We have recently been focusing on improving the productivity of the main vegetable garden at Rockland’s Urban Abundance Centre to raise our input towards the school feeding scheme and also to begin to generate income through sales or organic vegetables.
We have enlisted the help of Brian Joffin, Biodynamic farmer extraordinaire, and the results have been astonishing.
The first steps have been:
- Clear the garden of excess windbreaks and shelterbelt plantings to maximise cropping space. We have expanded to five big beds with a surface area of 75m2 that are now producing food regularly.
- Establish a sustainable rotation to feed the soil and provide a schedule of when crops are due.
- Introduce improved composting practices. We have created new beds using the trench method as this realy boosts the poor sand we are growing on. We are also focussing on composting on-site – which means we are working at waste streaming from local sources.
- Establish the best crops for yield and marketing. We are refining the choice of crops, based on marketability and yield. For example, we have cut out broccoli on the basis of insufficient yield and cabbages because the price obtainable doesn’t justify the energy consumed in production. These two we have replaced with Kales. We are also focussing on other perpetual leaf crops such as Swiss Chard and Mizuna Greens. Lettuce is showing that its not a viable crop.
- Introduce Biodynamic practices . Biodynamic compost was used in about 60% of the beds. This was treated with Cowpat Pit/Barrel Compost, which is the easiest way to introduce most of the Biodynamic Preparations into the soil. Further Biodynamic measures will be applied late summer or autumn 2014, and in the compost building process. A Cowpat Pit will also be built to produce our own magic.
We are looking forward to the growing abundance at Rocklands.