Saturday, December 18, 2010

Stratford Composting Initiative

Hi everyone. As per Heather's request I'm finally going to make public some of the gems we've come up with in our brainstorming.

The way I first imagined the Stratford Composting Initiative was to have one central location for composting kitchen scraps from restaurants and homes in Stratford. The idea was that we would collect it from downtown drop-offs and take it to a farm outside the city to be recycled into fertile and productive soil. Right away we ran into some logistical difficulties, the first being a composting site and the second being an ecologically benign type of transportation. Here is an example of that model being employed in Washington, DC:

All this thinking got us onto the idea of site-specific composting, kind of like a bunch of backyard composters all over the city that will be maintained by us. We're in the process of securing our first site now and we'd like to gradually add to our colony of composters.

We are also playing with the idea of worm composting. I have the materials and will be bringing a worm colony into the city in January.

I'm excited about this project. I'm hoping that it will not only be a step towards a more sustainable Stratford but a community building and educational pursuit as well.

Also, if you have access to buckets with lids that seal please save them for us.

Thank you for showing such an interest at the last Meet and Greet for SUFE. If you want to be added to the updates list or are interested in composting with us email me at stratfordcompost at gmail dot com.

Take care and remember, food scraps are not waste they're just really young soil.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

SUFE Adhocracy

Stratford Daily Photo's Photo of the meet

I left feeling inspired and excited. There was a good turn out of just under 20 people - some new faces too.

It was exciting to hear about all of the different reasons people want to be a part of the group. The main theme seems to be the sense of community we are getting from the activities.

I also took some time to discuss my intended structure of the group. I described it as an adhocracy. I guess this could be considered part of the experiment in itself... will this group structure work?

How it will work:
Basically I consider myself to be somewhat of a 'facilitator' for the group. What we do and the directions we go in all depend on the people who participate and what they want. I will aim to keep the project on track, and keep people informed about events. Anyone can plan an event - just send me an email and let's make it happen.

Also if and when a decision needs to be made, who ever is there will discuss and decide on the spot.
"oh no!!?! in the garden plan there are 4 rows of carrots but there is only space for 3"
"shall we do 3 rows instead"
"that seems reasonable"

We are all capable individuals so I figure we can spend less time organizing and more time actually doing something.

I believe that this will also be a more empowering to everyone who is participating and each person has the opportunity to make the project their own.

Another aspect of the structure is that I do not want Stratford Urban Farms to be an umbrella for various projects as we begin to do more and branch out. Instead I would prefer if the structure was more horizontal and other individuals act as facilitators for their own projects.

Let's face it - this is something we are all doing in our spare time we don't need to make it feel like work.

Scrap Book
We talked about having a scrap book either at Revel Caffe or somewhere where people can draw a sketch of each garden and write goals & preference of vegetables to grow. Also having pages with resources and skills of people in the group for easy reference.

It would be nice for people to keep looking at the updates and possibly scan them and post online every now and again.

Stratford Compost Initiative
The first spin off project for Stratford Urban Farming Experiment.... Liz will be facilitating this initiative and will possibly blog about her ideas soon?

Student Projects
We were lucky enough to have some excited students on board and there were great ideas about the possibility of doing projects like videos (we do have a youtube channel) and building for class or just using school resources.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

December Meet & Greet

Tuesday December 14th
Revel Caffe (50 Wellington St. Stratford)

7:00 pm meeting but feel free to come before to get your coffee & chat

As mentioned in the last post:

I would like to include in the discussion:
- window garden
- book collection
- garden planning
- t-shirts
- compost project

I would also take some time at the beginning to talk about my intended structure of Stratford Urban Farming Experiment  "an empowerment model". I believe in practicing honesty and transparency and would also like to talk to you all about my personal goals with the project short & long term.

Also - Bring any ideas with you we will be discussing plans for winter and ideas for the project in general.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Plan for next meet & greet

Date: to be determined

There are lots of things to talk about at the next meet and greet (I hope we can have it the week after next)

I would like to include in the discussion:
- window garden
- book collection
- garden planning
- making our own t-shirts
- compost project

I would also take some time at the beginning to talk about my intended structure of Stratford Urban Farming Experiment  "an empowerment model". I believe in practicing honesty and transparency and would also like to talk to you all about my personal goals with the project short & long term.

The Meeting will most likely be a evening and at Revel Caffe - (but not Monday or Wednesday)

If you are keen to come please email me about availability - I want everyone who wants to come available to come.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dinner after the farmer's market

cooking in our tiny kitchen

Turnip&Potato Mash with roasted parsnips, brussel sprouts and
multi-coloured carrots (from soiled reputation)

Just add some onion gravy and beans - time to eat!

