In our backyard

September 13, 2009 at 1:42 pm 3 comments

The Carrboro and Chapel Hill Urban Farm Tour was fun and educational for all ages, thanks to the diverse back- and front- yard vegetable beds, orchards, apiaries, and chicken coops open for public exploration at 20 locations. The best way to experience it on this sunny Saturday afternoon was by bicycle on one of the group tours that left hourly from central Carrboro.

Perhaps the most heartening discovery was that seven of the 20 farms on the tour turned out to be public community gardens designed for beginners and veterans, kids and retirees, singles and families, the landless and homeless, and anyone else hankering for a piece of earth where they could grow and harvest fresh food. Two of the community gardens involved UNC students.

Who says fresh, organic , healthy, local food can’t be accessible and affordable? These public gardening enterprises are making sure that anyone who is willing to get their hands dirty can taste the fruits and veggies of their labor.

We started our tour at 1120 Hillsborough Rd, two community plots a short bike ride north of town. One, was designed for families with children under 6 and the other provided individual plots for anyone willing to work the soil. They used water from two huge rain-barrel cisterns.

Next we ventured further north to Arcadia, the famous co-housing neighborhood where clustered “green” homes of varying sizes faced well-tended kitchen gardens, a meadow and a pond.  (There were two co-housing communities and several co-op homes on the tour.)

 Abraham explained how his Arcadia based Box Turtle Bakery makes whole-grain breads using mostly local ingredients. The wheat is grown about 1/4 mile down the road, thrashed and hulled by combine, then hand-screened and milled in a hand-cranked grinder, and baked in the wood-fired oven he constructed in his own kitchen.  When our mob arrived he was taking a pan of croutons out of the oven. We sampled some breads and I went home with a loaf of whole wheat.

Next stop was 621 Hillsborough St. , a co-op where we found an intensive vegetable garden, a portable chicken “tractor,” a water cachment system, and an orchard. One of the residents climbed atop his bike-repair shed roof and handed us fresh figs. When I admired the sunflower stalk in the center of the vegetable garden, he gave me a handful of seeds to take home for my spring 2010 garden.

We took another short cycle ride south to 105 Dillard Street, where we found beehives,  grafted fruit trees, vermi-compost and chickens providing both eggs and meat.  

There was plenty to learn on the tour, with discussions on animal slaughter, deer fence construction, fruit tree planting, bamboo fencing, building a “lasagna bed,” and harvesting honey. The evening culminated in a potluck supper for those who brought a dish made with local ingredients.

My final stop was at Johnny’s the popular laid-back coffee shop on W. Main Street. That’s when I discovered that in Carrboro, the Paris of the Piedmont, even the java joint has a chicken coop and raised veggie beds in the back, which you can enjoy on the patio with beer, music and friends. Just another unique asset of this increasingly sustainable community.

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Entry filed under: Events, Learning, Sustainable Farming, Uncategorized. Tags: .

Planting it forward: they grew and gave away 2,000 seedlings Subterranean sustenance

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