Friday, July 31, 2009

Demo Garden Workshop Kit Available

As Maggie mentions below, Last Friday (7/24) the ECC Demo Garden was bustling with young YMCA campers who were visiting for a workshop on the importance and value of local foods, gardening, and sustainable growth. ECC’s Maggie Ashmore worked with Eric Guindon of Wilmington College’s Grow Food, Grow Hope initiative and Phil Swindler of Swindler and Sons to plan the programs.

The demonstration garden was established this past spring by Energize Clinton County to illustrate both the nutritional and economical benefits of having a small-plot garden. The demonstration garden serves as a way to increase public awareness and provide a valuable educational tool for people of all ages.

For Energize Clinton County, supporting local growth is critical to its mission to promote sustainable development. Along with the demonstration garden, ECC facilitates the Clinton County Farmers Market and the Buy Local First campaign in order to further stimulate the growth of the local economic foundation in Clinton County.
Also, please check out GFGH’s John Cropper’s excellent piece in the 7/28 Wilmington News Journal on Friday’s activities.
ECC has published a document with the Grow Food Grow Hope (GFGH) initiative detailing the recent youth education program held last Friday at the ECC Demonstration Garden in J.W. Denver Williams Memorial Park.

The document is available for download by clicking on the picture to the right.
To learn more about Grow Food, Grow Hope, visit:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Demo garden hosts program for YMCA Day Camp

Last Friday Eric Guindon, Mariah Fulton, Phil Swindler, Kelsey Swindler, and I led a program about gardening for 32 YMCA day campers at the demonstration garden. I was impressed by the knowledge that the campers already possessed about gardening and food issues. I was also amazed by their enthusiasm to participate in each activity. I think the program went well and I hope the kids had as much fun as I did.

For more information about last Friday’s program please read John Cropper’s blog post about it on the Grow Food Grow Hope site or his article in the Wilmington News Journal!

CSA Week 7

Now is the time that locals starting feeling that sweet tooth craving for some sweet corn. For the CSA in Week 7 we got our first batch. The tomatoes have been enormous and super juicy and meaty, reminding us of that fresh summer taste.

For this week we had:

Sweet Corn-6 ears
Yellow Squash-3
Greenbeans- 2 Large bags
Peas- 1 Large bag
Eggs-1/2 dozen

This CSA is for 25 weeks from Bergefurd's Family Farm.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Demo Garden Thrives!

It amazes me how much the demo garden grows every week! Last week I thought all of the plants looked pretty large, but this week they have really filled out. The plants are spilling over the edges of the beds. The garden looks really full and productive! We have small green beans, peppers, squash and tomatoes forming!

Some of our white radishes bolted and so we pulled them out of the garden. I made a mistake and pulled the rest of the white radishes out because I thought they were bolted as well. Afterwards, one of the volunteers informed me that is just the way white radishes grow. It just goes to show that you can learn something new about gardening every day.

We also discovered that the turnips are big enough to eat. When I announced that the turnips are ready to be pulled in the ECC office I created a problem. Where are we going to give all of our turnips? Taylor said that he is ‘turnipped out’. His comment made me think about the way you eat when you have a garden.

When spinach is ready you eat spinach, when peas are ready you eat peas, when zucchini is ready you eat zucchini, etc. This summer I have looked through my family’s cookbooks multiple times (with the arrival every new abundant veggie) for new ways to prepare our garden harvest. I actually find it quite exciting to flip through the pages of a cookbook in an effort to prevent myself from becoming sick of a particular food.

I love that gardening can lead to creativity in the kitchen! Besides trying many recipes out, I also enjoy doing taste tests with different varieties of zucchini, potatoes, lettuce, peas, etc. I encourage you to pick something out of your garden, grab a cookbook, and start cooking. There is also a wealth of recipes on the internet! If you do not have your own garden, I would push you to go to the farmers market and buy veggies with out worrying about what you will do with them, until you get home. This is a chance to be resourceful and creative!

Some delicious recipes for what is in season right now include:

Zucchini Hot Cakes
2 cups grated zucchini (pressed dry between paper towels)
2 T chopped onion
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ cup flour
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 T mayonnaise
¼ t oregano
Salt & pepper to taste

Stir together all ingredients. Melt 1 T butter in skillet. Spoon 2 T batter into skillet and press down with spatula. Cook until both sides are browned. Repeat until all batter is used. Serve plain or with tomato sauce or grated cheese or sour cream.

