Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"The Garden," a documentary


THE GARDEN is an engaging and powerful look at the famous political
and social battle over the largest community garden in the U.S (located in south
central Los Angeles).

A follow-up to Kennedy's award-winning documentary, OT: OUR TOWN,
the film shows how the politics of power and greed (backroom deals,
land developing, green politics, money) tragically intersect with working
class families who rely on this communal garden for their livelihood.
exposes the fault lines in American society and raises crucial and
challenging questions about liberty, equality, and justice for the
poorest and most vulnerable among us.

Kenneth Turan of the LA Times said: "It's tempting to call "The Garden"
a story of innocence and experience, of evil corrupting paradise, but that
would be doing a disservice to the fascinating complexities of a classic
Los Angeles conflict and an excellent documentary that does them full

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Marin Magazine covers West Marin Farmers

Magazine coverage for our locals....

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Marin Open Garden Project launches without a hitch!

Well classmates, I am happy to report that the launch party for Marin Open Garden Project was a huge success! The turnout was great, but not only that, people were really excited by the idea of cultivating the soil in their neighborhood and sharing its yield with their friends, family and neighbors.  It looks like we already have a couple of gleaning prospects and, if the bounty presented today is representative of what we'll see on a weekly basis, I believe many Mill Valley residents will be experiencing the great pleasures of organic fare without one single red cent being passed.

Thank you Steve and Wendy for all the seedlings you donated. Once people heard where they had come from, they were literally clamoring for the chard, lettuce and tomatoes that came from IVC. In fact, I floored my partner in MOGP (Julie) with the greens harvested at Wednesday's class which I served as a salad at our celebratory, post-event dinner.

I just want to share that, as I described our class to the many strangers who were curious about my other involvements, people's eyes literally sparkled.  I feel so privileged to be part of this initiate class and thankful for the community it is providing and the lessons I am fortunate enough to receive.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wiped out!

I don't know about you guys, but I was thoroughly pooped leaving the farm today! My brain was sooo full, my hands caked with soil, my bones and muscles a little tweaked, my sunburned shoulders burning and, did I mention, my brain soooo full?  Truth be told, I must confess that it "Hurt So Good." The physical work is satisfying on such a primitive level: conquering the elements so to speak, carving pathways and mounds of green, deliciously edible growth from a chalky, rocky, dry expanse of soil.  This multi-sense interaction with the earth is certainly worth an hour or two of aches and pains easily remedied by a tall, ice cold, Trumer Pils (trust me, it works wonders)!!
While my body has found relief, I must say, my brain is still churning.  First of all the whole vermiculite/asbestos thing. Not good (certainly worse than the dust bowl, three mile island and katrina). But good (without the asbestos) if you're looking for aeration, moisture retention and sterility.  Need an old school formula for planting mix? We got that:1/3 soil, 1/3 sand (sharp not smooth), and 1/3 oak leaf mold (think humus).  Fun new fertility terminology? How does "humanure" work for you? Wondering what the difference is between an annual (seed to seed in one year) and a biennial (seed to seed in two years)? Covered.  Foreign languages? How about some Classical Latin/Greek:
Chenopodiaceae (think goose feet)
Compositae (think multiple flowers)
Leguminoceae (think butterfly flowers)
Solanaceae (think toxic leaves)
Curcurbitaceae (think MELONS- our favorite)
Don't forget, "Think in a family way."
or Classical Tractor:
hard pan (bad), ripper, disc in, cross hatch, rotary blade
Don't forget: 30" between tires= 30" bed

I'd go on but I'm pooped and my laptop's on reserve battery power so it's time to sign off....

Occidental Farts and Ecoli Plant Sale

Don't forget...
....May 2nd and 3rd:)

New Links

Please check out the new links that have been added including a link to the Manifesto on Climate Change and the Future of Food that Wendy referenced today as well as a link to the NPR program on the Vermiculite "disaster" in Montana...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Homegrown organic lunch from the farm

D'Arcy displays the first salad lunch from the farm: arugula, chard, lettuce, kale and asian greens - fresh, organic, local, yummy and we grew 'em!


Last view of the Master gardener tomatoes before they all migrated to numerous locations around the county. The greenhouse is now full of open space, soon to filled with melons and eggplant and myriad other herbs, flowers and vegetables. Barbara Garfein had been transformed into the melon queen, ordering and planting 10 varieties of cantaloupes and watermelon.

