Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New 3 minute promo for The Urban Conversion

The great folks at The Urban Conversion came by again a couple of weeks ago to film a follow-up to their earlier visit. This time they brought the host's wife and children along to see the chickens and goats.

The premise of the show is that the host, Rodman, is a fairly conservative businessman who isn't all that interested in "going green." His wife, however, wants a more sustainable life for their family. Since they can't move out to the country, Rodman is setting out to see how he can "bring the farm to the city." Hence, The Urban Conversion.

They have filmed a full pilot episode, and created this 3 1/2 minute teaser for the show. The producers are currently pitching the show to the national networks, and if it's picked up they will travel the country looking for people who are living sustainably within a city.

Click here to watch the show promo. You can also visit The Urban Conversion website to learn more about the project.

Farmscape: Documenting the Changing Rural Environment

Sunday, November 7th
2:00 pm
Denver Urban Homesteading
200 S. Sante Fe Drive

Colorado Organic Producers Association (COPA) and Denver Urban Homesteading present Farmscape: Documenting the Changing Rural Environment, an innovative reader's theater on Sunday, November 7th, 2pm.

For one day only join Iowa Poet Laureate and Playwright Mary Swander, Director Karan Founds-Benton along with Colorado farmers, actors, musicians and chefs to add your voice to a conversation about America's changing rural landscape and how our country produces its food.

Local, seasonal tapas available for purchase at 1pm. The play is open to the public with a $15 suggested donation to benefit COPA. A talk back will follow the matinee with Playwright, Director and local farmers.

For reservations, call (303) 946-9212 or email COPAorganiccolorado@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Midnight Gardeners

This post was contributed by Lindsey, one of our Heirloom Gardens farmers. If you'd like to read more of Lindsey's wonderful musings on life, visit her blog at Rhyme, Reason, or None of the Above.

It was all-hands-on-deck for the last CSA harvest of the season on Tuesday. We dispersed to each of the gardens with a mission of collecting every last bit of mature food available. As night fell to the point that we couldn’t see what we were doing, we gathered the final bounty and inevitably reconvened in Sundari’s yard. After a summer of endless evenings, the darkness made it feel like midnight as we cooperated to unload bins of springy chard and dense winter squash from our cars. Together, we soaked the greens, tomatoes, and eggplants with the garden hose to cool and preserve them. We moved around mostly in silence, having worked together for a full season and knowing what needed to be done.

With the soft bleating of the goats as our soundtrack and the porch light casting minimal light over the scene, the mood in the yard was one of mysterious stealth. We could have been prowlers, vegetables our prize. I felt engaged in a clandestine operation, full of power, past my bedtime. Actually, it was only 7:15. The evening was young, but cooler times are coming, and the season is saying goodnight.

Last year, the final harvest of the season took place in a sleety snow—the first of the season. It was heavy and insistent. When we called it quits, it only partly because we couldn’t see our fingers—more disturbingly, we couldn’t feel them in the cold. In retrospect, though, the reflective properties of the snow beat back the darkness. This year, our final evening was warm but black. This season has been so different from the previous is so many ways, the unpredictable whim of weather telling us when we can have lettuce (and for how long) and dictating the size of pumpkins. This summer was a new, fresh adventure. Is that part of the way farming feeds the soul? Each year an experiment. A compromise. A surrender. A reward. Before I began to garden, I thought of it as repetitive and monotonous. Now I see how it is constantly changing.

The close of this season is very definitely an ending of a particular combination of conditions and experiences that will never exactly exist again. In the coming weeks, as we put the gardens to bed (a euphemistic way, says another of the working members, of describing how we mercilessly wrench old plants from the ground to make way for the new), we will sow garlic seeds to winter-over for a head start in the spring. We are beginning the cycle anew, but we are also beginning a completely new cycle that will be defined by its own set of challenges and successes.

As we maneuvered around the yard on Tuesday evening, at what felt like midnight (but wasn’t), we were actually orchestrating an ending. Our furtive feeling: perhaps due to the knowledge that we can never resurrect the moment once it passes, and so must sneakily squirrel it away as a warming memory before winter sets in.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Graduation Day for the Baby Goats

Today was an exciting day for our little urban farm. Our 8-week-old baby goats, Willow and Kosi, got to go to their new home. They will be raised by a wonderful couple named Jamie and Lance. The best part (and least for Brian and me) is that Jamie and Lance live in NW Denver, just a few minutes from us. We've already made plans to take all of the goats on a hike together soon!

It was so gratifying to help settle the babies into their new home. Jamie and Lance have a great barnyard in their backyard, with a nice flock of young chickens running around and lots of room for the goats to jump and play. I love knowing that there are others in my city that are refusing to buy into the notion that they must be dependent on others for all of their food, and that certain things don't "belong" in an urban setting. Jamie and Lance have created a situation where they will be able to raise milk, eggs, and vegetables for themselves and their child right in their backyard. I wish them the best of luck on their journey!

Kosi with Jamie. She seems to be settling in nicely, doesn't she?

Willow and Lance. Willow was a bit more squirmy... anxious to jump around and explore her new home!

