Tag Archives: food bank

Global Gardening With KCD

July 3, 2020

Thank you King Conservation District for helping us learn about sustainably grown vegetables from around the globe!

Last November, Clyzzel (Cly) Samson, the new Community Agriculture Program Coordinator for the King Conservation District (KCD), was eager to know more about the local gardens. She contacted us about a visit to Freeway Estates Community Orchard.

KCD Community Agriculture Program started in 2015 to help increase access to healthy food for all, specifically community gardens & low-income communities of color, as well as educate land users about sustainable resource management. When Cly stopped by for a tour, she explained that KCD is looking for ways to ensure that their programs are serving the needs of ALL who live in King County.

Volunteers are needed!
by appointment
please email
freewayestatescommunityorchard@gmail.com

The KCD Community Agriculture Program offers programs that support urban food gardeners. At FECO, we regularly send soil samples from our vegetable beds to the KCD free soil test program to ensure we are providing a good balance of nutrients and organic matter, but not over-fertilizing.

We have also benefitted from the free Cover Crop Seed Giveaway. Early this spring, Cly offered us seeds or plant starts. I grow my own starts so I chose the seeds. Starting from seed allows me the opportunity to choose varieties that have a better chance of survival against diseases and pests that may pop up in our orchard. Cly told me that she planned to order seeds from Kitazawa Seed Company but would be happy to procure from other seed companies if they didn’t have what we wanted. Kitizawa has been around since 1917. They specialize in Asian vegetables and carry unique varieties requested by community gardeners.

The seed gift was a wonderful opportunity for us to try out some culturally diverse vegetables that University Food Bank clients and FECO volunteers may be familiar with, or enjoy trying for the first time. Two vegetables that Kitazawa carries that were new to us are Ethiopian Mustard and Teot Bat Put summer squash. Greens like collards, kale and Swiss chard tend to be popular at the Food Bank, and it will be nice to add some culturally different varieties to the mix. How thrilling to try a new summer squash that doesn’t look like a zucchini!

If you are not familiar with KCD, you should be! They have supported all who live and work in King County, working on sustainable resource management, since 1949. They strive to promote sustainable stewardship of land and water through a variety of programs including education, technical assistance and providing resources when available. Find out more at their website, https://kingcd.org.

Cly is also a part of the Rainier Valley Corps’ Green Pathways Fellowship Program, a fellowship program designed to create living wage entry-level positions, within the environmental justice movement, for low-income young adults.

In case you are interested in planting these two vegetables, I have included more information below.

Sue Hartman

Ethiopian Mustard (Brassica carinata) goes by many names: Ethiopian Kale, Abyssinian Mustard, African Kale, Highland Kale, Ethiopian Blue Mustard and Gomenzer. It is a hybrid of Black Mustard (Brassica nigra) and Wild Cabbage (Brassica Oleracea) developed in the highlands of Ethiopia. It is grown in Ethiopia primarily as a cooking oil crop but is used as a leafy green in many other parts of Africa. The edible seeds can be pounded and added as a spice to various Ethiopian dishes. Researchers are also studying the oil as a source of biofuel (a plane powered entirely by fuel produced from these seeds flew in 2012). There is not much information available on the nutritional content of the leaves, but the seeds are rich in oil and protein.

Ethiopian Mustard looks similar to Lacinato kale (also known as Tuscan or dinosaur), depending on the cultivar and stage of plant growth. Some recommend harvesting the shoot tops when the plants get tall enough to produce secondary shoots lower on the plant. Harvesting this way may give you a 2nd or 3rd cutting off the same plant. We cut the top shoots off most of our plants but left a few uncut to harvest the lower leaves like we do for kale in order to compare both techniques. Ethiopian Mustard can also be grown as a micro and baby green.

Ethiopian Mustard grows well in cool climates but take longer to produce flowers than many other mustard greens grown in the Pacific Northwest. So far, none of our plants have bolted but we’ll see how they do once the summer arrives (after the 4th of July, of course!). Ethiopian Mustards grow quickly in a variety of climates, are more drought-tolerant and do not seem to be as attractive to pests as kale or collards.

Not all cultivars of Ethiopian Mustard are alike. Johnny’s Selected Seeds sells one called ‘Amara’ that may have a different flavor profile than what Kitazawa sells. Other cultivars are marketed under different names such as Texsel greens. Breeding projects are underway in Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe to develop new cultivars. As more U.S. seed companies begin to carry Ethiopian Mustard, we may see it’s popularity rise locally.

Teot Bat Put (Cucurbita moschata) is a hybrid summer squash that is commonly called avocado squash because the fruits look like avocados! They have a glossy green skin, avocado shape and ivory colored flesh. These squash come from from Korea. The plants produce vines that can grow to 10 feet if they are happy, similar to the Italian Tromboncino or Zucchetta squash. However, they are not supposed to be as rampant as the trombos, which is good since we don’t have a huge amount of space to grow in our beds. The vines can be trellised or left to ramble along the ground like pumpkin vines.

