Notes from the Farm: Fall Work is Underway

PrintHappy September!

Fall is nearly here and you can almost feel the leaves beginning to change their colors. The foliage should be particularly remarkable this year given how much rain the Nashville area received this summer.

Things at the Farm are moving right along. Our summer crops are almost done producing, so we have been busy harvesting all the peppers, tomatoes, beans, and corn that we can before planting our fall crops and preparing for the winter. Most of the Farm will be in cover this fall and winter, which means that instead of primarily growing food, we will grow plants that help rebuild and protect our soil. However, we will still grow some food in one section of the Farm. This area will be dedicated to growing root crops (such as carrots, beets, and radishes) and greens (like spinach, kale, and lettuce.)

watermelons

Farm visitors show off some delicious watermelons!

As far as programming out at the Farm, last week marked the beginning of our fall curriculum program. Over the next ten weeks, we’ll host groups of students a few times each week to teach them lessons on nutrition and gardening. This curriculum builds off the very successful Crop City programming we did over the summer and is a similar model.

Finally, we’re excited to announce that the greenway has been installed. We sincerely hope that visitors to the Farm and nearby neighbors will use this beautiful path often. Just be sure to say hello when you do!

That does it for now. Have a wonderful start to Fall and as always, feel free to email me with any questions about HON’s Urban Farm.

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JC3Josh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues. An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.

Notes from the Farm: Wrapping up Summer and Prepping for Fall

It’s hard to believe that August is here already. The summer sure has flown by this year!

It was a busy summer at the HON Urban Farm!

It was a busy summer at the HON Urban Farm!

The summer months yielded an impressive amount of produce this year, and we’ve been busy harvesting bushels and bushels of peppers, tomatoes, corn, and cucumbers for the past few weeks. Of course, all of the produce we harvest at the Urban Farm will be donated to Hands On Nashville’s nonprofit partners throughout Middle Tennessee.

I hope that you and your families were able to enjoy a break from school and work at some point over the summer. As most of you probably know, children in the Metro Nashville Public School system returned to classes on August 1. Given the early start date this year, all of our summer programming finished up at the end of July.

Out at the Farm, we are beginning to focus on our plans for this fall. But before we jump into that, I want to take a moment to share some of our many successes from this summer with you!

June2013Campers

Crop City campers learning about nutrition and healthy eating.

As I have reported over the course of the last few updates, we hosted a five-week nutrition curriculum at the Farm this summer called Crop City. We had close to 900 children come out to participate in the Crop City program this year and it was a huge success, thanks in large part to our outstanding team of Urban Farm Apprentices. These 15 high school students did an amazing job leading Crop City participants this summer and we hope that some of them will come back next year.

In the meantime, we are very lucky to have three of those Apprentices participating in our 2013-2014 Fellowship Program! They will join seven other high school students to implement service projects at nonprofits across the city throughout the school year. All ten Fellows are introduced in our most recent Farm blogpost.

That pretty much covers it from here! Have a wonderful August and, as always, feel free to send me an email if you have any questions or concerns.

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Our wonderful Urban Farm 2013 team takes a break to pose for a group shot.

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Headshots 42 colorJosh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues. An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.

