There is frost on the ground and it is feeling like winter at the Well Fed Community Garden! But the activity does not slow down here; there is always work to be done. As always, we start by feeding the chickens. As the farm dog, I keep a very close eye on our coop to make sure that they stay safe.This could be my full-time job but there are more morning chores to get to.

Next stop is the greenhouse. In this cold weather we give the plants a little more insulation and heat to keep them healthy, and every morning we open up the greenhouses to let some fresh air in and we water the plants and check on our hydroponic lettuce.

Farmer Janette and her new puppy, Theo

We value teamwork, so today I showed puppy Theo how to help our produce assistant, Janette, take care of things in the greenhouse.

After that the morning chores are done and we move on to harvest!The cold weather means we’re growing lots of greens, such as arugula, kale, and our mustard mix. We need to be efficient when harvesting, but we also have to take our time enough to make sure we are thorough in every step. Greens can be delicate, our team is careful to not damage the leaves as we work, and we are meticulous about our sanitation practices while we clean and package the produce.

I like to keep a close eye on things just to make sure everything is done correctly.

After we finish with harvest there are always a number of tasks that need to get done. On any given day we might be planting, weeding, pruning, building a new compost fence, checking for caterpillars, and more.

Today we’re prepping beds for planting. We always add compost to our fields before we sow the seeds to increase the nutrient content in the soil. We try to keep things growing at all time, not only to increase our production, but also to have roots in the ground to prevent the soil from eroding and to feed the soil microorganisms. That means that all year long we are constantly turning our beds over from one crop (or cover crop) to another.

After planting we are done for the morning and it is time for lunch. There’s more work in the fields to do this afternoon but I usually need to use that time to keep the squirrels out of the farm.

About the blogger:

Bella Pepper Malone has been the full-time farm dog at the Well Fed Community Garden since August 2016. Her main focus is pest control but she also helps with quality assurance and community engagement. Her favorite treat from the garden is sweet potatoes.

Here at the Well Fed Community Garden we have a diversity of vegetables, fruit brambles and trees, and flowers growing, and are always open to learning and growing new crops. Our latest learning adventure has been growing turmeric and ginger! Turmeric and ginger can help soothe an upset stomach, have anti-inflammatory properties, and add delicious flavor to meals.  Below are some pictures of our turmeric and ginger plants growing throughout the season:

We ordered our turmeric and ginger seed pieces from a farm based in Hawaii.  The local seed sources and the sources from Hawaii tend to sell out quickly.  Now is the time to buy seed pieces if you would like to grow your own turmeric and ginger next season. We pre-sprouted our seed pieces in the greenhouse to get the root and shoot buds to start growing and extend the season before planting them in the ground (see photo above and below).  When pre-sprouting be sure to disinfect your seed pieces beforehand if needed.  Do not over-water them once planted in a pre-sprouting tray; this can lead to the ginger staying dormant.  Our ginger did not pre-sprout as well as we were hoping this first time around, but our turmeric did great!

After 4-6 weeks, we took our trays of pre-sprouted turmeric and ginger and planted them out in our caterpillar tunnel, 4 inches deep and 6 inches apart (see photo below).

We hilled our turmeric and ginger plants twice throughout the season with a decomposed leaf mulch to help increase yields.

We replaced our caterpillar tunnel plastic with a shade cloth once summer started heating up.  In the photo above you can see our turmeric plants growing under the shade cloth.

About 5 months after planting the pre-sprouted seed pieces, we harvested the ginger and turmeric for baby ginger and baby turmeric.  Baby ginger has no skin to peel and no fibers, but also stores for less time.  Above is a photo of our turmeric right after harvesting them with a digging fork.  We tried to get off as much soil as possible and then sprayed them clean (see the three photos below).

Above is a photo of our clean baby ginger.

The above two photos show baby turmeric after cleaning and throughout the processing.

It was really fun to grow turmeric and ginger and we look forward to next season’s crop!

October brought us the last of the summer vegetables, sweet potatoes, lots of greens, and our first harvest of turmeric and ginger!

With the temperature cooling down, our peppers hung in there until this past week. Our volunteers worked hard collecting over 70 pounds of peppers, pulling up the plants, and weeding the beds. If you are interested in getting your hands dirty, we always welcome volunteers on Thursday mornings 9:30am-12pm.

