Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Final Block Party on the Farm!

CT NOFA had our final Block Party on the Farm this past Saturday at Urban Oaks Organic Farm in New Britain, CT. We had a lot of fun touring Urban Oaks' fields and six greenhouses. 
Linda Glick and Mike Kandefer told the group about Urban Oaks' history.  Built up from an abandoned city lot and surrounded by brown field, the site used to be owned by Sandelli Greenhouses Inc.  Urban Oaks opened in 1999 and has grown to be a larger farming operation with a greater variety of produce every year since.  Now the farm's produce is in demand around the state (Urban Oaks' arugula has been named the best in Connecticut, and their Connecticut-grown grapefruit is remarkable in that it is truly Connecticut grown!)  Bill Duesing talked about CT NOFA's work in the past thirty years, and the central role farms like Urban Oaks play in Connecticut's local food and farms movement.  Urban farms especially address gaps in food access, and provide an opportunity for inner-city populations to become familiar with farming and have access to farm education.
We set off on the farm tour through Urban Oaks' greenhouses, which raised everything from seedlings, to peppers, to herbs, to indoor orchards.
Fig trees create a canopy in the greenhouses.
The fig trees are huge, and the figs are delicious.  Below Mike points to his grape fruit tree, (and the thorns he hadn't realized would grow from the branches when he planted it) and Melissa splits a fig in half.

This greenhouse grew fruit trees (including avocados, grapefruit and meyer lemons), separated by trellises growing cucumbers, with collard greens and kale growing on the ground,  and a path lined by huge rosemary bushes.  They were also growing hot peppers and a variety of herbs.

After the tour it was time for dinner! The block party pot luck included chile, homemade salsa, quinoa salads, homegrown vegetables and fruit, homemade sauce, sweet potato and regular local potato salads, local apples and yogurt for desert, iced tea donated by Steaz and seltzer from Urban Oaks.  Adam Matlock played the accordion while attendees shared the potluck feast over hay bales and picnic tables.  

Thank you to our friends at Urban Oaks Organic Farm and to our supporters that have helped us celebrate our thirtieth anniversary this summer. CT NOFA can't continue to do this work without the help of Connecticut's wonderful farmers, activists, environmentalists and food-lovers.  We have enjoyed meeting with many of you this summer at our pot lucks! There are lots of ways to become more involved with CT NOFA, and please consider joining to continue to support us and enjoy all the benefits!

Hope to see you at another of our events soon!

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