I'll just say it flat out. We have the most generous CSA members on the planet! While I may have no way to verify this, it sure does seem that way. This year, our members gave $450 to our Feed Thy Neighbor Fund. This 100% voluntary fund allows our CSA members to subsidize CSA share for families that want healthy food but are experiencing financial difficulties. Members that are eligible for SNAP (food stamp) and WIC benefits are eligible for this program. Thanks to all of our absolutely awesome members!!
Our City Farm will match the funds raised by our members by contributing an additional $450 to the program. This will allow 4 families to receive a CSA share at a reduced rate. We want to ensure that everyone has access to safe and healthy food regardless of their financial situation. If you think you are eligible and could benefit from this program or know someone that would, please send us an email. You will need to provide proof of SNAP eligibility prior to enrollment.
We are currently working with the USDA so that we can accept EBT/SNAP payments for our CSA and farm goods sold at the farm. We will keep you posted on the USDA application process. If everything goes smoothly we can begin accepting EBT payments very soon.
Our City Farm wants the opportunity to cultivate young minds and teach them about agriculture and nutrition. June 2014, we plan to start an Urban Farming Day Camp for city kids 5 to 13 years of age. Our City Farm has launched a Kickstarter to help make this happen. What we need from our supporters is a pledge of just $5! That's right, just $5. Your pledge of $5 is just like planting a seed. Think how much your $5 pledge would grow if you tell just two other people to support us at just $5 and then they tell 2 people. Soon, our Kickstarter will bear fruit!
Here is our project-- Please watch the video and see how far we've come and what we hope to do with your help! Click the "K" at the top of the video, then select "Back This Project".
Our City Farm has really experienced a great growing season this year. We had minimal crop failure and were able to increase our growing space and infrastructure. We started off this Spring with 48 raised beds at 100% production. We lost few crops along the way but were able to add to our growing space. We now have 60 raised beds and (2) 50 ft berms for growing. This increases our growing space by 784 square feet.
Our heated greenhouse is also under construction and tenetively scheduled for completion this Sunday, October 6th. This 14 feet wide, 28 feet long structure will house our hydroponic systems and allow us to continue to grow through the winter. We will also host a few hydropoinic growing workshops in the greenhouse for those interested in learning this growing method firsthand.
Our exiting addition in 2014 is 3/4 acre of growing space just 3 blocks east on Delmar from the main farm where we will grow heritage grains. These grains will be nutritious heirloom varieties of wheat, flax, corn, sunflower seeds, black beans, pinto beans and amaranth. Grains will be available for sale unmilled for longer storage, however we will also offer a milling service.
With all of this new production, we hope to be able to aquire a storage location on or near Delmar. This may be shared or leased space for now. You may have noticed that we converted the old coop into a storage shed on Delmar. We are actually purchasing a new coop for the farm that will more comfortably house our hens. This new 3500 square foot area is scheduled to be installed with a lush chicken-only garden and will be a fenced enclosure.
Fall and Winter is a great time to relax after a long growing season, but we are using the time to reflect, expand and improve for the next year. We are hoping to announce some very exciting summer activities for 2014 that we will bring more people of all ages and backgrounds to the farm to learn and enjoy.
We are so excited to bring you our exciting new plans and hope you will enjoy seeing how the farm has grown and changed. Stop by, drive by or ride by to check out the progress.
I hadn't contemplated that question for quite some time and I believe that most people don't ask me that because there are a growing number of farms in urban areas now and I think the idea is that we all have a common goal and purpose.
Just a couple of days ago, I was reminded of one of the reasons I think farming in the city is important. There I stood, in front of my farm, just a couple of steps from the broken sidewalk trying picture where I'd like to add new raised beds when a young girl walked by. This girl was probably about 12 or 13 and was with another, older girl. The young girl stopped and asked me, "Did you do this?” I answered her, "Yes, I did." To that, she looked at me with a mix of amazement and slight disbelief and asked again, "Did YOU do this?". I smiled proudly and said, "Yes, I sure did!" She ran off to catch up with the other girl but I heard her say, "Look at what she did! Did you see that? Did you see what she made?”
It felt like I had done something magical and based on the look on that girls face, I think I really had. I hoped as she walked away, she would start to see the potential of every vacant lot she encountered on her walk. I hope that Our City Farm helps everyone see the potential in their neighborhood to create something out of nothing, to breathe life into fallow land. Giving the everyday citizen the power to take control over what they place on their table and have the knowledge of how and where it was grown.
