Thursday, June 9, 2016

Season (lucky number) Seven

The UC Urban Farm looks to be going strong with a great start to (lucky) season 7!!!

I can't believe it was seven years this past spring that we cleared the plot, constructed the fence, built the storage shed, set up the greenhouse, and developed a strategy for on-site water.  I'm thrilled to see tomatoe plants in the ground and folks enjoying another year of gardening.  A neat legacy!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Celebrating year five, and going strong: lessons learned: 1 soil is critical; 2 water is critical

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the Urban Farm in Westside, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.  Guess what?  Its going strong!  I'm so impressed with the positive, long term impact of this urban farming effort.  Who would have guessed five years ago that a summertime partnership between the City of Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati would turn into a long-term, sustainable opportunity for producing fresh veggies in a formerly vacant City lot?  Wow.  This is truly something to celebrate!

 Installed five years ago, this green house is used each year to start seedlings.  It is also used during the winter season to house materials for planting.  At an initial cost of nearly $3,000, this facility has withstood substantial weathering and I would highly recommend this product.  In addition to a greenhouse, we also have learned the importance of improving the soil over time.  We started with a field of clay over construction debris, and over five years a healthy soil has been created.  Soil is critical.
 Water is a critical part of a garden.  Who knew?  Certainly we didn't fully grasp the importance of water when we first started.  Originally, we had water trucked-in and stored on-site in a large tank (right).  This proved costly, and required a high degree of coordination.  Our second approach was to perform rain water capture off the roof of our shed.  While this was a great approach, the placement of the shed and subsequent water distribution remained a challenge.  Our final (and permanent solution) has been the use of a yard hydrant.  While this is not the ideal solution (ie using drinking water for irrigation), it does provide a high degree of reliability.  Currently, the yard hydrant is used as a backup when rainwater collection proves inadequate.  Water is critical.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

UC Urban Farm 2012 summer update

I visited the UC Urban Farm twice in the summer of 2012.  The first visit in the spring left me wondering if there would be a successful farm... the second visit just this past week convinced me that this was a great summer!  Despite all of the very hot, and very dry weather, the UC Urban Farm has been thriving.  Veggies are growing, the stewards are happy, and looking forward to the autumn harvest.  Its a wonderful blessing to have been able to have helped contribute to the creation of this local, community garden in the Westwood neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Next year will be the fifth year, and I'm left wondering if we should do something 'special' to celebrate?  Five years of a community garden is a milestone, and it would be a shame not to celebrate!  So, perhaps next year the UC Urban Farm blog will be updated a bit more... with some stories of success (and challenges) over the past five years.

Monday, April 30, 2012

In 2012, we started a community garden in Rolla, Missouri

Four years ago, a group of us started five community gardens in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The largest was a one acre plot that we entitled, "The UC Urban Farm!"  Sponsored with funding from the University of Cincinnati, and (loved and) cared for by UC students, staff, and faculty our 'farm' has continued to thrive.  This year, the summer of 2012, marks a landmark for me.  Another team, working in Rolla, Missouri created the Rolla Community Garden.  Again, we have about one acre.  What's improved dramatically is the diversity of our team.  Rather than spread our resources to create five gardens as we did in Cincinnati, the RCG is a joint effort of the City of Rolla, two Universities, and numerous local organizations.  The benefit of this approach is that we have not only created a local garden within a community, but we have also created a local garden that is maintained by the community.  We have approximately 50 small plots (10 ft x 15 ft), and each plot is used by a different individual.  While this has been one of the hottest and driest summers in years... we still managed to have a successful first year.  Details about the RCG and the great work of this diverse team can be followed on the Facebook page (@rollagarden) or on the Wordpress blog (

Monday, July 4, 2011

The UC Urban Farm has a third owner for summer 2011

And it just keeps going, and going, and going year after year! It's very exciting to witness something started in the summer of 2009 continue to the summer of 2011. This project has enjoyed tremendous positive impact on the Westwood Neighborhood!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The UC Urban Farm has a new owner for summer 2010

Check out the blog by Kate Cook who took over the UC Urban Farm as the new owner for summer 2010! She did a great job, and invested a lot of her self in the project!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mild Summer Weather Impacts Yield

The UC urban farm is rolling through the summer making tremendous progress. We've established a routine for caring for the farm and bringing our produce to market at the Green Corner in Pleasant Ridge as well as the Northside Farmers Market. In many ways, we've entered the long haul of the farming process... watering, weeding, tending, and production. Its gratifying to witness such tremendous progress in such a short time. Its been an interesting summer time weather pattern - to say the least. Mild temperatures, overcast skys, and regular rain have dramatically reduced typical farm yields throughout July and into early August. None the less, we are moving ahead with the preparation of autumn crops in our green house. Seedlings have been started, and fields have been prepared for autumn planting. As we transition from the summertime highs of August to the beginnings of autumn in September, the farm will begin the transformation for winter. We've started plans for autumn visits from schools and for farming exhibits for our Westwood neighbors. At this mid point, its fair to say that the City of Cincinnati Urban Farming initiative has been a rousing success, and that the UC urban farm is a pioneering leader in how to move rapidly from an empty field to a productive farm in a period of just a few months. Its said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step... and the farm has taken a very successful first step.