Introducing the 2013-2014 Urban Agriculture Fellows

This unique service-learning opportunity places ten awesome high school students at nonprofit gardens across Nashville. After a highly competitive application process, ten outstanding teens were selected to serve as the Urban Agriculture Fellows of 2013. Without further ado, here are our new Fellows!
akhila_fellowAkhila Ashakan is a junior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School. She enjoys volunteering and helping out in her community. Her passion is writing. She looks forward to working at Hands On Nashville this year.
alexAlex Benick is a senior at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School. He enjoys writing and playing music in bands around Nashville as well as reading casually in his leisure time. On most days you can find him sitting in Fido drinking Chai Lattes.
Carson_fellow_2013Carson Thomas is a junior at the University School of Nashville. She interned over the summer at HON’s Urban Farm, leads USN’s environmental club, and is a member of USN’s Student Sustainability Initiative. In addition to writing and listening to music, Carson also enjoys long walks on the beach.
Emma_fellow_2013Emma Fischer is a junior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School. She enjoys gardening, carpentry, writing and spending time with friends. She spent the past summer as an Apprentice at the Urban Farm, while working lights at the Nashville Children’s Theater. Go Royals!
emily_fellowEmily Kerinuk is a senior at Father Ryan High School. She is the new captain of the Irish bowling team and spent the month of June at Tennessee’s Governors School for the Humanities. Her favorite animal is the sea turtle and she loves hiking.
katherine_fellow_2013Katherine Knowles is a senior at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School and is an event organizer for her Environmental Action Club. She is passionate about music, cooking, books, nature, and helping others. Katherine aspires to be a sustainable systems designer on a city-scale.
maddyMaddy Underwood is a junior at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School. She regularly visits The Nashville Farmers Market and is part of a community supported agriculture program. She loves to volunteer and is eager to use her love of design and interest in urban renewal to help out the community.
Sara_FellowSara Shaghaghi is a senior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School and was a fellow in the Urban Agriculture Spring Fellowship. She enjoys volunteering and helping others. Sara hopes to one day open an urban farm in a community in Costa Rica in order to give back to the environment and she cannot wait to work with Hands On Nashville this year.
shu_fellowShu Zhang is currently a senior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School. She loves to read and make crafts, and she is curious about how she can help the community. Shu hopes to own a chicken and a dog one day.
simonSimon Cooper is excited to be starting his sophomore year at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School. He is also ecstatic to be participating in HON’s Urban Agriculture fellowship this year. Simon loves to learn new things and stay as busy as possible, and his interests include swimming, current events, and architecture.

Crop City: Local Chefs Visit the Farm!

With the 2013 Crop City program winding down here in its final week, campers were treated to a very special visit at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm yesterday!

Local chefs Tony Galzin and Jo Ellen Brown stopped by and spent the morning whipping up a pair of delicious summer dishes for campers to enjoy. The demonstrations, part of Crop City’s unique farm-to-table curriculum, gave dozens of youth a first-hand look at how easy it is to create dishes that are not only delicious, but healthy as well.

Chef Tony’s squash salad and Chef Jo Ellen’s fruit dip were such a huge hit yesterday that we thought it would be a great idea to share the recipes with you.  Give one or both of these outstanding recipes a try in your own kitchen!

Chef Tony Galzin puts the finishing touches on his summer squash salad.

Chef Tony Galzin puts the finishing touches on his summer squash salad.

Summer Squash Salad

2 medium summer squash
1 bell pepper
6 cherry tomatoes
1 lime
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Cayenne pepper

–Wash all vegetables.
–Cut squash into 1/4 inch slices.
–Microwave in a plastic container with a little water for 2 minutes.
–Check to see if the squash is tender. If it’s not, microwave until cooked.
–Strain out water and put the squash in a bowl.
–Cut the pepper in half. Remove the seeds, and cut into small dice. Add to the squash.
–Cut the tomatoes into quarters and add to the rest of the vegetables.
–Cut the lime into quarters and squeeze the juice over the vegetables. Add the olive oil and mix.
–Season with salt, pepper, and a small amount of cayenne, and mix.

Yogurt Almond Fruit Dip

Chef Jo Ellen Brown slices apples for her yogurt almond dip.

Chef Jo Ellen Brown slices apples for her yogurt almond dip.

1 cup of Greek or plain yogurt
1/2 cup of peanut butter or almond butter
2-3 Tablespoons of honey
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

–Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk until the dip has a consistent color and texture. Serve with sliced apples.

Many thanks to both chefs for donating their time and expertise to help Nashville-area youth eat smarter and healthier!

Notes from the Farm: Summertime Activity in Full Swing

By Josh Corlew, Hands On Nashville Urban Agriculture Program Manager

garlic4

Crop City participants show off some of the recently-harvested garlic

Welcome to summer!

We hope all of you had a wonderful Fourth of July holiday in the company of good friends, loving family, and (of course) delicious food!

Out at the Farm, these long summer days and warm summer nights are translating into a big growth spurt for many of our crops. Plenty of garlic has already been pulled, the tomatoes and peppers will provide a steady harvest for the next month and a half, our sunflowers are beaming, and the bush beans are taking off like wildfire.

There have also been some pretty significant changes made on the grounds of the Urban Farm over the course of the past month or so as well. Most notably, we have completed installation of the Butterfly Garden between our vegetable fields. This beautiful space will provide a great habitat for all of the beneficial insects that help make our vegetables healthy and happy. We encourage visitors to come enjoy the view of the new garden from one of the nearby swing sets!

Apprentices lead Crop City participants through a brainstorming game.

Apprentices lead Crop City participants through a brainstorming game.

