Boots On The Ground – The Logan Square Farmers Market, May 28, 2017

Sunday I took a trip to the Logan Square farmers market to do some boots-on-the-ground intel to see what is selling, what is offered, and what vendors are here at the early part of the year.  It was a fruitful trip.

 

Lessons learned:

  • Summary: microgreens are a good short-term offering with a good return on investment that can be discontinued on short notice
  • Putting thought into the display and sharing the story of your operation is as much a marketing tool as the product that you sell
  • There is affordable prepared food
  • There is expensive prepared food
  • Prices for vegetables are pretty much priced the same as they are across he nation ($3 per serving, 2 for $5)
  • Lots of greens, fast-growers (radishes, beets) and surprisingly, root vegetables
  • Expect crowds

Be well, everyone.


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Some general snapshots I got of the market​


The one stall I realized I did not get pictures of was a two-man stall selling microgreens (and wheat grass shots.)  They were selling them by the ounce, and they had their growing trays on display, cutting directly from the tray as product was needed.  I didn’t engage in conversation, and got the sense that the $3.00 I paid for my ounce of sunflower greens covered the cost (or perhaps half) of the seeds that the tray required.  If they get 15 ounces per tray, that’s 7-14 times profit, not including input costs for soil and electricity.  Not bad.

Most of the other veggies at the stalls were $3 for one, two for $5.  Some singles were $3.50.

There were a good deal of young veggies for sale in various-sized pots.

I did note that there was a pretty busy crepe stall selling them from $10-$15.  Each.


Select observations on stall presentation

 

Good use of signage- it’s above eye-level and you can see it over the heads of people milling around the the market, which is a plus for visability.20170528_112640

Great use of visuals in by this stall.  They share pictures of their operation which gives people an understanding of what (aquaponics is and) what they do, and it also tells a story that gives the shoppers a sense of investment into this when they purchase something from them.  It was also displayed in an easy-to-take-in layout.  You can tell some thought went into this.  My hats off to them.

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My impression of this stand was that of a long-time vendor who started selling at the farmers markets back in the day.  This layout is more utilitarian than it is focused on aesthetics.

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This upcoming weekend is the opening day for the majority of farmers markets across the city.  I’m looking to check out one or two of them and see what’s what.

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Green Pitch Updates for the Week Ending May 27, 2017 – Small Victories

This week the video update came from the corner of the community garden plot  where I helped with weeding (Peterson Garden Project, Land on Lincoln.)  I was amazed that the dirt that currently exists was built solely from 12″ of bark chips that were put down four years ago.  (That does give very strong testimony to the benefit of putting down bark mulch, kids.)

The weather the past week was a majority of overcast days with rain.

Photos of progress included.

Be well, everyone.


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This week’s video summary

​Progress in the garden

​Progress on the deck

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Happenings, May 14-20, 2017.

Here’s the weekly update (from last week up to Saturday the 20th.)

Enjoy and be well.


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This week we had temperatures in the 70s (Fahrenheit) and plenty of direct sun (until the drop into the 40s on Friday.)  The second round of weed torching happened, I built up the bed with “soil,” and added a top layer of potting soil and compost for the seed planting to begin.

In the deck garden, I made a cut of garden greens to test “cut and come again.” ​

 The wall of cilantro continues to take expand

 The morning glories continue to build out their root bases and sprout more​ leaves

Carrots are showing some signs of life


The chive flowers have fully bloomed.  (My wife just told me that they are very edible.  Who knew?  Not me, appearantly.)


The turnips and beets are doing better, but even with the weather we’ve had, there should have been much more than this.  I’m concluding that it’s just too damn windy up here, and only the hardiest crops seem to like it, at least in this early cool season.

We’ll see how the summer goes, but for now, the grow tower is kale on top, cilantro all around.

Bonus:

The rest of the garden lot had some great square-foot plots.  The radishes planted two weeks ago in the nearby plots are doing fantastic (compare that to my deck radishes.)

Here is a cameo of Jim following hunting the robins that feed on the worms that the rich soil attracts.


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Weekly Happenings, May 13, 2017

This was a quiet week.  At the community garden plot it was quiet.  The only task were to tend was torching the first sprouts and then watering and covering the the bed again for round two, since the weather calls for mainly sunshine and temperatures in the 60/70’s (Fahrenheit.)  I’m thinking that Tuesday/Wednesday I’ll torch the sprouts again, lay down the soil amendments to build up the box, water, soak, and come Saturday, torch if necessary, then lay down the compost, mark off the square-foot areas with string, then plant seeds.

On the deck garden, I transplanted the morning glory sprouts that were seeded last weekend into two large box planters which will become their permanent home, right or wrong.

Those are the only real updates.  Images and videos below.

Be well, everyone.


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​Right or wrong, the guerrilla gardener in me figured that with the wild state of vegetation along the fence line, that having a few plants that yield something of value other than generating lots of sweat would be a good thing to share.

When I uncovered the tarp on Saturday after a week of accelerated weed sprouting, I uncovered a lot of critters.  A LOT.  There were mainly a heap of centipedes, though as you can see below, there were a couple of wide-bodied anthropods, and like the centipedes, they had a taste for a soft, juicy earthworm (or what was left of it, which, surprisingly, was still alive and squirming.)


Video update summary, plus an example of torching weeds.

 

When you’re watching this video, keep in mind that if I didn’t torch these weeds, I would likely have had to pull them.  Judging by the number of sprouts, I would have been a busy and unhappy camper.

 

News and Happenings – Garden Plot Update, May 6, 2017

This past Saturday, I got my plot assignment at the Peterson Garden Project’s Land on Lincoln garden.  It was lot #103, which is along the western fence line and was as wild of a plot as you can get- lots of milky thorn thistle weeds (deep taproots,) dandelions, a mix of other wild weeds and plenty of critters to boot.  The lot has varied quantities of sunlight, with the east side getting more than the west side, which runs smack dab against a covered fence shared with the vintage car pen.  At the minimum, the bed will get a minimum of 7 hours of direct sun, from sunrise until 2 pm.  At the most, the east side will get about 8 hours.  Not bad.

With that back fence, I’m thinking that I can plant peas or beans right now, and by harvest, tomatoes will just be coming up.


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The process of prepping the bed did involve me violating every known rule about minimal soil disturbance (to maintain soil and microbe ecology,) but I had no choice with some of the weed tap roots going up to eight inches deep.  I cleaned up the weeds surrounding the bed, and I’m hoping the garden gets some bark chips to put down.  If not, I might just spring for some of my own if the funds allow.

On Sunday, I did manage to make it out to soak and cover the plot with a tarp to sprout any weeds near the surface.  Although there is rain and overcast skies forecast for the first half of this week, I’m hoping there will be enough sun and warmth to sprout whatever can sprout, so that come the weekend, I can pull out the torch and take care of business.

I liked the overall garden as well.  People seem generally friendly, the drive is only 15 minutes, and there’s a lot of sunlight, but most of all, I get to get lost in a mini-farm adventure.

The journey continues…

 

 

(PS- the sun wasn’t directly above me.  I had forgotten that the bed is parallel to Lincoln Avenue, which at this point north runs in a roughly northwest/southeast direction.)


An Early Season Tour of the Deck Garden

I did a quick video giving a quick tour of my deck garden.  It’s not as productive as I like, but it’s a 10-second commute to get there from my living room, plus it has a great view, so I’m keeping it.

I’ll probably go into more text detail at some point- just not today.   =)

Enjoy.


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