Meet our Gardeners #1: Liz Kramps

This is the first of many interviews talking with the people who garden and who are involved with the Sustainable Renton Community Farm. They are such an amazing group of people that I thought it would be great to get to know them a bit better.

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The first gardener I am featuring is Liz Kramps. She came to farm in July and has managed to make her plot so abundant, that she has been able to contribute to the harvests that go to The Red House twice a week. She has an amazingly mellow and confident demeanor that makes her very easy to talk with and when you do, you find out that she is a wealth of knowledge on various topics of gardening. She has provided the farm and other gardeners with excellent resources and information.

Liz lives in Renton. Here is the interview:

What do you do for a living?
Currently I’m working for a clinical research organization. Not my ideal job, would much rather do something with a bit more soul, but it pays the bills for now.

How long have you been gardening?  
I’ve been gardening for about 10 years to varying degrees.  I started with tomatoes and peppers on my fire escape, to a barrage of containers in a neighbor’s yard, to a community garden plot.  Most of my experience has been on the east coast so there’s been a little learning curve since I moved to WA 2 and a half years ago.  I am enjoying the mild winters and am really excited to grow this winter.

How did you become interested in Sustainable Renton Community Farm? 
I was looking for a space to grow things and in my search found the SRCF.  I was so excited to find such a great space so close to home!!

What do you like most about the SRCF?  I really like that it’s a new space with so much potential and a great mix in it’s knowledge base.

What kinds of things are you growing in your garden? 
Right now I have a LOT of greens, some peppers, eggplant, tomatillos and summer squash.

What is your favorite thing to grow and why?  
The one thing that I grow every year are thai hot peppers, though I’ve found the PNW a little tricky to grow hot peppers in.  I’m thinking of keeping them in a small hoop house all summer next year and/or keeping black plastic over the soil to keep the temps up.  I am most excited to expand my garden and include brassicas and garlic.

Do you employ a particular gardening philosophy? If so, what it is it and why? 
I don’t have a specific philosophy, obviously I employ organic principles.  Beyond that I grow food because I want to know what it is that I am eating.  Over the years I have transitioned to eating probably 85% local and in season, my weaknesses being coffee, sugar and bananas :).  I preserve quite a bit, have a well stocked chest freezer and participate in countless bulk buys to procure food that is locally produced from small farmers.  Overall I know who grows or raises most of my food.  I currently have a small flock of laying hens and have in the past raised meat chickens, which is something I’d like to be able to do again next year.  This year I am raising turkeys for my sister and I for the holidays and have learned that turkeys are super funny and am dreading their impending end.  Though I guess my ‘eating philosophy’ is that if I want to eat it, I should be able to grow/raise it and do all the steps from farm to table.

Interview conducted by Lara Randolph, Sustainable Renton Community Farm Manager.

Winter Gardening Workshop-This Monday!

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I know its last minute, but if growing food in the winter has always sounded interesting but fear and doubt reigned heavier than a sense of adventure, now is the time to spread those proverbial gardening wings and attempt to fly!

Sustainable Renton Community Farm is holding a Winter Gardening Workshop on Monday, September 23rd at 5:30 pm. This workshop will be led by Cascadia Edible Landscapes. These folks are a small, local company located in the Skyway area and are offering winter veggie starts for those that show up. It would be great to have a good turn out for these folks; however, they offer these starts to anyone who contacts them. Their website is www.eatyouryard.com .

Some of the great things that can be grown in this area are most of the brassicas such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Mustards as well as many different greens such as kale, collards, chard and bok choy are also good choices. Many varieties of lettuce, spinach, onions and peas can also be grown. This comes as a relief because these crops are essentially the crops that have a tendency to bolt, with the exception of onions and peas, in the heat of summer. So come and check out Cascadia Edible Landscape’s collection and face those winter gardening fears this year.