As we mentioned in our last update, the summer youth development program Crop City is in full swing and will continue to take place every weekday until July 19. Over 200 youth come out to the Farm every week to participate in Crop City and learn about sustainable growing and the importance of healthy eating.

Overseeing all of this activity and leading the programming for Crop City is our talented team of 15 Urban Farm Apprentices. Our Apprentices have been doing an amazing job running the program and engaging Crop City campers while also gaining valuable leadership skills, and the program certainly would not be the success that it is without them!

Click here to learn more about each of these outstanding high school students who are making a real difference this summer.

Sifting compost is just one of many activities planned for the upcoming Urban Farm Summer Camp.

Sifting compost is just one of many activities planned for the upcoming Urban Farm Summer Camp.

Finally, we will be offering an Urban Farm Summer Camp program from July 22 to July 26 for 9- to 13-year old boys and girls. This curriculum for this camp will be very similar to that of Crop City, and it will also be led by our Apprentices. Participants will be immersed in an experienced-based learning environment full of delicious vegetables, colorful flowers, and a variety of fun and educational games. We’d love to have you join us for this fun and educational experience so click here to learn more and sign up!

And of course, if you have any other questions about the Urban Farm, please email me at josh@hon.org. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more Farm updates throughout the growing season!

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josh2Josh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues. An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.

Meet our Awesome Urban Farm Apprentices!

We are so excited to introduce our truly amazing 2013 Urban Farm Apprentices, who have been training and working diligently to make the future of our communities brighter, one step at a time. All 15 Apprentices have gone through a rigorous application and interview process and weeks of training to become the rock stars they are today. 

This summer, HON Urban Farm Apprentices will lead groups of up to 60 of their peers through a curriculum built around agriculture, the food system, and healthy eating at our Youth Summer Camp and Crop City programs, both held at the fabulous Hands On Nashville Urban Farm.

Without any further ado, read on to learn more about each of these awesome young people!

2013 Urban Farm Apprentices (in alphabetic order):

GA2013-AminaAmina is a rising sophomore at McGavock High School. She loves food and enjoys being around others. She also loves being in the outdoors and is good at helping people.
GA2013-CarsonCarson is a rising junior at University School of Nashville. She is a scholastic-winning author and budding environmentalist.
GA2013-ChloeChloe is a rising senior at MLK. She loves listening to music and also enjoys ballet and meeting new people.
GA2013-DanielDaniel is a rising senior at MLK. He enjoys backpacking and whitewater rafting. He is interested in pursuing a degree in agriculture business.
GA2013-EmilyEmily attends Hume-Fogg High School, where she is a member of the GSA and the Fighting Disease Club. She served as co-captain of her school’s swim team and she enjoys making art.
GA2013-EmmaEmma is a rising junior at MLK. She is an avid gardener, aspiring writer, and LGBT rights activist.
GA2013-FarhiyaFarhiya is a rising sophomore at Hillwood High School. She enjoys reading books and getting to know new people.
GA2013-HaydenHayden is a rising senior atHume-Fogg. He loves running and juggling and is excited to work at the Urban Farm this summer. Hayden enjoys working outside and hanging out with other kids.
GA2013-JazminJazmin just graduated from Glencliff High School. She wants to do nonprofit and leadership work, and loves to volunteer.

GA2013-KatherineKatherine is a senior at Hume-Fogg Academic and is an event organizer for her Environmental Action Club. She is passionate about music, cooking, books, nature, and helping others. Katherine aspires to be a sustainable systems designer on a city-scale.

GA2013-LydiaLydea is a sophomore at Nashville School of the Arts, where she enjoys playing the cello and going to English class. Her favorite hobbies include reading books and ‘fangirling’ over Benedict Cumberbatch (go Sherlock!).

GA2013- MariaMaria attends Glencliff High School and is a rising senior. She is passionate about helping others and aspires to become a pediatrician. She also loves soccer and watermelon!

GA2013-NancyNancy is a rising sophomore at MLK. She enjoys playing soccer and volleyball in the summer with her church. She also plays ping-pong and has played the piano and clarinet. Nancy enjoys volunteering and reading books in her free time.

GA2013-RachelRachel is a rising senior at Nashville School of the Arts. She enjoys painting and is president of the National Art Honors Society. She loves to work out and stay healthy while maintaining a positive attitude and encouraging others.
GA2013-TerrellTerrell is a rising senior at Glencliff and describes himself as an Afrocentrist. He is plenty of things, one of which is an athlete. He runs or bikes to the Urban Farm every day.

