Plan, Act, Reflect, Dream: Our Farm’s Journey

Many of you know that Three Part Harmony Farm was designed and planned out during a series of workshops that were prepared for me and a small group of friends that made up a dream accountability project over the course of several months in 2011. The first assignment I was given was to draw a picture of the farm in the year 2015. The second assignment was to journal on a series of questions, including “What are the things you see?” “What do you smell?” “Who is with you at the farm?” “What does the farm look like?” I then carried out the plan backwards, from the end to the beginning and set about arriving at the goal by following the dream.

Our before and after photos in Brookland show how closely we’ve been sticking to that plan. They also show a spiritual, healing space, a vibrant ecosystem that is far beyond my wildest dreams.

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May 2012: the first tilling revealed a kind of desert wasteland! There were no worms. We couldn’t afford to put compost in the whole field so we made wide aisles and only improved the soil where the vegetables were planted. oh the dust!

In two years we improved the soils enough to grow year round. This white russian kale grown from seed we saved in 2013 was harvested in March and April for our first spring CSA this year.

In two years we improved the soils enough to grow year round. This white russian kale grown from seed we saved in 2013 was harvested in March and April for our first spring CSA this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last month, as we planted rows of blueberries and lilacs in between the vegetable beds, I commented that the plan was coming to fruition- the design is exactly the same one I drew in that first workshop. Thank you AW and all of the poddies! Your love and support continues to bear fruit (and flowers, and vegetables, and herbs, and even peaceful quietude among the butterflies.)

Donate now and be part of our first fundraising campaign!

Congratulations to all of us, the Three Part Harmony Farm Family: yesterday we signed our first official lease! That’s why this week we launched our first fundraising campaign.

As you all know, for the last three yIMG_6156ears we’ve been building a farm that is productive, beautiful, and sustainable right in the middle of DC. We made purchases slowly, exercising a careful and calculated plan while waiting for the Farm Bill to pass.

This year, everything fell into place perfectly and now we’re ready to Go Big.

Check out this Indiegogo campaign. Make a contribution that feels good to you and while you are there, choose one of the great perks we’ve put together. Don’t forget to share with friends- everyone in the DMV wins when this farm succeeds. We helped open the door and pave the path to urban farming success in the District. Please help us build our capacity so we can continue our amazing work to increase food security in our nation’s capital.

Thank you!

— farmer gail and the entire team at 3PH

This Week’s Share

nettles

luscious nettles! from little red bird botanicals

People often ask me to describe a CSA share. It’s a little bit difficult, my answer is always, “a fabulous assortment of farm fresh items that make 2 – 4 meals a week.” Better yet, check out some of the photos from our spring CSA. Our members also receive a weekly email with information about what will be in the share, along with recipe tips when I include something new or not often encountered. This week, in addition to getting mushrooms, eggs, kale, parsnips, seedlings, flowers, and fresh herbs, everyone will get a chance to try stinging nettles, an incredibly nutritious edible weed.

We’re still signing up folks for the summer CSA. Don’t miss a chance to take a culinary journey with us this season!

I’ve included in this post the sample email for this week’s CSA members: April is a perfect time to snag a quick lunch from your backyard (please- only if no one is spraying chemicals on the lawn.) Harvest dandelion greens, wild onions, and anything green in your garden that’s just begun to come up in the spring time.

I love introducing our members to new, nourishing foods especially ones they’ve never tried. For the last two weeks, we had dandelion greens at their peak. Now it’s time for stinging nettles. They pack a punch! Be very careful when handling them, in fact wear plastic gloves and/ or use tongs. It’s worth the risk of getting “stung” though, these early spring greens are incredibly good for you. The sting cooks out, I promise. But if you can’t bring yourself to eat them fresh, spread out your share of nettles on a paper bag or dish towel in a dry place in your house. After about a week you should be able to stuff the dried leaves into a glass jar and enjoy stinging nettle tea. I like to throw in a few dried leaves into any soup I am making to nourish sick loved ones.

