Spring Training

A productive morning under the sun. It’s nice to get some soil on the hands and catch up with our land-donors and neighbours. Here are some snapshots of our progress.

Blue bells and buttercup
Next step: digging new beds
A pound or so of overwintered Chieftans, hiding out since last season
Time to clean up the kale forest and rudbeckia
Thinned and weeded, ready for this year’s seeds and starts

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2013 CSA Poster

Ken Tsui’s Pop-Up Dinners

One of the benefits of growing veggies in the city is being on speed dial with amazing chefs. Ken Tsui, formerly of Eat Together, called us up last week to see if we had anything appetizing overwintering in our gardens. He does private meals for small groups and comes up with some of the most appetizing and creative menus I’ve heard of. We managed to supply him with some lacinato kale, tokyo cross turnips, collard greens, sunckokes and arugula.

This meal was put together by Ken and two other chefs, a brother-sister duo, Tarek & Karima Chellouf. Here’s a glimpse of their skill:

A handmade ramen salad with miso deviled eggs, toasted lacinato kale chips and dust, pressed turnip and wild foraged greens.

Soy-glazed, smoked cod with sunchokes, carrot noodles, and clams in a dashi broth – radish sprouts, chickweed, and tatsoi to garnish.

The dessert was an apple tarte tatin with five-spice crust and ginger honey-lemon drizzle. Also topped with coconut whip.

If you are interested in having Ken come bless your space, he can be reached at ken.yk.tsui(at)gmail.com.

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ICF Internship 2013




2013 Internships
*Note: 2013 Internship Closed 03/15/2013 –  thanks for all the excellent applications* 
Inner City Farms Inc is seeking applicants for urban farming internships. Interns will learn to farm and manage a network of small vegetable plots built primarily in residential spaces throughout Vancouver.
  • Minimum of one8hr work shift from Monday to Friday and a 4-8hr shift every other Sunday morning.
  • Weekday shifts will be spent alongside our head farmer
  • Sundays will be based around our CSA harvest
This is a volunteer position at this time. There will be occasional workdays as of early April, full hours will start early May. The season will last through October.
If interested, please send the following to info@innercityfarms.com
  • Resume 
  • A paragraph outlining your qualifications, interests and why an urban farming internship is something that you would like to take on.

Inner City Farms will contact prospective interns for in-person interviews via email.

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Early Nettles!

 There are a few ways to get fresh greens at this time of year.

  • You could harvest last season’s brassicas that are holding out through the winter (kale, collards, bok choi and others). 
  • You could have a nifty cold frame set-up that has been protecting your spinach, mustard greens & lettuces. 
  • You can grow indoors with lamps and sh-tuff.
  • OR you can sneak into the forest and get yourself some nettles (amongst other edibles, but this posting will just discuss nettles.)
New growth in mid-February

There are pros and cons to each option but I’d like to highlight some of the benefits of nettles.

  • Free
  • Minimal labour
  • Gets you in a wild space (not always, they will grow anywhere that has disturbed soil, saw some in a neglected front yard in Mt Pleasant last week, true story)
  • Provides opportunity to be unnecessarily secretive about your hidden patch
  • Stings eventually become invigorating and addictive (like pleasant pins & needles that stick around for 24hrs)
  • Nutritious beyond belief (the link compares nettles to kale – pretty sweet website for nutritional info)
  • Incredibly adaptable to many common meals and easy to dry for future use in teas & soups, some folks make beer out of it
  • It has incredible medicinal properties as well

We’ve got a secret patch that we’ve been hitting up for years, accessible by bike and big enough to support a few families. The early growth is best. If the plant is beyond 6”, I’ve been told that it begins to accumulate calcium carbonate which can lead to minor back pain and possibly kidney stones(!) if you indulge copious amounts daily. If they are tall plants that haven’t flowered, it is still safe to harvest and consume, but just don’t consume too much. I’ve also heard that sorry is a less desirable condition than safe, so exercising common sense seems appropriate here.

5 minutes of ‘work’ for three meals

We use it like kale, collards or spinach and have made omelettes, stir-fry, spanikopita, soups, pesto or just sauteed with salt, pepper and a little sesame oil – pairs nicely with salmon, rice and an IPA or ESB.

Shrinks down when it cooks (make sure you cook it well if not blanching first, heat removes the sting!)

Happy harvesting and be mindful to take only what you need.

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Kathmandu Urban Ag Project


Check out the efforts of some like-minded (global) citizens. Their project is called Hariyo Chowk, which means “Green Square” or “Green Commons” in Nepali. The group started transforming a small plot of land in Kathmandu into a community space last spring and have already built a bamboo structure for vertical gardening, a mudbrick oven for cooking, a sunken pit for fires, and a stage for gatherings and film screenings (bicycle powered too!). They’ve also started planting native and edible plants, and hosting work days and workshops. Impressive!

A quick glimpse of the group in action

Here’s their indigogo page if you are interested in helping them reach their goal of raising $5000 to help keep them growing.