Notes from the Farm: Summer Camp Feeds Hungry Young Minds

By Josh Corlew, Hands On Nashville Urban Agriculture Program Manager

Sunflowers last summer were beautiful – about to flower again!

For the past few weeks, the Urban Farm has been thriving with activity. The mild spring weather and mix of sun and rain has made the fields so happy — the garlic is ready to harvest, the tomatoes and peppers are beginning to set fruit, and the sunflowers should be opening their heads in just a few weeks. With our second full growing (and teaching!) season underway, we can’t believe how much has been accomplished in the last year thanks to the community’s support!

Along with all of the anticipation around growth and renewal on the Farm comes the excitement of our second year of Hands On Nashville’s summer youth development program called Crop City. This farm-to-table, curriculum-based camp engages 400 young people in fun learning activities around healthy eating, nutrition, and connecting them to where food comes from — the ground! Most of the participating children are from neighborhoods with limited access to fresh produce. Through Crop City, the youth get a chance to learn from one another, play a role in growing the vegetables at the Farm, and learn about making healthy food choices. During the final week of the program, chefs from local Nashville restaurants will visit the youth on the Farm and show them how to prepare simple recipes using the healthy produce they’ve helped to grow. (Special thanks to Chef Tony Galzin of Flyte World Dining and Wine, and Caroline Galzin of Rumours Wine Bar, for their support in this effort!)

Crop City participants playing an ice breaker game, Giants, Wizards, and Dragons!

Crop City campers this week playing an ice breaker game – Giants, Wizards, and Dragons!

We were inspired by the results of last summer’s program at the Urban Farm: participants were able to recognize more vegetables than they had at the start of the program, and more than 75% said they were trying to make healthier food choices as a result of their experience. We are working toward even bigger and better outcomes in 2013, and can’t wait to share them with you!

Hands On Nashville Urban Farm Apprentices during their training last week doing a team-building exercise.

Hands On Nashville Urban Farm Apprentices during their training last week doing a team-building exercise.

 

One of the coolest aspects of Crop City is that the curriculum is lead by the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm Apprentices. Selected through a competitive application and interview process, these amazing teenagers are leading all of the Crop City activities under our guidance. We’ll be introducing the 15 Apprentices via this blog soon, so stay tuned! (They are one incredibly talented group of high school students.)

Chef_Galzin1small

Last summer, Chef Tony Galzin (Flyte World Dining & Wine) demonstrated how to make a tasty, healthy salad using the veggies the campers helped grow. We are excited to have Chef Galzin back again this year for the cooking workshop in July!

The community continues to be very supportive of our efforts at the Farm. We have enjoyed working with several corporate volunteer groups over the past few weeks on infrastructure improvement projects at the Farm. Special thanks to Starbucks, Ford, Cummins, and Deloitte for their hard work and support.

If you’re looking to get involved with the Urban Farm, there are two ways to support our efforts:

1) Volunteer! During the summer, our public volunteer opportunities are a little more limited, since we have so many young helping hands. But we do have weekly early-morning composting projects, and we’d love to have you join us (a perfect way to make an impact but beat the heat!).
> Click here to sign up. 

2) Support our Urban Agriculture Program with a monetary gift.
> You can make a donation here. 
Be sure to type “Urban Agriculture Program” in the “description” field.

Planting sweet potatoes. These turn into vines with beautiful purple flowers (and the sweet potatoes are so fun to dig up once they're ready!)

Planting sweet potatoes. These turn into vines with purple flowers (and the sweet potatoes are so fun to dig up once they’re ready!)

If you have questions about the Urban Farm, please email me at josh@hon.org. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more Farm updates throughout the growing season!

 

 

 

 

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Josh demonstrates how to plant spinach at the Urban Farm.

Josh demonstrates how to plant spinach at the Urban Farm this spring.

Josh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues. An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.

Sycamore Pop Up Dinner

Chef Galzin, his wife Caroline, and Jackalope Brewmaster Bailey at the last pop-up dinner in November.

Chef Galzin, his wife Caroline, and Jackalope Brewmaster Bailey at the last pop-up dinner in November.

