May 2016

Farm Update

Hello Growing Club Members & CSA members!

Good news from the world of urban farming! This week we are starting our interview rounds for our Farmer Training Program. We have 9 great candidates who will be working with us on the farm this week and next week. The group looks like it is full promising potential urban farmers, including several social justice advocates, recent college graduates, and earnest individuals. Although we are so happy to have a new group of trainees joining us, we are also sad that some from our current students will be moving on from the farm in the coming month. Of course, we wish them the best in all their future endeavors and adventures.  I’ll be updating you all on what each of our current trainees is moving on to as they complete their last week with us. For now, I am going to remain happy that they are still with us for another few weeks. Out in the fields, the farm continues chugging along, with more and more summer crops going into the ground such as okra, green beans, yard-long beans, and more cucumbers. This week we were able to do our first harvest of water spinach for the small boxes, and once it heats up those plants should start to explode. By the way, where is summer???? Today we all had to huddle for warmth the temperature took a nose-dive around noon. What the heck is going on? I only hope that more people become aware of the power of soil, ecological living, and social justice so that our climate doesn’t spin utterly out of control. Cheers to good farming and our community of change-makers who are already awake and making the changes the world needs.

I also have to share with all of you a little quote from our new Farmer Trainee’s journal entry:

Last week, while stringing up the tomatoes, Rishi asked me if I have enjoyed my time so far at the farm. Of course, I answered yes. It may be difficult for some people to believe, but there was one day when I had horse poo on my shoes, soil and worm castings under my finger nails and even chicken poo on my shirt (I wasn’t careful when leaning into the coup)  …. and I couldn’t be happier.

Read her whole post at the link below.

Until next week!

Farmer Rishi
Founder/Director, The Growing Club

Photos of the Week

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Noy harvesting broccoli for the CSA. Last of the season!

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Lettuce showing fasciation, an abnormal growth of a stem which becomes flat and wide, and usually exhibits increased flowering and fruiting.

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Lynn filling up the CSA boxes with beautiful Magenta Lettuce, and trying not to laugh as I force her to hold her pose.

Farmer Trainee Journal Entries

Want to see the farm through the eyes of our Farmer Trainees? Read their weekly blog posts below.

Noy’s Latest Journal Entry

Laura’s Latest Journal Entry

This week’s CSA Box

(Please click each item below for a larger photo, description, and preparation instructions.)

NOTE: We are trying to get around to update vegetables descriptions. In the mean time, for items without a provided description, feel free to Google uses and recipes.

Flyers:
– Monthly Growing Club Newsletter

Vegetables:
– 1 lb zuchinni
– 1 bunch broccoli*
– 1 bunch beets
– 1 bunch spring onion
– 1 bunch kale, mixed varieties*
– 1 bunch carrots**
Green Vegetables:
– 1 bunch swiss chard*
– 1 head, magenta lettuce
– 1 bunch water spinach**

Herbs:
– 1 bunch culinary sage
– fennel fronds (great for tea!)
Fruit:
– 1 bag peaches
– 1 avocado*
– 1 lb oranges*

*LARGE VEGGIE BOX ONLY
**SMALL VEGGIE BOX ONLY

Storage Instructions

Leafy Vegetables
In case your greens are wilted by the time you pickup your box, please follow these instructions:

– Fill a small bowl or tub with 1 inch of water
– Cut a 1/2 inch of the bottoms of the stems of your leafy greens
– Place greens, with stems down, into the bowl of water
– Leave the greens in the bowl overnight and by morning they should be rehydrated

Wrap your rehydrated greens in a towel and store the in the fridge. Summer greens like water spinach, moringa, and yam leaves don’t last long either way, so eat those as soon as you can.

Herbs
The best way to store your herbs so that they keep longer is to cut the stems a little and place them in a glass filled with about an inch of water. Cover the leaves loosely with a bag and keep them in the refrigerator. Replace the water inside when it gets cloudy. This works great with basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, and many other herbs.

Please feel free to share your recipes with us and also any storing tips you may have. 🙂

Laura's backyard

Hi.  My name is Laura and I am very excited to be a new intern at Sarvodaya farms. In this, my first journal entry, I will briefly introduce myself.  At 57-years-old, I am probably – maybe ever – the oldest intern at Sarvodaya farms. I guess you could say I am a late bloomer : )  I have been in the architecture industry for over 25 year now and I was most recently a project manager at a firm in Rancho Cucamonga.  I have always liked being outside and gardening, but my focus has been on ornamentals and not on food/medicine producing plants.  As you can see from the photo of my back yard – it is very green with only a few edibles at the back of the property and during the summer it requires a lot of water.