I am so happy that the farmers market is downtown - I can walk to get my veg & cheese every Sunday. I can't wait for it to expand!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Free Rose Plant

We have one rose plant to give away to a SUFE Facebook fan.... add photos to the Stratford Urban Farming Experiment group either of your garden/ local food/ your meal made from some local food/ SUFE event - Best Photo Wins a rose plant to pick up in Stratford

Also there is another Free Rose plant available for the first person to mention @straturbanfarms on twitter

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Garden Frenzy

Stratford St. Garden - Before

Getting compost for the garden

Stratford St. Garden - Before

Getting the garden winter ready - cardboard, compost & leaves

Carrots Nicole picked for her horse.

This week has flown by - the first garden prep party last Sunday and this week gardens prep-ped on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thank you for all of the help & cardboard/compost/leave donations!

Monday, October 18, 2010

CANOE - Lifewise Food & Drink: Eating local

CANOE - Lifewise Food & Drink: Eating local

"To make more locally grown food available, one young eco-preneur has adopted an old practice for a new paradigm. Twenty-five year old Heather Walker has resurrected the concept of share-cropping. Once used in the American South in times of economic hardship, Walker’s idea is ready-made for those who want to be part of the overall solution to building the food supply.
With her effort, called Stratford Urban Farms, Walker wants to use the yards of friends and neighbours to grow vegetable patches. The land is supplied by the homeowner; the seed is either supplied by them or purchased through funds raised by Walker; the labour is supplied by a team of volunteers. Walker hopes to have 10 to 15 garden plots spread throughout parts of Stratford, Ontario and 10 to 20 volunteers to help maintain them. The resultant crops will be shared among the landowners, the volunteers and Walker, and the remainder will go to local food banks."

First Garden Prep Party

Was a great success - thank you for coming & helping - thank you to the neighbours on East Gore street for sharing their leaves

I had a great time, and was impressed at how much we all got done without feeling like I did that much.

17 Sufe-ers in total - I can't wait to see how this evolves next summer!

our expert shows us how to plant garlic

pot luck lunch & dinner

Thank you to Drea for taking the photos!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The word is spreading... Thanks for posting about the project!

Thank you for all of the interest - I think I have committed to as many gardens as I can until I evaluate the volunteer situation in the spring.
There are 9 gardens + 1 or 2 small additional plots for volunteers & I would like to use some of our volunteer time to help out with Steve Stacey's 3-sister's school gardens.

If you are interested in attending our first Garden Prep Party/Pot Luck it will be this Sunday ( October 17th) from 1pm-5pm bring some food to share - a shovel & compost if you have them....

We will be digging up a bit of garden and planting onions and garlic.

Please contact me via email to get the address if you are interested in attending!

Kerry McManus

Jill Worthington

Drea Kerr

Lesley Walker-Fitzpatrick

Barb & Alan (Stratford Daily Photo)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Meet & Greet Handout

Stratford Urban
Farming Experiment
What's the big idea :   to demystify vegetable growing & make home grown food accessible to everyone in our urban centre

Goals for This Fall:
       choose 10 – 15 spaces in the front/back yards of generous landowners in Stratford
       draw out plans for each garden
       prep the land for spring (tilling or no-dig method)
       plant garlic / onions
       scout out potential volunteers and meet lots of interesting people wanting to develop a more sustainable Stratford
Goals for 2011 Season:
       grow beautiful vegetable gardens in 10 – 15 back yards
       recruit 10-20 (or more) volunteers to help maintain the gardens
       plant many seeds & seedlings & watch food grow
       share vegetables with volunteers/landowners
       donate vegetables to house of blessing/salvation army
       sell vegetables
       preserve vegetables
       participate in a front-yard veggie garden tour
       participate in Savour Stratford?

I am very excited for suggestions and interested to see what directions this project will go in.
Ideal Landowners would have a sunny space in their front or back yard and willing to give it up for vegetables.

I expect many landowners will be interested as a result for the 2011 season  preference will go to:
       those who are interested in assisting in maintenance
       yards close to downtown core

(I am only willing to commit to 10-15 gardens until the spring where I may add on a few depending on volunteer support.... I also plan on expanding in the 2012 Season)

       No experience necessary / experience welcomed
       volunteer as little as one day a week to water & weed one garden (or as much as you like)
        people willing to commit to the entire season (spring – fall)
       you will get vegetables!

(I would also be excited to set more experienced volunteers up with a plot of their own)

Pot Luck & Garden Prep Party

Time to get to work on garden #1

Pot Luck Lunch on Sunday October 17th from 10am-5pm pop in when ever you can to enjoy some shared lunch & help prepare Drea+Mike's garden.

We will be doing a combination of the no-dig method as well as the regular-old dig method....

We hope to plant some garlic & onions  while we are there!

Bring some food- Bring a shovel- Bring some compost..... anyone have manure?

Can't wait to see everyone again!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

SUFE is now blogging

Thanks to the advice of a good friend, Stratford Urban Farming Experiment is Blogging!

You can also like us on Facebook - Stratford Urban Farming Experiment
follow us on Twitter @straturbanfarms

more to come soon!