Sycamore Pop Up Dinner
Sunday, January 27
Cafe Fundamental, 1115 Porter Road
$70 per person (includes four courses with cocktail pairings)

On January 27, Sycamore Nashville is hosting yet another pop-up dinner benefiting the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm. This is the second in a series of several pop-up dinners both Chef Galzin and his wife Caroline have initiated since moving to Nashville in July. (Also, right after moving to town, Chef Galzin spent a day at the Farm teaching youth how to make a healthy dish from the veggies they helped to grow.)

As they make plans for their first restaurant together, the Galzins have caused

Wine-braised Pork Sugo with house made pasta from November's dinner. YUM! We can't wait to see what's served this round.

Wine-braised Pork Sugo with house made pasta from November’s dinner. YUM! We can’t wait to see what’s served this round.

quite a pop-up craze. Their innovative approach not only educates the Nashville community on sustainable practices, but also brings together resources that benefit the local community in a unique way. At their last dinner, Chef Galzin used a whole hog from Phillips Pharm in Davidson County, while carefully explaining his process of using the entire pig to prepare the meal. He reflected on the beauty of food, the culinary responsibility we all have, and the work that we do to support the farming communities here locally. The beer pairings added some laid-back spunk to the dinner, too. Did we mention that proceeds from this dinner were donated to the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm? Philanthropy is a key goal and something they’d like to keep integral in their planning as they prepare for a future restaurant. (Now you know why we love them so much!)

The first course from November's dinner at Jackalope featured Rillette, City Ham and Pate. Pure deliciousness.

The first course from November’s dinner at Jackalope featured Rillette, City Ham and Pate. Pure deliciousness.

If you weren’t able to attend their last night of deliciousness, you best get your tickets for January’s event happening at Cafe Fundamental, with proceeds again benefiting the HON Urban Farm. This month’s special will feature four-course meals using two whole lambs from Philips Pharm and special craft cocktails from PourTaste mixologists Jon and Lindsay Yeager. Tickets are $70 per person – and are about to sell out. Click here and purchase yours today. See you at the table!

Introducing the 2013 Urban Agriculture Fellows

By Alison Duncan, HON Urban Agriculture Program VISTA

The whole group poses for the camera. From left to right:

The whole group poses for the camera. From left to right: Sara Shaghaghi, Lydea Adkins, Daniel Pannock, Chloe Vaccaro, Michael Ding, Janie Liu, Audaris Blades, Rachel West, Nick Dietrich, Natalie Beck, Josh Corlew, and me (Alison Duncan).

It may still be cold outside, but the Hands On Nashville Urban Agriculture Program is already heating up with the launch of our newest program: the Urban Agriculture Fellowship! This unique service-learning opportunity places ten high school students at nonprofit gardens across Nashville.

After a highly competitive application process last fall, ten outstanding young people were selected to serve as the inaugural class of Urban Agriculture Fellows. These inspiring students have already proven themselves to be real rock stars, having completed an intense two-day training session over the winter break. Throughout the spring, they will attend monthly workshops here at HON that will help them acquire the project development, volunteer management, public speaking, and organizational skills needed to become effective community leaders. Without further ado, I am very excited to introduce you to the Fellows:

The fellows get to know each other on the first day of training.

The fellows get to know each other on the first day of training.

Audaris Blades – A senior at Glencliff High School, Audaris is actively involved in a number of service clubs at his school. He is also an athlete, playing on both the tennis and baseball teams at Glencliff. His fellowship project will be at the HON Urban Farm.

Chloe Vaccaro – Chloe is a junior at MLK Magnet High School. She is captain of her school softball team and participated in the Urban Farm Apprenticeship program this past summer. Chloe will be at Good Food for Good People for her fellowship project.

Daniel Pannock – Daniel is a junior at University School of Nashville. He has recently cultivated an interest in gardening through his work at the Outdoor Academy and as a member of USN’s Environmental Club. Daniel will be working at the Perk Garden.

Janie Liu – A junior at MLK Magnet High School, Janie is passionate about the environmental impacts of our food system. She swims on the MLK swim team and has a small garden at home. She will be working at the Martha O’Bryan Center.

Lydea Adkins – Lydea is a freshman at Nashville School of the Arts. She is very involved in the Harvest Hands WOW soap program and is an avid reader. Additionally, she is the oldest of seven siblings, which keeps her pretty busy. Lydea will be working at Good Food for Good People.

Michael Ding – A junior at MLK Magnet High School, Michael is a committed environmentalist. He is a core member of his school’s Green Club and is a coalition ambassador for Tennyen, a youth-led environmental group. Michael will be working at the Perk Garden.

