Let’s make Soba noodle!

By EunYoung Sebazco

We have been growing buckwheat as a crop plant to add organic matter into the soil. The soft white buckwheat flowers have shown up early in the summer. I can’t stop thinking about Soba (Buckwheat) noodles that I enjoy in the summer time. So, we decided to invite Miki Daycare, which is composed of mostly Japanese children. Let’s make Soba noodle! Buckwheat noodle is one of the popular meals in Korea and Japan. Koreans love to have chilled noodles during the summer season. The Japanese serve the noodles either chilled or hot for the whole season. They are both based soy broth that used for dipping or soup.

IMG_7676On the day of Miki’s group visiting, the children were able to see the buckwheat plants and harvested Dikon (Asian radish) and scallions for the Soba noodle garnish. After we finished the tour of buckwheat plant beds with our farmer Nick, they put on the small aprons. And they were ready to become chefs! They were excited to start kneading. The Japanese traditional way to making noodles will be really hard to handle for kids, so we constructed a more simple way. Mixing 80% of Buckwheat and 20% of flour, and water. We were supposed to knead more than100 times (because of strength of noodle) So while kneading, everyone counted together to make strong noodles with our farm’s intern Winne’s leading the way. IMG_8916 IMG_8927 We finished the dove. Now, lets roll it and make a pie. After rolling into a pie, sprinkling a lot of flour on top of the pie and double-folding very gently. Then is the toughest step for cutting and slicing down the knife top to bottom (do not press the folded pie). We will need to make very thin noodles as you can and place the noodle on the tray as straight as you can after cut. Boil the noodle for only 60 seconds, and drain the hot water and rinse off with cold water. Now, we will need to prepare the garnish for the dipping sauce. We will need to chop the scallion and grate the daikon. Seaweed and wasabi will be an option if you want to add more flavors.

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Lunch time! We all got together on one big picnic blanket under the cherry trees. IMG_9002Miki passed noodles and garnishes in a small bowl with chopsticks. Miki and her little friends put their hands together and said “ITADAKIMASU!”, which means “Let’s eat.” Before we started to eat, the children kept saying “MORE NOODLES.” I believe that they had a great sense of pride in the noodles that they made. Again, Miki and her little friends put their hands together and said “GOCHISOUSAMA DESHITA”means “Thank you for the food ” after we finished the meal.  Thank you for visiting Randall’s Island Urban Farm!IMG_8983

What I Did This Summer…

By Eva Fillion

If you haven’t stopped by the Urban Farm in a while, I highly recommend making the trek over.  The beds are stuffed with all of my summer favorites: ripening tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, artichokes, basil and watermelon.

There really is nothing like August in the garden.  Bees are buzzing away, the gourd tunnel is packing with dangling Bottleneck Gourds and Bitter Melon, and every time I turn around the Sungold Tomatoes have deepened another shade.  As my season on the farm draws to a close, I can’t but think about how far the garden has come in my short time here.  I spent my first chilly, gray day in April building the new rice paddies with the rest of the Horticulture crew.  I had no idea what to expect–of the rice or my summer.  Luckily, both have fared very well.  The rice is now over three feet tall and I have had a wonderful experience here.

One of the many traits of the Urban Farm that I have enjoyed this summer is variety–of crops, activities and visitors.  We have a more diverse garden here than I have seen anywhere else.  There aren’t just tomatoes, there are Momotaros, Orange Blossoms, Big Beef, Brandywines and many more.  We have green and red okra, purple and white eggplants, purple and orange carrots and grains.  It has been really interesting to work with plants in our Theme Gardens that I do not think I would otherwise have the opportunity to see.  I did not know how sesame seeds grew until we started growing them in the Thomas Jefferson Garden, or what Blue Indigo was until I saw it in the Pigment Garden.

Every day on the farm is as varied as our crops.  Some days we start new plants from seeds in the barn, while other days we weed, prune and harvest.  We go to conferences, concerts and food pantries.  Some of the best days are when we get groups visiting and volunteering at the farm.  In the past few weeks alone we have worked with camps from around the city and Randall’s Island and volunteers from Google and Bloomberg.

This internship has been a great opportunity for me to learn about urban farming.  The friendly and upbeat crew members on Randall’s Island have taught me a lot and I will certainly miss them!  I am sorry to leave this place, but know that every time I come back to visit it will be even bigger and better than before.