With all the rain and cool weather, October brought us a couple great harvests of our shiitake mushrooms. Join us for our Shiitake Mushroom Workshop November 3 at 2pm to learn how to inoculate your own log to bring home!

The colors of the month are…green and orange! Here are some pictures of the greens coming in and the beautiful orange root vegetables we harvested this month.

Cilantro

Kale

Arugula

Tatsoi, which is part of our spicy greens mix

Mustard greens, which are part of our spicy greens mix

The first true leaves of our spinach are growing.

Head lettuce

Turmeric

Ginger

Sweet potatoes

We still have some bright flowers dotting the garden with color and providing pollen for the bees.

Lantana

Mexican sage

Blanket flower

Echinacea

We have been drying tarragon flowers to add to our teas, which will be available to purchase at the Irregardless Cafe in the coming months.

Purple aster flowers taking over the entrance to the garden.

September brought us more summer vegetables like peppers and okra, the start of fall vegetables, and some beautiful flowers in our pollinator garden! Here is a sample from the garden.

The okra and pepper plants are still doing well out in the field and the peppers are as sweet as ever.

Hibiscus is in the same family as okra.  We started harvesting the seed pods this month to dry and make our own herbal teas.

Keep an eye out for our hibiscus tea and a new digestion tea at the Irregardless Cafe!

Dehydrator full of mint, tulsi, and lemon balm drying for the digestion tea.

Our second planting of Buddha beans, a type of green bean, is in bloom and the beans are fresh and crisp right off the vine.

Our sweet potatoes have been doing great, providing a prolific amount of scrumptious greens for the Irregardless Cafe. We will be harvesting our sweet potatoes at our Sweet Potato Harvest Party Sunday Oct 14th and welcome any volunteers who would like to come get their hands in the dirt at the Well Fed Community Garden to help harvest these terrific tubers!

September has brought the first harvests of some of our fall crops.

Fennel growing in the fields.

Our spicy greens mix consists of nasturtium greens and flowers, mustard greens, tatsoi, and arugula.

The firsts of our carrots germinated this month.

Our pollinator garden has some summer and fall flowers in bloom.  Here are a few samples of what you can find adding color to the garden.

Dahlia

Obedient flower

Wild onion

Aster

Goldenrod

 

We often get the questions “what is in season?” and “what is in bloom at the garden?” Well, here is your answer! August brought us lots of yummy summer fruits, vegetables, and flowers! Here is a sample from the garden.

Heirloom and cherry tomatoes

There is nothing better than a fresh tomato or sweet pepper straight from the field.

Sweet yellow, orange, and red peppers

With all the rain we had this August, there were a few early shiitake mushrooms from our logs

Shiitake mushrooms

We love working with our farm to table restaurant Irregardless Cafe. By working every week to create local and fresh recipes we had some excellent specials featuring our produce this month.

Fried okra

Eggplant Parmesan

We also had lots of sweet figs from our pollinator garden. Some varieties that we grow include Black Mission, Brown Turkey, and Calimyrna.

Figs

Our pollinator garden is in full summertime bloom. Here are a few samples of cut flowers and native flower species we grow in our garden. Flowers are a beautiful and easy way to promote beneficial insects in your garden.

Zinnias

Beauty berry

 

Marigold

 

Annual aster

What could you learn about yourself through ART? Step away from your stress, busy-ness, and everyday routine. Come join us for our monthly Art in the Garden workshop with Annelies Gentile of Conduit for Change. Learn basic watercolor skills, share a tasty vegetarian meal and commune with nature in our Well Fed Community GardenIrregardless Cafe & Catering welcomes you! All ages and experience are welcome.

We’re very grateful to have Annelies in our garden because she helped us realize the experience of this nature-based art getaway is exactly what our community needs.

Art in the Garden is about connecting to your creativity, communing with others and connecting to nature. It’s an opportunity to refresh and refuel. What is wonderful about Annelies is the fact that she’s skilled to work with all ages and all levels of experience. Never painted before? No problem! She can teach you the basics and inspire you along the way. In the process of creating, Annelies sneaks in some life lessons to help with resiliency which we really appreciate at Irregardless Cafe. We love to help the community find peace, happiness and joy. Get all three plus lunch!