About two years ago, I started my shift into a new way of life when I watched one documentary – “Forks Over Knives”. I really was surprised by all I learned from just that one movie.  However, it was infectious and I started watching as many documentaries regarding human health and the health of the planet as I could find (and there are plenty of them).  I was and still am in a bit of shock – waking up to the reality of the harm we (humans) have been doing to ourselves, to the animals and to the planet (and how I didn’t see it sooner – I am so very sorry).

Since watching that first documentary, I have started changing my habits and my life. One of my first goals is to change my property from a water hungry consumer to a food producer. I would like to create a food forest asap. And that is only one reason, I am excited about being an intern at Sarvodaya Farms. I learn something new every day and will be able to put it to immediate use at my home and with my neighbors.  I have already learned the importance of healthy soil and composting and have started a compost pile at home. I’ve learned what might be required at the farm, may not be appropriate for my home. And I’ve learned that Rishi and Manju have tons of patience because I am constantly asking questions!

Last week, while stringing up the tomatoes, Rishi asked me if I have enjoyed my time so far at the farm. Of course, I answered yes. It may be difficult for some people to believe, but there was one day when I had horse poo on my shoes, soil and worm castings under my finger nails and even chicken poo on my shirt (I wasn’t careful when leaning into the coup)  …. and I couldn’t be happier.

It has been wonderful so far and I know it will only get better.

Thank you Rishi, Manju and everyone else at the farm!

Laura

 

Farm Update

Hello Growing Club Members & CSA members!

This past weekend we celebrated the Grand Opening of Sarvodaya Farms newest farm site, The Growing Commons.  We are so happy to have been able to expand our farming operations to this new site, which is going to open up many new opportunities for us to reach and educate our community. Back at our main Pomona Urban Farm, we have doing a bit of heavy work, installing a new trellising system throughout the farm. We found the design for the system on YouTube, and thought it would work well for our needs. The new trellises are made out of 3/4″ steel pipes connected together which canopy fittings, with the legs of the trellis set into cement footings. The system will allow us to easily move trellises from bed-to-bed and the height of the trellis can be adjusted according to our needs. We’re very hopeful that the work and investment will pay us back with a bountiful harvest of tomatoes, trombocino squash, long beans and more. We have also had the pleasure of watching sunflowers throughout the farm bloom, painting the farm with a beautiful palate of colors from yellow to red to black. I love that all these flowers are coming up on their own and filling in all the empty spaces in the farm. We are enjoying them thoroughly and I know the birds and bees are too!

Until next week!

Farmer Rishi
Founder/Director, The Growing Club

Photos of the Week

Hard work paying off with over 100 tomatoes trellised up and setting fruit already.

Hard work paying off with over 100 tomatoes trellised up and setting fruit already.

Farmer Trainee Noy harvests beautiful broccoli among bolting lettuces.

Farmer Trainee Noy harvests beautiful broccoli among bolting lettuces.

Sunflowers blooming in all colors paint the farm in beauty this spring.

Sunflowers blooming in all colors paint the farm in beauty this spring.

This week’s CSA Box

(Please click each item below for a larger photo, description, and preparation instructions.)

NOTE: We are trying to get around to update vegetables descriptions. In the mean time, for items without a provided description, feel free to Google uses and recipes.

Flyers:
– Monthly Growing Club Newsletter

Vegetables:
– 1 bunch carrots
– 1 bunch mini broccoli**
– 2 zucchini “Costata di Romanesco”
– 1 bunch beets*
– 1 bunch spring onions**
– 1 head cabbage

Green Vegetables:
– 2 heads lettuce mixed varieties
– 1 bunch swiss chard
– 1 bunch kale*

Herbs:
– 1 bunch garlic chives*

Fruit:
– avocados from Neff Ranch*
– oranges*
– peaches (first of the season from our farm)

*LARGE VEGGIE BOX ONLY
**SMALL VEGGIE BOX ONLY

Storage Instructions

Leafy Vegetables
In case your greens are wilted by the time you pickup your box, please follow these instructions:

– Fill a small bowl or tub with 1 inch of water
– Cut a 1/2 inch of the bottoms of the stems of your leafy greens
– Place greens, with stems down, into the bowl of water
– Leave the greens in the bowl overnight and by morning they should be rehydrated

Wrap your rehydrated greens in a towel and store the in the fridge. Summer greens like water spinach, moringa, and yam leaves don’t last long either way, so eat those as soon as you can.

Herbs
The best way to store your herbs so that they keep longer is to cut the stems a little and place them in a glass filled with about an inch of water. Cover the leaves loosely with a bag and keep them in the refrigerator. Replace the water inside when it gets cloudy. This works great with basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, and many other herbs.