Also, if you happened to miss our seed saving workshop with the Urban Food Warrior, Caitlin Moore, you will have another chance to meet her in January with our Plan Your Garden Workshop-details to come within the next month.

Also, there are four plots being used for pumpkin and squash beds, those plots will be coming available for new gardeners in the next months following the harvests. The price for a garden plot is $50 for a 12 month period.

There are already two people on the waiting list, so if you are interested, please contact Lara Randolph at larar35@comcast.net or Elizabeth Zwicker at linguisticnurse@gmail.com or Sustainable Renton at sustainablerenton@gmail.com

Happy gardening!

Harvest Mayhem Reflections

993400_517160645056954_1718555665_nThis past Sunday, September 15th, was our first ever Harvest Mayhem potluck/fundraiser celebration. Planned to be held outside at the Sustainable Renton Community Farm in NE Renton, the event was intended to highlight the bountiful harvest of the farm, to raise funds for Sustainable Renton, and to enjoy a community celebration outdoors. Well, the weather had other plans for our day. Starting with gloomy, ominous skies, and quickly turning to a rainy downpour featuring thunder & lightning, we were forced to either cancel the event in progress or quickly come up with a backup plan.

Fortunately, we are surrounded by many generous, flexible people. Celebration Foursquare Church, whose land the community farm sits on, graciously offered to open the doors to their portable building. And our musicians, Ron Stillwell and Callista Salazar, were very patient in their willingness to wait out the storm and to move inside. And then, in the process of moving tables, food, equipment, etc. indoors, all of the attendees who came out for the event stayed with us throughout this whole process. We are very lucky to be a part of this community.

1236070_517160968390255_922981176_nThe event itself consisted of a raffle, live music, a potluck, and garden tours. Our raffle featured homemade gift baskets (with items like pickles, jam, beets, and many other tasty creations), gift certificates ($50 from both Blossom Vegetarian and Red House, $20 from Torero’s, $25 from Liberty Cafe), and 1-1/2 hours of electrical work from Steve Randolph.

579658_517160801723605_521994230_nLive music was provided by Callista Salazar and Ron Stilwell. Callista is an emerging artist who played her owned compositions.

1236680_517161441723541_452374713_nRon, who has been performing for years, played a mix of some classics and newer material. Both performers helped to brighten the day, and were very warmly received. Steve Melle generously donated his sound equipment for the event.

The potluck was a definite hit-so many delicious appetizers, soups, snacks, and desserts. All were enjoyed with gusto by everyone in attendance. Many of the dishes featured in season, locally grown produce.

Before the weather sidetracked things, many attendees were able to wander the grounds of the farm to see the wide variety of flora that have been growing there this season. Some of the bounty included: amaranth (a deep, dark, gorgeous shade of red), red chili peppers, sunflowers, massive pumpkins, kale, chard, broccoli, turnips, radishes, and so much more.

While we certainly would have had higher attendance with better weather, we were still able to raise just under $100 from our raffle. Thank you to all who purchased tickets and donated items to the raffle, and to everyone who came out to celebrate with us. New friends were made, and community was strengthened.

We look forward to doing it all again next year (although we’ll probably aim for August for better weather prospects). Thank you!

Harvest Mayhem! & More Sept/Oct Happenings

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Now that Summer is passing, and Fall is approaching, Sustainable Renton is really kicking into high gear with the harvest season in full swing. We have a number of workshops, meetings, and events over the next couple of months that we’d love to share with you. We’ll be having our largest event ever this Sunday, September 15th-Harvest Mayhem. Read all about it and our many other events below. We look forward to welcoming you!

All events listed are held either at our office or the community farm.

