Urban bounty

September 18, 2010 at 7:27 pm 1 comment

By Dee Reid

From left, Ishmael and Keith with summer produce ready for Vimala's, 9th Street Bakery and Trosa Grocery (Photo by Bountiful Backyards)

Keith Shaljian believes that fresh, local, organic fruits, herbs and vegetables shouldn’t just be for affluent foodies.  That’s why he and his colleagues at Bountiful Backyards partner with other community organizations to start sustainable gardens in unlikely locations.

I first met Keith when Bountiful Backyards was helping to install a community garden that would provide job training for homeless persons in Chapel Hill. I found him again this week-end at Two Ton Farm, an amazing urban permaculture garden with produce, fruit, flowers and herbs, filling the 2500-square-foot lot surrounding Jruth Manor, a transitional house in North East Central Durham. They call it Two Ton Farm because they intend to eventually be able to harvest 2-3 pounds of food per square foot.

“We want this to be a replicable model of sustainable life, expanding access to local, fresh organic food at an affordable cost,” Keith explained during the Eastern Triangle Farm Tour.

He and Sarah Vroom, also of Bountiful Backyards, explained that the garden shows that you can grow enough food on an urban lot to feed multiple families or to start a micro-business by selling to local food enterprises.

The Durham garden is a community collaboration involving several other organizations including Good Work (a sustainable community development organization), Green Space Initiative (working to connect Durham to its agricultural roots) and Jruth, Inc., developing social entrepreneurship strategies for homeless persons, ex-offenders and others.

The project broke ground May 1.  Working with Jruth residents, teens and other volunteers the group developed compost, mulch and 15 French intensive double-dug raised vegetable beds. They also planted herb and pollinator plots,  elderberries and blueberries, according to a plan designed for sustainability and low maintenance. They have harvested more than 275 pounds of fresh produce to sell or give to neighbors, restaurants and community organizations.

Check out photos and video about Two-Ton Farm, produced by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

More photos of Two-Ton Farm on Facebook.

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Entry filed under: Community Gardening, food access, Learning, Sustainable Farming, Sustainable Food, Urban Farming. Tags: , , , , , , .

Don’t miss the Eastern Triangle Farm Tour Sept. 18-19 Teens learn to farm and lead

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