Perhaps creating something where there was once nothing IS actually magical. I just hope it inspires a future generation of magicians.
Now that temperatures are rising, harvesting occurs either early in the morning or on cool days. That is the key to produce that lasts the best in our customer's fridges at home. Here are some tips to keep your produce crisp and vibrant for as long as possible:
- If you are picking up a CSA basket, remove and rinse all the leafy greens in cold water. Immediately place them in plastic storage bags and put in the crisper drawer in your fridge or on the shelf (not the door).
- Herbs: rinse and wrapped loosely in a paper towel and stored in a plastic bag. Basil should not be put in the coldest part of the refrigerator (the back). You can either store it on a door shelf or the best way to keep it is on your counter in a glass of water. It will stay fresh and plump for cooking.
- Root vegetable storage: For vegetables such as carrots, remove the green tops and rinse the roots, place in the coldest part of your fridge (the back) or the crisper. Beets and Turnips, remove the greens, rinse them in cold water and place in a storage bag in the fridge. The beet/turnip/radish roots can be rinsed, pat dry with a paper towel and placed in the fridge. For long term storage, see our blogpost on a mobile root cellar. Most root crops can be stored in damp sand for months as long as they stay around 50 degrees Fahrenheit and stay moist but not wet.
- Wilted lettuce or greens: Discard any brown leaves and submerge the wilted greens in ice water and a capful of apple cider vinegar for 30 minutes. The leaves should plump and perk right up. Shake off excess water and store in a plastic storage bag in the crisper.
Each time your produce wilts and you are able to zap it back to life, you lessen the storage life of the produce. The best way to keep your veggies longest time possible is to never let them get wilt or dehydrate. Since that is not always possible, follow the above steps to keep it crisp!
When you choose to get your chicken straight from the farm, you would think your choice of a local farmer is a good one for not only your community , but the environment. The chicken is produced not too far away from where you live, so your reducing your carbon foot-print by purchasing direct, right? As it turns out, before you even make that hour drive out to the farm, your chicken already had a few miles on it!
Here is the equation: Source + Processing + Delivery= Total Miles
Source: Where does your farmer get the chicks from? Many people think that farmers that raise chickens for meat also produce these chicks from their own fertile eggs. This however is not usually true. Running an operation to breed the best chickens and then collect the eggs and hatch them is a job onto itself. Most poultry farms have enough to do. So they get chicks from an operation that specializes in this very thing. Wouldn't it be nice if these chicks came from a neighboring farm? But they usually don't. Their shipped in from other states that are mainly located in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Iowa and Maine. If you're the Midwest, that's a lot of miles just to get started.
Processing: Where does your chicken meet it's end? In a perfect world, the farmer that cared for her bird would be the one to ensure that it is processed in a manner that is humane and swift. This is an act best carried out by the farmer or someone under the farmer's tutelage. However, the majority of chickens are sent off to USDA processing plants which can be a few hundred miles away! The average chicken travels 150 miles by truck to the processing plant.
Delivery: How does the chicken get to you? From the farmer, to the processing plant, sometimes back to the farmer but sometimes to some distribution point, the chicken is now making it's way to you. From here it just depends on where the farmer is shipping to. It doesn't take a mathematician to see that mileage on chicken can really add up!
Our City Farm has taken steps to ensure that our chicken is your most sustainable choice. We source our chicks for a local hatchery and pick them up. This reduces the travel stress on the chick and allows us to see where our chicks come from. Our chicks enter the world in Troy, Missouri, just 51 miles from the farm. We then raise our chickens on Organic pasture in Ferguson, Missouri. Our chickens are then processed on-farm, by hand, requiring no additional travel, 0 miles. From the farm to you, it's just 16 miles.
Below I've gathered numbers using the closest and most popular source for chicks, the closest processing plant and closest chicken farm. The delivery point is Tower Grove Farmer's Market.
Average Local Farm: Source + Processing + Delivery= Total Miles ( 405 + 256 + 155= 816 miles)
Our City Farm: Source + Processing + Delivery= Total Miles (51 + 0 +16= 67 miles)
We'll there's the math. While there may be some other great local options for you, I believe Our City Farm is the most sustainable choice for your chicken. Just do the math.
Most of the customers that come to us have been searching for soy-free eggs and/or chicken for months or years due to dietary restrictions or food allergies. However a growing number of people are electing to eliminate (or at least regulate) soy in their diets. When people ask me why I've chosen not to feed soy to our hens and broilers, my response is usually simple, "Soy is in everything anyway, at least this is something I can control." It's very simplistic and really more of me avoiding the soapbox. However, I think it's important that our customers and potential customers know why we've opted to provide soy-free eggs and chicken.
