2018 has been a very hard working & rewarding year for our urban farm. We began by taking our urban farm off-grid thanks to the installation of our solar system on January 10th. What followed was a year of reconfiguration. We made changes leading to the formation of our non-profit organization with the help of Bonn LLC. Here are the most significant changes we made:
Expand Grow Areas
We started in January ready to tackle the issues that we felt we could help with locally. Growing food is something we do well. For us this meant we needed to transform our urban farm from a family homestead and into a larger scale urban farm with the ability to produce excess food to sell at the local farmers markets.
The transformation began swiftly, we expanded our urban farm by following this to do list:
- Add six 10' x 4' boxes
- Connect sixteen existing boxes to make eight 22' x 4' wooden boxes. (This conversion would lead to our 4 grow tunnels).
- Add a ground bed for extra grow area which required some soil retention walls, our 5th tunnel was built on top of this ground bed.
- Convert the side areas into grow beds
- Convert the high terraces into slim grow tunnels
Build a Greenhouse
Growing that much food takes time & lots of work, but thanks to our newly deployed greenhouse we are able to grow up to 7200 seedlings in grow treys of 72 cells each. The greenhouse gives us the following advantages over what we had been doing for the past year:
- Protection of seedlings from the rain and other eager seed eaters
- Protection from pests during the early stages
- Better germination rate
- Ability to pre-select healthy plants
- Consistent propagation system for succession planting
We will do a blog post on the build out of our greenhouse, it wasn't very complicated but there are many details that are important to not miss.
Build Compost Bins
Growing excess food also means we will have excess waste in terms of dead leaves, trimmings, etc. All this bio material is perfect for making compost. Since we use compost to amend our soil with nutrients it made sense to expand on our compost setup with three 4' x 4' x 4' compost bins.
The process is simple, we basically mix 45% greens, 45% browns and 10% existing compost with live bacteria to help speed up the composting process. The build out of the compost bins was not very difficult, I will do a blog post about it & detail out how the compost process goes. Everyone should have a compost setup for their own little garden, it's simple & very good for your plants at home.
Move Root Vegetables
In order to maximize usability of our tunnels we decided to move all our root vegetables to the back of the property. This meant that sweet potatoes, yuca, taro root, ginger & turmeric would now be growing on the newly created rustic ground beds made out of tree trunks.
This reformat made a lot of sense since all the root vegetables need 4 to 6 months of growing before they can be harvested whereas the green veggies only need 2 months for most part.
The plan rolled into effect and we soon began transforming our urban farm.
As the expansion project approached completion, we began planning what veggies we would grow, here is the list of what we are growing as a permanent fixture of our produce list:
- Lettuce (several varieties)
- Kale (several varieties)
- Bok choy
- Peppers (several colors)
- Hot peppers (several varieties)
- Tomatoes (several varieties)
- Basil (several varieties)
- Mojito mint
- Radishes (several varieties)
- Beets (several varieties)
- Collard greens
- Sweet potatoes
- Taro Root
- & more
We started early 2018 offering folks a tour of our farm so that we could connect and show them our project. As we expanded the farm we began to expand our pathways which now needed to be safer & more comfortable for our guests.
The pathways also allowed us better mobility and access thru the farm. It is very nice to be able to take a day off and walk around the farm without getting mud on your shoes, that is a big bonus.
Next Projects at the Urban Farm
We have more projects slated for 2019. We are currently growing on half an acre. Our property is a little over 1 acre so we have a lot of room to grow. Here is a small list of what we'll be working on next:
- Add a few more grow areas
- Build a veggie spinner out of a washer
- Run electricity to our greenhouse so we can run small fans this summer
- Build 2 concrete cisterns of 3k & 2k gallons capacity
- Make a compost tea station with our two 50 gallon barrels
We will write a blog post about all the topics above when they go live along with a video explaining all the details, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Chanel to watch it & all the other videos we will be releasing.
Here is a quick video of our grow tunnels and what we are growing in them, soon we will have grow tunnel 5 online & the rest of the farm will be fully planted.
Thanks for reading & we appreciate you sharing this with friends. If you have any questions please leave them on the comments section or on our fan page at Rossi Naturals.