Please feel free to share your recipes with us and also any storing tips you may have. 🙂

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Farm Update

Hello Growing Club Members & CSA members!

Well we are well into May now, and the cloudy skies have kept our farm’s field close to the ground. We have planted out our summer crops, but most of them remain stunted by the cold nights and foggy mornings. What a contrast from last May when we were already baking in the summer heat at this time, and the warmth of the sun had caused the plants in the field to catapult toward the sky. We have, however, been enjoying the cool weather for working on the farm, and have taken the respite from the heat as an opportunity to get some heavy work done. We’ve recently extended our covered structure, added several storage racks to organize all our materials, and invested in a new sturdy trellising system we’ll be using throughout the summer. Most people think farming is all plants and seeds and soil, but I have come to learn that managing a farming operation is much, much more than that. With all of the interns working the fields, I find myself spending more and more time on organization, management, and planning. It hasn’t been a totally unexpected change, but my time at the farm definitely feels different now that I am missing some of that direct interaction with the earth that our ecological system depends on. As the farm continues to grow, I’m sure these changes will continue, but I am so happy to see our farm full of abundant food, wildlife, and people.

Until next week!

Farmer Rishi
Founder/Director, The Growing Club

Photos of the Week

Noy and Alex put together these footings for our trellising system

Noy and Alex put together these footings for our trellising system

Beautiful spring onions harvested for the CSA and Daily Organics

Beautiful spring onions harvested for the CSA and Daily Organics

Alex and Laura harvesting the Beets!

Alex and Laura harvesting the Beets!

This week’s CSA Box

(Please click each item below for a larger photo, description, and preparation instructions.)

NOTE: We are trying to get around to update vegetables descriptions. In the mean time, for items without a provided description, feel free to Google uses and recipes.

Flyers:
– Monthly Growing Club Newsletter

Vegetables:
– 1 bunch carrots
– 1 bunch mini broccoli*
– 2 lb zucchini “Costata di Romanesco”
– 1 bunch beets
– 1 bunch spring onions**

Green Vegetables:
– 1 head romaine lettuce
– 1 head bronze lettuce*
– 1 bunch swiss chard
– 1 bunch kale*

Herbs:
– 1 bunch garlic chives*
– 1 bunch mint

Fruit:
– avocados from Neff Ranch
– peaches (first of the season from our farm)

*LARGE VEGGIE BOX ONLY
**SMALL VEGGIE BOX ONLY

Storage Instructions

Leafy Vegetables
In case your greens are wilted by the time you pickup your box, please follow these instructions:

– Fill a small bowl or tub with 1 inch of water
– Cut a 1/2 inch of the bottoms of the stems of your leafy greens
– Place greens, with stems down, into the bowl of water
– Leave the greens in the bowl overnight and by morning they should be rehydrated

Wrap your rehydrated greens in a towel and store the in the fridge. Summer greens like water spinach, moringa, and yam leaves don’t last long either way, so eat those as soon as you can.

Herbs
The best way to store your herbs so that they keep longer is to cut the stems a little and place them in a glass filled with about an inch of water. Cover the leaves loosely with a bag and keep them in the refrigerator. Replace the water inside when it gets cloudy. This works great with basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, and many other herbs.

Please feel free to share your recipes with us and also any storing tips you may have. 🙂

It’s been really nice having a legitimate spring this year, as opposed to the typical pre-summer hot season that Southern California (in name only) calls “spring”. The cooler weather has allowed certain vegetables an extended growing season at Sarvodaya (i.e. kale, lettuces, and broccoli) some more than others, but more importantly, cooler weather has allowed us to get some maintenance and labor intensive projects done around the farm.

The swale located directly behind our covered work area (I’ll just call this place our “patio”) that doubled as a type of natural “sink” for our drainage, was filled with wood chips and and several truck loads of horse bedding to create a new raised bed. After drip lines were installed, plugs of peppers and tomato (I think) were planted. The adjacent walkway that had compressed into an unintentional semi-swale that ran the length of the farm (at least up to the grove) was also filled in with wood chips (shredded palm trees, delivered for free!) to create an elevated and even surface.

The benefits of adding 20 yards of wood chips throughout the farm are plenty; more carbon added to the soil increases soil health, mulching reduces evaporation- further prepping the soil and plants for a long dry summer, the ground looks generally cleaner, and lastly, the aroma of the wood chips helps to combat the odor stemming  from the piles of horse bedding. Several raised beds have also been given special attention to be reshaped, reconditioned (with Lynn’s black gold), and/or outfitted with steel trellises.

