Community Farm Expansion-New plots available!

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Hey everyone! We have officially expanded Sustainable Renton Community Farm! We have 10 new plots available for gardening in this season. We offer a 10’x20’ plot for just $50. This price is good for a 12 month period, so if you want to plant perennials, or try your hand at winter gardening-now is the time. The soil is great and the people are amazing.  The farm is located at 11840 148th Ave NE Renton 98059 (behind Celebration Church). Feel free to stop by the garden any time and have a look around. If you are interested in gardening with us you can get a hold of us at sustainablerenton@gmail.com and we will get you started right away! Get empowered, grow your own!

See you at the farm!

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

 

Fermentation!

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One of the many benefits of a community garden is…community! The most interesting people can become friends, and relationships that help facilitate learning and growth can enter into the everyday things that make life wonderfully abundant.

An example of this is: the other day, when I was visiting one of my new found friends, she suggested that we try one of her pickles from a jar she had been fermenting on her kitchen counter for a couple of days. Now, I have been curious about fermentation, and tried my hand with some kefir curds but those soon became so plentiful I had to stop for lack of people to share them with. Anyone who has harvested kefir curds knows this dilemma. I have also heard about the digestive benefits of fermented foods for years, but the only thing that came to mind was Kim Chi, which was not at all interesting to me-so I  just never investigated any further than that.

But, I had tried this friend’s fermented string beans a few months back, and enjoyed it, so I thought it would be safe and possibly satisfying. Lo and behold the fermented cucumber I tried was the single best pickle I have ever eaten in my life! It was unmistakably a dill pickle, but it had a flavor that rocketed beyond mere dill. Being a novice at spice experimentation I wasn’t sure what was in the brine, but my palette had never been happier.

Needless to say I got the recipe, and have a jar fermenting on my counter as we speak. If this works for me I will have an answer to the many cucumbers that are waiting for my attention.

A word about fermentation and its history: Fermenting happens naturally and pre-dates humanity, however humans took control of the fermentation process and have been using this method from as far back as 7000 BCE . In short, fermentation is the process of converting carbohydrates or sugars into alcohols and carbon dioxides using yeasts and/or bacteria under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions.

This process is employed in the making of wine and beer, or for foods like yogurt and sauerkraut. The science of fermentation is known as zymology. Fermentation is also what happens during the pickling process however, with the common techniques of canning the fermentation process is ceased when the jars are boiled and sealed. With straight fermentation the process is halted when the jar is places below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The jars are not subjected to heat or pressure, which allows the lactobacilli to remain in tact and give our digestive systems the some of the healthy enzymes it needs to function properly.

I am sharing my friend’s recipe with you, I am sure you can use whatever spices you like.

A note of caution: there is always a risk of botulism with the consumption of canned foods, so take care to not use plastic containers when making fermented foods and follow all directions carefully. Glass canning jars are nice and greatly reduce the risk of illness.

Fermented Cucumber Pickles

1 t. coriander seeds

 ½ t. ground black pepper

1 t. yellow mustard seeds

1 t. dill seeds

1 t. caraway seeds

1 t. celery seeds

9 cloves fresh garlic

6 dry bay leaves

6 T. Kosher salt

1/2 t. dried red pepper flakes

Dry dill heads & stalks

Take 1 quart boiling water; add salt & dissolve. Place 2 bay leaves, 3 garlic cloves & cucumbers in quart jars. Add 1 1/3 c. salted water to each of 3 quart jars, add 1/3 of combined spice mix, top off with fresh filtered water, leaving 1” head space.  Cover jars and shake to distribute salty water within jar, & make sure all veggies are still submerged. Place glass cup or custard cup into jar as needed to make sure all garlic and cucumbers are completely submerged.  Leave in dark, cool place for up to 2 weeks, checking and tasting as needed till pickles are as tangy as you like. When taste is right, cap tightly and store in refer or root cellar for 6 months or more, or till pickles are tangier than you like.

Happy Fermenting everyone!

Sustainable Renton Community Farm

Hello from Sustainable Renton Community Farm!

We have been busy up here in the East Renton Highlands neighborhood! CelebrationChurch has been kind enough to give us access to about 3 acres of land to start a community effort towards growing food.