Garlic Friendship Dip
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup Parmesan cheese
a little Parsley

Blend together & let chill. Serve with veggies or chips.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Local CSA Week 6

As our CSA continues we are able to eat with the seasons, and since it's July, blueberries arrived. Along with blueberries are everyone's favorite, tomatoes, and lots of green beans, squash, cucumbers, and more.

For this week we had:

Yellow Squash-3

Yellow Squash-3
Blueberries-1 pint
Greenbeans-Large bag
Eggs-1/2 dozen

This CSA is for 25 weeks from Bergefurd's Family Farm.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Gardening As a Movement

For the last six months, there's been an undeniable buzz in the Clinton County air that would otherwise have seemed foreign. Issues of sustainability and green development have appeared above the fold in the Wilmington News Journal almost as often as ribbon-cutting ceremonies and little-league victories. People are more conscious of their daily habits now than they ever have been, and they're thinking community-first. It can best be described as a new, community driven energy, and Wilmington has started to move.

One aspect of this movement is a focus on gardening and sustainable food production. Mark and Taylor have done a remarkable job marketing the benefits of gardening, whether backyard or in a community setting, and their support has been instrumental in the last few months. I suppose now would be a good time to introduce myself: I'm John Cropper, a Wilmington native, friend of Mark and Taylor and recent transplant who now serves as an AmeriCorps* VISTA volunteer at Wilmington College. I can honestly say that I am back in Wilmington, moved from Columbus, because of this fresh thinking: our project as VISTA volunteers is a community gardening and local food movement called Grow Food, Grow Hope. Sustainable food policy and production is enjoying a national media frenzy right now: whether in the White House kitchen garden or in movie theaters, where two new food documentaries, "Food, Inc." and "Fresh" are gaining widespread acclaim. And we can't help but think that Wilmington is already a leg-up.

Already, there is a laundry list of gardening projects happening around the city. There is the ECC demonstration garden at Denver Park; there is the Grow Food, Grow Hope community garden on the Wilmington College campus, where families come every week to harvest fresh vegetables and learn how to prepare them on site; there is the Wilmington College farm on Fife Avenue, where we are growing a number of different crops to be donated to local food pantries, and later this year, we are hoping to establish upwards of 30 backyard gardens at the homes of Clinton County residents, using our capacity to help build and facilitate the gardens. It can be confusing at times describing the various gardens to people who aren't familiar with our project. But that's not a bad thing. That there are enough gardening projects happening to make somebody confused is only a sign that we are doing something right.

It is our hope, at Wilmington College, at ECC, and throughout the community, that we can all come together to utilize whatever resources we have available. I will be blogging on the ECC garden blog as time progresses, and I would hope you would follow the Grow Food, Grow Hope blog as well, at

Friday, July 10, 2009

Demo Garden Blooms!

The Demonstration garden has really blossomed this week. The bush beans, Russet potatoes, and Acorn squash are covered in pretty blooms. The tomatoes and peppers are beginning to produce small fruits and the Kentucky Wonder Pole beans have reached the top of their trellis.

This week we harvested some Dill, Basil, and the remainder of the Cherry Belle radishes. I added some compost to the soil and planted 4 head lettuce in their place.

There are barely any weeds to be seen in the garden now, and no insect pests. The eggplants look better than any I have ever grown, not a flea beetle in sight. Their foliage is a beautiful purple and green.

The buckwheat is looking nice as well. It is anywhere from 3-7 inches tall now. I know a farmer that grows buckwheat, and he recommends cutting buckwheat when it is about 7 inches tall, and eating it in your salad. Today I tried eating some plain, and it was pretty good. I am excited to try some in my salad!

While you can eat buckwheat plants when they are young and tender in salad, or harvest their seeds and make flour out of them, we did not plant the buckwheat as a food crop. We planted Buckwheat as a green manure crop.

