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Back Yards to Food Yards

March 12, 2012

Properties transformed  from useless, water sucking, grass lawns to veggie-feeding food yards for the community! Between the snow and the rain when the weather turned to the 65 degree sunshine this week, a 2000 square foot of lawn  was tilled, amended, and transformed , into seven, 4 x 50 ft rows for Mama Tee’s vegetables.

And the peas were the first to be planted here at the Parkrose Heights property. On the line up here for direct sow this week (weather dependent, of course): radishes, carrots, and beets.

An Oregon Sugar Pod II pea seed ready to be covered.

155 planted peas

 The Brentwood-Darlington property moved forward as well this past week with a little help from some new and old friends.  Thank you all! This property is getting raised beds in both the front and back yards. We took on the front lawn, removing sod, weeds, and black, plastic matting (which is a big pain, by the way). If you want to keep weeds out of your landscaping or flower bed, I recommend biodegradable burlap or cardboard sheet mulch, not the black plastic.

Some of the crew digging out plastic weed mat.

The seedlings are up and growing strong.  In a few days I’ll be thinning the flats out and dibbling the Brassica’s. We also planted some tomato and basil seed this past weekend and they are living comfortably near my window sill in the warmth of my home.  A second round of seeding, plus more summer  weather vegetables (tomato and peppers) will be sown in the next couple weeks.

Henderson's Black-Seeded Lettuce

And, I’m happy to announce that the Cully property went through! I will be writing up a 2-3 year lease agreement with the landowner this week. This is a great piece of land that has been farmed in the past (the last landowner had a farm stand on the street). So the soil is already conditioned and, although there is plenty of preparation work before planting, there is no grass or sod to be removed! And this the largest urban property I am currently farming (~4000sf).

These three sites (plus the raspberries in Creston-Kenilworth) will keep me plenty busy this year and will be producing enough food for market and up to 10 CSA shares. However, I am still getting to know the area and the people and would like to spread the word about turning back yards into food yards to feed Portland (especially in areas where healthy food isn’t easily accessible). So, if you know of anyone with at least  2000 sf of area that might be good for vegetable growing please contact me:  I also continue the search for  a larger piece of property to lease or buy to create a more permanent site for Mama Tee’s Farmstead.  Unfortunately, the land in Oregon City is just not feasible at this time. But do not worry, a farmer’s best virtues are patience (most of time) and the ability to roll with the changes. Mama Tee’s Farmstead will get there. And, in the meantime, we’ll produce yummy, quality food in the food yards of the Portland community!

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