Intervale Green Rooftop Farm

A Bronx Urban Farm Sponsored by Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco)


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Pop goes the corn!

harvest-give pop

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:

  1. Pick the kernels off the cob. You should be able to just run your finger along the cob and they will fall right off.
  2. Put a pot with a lid on the stove and set to medium-high heat.
  3. Pour about 2 tablespoons of canola oil into the pot, enough to evenly coat the bottom of the pot.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.


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Neville’s thoughts about this year’s harvest

Neville Audain waters his plot on the rooftop farm.

Neville Audain waters his plot on the rooftop farm.

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!

 


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Popcorn is harvested but not ready to eat

Popcorn on the cob

Popcorn on the cob

Well we harvested and gave away the sweet corn faster than we could take a picture of it, but lucky for us popcorn is not ready to eat when its harvested so we were able to snap a photo of these beautiful ears of corn. Popcorn must stay on the corn stalk as long as possible, because you actually want the corn to dry out on the cob as much as possible. We’ve left some to dry on the stalk and we harvested some today to dry out by leaving in a basket in the Intervale Green Community Room. Apparently we should take a couple of kernels off the cob each week and try and pop it in a pot with some oil. In the beginning, the popped corn with be chewy. When it pops and has that nice light crunch then its ready to harvest the rest! Check back with us in a few weeks to see how it tastes.


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Ground cherries are here!

NY Cares volunteer Anthony dares children to eat ground cherries at the harvest giveaway.

NY Cares volunteer Anthony dares children to eat ground cherries at the harvest giveaway.

One of our goals here at Intervale Green is to get families interested in learning about growing and eating fresh food. A pretty transparent strategy in achieving this goal is to plant things that children will like to eat. We planted ground cherries this year in hopes of proving that this strategy works.  This week we harvested our first crop of ground cherries and while the first harvest is always small, it affords us something weird and delicious to get children to come to the harvest giveaway asking for more.  The verdict: kids love ground cherries!

 

 

The Ground Cherry, also knows as the Cape Gooseberry or Husk Cherry (Physalis spp.)

The Ground Cherry, also knows as the Cape Gooseberry or Husk Cherry (Physalis spp.)

But what exactly are ground cherries? Ground cherries are a small fruit that grows inside a husk that looks like a paper lantern. They are native the the Americas and a member of the nightshade family, so they are cousins with tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant and peppers but they taste nothing like these other vegetables! In harvesting them at Intervale Green this week, we found out that they are very popular in Guyana. At their ripest, they are orange and taste like a tomato mixed with a berry and a pineapple!??! Well we cannot really describe the taste, so you’ll just have to come harvest them or try them on Tuesdays at the Harvest Giveaway!


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U-pick every Tuesday

Annie and her mom harvest their own collard greens on the rooftop farm.

Annie and her mom harvest their own collard greens on the rooftop farm.

Each Tuesday, we harvest vegetables at the Intervale Green rooftop farm and give them away to residents in the lobby of the building. Interested in getting some of the bounty of the harvest? You can pick up vegetables from 6-8pm each Tuesday in the lobby – or – you can join us on the roof beforehand and pick them yourself! What is there to pick these days? Tons of tomatoes, peppers, collard greens, beans, and more!  Harvesting your own vegetables means that you get the first pick of the day and get to enjoy the fresh air on the Intervale Green roof!


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Summer Heat with NY Cares

NY Cares volunteer team saves the collard greens from drought with a mulch mixture of cocoa shells and cedar bark.

NY Cares volunteer team saves the collard greens from drought with a mulch mixture of cocoa shells and cedar bark.

Its been a hot, dry summer here in New York City and the rooftop garden – which is designed to store storm water runoff is thirsty! Luckily, we were able to help our vegetables retain water by mulching the garden beds with a mixture of cocoa shells and cedar bark. 2 inches of this mixture of organic matter on top of the soil helps the water seep into the soil before it turns into steam at the surface of the soil on these blazing hot and sunny days! We couldn’t have done all of the mulching up here without our new addition to the farm – NY Cares volunteers! Every Tuesday, NY Cares will be managing a volunteer day at the farm. Join us any Tuesday between now and October by signing up on NY Cares!


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It’s official. Corn does grow on rooftops!

corn-on-the-roof

We planted two varieties of corn on the roof this season – sweet corn and popcorn. Though gardeners here at Intervale Green have mentioned that they’ve grown corn here for years, I didn’t quite believe that the shallow garden beds here could support such towering vegetable plants! However, its mid-July and we are right on schedule: the corn ears are producing silks, those brown hairs that grow out of the corn cob. Each silk is connected to a kernel that is fruiting, so I’m optimistic we’ll be eating this sweet corn this summer!