Bring on the beds

Our mission that we’ve chosen to accept: build a farm on contaminated, compacted soil, that we can lift up and move to a new location in two years. This farm will deconstruct in… well… two years.

Our main man, our indefatigable master of innovative design, the one and only Sid, has come up with a modular bed model that will allow us to essentially lift each piece of our farm to a new location, should the kind benefactors who are letting us grow on their land decide they want to develop the property two or three years from now.

Sid - in the zone

So many of the best designs in the world follow the principle of simplicity, and it’s harder to get much simpler than a Sid’s revolutionary pallet bed design. Ingredients: one pallet (preferably salvaged/recycled/donated), about forty square feet of hardware cloth, four burlap sacks (donated from a local coffee or chocolate shop), and some sort of plastic or salvaged liner. Our hope is that we won’t have to go with purchased plastic, but one thing I’m definitely learning from this experience: if you have infinite time, you can always find the resources you want, usually for free, and go the sustainable route. The more time constraints you have, the more likely you’ll have to purchase less sustainable materials at a higher price. Certainly an interesting thing to ponder for almost any design – where does the rush really come from? Particularly interesting to consider for an urban farm that only has a couple of months to get prepped for summer fellows and summer camp.

Foldin' wire

Our next couple of weeks are likely to be focused on the construction of these wonderful beds, since they will be making up the bulk of our farm. The hope is that, two years from now, we can fork lift our thriving garden beds onto a truck, and bring them wherever they need to be.

The bed

Classic. Personally, I feel really lucky to be part of such an innovative project. Urban farming is such a young endeavor in many ways, and this project has helped me to see that one of the major considerations any urban farmer has to account for is how rapidly a city can change. Getting a portable farm or a garden model out there that can accommodate the volatility of a city I think could prove to be a powerful piece of the larger puzzle, as we figure how to efficiently grow things in urban areas, and create spaces where communities can come together and thrive.

Two other fun highlights from the week: 1) Learning about school gardens from fellow Mainer Rachel Pringle (program director for the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance), and getting to sample a some gourmet school-garden-harvested chard, sauteed with garlic and a little bit of honey to help soothe the bitter aftertaste (great for kids – also great for me);

Rachel and Chard

2) Building a rain shelter with Sid – while it was raining. Makes me yearn to be back out in Yosemite, sleeping on a tarp out under the stars.

Rain shelter

With that – I’m ready for beds. Well in a little bit anyway – game night here at the house!


P.S. I just don’t feel right ending a post without some sort of P.S.

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