Tuesday, October 7, 2014

10 Reasons to Keep Shopping the Emporia Farmers Market in October

The season is changing, but vendors of the Emporia Farmers Market continue to gather in the parking lot at 7th and Merchant every Saturday at 8:00am and Wednesday at 5:00pm through the end of October. It’s fall harvest time! Don’t miss out.

As we count down the remaining markets in the parking lot, we thought we’d count down some of the many reasons to be shopping at the Emporia Farmers Market in October.

10) Apples, apples, apples. At last count, there were 9 varieties of apples at the Emporia Farmers Market. From sweet to tart, firm to soft, there is an apple for every taste. Don’t forget the apple cider and apple butter, as well.

9) Fresh baked bread, just like grandma used to make. Market baked goods vendors specialize in a variety of types of fresh baked breads. Purchasing from market is the next best thing to baking your own!

8) Sweet potatoes, oh my! All sizes of sweet potatoes (and several varieties) are at the market right now. They store well in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place, so go ahead and buy enough to get you through Thanksgiving!

7) Okra… a seasonal veggie that doesn’t stick around for long. Okra is at the market right now, and you can still buy tomatoes, as well. (Okra and tomatoes together make great fall meals).

6) Homemade pie… just take one home and pop it in your own oven. The family won’t care that you didn’t actually make it yourself. It’s pie!

5) The return of leafy greens… cooler temps mean a variety of lettuces and other greens will be returning to the market. Hardier than their store-bought counterparts, they store well for salads and sandwich fixings all week long!

4) Turnips, green onions, eggplant… yum, yum!

3) Handcrafted jewelry and original artwork by locals. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind gift, the market is just the place to shop.

2) Peppers! All shapes and sizes, from hot-hot to sweet and mild. Vendors continue to bring a wide variety of peppers to the market this time of year.

1) It is the season of SQUASH – have you tried them all? Spaghetti, butternut, cushaw, acorn, zucchini, yellow crookneck (there is even a wide variety of yellow squash options) and more. Squash are an under served vegetable in many households. Pull out your cookbook and experiment a bit. From baked goods to soup, from sweet to savory, squash is an excellent addition to the fall meal plan.

Ongoing news and events for the Emporia Farmers Market can be found at www.emporiafarmersmarket.org. Follow the market on Facebook, and sign up for the free e-newsletter and weekly market reminders.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What is happening at the Sustainability Fair on Saturday?

Well, vendors from the farmers market will be there (produce, baked goods, grass fed beef, eggs, plants for the garden, crafts). As well, there will be booths by Tallgrass Custom Wood Products, Emporia Main Street, the Natural Resources Advisory Board.

ESB Financial will have the shred truck outside until noon!

Master Gardeners and Extension will be there with activities for the kids. Community Connections will be there, as well as Fuller Farms, Grace United Methodist Community Garden, Green Door Recycling & Interdependent Web.

There will be Tai chi demos outside, along with Glenn Fell of the Kansas Native Plant Society. Mary Lynn Kosinski will be there talking about water filtration systems, John Crisp on garden nutrients, Waters True Value with garden tools, Hague Water Filtration, and Unique Natural Cosmetics.

If that doesn't sound like something for everyone, don't forget that there will be balloons and free give-aways!

Join us at the Flint Hills Sustainability Fair on Saturday, starting at 9am.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Emporia Community Garden is open for the 2014 season!

The Emporia Community Garden is open for the 2014 season! Located in the back yard of the Flint Hills Technical College, it features 24 plots of approximately 300 square feet each, which are available to community members to purchase during the growing season.  The $35 plot fee includes water and garden resources. Applications are available on our website, emporialocalfood.org. The Emporia Community Garden is a project of the Emporia Area Local Food Network, whose purpose is to promote the production, processing, preservation and consumption of local food. Locally raised food promotes sound economic, environmental, social, and nutritional health within our community. 

This year we are shifting to a no-till approach and will be planting a cover crop in the fall to improve soil quality and retain nutrients.  As a result, the planting season will run from March thru mid-September depending on the crop that is chosen.  If you have suggestions please let us know!

The garden is still in need of some supplies to ensure a productive season for our members. The following items would be greatly appreciated (used or new): garden tools, hoses, mulch, and seeds and seedlings. We are also looking for instructors to teach informal classes in the garden to our plot holders. If you have a green thumb and a few tricks up your sleeve, please share your expertise! Garden members have a wide variety of experience and ability levels, so we welcome lessons on the most basic to advanced topics. Please contact Amy Becker at 341-1335 or abecker@fhtc.edu if you would like to teach, donate materials, volunteer, or become a plot holder this season. 

Link to Guidelines (including application) for printing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2014 Community Garden Restricted List

Restricted List

The community gardens are to be used primarily for seasonal vegetable production for human consumption.  We strive to establish standards of excellence that reflect good stewardship of resources and the environment. 

