Category Archives: Beyond Vegetables

Growing a whole diet

I spent the last weekend starting to clear an acre of land on the property our friends Mike and Clare recently bought in Harvard, Il.  I’m clearing the land so that we can plant a field of dry beans, grains, potatoes, and in the Fall garlic.  We chose to grow these crops in Harvard because while they grow, these plants are lower maintenance than many of our other crops (they will require less watering, less weeding, and no successive plantings), and they are crops that are harvested all at one time rather than repeatedly throughout the year.  I am planning on working for Clare and Mike on their farm two days a week, and for Patchwork Farms 4 days a week.  During the hours while I’m in Harvard, but not working with Clare, I will maintain our land.

We also chose to grow these crops in Harvard because they are experiments for us.  Neither of us have much experience growing grains or beans, so we didn’t want to devote any of our more expensive urban growing area to those crops.  We are putting the potatoes out there, too, because they round out our crop rotation nicely.  We really want to figure out how to grow grains and beans, because we want to see if we can grow our entire diet ourselves.   That’s another reason why we’re excited to be raising bees.  My roommates tapped Maple trees in Ukrainian Village last winter, and I was excited to help them this year.  Unfortunately, the mildness of this winter may have made maple syruping impossible this year, so it will be nice to raise some of our own honey to sweeten up our pantries. 

We are also hoping to find a place to raise laying chickens and ducks in the city this year.  We are thinking we might raise the flocks cooperatively–wherein people would pay to buy their own bird and pay for the year’s upkeep, and we would raise them as a flock and deliver everyone their eggs once a week.   We’ll be sure to post on the website if we decide to try a program like this. 

Also, if not this year, then next year I would love to try to raise some small game for eating (Molly is a vegetarian, and won’t be part of this endeavor).  I’m thinking about raising some rabbits, chickens, and or ducks.  I also want to get some Nigerian Dwarf Goats for milk. 

Oh how fun it is to daydream during the winter!


Bike-a-Bee at Patchwork Farms!

Today Jana Kinsman from Bike-a-Bee met with us at the Chicago Ave garden to plot out the location of the bee hive she is going to be installing.  We’re really excited that we’re going to have honey bees on site to help pollinate our plants.  We’re hoping to save a number of our own seeds this year, and those bees will really help them to be viable!  We’re also glad to be working with another rad, Chicago, bike-riding lady!  If the bees do well this year, Jana said she will donate some small jars of honey to our CSA members… how nice!

I brought my new puppy, Billie,  with us to our meeting.  Billie is nine weeks old, and seems to learn how to do a new cute thing every day.  Today her new trick was… Eating Poo!  Not such a cute one today, unfortunately.  It is a helpful trick, though.  It was helpful to see how many people have been letting their dogs poo in the garden.  This is a real problem.  Dog poo in the garden can get on the vegetables and make people sick.  Tomorrow I am planning on putting up a sign at the entrance to the garden that will hopefully discourage people from leaving us their dog’s poopy treats.  If you happen to be passing by the garden and notice people walking their dogs, please feel free to ask them to help keep the vegetables healthy by keeping their dogs out of the growing areas, and absolutely ALWAYS picking up their poo!

Here are a couple of cute puppy pictures to help sell the veggies.  Note:  She’s chewing on a stick, not poo, in this picture.