All the Leaves are Brown, on a Winter’s Day

All the Leaves are Brown, on a Winter’s Day

Engaged Community Offshoots
We’re in our first week of December, and it’s finally gotten really cold here in Edmonston, MD, with the temperatures reaching only the 30s-40s during the day! At the entrance to the ECOfarm stand our solar panels with rooster perched on top. Some people from the College Park area are getting here by bike along the Paint Branch Trail.

Healthy Turtles II
This Saturday our volunteers included a group of 13 students and their teacher, Tim Barney, from a University of Maryland communications class that stresses community involvement. We’re very grateful for all the work they did. The city of Edmonston is delivering all the neighborhood leaves to the farm for composting. This week a major chore was to move these leaves in an endless chain of wheelbarrows to the hoophouses, where the steaming piles were deposited as windrows (linear piles of compost) inside and outside the walls to help heat the hoophouses. These students were leading the work on this front.

Shoveling Leaves
Filling wheelbarrows at the second pile of compost.

Making Space for more Leaves
We’re California dreamin’ inside the hot hoop houses! Here are some volunteers feeling the heat inside hoophouse #4, while shoveling the leaves to make room for a new pile of compost.

Windrow Inside II
The finished windrow!

View from Inside
View of the roof of the hoophouse from inside. You can see the water droplets condensed on the roof from the steam of the compost piles.

Windrow on Hoophouse #4
The volunteers transferred leaves to build the windrow you see outside this hoophouse.

Plants in Row Covers
We are covering our plants in row covers. A row cover, also called garden fabric, is a breathable fabric that protects plants from the cold, blocks insects, and also lets in 70% of light. This fabric keeps plants warm during the winter months by trapping some of the heat the soil emits.

More Rows and Row Coverings
The temperature inside the hoophouses is already approximately 20 degrees warmer (Farhenheit) than outside, and these row covers add about another 10 degrees of warmth to the plants.

Under the Row Coverings
A close up of the plants under the row cover.

During break we get acquainted with the new volunteers and discuss the specific jobs we’ve been doing that day. Some regulars from University of Maryland’s Terps for Change group joined us on Saturday (on the left bench).

New Urban Farmers
Here are our Urban Farmer trainees (from the left, Edson, Jose, Rose, Star and Jose) discussing a new project with Vinnie Bevivino, the head of urban agriculture. A drug rehabilitation program for women in Upper Marlboro, called Second Genesis, invited ECO to build a 45 foot long hoophouse on their 60 acres of land. The program will be using the hoophouse to produce food for their cafeterias, as well as for horticultural therapy benefits. Construction starts on Wednesday.

Relaxing in the Leaves
Christian, coordinator of urban agriculture, taking a break in a big pile of leaf-compost (and warming up).

Hoophouses in December
A view of the front of hoophouses 1, 2 and 3. Walking down the path are Adam Schwartz (board member), Vinnie Bevivino (director) and Margaret Morgan-Hubbard (CEO).

From Behind
A view of the “back side” of the hoophouses, with the compost bins in the center and the bee hive barely in view in the distance.

Baby Lettuce
Here is the baby lettuce, just transplanted into the beds after being grown in trays.

Harvesting Lettuce!
This lettuce is big enough to harvest! Come to the farm on volunteer days and buy your own fresh veggies and herbs!

When the skies are gray, come warm up in our hoophouses:

Peace and carrots,
Natalya and the ECOcrew

About the Author

CEO, ECO City Farms