Summer 2016: we took an urban farm tour organized by the Master Gardener’s Extension of WSU in Spokane, WA, and learned about urban goats, chickens, market gardens, stacking income funnels, and that even in the summer, under greenhouse plastic, tomatoes love it when it’s hot.
At our first stop, Swaggerty Farms, Janice talked about keeping goats from bothering the neighbors. Before she got the goats she canvassed the neighborhood and let her community members know that she’d planned on getting these goats and to please come to her with any concerns. The biggest concerns? Smell and noise.
To best deal with the noise, she put the goats on the side of the yard where the house next door wasn’t too bothered by the noise. She also keeps them fed and gives them lots to do. But they are like guard dogs, they will alert Janice to many things that are amiss near the property. Keeping urban goats completely silent just won’t happen.
To best deal with the smell she made sure the wind traveled the least by their pen, regularly cleans their area, and manages the flies by putting out fly catchers at the very first sign of snow melt in the spring. Waiting longer than that first frost gives the flies a leg-up for laying eggs and they are a major nuisance. The chickens also help with combating flies by eating them.
Our second stop was the West Central Community Garden. This community garden is located in a “food desert”, a neighborhood with no grocery stores within a one mile radius. At this stop on the urban farm tour we were taught by one of the student employees about how the garden gives kids in the neighborhood a chance to learn skills such as sales and marketing, horticulture, job interviewing, working as a team, and garden design. The spiral layout of part of the garden was very cool. I can’t wait to see more plants filled in as the seasons pass year after year. I hope they decide to add in some perennials but we did also hear from a gentleman from the Urban Tree Project. The UTP collects fruit that would otherwise go to waste from homes that have fruit trees and berry bushes, in the community, with permission from the homeowners, of course.
After West Central Central Community Garden we went to Food For All and then to Eden Farms. Food For All serves Catholic Charities and had a hundred different variety of tomatoes. These were all under hoop houses and it was very sauna-like under the plastic. The tomatoes loved it because they weren’t in direct heat, had moisture and had warmth.
I was most impressed with the way Eden Farms stacks their income funnels. Two residences on the property are rented out, and an old school is being renovated to act as a restaurant. They also run a CSA and have a market garden. One of the residents of the apartment uses the milk from the goats on the property to make soaps and lotions.
My apologies for the poor audio in the video. This is my first try at something beyond recording my kids. Next year I’ll be more forward about asking the hosts if I could record them for online.