- [Narrator] On this Volunteer Gardener, Julie Berbiglia finds a fresh take on a community garden. Growing Together Farm, offers people who have relocated to Nashville from other countries, the opportunity to grow vegetables and herbs for market. It's a win-win. Annette Shrader visits a man who loves fresh tomatoes so much, he has developed a method that produces the ripe red fruit by June 1st. Seeing is believing. Plus, Sheri Gramer shows us how easy it is to make fireplace sachets. I'm all in. Join us. Engaging farmers who desire to grow produce to generate personal income while building community food security. - We are at the Growing Together Farm in South Nashville. Now this farm is sponsored by The Nashville Food Project, and it brings together these people that started out as refugees around the world, who have come here to be part of our farming community. This is a market garden, that provides a source of income to the farmers. And so they have to strategically choose what they are growing to appeal to individuals, families, and restaurants. Tally, as director of the Growing Together Farm, I know you've been here since the beginning, what got all this started? - This program actually started with a grant through the Center for Refugee and Immigrant in Tennessee, and the USDA, they had money that they were giving to refugee families who were interested in farming. So it started as an independent grant program, and then The Nashville Food Project took it over after a few years, because we wanted to keep the program going, and continue to build out the program. So it's been eight years now. - [Julie] Now tell me how this differs from your usual community garden? - [Tally] Well, that's a good question. So we are a market garden, which means that basically we operate like a farm. So, everything is very production oriented and the goal is to sell what we produce. So, the farmers who work here have the goal of selling everything. These farmers have had trainings about how to really transition from growing, just a regular individual garden, to a more production oriented garden, around using drip tape and succession planting crops, and tearing out old crops so you can put in new crops kind of thing. So, really aimed at being efficient and productive in their growing. - [Julie] And what are the different types of selling markets that you have? - [Tally] We have done a lot of different things over the years, kind of based on the experience, and of the farmers, but as they've grown and gotten more experience, we've changed our markets over time. So we used to sell at the farmer's market, which was great because farmers could just bring what they grew and it was kind of low pressure. But as they've gotten better at growing, now we have a community supported agriculture program. So we have about 80 customers that purchase vegetables from us every week, and in return they get a box of whatever's in season. So we have that, that's a 20 week program throughout the season. We also, through The Nashville Food Project, have vegetables that are purchased and then distributed free to communities around Nashville that are experiencing food insecurity. So we work with partner organizations to distribute that food and that's also a big part of our work, is growing food that is then purchased by The Nashville Food Project and then shared through people that don't have access to fresh vegetables. And then when we have extra items, and we work with a lot of great restaurants in town that love the program and love to support it by buying our vegetables, and we grow some crops that they can't get anywhere else, so they love to support the program that way. - [Julie] Now what are some of the specialty crops that you have here? I know so much of it is your standard market crops, but I think I saw a few things that were unusual. - [Tally] Yeah, we have some really fun items and we grow, you know, from spring to summer to fall, so it changes over time. But a lot of the greens, we have some very traditional heirloom mustard greens that the farmers have brought seeds with them from Bhutan, and they grow every year for their communities. And then we also have some luffa gourd, and some bitter gourd, and other gourds that the farmers actually prefer to eat green, as opposed to letting them dry, like we would dry and use them as ornamentals, but they eat them green, almost like a summer squash. And then we have roselle or sour leaf, which has kind of a tangy taste that the farmers love to eat that green, and water spinach, which is native to Burma and Asia. The program started at the same time that there was one of the largest resettlements of people from Bhutan, through the Refugee Resettlement Program. So, when this program was starting out, it was a lot of refugees from Bhutan and Burma coming into Nashville. And so, that's who we started this program with. So we have experienced farmers and then also we have some new farmers that are in their twenties and work alongside their parents and learn from the elders in the community, you know, traditional ways of farming and then also new ways. And they also have other full-time jobs but love to come here and earn a supplemental income. And then we also have an apprentice who is a young woman who's from Myanmar, who comes and learns with Roi, and she has no previous experience but wants to learn how to farm and do this for money to help support her family. So, we have the full spectrum of experience with the farmers now. - [Julie] Well this land is incredible, what are some of your biggest logistical challenges here? - [Tally] Well, wow, we are definitely grateful for this acre you know, it's really beautiful and we have wonderful shade and trees, and we have electricity