Santa Cruz has approved the first public Fruit Orchard!

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What: Public Orchard planting

When: Sunday Feb 15th

Time: 1:00 pm

Where: Riverside Gardens Park on Riverside Ave

On Sunday, February 15th, the public is invited to come plant the first public fruit orchard in Santa Cruz!  Located at Riverside Gardens Park (between San Lorenzo Blvd and Riverside Ave), the orchard was proposed by the Fruit Tree Project and is being organized with David Shaw from UCSC’s Common Ground Center with input from William Rubel and support from the neighbors.  The three year plan includes year one: pears and apples on either side of the compost bins, kept small and flat against the fence so the walkway is intact.  We will also planting two grapes on the arbor.  The following year includes a small citrus orchard next to Riverside Ave, and a larger orchard across the street on either side of the skate park.   We are also requesting for the city to remove 5 larger trees so that they can be replaced with avocados.

The city will allow us to tap into their drip watering line, and the trees will be maintained and pruned by the Fruit Tree Project and neighbors (like me!).  The fruit itself will be free to the public, and are next to the community garden beds which will hopefully be opened once the drought is over.

We are accepting donations for the trees themselves, and are planting a historic pear that once stood in orchards on this land back in the days of the famous Riverside Hotel.

It’s a historic moment in Santa Cruz.  Hopefully it will be just the beginning, and fruit orchards will soon be popping up all over the place, like the rail-to-trail line, or the river walk.  Come join us for the planting celebration!

 

 

Jim Denevan dinner for Micah Posner Friday June 29th

Fairytale Farm had the privilege of hosting world renowned chef and artist Jim Denevan  who cooked up an organic, locally-sourced, backyard fundraiser feast for the Micah Posner for City Council campaign. We were so successful, along with all of the volunteer helpers throughout the campaign, that Micah won!

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The table was so long, we had to keep our gates open, so everyone could see the festivities from the street.

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Jim and Micah’s friendship goes way back to when Jim was the founder of People Power, the Santa Cruz transportation advocacy group. Since then, Jim has created the internationally known Outstanding in the Field farm-to-table dinners, as well as his own acclaimed art. Here Jim and Micah speak about their relationship, and what inspired Micah to run for city council.

Jim and Micah

It was a delicious and beautiful dinner, and we were proud to provide the garden space for it.  Fairytale Farm is a part of Micah’s backyard, so we are pleased to have a city councilmember as one of our garden gnomes!

 

Solar Eclipse Dinner

When the rose bush is in full splendor…

You set up two tables in the garden.

When the guests arrive, serve salads with nasturtium blossoms.

Play with your shadows when it’s a full solar eclipse.

A simple dinner becomes divine.

Mustard, kale greens,and carmelized onions with nasturtium and borage blossoms

We ate the mustard greens that grew all around us.

Even the chickens had a good time.

As sweet peas and roses scented the air.

When all the plate are cleared away, there may still be leftovers for the lucky hens…

 

Spring!

Spring has come to Fairytale Farm. The borage is  blooming.  The cherry tree is plump with  blossoms.  Flowers, everywhere.

Look how the strawberry spiral has changed from mid February to April :

The lupine is doing well. The giant red mustard and nasturtiums are doing better…

 

Last spring, we were blessed by a swarm of bees that moved into our empty hive. The sky was filled with bees, 1000’s of them covering the entire garden.  Over an hour, they slowly moved into the hive.  We all happened to be outside, the neighbors, the kids, in awe.

Meanwhile, the yellow and purple peas are ripe.  The purple ones are” Blauwschokker” soup peas, though I eat them when small and flat.

The yellow peas have a fruity, sweet flavor.  They are stunning when served together.   We eat the “flashy trout” lettuce everyday.

The blueberries are in blossom:

I cleared out a large part of the garden to install a pond in 2012.  Here it is before:

And after:

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Sweet spring to all.  May your garden be filled with flowers too.

 

2012 February’s Garden

There is a lot growing in the winter garden, despite my not planting most of it.  The giant red mustard has self-seeded everywhere! And it is giant. We found if you just dunk it in boiling water for a minute or two, then plunge it in an ice bath, it’s glowing green and loses its mustard pungency.  I’ve got baby mache growing in between the mustards, another prolific self-seeder, but with a mild flavor.

Giant red mustard in the sunlight.

Aren't they just so purple and georgious?

My current favorite beauties are the purple peas.  Their fuscia and lavendar flowers are as lovely as sweet peas, but edible.  The peas themselves are too fibrous as snow peas, but if you wait until they are plump, there are tasty (but disappointingly, green) peas inside. I also have yellow peas growing. Green peas are boring!

Purple pea blossoms.