Interim farm manager Henry Wallace has been hard at work installing irrigation, putting up tomato trellises and designing the road. Al the grader put in a new road that circumambulates the row crop field. Kevin Lunny again comes the rescue by delivering tons of oyster shells to pave the farm entrance on Tuesday, Apriol 21.


Al from Lunny Grading pushed the manure piles around and condensed them into steaming mountains.

Will in charge

Will and the 10 April 15 volunteers performed miraculous tasks: weeding the existing beds, adding bark to the paths and deep bed digging of four 80 foot long tomato beds.

Soil warrior

Monday, April 13, 2009

Great New Book @ Alan Chadwick

Performance in the Garden: A Collection of Talks on Biodynamic French Intensive Horticulture
by Alan Chadwick

E.M. Schumacher (Small is Beautiful) called Englishman Alan Chadwick "the greatest horticulturist of the 20th century." Chadwick was a student of Rudolf Steiner, an early advocate of organics, and founder of French Intensive Biodynamic System. He railed against the tragic policies of corporate agribusiness, while cultivating gardens of sublime beauty and production in the 60's and 70's throughout the United States. Nearly everyone practicing biodynamics today has been kissed by the Chadwick transmission. Up until now his unique artistic approach and deep perception of nature were unavailable in writing. Performance in the Garden harvests sixteen incredible, inspired and practical talks that will help us, as herbalist and friend Paul Lee aptly put it, "replant the vital root of existence."
334 pages (Paperback)

Organic Farmer wanted! Job Opportunity at Skywalker Ranch!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wednesday April 15 Work Day

Greetings dedicated IVF farmers. We will be at farm Wednesday April 15 all day to plant greenhouse starts, seed the melons in the greenhouse, shape tomato beds and weed the farm. As an added spectacle, Lunny Grading is bringing a crawler to rip the field again, and grade the roads! How cool! The ground is PERFECT after the rain showers. If we have time we will try to plant some cover crops as well. Bring a lunch! Samantha, if you come could bring the huge bag of seeds you have that would be excellent. Hope to see you guys on Wednesday. __steve

20 yards of compost donated by Mark Pasternak!

Henry the Heavy Lifter

Field of fertility

Crop dusters after the laying down of .5 ton oyster shell

Lovely Loaves from Lovin' Hands

Mick treated us to bread and directions on how he accomplishes his baking. He also offers classes on his methods of baking bread with hands on guidance. His next class is April 25th if anyone is interested.

Vacuum Seeding for Sure fire starts

This is Jeff at Green Gulch who gave us a demonstration on using the vacuum seeding device. He loaded the lettuce seeds, turned on the pump, carefully allowed 2-3 seeds per hole, placed the device over the seed tray, and turned off the motor. Then added a layer of potting mix over the seeds to complete the procedure.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Free! Irrigation Classes

As I mentioned yesterday at GG, the Urban Farmer store offers FREE irrigation classes throughout the Spring and Summer.  Go to  and click on "classes" to register for one of their many irrigation classes offered in 3 locations (Mill Valley, SF and Richmond).  In Mill Valley, the classes are held at the community center on the following Tuesdays at 7pm: April 14th, May 12th, June 16th, July 14th and August 11th.

Our First Harvest

YUMMM! Bok choy and Kale--
I made a wilted salad with it that evening.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Compost Haiku

You think you're so hot
you pile of straw and manure.
Well you're right!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Occidental Arts and Ecology is looking for an intern!!

Boy do I wish I could do this, but my husband and children might get mad if I packed up and moved to Occidental for a while (after all, who would do the laundry, the dishes, make breakfast, lunch and dinner, clean the house? oh my god, I really should go!!)
Anyway, for any of you youngsters who could make the move and live light, check into it by contacting James:

Good Luck!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Maximum compost heat: 140 degrees. Photos: Didier

The Proof

Pile measurements - 140 degees - ouch

Measuring the pile temperature

If you want to contact Tom Vilsak (as suggested by Helge yesterday) or simply keep up on the happenings at the USDA you can do it all through the USDA website listed above...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's Raining Men...I mean Melons

..."Its Raining Men" was a popular tune by the Weather Girls when I was growing up on the East Coast in the eighties.  Any of you around for that?

Anyway, no men falling today, but it sure was Raining Melons!

Here's the list of what was planted today:
Hime Kansen Watermelon (Japanese Ice Box)
Imperial 45 Cantalope
Hale's Best Jumbo Cantalope
Charentais Melon
Mickeylee Watermelon (Ice Box)
Old Original Melon
Moon & Stars Watermelon