Lisa Harris (lrph) Sat 4 Jul 09 11:36
She could always start over and use raised beds instead of planting in the ground. That's what I will likely do (someday)
For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Sat 4 Jul 09 11:37
yeah, when i read that about the WH lawn, my 1st reaction was 'hunh? you mean she wasnt gardening in raised beds, anyway? EVERYONE i know pretty much gardens in raisded beds, because of who knows what with thier existing (urban) soil'. whether or not urban gardening is taught at princeton, one has to be pretty savvy about sustainable ag/toxics in general to even understand how horrible most green lawns are, in terms of toxic gunk (i.e. chemlawn), never mind the use of sewer sludge. most people see pretty green lawn and dont think, for example, of what went in to making it that way...
Andrew Alden (alden) Sat 4 Jul 09 13:47
It's not "chock full of lead," it's way below the EPA action level.
no disrespect to our friends the chum (wiggly) Sat 4 Jul 09 14:30
Below the EPA's 400 PPM action level, but just below Minneapolis' 100 PPM. Well over the Netherlands' 40 PPM. However, this might be a non-story. From an NYT article in May: If soil is found to have high levels of lead, experts advise covering it with sod. Those who want to grow flowers or edible crops can either replace the contaminated soil or alkalinize it by adding lime or organic matter such as compost. Soil with a pH level above 7 binds with lead, making it less likely to be absorbed by plants and the human body if the dirt is inadvertently inhaled or ingested. The White House is mixing lime and compost into the soil for its kitchen garden, which according to a National Parks Service analysis has 93 p.p.m. of lead â an amount above background levels but not considered hazardous to children or adults by the E.P.A.âs standards. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/garden/14lead.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all I'm still going to politely decline the chard next time I pop by 1600 PA.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 5 Jul 09 08:24
Oh, that's a shame. Hope the lime works.
Gail Williams (gail) Sun 5 Jul 09 10:19
It's become a national teaching opportunity. A lot more people probably know now that soil toxins are a significant factor and that alkalinity mitigates the effect. (That has further implications since different crops will thrive than in an acidic soil, right?) I wanted to ask about, and comment on, another older trend of non-profit community farms and gardens. Since perhaps the days of the Whole Earth Catalogue, there have been urban farmera who put together community food gardens with some kind of a donated labor model. Here's an example of one in San Francisco. (By the way, they have an open house in a few hours today, the first Sunday of the month.) http://www.alemanyfarm.org/ They have had some foundation money subsidy, and I wonder how the economic downturn will hit these guys and other programs like this just when the numbers of hungry people are rising. I'm also curious if Novella or anyone else knows how widespread these urban community gardens are in, in the USA or elsewhere. And do contemporary private urban farmers get training or consultation from, or give consultation to and help the community programs? Here's an Oakland example http://www.cityslickerfarms.org/ They say they are farming 100+ vacant lots and selling produce on a sliding scale so anyone can afford it. Is this a local, national or international phenomenon on the community farm side as well as the individual farmer side?
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 5 Jul 09 11:50
We've been having some of this in Idaho where the farmers will even rent land from homeowners in return for a share of the produce. http://www.idahostatesman.com/newsupdates/story/752365.html And here's an article about Milwaukee: http://www.idahostatesman.com/1300/story/817749.html
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 5 Jul 09 12:27
Here's one from Salon: http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2009/07/04/city_gardening/index.html
no disrespect to our friends the chum (wiggly) Sun 5 Jul 09 13:46
Novella's down with City Slicker Farms, I think. She mentions them a few times in Farm City. we interrupt this garden talk for an important announcement: THE OVUM HAS LANDED which is to say, one of our chickens laid her (and, by extension, our) first egg today. It's a bit small, but aside from that it's a perfect egg. We're not sure who laid it, but we think the leghorn is responsible. Both chickens are doing the squatting thing they do when they need some rooster lovin', and I have been instructed to simulate smoove rooster moves by grabbing their behinds when I am in the garden. I believe this makes me the cock of the walk.
David Gans (tnf) Sun 5 Jul 09 14:09
no disrespect to our friends the chum (wiggly) Sun 5 Jul 09 19:51
Frighteningly, we photographed it like it was a newborn. Perhaps more frighteningly, I have been pondering how to cook our little bundle of joy throughout the day.
Area Woman (booter) Sun 5 Jul 09 21:48
My friends who started chickens last year used the first egg in pancakes, which they shared with each other. There's a great article in the NY Times toay about a guy named Will Allen, who has a highly compact and highly productive inner city farm. I can see Novella starting off with an urban lot of her own, getting a greenhouse, using her master scavenging skills for the compost... http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/05/magazine/05allen-t.html
(dana) Mon 6 Jul 09 10:49
Allen was quoted in the CNN article on urban farms posted earlier in this topic. Sounds like he's the big dog of urban farmers. And completely unrelated to his urban accomplishments -- that is one muscular 60 year old, judging from the photo accompanying the NYT article.