A green manure is a crop that is grown during the summer months
and plowed back into the soil while still green or right after it flowers. The purpose of doing this is to improve the soil quality in your garden or field. They can help retain water, loosen and aerate the soil (helps to suppress weeds that thrive in highly compacted soil), prevent weeds from growing and seeding, provide food for beneficial insects, and help reduce plant diseases and pests. When the crop is tilled back into the soil it releases nutrients as it breaks down and improves the tilth (fluffiness) of the soil.

Many plants that are used as green manures are legumes, which make them useful for fixing nitrogen in the soil. Some plants also help replenish Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium, Magnesium, and Sulfur in the soil as they decompose.

For more information on the benefits and limitations of green manures visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service for an overview of cover crops and green manures. You can also visit for a list of green manure crops, as well as information on when to plant and turn them under.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Local CSA Week 5

This weeks CSA had some of the summer usuals. We're starting to get the red tomatoes, green beans, and large cucumbers.

Yellow Squash-3
Black Raspberries-1 pint
Greenbeans-Extra Large bag of yellow and green
Eggs-1/2 dozen

This CSA is for 25 weeks from Bergefurd's Family Farm.

The numbers on fuel usage, CO2 emissions, and food miles

I have grown up on a farm and have been selling at farmers markets since I was 8, so it is only natural for me to try to eat locally. I can get pretty frustrated when I notice people that are not thinking twice about where their food comes from. I can think of an almost endless list of reasons to eat locally, but one reason that has gotten a lot of press is the number 1,500. Our produce travels an average of 1,500 miles from farm to consumer.

I have heard this number tossed around quite a bit, and have recently wondered where that number came from. Maybe it is the science major in me that needs studies and numbers, but I felt the need to find out where that number came from. I started searching on the Internet, and found a study conducted by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture entitled “Food, Fuel, and Freeways”. This study is an Iowa perspective on how far food travels, fuel usage, and CO2 emissions carried out in 2001.

First, the center calculated how many miles produce traveled to reach Chicago using data from the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service in 1998. They found that produce traveled an average of 1,518 miles to Chicago. The Capital Area Food Bank also found that produce traveled and average of 1, 685 miles to Jessup, Maryland.

Next, the center calculated the number of miles food traveled from three local, Iowa, food systems where farmers were selling to restaurants, hospitals, and conference centers. They discovered that the food in these systems traveled an average of 44.6 miles instead of the 1, 546 miles it would have traveled via the conventional system. When they only regarded produce the numbers were 37.9 miles vs. 1, 638 miles.

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture also
calculated fuel use and CO2 emissions to transport 10% of the Iowa estimated consumption of 28 fresh produce items for three different food systems. The conventional system represented a retail/wholesale supply system where domestic sources supply Iowa with produce using semi trailer trucks. The Iowa based-regional system was a hypothetical scenario based on existing Iowa based distribution infrastructure. In this scenario, a cooperative of small and mid-sized farms would supply Iowa retailers/wholesalers using semi trailers and mid size trucks. The local system represented farmers who sell directly to consumers through CSAs, farmers markets, restaurants, hospitals, and conference centers using trucks with light gasoline usage.

The conventional system used 4 to 17 more fuel than the Iowa based regional system or the local system. The conventional system also released 5 to 17 times more CO2 from the burning of fuel than Iowa based regional systems or local systems. The range in these numbers is dependent on the type of truck and system used to transport the produce.

Those are some numbers to think about! I hope this gives you one more reason to consider buying locally grown/raised food or even grow your own!

By the way, the number 1,500 comes from an article written by John Hendrickson in 1996, using data from 1980. His summary is quite informative and raises even more issues about energy usage in the U.S. food system, including ways to conserve energy.

Friday, July 3, 2009

First demo garden harvest!

The demonstration garden is growing wonderfully! The Kentucky Wonder Pole beans are starting to grow on the trellis and the Acorn squash is going to bloom in the next couple of days! All of the herbs are thriving and need to be used!

This week the tomatoes were suckered and the garden was weeded and watered. One volunteer has worked in the garden each day for about ½ hour. There have been relatively few weeds in our plot, mostly just a creeping vine.

The buckwheat has germinated and is now about ¾ inch tall. The germination was pretty spotty, but there is still a fair stand.

I pulled 10 more Cherry Belle radishes today. I ate one that was slightly larger than a golf ball. It was nice inside, not pithy, but it sure was spicy. There were a couple of ladies eating lunch in the park that were happy to eat the rest of the radishes!