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Mark Bomford’s TEDxYale presentation

This is an exceptional presentation by Mark Bomford, former (on-leave) director of the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm (aka UBC Farm). He provides a nice framework for understanding the role of urban agriculture in our global food system. Enjoy!

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Some ICF media videos

This past Sunday was incredible – sunshine, mild temperatures and favourable soil moisture. It doesn’t seem fair that we in Vancouver can begin working in the garden while the East coast is under so much snow. But as so many PE teachers and coaches have reminded me in the past, life isn’t fair, so I won’t spend too much time lamenting Canadian climatic injustices.

As a way to shake off (mild) winter lethargy and welcome the new growing season, I will take this opportunity to compile some videos featuring our efforts at Inner City Farms over the past few seasons. Taking a page from Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth‘s playbook, ‘reminisce, reminisce’!

CBC Vancouver  (Sept 22, 2011) – Profiling our connection with a local restaurant, food waste and vermicomposting in a closed-loop system.

CBC Suzuki Diaries (Feb 14, 2012) – Our interview with Sarika Suzuki as part of the Nature of Things’ focus on sustainable city initiatives.

Montecristo Magazine (Autumn 2012 issue) – We were fortunate to be included in Montecristo’s article on the blossoming local food movement in Vancouvergreat shots!

Meet Your Urban Farmer (Winter 2012) – This video is part of a series produced by the fine folk at Fire & Light Media

Season 4 begins…

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Process Garlic, the many ways we

Still going strong, but with a change in focus.

Task 1 – clean up the gardens, put ’em to bed for the winter. There have been few photo-suiting moments to show y’all but there’s as much opportunity left for that as there is work to be done, which is a lot.

Task 2 – learn to write more clearly.

Task 3 – form like Voltron to process and plant our garlic. We had a big session today to put the little allium ducks in a row. Here’s a preview of what we will be planting in the next week or so, a total of 4320 all within the city limits! This will be the 4th Vancouver growing season for these seeds, we believe they’re getting quite settled in to our climate.

  • Chesnok Red – 600
  • Russian Red – 600
  • Persian Star – 600
  • Yugoslavian – 600
  • Purple Glazer – 440
  • Leningrad – 435
  • Musica – 265
  • Rojo de Castro (creole) – 380
  • Burgundy (creole) – 400

We have a bit of garlic left for sale, excellent for eating and planting, and going for the outrageously low price of $10/lbs. Contact us at info@innercityfarms.com if you’re interested and check out our product profiles to learn about the distinguishing features of our varieties.

  • Chesnok Red – 18.5lbs
  • Persian Star – 11lbs
  • Burgundy Creole – 2lbs (rare variety price exception – $15/lbs)
  • Russian Red – 5lbs
  • Musica – 5lbs
  • Yugoslavian – 3.5lbs 

Throughout the sorting process, there is always a percentage of garlic that is perfectly edible but not quite fit for public sale. We place those cloves aside and send them home with the help. Here are a few images of one way of dealing with an excess of garlic that needs to be used up asap before it succumbs to the rot.

Materials: Garlic seconds, jars, olive oil, food processor, cutting board and knife
Picked over and peeled
Into the food processor at a 3:1 garlic to olive oil portioning
A few quick pulses
Jarred up and ready for the freezer

One note of caution, put the jars in the freezer right away. If the jars are left at room temperature, we are creating a nice habitat for botulism-causing bacteria. Here’s some more info on the risks.

We let the jar sit on the counter for a few minutes so it thaws enough to scoop some out, then we throw it right back in the freezer.

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Harvest #14 – October 7, 2012

This week is the last harvest for our CSA and it was a good size share to round out the season. Thanks to all of our shareholders for your support. The process of growing, harvesting and sharing produce is made that much better by knowing that the goods are going to feed amazing people. We feel blessed to be a part of your community.

Pics from the morning’s harvest:

Bunching carrots
Counting collards
A weird carrot (for Russia)

This week’s items:

  • Chesnok or Russian Red Garlic
  • Lemon Cukes
  • Green Beans
  • Chieftain Potatoes
  • Mixed Tomatoes
  • Collard Greens
  • Red Ace & Chioggia Beets
  • Scarlett Nantes Carrots
  • Redwing Onions
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
Red Ace Beets
Collard Greens
Green Beans
Redwing Onions, soil and all
Carrot close-ups
Cukes in October
Last of the spuds

And an enormous shouting THANKS to our incredible interns, who have now become official ICF associates and good friends. We are beyond fortunate and eternally grateful for your presence in the gardens this season.

Setting the bar pretty high!

There’s still lots of work left and we will continue to post our progress over the next couple of months. Please contact us (info@innercityfarms.com) if you are interested in purchasing any garlic (see previous post for available varieties, excluding the creoles) or getting on the 2013 CSA list (5 shares sold already!).

Happy Thanksgiving!

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