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So, we have capitalized on the opportunity and we are off to an amazing start. We have 20 plots all sized 10’x 20’ with the plan of expanding the number of plots next season. What is different about our plots from other community gardens is that these plots are encouraged to be gardened year around with the same plot being assigned year after year. This concept lends itself to winter harvests which can be abundant here in the Pacific Northwest as well as perennial planting. There are only 3 plots left so if you or anyone you know might be interested in gardening here please let us know.

We are committed to organic practices and using only seeds from companies that have taken the Safe Seed Pledge.

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We are also interested in exploring a variety of growing practices. Besides individual gardeners and the various growing methods displayed within each plot, we also have some Hugelkultur beds displayed as well. There is a demonstration of how companion planting can be the wonderful equation of 1+1=3 in our popcorn field, with beans and squash being planted in the same bed. This combination is known in the gardening world as the three sisters. The primary goal is to give back to the soil as it gives to us. It is an amazing adventure to learn to listen to the earth and work with it rather than dominate it and force it to do what we want it to.

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If you are not interested in gardening but just want to come and get your hands dirty there is plenty of opportunity for that as well. We have planted 2 plots for the local REACH effort that has dedicated itself to feeding the hungry in our community every night of the week. They were so excited to hear that they will be receiving fresh produce from our farm.

Celebration Church has been a very gracious host and we are thankful for their giving spirit and their tireless dedication to helping our community.

Also, if you have any expertise that you would like to share with us and the community please contact us and we can put together a workshop for you.

If you would like to know more please contact:

Elizabeth Zwicker, Community Farm Liaison at linguisticnurse@gmail.com

Lara Randolph, Farm Manager at larar35@comcast.net

Chris Conkling, Sustainable Renton/President at sustainablerenton@gmail.com

We would love to have you.

Sun + rain = lots of yummy veggies?!

Between all this warm, sunny weather and some rain, gardens are bursting w/ veggies right now. See the harvest of Kim, a gardener at the Sunset Community Garden.

The tomatoes, though, might not be faring so well. What do you do to keep your tomatoes from splitting and growing healthy with this sort of weather?

Fresh from the Sunset Community Garden

Mini Community Garden

This Mini garden is all of 3’x3′ at the unused end of our dead end street.  My neighbors (Ashley, 4 and Daisy, 8) and I  planted tomato, zuchini, and corn seeds last week.  Cleaning the weeds out of our space prior to planting could never be described as a work party.  There was too much distraction and exploration.  Look, I found an earthworm!.  Look, a roly poly!  What is this?   Why is that?

Once the seeds were in the ground, every few hours, inpatient eyes were looking for sprouts.  Children have a completely different experience of the passage of time.  Finally, knowing that radish seeds sprout much very quickly, I bought some.  Daisy and I planted them yesterday.  Until they sprout, Daisy and Ashley are being satisfied by watching the apple blossoms turn from buds to open flowers.

– Rebecca Alder

Mini Community Garden

Thinking big-a Renton community farm?

21 Acres

Today I was invited to speak at the Board meeting for the Renton Community Foundation on behalf of Sustainable Renton and our work around community gardens, education, and supporting a healthy, local food system. They are currently looking at different ways of addressing issues surrounding hunger in our community. The Foundation is an important supporter of local non-profits and charities in our community, and I felt privileged to be able to speak with them.

While speaking with the Board, there were conversations around the impact community gardens have on a community, how livestock and poultry fit into the picture, and how education is a pivotal piece in people eating healthier lifestyles. I shared with them the inspiring story of 21 Acres (http://21acres.org/). 21 Acres, located just outside downtown Woodinville, is an agricultural and environmental learning center that has a community garden, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), a community food kitchen, classes on sustainability, and a farmer’s market.

This got me to thinking-What would a center like this look like in Renton? Would it have livestock-like chickens or goats or rabbits? Would it have a community garden? How about a community food kitchen? What about a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)? How about a meeting space for classes on gardening, canning, food drying, cooking with vegetables? The possibilities for creating an inspiring, community-building center like this are limitless.

A bigger question is: what would it take to make this happen? Who are the stakeholders in a project like this? Could partnerships with the Salvation Army Food Bank, King County Conservation District, and other local organizations pull together a project of this scale? Is there land available to support a farm of this nature in our suburban town?

What are your thoughts? How would you like to be involved with a sustainable community model like 21 Acres in Renton? Please share your thoughts!

Let’s see where this idea takes us.

-Chris Conkling