Novella Carpenter (novellacarpent) Mon 6 Jul 09 14:39
howdy! alas, lead in the soil is the bane of an urban farmer's existence. it's tough to get out, though massive quantities of compost will bind the lead and mitigate the problem. the other thing michelle should remember is lead doesn't go into fruits of plants. that is, you can eat a tomato growing in lead soil with no problem. it's the leaves that will contain lead. raised beds with a root barrier will do the trick, too. man, michelle must be bummed! i read the will allen piece--he's so great, such an inspiration. i did get jealous of his greenhouses, but i'm in california for christ's sake! that poor guy has a major winter to deal with. urban community gardening is huge. every major city has some form of community gardens. seattle has p-patch, the boston commons is one of the oldest in the nation, new orleans has parkway partners, etc. but it's not as big as the allotment gardens in london or the big gardens in vancouver bc where huge tracts of land are devoted to urban farming. in an interesting twist, some people came to my reading in sebastopol and said they had been in amsterdaam and ate at a resto that had two pigs living out back, fed entirely on scraps! cool.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Mon 6 Jul 09 15:06
Now that the book is out and appearing to be achieving a lot of success, where do you expect to go from here, both as an author and as a farmer?
(dana) Mon 6 Jul 09 16:13
And who should play you in the movie?
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Mon 6 Jul 09 16:36
Oh, good question, especially with Julie and Julia coming out. :)
(dana) Tue 7 Jul 09 09:58
One of the NYT reviewers was reminded of Julie and Julia by Novella's book. While I loved The Julie/Julia Project blog, I think a Farm City movie would be more my speed. BTW, here's a video of Novella and Michael Pollan discussing the ethics of slaughtering your own food from their talk for Berkeley Arts and Letters. People who object to the term "edible pets" might want to skip the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvN7Gz6esH0 The ethics of loving the animals you eat resonates for me. My farmer friends in the Alps are very caring of their animals, particularly the pigs who don't get to stick around long. Their daughter brushed and stroked them every day after cleaning their pen, and when I asked her how she could be so affectionate with them, she said she just wanted them to have the best life possible under the circumstances. The best possible attitude an omnivore can have, IMHO.
Area Woman (booter) Tue 7 Jul 09 10:32
As I read the book, being a person with a pet rabbit, I mapped it to my experiences with - well, quite frankly - having to "kill" my pets when they were very ill. I feel terrible having to tell someone to inject a lethal drug into a sweet animal. However, in looking at it carefully, I realize that the animal only had one really bad day. I was reading about how the observation was made that the hogs had a kind of meat that showed, basically, no stress. As an omnivore who loves animals, I wish all of our animals that we ate had only one bad day. Alas, most of the animals I eat probably had a really crappy life and that bothers me.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Tue 7 Jul 09 18:27
I remember taking my ducks to the processor, which was a family-run operation; Mom and Dad and a couple of teenage kids were in the shed, and younger kids were doing things like collecting my ducks and taking them in. One of them spread out a duck's wings and was stroking the plumage in admiration. A minute later, they were stripping it off. The transition from live animal to meat is very swift.
Novella Carpenter (novellacarpent) Wed 8 Jul 09 14:20
howdy again! the film, the film--someone is talking to someone about it but i can't imagine it. there's not really a plot line, is there? chris lee and i joked that they would make it into a romantic comedy where chris and i fall in love while rubbing a pig leg. very hot. i've been seeing lots of vegans and vegetarians at my readings and none of them are mad at me (which is surprising to me) but i think the message that i have is that we would all eat a lot less meat if we knew more about what eating meat means: that an animal had to be fed and raised, and then killed (a bad day, yes indeedy), then cleaned and processed. it's an elaborate process that we take for granted when we order chicken on everything. i find myself ordering more fish and vegetarian things these days. been passing out copies of the book to people who appear in farm city today. ran into "bobby" and gave him a copy, and just dropped another off with mosed, the liquor store owner. lana read the book and liked it but felt like i made her sound weird (earth to lana: you are weird). and my mom said it was strange to read about her life in a book but she liked it. it's tough to put something out there, esp something that will affect the ones you love. all in all it has been a good experience. thanks for reading and posting and continuing the discussion!
Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Wed 8 Jul 09 14:31
>>> i think the message that i have is that we would all eat a lot less meat if we knew more about what eating meat means: that an animal had to be fed and raised, and then killed (a bad day, yes indeedy), then cleaned and processed. <<< Back when the majority of Americans lived on farms and raised and slaughtered their own meat, meat consumption was less than it is now, yes -- but chiefly for economic reasons, not because of squeamishness.
(dana) Wed 8 Jul 09 15:06
When I was young, my family had friends on a ranch in Northern CA. Upon my first visit there, I was shocked that they could transition from caring to killing with nonchalance, but now that I know what goes on in CAFOs, I realize their coldness was actually kindness. Thanks to everyone for this conversation. We're beginning a new discussion today, but feel free to continue here as long as you like.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Thu 9 Jul 09 06:52
Thanks, Novella and other participants!
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 9 Jul 09 14:48
I just got email from Slow Foods about a San Francisco event that could be cool, this Sunday - http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/71943 Screening of a new movie called Mad City Chickens. "Mad City Chickens is a story about chickens in the city, or more appropriately, a set of several stories. As close to universal as a food source can be, chickens and their eggs were once a regular element of many a family's lives in the U.S., and remain so throughout the world. That way of life largely disappeared in this country, though, due to the rise of industrial farming, but is slowly returning to many cities as people rediscover the experience of keeping the birds in their backyards."
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