We had a great start to the season with a visit from NY cares last Thursday. The excessive rain over the past few days had resulted in a growth spurt of weeds at the garden. The containers were overflowing, so the arrival of the NY Cares volunteers was much needed. Fourteen volunteers arrived around 10 AM ready to work. The task ahead was large, but that did not discourage the volunteers. We had to remove weeds as well as turn the soil. The volunteers were careful not to disturb the existing plants and herbs, which were thriving on the roof. The removed weeds and old plants were placed in bags and will be used later for composting. At the end of the 2.5 hours, the majority of the containers were cleared of weeds and were ready for compost and fertilizer. Thanks again to NY Cares and Weil for their hard work at Intervale Green!
We had a wonderful final Harvest Giveway at Intervale Green this year. In addition to giving away our final carrots, beets and peas of the season, we carved pumpkins for Halloween. Over 25 children and their parents were able to carve their own pumpkin just in time for the holiday. In addition, everyone scooped out their pumpkin seeds and learned to make a healthy, protein-rich snack: roasted pumpkin seeds. We also gave a workshop on seed saving and set aside some seeds to grow on the roof next year! Due to the overwhelming demand for pumpkins (not every child that attended was able to carve their own pumpkin), we saved a lot of seeds so that we can expand on this activity in 2017.
This week’s harvest giveaway was extra healthy, because we were joined by WHEDco’s Community Development Department staff who were registering people to vote right in the Intervale Green Lobby. General elections are coming up fast, and October 14, 2016 is the deadline to register to vote in New York. If you didn’t get a chance to register in the lobby this Tuesday, but need to register, have moved or are not 100% sure if you’re registered, then request a registration form online with the Board of Education or stop by your local DMV or Board of Elections office to fill out and turn in your form on the spot! For Bronx residents, the closest Board of Elections is located at 1780 Grand Concourse, 5th Floor. The closest DMV is located at 696 East Fordham Road.
We had an amazingly productive day here on farm today, thanks to a crew of staff from JP Morgan Chase who took the day off from work to help us make sure we have a strong fall harvest this year! With there help we tilled some newly available garden beds and planted baby mixed greens, watered each garden bed by hand with a special fish emulsion fertilizer, separated our strawberry plants and gave them mulch to make it through the fall and winter, and even took cuttings of sedum flowers to spread to areas of our walkways that had gotten thinned out due to the drought. All of these little acts of care on our rooftop farm will bring us a healthy harvest to distribute to residents in the building through the end of October. Today was a global volunteer day at JP Morgan Chase, and we can only imagine what else they made happen across the globe with their powerful teams.
Today with the help of our trusty NY Cares volunteers, we built a brand new compost bin out of recycled shipping pallets. Now residents at Intervale Green will be able to bring the vegetable scraps from their kitchen to the rooftop garden to turn into nutritious soil for the next growing season!
There are two ways right now that residents can participate in the composting program. Just stop by any Tuesday on the roof from 2-5pm to drop them in the bin yourself or drop them off in a plastic bag or container at the Harvest Giveway in the lobby any Tuesday from 5-7pm for our staff to bring to the roof later. In 2017, we hope to establish a drop off bin to be accessible to all residents 24/7 in the courtyard. Stay tuned!
What can you compost? Technically all organic matter can be composted, but in this open container on a residential building in an urban environment, we want to make sure that we are composting things that decompose quickly and with little smell. Here’s a list of what you can and cannot compost:
What to Compost:
– all raw fruit and vegetable scraps
– wilted greens
– coffee grounds and filters
– tea bags
– egg shells
– rotten fruit or vegetables
– wilted flowers
– dead houseplants
– leftover soil from repotting plants
– shredded newspaper and paper
– bones and meat
– dairy products
– cooking oils
– leftovers from your fridge (unless they are just steamed vegetables)
– pet waste
– diseased or insect-ridden plants
– tough plant material like branches or stalks
We had a great time at the Harvest Giveaway today, because we finally dried the popcorn just enough to make it a great snack! We offered a cooking demonstration on the spot, and here’s a recipe for how to pop
your own freshly dried popcorn:
- Pick the kernels off the cob. You should be able to just run your finger along the cob and they will fall right off.
- Put a pot with a lid on the stove and set to medium-high heat.
- Pour about 2 tablespoons of canola oil into the pot, enough to evenly coat the bottom of the pot.
- Drop 3 kernels into the pot. Once one of them has popped, you know the oil is hot enough. Drop the rest of the kernels into the pot and shake the pot around to make sure the kernels are all coated in oil.
- Watch and listen to the pot and pick it up regularly to shake and swirl the contents of the pot around without lifting the lid. You want to make sure that none of the kernels get stuck on the bottom of the pot and burn.
- Once you hear the popping slow down to one every 1-2 seconds you know that the majority of the kernels have popped. Turn off the heat.
- Open up the pot and pour the popped corn into a bowl. Season with butter, salt and anything else that sounds good to you. Try making kettle corn by adding some sugar. Or add a little paprika for some kick. I like dried dill as a seasoning too.
Neville Audain has been growing food on the Intervale Green Rooftop Farm since its first season. He is a truly dedicated gardener and with this year’s drought, he is faithfully watering his plot two times per day at least, he says, until the fall rains come.
Neville is a wealth of knowledge about the rooftop farm. He knows when and where the wind blows strongest and he plants his crops along with the moon’s cycles. He says that despite the cold rainy Spring and the summer drought, he’s still managed to harvest 300 pounds of tomatoes from his plot. Its been a good year!