Come join us as we prepare for the upcoming growing Season!
Our programming includes ADULT INTERNSHIPS, GROW CITY YOUTH, GARDEN SHARES, COMMUNITY PLOTS & more. We will be adding events such as school tours and volunteer days, nutrition education, mindfulness/yoga, growing classes, and more in the near future. The Fruitful Field is proud to partner with local restaurants for fund-raising dinners. The calendar will be published soon.
Reach out to us with questions or for volunteer opportunities at email@example.com or register at www. HandsonBroward.org.
The staff and Board of Directors at The Fruitful Field thank you for your support. We could not be successful without your support!
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As we near the end of November, it’s still a crazy busy time of year for the garden. We are nearly finished transitioning from our summer-fallow fields to planted rows. That means weeding and prepping beds, transplanting, weeding, and continuing to start seedlings. And weeding….. It doesn’t always go as quickly as we’d like. We’re thankful for our two new adult interns, who are learning the ways of the garden and the harvest knife. And for our staff who are making a good start on teaching the entire process to our GrowCity Youth interns at both TFF sites. Jenny and Amanda (our adult interns at the TFF Parkway site) have just completed their first month of harvesting with us at the TFF site, while Will, Chris, and Sam have done the same at the Patricia Davis Community Garden, our second site in Pompano.
Brinkley and Rebecca, GrowCity Youth interns at the Parkway garden, harvested over 300 pounds of sweet potatoes from our summer garden to go into autumn and Thanksgiving meals. We planted those sweet potato slips in late spring and watched them grow and vine throughout the heat and humidity of our South Florida summer. Some of the tubers they harvested are massive, some are the shapes and sizes people are used to seeing at the grocery store, and some are smaller — a full range of sizes, shapes, and colors. We’ll go back through those rows for another look and see if we missed any — there always seem to be a few that get away from us and then start growing once we’ve replanted the row with its new crop….
Our fall fundraising seedling sale brought both old and new friends to the garden in support of our GrowCity Youth program. GrowCity Youth helped out, leading garden tours and carrying plants out to people’s cars. It was a lovely day seeing so many of our garden friends and meeting others new to the Fruitful Field. If you missed it, don’t worry — we plan a second sale for mid-December, coinciding with our GrowCity Youth graduation.
As always, the garden is thankful for our amazing volunteers. If you are interested in getting your hands dirty with us, we would love to see you! Come out to work with us on our monthly Volunteer Work Days (the third Saturday morning of each month 9 a.m. to noon). We also thank our more frequent volunteers, from those that come out each week for a few hours to help with weeding, watering, mowing, or other tasks — all the way up to our adult intern program of six scheduled hours per week to make our CSA program and veggie donations possible. There are always a range of projects that may connect with your particular interests — get in touch with us and come out for a garden tour to see what we do!
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Despite the August heat, our first eggplant and pepper seedlings are sprouting in the nursery (they love the heat!) together with broccoli and mini-broccoli, cauliflower–including the new varieties that everyone liked so much last year–kales, tatsoi, cabbages, and many of the others that will start off our 2021/2022 produce season. Which, unlike most of the country, starts in the Fall and runs through Spring. While some days it feels like we spend most of our summer weeding, we’ve actually had much more going on. We had a record harvest of fruits, including pineapples, bananas, mangos, sugar baby watermelons, mulberries, surinam cherries, and passionfruit. Our cover crop of cowpeas (for soil improvement) has been cut, dropped, and the fields mulched, letting the remains of the plants, the mulch, and the hot rainy weather work their magic.
This summer we’ve planted a variety of sub-tropical and tropical fruit and spice plants, including real coffee (arabica), black pepper vine, cacao (chocolate), vanilla (an orchid), culinary luffah squash, two new varieties of carambola (starfruit), a lemon tree, and a variety of butterfly-attracting plants in our new butterfly garden area around the pergola. We thank the folks who donated cuttings from their own interesting specimens, those who donated whole plants (especially those for our butterfly garden), and the donors who provided the funds that allowed us to purchase some interesting new fruit and spice trees. Peanuts, roselle, sweet potatoes, a wide variety of herbs, and okra round out our summer plantings.
