Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August 21

Hi All!
I visited the gardens during my first Landscape Design class last Friday. Everyone was Awed by our Garden--including a few members from our original class that hadn't visited since class ended last Spring. So, now that the new school session has started, how about adding some new members to the Farm Club? Should we have a welcoming party--or harvest party. Perhaps we should send out an invitation to all students participating in any of the classes of the department. Feedback?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Back in July, Wendy and Steve were involved in a discussion on Lavender and the disappearance of the true species. Do any of you, or Steve, can you tell me the name of that species and how you are trying to protect it.
And, regarding the Melon posting by Hilary--THANK YOU!! I wonder, though, which is which on the melons. Is the dark green melon with the yellow dots the Moon and Stars? Did we mark where the varieties were planted or just scatter the seeds?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Melon Reminder

The public keeps asking us what kinds of melons we've got and so far our answer has been a vague "well we planted so many varieties..." Here's my list of what we planted back in April with a link to more information.  We still might not be able to tell them which is which (Moon & Stars is the obvious exception), but at least we can sound a little more informed:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


It's a fact, I just can't seem to get enough of the farm life!  It's Camp Mommy this week, so what fun activities did I plan for my girls? That's right, hard labor!  

First, on Monday afternoon, I took them to Green Gulch to join Marin Organic's "Glean Team."  My eager young farmers personally harvested about 4 cases of rainbow chard, fingers turning red  and yellow in the process.  They were downright joyful upon realizing that some of the chard perfectly matched to their hot pink shorts. Relate it to fashion and they will come! Unfortunately we were not able to avoid the wrath of the abundant stinging nettle and we all left with welts on our knees.  But it was a small price to pay for the great contribution we had made to Marin Organic's school lunch program.

This morning, I was happy to assure my girls that there would be no thorny encounters at the IVC farm, our next harvest adventure of the week.  The shoppers were already there when we arrived and so I promptly put the girls to work under Henry's direction.  They started by gathering basil and peppers, worked their way over to melons, climbed up the hill to pull corn from the towering corn stalks and concluded by picking beans. I caught them a few times eating the goods, munching on tomatoes like they were apples...or was that me, caught redhanded, not in the cookie jar, but in the tomato vine?

We now have a white board at the farm entrance to list all the produce that we are harvesting.  Besides the items already mentioned, we also had potatoes, lettuce, chard, flowers, cucumbers (big), zucchini (bigger) and crook neck squash.  And while our visitors enjoyed this new shopping tool, they were disappointed to find out that the stand would be closed next week when the new school session begins (the stand will reopen in following weeks). That message carried a bittersweet reminder for us Dharma Farm Club diehards, that next week a new round of Organic Farm students will have their first class and the farm would no longer be "ours and ours alone."   We're a generous crew though, and in the spirit of many hands make light work, we are looking forward to the camaraderie of a new batch of volunteers working with us side by side.

So what's next on the agenda of Camp Mommy? Pt. Reyes station and a visit to Bobby Foehr's chicken ranch. If any of you attended Steve's Chicken workshop, you'll remember Bobby- he's the guy that captured the swarm of bees outside Toby's.  Bobby's got chickens for laying and chickens for eating, so I think it will be an exciting life lesson for my daughters. 

Monday, August 10, 2009

Farm Sweet Farm

Greetings! I have returned home. Can't wait to share stories and pictures with everyone. Farming in St. Croix was pretty sweet. Except everything was always thirsty!! We did not have enough water :( Lots of passion fruit, coconut, papaya - pretty much everything grows there except it is almost impossible to grow onions!

I'd love to come to the farm this wednesday... anyone want to carpool?

MORINGA! the miracle plant. put it through the chipper for compost (member of the legume family) three seeds sitting on top. these seeds make WATER POTABLE. check it out: http://www.naturalnews.com/022272.html
Working with a service camp from the US to weed this shade house. We built it for a local elementary school's own "edible schoolyard"
Go Wendy!!

new group of kids from the same service camp: overland. we spread all that gravel as a suppressant. it started as a 6ft pile in the back!