The Art of Weaving

IMG_7326By Lola Odessey Waters

On the sunny Tuesday morning I made my way over to Randall’s Island. I participated in a weaving art project lead by textile artist,  Sheila Odessey. (Yes, she is my aunt).
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Sheila  taught us about the art of fence weaving. I was working alongside the Randall’s staff and Google volunteers. We paired up in teams and weaved our way around the children’s playground right next to the Randall’s Island farm. After three hours of weaving the result has fabulous. Pink, blue, red , green, orange and purple triangles now decorate the fence.

IMG_7319The fences have been transformed not only in a piece of art but also has turned the boundary of the fence into a colorful curtain that divides the space rather than separates it.
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This project was inspirational and has the potential to change the atmosphere of spaces especially in run down urban areas. All I can say, is “everybody should get weaving!” .

A Mountain of Seeds

profile-1110By Phyllis Odessey

When it gets to the point, that you don’t know what you have and what you don’t; it’s time to take action.

As the garden has grown, so has our seed supply.  We have saved seeds and we have also bought seeds.   The temptation to try a new variety of tomato or bean is just too great.

We finally had to do something about the growing amount IMG_7257of seeds we had. All those little packages from Seed Savers, Johnnys and High Mowings, began to add up.  Where were the  Chioggia Guardsmark beets or the Rouge d’Hiver lettuce or Japanese Black Trifele tomatoes.  We had to paw through boxes of packages to find the variety we were looking for.

IMG_7254Finally, we got fed up.  We needed our own seed library.  With the help of our wonderful maintenance man, Oswaldo, we designed a shelf system and he built it.  Now we know what we have, but we still want more.

Come by the garden and take a look at what’s growing!

At the Northeast Rice Conference

Nick Profile PicBy Nick Storrs

As our rice is entered its awkward adolescent stage, we went north to Putney, VT to attend the 4th annual Northeastern Rice Conference on August 3rd. We were greeted by a group of over a hundred northeastern rice growers, aspiring growers, and people interested in the development of a new crop in the region.   The Conference took place on the Akaogi Farm owned by Takeshi Akaogi and his wife Linda. Upon stepping out of the trees lining their fields we were shocked to discover the array of different varieties of rice in all their colors, 2013-08-03 08.59.14shapes, and sizes filling their rice paddies! So many were jaw-droppingly beautiful. Many of the varieties he was raising had already develop flowers and seed heads, a good month or two before ours does.  Later we learned all about the different varieties that are being imported from Northern Japan, a region with a much shorter growing season, and further work being done to adapt them to our region. We discovered how fortunate we are to have the long growing season her in New York City that affords us the opportunity to grow a longer season sushi rice like Koshihikari.

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A bicycle powered huller and thresher

As the conference proceeded we learned about the process of developing varieties for India, how to build small scale machinery to hull and thresh our rice, and we got to meet some new friends who we hope to keep in touch with.

IMG_20130803_134740We also became very interested in helping Cornell University conduct a study to understand the viability of different common types of rice grown here in the Northeast. Next year, along with many of the other farmers at the conference, we will all grow a mix of five different varieties and report back on how well they did, while recording some important information about how they grew. We are really looking forward to involving students and classrooms with this citizen science project and exposing them to real scientific research in action!

All in all we can back filled with ideas for our rice and bubbling over with enthusiasm. Thank you so much to the Akaogis for hosting us and everyone who help make the day possible. We can’t wait for next year!

Takeshi Akaogi offering a tour of his farm.

Takeshi Akaogi offering a tour of his farm.

If you would like more information about this conference or rice being grown in the Northeast visit http://www.ricenortheasternus.org

July in the garden

By Eva Fillion

A couple of days ago I heard an advertisement for a back-to-school sale and felt that familiar sinking feeling in my stomach.  The next day was unseasonally chilly and I really started to panic.  The Urban Farm reminded me, luckily, that summer is still in full swing and isn’t going anywhere for a while.  Our plants are kicking it into high gear–bees are busy pollinating the peppers and eggplants, while the tomatoes and watermelons are ripening on their vines.

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We are practically swimming in cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, herbs and radishes and are having fun harvesting and tasting with summer campers.  I was really excited to sample one of the first bitter melons, which splits open when ripe to reveal its sweet red seeds.  We are looking forward to some of our other rarer crops, as well.  Ground cherries and gourds are starting to form fruits and we have a variety of flowers in full bloom. The return of the hot weather and the promise of yellow, orange, red and even black tomatoes has reassured me that fall is still far away.

It’s not too soon to begin planning and seeding for the fall, though.  This week we planted 8 trays of fall crops including mustards, kale and kohlrabi.  These trays will stay under the grow lights for a few weeks to germinate.

