Life, Faith and Urban Farming

The life and happenings of an unconventional pastor and urban farmer living in the city with a family of five.

Monday, May 04, 2009

A Green House for All

A part of the purpose behind Garfield Community Farm is to learn and teach how we can become more self-sufficient, or maybe we should say communally-sufficient (we're not looking to make hermits who don't have to go anywhere or know anyone because they are self-sufficient, instead we're looking to develop community that relies on each other to survive and flourish). So, this past weekend we began building a small greenhouse, an important addition to Garfield Farm's ability to grow food and teach others how to grow food in our neighborhood. When we think of green houses, hoop houses, or high tunnels we usually think of things that cost at least a grand. Big green houses that need big-time space. We've hired Darrell Frey, and organic farmer who specializes in sustainable green houses, to help us build a low cost green house. He calls this design his Bale-House design. It is a post and beam structure, no metal hoops. We cut the posts from vacant lots in Garfield and right at the farm. They are either Black Locust or Red Elm. Both tree species grow abundantly in our neighborhood. We didn't even have to cut down the Locust, just trimmed some large branches off. The rest of the lumber is just untreated 2x4's and 2x6's. It is called a BALE-house because in the fall we will line the north facing wall, the wall that gets no sunlight, with straw-bales for insulation. This will allow us to grow more food further into the winter.

It's a small structure, about 16' by 12', big enough to fit 50 seedling flats. But not big enough to provide Garfield with local green all winter long. This structure is a teaching tool, not a high production tool. Sure we'll grow in it and house our seedlings in it to be sold, but the main purpose as I see it is to teach and inspire. While it does take some work and a little cash, this structure could fit in most yards in Garfield (it has cost about $250 so far, probably about $50 more). My hope is that we'll see friends and neighbors helping each other create gardens and green houses together. My hope is that people, kids especially, will learn to eat the food that the earth provides, and do it in community, sharing space, sharing gardens, and green houses all over the neighborhood. For now, I'll settle with this one, and hope that we can involve lots of kids and have lots of fun as we learn together.

Here it is after five volunteers worked with Darrell for about four hours. We're becoming more "communally-sufficient" together. Without help this would have taken days.


urban vegan said...

I am so jealous. I live in an apartment with no patio, so my step toward "growing my own" involves growing herbs!

I'll enjoy your greenhouse vicariously.

Beverly said...

I would be interested in knowing how you handle city ordinances, building permits, etc. Also, have you found elderly residents gravitating toward your project? I can't help but wonder about the multi-generational social impact. Great work by the way... sustainable, local food is so important.