Category Archives: Urban Farming

Arbor Day — A Time for Celebration and Action

Wanderlust 2017 wall calendar

Image from our Wanderlust 2017 wall calendar featuring photography by Chris Burkard.

Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees. — Karle Wilson Baker

On April 28, communities across the country will to come together to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. What is the origin of this celebration for this natural wonder?

Julius Sterling Morton (1832-1902), one of the earliest American conservationists, settled on the treeless plains of Nebraska in 1855, where he edited the Nebraska City News and developed a lifelong interest in new agricultural methods. Believing that the prairie needed more trees to serve as windbreaks, to hold moisture in the soil, and to provide lumber for housing, Morton began planting trees and urged his neighbors to do the same. On April 10, 1872, when he first proposed that a specific day be set aside for the planting of trees, the response was overwhelming: a million trees were planted in Nebraska on that day alone.

All 50 states now observe Arbor Day—usually on the last Friday in April—and the idea has spread to other countries as well. Most observances take place in the public schools, where the value of trees is discussed and trees and shrubs are planted. But it is in Nebraska City, Nebraska, that Morton is best remembered as the originator of Arbor Day, with celebrations taking place on or near his birthday, April 22. A special ceremony is held at Arbor Lodge, Morton’s homestead and one of the earliest known attempts at conservation and beautification in America.

From the Arbor Day Foundation website, here are just some of the benefits of trees:

Trees do so much for us. In our yards, they provide shade, reduce energy costs and increase property values. Along our streets, they reduce stormwater runoff that can carry pollutants to our waterways. Throughout our communities, they improve the mental and respiratory health, reduce crime, break up heat islands, create jobs and boost the economy. In our forests, they restore critical wildlife habitat, provide opportunities for recreation and maintain healthy watersheds to protect drinking water resources for millions of Americans. And no matter where they’re planted, trees are working hard to filter pollutants out of our air and water, sequester carbon, release oxygen and provide immeasurable beauty and serenity that feed the human soul.

Find more information about celebrations and events in your area.
And be sure to hug at least one tree 🌳 ❤️


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Bee Happy: Bees’ Favorite Plant Families

Image from The Organic Kitchen Garden 2017 wall calendar. Beehive in a cottage garden © Mark Bolton Photography.

From The Organic Kitchen Garden 2017 wall calendar by Ann Lovejoy — Planning to grow your own food may start with crop lists and bedding plans, but to ensure successful yields, it’s best to include a plan to nurture bees. It’s said that bees pollinate about one-third of human foods, but in fact, many important crops, from alfalfa and cotton to almonds and onions, are largely dependent on bee pollination. Creating edible gardens that attract and nourish bees and other pollinators will boost your fruit and veggie production and support these helpful creatures.

Perhaps the most important thing we can do to help is not hinder them. Solving garden issues with natural care techniques and using certified organic products to control pests and diseases help us keep our land free of harmful chemicals. It’s important to be aware that many nursery plants with labels that suggest that the plants are “protected” from pests are actually treated with systemic toxins. Continue reading

Ahhh… Sweet Roses

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From our A Year of Healthy Living 2015 wall calendar. David Austin roses in a jar with blackberries © Georgianna Lane / Garden Photo World / Corbis.

Summer and Fall is a wonderful time to take in the bounty of fresh vegetables, fruit (mmm… berries), and herbs. But let’s not forget the roses! Ann Lovejoy has some charming tips for enjoying a rose harvest.

From the A Year of Healthy Living 2015 wall calendar by Ann Lovejoy: Continue reading

Dirt Makes Us Happy

Plant the Seeds & They Will Grow journal featuring artwork by Leslie Gignilliat-Day. Perfect for all your gardening notes.

Plant the Seeds & They Will Grow journal featuring artwork by Leslie Gignilliat-Day. Perfect for all your gardening notes!

From the A Year of Healthy Living 2015 wall calendar by Ann Lovejoy — Gardeners often seem to be happy people, and now we know why. Recent research indicates that getting our hands “dirty” gives our brains a boost of serotonin. Mycobacterium vaccae is a soil dweller that offers humans who dabble in dirt a lovely lift. Like so many health advances, the first recognition of mood elevating effects from M. vaccae came about accidentally, when a dose intended to boost immune response serendipitously created an antidepressant effect in advanced cancer patients. Continue reading

Cool Season Greens

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Photo by Lynn Karlin from the Simply Raw 2015 wall calendar

From The Organic Kitchen Garden 2015 wall calendar by Ann Lovejoy — If you’re still growing old standby greens, expand your usual selection with a few newcomers. Red or green Salanova® lettuces are bred for cut-and-come-back use, so you can start trimming off a few leaves when the plants are 4–5 inches tall. Several flavorful new cool-season crops are hand bred (not genetically engineered) from classic European leafy greens. Purple Peacock broccoli, a cross between regular broccoli and kale, produces frilly foliage and tender florets that are attractively streaked with rose and purple. A similar cross between brussels sprouts and kale is called Petit Posy, which offers tender rosettes with tightly folded centers that are delicious when eaten raw, steamed, or roasted. Continue reading

We Love Bees!

Bee Happy 2015 wall calendar

Bee Happy 2015 wall calendar — currently sold out on our website. Please check with your favorite local or online retailer for availability.

Bees are all the buzz. In the past decade, backyard beekeeping has multiplied exponentially in urban areas. Budding apiarists around the world are tending beehives just about everywhere, from suburban patios and rooftop terraces to elementary school gardens. These urban naturalists are preserving a tradition that has been alive for more than 4,000 years. Continue reading

Coconut-Lavender Panna Cotta by Maggie Oster

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Lavender in raised border © Photos Lamontagne / Getty Images

With Fall in the air, we seem to be nesting more — wearing comfy, warm clothes and spending hours in the kitchen. So we’re exploring recipes and ways we can enjoy the harvest. And maybe entertaining our sweet tooth just a bit, too.

From the Herb Gardens 2015 wall calendar by Maggie Oster
Coconut-Lavender Panna Cotta
Providing a sense of calm and balance, the fresh, sweet aroma of lavender has been beloved for centuries. Used for its beauty, singular scent, and medicinal properties, lavender continues to be a favorite. The use of flowers and leaves of lavender in cooking is growing in popularity. With a flavor that melds floral, piney, and camphor, fresh or dried lavender flowers are most often added to desserts, but they sometimes find their way into savory dishes. Lavandula angustifolia, with its sweet, mild flavor, is the best choice for cooking. Of the dozens of true lavender varieties, Hidcote and Munstead are the most widely available, hardiest, and easiest to grow. Harvest lavender midmorning on a dry day when almost all the buds are open. Tie stems in bundles and hang upside down in a dry, dark place. When dry, gently strip the flowers from the stem. If buying, be sure the flowers are for culinary purposes. Quickly and easily made, panna cotta is a sweet and creamy pudding that is among the most versatile of desserts and readily flavored in innumerable ways. Continue reading

A Rainbow of Greens

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Basket of cabbage, kale, and Romanesco broccoli. Photograph © Reinhard / Mauritius / SuperStock.

From The Organic Kitchen Garden 2015 wall calendar by Ann Lovejoy — Crisp, crunchy, and flavorful, cool-season greens have been winter staples for centuries. With the protection of cold frames or plastic tunnels, kale, chard, and cabbage can be harvested all winter, even in the snow. For variety and good looks, plant rainbow chard or Bright Lights Swiss chard, both of which produce vividly colorful stems in shades of raspberry, coral, peach, and salmon. The crinkled foliage holds up well into the cooler months and can be sautéed, steamed, or stir-fried.

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