In 2007, the house next door came up for sale, and we planned to buy the property for Debora’s aging parents, and take down the fences to have one giant backyard. We lost the bid by $10,000 and were devastated to learn that the new owners (now former City Council member Micah Posner and his wife Akiko) were planning on building a second house in the backyard, turn the two units into condos, and sell off the front house. Our dirt is rich river soil, and we have the last 2 single family homes on our block. We lost the house, but wanted to at least save the garden’s potential, so we proposed that they could live in the existing house, not build a second house, and we would invest in the property instead. We wrote them a letter stating our purpose: that we wished to keep these two houses single-family homes forever. The house had sold for $675,000, and they told us in order to make it affordable for them, we would have to buy 39%, at $265,000. So we hired a lawyer and wrote a Tenancy In Common (TIC) agreement, took out a loan against our house, and sunk ourselves into enormous debt. And Fairytale Farm began!
We had a training workshop today at the Riverside Gardens Park Public Fruit Tree Orchard with Andy Moskowitz of Seedculture.org and Steve Schnaar from the Fruit Tree Project. The pear and apple trees are growing nicely. Andy trained a few trees with string and stakes in the ground. Others branches were propped wider with wood splints. We want air flow, light, and enough space between limbs.
The grapes that we planted around the arbor are looking good.
And the community garden beds are blooming and growing vegetables! There are scarlett runner beans, corn, squash, basil, peas, flowers, tomatoes, peppers, and marigolds. Beautiful!
The pollinators are happy. The neighborhood bees (I wonder if they are from my hive?) are already enjoying this orange torch tithonia. Scarlett runner beans grow up corn. I love how the gardeners are planting so many flowers with their vegetables, especially my favorite; sweet peas, marigolds and snapdragons!
The blueberries I planted several years ago are doing pretty good, considering they are not getting quite the water they need…I come by every few months and give them acid based fertilizer.
Here are two varieties of apples and pears we planted in the orchard.
What: Fairytale Farm Tour
Where: 728 and 232 Riverside Ave; a few houses from Broadway
When: 10 AM to 2 PM – Saturday, September 24th
On Saturday, September 24th we are hosting a Fairytale Farm tour of our garden! Come visit our chickens and bees, see our 30 fruit trees and other vegetables growing. Learn what we’ve been sowing here at the farm, and come check out our interns’ work. We’ve been teaching UCSC interns how to farm for 2 years now, and they have tended to the garden, learned how to farm and process foods, and created a Fairytale Farm logo, planting calendar, recipe book with perennial herbs, t-shirts and prints. Everyone is invited, and this is a family friendly event. Stroll down to Riverside Gardens Park, and come see the community garden beds and Santa Cruz’ first public fruit orchard!
We’re saving the Beach Flats Garden corn and have 10 foot tall beautiful corn waiting to dry into tortillas.We have a new kitten on the farm, and our 6 chickens are happily eating Cafe DelMarette compost every week. Come join us!
The poppies are blooming in the front yard. Walk by and admire them while you are in the neighborhood! Once the poppie heads are dry, I’ll save the seeds for next year. Beautiful!
Fairytale Farm is accepting UCSC interns every quarter to help out in the garden. If you are interested in working with us, go to the UCSC Internship Office and ask for a form to fill out for us to sign. You will also need to find a UCSC professor to sponsor you for the quarter. You can either take a 2 unit internship which requires 6 hours a week, or a 5 unit internship which requires 12 hours a week. We will work with you to come up with a project for the 5 hour internship which may involve independent hours researching and writing off of the farm. We usually have 2-5 interns a quarter, and are looking for not only agroecology majors, but artists, students into blogging and social media, photography, herbalism, and food production. We have students help design calendars, informational books, and lead garden tours for us. You can just come and plant and harvest vegetables and flowers, but you can come do a lot of other fun things too!
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.
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…
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.
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!
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.
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.
Since I now have over 40 grapevine wreaths, I’ve been experimenting with adding flowering branches, such as quince blossoms.
So I cut some quince branches… and tucked them into the grapevines…and the result is lovely! Doesn’t last long, though.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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:
Then, I unfortunately ended up in the hospital with my sweet peas.
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.
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
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