We recently were able to extend our “patio” by an additional 10 feet which actually served many purposes. For one, our work space increased so that we can prep/wash more vegetables without crowding or sitting under the sun. Secondly, a nursery was added to shelter plugs and young plants with filtered sunlight.  Also, new shelving was built from recycled wood which gave us more space for storage (i.e. chairs, crates, wood, etc.). Most importantly, unused, or rather, underutilized space was re-purposed to serve a higher function, which in turn, increased packaging efficiency and gave everyone on the farm more “living space”.

Unfortunately, the bee hive we installed in the grove several weeks ago didn’t work out too well and all the bees have since moved on to another location. The silver lining however, is that Katie was able to harvest all the honey and all the interns were treated to a jar of 100% pure, organic and very local honey! And yes it tastes even better than it sounds.

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New nursery

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Spring onions?

Spring onions?

Trellis footings

Trellis footings

New shelving

New shelving

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experimentLast Sunday I taught a small class with Jeremy Samson at the Anaheim Packing House about how water and soil interact with the presence of organic matter in the form of compost. To demo this I created a small test environment of three tubes filled with different composition. (From right to left) Soil with no organic matter, soil with a mulch layer, and soil with compost and mulch layers. The tube with no organic matter had the most run off, loss of soil, and very little drainage. The soil with mulch had a little less run off with no soil loss and slightly better drainage. The soil with compost and mulch had almost no run off, soil loss and drained the most. It was amazing to me to see such a clear difference and to see the power of biology in play.

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Farm Update

Hello Growing Club Members & CSA members!

This month our farming operations reach several new milestones. First, this month we are happy to host the Grand Opening of The Growing Commons, our new public garden located at the Claremont Friends Quaker Meeting. This garden has been a work of sweat and love for us since we started the project in October 2015. We are so happy that it is all ready now, and want to thank all of our Members who contributed financially and physically! We can’t wait for taste the fruits (literally!) of our collective labor. Our second milestone is that our CSA program is now providing 25 CSA boxes per week (as well as supplying Daily Organics in West Adams and the Claremont Market Shares program at Pitzer College). Given the extremely small size of our farm (1/2 acre), this is a HUGE accomplishment. We are now harvesting around 250 lbs of produce per week (this week it was 252 lbs), which literally puts us in the top 1% of farms in terms of productivity. Our farm is also getting ever closer to the dream of financial sustainability. Aside from all that great stuff, we got a lot done at the farm this week. We built a new bed for growing water spinach (one of our staple crops in the winter), we planted over 300 plugs of summer vegetables, we seeded hundreds of carrots, planted zuchinni and beans and more. We’re looking forward to a bountiful summer!

Farmer Rishi
Founder/Director, The Growing Club

Photos of the Week

Fields of abundant delight

Fields of abundant delight

A new entry and beautiful greeting area thanks to Lynn!

A new entry and beautiful greeting area thanks to Lynn!

Get ready for The Growing Commons Grand Opening May 14

Get ready for The Growing Commons Grand Opening May 14

This week’s CSA Box

(Please click each item below for a larger photo, description, and preparation instructions.)

NOTE: We are trying to get around to update vegetables descriptions. In the mean time, for items without a provided description, feel free to Google uses and recipes.

Flyers:
– Monthly Growing Club Newsletter

Vegetables:
– 1 bunch carrots
– 1 bunch mini broccoli**
– 1 lb zucchini “Costata di Romanesco”
– 1 bunch beets
– 1 bunch spring onions*

Green Vegetables:
– 1 head romaine lettuce
– 1 head bronze lettuce*
– 1 bunch swiss chard
– 1 bunch watercress*

Herbs:
– 1 bunch garlic chives
– 1 bunch mint*

Fruit:
– oranges
– 1 box loquats*

*LARGE VEGGIE BOX ONLY
**SMALL VEGGIE BOX ONLY

Storage Instructions

Leafy Vegetables
In case your greens are wilted by the time you pickup your box, please follow these instructions:

– Fill a small bowl or tub with 1 inch of water
– Cut a 1/2 inch of the bottoms of the stems of your leafy greens
– Place greens, with stems down, into the bowl of water
– Leave the greens in the bowl overnight and by morning they should be rehydrated

Wrap your rehydrated greens in a towel and store the in the fridge. Summer greens like water spinach, moringa, and yam leaves don’t last long either way, so eat those as soon as you can.

Herbs
The best way to store your herbs so that they keep longer is to cut the stems a little and place them in a glass filled with about an inch of water. Cover the leaves loosely with a bag and keep them in the refrigerator. Replace the water inside when it gets cloudy. This works great with basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, and many other herbs.

Please feel free to share your recipes with us and also any storing tips you may have. 🙂