Our GrowCity leaders—drawn from teens who completed our 12-week GrowCity Youth program over the past year or so—spent April and May with us working in the garden and advancing their management skills as paid interns. It was so fun suggesting ideas for the garden and then watching projects come to life as our teens formed teams, made their plans, and then executed them. A few of these projects: building a series of four new 10-by-4-ft. raised bed gardens along the front of the garden (and planting them), propagating and planting out lemongrass for our upcoming season, building and placing trellises for new plantings, preparing an area of the garden for our first “earthing” event at the garden, leading many, many garden tours, and (not least) working for several weeks with Chris and Sunny on pretty much all phases of building the garden’s amazing new chickee.
The garden relies heavily on our amazing volunteers. Whether you want to come out occasionally to work with us on our monthly Volunteer Work Days (the third Saturday morning of each month), more frequently like our weekly volunteers who come out for a few hours to help, or all the way up to our adult intern program of six scheduled hours per week, we would love to see you! There are always a range of projects that may connect with your particular interests — get in touch with us and come out for a garden tour to see what we do! (Our adult interns receive a share of vegetables and greens in recognition of their critical helpplanting, taking care of plants, and harvesting for our CSA program and produce donations.)
Speaking of our CSA program, we will start taking reservations for our Garden Shares, Large Garden Shares, and Leafy Greens Shares over the next few weeks. Unlike many CSA and “buying club” programs, every single item in our baskets is grown at the Fruitful Field locations in Pompano – super-fresh, super-local, and super-flavorful. Our subscribers choose a pick-up day and location, then stop by our gardens to pick up a basket each week throughout our November through March/April season. If you are interested in being on our list to get more info regarding our garden shares, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; we’ll send more info shortly.
Here at TFF, we can’t believe it’s already the beginning of the growing season. Even in these late-summer 90-degree days, tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings—as well as kales, cabbages, colorful swiss chards, broccolini, cauliflower, and more—are growing nicely in the nursery. And by the way, all these happy growing plant babies are housed in the new, larger, stronger, beautiful nursery we built over the summer with our stalwart (and apparently heat-proof) summer volunteers! (A large thank-you to the Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation for making the new nursery possible.)
We are now in the process of building nursery tables (using a timely donation of decking boards from Home Depot). As we finish each new table, we quickly fill it with newly seeded trays. Two favorites of our CSA members—the first plantings of spicy, peppery arugula and “supreme” salad greens—went into garden rows this week for harvest in October. Chris and our volunteers prepped rows in a second field area for the first planting of TFF’s tasty green beans later this week.
We are gearing up for our best season of veggies, greens, and community yet
We hope you’ll join us this season for our CSA program. It’s a win-win for everyone. Our subscribers, who purchase a Buy/Give Share, pick up a basket of flavorful, nutritious, freshly harvested and hyper-local produce each week, at the same time supporting our produce donations to local food pantries and soup kitchens. Everything in our shares is grown right here at the Fruitful Field and in most cases is harvested just hours before our subscribers pick it up. For details and to reserve a share, click on the “Garden Shares” tab in the black navigation bar above. You can sign up and reserve your share now; share pickups start the beginning of November.
Join us for our Socially Distanced Open House/CSA Season Launch Sept. 12
We invite you to stop by the garden for our (socially distanced) open house/CSA season launch (Sept. 12, 9:30-11:30 a.m.)Come see what our amazing (and apparently heat-proof) volunteers have accomplished over the summer — including the incredible new mural painted by former garden intern Tina Van Zwol and family. It’s the perfect time to tour the garden, sign up for your CSA share (if you haven’t already) and meet a few of our GrowCity Youth interns.
A few notes
As long as COVID is an issue, we will provide CSA shares in grab-and-go bags, with contactless pickup options (placed directly in your car trunk, if you like). As always, you are welcome to walk the garden paths (in a socially-distanced sort of way), bring children and family, and so forth. The garden is a great place to enjoy the outdoors. (If you’d like to get your hands dirty, you can also volunteer—we can always find a garden task to suit your individual or family needs.)
We will offer a new CSA share pick-up location this season in Pompano at our second site, the Patricia Davis Community Garden near Blanche Ely High School (Wednesday afternoon/evenings).
If you are interested in a Hollywood pick-up option, please let us know. We have a subscriber who is willing to take shares south for pickup in East Hollywood.
We hope you’ll stop by and see how TFF is growing! We’ve missed seeing our garden family over the hot months of summer!
Noah, one of our summer volunteers, and I plucked two ripe figs from our Brown Turkey fig tree, tore them open to see the glistening pink and white flesh, and then popped them, still warm from the sun, into our mouths. If you’ve had a fig this way, there is simply no comparison to those from the grocery store. Perhaps part of the joy is the surroundings, that indefinable “fig” smell of the fig leaves and fruits, and the satisfaction of looking around our newly cleaned-up food forest area.
