Archive for the ‘Food Shuttle Farm’ Category


Last year was very productive on the farm, but now it’s time to look towards the year ahead. Although it is January there are still several projects going on at the farm. We have three new worm boxes in the greenhouse so we have moved all of the vermicompost operations. Since its nice and worm (pun intended) inside the greenhouse, our vermicompost temperatures have remained above 40 degrees F.

These worms are helping us making compost for 2011

In early January’s cold snap when temperatures were in the low teens, many of our greens could not make it in the field even with frost guard cloth. The heavy snow fall and fast melt was good for the remaining greens. During February and March we will be working to get the field planted for spring.

In the greenhouse we are filling up trays of lettuce seed and getting them started. Some of the lettuce is up to 3 inches tall and between 3-6 weeks old. We will start hardening the larger ones off and planting them in the field as spring approaches.

I am really excited about chickens this year. We are going to have 2 flocks (I don’t know what breeds yet) and we are starting a selective breeding program. If anyone knows of any free construction materials for a large mobile chicken tractor, let me know.




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Another busy week at the Food Shuttle Farm! Several volunteer groups fought the hot Triangle heat to harvest vegetables for our hungry neighbors. Below are a few pictures and a video from Progress Energy’s day of caring and the bounty of nutritious vegetables they harvested!

volunteers from Progress Energy

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This week’s photo is from the Food Shuttle’s Community Garden at Alliance Medical Ministry. Belinda Chiu spends the morning weeding and watering the pepper row at our newest community garden in Raleigh.

Do you have a green thumb and a desire to help your community? Join Belinda and the Farms and Gardens crew- volunteer to grow local nutritious produce for the hungry! Email Amanda@foodshuttle.org to get involved.

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Despite the nonstop heat this week in Raleigh, several large groups have been volunteering at the Farm!

Teens and adults from all over the country spent time weeding,


and harvesting vegetables. We even met a lady from Pennsylvania who had never tried okra!

A special thank to the groups from Lott CareyYouth Works and Haven House we’re so grateful for your hard work this week!

Because of our volunteers, we can grow nutritious food on the Farm and harvest it to feed hungry people in our community.

Join our Farm volunteers next week- the veggies are coming in! Sun and Steven would appreciate extra hands to harvest the fresh produce. Click here to get involved!

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By: Nyssa Collins, NC State correspondent

A good turnout can bring twenty volunteers spilling out of cars.  We are students and professors from NC State. We are parents and kids of any age, and families from the neighborhood, wondering what the heck is going on.  We are school groups, church groups, and service groups (Haven House reliably sends a solid team). We are individuals who don’t have farm and garden experience, and wish we did.  We arrive by van or carpool or bicycle any Saturday morning at 9:00am to the Food Shuttle Farm at 4505 Tryon Road.

The assembled crew – wearing fanny packs and sipping from water bottles – gathers around Sun for assignment. On the to-do list for the third Saturday of June:

  • Suckering and tying tomatoes
  • feeding the worms
  • turning compost
  • spreading mulch between the rows.

The intrepid Haven House kids grab wheel barrows and rakes, and head toward the mulch pile.  The rest of us want to know what “suckering a tomato” means before we agree to anything.

A tomato sucker grows between the main branches of the tomato plant.  They are tricky to spot because they look very similar to tomato branches and eventually get flowers and tomatoes of their own.  Suckering is popping off the adventitious (out of place) branch with clippers or your hands – which will soon turn green from touching tomato plans. Why pull off tomato suckers, if they will grow tomatoes? Because they are SUCKERS: suckers of energy and sunlight from the rest of the plant.  Growing these extra branches is inefficient if you want a few big and juicy tomatoes.  It’s like if you have too many hobbies – you’re so overbooked you can’t do any of them well.

By 11:00, tomato tying and suckering is done, and the conversation invariably turns to food. (This is because we are starting to get hungry!)  Any serious student of food and health somehow finds his way to the farm, eventually.  For this reason, you can’t find a better place to trade recipes or learn how to cook a vegetable.  Before humans get to eat lunch, the WORMS get to eat lunch.

Isabel, Dominic, and Ron shovel donated compost

A little known fact: compost piles can and do spontaneously combust on warm days! The middle of this compost pile was ashy and smoking!

The day is sure to wrap up by noon or 1:00, because it is already near 90 degrees.  We’ve done some important work that would have been much harder with fewer people, and even managed to learn a couple of things.  The day’s end doesn’t mean work on the farm is done: volunteers come out 7 days a week.  After a hard morning’s work, most volunteers head home for the day. Some sit for a picnic in the shade with new friends.  They’re resting up for more farming in the afternoon!

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By: Nyssa Collins, NC State correspondent

1. Punch a hole through the black plastic

2. Fertilize with granulated chicken manure

3. Remove the plant and loosen the root ball

4. Bury the plant at ground level, packing in dirt firmly at the base.

5. Water thoroughly, to restore turgor in the plant and ease recovery from the shock of transplanting.

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By: Nyssa Collins, NC State Correspondent

A few days of rain followed by days full of hot, clear sunlight: the recipe for vegetables growing like weeds!  Come see bulbous green tomatoes with their first blush of pink, tiny baby squash peeking out from under giant leaves, and peppers, which all start out green, but will soon distinguish themselves in a rainbow of reds, oranges, yellows, browns, and purples.  The entire new field is teetering on the edge of abundance.

AWW! Baby vegetables! In order: Tomato, Banana Pepper, Sweet Bell Pepper, and Zucchini

And because of the eclectic nature of donations, the IFFS farm is a model of diversity in varieties.  Planted in one row are twenty-seven varieties of peppers:

Organic farmers rely heavily on the merit of diversity.  Some varieties is more susceptible to a certain disease or pest, or if it is not suited to the particular environment.  When a farmer plants many varieties, the loss of a single variety is not so overwhelming.  Another variety, growing at the same time, is likely to be more successful.  Accepting some plants as a loss, or sacrificing some varieties to pests (to distract them from other varieties) is a way to ensure moderate agricultural success.  In contrast, a conventional farmer that plants only a single variety could lose his entire crop due to a selective misfortune. (For instance, a disease that affects only ‘Big Boy’ Tomatoes)  A conventional farmer also may depend more on inorganic pesticides and fertilizers to protect his fields, because he does not utilize the natural protection of diversity.

Stay tuned on the blog later this week when Nyssa gives step by step instructions (with pictures!) on how to transplant a pepper plant!

The Food Shuttle’s Farm staff needs volunteers on the farm in Raleigh Monday-Saturday! Click here to sign up as a farm volunteer and join us in providing wholesome veggies to countless people in need here in the Triangle.

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