities.

If you’d like to know more about urban agriculture in New Port Richey, drop us a line at: http://www.fffsite.org/#!contact/cl4l

Garden Overview

Summer Plantings Complete: June 14

(additional details and assessments follow)

So far, we can title this summer: The Irrigation Summer. We have used more water this year than we ever have before.  Usually, summer is a low irrigation period because of frequent rains.  This summer is the exception with baking heat and above normal temperatures.  By 11:00 AM the ground is dry and leaves on all the plants are drooping.

We are also helping Ray finish off his garden, donating okra and lima beans, and also filling in gaps as they occur in the 3F gardens.

For those interested in summer crops: We recommend sweet potatoes, okra, beans, and eggplant. It is still not too late to start a summer garden. We’ve had good luck with all four of these summer staples.  It looks like we’ll be successful with the Red Malabar Spinach.

The bell pepper, tomato, and eggplant seedlings are doing are still coming along.  You’ll remember these were concerns earlier, and we are probably not out of the woods yet.

See the Share Report for all items.

For all plantings, we use seeds from our collection or heirloom seeds from Seed Savers Exchange (http://www.seedsavers.org/).

Okra

23¾    pounds

We harvested 6 pounds of okra this week, bringing our total to 23 ¾    pounds.

We are finished with okra plantings, but we’ll still fill in a few open spaces in the north and south gardens, replace plants that perish, and we’ll plant some in planters.

If you read this far in the newsletter, let us know if you would be interested in attending an Okra Festival.  We are doing some advance planning for an event in mid-June, 2016, and we may participate in a mini-festival this August.

If you read this far in the newsletter, let us know if you would be interested in attending an Okra Festival.  We are doing some advance planning for an event in mid-June, 2016, and we may participate in a mini-festival this August.

Tomatoes and Peppers

Volunteer tomato plants are thriving and we are still hoping for a few tomatoes in the coming weeks.  An infestation of leaf-footed bugs decimated fruit on vines in the south garden, but there have been none on the Mesoamerican Grapes Tomatoes.  If you do not want tomatoes let us know. If you do, we’ll include some of our MesoAmerican Grapes as they are available.

Despite our previous challenges, our seedlings are doing pretty good.  We are cautiously monitoring Arkansas Traveler Tomatoes.  Our Carolina Wonder peppers are doing quite well, with dozens of healthy seedlings and several good-sized plants in the gardens.

3F and other gardeners in the East Madison community have observed Leaf Footed Bugs on tomatoes.  Here is a nice little story that ran in NewsPortRihchey:

https://newsportrichey.org/2015/07/02/special-agricultural-report-leaf-footed-bug-invasion/

Sweet Potato Update

446 slips planted

First Harvest in Early July

We planted a total of 446 slips in 16 beds this year.

We’ve staggered the planting to stagger the harvest. Using this method, we’ll be harvesting from July to late August and early September.

Our first test harvest is coming up – probably in the week of July 10th.  This will be from beds planted in April.

In 2013 we harvested 150 lbs.  Last year (2014) our harvest was 250 lbs.  This year we are aiming at 400 lbs.

Red Malabar Spinach

Our experiment with Red Malabar Spinach continues.  The plants are not producing as much as we had hoped, but the leaves are delicious, and we are planting more.

We have the Malabar listed this week, but leaves will be few.   We have about 50 seedlings ready to plant, and we’ll do so later this week or early next.

Here is a good site for information on this fine summer green from South Asia:

http://www.bbg.org/gardening/article/red-stemmed_malabar_spinach

Sweet Potato Leaves

Some of you are familiar with the secret summer green — Sweet Potato Leaves. They are delicious and have many culinary uses. Every year about this time, we begin listing these nutritious summer greens, which are very popular in Asia, but little known in the USA.  There are numerous ways to prepare these greens, and we encourage you to try a few samples, and see if you like them.  Some folks prefer the flavor and texture of SP leaves to more well-known greens, like spinach or kale.  Here is a site with nutritional information on SP leaves and links to recipes: http://www.epicurious.com/archive/blogs/editor/2012/08/cooking-with-sweet-potato-greens.html

Eggplant – 83

Eggplants are flourishing.  We harvested three more this week, bringing our total to 83 so far.  The size and appearance is not consistent, and some would not be acceptable at a commercial market. All appear to have good texture and favor.

You may order eggplant this week, but we may not have enough for all shares.