Soy is higher in a plant based hormone that mimics estrogen in our bodies. It is called phytoestrogen. Many studies have linked high levels of estrogen for ailments such as breast cancer, endometriosis and infertility. We been contacted by many local nutritionists who are working with families that have young girls (as young as 6 years old) experiencing early puberty. If you think it's hard to explain to a pre-teen about the changes their body is experiencing, just imagine having the same discussion with your 6 or 7 year old! Not only are little girls blossoming into womanhood at a young age, middle-aged men have also reported having the same issue!
What about weight-gain? Did you know that soy suppresses your thyroid, making it harder for your body to get the iodine it needs. When your thyroid can't do it's job, one result is weight gain. Additionally soy can alter or suppress the absorption of other vital nutrients.
Soy is not the "health food" that the food industry is marketing it as and subsidies are making growing soy big business for factory farms. For more information on the dangers of soy, please visit the following sites:
We are proud to be able to provide soy-free alternives for our community though it requires some extra effort, it's worth it. You can purchase our soy-free eggs and chicken through our CSA or at Tower Grove and Old North Market.
We've finalized our list of produce offering for the 2013 season and we are really excited about the upcoming season!
- Sweet Basil (large leaf)
- Lemon Basil
- English Thyme
- Fernleaf Dill
- Rainbow Carrots (Atomic Red, Amarillo and Satin)
- Chard (Golden and Rainbow Chard)
- Albino Beets
- Bulls Blood Beets
- Red Round Turnips
- White Flat Turnips
- Brocolli Raab
- Bordeaux Spinach (Short season)
- Lacinato Kale (Dinosaur Kale)
- Purple Desiree Podded Peas
- Golden Yellow Podded peas
- Romaine Lettuce (Speckled and Cimaron)
- Head Lettuce (butter and Red)
- Lettuce Mix
- Yellow Pear Tomatoes
- Rose Potatoes
- Purple Viking Potatoes
- Onions (Yellow, Red and Green Bunching)
- Eggplants (Orange Turkish, Black Beauty, White)
That is the official list of what we are growing this year. Additionally, we are working with an organic grower to provide our farm with exlusive organic heirloom tomatoes and a few other great specialty items for our CSA baskets.
Additionally, we are producing even more of our delicious pastured poultry this year. Chicken will be not only be available as part of our CSA, but also available via pre-sale online and at the farmer's market.
Our layers are due to be moved to the city farm this Spring, pending the installation of the fencing required. It will be so good to have the girls near again!! This is an exicting season. And we cannot wait to get started. We'll be starting seeds on the 15th and the hoop house is still in the 50's. Looks like we'll get an early start this year.
One more exciting change...We'll be back at Tower Grove this year! That means, we'll have a South City Pickup! We look forward to growing for you again!
It's been a while since we've posted on the blog but in the background we're making a LOT of changes. This past session really showed us how we should adapt to our changing client and build in a few failsafes. We hope for the best but plan for the worst. So, in that spirit, Our City Farm has made a few changes to our CSA for the upcoming session and we are very excited to tell you!
Change #1: 26 Week "Extended Season"
Instead of our usual (2) 22-week sessions, we've decided to offer a single season that begins an entire month earlier. This will allow us to focus our resources on providing a great experience for customers during a single term without the stress and confusion of coordinating the end of one session one week before the next session begins.
Change #2: Farm-Pickup Only
While we liked offering multiple drop-off sites for our customers, we feel that on farm pick will allow us better quality control and more efficient issue resolution. We really enjoyed the one-on-one interactions with our customers in previous sessions and really missed that with having drop-off points. We never saw 40% of our customers. This made communication via email and Facebook our only real option and that's really no fun at all. While we enjoy communicating with Facebook Fan or answering emails, we also think that it's important for you to get to know the people that are growing your food. So now, you will have that opportunity!
Change #3: More Variety
With the extreme heat and drought conditions we experienced this summer, we felt it is necessary to increase the number of varieties of produce we offer to ensure that crop loss doesn't effect the size of our weekly produce baskets. While we have space limitations at our city farm location, we will have an additional site to provide even more produce!
There will be a few subtle changes to the way we operate to ensure that we continue to meet our customer's needs as we grow. We will do our best to keep you updated as to changes and progress as things occur!
This was a wonderful interview which aired July 19th by STL TV.