Archive for May, 2009

The Urban Farm

I met with the guys from Green City Growers  and was super impressed.  (As I mentioned in my post last week, they are the guys who installed a roof-top organic farm for B.Good burgers.)  They arrived for the appointment on time and we took a quick walk around my yard.  They analyzed the amount of light and shade in each area, and we discussed how to fit the raised beds into the existing landscaping.  We then sat down to talk about the different options they offer.

Different Bed Sizes:

They offer different bed sizes with small being 4×4, medium 4×8 and large 4×12.  They can also do custom shapes.  For example, in my yard a 2×8 box will work better than the 4×4 but will cost the same because the total square footage is the same.  Regardless of size, however, the price for the bed includes the following:

  • set up
  • irrigation system with timers
  • growing medium
  • plants

Maintenance Plans:

Sample farm plan (used with permisiion from Green City Growers)

Sample farm plan (used with permission from Green City Growers)

Once you decide to move forward with your new farm, you have several different options for maintenance:

  • Weekly maintenance: For a weekly fee which varies depending on the size of the bed you have chosen, Green City will come to your house every week and water, prune, harvest or whatever else needs to be done.  This is a good option for people who like the idea of a vegetable garden, but don’t have the time or skill to take care of it properly.
  • Monthly consults: For $85, the guys will come in once a month to check in on your garden.  They will help you fix any problems that may have cropped up and do some maintenance on the garden if needed.  This is a good option if you like gardening and don’t mind doing most of the work yourself, but could still use a professional consult once in a while to make sure you are doing things right.
  • Self farming: If you are a pretty skilled gardener and feel you can go it alone, for $175 Green City will provide a 1 time consultation and tutorial on how to maintin your garden.  They will also come by for a visit one month later to see how you and your farm are doing.

This seems like a really intriguing option.  I’ve been using Boston Organics and have not been entirely happy.  The idea of being able to harvest vegetables from my own backyard is really appealing.  Now I just need to run the numbers…


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Un-Sustainably Me: True Confession 1

Tonight I was faced with a green dilemma.  I left an event and was was going to head to a nearby restaurant with a friend for a quick bite to eat.  While it was warm outside during the day, it had cooled  down quite a bit since the sun went down.  My friend and I were both freezing and dreading the five minute walk to the restaurant.  Walking over was clearly the best choice.  I would have gotten a bit of exercise and reduced my carbon footprint.   Unfortunately, in a weak moment, I caved.  My car was parked close by and rather than walking to the restaurant and then walking back after,  I drove to the restaurant and parked out front.

I guess going green can be kind of like going on a diet.  To do it successfully it requires a total lifestyle shift.  Most of the time this is ok for me, but sometimes it just feels like deprivation and I give in to my old ways.  I’m not proud of it, but I am human.  I guess I’ll just pick myself up, dust myself off and get back on the green wagon tomorrow!

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An organic farm in your own backyard

Newly Installed Farm in Brookline (Courtesy of the Green City Growers stream on Flickr)

Newly Installed Farm in Brookline (Courtesy of the Green City Growers stream on Flickr)

I found out last week that B.Good, one of my favorite Boston area food establishments, has done something that makes me love them even more.  In addition to their delicious mango smoothies and baked sweet potato fries, they have installed an organic rooftop farm at their Brookline location!  Yes, that’s right, an organic rooftop farm!

The farm was installed and maintained by a Somerville company called Green City Growers.  This innovative company installs raised-bed organic farms in urban areas.  They can use a space as small as 4 ft by 4 ft.  They will either teach you how to care for your farm yourself, or they will come and tend it for you.  It’s a great alternative to a CSA, and I’ve decided to look into it for my own backyard.  I have a consult set up with Gabe next week and will keep you posted as I find out more!

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CSA Update- Week 1

When I received my first delivery from Boston Organics I didn’t think there was that much in the box.  I had ordered the smallest box after all.  It included the following:

  • 2 zucchini
  • 4 apples
  • 1 bag of carrots
  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 2 kiwi
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 pears
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 lemon

“No problem” I thought.  I can get through all of this in a week.  Well, I was wrong.  I gave the carrots to a friend, had another friend over for dinner and ate more fruit than usual, and still had a lot left by Wednesday afternoon (the day before my second delivery)  I found myself scrambling.  What would I do with a full head of lettuce, 2 zucchini, a cucumber and a lemon?

Thank goodness for the internet and a comment from a CSA savvy friend who had made a comment about lettuce soup a few weeks ago.  Lettuce soup you say?  Yes, lettuce soup.  Sounds pretty terrible, but tastes surprisingly good!  A quick Google search brought me to a recipe that sounded pretty straight forward.   The result was a green soup that tasted like a combination of potato and cream of brocolli.  As I said, tasty.   Okay, the lettuce was taken care of so I moved on the zucchini.  A quick and delicious batch of zucchini bread fixed that problem.

Next I had to figure out how to eat all of this soup and zucchini bread since my next veggie box had arrived! Well another friend over for dinner solved the soup problem, and zucchini bread freezes well.   Hopefully this will be the last time I face this problem since  I cut down my order frequency to every other week…

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My Green Gurus

Well its been about a week since my last post, but I have a good excuse.  My aunt and uncle were in from out of town and I had the pleasure of hosting them and showing them my version of Boston.  In addition to the Arnold Arboretum and the Mt. Auburn cemetery, we went to Harvard’s Museum of Natural History to see the glass flower exhibit and took a day trip to the Cape.  It was a great visit!

It was also a good test of my “greenness” since my aunt and uncle have been doing the green/sustainability thing since before it had a name.   In fact they are my green gurus, and much of what I know about sustainability I learned from them as a child, when my sisters and I spent summers with them.

They live on the West Coast in an area that was very rural until very recently, and was filled mostly with hippie transplants from other places when they got there in the early 1970’s.  They built their first home themselves, and lived there for years without running water or electricity.  Only after the birth of their second child did they move to a modest home on a small farm with a well and a septic system.  They reuse, recycle or compost almost everything.  They grow their own fruits and vegetables, raise their own chickens and sheep, and drive a hybrid.  Their washing machine is a front loader and their hot water heater is tankless.

Because they live on a farm with only well water, they are extremely conscious of their water consumption.  They were the first to introduce me to the concept of “If its yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.”  As a city kid I was horrified that there were people who didn’t flush the toilet every time they used it, and quite frankly even today I would rather save water in other ways.  I also couldn’t understand their obsession with shutting off the lawn sprinklers, until they were accidentally left on one night and we didn’t have water for a couple of days.

So when they asked if they could stay with me I was very excited to show them how much of what they had taught me I actually adopted.  The first thing I did when they arrived was give them the eco tour of my apartment, pointing out the counter top compost container, the compost bin the yard, the organic milk, eggs and vegetables in the fridge, the bowl filled with organic fruit on the dining room table, the CF light bulbs.  I was a little nervous.  Would they approve?  Had I done enough?

Overall, I think they were happy with what I had done, but my uncle pointed out my areas of improvement.  He followed me around the house shutting off lights that I had left on, and suggested that I put all of my electrical appliances on power strips and turn off the power strips when the appliances aren’t in use.   I thought those were great suggestions for next steps.  I have a long way to go before I get to their level of greeness, and I don’t ever picture myself living without plumbing and electricity. (To be fair though, at this point neither do they.   I think we would all agree that  home powered fully by wind and solar would be nice. )

I feel very lucky to have had them as such a strong influence in my life.  Everyone should have such great mentors to help walk them down the path to a green life!

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