now, which helps us have a refrigerator, which is amazing. And we have city water, and that's probably the biggest thing, and I think lots of community gardeners would say, just water in general is a problem. We're lucky that we have city water so we have good access, but we still, with so many of us on this plot, have to worry about sharing the resource, making sure it's equally distributed, making sure there's enough, you know, for everybody. So we have rain barrels that we try to supplement the city water with, and we usually all get along and don't argue too much, but when we do, it's about water. - [Julie] So for you personally, Tally, what is something that you take away every day when you come out in the garden? - [Tally] I really love my job, and love being here with the farmers every day. They just teach me so much about resilience and gratitude, and have such a great sense of humor, so we laugh a lot. I mean there is the language barrier, but we have kind of a shared love of being in a space and being, growing food and just being with them gives me a lot of hope for humans in general. So I'm really thankful that I get to be here and experience that. - Well our first farmer is Roi, and she is from Myanmar, welcome. And I would like to know, how long have you been gardening here? - Three years. - [Julie] This is beautiful what you are growing. So, what are some of the things that you like to sell in the markets? - [Roi] Many kinds of. - [Julie] Wow, this is a lot of crops. So, this is hard work. And I wonder why is it that you like this type of farming? - [Translator] I can walk anytime here, and then I don't need to go to SSI, but I can walk here and at the same time SSI, I can have any fresh vegetable and for my health, and then because of my age and it's not easy to go and walk outside. But here it's my time is really, you know, that's useful and that I don't need to be waste my time, and I really enjoy walking at the farm. - [Julie] Well your crops are beautiful. Thank you so much for growing all of this for Nashville. - Yes, thank you. - Well, our next farmers are Chandra and Tonka, and they are from Bhutan. And, you are some of the original farmers here, right? - Yes. - [Julie] And I see these beautiful green beans you've been growing. - [Julie] Now what kind of things do your customers like to buy? - Beans, squash, cabbage, onion, dinosaur, kale, chard, mustard, everything. - [Julie] Now I see that you're also growing some herbs, which ones are you growing? - [Julie] Well, your farm here is beautiful, and thank you so much for sharing it with us today. - Thank you ma'am. - Thank you. - Thank you. - Thank you very much. - Thank you. - [Julie] Well this garden visit has been so inspiring, seeing how people can share their cultures, share what they do, and learn from each other all in the beautiful outdoors. - Well I think you can see that I've got on a coat. I think you can see the wind is blowing, but you don't know that the temperature might be 42 degrees, but we're gonna plant tomatoes. And Mike Smith, has dreamed up something for all you men that like to brag about, guess what, I had a ripe tomato by the 4th of July, you're out of date. Mike Smith, up here on the top of this mountain in Cookeville, tell us what in the world were you thinking when you dreamed this up? - Well I love tomatoes. I love tomatoes, my grandchildren love tomatoes, we plant tomatoes every year. My aunt came here from Michigan, and she brought a thing called a water wall, or a wall of water, I'm not sure, and I looked at it and I thought, well, I've gotta do something. So I got me a five gallon bucket and I took the bottom out of it. I planted my plant in the garden, set the bucket down around it, put a lid on it, and it froze the tomato. But then the next year, I had to wait a whole nother year to do it again. - That's right If you mess up- - The next year, I planted the tomato, put the same bucket around it. I put dirt all around the bucket, so it looked kind of like a volcano with a tomato in the middle. And then when it got cold at night, I put a piece of plywood on top of the bucket, and that kept the cold air out. So, since then, just about every year, I have tomatoes on June the first. And I have had tomatoes the last couple of weeks in May. - Okay, yeah I believe you, you've got pictures to prove it. - I have pictures. I have a plant that is six foot tall on June 1st. - Oh my goodness. Okay start us out. - [Mike] All right, I'm gonna. - Tell me what you got. - I've got Early Girl, and German Johnson tomatoes. These are some of my favorite tomatoes. - [Annette] German Johnson's the best. - It's a good tomato, it is. And I took this pipe, made some cuts in it with the saw. So that this pipe is for feeding and for watering. So I'm gonna put the plant down in here, plant it like I always do. - [Annette] So that hole was about what, 12 inches deep that you dug? - [Mike] It was about 12 inches deep. And it's gonna be a little lower than the normal landscape, the grade of the land. - [Annette] Yeah. - But then I'm gonna take the bucket, and put here, push it down good. - [Annette] So now when you put that bucket on there initially, do you have a depth that you really want it to be? - [Mike] The bucket, I just wanna make sure it seals around the dirt that's around it itself. - And it to be stable - I want water coming in. - [Annette] You want it to be stable. - [Mike] And it doesn't fall over. And I'm gonna take some dirt, and pull up around the bucket. So when I finish, it's kinda look like a volcano with a tomato in the middle of it. - Yeah. - [Mike] I'm lefthanded. Lefthanded people gotta stand on the other side. - [Annette] Well that's pretty, that's all right. Puts us on the right sides here. - But