From SCOTT CRATTY
Friends of the Farmers’ Market,
We are definitely firing up early this year. In addition to having the out Humboldt Bay oyster connection back early (a surprise last week), I now expect more farms back early this Saturday, one attending Ukiah for the first time. Black Dog Farm from Willits will make its debut, Salt Hollow Farm from Redwood Valley will bring lettuce, radishes and various greens and Ukiah’s own Spiral Garden Botanicals will be there with herbal and vegetable starts.
Don Willis will be back with his ever lively, on target and lovely accordion playing.
Holly passed along this article about the young farmers movement and Project Greenhorn. Paula with Mendocino Organics, who you see handing out CSA baskets each week at the market, has been very much involved in the Greenhorn project and the related movie. If the article inspires some questions, she might be willing to answer.
And now, for those of you who do not get the UDJ, here is this week’s Market Message:
Mollusks Invade Ukiah (Farmers’ Market)
It seems that many of you were too busy getting your gardens going to make it to the farmers’ market last weekend. Vegetable sales were slow. Many a robust and healthful chard, heroic and lion-hearted though it might have been, failed in its mission to find your dinner plate.
They will not give up. Now that sunny days are back in vogue, ever more valiant young greens are packing away stores of vibrant, healthy energy and reaching for the heavens every week. Some of this new crew will be at the market tomorrow, looking for you. Cannot you hear them calling your name?
If you did miss the market last week, you missed the (surprise) early return of Aqua-Rodeo and their fresh oysters, straight from Humboldt Bay to our little market in Ukiah. Try getting those out of your garden! Or, anyplace else. We also had the largest selection of fish that I have seen in many a month. Given the calm waters this week, I anticipate that both will return tomorrow.
I am glad to report that many of you who missed the farmers’ market seemed to be up to some good. The Gardens Project website reports that their Spring Garden Blitz, last weekend’s push to get a number of community gardens into shape all at one, was a success. Over 88 volunteers showed up and put in 299 hours improving 10 gardens across the county. You can read about some of the specific improvements on their blog.
Just to prove that they are as busy as bees in spring, the Gardens Project crew alerted me to another one of their projects that could use community support this week. It seems that a private land owner wants to provide space for a community garden on the South end of Ukiah at the corner of Mulberry and Washington. The Gardens Project is able, willing, and ready to help get it going and to provide oversight. They have already canvassed the neighborhood and lined-up many interested gardeners.
Does this sound like just the kind resource pooling and cooperation we will all need to pull our community through difficult times? It does to me.
Land generously provided for a community garden creates an opportunity for people without land of their own to get fresh healthy food at a very low cost by adding their own labor to the equation. It is a way of gaining skills, becoming more active and involved, improving health, getting away from the darned TV, etc. Done properly it will also improve both the soil health, rain water drainage and area property values, and, even if you live on the other side of the planet and happen to drive by just once in your life, it will make the journey just a little bit more beautiful.
However, as is often the case with novel things, no matter how good they be, the project cannot go ahead without a permit. In this case, a use permit from the City of Ukiah. The Gardens Project is asking for supporting letters before the comment period on its use permit application closes on March 30th. They are also working with the City of Ukiah to modify zoning plans so that someone wishing to make use of their own property to create a community garden in the future can do so as a “use by right” without having to go through an expensive and time consuming permit process.
If you would like more information about the project contact Kelly Burwell, an Americorps VISTA worker currently assigned to the Gardens Project at 707-462-2596 x185. If you are ready to leap in now, send comments to Charley Stump, City of Ukiah, Director of Planning and Community Development, 300 Seminary Ave Ukiah, CA 95482. You can also email it to Kim Jordan at Kjordan@cityofukiah.com.
I mentioned a few weeks back that Lovers Lane Farm was planning to offer complete beekeepers kits, including 3 hour training, gear and bees. You can get the details in the March 4 entry on their blog. While I was there I had the pleasure of reading a particularly lovely piece of writing by Kate about life at Lovers Lane Farm. It’s the March 22 entry and is well worth a read.
The Ukiah Saturday Farmers’ Market is where you should be every Saturday morning from 9:30 a.m. to Noon. The Willits Farmers’ market is in the Little Lake Grange building, which is at 291 School Street, on Thursdays from 3-6 p.m
Scott Cratty manages the Ukiah Saturday Farmers’ Market. With his wife Holly, he also owns and operates the Westside Renaissance Market on Clay St. in Ukiah.