NO perennials may be planted, since all plots will be tilled in early spring before each growing season, and again in the fall.  Perennials include, but are not limited to the following examples: perennial flowers and bulbs, shrubs, trees, berries, rose bushes, mints, horseradish, asparagus, rhubarb, and other perennial herbs.  Annual flowers used as companion plantings or edible flowers are permissible.  A perennial garden located nearby is a future project.

            NO poisonous plants, such as castor beans, may be planted.

            NO illegal substances, such as marijuana, may be planted.

            NO tobacco or nicotiana plants may be planted.

If you raise tall plants, such as sunflowers, sweet corn, okra, pole beans, or some varieties of tomatoes, please be considerate of the shading factor and the effects of shade on neighboring plots. It is best to avoid placement of tall plantings directly adjacent to plots that adjoin to the north side of your plot.  Consider dwarf varieties, or plant tall varieties near the center of your plot or on the south side.  Also consider how you will remove those plants at the end of the season; mammoth sunflowers are not easy, to say the least. 

Fertilizers, soil amendments, and sprays:

The community gardens will promote organic and natural soil practices.  To that end, we encourage gardeners to use only organic labeled fertilizers, soil amendments, foliar sprays, herbicides, or pesticides.  Examples of organic fertilizers include fish emulsion, kelp, worm castings, and various blended organic brand fertilizers.  NO raw manures may be used.  Composted or dried manures may be used in the fall after the growing season is complete, or in early spring – at least 70 days before planting.  

Organic soil amendments include such things as compost, bone meal, greensand, gypsum, lime, rock phosphate, and trace minerals.  Organic approved (OMRI) pesticides and herbicides should be used sparingly, and should not be applied during windy parts of the day where drift is possible.  Examples of organic pesticides include insecticidal soaps, garlic and red pepper sprays, BT, Dipel, Pyganic, Pyola, rotenone, and other similar products.  Herbicides can be avoided entirely by proper tillage practices, hand weeding, and through the use of cover crops.

You may NOT use non-organic, synthetic, or petroleum based fertilizers, herbicides (weed killers), pesticides, such as, but not limited to the following:  Sevin, Miracle-Gro, diazanon, Round-up, ammonium nitrate, etc.  There are alternatives that are better for the environment and better for the health of consumer that are available locally.  If in doubt about what to use, ask a board member before you apply.  Check your brand – does it say “organic” or OMRI approved on the label?  You risk forfeiture of your current plot and future years’ plots if you use any prohibited products.   

Monday, May 14, 2012

Urban Farm: Ben Stallings

Ben Stallings invited visitors to tour his Urban Farm in Emporia for International Permaculture Day on May 6, 2012. Ben's 1920-era home sits on approximately 1/10th of an acre. Once you account for the house, the driveway, sidewalks and a small shed out back, there's not a whole heck of a lot of yard space left. Ben's approach to yard management, however, is appealing.

"Taking care of a lawn can be a lot of work," Ben says. "But it's not productive work."

Think of it in these terms: every time you mow your lawn you are harvesting, but in a traditional yard, you receive no benefit from the harvest.

When Ben bought the home in 2008, the yard was primarily grass and volunteer trees. Ben's goal was to reduce the amount of time needed to maintain the lawn and work it into something that would produce a good and useful harvest. He wanted the resulting garden his lawn would become to eventually be less work than the existing grass was.

Ben's background includes a year-long tour on bicycle of various ecovillages and intentional communities. This prompted his interest in permaculture. He become a certified permaculture designer in 2010 and his urban farm, starting with 36 crops in its first year, now supplies food for he and his wife, as well as cash crops for the Emporia Farmers Market where he has been participating as a vendor for three years now.

Ben does not till his soil, but instead uses a process called sheet mulching to enhance his soil and create the beds that become home to his low-maintenance garden plots. He arranges his plants in guilds, meaning that each plant should play some role in supporting the other plants in the guild. Via succession, the harvest from the guilds should change as each system matures. The area around a young walnut tree, for instance, currently grows mulberries, chive and aronia. Onions attract beneficial insects. Beans planted next to onions thrive where beans planted alone do less well.

The back yard includes a greenhouse in its second incarnation. A PVC framed hoop house sort of set up failed to stand up to snow a previous winter. A wooden frame now replaces the original design. In theory, the greenhouse is host to three poly-cultures (plants that grow better together than separately) and he relies on vertical growing to help shad plants that don't tolerate heat as well. 

Since Ben considers much of his effort experimental, there really is no failure on his urban farm. What works becomes material for him to incorporate into his designs for clients. What doesn't work simply gives him ideas for new directions to try at a later date.

An audio recording of the tour, complete with photo illustrations, can be found at Interdependent Web, as well as several other resources of value to those interested in permaculture.

What is permaculture?
"In brief, it is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating elements as a single-product system."
Introduction to Permaculture, by Bill Mollison 

Ben offered his guests strawberries and cream and chocolate mint tea. The strawberries were so sweet I never even bothered with the cream. They were perfect, sun drenched and hand picked. And everywhere I looked I saw another ripe one or two begging to be tasted.