Thursday, April 7, 2011

What's new, Marra Farm?

The ground remains soggy; our spirits do not! The spring growing season is enthusiastically under way, and many people have been out preparing the land at Marra Farm. Lettuce Link is just one of the several groups who cultivate the four acres of Marra farmland, shown in the aerial photo above. The community that works this land is diverse in countless ways- our languages, cultures, economic means, growing methods, preferred varieties of vegetables- but share the common work of growing good food on this piece of public land. We've certainly been busy over in the Lettuce Link corner.

Digging forks take a rest after spending hours turning beds.
For starters, we've finally put some starts into the ground. Several teams of volunteers, such as a recent group from the NAAAP-Seattle, have planted peas, onions, and raspberry canes. After a heroic day of hard work in cold drizzle, this team finished off their Saturday afternoon with giant burritos at South Park's Muy Macho Mexican restaurant. See more of their beautiful pictures, such as the one pictured above, here.

And it's not just plants we're growing, but also new gardeners! With the help of committed volunteers, three groups of local students will come to Marra Farm on a weekly basis. Two classes of 5th grade scientists from Concord International Elementary have planted fields (er, garden beds) of inquiry, asking, what happens if you plant seeds on ice? Or, what happens to vegetables if you water them with coffee? Or, what effect does watering with juice have on vegetable taste? Over the next seven weeks, the research teams will record observations and analyze their findings. Check back here in mid-June--we'll be sure to publish their conclusions.

We also have a group of 1st/2nd graders who are designing a new raised bed in the kids' garden. They are most excited to plant silver shield sorrel (to make 'garden gatorade'), nasturtiums ("spicy flower"), cilantro, and the flesh-eating pitcher plant (pictured below).

The carnivorous pitcher plant drowns its prey inside its deep cavity, which is filled with liquid. 
The plant secretes enzymes that gradually dissolve the unfortunate insect, which the plant then absorbs.
The last class, pre-K students from SeaMar Community Health Center, has been rained out for two consecutive weeks ) : But when we visited their classroom for some preliminary taste testing, they chowed down on raw spinach, snap peas, and beets like champion farmers. So we're patiently waiting until they can come help us plant seeds of all shapes and sizes in the kids' garden.

And there you have it! As always, we welcome volunteers to help us grow delicious, organic vegetables for people who struggle to afford healthy food. Contact Amelia at if you're interested in joining us sometime.

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