I read the Washington Post “Food” section pretty religiously. Last week someone posted a question in the Q&A section inquiring about where to find nettles so that she could make a nettle risotto recipe that she’s tried before and loved. It’s true that you can’t really find nettles at the grocery store. Join a CSA is what I say! These past couple of weeks, our CSA members have been enjoying a plethora of wild and foraged items, even weeds. I personally haven’t made nettle risotto but I did find some great recipes on the internet. A quick search pulled up half a dozen.

Yes! We’re taking sign ups for the 2015 CSA

photo by Anu Yadav

photo by Anu Yadav

Join us for the 2015 season!

There are a variety of ways to sign up to receive produce, flowers, seedlings, and other fresh, local farm items from Three Part Harmony Farm and Community Farming Alliance, the producer co-op we belong to.

Please fill out the application to sign up with Three Part Harmony Farm, sign up directly with Little Red Bird Botanicals for a medicinal herb CSA, or click here to buy our multi-farm CSA package.

Contact us with questions!

For more information about CSAs click here.

Vegetable CSA: what to expect.

Community Farming Alliance is a cooperative of farmers of color and women farmers in the DC area. Here are our members:

1507557_449855148448377_987899915_nGood-sense-farm---logweb-nobackgroundlittleredbird

 

A Farm Grows in Brookland

written by Kimberly Burge | published in the March 2015 issue of Sojourners

ON A TWO-ACRE parcel of land in Washington, D.C., tucked behind the provincial house of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Gail Taylor offers a visitor dragon’s lingerie.

Photo by Rick Reinhard

Photo by Rick Reinhard

“It kind of looks like fishnet stockings—that’s how it got the name,” Taylor says, holding up the heirloom snap bean, its pale yellow-green hull mottled with purple.

Across the aisle, Jack Be Little miniature pumpkins hide under leafy canopies. There are tomatoes and mustard greens, eggplant and legumes, lettuce and squash. “We’re doing a lot of intercropping and companion planting now,” Taylor says. So asparagus lies next to parsley, both behind a bed of raspberry bushes. Flowers also abound, with bursts of hot pink blossoms and purple clover that beautify the landscape while attracting pollinators.

For nearly 100 years this area, owned by the Oblates, a Catholic religious order, was only a grass field, a place where the priests would sometimes play soccer. In 2011, Taylor approached an Oblate priest and requested use of the land. “They were amenable and excited,” Taylor says. “They’re ecologically forward thinking, and they lead the Catholics in creation care.”

The space has become a location for Three Part Harmony Farm, the urban agricultural project Taylor established in D.C. She hopes it will become the first commercial farm in the District of Columbia since 1939, producing locally grown food to be sold in stores and farmers’ markets. First, there are some hurdles that the 36-year-old farmer must clear. Continue reading

DC has a Farm Bill (not very many cities can say that about themselves)!

Drumrolll please… it’s official! We now live in a city with a comprehensive and progressive farm bill. That means no less than 25 city owned lots will become farms, private land owners can apply for a 90% property tax abatement when they lease their vacant lot to farmers, and those of us who already generously donate healthy, fresh produce to district food pantries and soup kitchens can now apply for a tax credit. We went from following in the footsteps to paving a new path- kudos and gratitude to everyone on the city council!

Community Farming Alliance (CFA) at the DC Solidarity Economy Summit

DC Solidarity Economy SummitIn DC and around the world, seeds are being planted for a new kind of economy — one that is rooted in the values of democracy, justice, cooperation, self-determination, and sustainability. At its core, this movement is about democratizing the ownership of the means of production, so more people have control over their lives and communities. In December 2014, members of the Community Farming Alliance (CFA); vegetable farmer Gail Taylor of Three Part Harmony Farm, Zachari Curtis of Good Sense Farm & Apiary, and herbalist Holly Poole-Kavana of Little Red Bird Botanicals, joined the DC Solidarity Economy Summit at the Impact Hub DC, to learn about solidarity economy models from around the world, the role of emergence and power in our movements, and to explore what we can do together to transform our economy in DC.

Three Part Harmony Farm participated in the DC Solidarity Economy Summit. For more photos, visit Flickr.com/photos/threepartharmonyfarm/

To view a video of the Community Farming Alliance introduction at the summit, visit Vimeo.com/114382486

 

Warm heart, cold nose


Photo by Practice Of Creation Studios

What an incredible season!