Sheep and Goat (annie) tend the mango/banana orchard
baby yellow warblers in the garden!!
little bunny foo foos are the meat we eat
coconut harvest. i learned to wield that machete like a master!
passion fruit, pumpkin, cucumber, gourd, loofah...

organic farming with the kids! mostly cover crop... the kids harvested pigeon peas. we followed Steve's example with the "spiritual sow" and planted some pineapple for fun :)
they covered the beds with mulch and compost (we sang your song wendy!)
me: what is the heart of organic farming?
2 or 3 kids quietly to themselves: feeding the soil
me: feeding the what?
all: SOIL!
me: what?!

more picture to come... Can't wait to get out to IVC!!

Lots of Love

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I'm reading an EXCELLENT book by Barbara Kingsolver called, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle". It's certainly a book that strengthens the resolve of all that we are doing. She and her family decide to move away from Tucson, AZ to their farm in the Appalacian Mtns. where they can live sustainably from what they and their neighbors produce. It's a year long commitment that the family makes and a documentation of that journey. VERY well written, and includes commentary on how this country has gotten into the Industrialized "Pickle" that we are experiencing as far as diet and food consumption.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Take Action Now!

Williamson Act Terminated

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger last week used his line-item veto power to terminate the California Land Conservation Act, more commonly known as the Williamson Act. Since 1965, California landowners have voluntarily enrolled about 16 million acres in these contracts, agreeing to restrict land uses to agriculture or related open space. They're then taxed on the agricultural value of the land rather than its fair market value, and the state reimburses each county what it loses in uncollected taxes. According to the Department of Conservation, one in three farmers surveyed claim they wouldn't be able to keep their properties without Williamson Act tax savings. TellMarin County supervisors you hope they'll continue the Williamson Act on their own, despite the actions of the governor.

Another beautiful day at the farm...

Really.  It could not have been a more gorgeous day yesterday.  Conditions were perfect: a clear blue sky, warm but not too hot, a slight breeze and the scent of ripe melons in the air. And boy did we harvest melons! Dozens of cantaloupes of all shapes and sizes as well as scattered watermelons filled the farm stand, alongside red tomatoes, green and purple beans, lettuce, potatoes, chard, zucchini, peppers, basil and our ever popular cut flowers.  Oh, and did I mention the corn? Yes, that's right, our first ears of super sweet corn!  Originally an East Coaster, I never thought I'd meet a cob of corn that rivaled New Jersey Silver Queen.  As a kid, we'd drive to the shore and stop at a farm stand along the way so we could snack on the raw corn in the car- JOY! Well yesterday I was a child again as I chewed the sweet, tender kernels that we all planted with our very own hands.  With corn production under my belt, I must say I now officially feel like a true blue farmer!

Part of why our harvest was so successful yesterday was that we had many eager helpers. Henry had an enthusiastic group of Regen kids working the field and the compost piles.  His group was also joined by the Kentfield campus' outreach coordinator Jorge and his crew of teens who were conducted on a CCNB tour of the farm and greenhouse.

Another new addition to our activities yesterday was our new farm manager Bethallyn Black! We are lucky to have her years of experience working as the Urban Horticulture Program Manager for UCCE Contra Costa.  A resident of Walnut Creek, she made fast friends with the Dharma Farm Clubbers by bringing along a basket of asian pears and pluots from her productive home garden.  Bethallyn jumped right in working the stand, harvesting in the field and educating the public that are ever more interested in learning what we're doing out there.

Thank you all who were there and look for some pix that Steve will post (right SQ?!) under separate cover...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Through the Marin Open Garden Project I came across the "Free Farm Stand" blog.  Wow! In the latest post, Tree (who started the project) talks about Peak Produce (as in Peak Oil)- I just love that!  Are we at Peak Produce?  I don't think so with all those tomatoes, melons and corn ready (or almost ready) for picking.  

The stand has given away over 1500 pounds of free produce this year culled together from community gardens, home gardens, gleaning and even dumpster diving.  While this stand is in SF, we should remember that there are plenty of individuals and families in Marin County who can't afford fast food let alone the good, healthy, slow food we're growing.  

I hope we can figure out a way to connect some of those people with the bounty we're producing at our gorgeous farm. Given our good fortune at having this land to tend, it would be great to feed it back to those most in need.