3F, Ecology Florida, and Market Off Main Offer Seed Savers Exchange Seeds in New Port Richey

Good gardens require good seeds, and Tampa Bay now has access to the highest quality seeds. These are Seed Savers Exchange heirloom, organic seeds.  Your CSA has joined other groups committed to sustainability in sponsoring a Seed Savers Exchange seed kiosk in New Port Richey.

Through a cooperative arrangement with Friendship Farms & Fare and Ecology Florida, the Market Off Main, in New Port Richey, now offers a wide range of organic, heirloom, non-GMO seeds exclusively from Seed Savers Exchange.
This is a trend-setting achievement for the Market Off Main, and another verification of New Port Richey’s leadership in ecological stewardship, sustainability, and resiliency.   Market Off Main in New Port Richey will be the only location on the West Coast of Florida offering these high quality packaged seeds.

Ecology Florida News carried a feature article on the kiosk by your 3F Farmer, which you can read at this link:

http://www.ecologyflorida.org/2014/12/on-the-lighter-side-the-story-of-the-seed-kiosk-in-new-port-richey/

Ecology Florida advances the harmonious integration of healthy natural, cultural, and economic ecologies to regenerate a sustainable world

http://www.ecologyflorida.org/

The Market Off Main is a meeting place, a community hub, and an entertainment center.  It features local produce, a delicatessen, and a cafe.

http://www.marketoffmain.com/

Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. Since 1975, our members have been passing on our garden heritage by collecting and distributing thousands of samples of rare garden seeds to other gardeners.

http://www.seedsavers.org/

3F Produce for General Public

Non-Members may order items for $5.00 each, shares for $20 per week, or $50 per month. For this amount, contributors may request any and all items they desire from the weekly Share. Although we will assist with transmissions, it is the responsibility of the contributor to make arrangements for pick up of the share.

As always, non-CSA Members may request single items from the share list for $5 per item.  A full share for one week (any/all items) is $20, and $50 for one month.  Annual shares are recommended, at $300 per year.  Five-month shares are $200.

Just reply using the website contact link if you desire anything on the list.  We suggest non-shareholders start an account to cover costs of items.

EGGS

Prices are $6.50 a dozen, and $4.00 a half-dozen. These prices are a bit higher than prices at commercial grocers. Acquiring eggs from local farms keeps resources in our community, supports local farming, and directly benefits a local farm family.

As required by our policies, our suppliers are local, follow organic principles, practice compassionate husbandry, and allow chickens free range.

Farm Tours (Local Urban Gardens)

If you would like to schedule a tour of local urban gardens in New Port Richey, please let us know, and we can make arrangements.  Our tours are experiential, informational, educational, and fun.  Donations are greatly appreciated.

Typically, and depending on the season, participants will spend an hour or so in two or more gardens, learn about organic farming in an urban environment using permaculture philosophies and practices, observe and learn about urban wildlife and helpful plants, and enjoy samples of live produce.  Tours are structured on the basis of participants’ interests and background.

Please note that an appropriate contribution for the tours and learning sessions will be suggested when tours are scheduled.

There are four categories of tours:

* Urban Farming, Permiculture and Soil development

* Urban wildlife and helpful plants

* Seasonal produce, from seed to harvest

* General (including two or more categories)

Please note that an appropriate contribution for the tours and learning sessions will be suggested when tours are scheduled – typically, $100.

Please buy your seeds and seedlings from local growers or suppliers committed to organic, heirloom seeds.

See this story on the damage caused by “big box stores”:

http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/smart-growth-working-families/harms-big-box-retail

See also, 10 reasons to support local commerce:

http://ilsr.org/why-support-locally-owned-businesses/

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Visit the Friendship Farms & Fare website for the Weekly Farm Report:

http://www.fffsite.org/#!report/c1tuh

Friendship Farms & Fare is a branch of Ecology Florida, a not-for-profit corporation.  Contributions to Friendship Farms & Fare and Ecology Florida are tax deductible.  To learn more about Ecology Florida, please visit the website:

http://www.ecologyflorida.org/

If you would like to support our mission and individual projects, you may share donations through our website (above) or at our mailing address:

Ecology Florida

PO Box 596

New Port Richey, FL 34656-0596

Friendship Farms & Fare reaffirms, restores, and advances agrarian ideals to reestablish a sustainable culture

http://www.fffsite.org/

Natural, Economic, Cultural…bringing three ecologies together to regenerate a resilient future for all.

PO Box 596 ● New Port Richey, Florida 34656-0596

www.EcologyFlorida.org

Ecology Florida advances the harmonious integration of healthy natural, cultural, and economic ecologies to regenerate a sustainable world

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