Ground cover can be a gardeners best friend. It helps keep the soil warm and keeps pests away. And one of the biggest benefits to a culinary gardener is that it can keep the green tops of things like radishes nice and tender. This will make them a beautiful addition to a plate.
One perk of being a culinary farmer is that you get hooked up with some seriously yummy food! I dropped off some Red Russian Kale to Chef Fox at Rustic Canyon, and came back with fresh ceviche and tortilla chips! YUM, thanks guys.
I have been in Venice for about 6 weeks and am settling in nicely =]
“The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”
The Flower Ave Garden has a new friend and customer in Chef Ari Taymor at Alma Restaurant located in downtown LA:
Chef Taymor is a big advocate for using seasonal local ingredients. Their menu changes daily, and they find value in supporting their local farmers as well as giving back to their community. In fact, the inside of the restaurant has a chalkboard wall that reads “Our Friends” and below it are listed all of the farms they source from:
I dined at Alma when I first moved to LA and really enjoyed it. Chef Taymor’s menu features items such as:
Smoked sablefish, celery, apple, caviar
Orecchiette with whey braised pork shoulder, pickled chili, & pearl onion
Aged duck boudin blanc, brussel sprouts, apple, green mustard
If you live in the the LA area I recommend having dinner there!
Alma has in interesting story. It was started via Kickstarter, a website dedicated to crowd-sourcing funds for almost anything you can imagine. They posted a video, and were able to raise the funds to open the restaurant. Alma also has a strong community outreach program started by GM and co-owner Ashleigh Parsons. You can learn more about Alma’s unique story here:
I’m excited to welcome Chef Taymor and the Alma family into the Flower Ave Garden Project story.
“Community is a sign that love is possible in a materialistic world where people so often either ignore or fight each other. It is a sign that we don’t need a lot of money to be happy–in fact, the opposite.”
The Flower Ave Garden had it’s first official volunteer today.
Ken is a Los Angelian via Montana. Ken heard about the Flower Ave Garden through a mutual friend and contacted me to come check it out.
It was great to have the help and share some knowledge.
Some companion planting was done in the large bed. Companion planting means to plant two different types of plants together in the same bed. For example, these are carrot seeds mixed with radish seeds:
It’s a 50/50 mix that is sprinkled in the ground and covered with a light layer of dirt. The radish grow at a faster rate than the carrots and will be ready for harvest sooner. The radish also create good spacing between the carrots. Because space is a factor with urban farming, companion planting is a must.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
I get a lot of questions from neighbors and people passing by who are curious about what I am planting. I thought it would be helpful to put up signs of what is planted in each bed.
Since I could practically be considered an Eagle Scout at this point, I dusted off the old wood-burning kit and gathered some scrap wood left over from building.
They turned out great and I hope it will help a curious passerby.
“Words are but the signs of ideas.”
My mission statement for this project was to create a culinary garden in an urban setting to sell to chefs in the LA market…check.
My first customer was Chef Josiah Citrin at Melisse in Santa Monica. Chef Josiah and Chef Ken Takayama (Chef de Cuisine) were the first to teach me about how to truly respect the products one works with. They were first to teach me about seasonality and working with local farmers; I thought it only fitting to bring them my first harvest.
I was truly grateful for the next set of events. After Chef Josiah purchased some bronze fennel from me, he offered to introduce me to Chef Jeremy Fox who recently took a position in the kitchen at Rustic Canyon, which is right across the street from Melisse. He walked me to the kitchen and told Chef Fox about my history with Melisse and Meadowood, and how I was a new farmer in the area. Chef Fox used to run Michelin rated Ubuntu, the country’s premier vegetarian restaurant located in Napa CA, and was kind enough to purchase some wasabi mustard micros from me.
I am looking forward to developing relationships with these two great chefs in my community. I have accomplished my short term goal of creating this garden to sell to market, now I want to make it sustainable. I’m not 100% sure how that model will look, it is constantly changing and evolving, but days like these make me think it could be a reality.
“Hell! there ain’t no rules around here! We are tryin’ to accomplish somep’n!”
I’m closing in on the home stretch for completing construction in the front yard of the Flower Ave Garden. I was able to get fencing up around the perimeter of the yard. It will double as the perfect trellis for peas and cucumbers that will be planted soon.
I was also able to plant one of the beds with ice lettuce. The scientific name for ice lettuce is Ficoide glaciale. Native to the southern hemisphere, it has fleshy, lightly acidic leaves that are covered with shimmering silvery dots that give them a frosty appearance. The leaves are crunchy and refreshing in salads, and may also be cooked like spinach
Up next, irrigation =]
Ok, so maybe no cannibalism took place, but yesterday was a landmark day for the Flower Ave Garden…I was able, after a lot of blood sweat tears and splinters, to get some things planted!!
We began to fill the beds with soil. The first layer was the soil brought down from the ranch in SB; it contained more sand and will help with drainage.
The second layer is of the native soil. One of the neighbors told me that this area used to be bean fields before being developed into the residential area it is today. That explains why the soil is so rich and fertile! It’s funny because LA is very much an urban city so it’s easy to forget that at one time, before all of the cars and smog and traffic and people, that this land was wide open. I loved to learn that it was old farmland… I’m hoping that this soil remembers its roots and is happy to help grow vegetables again.
After the native soil went in, I topped it off with compost, and blended it all the best I could.
I usually like to direct sow (which means planting a seed directly in the ground) fava beans, but I needed to get them started and didn’t have the beds out front ready, so I seeded them in pots. You can see the root structure already beginning.
All of my favas are in the beds, tucked in tight!
It makes me have to stop and enjoy this moment. So much planning and groundwork went in to getting the garden to this point and I am so thankful for all of the help I had; there is NO WAY I could have done it alone! I’m looking forward to seeing the changes spring will bring to this quiet little garden…good things on the horizon!
“What is success? I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose.”