Self-Guided Tour

OKC Urban Farm and Garden tourAll the details are here!

Seed Saver

saving seeds
Over the winter, mice munched on most of my vegetable and flower seed before I learned to store it in jars. (Take heed!)

Left untouched were the amaranth, anise hyssop and basil seed heads I cut in the fall and hung from the ceiling of the laundry/mud room.

Last week I collected the seed in anticipation of planting time and an upcoming annual seed exchange. (If you’re in the Oklahoma City area on Easter Sunday, you should come out to Ron Ferrell’s Friendship Seed & Plant Exchange. Here‘s how it all got started.)
saving seed
The amaranth and basil were both grown from seed. The sage leaves were from Guilford Gardens. And the hyssop was grown from a transplant from Gabe.
saving seeds
I have referred to this handy guide for my rudimentary seed-saving. Saving seed seems like a fairly simple exercise, but there are those seeds that have a reputation, like tomatoes. They’ve been deemed difficult, but I’m not sure why. I haven’t attempted saving tomato seed, but that largely is because I haven’t had a lot of luck growing the suckers. I don’t store seeds in the fridge, and I don’t do germination tests. And as you can see, I don’t bother with threshing. I am just not that rigorous. Should I be?

I’d like to devote some time to developing a deeper understanding of seed-saving and botany. Seems like this book would be the place to start. Any other suggestions?


muckin' it upWordsmith by day, wanna-be farmer/domestic goddess by night

Hear celebrated farmer-activist-writer Wendell Berry recite some of his poems, including that one that always soothes me, “The Peace of Wild Things.” And in the same tradition, my friend Stephanie Jordan will read from her poetry collection, Waiting for Rain: Stories of Love, Loss and Agriculture, in Norman on Sunday. And it might even be raining. 

Looks like I’m going to take a road trip sometime this spring or summer to visit Key Ingredients: America by Food, a traveling food history exhibit making its way through rural America. Here’s the Oklahoma schedule. I’m pretty jazzed since I’ve been wanting to see more of Oklahoma, and I’ll get to geek out on our country’s culinary evolution while doing so.

The Greenhorns in OKC

Tomorrow come see The Greenhorns at the IAO Gallery in OKC. The documentary film offers a peek into the world of inexperienced farmers — their triumphs, motivations, challenges, and insights. We’re going to start with a potluck, so bring a dish to share, plus your plate, cup, and flatware. As it goes with these types of events, you know the food will be amazing. See ya there!

Click here to download the PDF.

Local Food + Local Art

Sustainable OKC and Individual Artists of Oklahoma are hosting EVOLVE, a juried art exhibition focusing on representations of sustainability, resiliency, and community.

Saturday night is the opening reception, and as part of the festivities, there will be a local food challenge between six big shots in OKC’s food-loving community:

Chef Kurt Fleischfresser
Chef Kamala Gamble
Prairie Gypsies
Chef Ryan Parrott
The Wedge Pizzeria

Each contestant is making a finger food with as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. And you’ll judge their efforts! For the People’s Choice award, $1 = 1 vote for your favorite dish.

In addition, they will be competing for a $500 prize, which will be awarded by the three jurors:

Chef Jonathon Stranger
Chef Linda Trippe
Restaurateur Gail Vines

As if all that wasn’t enough, there will also be some awesome raffle prizes:

Membership to the Oklahoma Food Cooperative
Overnight stay at the Colcord Hotel
COOP Ale Works brewery tour
Oklahoma State Park gift certificate, valid for one night stay at
any state park
Local food picnic for four provided by Fresh Eats, a locavore
Enersolve diagnostic home energy audit
Summerside Vineyards, tour for four
$125 Ludivine gift certificate
Local goodies basket including items from Native Roots, DNA
and more

This is all happening 7 p.m. Saturday at the IAO Gallery in downtown OKC.

Tickets are $25 at the door, or can be purchased in advance at

I’m especially excited The Spy will be DJing, which means dancing is very likely!

The Living Kitchen

We went to a Living Kitchen Chowdown in early October. The chowdowns are a casual alternative to their farm table dinners, which we went to last summer.
pretty chicken in the bus
Here’s a lovely hen in an old school bus-turned-chicken house.
I got photos of the farm animals and the humans, but not the food. It was a delicious spread of seasonal picnic fare.
Jeff and Lisa
We brought our cooler of beer, served ourselves and sat in the grass. It was a gorgeous day and Jeff and Lisa’s after-dinner tunes topped it off.

This was our first time to the new Living Kitchen location in Depew; when we visited in summer 2009 they were still in Bristow. Linda and Lisa are such relaxed hosts; both places had a great vibe. Check out Living on this Farm, where Lisa blogs about her experiences as an “accidental farmer.”

More photos from our Living Kitchen visits are here and here.

Ready! Set! Garden!

This is the story of what happened when 30 strangers gathered to learn, ponder, feast, and build a garden on a beautiful Saturday in late February.

Randy Marks and Ron Ferrell led the hopeful gardeners attending the Sustainable OKC workshop, which happened to be in our yard. They started us off with an exercise: we were to wander around the yard looking for on-site resources that could be used in growing projects, such as: pecan hulls, compost, “urbanite” (concrete scraps), shade and sun, water sources, wind blocks, soil, people. We learned about thermal mass, permaculture, food systems, and much more. Randy and Ron told us about their background and shared some of their favorite books.

The Plowman’s Folly by Edward Faulkner
No-Work Garden by Ruth Stout
Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza
Humanure by Joseph Jenkins
Noah’s Garden by Sara Stein
A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison

We identified the placement of the garden and spread cardboard on the ground with lots of overlap in order to effectively smother out weeds and grass. You can actually install this garden right on top of existing lawn. That’s why this method is sometimes referred to as a “no-dig garden.” Of course we all know how tenacious bermuda grass can be, so there will be some creepers that invade—just not nearly as many as you would have otherwise. Then we placed the bluestem straw bales (bluestem holds up better than wheat straw) around the border. The bales should last about three years, after which they will need to be replaced or framed with something else. The bales help insulate the soil and retain moisture.

Next we filled the bed with loose straw and stomped it down. The straw acts as a sponge to retain moisture. Eventually the straw and cardboard will decompose and feed the soil.

Then it was time to add our growing medium: well-rotted horse poo. Expecting some slight settling, we made a heaping mound of it. The straw bales, straw fill, and compost all are moisture retainers, so watering requirements should be greatly reduced.
With nearly 30 people helping out, the construction of the bed took all of 26 minutes!

We took a break for a delicious potluck lunch: quiche, meatballs, granola, roasted veggie orzo, sweet potato soup, chicken, tabouli, cookies, cake, breads, and more. By the end of the day, we had decided on a name for our mission: Oklahoma GardenShare. Sharon Astrin created a facebook group for us. Please join and spread the word: Oklahoma GardenShare. The idea is to nurture a garden community, where we can reach out to this group and say—”Hey! I want to build a raised bed this weekend. Who can help me out?”—much like people come together to raise a barn or build straw-bale homes.

Much thanks to Chelsey Simpson for photographing the event.

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