Natalie Beck – Natalie is a junior at Brentwood High School, where she is a Student Council member. She is an artist, and often integrates her talents into whatever projects she is working on. Natalie’s fellowship placement is at the BELL Garden.

Nick Dietrich – Nick is a senior at MLK Magnet High School. He enjoys nature and being outdoors, and is interested in learning more about agriculture as a possible career path. Nick will be working at the HON Urban Farm.

Rachel West –A junior at Brentwood High School, Rachel plays a variety of sports, including lacrosse and cross country. She is interested in starting her own nonprofit, and has worked in gardens in the past. Rachel’s fellowship placement is the Martha O’Bryan Center.

Sara Shaghaghi – Sara is a junior at MLK Magnet High School, where she is a key member of her school’s swim team. She is currently pursuing her Gold Award in the Girl Scouts. Sara will be working at The BELL Garden for her fellowship project.

Stay tuned for updates on the good work these high school students will be doing this spring, including how you can get involved and support their service project.


Alison

Alison is a born and bred Tar Heel, having lived in North Carolina for most of her life. She serves as HON’s Urban Agriculture Program VISTA and oversees youth programming at the Urban Farm.  Alison can tie her shoes in 2 seconds flat.

 

Notes from the Farm: Welcoming fall, swings, & students

By Josh Corlew, HON Urban Agriculture Program Manager -

It was an amazing first summer at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm! We harvested 600+ pounds of vegetables and had more than 2,000 volunteers pitch in to transform these five empty lots of flood plain into food producing space where much learning,discovery, and outdoor fun has taken place.

The Farm during peak summer harvest.

Thank you to everyone who has given their time, energy, support, and enthusiasm to make this a successful first year for the Farm! Your volunteerism makes it possible for us to grow healthy food that is donated to nonprofits that serve families in need.

But summer is over, and fall is in the air (and the ground as well). The summer crops of squash, cucumbers, beans, corn, and watermelon are gone. The tomatoes and peppers are nearing the end of their productivity. Our newly leafed out trees are beginning their hibernation process.

Fall, however, brings its own excitement. The change of the weather is invigorating, both to our volunteers who are eager to get warmed up by getting to work, as well as some of our fall crops. We have lots of herbs and flowers that are loving the cooler weather, and our kale has been pruned back and is really enjoying the reprieve from pesky bugs that this time of year brings.

Spinach seedlings pop their heads out of the soil.

We’ve also recently planted quite a bit of spinach and lettuce in some of the garden rows where squash, corn, and beans used to thrive. Now they’re just starting to pop up and leaf out. If all goes well, we’ll be in for a lot of spinach through the winter. We’ve also begun work on the new garden plot, preparing it for a very productive spring by starting some cover crops (these will fill the soil with beneficial nutrients). Next spring we plan on doubling the amount of growing space that we had this year.

Kids from Head Middle Magnet and West End Middle spent part of their fall intercession time at the Farm on Monday.

Fall also means school is back in session. This week we’ve had some great groups of Metro Nashville Public Schools students who volunteered at the Farm as part of their fall intercession and our Hands On Fall Break volunteer opportunities with the HON VolunTEEN Program. In addition to helping turn compost and harvest vegetables, the kids learned how compost works (it gets up to 160 degrees!), why drinks full of sugar aren’t good for our bodies, and how to choose healthier alternatives. A seventh grader named Ricky said he wished he could come to the Farm every day… maybe we have a future farmer in our midst!

VolunTEEN volunteers harvested all these sweet potatoes today!!

We got this awesome thank-you card from the West End Middle students!

If you’ve been by the Farm in a few weeks, you probably noticed our amazing new swings. We were very fortunate to have employees from Molex volunteered last month to make the swings and create some new compost bins. Their enthusiastic volunteerism will help make the farm more productive and enjoyable. The swings are made from beautiful cedar wood, and next spring we’ll have food vines growing up the trellised sides, adding to the food grown at the Farm. We have great hopes for those swings being covered in grapes, muscadines, kiwis, blackberries, raspberries, and all manner of other tasty treats.

Also, we were honored to be featured in Nashville Public Television’s Volunteer Gardener show, which aired this week. Check it out below!

I hope you’ll come down and enjoy the space sometime soon, and if you’d like to volunteer with us this fall, check out our volunteer opportunities here!


Josh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues.
An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.