Last week’s project was to separate the strawberries and move them to the borders of the garden. First, I decided to create a “strawberry spiral”.  I planted tall yellow lupine, 3 different poppies, and some dahlias.  If they all grow to their reported 4 feet, you will be invisible as you sit on the wooly thyme in the center of the circle. 

I built this for the little children. I thought they'd enjoy walking in a spiral, snacking on strawberries along the way.

And then it became time to prune the grapevine.  Note we skipped pruning it last year, due to sickness and neglect.  Which meant that there was an amazing amount of grape wood that is now littering half the yard.

Grapevines, grapevines, everywhere!

We turned most of the vines into wreaths.

Since I now have over 40 grapevine wreaths, I’ve been experimenting with adding flowering branches, such as quince blossoms.

Isn't the quince bush so pretty?

So I cut some quince branches… and tucked them into the grapevines…and the result is lovely!  Doesn’t last long, though.

A grapevine, twisted into a wreath shape, with some flowering quince cuttings....

 

I just twisted the grape vines around and around until I had enough bulk to make a wreath. Then, you need clippers and  a few flowering spring branches.  I tucked these in one at a time, using no twine or wire, the grape vines held them into place.

 

 

I think the wreath could use even more quince branches, but I was being stingy.  I especially like the pink blossoms against my pink livingroom walls.  Nice!

I also planted 4 new trees : a chocolate persimmon, a black mulberry tree, another cherry, a wolfberry bush (goji berry).  I’ve never tasted a fresh goji berry…I hope it’s good!  And I added a few more yellow raspberries, 4 “pink lemonade” blueberries – yes, they’re pink!  Now I just have to wait several years to see if the varieties are tasty enough to keep.

Grow, garden, grow!

We’re starting up Fairy-Tale Farm events in May, so stay tuned! The greenhouse is packed right now with tomato seedlings, peppers, sweet peas and edible peas galore, and other herbs and vegetables.  Now if everything escapes the wrath of gophers, birds, the one chicken who flies out everyday, and assorted insects, then in a few months, the garden will look like paradise!   Come back and see…

Oh, the possibilities!

 

2012 Happy New Year from Fairy-Tale Farm

 

2011 at Fairy-Tale Farm was hard.  In Spring, I had to take some time off of hosting events in order to tend to my health.  Here I contemplate what to plant next.

Spring Diva

Months later, the fava beans behind the rocking chair grow into 6 foot towers.  The triple compost system that Karsten built out of old wood pallets against the back fence slowly rots.  Sweet peas bloom on the left next to the chicken coop.  Giant red mustard continues to grow, and red lettuces snuggle in with baby carrots.

The migrating birds don't eat the red lettuces and they look pretty with the slowly growing carrots.

By early summer, sweet peas blossom on the left while red mustards bolt and shoot up yellow flowers in the background. Poppies line the path. The garden is glorious.

I grew some exotic poppies this year.    I call the red and white one “poppy from outerspace”.  The pink peony-like one was a volunteer.  Red pom-pom type from Annie’s Annuals.  Can’t wait to see what combo I get wildly this year.

I had so many sweet peas and fava beans I sold them at the Corralitos Farmer’s Market:

Fava beans and sweet pea flowers. The scent of the sweet peas is so delicious.

We also sold edible flowers. Nasturtium, borage, calendula, pansies, oxalis.

Then, I unfortunately ended up in the hospital with my sweet peas.

Trying to make the best of it at UCSF as I am here for 3 long weeks.

But in the summer I am free, and I spend hours sleeping on the porch as the garden slowly grows around me.

Fairy-Tale Farm is quiet with only the cat for company.

We get a farm dog named “Kia”.  The purple, yellow, and red potatoes are dug up.  Rainbow tomatoes are harvested. Pears.

 

The winter comes to a close and we harvest pumpkins and peas.  I slowly mend, and contemplate what to do for 2012.  Happy gardening, all. Stay tuned for upcoming events.

Sometimes you have to get out of the urban farm and visit cornfields up the coast for inspiration.

 

2010 Fairy-Tale Farm is In the News!

From the Santa Cruz Sentinel article found at: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/ci_16109132

Living a Fairy-Tale: Santa Cruz family ‘grows’ community at their downtown area farm

By Justine DaCosta
Posted: 09/18/2010 01:30:39 AM PDT
Saskia Wade will help set the tables at her family’s Harvest Festival. (Shmuel Thaler/Sentinel)

Nestled among multiplexes not far from downtown Santa Cruz is a garden where 10-foot-high sunflowers overlook the winding vines of pumpkins and the soft ferns of overgrown asparagus. A few chickens wander through the aisles full of tomatoes and tomatillos, part of the 50-by-50-foot garden, which is shaped like a star, a red, circular wooden platform positioned in the center.

“It’s a magical garden,” said owner Debora Wade, pointing to a giant sunflower whose head has begun splitting into two sections. “It grows weird things.” Continue reading