Monday, June 20, 2011

Sustainable Saturday

Yesterday I indulged in my other obsession, which I'm going to share; hopefully it's not too far off-topic for you - I've come to realize a lot of sewists are also mad gardeners, or would like to be, given the space and soil.

Several community organizations in my neighborhood have organized what they're calling Sustainable Saturday - The West Philadelphia Local Food Series.  The third Saturday of every month is going to be a series of garden tours, workshops and presentations on growing and preparing local foods.  Yesterday was the first day, and if this is what it's like, count me in.

This was also tied in with our Saturday farmer's market, which goes from 10 a.m. -2 p.m.  At noon, I went to an hour-long workshop on "Creating an Urban Homestead" at a local urban farm.  The farmer talked about how his original plan was just to grow a couple of tomatoes and have a little chicken coop in his back yard, but somehow the plan spilled over into the empty lot next door, which he and his partner have squat-farmed for 3 years.  It's gotten big enough that they have a weekly farm stand. 

They also have chickens and a turkey (raccoon attack took out the turkey's siblings), and they used to have bees.  The bees weren't happy there so they gave them to a local urban beekeeping group which has hives set up in the Woodland Cemetery. 

They talked a lot about raising vegetables and poultry, and what can and can't be done in an urban setting (apparently nothing is impossible) and they emphasized the amount of work involved in that kind of operation.  Funny enough, both men admitted to eating a lot of pizza because once they're done their day jobs, and come home and work on the farm lot, they're too tired to cook their own produce and they sell it and give it away to the neighbors.

After that, there was another workshop at a local community garden on Sustainable/Edible Landscaping, which talked a lot about fruit trees in the city and ornamental plants that people use for landscaping that can actually be edible, or what plants can be swapped in for ornamental plants that have a similar look and feel but also provide food.  The presenter was a big fan of blueberry bushes, which grow pretty well in our area, are covered in white flowers in spring, and turn bright red in the fall.  I have 4 of them and they're the brightest thing in the yard come October.

Simultaneous presentations which I missed out on: Irrigating with Stormwater (I figure I've got that under control with 2 55-gallon rain barrels in the back, both full at the moment), and Foraging for Edible Plants, which I thought was intriguing but it was at the same time as the Urban Homestead workshop.  There was also a trolley tour of numerous community gardens and restaurants which serve local food.

Upcoming events, which have Mario intrigued as well, are mushroom growing and brewing your own beer.  We got a wine kit from a friend a while back and have yet to try it out, but I could also see a wall of beer bottles in the basement.  Why not?

It was great to see so many people show up at these workshops yesterday; like sewing, sometimes my sustainable living obsession makes me feel like I'm the only one out there, but apparently I am not.  The presenters also were very clear that all this is an experiment: if you don't know if it'll work in your yard, give it a shot.  What's the worst that can happen?  You'll either have a few dead plants, which you'll have at the end of every season anyway, or it might actually work.

The theory of try it, you might fall on your face or you might do something really cool is how I've always tackled sewing, so it's nice to see it applied to something else.

11 comments:

kbenco said...

This sounds like a lot of fun.
I spent all weekend gardening, making cheese and making bread for early trials of my husband's pizza oven - I like it, but it does interfere with the sewing.

Barb-Central Texas said...

I enjoy both aspects of your blog, Karen. I'm a long-time gardener and a sewing beginner (I'm amazed at how much fun it is to sew). I learn at least 2 or 3 new things every time I read your blog.

Jane M said...

I too have multiple interests and gardening is one....which is why I try to pose new garments outside in the good weather. We do small scale veggie and herb gardening and also support our wonderful local farmers' markets. I am considering a fig tree, however, since I think they'd grow well in our area.

Debbie Cook said...

Those are cool-sounding workshops! I'm not a gardener, but I enjoyed this post so keep 'em coming.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

This is interesting to me because I decided this year to try and grow a few things on my balcony...tomatoes, beans and lettuce. So far so good...I'm thinking we all need to learn how to be a little more sustaining!

BeckyMc said...

I am a reluctant gardener but I enjoy and am inspired by your gardening posts as well as your sewing posts. I like the voice that comes through in your writing.

Rose said...

I always enjoy your gardening posts. We try to be as "sustainable" as we can! It sounds like you have a cool program in your area. Keep growing and sewing cool things! I like to read about them.

Karen in VA said...

My ex and I brewed beer together when we were married. It's alot of work, but lots of fun also. We made some great beers...

Lisette M said...

Wonderful post. This time of the year I divide my free time between gardening and sewing.

CarlaF-in Atlanta said...

Wow! The workshops sound great. I'm doing a container herb garden with plans next year to build a raised bed garden. I enjoyed this post and wouldn't mind see others.

TE said...

I'm landscaping with lettuce!