yeah, I'll pull these on up. - Okay, I can see now that you've got a thermal thing going on here, insulation. - Right. And it probably would be better, to use some kind of mulch or compost- - And why do you say that? - Well, I think it would keep more cold air off. It's more, dirt's not as insulating as- - [Annette] Well you could take straw, or burlap. - [Mike] You could take straw or burlap or anything, and wrap around this. As this plant grows, and it will grow. I could take the plant by the leafs, hold it, take dirt and drop around it. - [Annette] Well, and that's like healing up. You know, when I plant tomatoes that are too tall, I lay 'em on the ground and let the sun bring their heads up, and then I lay 'em in a row. And that's the same thing, isn't it? - It's the same thing. The more of that plant body that's in the ground, there's more roots. The plant will receive more food that way. - So you're gonna just bring their roots up from the bottom up to the top. - Yes. Gotcha. - [Mike] And see, I may even have to take the bucket and lift the bucket, because that plant will grow, and I've had 'em grow higher than the bucket. - [Annette] Oh, so my question now is, you actually leave this bucket in there for the whole growing season? - [Mike] No, as soon as the time of frost and freeze is gone, which would probably be in May, second week of May or something, cause last year everybody planted their tomatoes, and they got froze. - [Annette] Yeah. - [Mike] I had tomatoes. - [Annette] We know, and I know where you live now. - [Mike] I had tomatoes, but I will pull this bucket up, and all that soil will fall down around the plant, just like you healed it that way. - [Annette] Okay, now you've got it planted and I know what eventually you'll top it off with. Let's talk about your pipe over here. What are you gonna do? How do you utilize this pipe? - [Mike] Well, that's my feeding and watering pipe. - [Annette] Okay. - What I normally do, I feed in water about, two times a week. About two times a week. But I'll take- - Now I see this analysis as a 19, 19, 19. - Yeah, that's- - Does it matter? - A lot of people don't like to use as much nitrogen in theirs, but we're not making this very strong. This is gonna be very weak. - Cause you're leak, you're diluting it. - Yeah, I'm gonna dilute it pretty, pretty heavily. - All right, so you put that in this bucket. - Yes. And then I will take some of that, out of that bucket. - So how long do you keep it in this bucket of water before you use it, to dissolve it? - I'll let that dissolve a couple of days. And see probably what I'll do is like this, that stirs it up. - Yeah. - And then I'll stir it back in the other bucket. - And your mixing process- - I'm mixing it. There's a lot of dirt and stuff in there. - That's okay, there's some of your- - See there? It's fertilized, It's not diluted yet. - And all of that won't dilute because there's, there are some solid materials and fertilize that don't- - [Annette] Dissolve. - [Mike] They don't dissolve. - [Annette] Which one of 'em? - [Mike] I think it's lime, I think they put some lime in the fertilizer. But now this water here is, has already been mixed and has already been diluted. See what I will do is ill take- - So that's percentage wise, water that's already got the fertilizer and it, the regular water, that you're plain water, you're going to just add. - Right, I'm just gonna, I'm gonna add like about that much of the mixture in here. - That's about two quarts maybe? - [Mike] Yeah, about two quarts. And then I'll pour it in a bucket. And I'll fill it full of water. Okay, now that's what this is. - That's regular water? - And I already made it up because I let that dissolve already, so it's already dissolved. - Oh, okay. - And I'll take some. - [Annette] Okay. - [Mike] And go over here, and I pour it in the pipe. - [Annette] And then those little vents that you put in it, distributes it to the sides, instead of it all going down into the ground. - [Mike] Right. - In the bottom. - [Mike] Right, and I'm not watering any fungus that's on the ground level. I'm putting water straight to the root. I think it helps reduce disease. - Yeah. - It may not get rid of all the disease, but it at least helps it. And I think if you put, once you pull this up and you wanna put felt down, you could. You could, to keep the splash back from happening. That splash back is what distributes that disease. Try water, and this plant grows. Once it's passed the time of frost, then I will pull the bucket out. And all that soil falls around, and the plant at that time is large enough to put a cage on. Now I wouldn't put a cage over this bucket like that. But I would put it over and around the plant. This cage is made from concrete reinforcing wire. And you can get a roll of it for, I don't know, $130, something like that. You could make about 28 cages from this. And what you want to do is cut the pieces five foot long off the roll. So you will end up with a cage this big around. - Right. - And five feet tall. - And I love these cages because your hand reaches in there to get those good old tomatoes, don't they? - Yeah, you could get in there and get 'em. They're six inches by six inches square. - And they're sturdy. - And they are, they're very, I've used this one for many years. Okay, tonight it's gonna get cold, and tomorrow it's gonna be cold, it's gonna snow. So I will put this lid on there. It's about one inch thick plywood, you can use just about any kind of plywood. But that will keep the cold air off. Now, it doesn't just keep the cold air off, if it's going to rain a lot, like if they say it's going rain an inch or, I will put this lid on it and that will push all the water away so it doesn't fill the bucket full of