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!
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.
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!
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!
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!