The chickens, you will all be happy to know, are loving the weather.  They are still snuggled and squeezed regularly by campers.

ImageAmong all of the changes in the garden, it is time to say goodbye to our intern Marcos.  For the past month Marcos has been working with us and has really been a great addition to the team.  Hopefully he’ll be back soon to visit because we are certainly going to miss him. Don’t forget to check back in the next few weeks for more summer updates!

A Great Place to Start

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By Marcos Tellez

Its been a month working here and from my experience, its actually very fun and you’ll start to feel part of the Randall’s Island Park Alliance family in no time. Everyone here is very friendly and not only do you get to meet new people, you’ll also get to work outside in an environment where you’ll be doing a lot of gardening and you’ll learn you how it is to run a farm. You’ll learn a lot here and its not only about plants and vegetables, you’ll also learn how to cooperate with a group and getting the job done faster while being sustainable . The only catch to all this is only coming to work at 7:00 am. You’ll get used to it trust me.

IMG_6881The things you do here at The Urban Farm is work with a crew to help keep a 100% organic farm in top notch shape. For one, we construct different furniture for our garden to look nice and always make sure everything is repaired when we need it. We have many different types of fruits and vegetables at the farm from different varieties. We also grow herbs and flowers that make our farm look beautiful. In our farm, we also have chickens which feed off of organic material. At times we also have some young children classes that come from summer programs or camps and we teach them many things from our farm. Another benefit from this internship is that you’ll experience teaching education and doing fun activities with the children. Finally, here at The Urban Farm, we have different events like having Disney volunteers here to help us teach children in an entertaining way, we have photo exhibitions to show people around different neighborhoods who we are and what we do here at the farm, we also have farm dinners to raise money for our farm and finally, we have events that include our mayor Bloomberg. These events here at The Urban Farm will then help us spread the word of keeping our planet sustainable.IMG_6913

This internship was fun and its a great place to start when it comes down to learning whats good for our planet and whats not. Whats most important is that we encourage people to become more sustainable which will then lead to the world being more peaceful and strong and it all starts with a helping hand from you.

Sido que el trabajo de un mes aquí y desde mi experiencia, en realidad es muy divertido y usted comenzará a sentirse parte de la familia de Randall Island Park Alliance en ningún momento. Todos aquí son muy amigables y no sólo se llega a conocer gente nueva, también obtendrá a trabajar fuera en un entorno donde harás un montón de jardinería y te aprenderás lo que es dirigir una granja. Usted aprenderá mucho de aquí y no sólo sobre las plantas y vegetales, también aprenderá cómo cooperar con un grupo y hacer el trabajo más rápido siendo sostenible. La única captura a todo que esto sólo viene a trabajar a las 7:00. A te acostumbras a él confía en mí.

las cosas que hacer aquí en la granja urbana es trabajar con un equipo para ayudar a mantener una granja orgánica 100% en forma de muesca superior. Por un lado, construimos diversos muebles para nuestro jardín muy guapa y siempre asegúrese de que todo se repara cuando lo necesitamos. Tenemos muchos tipos diferentes de frutas y verduras en la granja de diferentes variedades. También cultivamos hierbas y flores que hacen de nuestra finca preciosa. En nuestra granja, también tenemos gallinas que se alimentan de materia orgánica. A veces también tenemos algunas clases de los niños que provienen de los programas de verano o campamentos y les enseña muchas cosas de nuestra granja. Otro beneficio de esta práctica es que usted experimentará la enseñanza y divertido hacer actividades con los niños. Finalmente, aquí en la granja urbana, tenemos diferentes eventos como voluntarios de Disney aquí para ayudarnos a enseñar a los niños de una forma divertida, tenemos exposiciones de fotos para mostrarle a la gente alrededor de distintos barrios, quiénes somos y qué hacemos aquí en la granja, también tenemos cenas de granja para recaudar dinero para nuestra granja y finalmente, tenemos eventos que incluyen nuestro alcalde Bloomberg. Estos eventos aquí en la granja urbana entonces nos ayudará a difundir la palabra de la sostenibilidad de nuestro planeta.

Marcos is our high-school intern for the month of July. He joined us through the generous and hard work of the Triskeles Foundation. Triskeles helps connect high-school aged students with sustainable internships along with training in life skills, employment skills and entrepreneurship. Marcos has helped us in all aspects of the farm over the past month and we are happy to have the opportunity to host him! Good luck on you next project, Marcos!