water. If it's gonna be 70, 73 degrees, this lid is going to be removed, It'll be laying here. - Okay. - [Mike] And that's all the work you have to do. It's not really work. - [Annette] Yeah. - [Mike] So, and I only do about eight to 10 plants per year this way. - [Annette] Yeah, well it's a process. And while the rest of them are getting planted, these are preparing to be ripened. So I understand this could become a good hobby to have. So, they've had 21 days. - And they're growing, they're growing. Let's go on over here- - Take the lid off of one. - Let's do these right here. - Okay. - These two. - Oh my goodness. - Now some of those I have little bitty tiny plants in, I'm just growing them. - [Annette] Yes. - [Mike] These plants are growing. They already have established a root. - [Annette] Yes. - [Mike] And they have grown since I put 'em in there, matter of fact, this one, I've already taken, and grabbed it and put dirt around it. I put about three inches of dirt around that plant already. And it has grown that much. It's, that's actually grown about five inches. That was the small plant like the one I just planted. - [Annette] I am so excited to number one, by the enthusiasm you put off into what you have dreamed up here. And I just know that, to be able to say that I had a ripe tomato in the end of May or the first of June, I mean, that's unprecedented. - [Mike] Yeah, I look for a tomato plant the first of March. - [Annette] I'm not so sure that I might not try one of these in my own garden. - We've got a great gift idea for you today, they're fireplace sachets. I have three basic recipes for you. Now you don't have to stay with those three basic recipes, you could open up your spice cupboard, or wander out to your garden, and mix and match anything that you enjoy the aroma of. We start out with basic brown paper. You could use a rolled sheets of brown paper, or you could recycle those brown paper bags that you have in your cupboard. I've cut nine by nine inch squares, you could use smaller or larger, depending on what you're putting in your square. I have, the first recipe I'm gonna show you is kind of woodsy smelling. We're gonna start with, balsam. You could use pine needles as well, and just put a little bit in there. These are pine cones from birch trees. You could use other large pine cones, or you could take a big pine cone and break it down, whatever works for you. And we have some rosemary, you could use a fresh brig if you have it, or this happens to be dried. This is so easy to do. You just take in, you're gonna make a little sachet, you're just gonna bundle it up. And I think it would be fun at Christmas time if you were given these to pick out some real prettier fun Christmas paper you could use, or you could use any kind of paper for that matter. And you just tie it into a little sachet. And what I've did is, I've made little labels, and on one side, I just labeled it fireplace sachet. And on the other side, I just put what the ingredients were inside of them. Instead of using a hole punch, I just squeeze it or pinch it here. And I'm just gonna simply tie it around here. Now the other recipe that I have for you, is gonna be a little bit more citrusy, I'll show you here. You just tie it, so it goes a little bit tight and that's all you have to do. The other recipe I had, I used dried orange peel. Now again, you could use fresh orange peel if you had it, if you ate an orange that morning. I'm just gonna break it up a little bit smaller so it goes into the sachet a little easier. So we have a little bit of orange, I have whole cloves. And I have some cinnamon sticks. And again, we're just gonna bundle this up. Another great thing to do, now obviously this is gonna be for inside fireplaces. A lot of people have the outside fireplaces or even the outside fire pits in the fall and in the winter. What you could do in the fall, is when you're cutting back your herbs or deadheading your herb plants, is save those woody stems like on your lavender and on your sage, and on your rosemary. And bundle 'em up with just some simple twine. And leave them right by your fireplace or your fire pit outside. And after you get a nice rip rowing fire going, throw those on top, and it's gonna make the smell of those herbs come up in the smokey air that you have around you. But these are fireplace sachets, they're fun and they're easy. Finish this one here real quick. What would be great at the holidays times is if you took a nice bowl and you made several of them. Or even if you put 'em in a basket, you could put a couple and then purchase a nice little box of decorative matches, or even long fireplace matches, and include 'em in your basket or your bowl. It's a great gift, it's fun, it's easy. And the kids can help you do this as well. - [Narrator] For inspiring garden tours, growing tips, and garden projects, visit our website @volunteergardener.org or on YouTube at the Volunteer Gardener channel, and like us on Facebook.
October 20, 2022
Season 31 | Episode 11
We tour Growing Together Farm, a unique community garden in Nashville, where growers produce vegetables and herbs for market. Annette Shrader pays a visit to a man who loves fresh tomatoes so much he's developed a method that produces the red ripe fruit by June 1. Plus, Sheri Gramer shows us how easy it is to make fireplace sachets.
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Growing Together Farm
We tour this market farm and meet some of the growers who are harvesting wonderful produce and herbs from this community garden shepherded by The Nashville Food Project. The farmers share a commonality as each arrived in Middle TN from Burma or Bhutan. They are generating personal income while building food security within the community.