Join us for Art in the Garden the last Saturday of each month from April to October.  Learn more or register for the next one on July 28, 2018.

Additional dates include:

August 25, 2018

September 29, 2018

October 27, 2018

Checkout Conduit for Change’s information about Art in the Garden

 

Edited and Photographed by Lubana Lanewala (Social Media & Marketing Specialist) and Annelies Gentile

Chef Arthur Gordon, Owner and Chef Emeritus of the Irregardless Cafe invites you to experience an evening of summertime delicacies at The Well Fed Community Garden in Raleigh, NC.

The Irregardless Cafe has been a Raleigh icon since 1975, when Arthur Gordon founded a restaurant based on culinary skill, local sourcing and an inclusive menu. Since its founding, the menu has offered vegan and vegetarian options, and as awareness of gluten-free needs rose, so did the gluten-free options on the restaurant’s menu.

In 2012, Arthur and Anya Gordon decided to intersect their passion for local produce with their dream of being apart of the sustainable food growth and urban farming initiatives in Raleigh. Their vision included a house in which like-minded individuals can live and practice through working on the land in exchange for providing fresh produce to Irregardless Cafe. This dream is now a reality in the form of The Well Fed Community Garden.

A cooking class at The Well Fed Community Garden starts with a tour of the property and its projects. Then, the group gathers underneath a shaded shelter, showcasing a clear view of the outdoor kitchen as the Chef discusses his process of preparing the meal. The produce is sourced from the Garden itself, as well as from local farms and markets around the area  – it all depends on the Chef’s inspiration that day! But rest assured, there will be care-infused food for almost every dietary restriction. While you watch, complimentary drinks and appetizers will be served including Irregardless’ house red and white wines. The evening will end with a shared meal underneath the Garden’s twinkle-lit patio as the sunset provides a picturesque backdrop for mindful conversation and eating.

Join us July 11, 2018 at 6:30pm or October 3, 2018 at 6:30pm

 

Written by Lubana Lanewala, Marketing and Social Media

Written by Janette Adams, Produce Assistant at The Well Community Garden

It’s Friday harvest day at the Well Fed Community Garden! There are many things that go into keeping an urban farm up and running, especially with the warmer weather settling in.

 

Let’s take a look at a typical day for our farmers:The sound of the rooster crowing tells us it is time to rise for another day — yeah, just kidding! First thing we do is scout to make sure no chickens have gotten out of the fencing, feed them, and make sure they have fresh water.

Chicken Water The garden chickens hanging around their coop

After watering the seedlings, the harvest begins! Warm Carolina temperatures in the afternoon force a sense of urgency to get all the harvesting done in the morning. Many of the greens become wilted in the humid heat.

basil harvest ​Freshly harvested basil

beets harvest Freshly harvested beets

Each veggie is then washed then dried and packaged for the Irregardless Cafe or community distributors.

Orache harvest Orache (also known as Mountain Spinach) in the salad spinner to be dried

Edible flowers, radishes and greens Edible flowers, Bibb lettuce, and radishes packaged up before heading to the Irregardless Cafe

After cleaning up the processing area, radish and buckwheat microgreens are seeded along with Bibb lettuce in the hydroponic cells to ensure a steady supply.

Microgreen Germination Recently germinated microgreen seeds

Bibb Lettuce Seeding ​Hydroponic Bibb lettuce seedlings

Lunch is a great time to catch a quick nap under the car port…

Bella the Farm Dog ​Sweet farm dog Bella resting her eyes

Depending on the needs around the garden, the rest of the day is filled with weeding the beds, cover cropping beds that are in transition, trellising tomatoes or pole beans, mowing the pathways around the beds, or checking plants for any pests.  As we transition from spring to summer, our beds also transition to the next season’s crop.
Mowing ​Mowing the lettuce down with the BCS walk behind tractor before cover cropping with cow peas

Every week the Garden hosts different evening events such as cooking classes, farm dinners, and volunteer hours (come to Wine and Weeds every Thursday night from 6-8pm)!