The whole family in the barnyard.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to Roast a Winter Squash

Clockwise from bottom left: Buttercup, Connecticut Pumpkin, Pink Banana, and Blue Hubbard squashes.

Nothing says autumn like roasted winter squash. You can use it to make soup, pie, lasagna, a savory spread, and many other wonderful dishes (click here for recipes ideas). Luckily, roasting squash is simple and easy.

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Cut the squash in half vertically (from the north to south poles, not along the equator).

3.  Scoop out the seeds. They can be cleaned, tossed with oil and salt, and roasted separately to make a wonderful snack.

4.  Rub a teaspoon of oil over the squash flesh, and sprinkle lightly with salt.

5.  Place squash halves face-down on a cookie sheet or baking dish.

6.  Bake for around 40 minutes, or until the flesh is tender when pierced with a fork. It should feel just like poking a baked potato.

7.  Scoop the roasted squash out of the skin. Enjoy!
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.2

Friday, October 1, 2010

Jump Around!

Our 6-week-old baby dwarf goats jumping, snuggling, and playing in our Denver backyard. Aren't they more than a little bit like puppies?

Growing Up

We are excited to introduce Lindsey, one of our Heirloom Gardens farmers, as a guest contributor to the blog. If you'd like to read more of Lindsey's wonderful musings on life, visit her blog at Rhyme, Reason, or None of the Above.

Growing up, I endured my occasional gardening chores like a punishment. I don’t think my mom even knew how much I dreaded being hunched over on that kneepad on the concrete sidewalk to our front porch, pulling weeds from the flowerbeds. I hated the hot summer sunshine of oppressively muggy Wisconsin summers, scorching through my t-shirt. I hated the ache in my back, the dirt, the bugs, the sweat. I felt there was absolutely no point to the effort when the weeds were just going to come right back overnight anyhow. And I suspected my parents made it one of my chores because they secretly hated it as much as I did. 

Heirloom Gardens rhubarb.
By then, gardening was, for them, about landscaping rather than food. When I was even younger, my parents did keep a small vegetable patch along the south side of the house. But looking back now, I think that my mother must have had a very complicated relationship with that little rectangle of land. I vividly remember the intense stress caused by rhubarb. Somehow, it always defied control and would take over the entire plot, multiplying to outrageous proportions and sending my mother and our dear neighbor, Pat, into a frenzy trying to figure out what to do with it all. I have a permanent photograph in my mind of the two of them, hair flattened by sweat, shuffling rhubarb pies into and out of the oven like maniacs. (Though interestingly, I don’t remember ever eating even a bite of rhubarb pie as a child; where did it all go?)

I also remember being sternly warned that the rhubarb was poisonous. Was it the leaves or the roots?—I could never remember which, so I just avoided the garden entirely, imagining the whole thing full of poison ivy. A scary, scary place. And the deer sure didn’t help. As soon as the beans and tomatoes started to ripen, the hungry local deer population would make a beeline for our house and munch away till the patch was in ruins. Then, one year, my mom heard that deer mark their territory with urine and avoid places marked by another animal’s urine. After that, my father and my kindergarten-age brother were forced to trudge outside each evening before dinner and dutifully pee all over the garden. Now it was not only poisonous, but also...urinous.

A few years later, my parents gave up on the vegetables entirely, a decision so anti-climactic that I don’t even remember it being made. As far as I was concerned, food came from the supermarket, and as long as that was still standing, that’s all I needed to know. Furthermore, in my opinion, real food came in packages, with clear instructions of how long to microwave it before eating. The supermarket had a produce section, sure, but those big bins of unidentifiable raw stuff were just as intimidating as our old poisonous, pee-doused garden patch. For years, I steered clear. 

As this gardening season (my second as a grateful working member of Heirloom Gardens, where we do not pee on the plants, I promise) draws to a close, the mere fact that I find myself sad about the impending end of this summer’s vegetable bounty is sort of amazing to me. Spending time as one of Heirloom’s farmers brings me such joy. I love feeling the weather (whatever it may be). I love getting that gratifying stretch in my hamstrings as I reach for a partially hidden squash. I love the dirt, the bugs, the sweat. It has been a long, very gradual journey from one end of the spectrum to the other—from the negative gardening impressions of my childhood to the pleasure I now take in helping to grow my own meals and rarely stepping foot in the grocery store for months at a time. The process of that change is, like so many other aspects of life, a good fit with a gardening metaphor: the fertilizer of education, the blooming of knowledge, slow growth,
transformation, and—in the end—rich, ripe rewards.

While I don’t hope that any of you put as much processed “food” into your bodies for as long as I did before seeing the light and becoming interested in urban—or windowsill, rooftop, suburban, or rural—farming, I know I’m not the only one who has experienced such a shift. (Anyone else out there tormented by rhubarb as a child?) And in any case, I think that there are many valuable conversations to be had around such a profound morphing of perspective, values, and priorities…not to mention around gardening as a daily activity in a hectic lifestyle, and any number of other random gardening-life tangents. I’m grateful to Sundari for having invited me to be an occasional guest contributor to the Heirloom Gardens blog, and I look forward to checking in with you all again soon.