Radishes are actually really good for us. They are high in fiber, Copper, Manganese and Potassium. They are also a good source of Vitamins C and K. Radishes are a member of the mustard family, which helps explain why they have a bite to them.

We are most used to seeing red, round radishes, like the Cherry Belles in the demo garden. However, they can be found in a variety of shapes and colors. French breakfast radishes are red and white in color and can hold up slightly better in the heat. I enjoy eating them because I believe that they pack less of a punch than Cherry Belles. It could be argued that the prettiest radishes are the Easter egg variety. They are perfectly round and come in a colorful mix of white, pink and purple!

Radishes are a great crop to start out gardening with because they do not take up much space, are easy to grow, are nutritious, are frost tolerant, and are ready to eat in as early as 21 days. If you would like any more information about Radish varieties or growing tips click HERE.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's Zucchini Time!

If you have your own garden or have been to the farmer’s market lately, you have surely noticed the influx of zucchini that has recently arrived. I have been waiting for this time of year for quite awhile. Growing up, I disliked zucchini for some reason, but it is now one of my favorite foods.

I enjoy all the different varieties of zucchini that are out there. From dark to pale green, yellow, green and yellow, long and skinny and even round. My favorite variety of zucchini is Costata Romanesco. It is a paler green/gray in color, with green flecks and it is ribbed. It is an heirloom variety that does not yield as well as most of the hybrids do, but it sure is delicious!

I love zucchini and yellow squash sautéed, grilled and in bread. My favorite zucchini recipe is Zucchini and Yellow Squash Gratin. I cook it as much as possible. I could eat the entire dish by myself. In fact one of my friends and I regularly split it between the two of us, despite the fact it is supposed to feed four people. I even made it for the family I stayed with in New Zealand (where they call zucchini ‘courgettes’) and the kids actually begged their mother to make it for them the next week! It has the stamp of approval from some of the pickiest eaters I know. Click HERE for the Everyday Food recipe.

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Gratin

2 tablespoons butter
2 medium zucchini (about 7 oz each) sliced crosswise ½ in thick
2 medium yellow squash (can use zucchini instead) sliced ½ in thick
2 shallots (or small onions) minced
2 garlic cloves minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
½ cup heavy cream
1cup panko (or breadcrumbs)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450 F. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat; add zucchini, yellow squash, shallots and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini and squash are crisp tender, 4-6 minutes.
2. Add cream and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; stir in ½ cup panko and ½ cup Parmesan
3. Spoon mixture into a shallow, 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining panko and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Bake until top is golden brown, 8-10 minutes.
4. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Follow our local CSA

With any initiative comes jargon, and as our blogger Kelsey noted in a recent post about the acronym CSA's, local food is no exception.

In addition to Kelsey's post there is plenty of information out there on this quickly-growing trend. Her subsequent post discussed a CSA that is available here, locally, in Clinton County--and also mentioned, is that both Mark and I are participating this year to demonstrate an easy way of supporting local farmers and locally-grown, nutritious food.

The CSA is being done by Wilmington's Bergefurd's Family Farm Market. We have a full share which is broken into 25 weeks at $20 each ($500 for the season). We are going to keep a post updated with the progress of our CSA--i.e. what we are getting from week-to-week.

A worthy note--CSA's work with the growing cycle, and so the initial shares will be lighter and build up as the season treks on.

So refer to the link at the top of the page to follow, or just check back for updates in the middle of the week.

Week 1 -- 6/10/09
1/2 dozen eggs
Radishes-Small Batch
Garlic Scapes-Small Batch
Lettuce--Medium Bag

Week 2 -- 6/17/09
1/2 dozen eggs
Radishes-Small Batch
Garlic Scapes-Small Batch
Lettuce-Medium Bag

Week 3 -- 6/24/09
1/2 dozen eggs
Yellow Summer Squash-2
Green Tomatoes-2

Week 4 -- 7/1/09
1/2 dozen eggs
Lettuce-Large Bag
Yellow Summer Squash-2
Green Tomatoes-3
Garlic-1 clove

  © Blogger template 'LonelyTree' by 2008

Back to TOP