Wine and Weeds Volunteers at the weekly Thursday evening Wine and Weeds event

As dusk settles in, a quick check on the chickens is done before heading in for the night to ensure everyone is safe and sound. I think I can already hear the rooster crowing…

As we gear up for another busy summer, WFCG wants to talk about our lovely volunteers! You may already know that we get a lot of volunteers from around the area to help out at the garden. Activities range from weeding the pollinator garden, tending to our row crops, planting seedlings, and caring for our chickens. Our typical volunteers look something like this:

Wine and Weeds 2017

What if I told you that, every year, we have some volunteers that look something more like this:

Volunteer Gourd

This month, we wanted to highlight the lesser known volunteers we get on the garden – plants that we did not intentionally grow. Seeds may have fallen out of our pockets or gotten mixed with seeds we did not intend on growing, or even grown from the fruits that we ate and dropped on the ground once we were done. Here are the faces of our Summer 2017 volunteer plants and their stories:

Butternut Squash:

Among the compost turning one hot summer morning, we realized that the small vine that had been by the compost for a month or two had now become larger…and was growing something on it. Upon further examination, they were butternut squash! It seems that someone had bought a butternut squash from the grocery store, composted the seeds, and out popped a plant that multiplied the squash.

Compost Digging Butternut

Butternut Far Away

Butternut Closeup

Butternut Squash

 

Passionfruit:

These vines have been growing long before WFCG claimed its stake on Athens drive, and every year, they come back and grow wherever they feel like it. To be fair, when we eat these fruits, we spit out the seeds as far as we can, so that’s probably how they choose annual growing spots.

These passionfruit are different than the ones you’ll find at the grocery store. They are called May Pops and they stay green, but turn lighter and wrinkly as they ripen. The inside has little yellow jelly-like flesh with black seeds in the middle. The flavor is in-between a banana and a pineapple. You can eat the seeds or spit them out once you’ve sucked the flesh off of them.

Passionfruit vine

Passionfruit

Cherry Tomatoes:

Cherry tomatoes tend to grow in every nook and cranny of our garden. They’re tasty little snacks, and the best way to keep the plants healthy is by throwing down the cracked/rotten fruits to make room for the good fruit. Surprisingly, we found some tomato plants in our pollinator garden last summer.

Tomato Vine

We left these volunteer tomatoes for our volunteers to eat – but we had an abundance of tomatoes this summer, anyway. Here’s what an average harvest looked liked:

Tomatos

Large Gourd:

We still have not identified what type of gourd this is because its growth took us by surprise. Among our sweet peppers and cucumber trellises, this behemoth of a squash had grown. We think it weighed about 16lbs. We didn’t have the heart to cut into it – it looks so good whole!

Gourd Volunteer

Volunteer Gourd Size

Gourd on Table

Volunteers come in all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. We welcome all to the garden!

Interested in volunteering? Join us every Thursday for a volunteer day from 9:30am-12pm or 6-8pm for Wine and Weeds!

Written by Morgan Malone

This spring, the Well Fed Garden has been all about greens. We have microgreens, salad greens, and even purple greens! By far the most abundant green is our salad greens. We harvest 40 lbs a week of these tasty greens during the peak season.

A bird’s eye view of our lettuce fields this spring

During the spring and fall, peak lettuce season, all of the salads you eat at Irregardless Cafe are coming straight from our garden. All of the extra greens go to either our wonderful volunteers or we donate to Urban Ministries.

Salad greens mix

This yummy mix of greens includes green oakleaf, red oakleaf, green romaine, red romaine, lollo rossa, and red leaf lettuces. This combination of salad greens provides a complex texture, taste, and nutrient content that everyone will love!

Every variety of green in this mix has unique health benefits that work together to make a balanced mix of healthy and yummy goodness.

In a study published in the June 2008 issue of Food Chemistry, red oak leaf and lollo rossa had the highest antioxidant activity among the tested varieties. These deep red colored leaves are also rich in carotenoids which your body converts into Vitamin A and promotes eye health.

Apprentice Hannah harvesting salad greens

Romaine lettuce is high in minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium. Plus you don’t have to worry about E. coli in our greens! We use Good Agricultural Practices to ensure all of our produce is safest and healthiest it can be.