We’ve had a busy summer so far fixing things, tidying up areas of the garden that haven’t seen enough attention over the past few years, and building the infrastructure that we need for what we expect to be our busiest and most production season yet.
Here’s a little of what we’ve been doing
Mending fences. Our executive director Chris worked with Charles from Parkway United Methodist mending fences around the property, many of which had been damaged since Hurricane Irma. This is a critical step forward in securing the property for the safety of our teens, our community gardeners, visitors, volunteers, and staff. Gates to the garden are now open only when TFF or Parkway staff are on the property. Visitors and walkers are welcome — just come during our open hours.
Tidying up the food forest. With our GrowCity Youth back in the month of June to complete their Spring session (split up over the week into groups of 4 or 5 teens each), we’ve been able to make a lot of progress. They’ve weeded, mulched, trimmed back branches that were encroaching on the fruit trees, and redefined many of the garden paths that had all but disappeared. Even in the shade, it was hot work.
Growing our pineapple field from about a dozen plants to nearly 100, with Pepe’s expert assistance. (It’s been a great year for our pineapple harvest, as well!)
Creating another new area for bananas and renewing our existing banana circles (Pepe, again).
Expanding lemongrass plantings to cover a dry, weedy, hilly space where we’d not previously been successful in growing anything. The planting is thriving.
Lots of propagation of existing fruits, herbs, and other plants, for planting later in the summer and fall — great lessons in starting cuttings, divisions, and air layering with our adult interns and GrowCity Youth!
And this week, planting sweet potatoes for fall harvest. Our GrowCity teens took cuttings, potted them up in the nursery for a week to start roots, prepared the rows, mulched and laid drip tape, and planted the cuttings they had started.
And then there are the big projects
Amazing volunteers (and roommates) Noah and Julian brought their power tools and devoted several days to rebuilding the community plots with new, taller, wooden raised beds with lumber donated by our local Home Depot store. It’s a sight to see, and with more of our community gardeners caring for their plots, we are also seeing more happy plants growing than usual at this point in the year.
Our big project for the month of July is building a new seedling nursery. As many of you already know, our original hoop-house nursery no longer receives enough sunlight for efficient seed-starting due to the fast growth of the many Australian pine trees nearly. After talking to a few of our local arborists, it was determined that trying to cut down — or even cut back — these huge trees was not really an option at this time, so we made the decision to build a new, slightly larger seedling nursery closer to the community plots, where it will receive sunlight all day. (Many thanks to the Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation for making the new nursery possible.)
The old hoop-house still has an important role to play. Now that we’ve cleared out the entire space we plan to use it as a nice gathering/seating space that will take advantage of its pleasant, shaded location. (At least once we are able to “gather together” again.) Chris, Noah, Julian, and Pastor Jim from Parkway United Methodist removed all of the old, rotted wood from the back of the church’s storage shed and refaced it with new lumber, painted it white, and we’re hoping to soon have a garden-oriented mural there. Our few still-usable nursery tables have been moved to a temporary summer nursery under the little hoop-house in our West Rows, where they are nearly filled with our summer’s propagation projects — pots of mint started from cuttings from many different varieties, oreganos, marjoram, rosemary, lavender, pigeon pea seedlings, luffa squash, air-layered mulberry trees, passion fruit, malabar spinach, and more.
As we head into July, we’ve got a lot yet to do, but we’ve made a lot of progress. It doesn’t seem possible, but in not much more than a month we’ll be starting seeds for a new CSA season of veggies, greens, and herbs. We hope you’ll join us in whatever fashion suits you best — as a CSA subscriber, volunteer, intern, community gardener, GrowCity teen, or garden supporter/donor.
If you haven’t been out to see the garden for a while, come visit and see what we’ve been doing! (Summer open hours: 9 a.m. to noon every day except Thursday and Sunday.)
Insects are everywhere in the garden, but, as our GrowCity Youth discovered on Saturday morning’s Bug Hunt, that’s not all bad news. Some are beneficial, acting as natural predators to our less-favored garden pests (like that very pretty cabbage looper that wants to eat all of the broccoli). Others help with pollination. We are especially fond of our garden spiders, which set up webs in among the tomato plants and catch stinkbugs. As it turns out, our GrowCity Youth are pretty good bug hunters, too! Continue reading →