Archive for the ‘Steven's Blog’ Category

By: Elizabeth Stahl, IFFS Communication Intern

Continuing to expand my knowledge of Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, I learned food banks and food rescue organizations are quite similar. As you may remember from my previous blog post, I have a connection to MANNA Food Bank which works hand-in-hand with the Plant A Row program and community distribution programs.  So not only does food banking accumulate warehouse goods, but they also work with fresh produce for different agencies.  Food rescue organizations, like the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, deal with food rescue and garden-fresh produce as well as distribution around the community.  Both organizations are dedicated to fighting hunger!

Recently I ventured to the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle farm and learned about the organic farming methods they employ.  Not only is Steven Horton, assistant farm manager, hard at work on the farm but chickens and worms put in their fair share as well! Known as the official “worm doctor,” Steven is dedicated to making the farm successful, “I’d like to educate more people on our growing methods a lot of people think that organic farming is like going back to the 18th century, and it’s not.” Employing worms to create nutritious, rich fertilizer, utilizing worm-castings ensures delicious vegetables!

After a morning of hard work, I put the “worm doctor” to the test and asked him a few questions.

1. If you could be any vegetable which one would you be and why?

-I would be a bean because they are the most pervasive they will climb up anything and take over anything.

2. What is one type of food you simply could not live without?

-Any kind of berry– strawberries, blackberries, and mulberries- they grow in the wild and are easy to pick.

3. Is there anything other than working on the farm that you do to fight hunger?

­-I work with Crop Mob, an organization of young farmers that wanted to help each other.  They meet and work during the day and then share a meal together, all on sustainable farms.  I also read about farming and new farming methods.

4. Which is more important: the chickens or the worms?

-The worms because they provide really high quality, organic fertilizer they helps make the soil healthy for years to come.  They can feed the chickens and the hungry!  They make growing plants a lot easier!

5. What is something you are most proud of?

-I am proud of where I am at now in my life.  I am proud that I have an open mind and respect my own beliefs but at the same time being open to others beliefs.

8. What is the most important meal of the day and why?

-Breakfast because it keeps you going until lunch!

9. What is something you wish more people did?

-Stop complaining and start doing! 

Special thanks to Steven and his hard work on the farm!  Without his dedication, the farm would not be able to provide seeding transplants for other IFFS farms or grow nutritious produce for the IFFS agencies!  Look for more Friday Full of Fun next week!


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I know that Thanksgiving comes after Easter in the calender year, but I did not realize that it comes this early. The past month has brought me an overwhelming amount of support to be thankful for. It all started at Longview School where I did a seed tray demonstration for Mr. Patrick Faulkner’s horticulture class. A week or so later our Farm Manager, Sun Butler, said to me that Mr. Faulkner was going to have a visit from Will Allen of Growing Power and that he may need some help setting up the event. To this I exclaimed “No way!” and Sun gave me a hearty “Way.”
So it began, the scramble to acquire materials in three weeks time. Some materials we already had, such as wooden pallets from Bland Landscaping and coffee chaff from Larry’s Beans. Other materials I had to get for either very cheap, or free; and anyone that knows me knows that I usually opt for free.
Just prior to becoming full-time staff at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle I had helped get a greenhouse up at Spence’s Farm in Chapel Hill. I knew that the farm had composted horse manure (worms love it!) and possibly some hay that I could use. After coaxing my better half into an inquiry with her program director I was given the go ahead on everything I needed. YES! Things were falling into place.
I knew the possibility existed that Mr. Allen would be visiting our newest community garden at Alliance Medical Ministries. Once again we relied on our friends at Bland Landscaping to come till up a few rows and provide us with some compost and fruit trees. Luckily I had some help from the Wake County BGC Teen Center to get some compost spread in the garden. We had received a few flats of plants for the garden from Campbell Road Nursery which is just a stones throw away from the IFFS Farm. If you’re ever at the farm you should not throw stones at them, but pay them a visit. Several familiar faces from the IFFS volunteer roster came on Saturday morning to help prep beds and plant the garden, but we also had some new faces from the Raleigh Community Gardens and Triangle Area Homesteaders Meetup groups. These two groups have been helping us canvass and raise community awareness about our garden in the area around Alliance Medical Ministries.

Food Shuttle Farm

What I did not know was the possibility that Mr. Allen would be paying a visit to the farm and needless to say things were a bit hectic at the farm. Thank goodness for Caroline MacNair! She had her farm manager, Johnny Hassell, and his staff lend us a hand the morning that Mr. Allen would be arriving at the farm for a steak dinner. It’s amazing what can be done by a focused group in a few hours time. The farm looked wonderful.

I’d like to thank the Raleigh branch of the USDA’s Risk Management Agency. RMA’s Ron Brown helped escort Mr. Allen around town. I also have to thank all of the Food Shuttle staff that helped pull this together, especially Chef Terri, who stayed up past her bedtime to prepare and serve delicious food at the event. I may have left some people out, but my point is that it takes a lot of partners to make an event a success. I look forward to developing stronger relationships with the aforementioned groups and hope to create new relationships with our next exciting event! Now its time for my nap.

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A quick garden update from Steven Horton.

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another dispatch from our guerilla gardener

Video 141 0 00 02-01The farm is really alive this time of year. All kinds of greens and root vegetables are coming up in the gardens. Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are still producing the last of their yield. Seedlings of lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower are coming up in the greenhouse. This is the time to think of harvest festivals and the coming holidays. Its also time to start thinking ahead to the next season on the farm. Feel free to give us some feedback on what you’d like to see growing in the fields next spring.

I mentioned last week that I would go over seeding trays. I may have to make a video some time to explain the equipment. The basic gist is you have a tray of styrofoam squares about 1cmx1cm each packed with a loose potting soil. These trays have tiny holes in the bottom for draining. There is a metal piece that fits perfectly over the styrofoam trays with a tiny hole for each individual square. The metal piece is attached to a hard plastic fitting that is vacuum sealable, apart from the tiny holes. You use a vacuum cleaner to create the suction in these tiny holes where you get at least one seed to stick in every hole, pending on the size of the seeds. You place the metal piece onto the styrofoam tray and release the suction. This drops a seed in each individual 1cmx1cm square. Then you place the tray into the water bath in the greenhouse where water is allowed to soak in the bottom.

I realize this week’s entry is kind of short and technical, but I’ll make it up to you next time by coming up with a story. Keep a look out for the weekly Crew Calls and let us know if you’d like to come out to the farm some other day. Also, we’ll be starting our weekly local agricultural luncheons this Wednesday @ Farmhouse Pizza & Pub in Raleigh. High noon is the time, hope to see you there!

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