According to some, Teot Bat Put is very productive but time will tell. If we have a cool, wet summer, the harvest may be fairly short. They are best harvested when they are about 4” in diameter, 5-6” in length and weigh less than a pound. There are claims that their flavor is better than zucchini, but once again, time will tell since they haven’t yet fruited. I was unable to find much information about Teot Bat Put squash, so this will be a good chance to see how well this squash does at our community orchard and garden. If it thrives and is a tasty squash, it could become a regular item.

Offerings

July 26, 2019

Whatever we offer to the community, a larger offering comes back, in one way or another.

Yesterday morning a teen was sitting cross-legged on the bench, reading a book. She stayed quite awhile. The bench is a small offering to those passing by.

But a much more significant offering this year was from you and your friends and family. You did it! You surpassed our fund raising goal of $600 by $135. The timing could not be better since we just incurred an unbudgeted cost to fix the website.

We also received $300, to date, for our spigot replacement fund, a separate capital cost that four other volunteers offered to help with. We don’t know the plumbing cost yet but we’ll try one spigot, of a different type, to see if it survives vandalism and theft. Cross your fingers.

Sat, Aug 3, 10-12, Work Party
Sun, Aug 18, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Sep 7, 10-12, Work Party
Sun, Sep 15, 2-4, Work Party

Meanwhile, Sue and I are also ecstatic about recent volunteer offerings!

Spring helpers were redirected toward squishing larvae. One volunteer grumbled that squishing was not on the to-do list and another couldn’t face the task without tweezers. However, most were mildly enthusiastic and their hard work paid off. Even though the crop on the Liberty and the William’s Pride are only 1/10 of their normal yield, we would not have any apples without that early attention to those blossoms.

Allison, a weekly volunteer, has a keen sense for detail, a good pair of eyes and an ease for fruit and nut tree work. I am lucky to have her help.

Thank you to newcomers Nicole, Amy, Maxwell, Matt, Eric, Daniel, Emily, Jeremy, Reid, Ryan, Sarah, Micah and Hannah. Signs of their work are everywhere. Last Thursday, after harvest, Sue looked at me and said she was going home early for the first time! (She looked a bit confused but I peeked down the sidewalk and, in fact, she was headed in the right direction.)

University Y volunteers, Andy and Sandra offered mulching and gravel reclamation services. We are thankful for their partnership.

The offering from LaFawnda’s KidsCo troop is always commendable. The kids march down NE 60th St each month to help with construction and watering, and then make sure no mulberry goes to waste.

I am especially grateful to the veteran volunteers who stick with us year after year: Sue, Nancy, Jennifer, Kate, Nora, Joan, Arly, Brannon, Max, Maya, Ken, Michelle, Meg, Renee, Melody and Jeff.

Last night a man strolled to the herb spiral, pulled out a pair of scissors and carefully nipped a few herbs. He then walked by me with his bouquet in his hand and nodded, “Thanks for the offering.”

We are honored by the commitment of the community to Freeway Estates and we will continue to be a peaceful refuge with abundant offerings of food, education, and personal connections.

Ruth

New Watering System Is On Tap

October 1, 2017

It’s fascinating how one mulberry or one thornless blackberry can sustain me while I work in the sm-persimmon-wp_20171001_002orchard. Just that brief sweet juicy explosion can satisfy, nourish and make me smile. These two fruits are new to the orchard and they have proved their worth.

It will be several weeks before we know whether the new persimmons will mature or not but otherwise, we are nearly finished with the harvest.

We have donated an estimated 244 pounds to the food bank. Now, however, the sun weakens and plant production is slowing.

sm-reseeded-lettuce-wp_20170928_001The transition to fall plants such as radish, lettuce, cilantro, mustards, arugula and various cover crops has begun. Check out that germination rate of lettuce that Sue let go to seed! It looks like carpet. Thinning could be a challenge.

We ended up with tasty samples of all apple and pear varieties, even though the winter moth larvae took out many of the blossoms last spring. The good ole Liberty was the best performer and we have enough Liberty to reward the Cider Fest volunteers this coming Saturday.

The dry summer taxed every plant. Our aim is to water just enough to keep the fruit and nut trees in good health. I believe that they got enough water but next year’s crop will tell the tale. We do think the berries and grapes were under watered.

Sat, Oct 7, 2-5, Cider Fest!
Apple contributions are welcome! We have science exhibits for the kids. Cider and pie slices.
Sun, Oct 15, 2-4, Work Party

Sun, Nov 19, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, Dec 17, 2-4, Work Party

In the interest of saving water, saving time watering, and allowing watering to be physically easy, we have applied for another Seattle Dept of Neighborhood matching grant. It’s a small grant, about $10,000, but should be enough to buy a manual pump, ollas, some vertical perforated pipe and low-pressure, gravity fed drip irrigation materials. We also are beneficiaries of a used 1,000-gallon cistern, which could be enough assistance to free us from using city water.

We are in need of a mechanical or civil engineer to help us with choice of pump to carry water from shows-hose-in-and-hose-out-treadle-pump-1the cisterns out to the beds. Choosing the right pump will be critical to the efficacy of the whole irrigation system to the food bank beds. Contact us if that engineer is you or your friend!

Please join us for our annual celebration next Saturday between 2-5pm, rain or shine.

Ruth