I know life is really cyclical and not linear. But it still surprises me to realize that while this month marks the end of the farm season, this moment is very much the beginning.

It was really the blessing at our Farm Fall Festival that got me thinking about this moment as the beginning instead of the end. We broke ground in Brookland in 2012, but last month was the first time we had ever done a ritual ceremony grounding us in place.

It makes sense: it took this long to nurture the soil back to a healthy condition so that it is ALIVE. Next season will be the first really productive one we’ll have. With the imminent passage of the Urban Farm and Food Security Act, we are also at the edge of a new era in terms of our lease agreement. Just like the Washington Post article said, we have a “Plot to Plant”!

Another beginning is just around the corner, and it gets birthed from the rich, composted remains of last year’s growth.

Thanks to everyone who made this year so fantastic!

The 2nd annual garlic planting and Fall Farm Festival was way beyond what I thought could be possible. The food lovingly prepared by Tambra Raye Stevenson of NativSol Kitchen was out of this world! She nourished our bodies and souls. It was an honor to have music by Violet Marley. And the blessing led by Dele and Shango set the tone.


We finished a 27-week harvest season just in time for the below freezing temps! I’m overjoyed at how great the season was and I give many many thanks to all of the Friends of the Farm for your financial contributions. It was a great partnership! Thanks for sharing the journey. Many thanks to FICA DC for being such gracious hosts. Special thanks to Jake, Nico, Emil and Fabio! [you know what you did]


Our Food Day collaboration with Pansaari was a huge success! Owner Rano Singh adjusted her Indian recipes and substituted in-season, local vegetables. The flexibility to use what’s fresh and best instead of what the recipe calls for makes her a true locavore! Thank you for supporting local farmers Rano!

Urban Ag and DC Food Security Bill

Join us in September to push for the passage of this historic piece of legislation

Support the DC Food Security Act of 2014When DC City Council Member David Grosso introduced the DC Food Security Act of 2014, it built upon the legacy of the urban farming act of 1986 and the DC Healthy Schools Act of 2010.This bill takes it a step further by opening up more public and private land to grow healthy food. Its passage is extremely significant to the future success of Three Part Harmony Farm. We’ve been building the soil and productivity on our city plots for the last 3 years but we need these policy changes to take the next step to really grow (in so many different ways!)

Please get involved in this brief grassroots effort to make sure the City Council knows how important this issue is to us.

Contact the Chairman and folks on the Finance and Revenue Committee. They are currently in the mark up phase of the bill.

Please feel free to use these points as a guide:

“Hi, My Name is:
I live in Ward:
I’m calling/ emailing to let you know that the D.C. Urban Agriculture and Food Security Act of 2014 is an important piece of legislation for our city and that I hope it will get passed soon.

• The Act encourages private, District landowners to lease their land for agricultural purposes and encourages urban farming on unused city owned land in response to problems of blighted property.

• The Act responds to the District’s continued struggle to address chronic hunger amongst residents with a local solution: encouraging urban farmers to donate a portion of their produce to District-based food banks and shelters.

• The Act enables urban farmers to sell their produce both on and off the leased land, bringing easy, fresh food access to neighborhoods across the city, including those currently identified as food deserts.

Thank you!”

Chairman Phil Mendelson:
(202) 724-8032, pmendelson@dccouncil.us

Jack Evans:
(202) 724-8058, jackevans@dccouncil.us

Muriel Bowser:
mbowser@dccouncil.us, (202) 724-8052

Marion Barry:
(202) 724-8045, mbarry@dccouncil.us

David Catania
(202) 724-7772, dcatania@dccouncil.us

Thank Grosso and Cheh for their leadership, and the other supporters of the bill as well:

David Grosso:
(202) 724-8105, dgrosso@dccouncil.us

Mary Cheh:
(202) 724-8062, mcheh@dccouncil.us

Jim Graham:
(202) 724-8181, jgraham@dccouncil.us

Kenyan McDuffie:
(202) 724-8028, kmcduffie@dccouncil.us

Tommy Wells:
(202) 724-8072, twells@dccouncil.us