Category Archives: Kent Ohio Food Not Lawns

Akron’s Seed Sharing Library

The Snarky Gardener spent an evening with the Akron-Summit County Public Library’s Seed Sharing Library

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On a random visit to the the Akron-Summit County Public Library, I discovered their seed library in the Science and Technology Division at their Main Branch in downtown Akron. A seed library is a collection of packaged seeds that can be “checked out” by community members.  Up to six packets of seeds a month may be checked out. Borrowers are encouraged to return seed saved out of their gardens at the end of the season but it’s not required.  Some plants that are straight forward to save seeds from, like tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, beans, and peas, are marked as “easy to save”.

With my Kent Ohio Food Not Lawns involvement, I have done research on seed libraries with thoughts of possibly starting one here in Kent. Currently there are efforts by state departments of agriculture to close down such libraries as they violate laws that were written for large scale seed producers.  The issue seems to be not the lending but the receiving of seeds back.  The concern is that the seeds of noxious or poisonous plants will be slipped into the system by unscrupulous people and that all seeds need to be professionally tested.  At this writing, there have been cases in at least 3 states – Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Maryland. In the Pennsylvania case, the library compromised with the Department of Agriculture by agreeing to host several seed swaps a year instead.

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A few weeks after my initial visit, I returned to the Seed Sharing Library, this time as a volunteer helping to split out donated seed into smaller packets. Most commercial packets have many seasons of seeds and can be divided into 4 or 5 packets without issue. Six of us spent 3 hours splitting out just a third of the donated and purchased seed. It became very tedious by the time we finished up. Nonetheless, if they have another packing event, I’ll be there with some of my Kent Food Not Lawns members. I’ll also be donating some of my own saved seed, including turnips, beans, tomatoes, and peppers.

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To find out more about the Seed Sharing Library please visit http://www.akronlibrary.org/locations/main-library/science-technology-division/seed-sharing

Tierra Verde Farms

The Snarky Gardener toured Tierra Verde Farms, his favorite place to buy quality food, including grass fed beef, free range chickens and nitrate free pork.
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A curious cow.

Tierra Verde Farms (which roughly translates to Green Acres) is a local farm we discovered through a pamphlet at my doctor’s office of all places. A group of us from Kent Ohio Food Not Lawns showed up on a Sunday afternoon to get a personalized 2 hour tour from the owner, Mike Jones. We started in his store front as he explained that his farm is designed based on Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farms system of rotational grazing with chickens pasturing after cows, etc. It was easy to see from his presentation that Mike considers the animals part of his family, with all the emotions and attachments that entails.

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One of these is Maynard, our Thanksgiving turkey

After our talk, we started the walking part of the tour with the Thanksgiving turkeys. The Snarky Gardener had ordered one a few months back and wanted to meet him/her personally.  We found them gobbling away out in the pasture.  They came up to us as we looked like people with food.  Sorry guys, no food here!  Trying to find our specific turkey was impossible as they didn’t have name tags.

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Chicken tractor

From the turkeys we moved onto the meat chickens.  They were housed in “chicken tractors” that are moved every day so the chickens can get fresh stuff to eat.  Mike’s tractors were very well designed as they had automatic waterers and lots of fencing to keep out predators (hawks, coyotes, etc.).  Would love to have a smaller version here at Snarky Acres but I think that’s a few years away.

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Foraging pigs. The pink ones are for Easter hams.

Next on the agenda were the pigs.  They were fenced in under a stand of trees as pigs are forest dwellers in nature.  With this type of farm, it’s important that the animals get to be themselves as much as possible so they are happy.  These pigs are able to root in the mud and eat plenty of forage, including acorns and other nuts, just like they would in the wild.  Mike let us go in to see the pigs closeup though I think his idea was to give the pigs people to play with as they kept nipping at the back of our shoes.

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Mooooo

From the pigs we moooooved onto the beef cow pasture.  Beautiful brown cows welcomed us by staying together as a herd and looking at us warily.  Cows are herd animals and their ancestors survived by keeping together.  These particular cows are hybrids, which helps them be productive, much like an F1 plant has hybrid vigor (an interesting concept in the least).

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Egg laying chickens

Our final tour stop was the egg laying chickens.  They were truly free range with a portable trailer coop to lay eggs and receive shelter.  The chickens have been trained to come in by a certain time before the automatic door leaves them out in the cold and vulnerable to predation.   Mike told us that after the chickens reach two years old he sells them off for $5 a piece to home egg producers.  These older hens don’t produce as many eggs per week (3 to 4 versus 6 for younger chickens), but for a home raiser that should be plenty.  Never thought of buying a used egg chicken before (hmmmmm).

If you are interested in learning more or purchasing some meat products (but not Maynard, he’s ours), please visit their website http://www.tierraverdefarms.com/

You Had Me At Shiitake

The Snarky Gardener is looking forward to Shiitake and Chicken-of-the-Woods mushrooms in 2015
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The Snarky Gardener had to cut down a maple tree for inoculation.  Notice the lack of safety goggles or ear plugs – very professional.

The Snarky Gardener read a TimeBank ad for mushroom inoculation and jumped at the chance. For only 2 Time Credits (equals two hours of my time somewhere else), a mushroom expert came to Snarky Acres and put on a demonstration. I read up online to get the basic idea. First, I had to have fresh wood – 3 weeks or less old. And the wood had to be a hardwood like oak, maple, or black cherry. The timing was perfect as I’ve been wanting to cut up a pile of pine logs near my garden for a year or so. So I found a local tool rental place and rented me the biggest chainsaw they had (24″ inches) as the logs were quite big. Of course this was only the second time I’d ever used a chainsaw, so the Snarky Girlfriend watched to make sure I didn’t cut anything off my body (and to apparently make fun of me). As you can see by the photo, I’m not using ear or eye protection, but I was sure to wear the traditional lumberjack polo shirt. Fortunately, the logs and a six inch wide maple tree were cut without any injury to the Snarky Gardener or his ego.

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Tom (aka the Mushroom Expert) is putting wax on top of inoculation holes

On inoculation day, process went like this :
1.  Use fresh wood that’s been cut between fall and late spring (for nutritional reasons).
2.  Drill holes into the wood.
3.  Insert pre-treated plugs into the holes.
4.  Wax the holes to protectively seal them.
5.  Wait until next spring, keeping the logs in the shade and moist.
6.  Eat mushrooms for the next 5 years or so.

So now we just have to wait nearly a year before mushrooms will be eaten.

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The finished product

Kent Ohio Food Not Lawns 1st Annual Plant and Seed Swap – 5/17/2014

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Where:
Kent Social Services
1066 S Water St, Kent, OH

When:
May 17, 2014 11AM-2PM

It’s Kent Food Not Lawn’s first annual plant and seed swap!  Bring your plants, seeds (especially anything that can be direct seeded like beans, carrots, beets, etc), Kent Community TimeBank credits, and cash. This will be a potluck so bring a dish to share.

Sign up at http://www.meetup.com/Kent-Food-Not-Lawns/events/170734842/

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