Sustainable Renton office: 970 Harrington Ave NE, Renton WA, 98056

Sustainable Renton Community Farm: 11840 148th Ave NE, Renton WA, 98059

Events

Sun, Sept 15 – Harvest Mayhem. Location: Community Farm. 4-7pm. This is a fundraiser and community potluck event, complete with gardeners and their beautiful friends and families. Entertainment includes live music with local musicians Ron Stilwell and Callista Salazar, and a raffle for items like baskets of preserves, pickles, and coupons to local businesses! This is a community potluck-please bring something yummy to share. A bonfire with s’mores will round out the evening. Come tour the farm, meet the board members and participating gardeners, play in the sand box, eat, and be merry! All funds raised will support Sustainable Renton and the Community Farm.

Fri, Sept 27 – Meaningful Movies: Occupy Love. Location: Office. 7pm. We will be watching the film ‘Occupy Love’. This film follows the Occupy movement over a year’s period of time and shows the lasting effect this movement has had and continues to have on political and social life. This event is FREE but donations are greatly needed and appreciated.

Workshops

1009839_509327289173623_962192451_nFri, Sept 13 (TONIGHT!) – Seed Saving Workshop w/ the Urban Food Warrior, Caitlin Moore. Location: Community Farm. 6pm. Have you ever wondered what this seed saving business is all about? Caitlin Moore, founder of the Olympia Seed Exchange, will teach some basic seed saving skills to get you started saving seed in your garden or farm. She will cover basic terminology, techniques, and some in-field how-to’s in this two hour workshop. There will be a $5 fee for this workshop. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Thurs, Oct 3 – Soap Making Workshop w/Sustainable Renton Community Farm Manager, Lara Randolph. Location: Office. 7pm. We will make a vegetable base soap. Everyone will leave with a bar of soap to take home and enjoy. There is a $5 supplies fee paid at the time of event. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Date TBD – Winter Gardening Workshop w/ Cascadia Edible Landscapes. Location: Community Farm.

Meetings

Wed, Oct 2 – Renton Food Co-op Steering Committee. 6:30: potluck; 7pm: meeting. Come and get involved in helping to plan and pursue bringing a locally owned and operated food co-op to Renton. Your energy and ideas are needed!

Thurs, Oct 10 – Sustainable Renton Board. 7pm. Our monthly board meeting to oversee the operations, management, and happenings of Sustainable Renton. We are always open to new input, and have space available for additional board members if you are interested.

Of course, you can follow us and our different projects over on Facebook. Click any of the following links to ‘like’ our various pages.

Sustainable Renton

Renton Food Co-op

Sustainable Renton Community Farm

Meaningful Movies of Renton

Harvesting community.

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Wow. This has been such a busy time of year and especially busy at the farm. Cucumbers, beans and zucchini coming out of our ears with tomatoes hot on their tails, we have been given so much abundance that it is impossible not to stop and absolutely marvel at the gifts that this earth gives and gives and gives.

The farm is such a wonderful place to see what we can have if only we work together. It is a magical place of community and democracy. Everyone is heard and no one is denied. There aren’t any economic chasms or religious strife. There is no anxiety about the future, only pure enjoyment in the present, and a teaching that we are connected to everything and everyone. We are not isolates. We all play an integral part in the fabric of existence and we all have a duty to one another. That duty is to be conscious-to make ourselves available for connection to one another. How easy it is these days to whirl around in a fog of anxiety, feeling alone while we are desperate to find connection on social websites, having opinions about things, but taking no action towards changing the cause of our anxiety.

The farm is a place where action can be taken to build a sustainable space for all to enjoy. I say this as someone who feels anxiety from time to time about the future of things, followed quickly by a sense of powerlessness, but at the farm there is a sense of empowerment, a place where actions make a difference, a place where community gathers to work towards a common goal. It is a place that has a core value that is worthy of exploration.

That being said, it is time to plant for a winter garden. One of the benefits of having space at the farm is that we garden year round, which makes it great for planting perennials like asparagus, garlic and berries.

We are planning on expanding for next Spring, so if you are interested in reserving a space please let us know as soon as possible and come and help create that space on Sundays at 4 pm.

Organically yours,

Lara Randolph, Farm Manager

larar35@comcast.net

sustainablerenton@gmail.com