FarmSuperba

Sometimes it takes a little imagination to see potential. Whether it be in people, places, or ideas. Potential can be an enigma. But that’s why I love urban farming. Once you open your mind to it, you can see the potential in the least likely of spaces.

Take this vacant asphalt lot for example:

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Seems pretty unassuming. It used to be storage space for an old upholstery store and a run down barbershop on Lincoln Blvd in Venice, CA. Most would argue that there is nothing remarkable or unique about this lot, but when you combine community-minded restaurateurs Paul + Tiffany Hibler, a talented builder/mad scientist, and an urban farmer…you plant the seeds of something special.

Construction on FarmSuperba began in early 2015. Funn Roberts, the mad scientist I was telling you about, was full steam ahead with building the shoebox farm.

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The asphalt was busted open, and flagstone pavers were puzzled together to replace it. This now allows for rainwater to be returned back to the water table, instead of being diverged into the gutters and swept away to the street.

A total of twenty hydroponic towers live on the farm. The beauty of the towers is their lego-like design. They snap together and are completely self contained.

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Funn did a fantastic job of sinking the bases of the towers into a deck to allow for a sleek profile and interactive layout.

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Because of the relatively small size of the lot, vertical growing made sense. With 20 towers, each containing 44 growing slots, the tower portion of farm can produce 880 plants at any given time.

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Funn’s mad scientist brain really came through when he designed and constructed a beautiful aquaponics system. The unit is self contained, large tanks filled with fish help fertilize the water to provide nutrients to the plants. The plants help act as a filter for the water. Wanna learn more about aquaponics? Just click.

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Calming and inviting, one would never know that they are just yards away from Lincoln Blvd, one of the busiest thoroughfares in Los Angeles. Almost every plant on the farm is edible, and goes to supply food for Superba Food + Bread.

The farm has turned into a space for community engagement. FarmSuperba hosts things like Yoga On The Farm

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Meditation + Mindfulness classes

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A teen photography class from Venice Community Arts paid the farm a visit to learn about transformation of space

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On winter solstice we gathered round the fire pit to set intentions and honor the passing year

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Some rad things have already been happening on FarmSuperba, I can’t wait to see all of the possibilities that will manifest themselves as the farm continues to grow. Stay tuned for updates…

6 Edible Flowers To Elevate Your Garnish Game

As fine dining techniques begin to disperse into more mainstream restaurants, and even more so into home cooking, things like edible flowers are helping chefs and home cooks elevate their garnish game. Not only can they offer a splash of color, but most bring an immense amount a flavor in one little bite! Here is a list of some of the more common edible flowers that are fairly accessible, and in some cases, are growing wild in your own backyard:

Nasturtium:

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This beauty is found in cultivated gardens, as well as can be foraged in the wild. Both the greens and the blossom are edible. The lily pad shaped leaves are pretty spicy and peppery, and can be a bit of an acquired taste. The blossoms are much more mild in flavor and spice. In fact, they bring a touch of sweetness to help round out the flavor profile of the plant. The blossoms make a great addition to a salad and should be served raw.

Marigold:

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The varietal of marigold shown here is Mexican Marigold, but there are many different types of marigolds, with many different looking blossoms. The greens are edible as well are the blossoms, but be sure to find the young, tender greens which will be easier on the palate. The flavor is reminiscent to a sweet anise. I would even described it as a tangerine-bubble gum flavor. Marigolds are also a great addition to a garden, as they will fend off certain unwanted insects. Some of my favorite types of marigold are:

Mexican Marigold

French Marigold

Signet Marigold

Mustard:

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If you time it right, mustard blossoms can be foraged in the wild. Southern California hillsides are blanketed with them from spring to early summer. If you don’t have access to them in the wild, or they are out of season, these can be cultivated in the garden by letting mustard greens bolt (go to flower). Mustard blossom flavors can range from a mild tingle to a serious bite on the palate. One of the chefs that I work with was making his own mustard purely out of the blossoms…brilliant!

Radish:

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These little beauties have to be one of my favorites! So delicate, and so delicious! Radish blossoms are another edible flower that can be found either in the wild, or in the garden. I’ve seen radish blossoms in an array of colors; white, pink, yellow, purple and there is no mistaking what kind of plant this blossom is coming from, so much radish flavor and spice packed into a beautiful little blossom.

Chive:

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Once you’ve tried a chive blossom, you realize what an impact an edible flower can have on a dish. The first time I had one, they were sprinkled on top of a raw oyster…WOW! It was a revelation and made me understand that a plant can have many usable parts, not just the traditional ones we know them for. Boasting a bit of spice, a chive blossom is a great substitute or addition to any recipe requiring that distinct allium flavor.

Borage:

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Think cucumber! Thats right, borage blossoms taste exactly like cucumbers. These hearty plants are very easy to grow, and are a favorite to bees. The blossoms are prolific on the

plants, and will bloom from early spring to late fall. However, use caution when harvesting as the plant has some prickly leaves!

**It is important to note that whenever foraging in the wild, one should obtain permission to enter on to private property. It is also imperative to identify the plants you are harvesting from as safe for consumption.**

 

Flower Ave Garden Project: Donkey Sh*t

Yet another amazing friend coming through for me…A good friend Tony, a Cheirmoya and avocado farmer and rancher in Santa Barbara, drove down a truck load of his soil blended with donkey manure or “donkey sh*t” as he called it.

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It’s beautiful and will be a great addition for my beds. I’ve inoculated it over a few days with some native soil from the original beds at the house to create a healthy microbiotic environment.

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I am so thankful for these little gifts that continue to show up along the way and help on this journey.

“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”

~Henry David Thoreau

Flower Ave Garden Project: Houston We Have A Greenhouse

I was able to get the irrigation lined up and the greenhouse erected today. It kinda feels like a new friend came to the party. So many fun projects will take place in here!

I found this “pop-up” greenhouse online. It was a good size for the space I have to use and not too priceyImage

My only fear was that it would be like trying to put Ikea furniture together; by the end of it you’re fighting with your partner, 3 screws are mysteriously leftover, and you now have a thing against Swedish people (but that doesn’t last long because then you realize where would you be without those delicious gummy fish [the red ones]).

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In the end, it came together relatively easyish-kinda. But it’s definitely a job for more than 1 person. The box said set-up takes about 30 min-1hr, we were on the latter side of that. If you could set this thing up in 30 min, then you my friend are a master Cub Scout…or a structural engineer.

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The next step is to get shelving set up and the drip system in. And then the fun really begins =}

I was also able to get some agretti starters planted. I re-purposed this hanging shoe organizer to grow the agretti vertically on the outside of this door

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“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”

~Carl Rogers

Flower Ave Garden Project: Doing Work!

More progress was made on the greenhouse site. Step one was to remove the retaining rock wall from around the sides of the raised existing bed…check!

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Next, start digging like you were on a chain gang…check!

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The GREAT perk to this whole thing is that the soil in this raised bed is epic, full of fat worms!! I’m going to repurpose the dirt for my raised beds going up in the near future.

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So thankful to have some helpers today, my dad and stepmom getting dirty =] They were a big help, but I had to crack the whip when they started slacking off…they also brought a MUCH better wheelbarrow with them as you can see here.

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Next, set up irrigation for a timed watering system in the greenhouse…check-ish ( I need to finish up tomorrow

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We were also able to add this raised bed. This will be the location of my edible flowers

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I wake up with the sun, I have MAJOR blisters, I am cray sore, I go to bed at 9pm exhausted (if I can stay up that late) and couldn’t be more excited about how things are shaping up!

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”
~Eleanor Roosevelt