Meet our Gardeners #3: Laura Sweany

Hello readers! Here is the next installment of getting to know the gardeners up at Sustainable Renton Community Farm. Laura has been an amazing resource throughout our process of getting the gardens at the farm started. She is a wealth of knowledge on so many topics of sustainability. She led our first official workshop at the farm site, and has been utilized countless times for consultation throughout this first growing season. We are blessed to have her presence.

headshotName: Laura Sweany

City of residence: Skyway

What do you do for a living? Urban Agriculture

How long have you been gardening? 20 years

How did you become interested in Sustainable Renton Community Farm? I have been an active member of Sustainable West Seattle and was delighted to find a local SCALLOPS group in my area.

What do you like most about the SRCF? The soil is AMAZING. Even weeding is a joy when you have such pristine soil to play in.

What kinds of things are you growing in your garden? The hot-weather plants I included are going strong this year: jalapeno, banana and green bell peppers, cucumbers (so many cukes!), radishes (especially the seed pods), dill, chives, cilantro/coriander, epazote, chamomile for tea, yellow and Italian zucchini, cabbages, collards, scarlet runner beans (when the deer don’t beat me to them), onions and tomatoes. Not many tomatoes. Late blight got almost my entire crop – I lost about 120# of tomatoes. But I harvested 40# of tomatillos, so that makes up for it a little.

What is your favorite thing to grow and why? That’s like asking “which of your children do you love the most”. Impossible to answer. Japanese cucumbers are fun – they yield over a long period and do well in cooler weather. This year they didn’t even really start bearing till it got cooler – early September. The jalapenos were a huge surprise this year – I got two BIG bowls full off of 6 plants. The collards keep trying to take over the world – that’s a lot of fun to see, too.

Do you employ a particular gardening philosophy? If so, what it is it and why? I grow using the principle of polyculture – many things growing together. No rigid rows or single-crop straight lines. So I have edibles, ornamentals, tea plants and herbs all in a riot of production. It confuses pests and minimizes disease, except in my monoculture of tomatoes. Once again, the hazards of monoculture become apparent, even in the small scale of our community garden. If you have one diseased plant, it easily becomes MANY diseased plants.

There is a waiting list forming for the next season of growing. Please contact:

Lara Randolph/Farm Manager

Larar35@comcast.net

or

sustainablerenton@gmail.com

 

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Sustainable Renton

Sustainable Renton is fostering a healthier community and planet.

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