The Urban Farm at Southeast Ohio Regional Kitchen

When I first started my job in Extension I asked my boss what my expectations are at my job.  In Extension you are supposed to find out what your county needs and then use your own knowledge as well as all the combined smart people in the OSU College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and then provide programming and that combined knowledge to solve those needs.  That can take awhile.  He said I should spend the first year getting out to meet people, talk to them and learn about Hocking County.

In doing that I have been asked if I could help with many things.  Farmer’s Markets, Senior accessibility to fresh produce, as well as assistance to either maintaining multiple community gardens or starting up new gardens have been some of the biggest and most frequently mentioned concerns.  I have also been teaching classes on how to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs.  My thoughts are that the best, freshest local produce you can get comes from your own backyard.

So while waiting in the lobby at the Southeast Ohio Regional Food Bank to meet with Sam Gress, Food Services Coordinator, to talk Logan Community Garden (not her fault,  I did not have an appointment, I just show up places sometimes.)  I noticed that the Food Bank has a processing facility and that they process and sell produce from the Food Bank.  And it hit me.  A way to combine several problems into one problem as well as  the solution to that problem:  convert part of the unused ground at the Food Bank into an Urban Farm.  They can grow it, process it and use it for multiple amazing causes right there at the Food Bank.

So Sam and I are creating The Urban Farm at Southeast Ohio Regional Kitchen.


Phase I:

Create a perennial herb garden.  Once this is done we will be a farm, believe it or not.  Urban farming is a little different than its regular cousin. Phase I  has already started and is going to hopefully be finished this week.  It is going to go here, right at the front door to the Food Bank and will be decorative as well as functional.

Before pic - old weedy ornamental bed

Before pic – old weedy ornamental bed


Not so awesome in the before pic.  But if the weeds are removed and a bunch of compost is added it looks a little better.

cleared, composted and ready to plant

cleared, composted and ready to plant


Sam and I are headed to pick up some herbs from Rick Webb, of Webb’s Perennials and hope to plant this week.  If you do not know Rick he is easily one of Hocking County’s amazing unsung heroes.  Big thanks to Rick for helping make this happen.


Phase II:

In Phase II, Sam and I will be constructing a series of raised beds on a different part of the Food Bank’s grounds.  This will be used to start vegetable production in Spring 2017.


Phase III:

In Phase III, the garden will be expanded with the hope for either a greenhouse or hoop house to allow season extension and larger scale of in-house produced transplants to allow the garden to self sustain production.


Sam and I would like to give a huge THANK YOU!!!!  to the folks that are helping get this project started with their generous pledges of funding and materials.  There are lots of outstanding people in Hocking County.  That is why I love working here.

  • Rick Webb,  Webb’s Perennials
  • Mikes Lumber Company LLC
  • Scenic Hills Senior Center,  Marjorie Moore, Executive Director
  • Sandy Ogle, Hocking County Commissioners
  • Hocking Valley Community Hospital, Latricia Johnston, Director Foundation/Community Relations
  • Southeastern Ohio Food Bank/HAPCAP(Hocking Athens Perry Community Action)
    • Sam Gress, Food Services Coordinator
    • Katie Schmitzer, Executive Director


Wish Sam and I some luck,  neither of us grew up on a farm.  I will keep you all updated on our progress.  This project has the potential to impact many lives in a positive way.

Mid August Garden Updates

Lots of gardens going on in my life right now.  Thought I would give a heads up on what is happening in them.


First off is the Children’s Educational Garden here at the fairgrounds:

It has been doing well.  The kids were able to cook and taste green beans, peas, leeks, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes and parsley.  Their programming is over for the summer as it is back-to-school time here soon.    Feel free to head to the garden and help yourself to the vegetables that are there.  They are meant to be shared.  If you have no garden at your house you can still get fresh tomatoes here.   Pretty soon I will be planting the fall lettuce, spinach and radishes.



Next up is the Container Garden at Hocking Valley Community Hospital:

We are finally getting some rain which means I do not have to water as much and for that I am grateful.  The vegetables in the containers are doing great and I am looking forward to the upcoming Container Gardening Class at HCVH on Wednesday September 7th at 6pm.

I planted some different beet varieties in one pot and a mix of carrots and green onions in another one.  They should mature nicely for the upcoming HVCH 50th Anniversary.


The last update is my home garden, specifically the Sorghum X Sudangrass cover crop I planted in the spring.  I mowed it to 2 feet tall and then watched it basically sit there and wondered if I did it wrong, but it is coming back and with all that rain I expect it to get back to giant sized in no time.


cover 2 3


Keep working in your garden.  We are now heading into a good growing season.  Most fall stuff can tolerate a little cold and it even will improve their flavor.  Monitor water and consider putting in some fertilizer for any crops that have been growing all season.

Time to start seeds for fall vegetables

The ten day forecast looks like the heat wave might just come to a close.  None too soon.   I get asked fairly often “when do I sow seeds outdoors for fall lettuce and spinach?”  The time is getting close.  What I do to get a start on the growing of the greens, but yet maximize my heat protection is to start the seeds indoors.

First things first.  What to grow.  I am looking for a variety of plants and you all know how much I love seed mixes.

fall seed2

That is five types of Asian greens,  five types of mesclun and Four Season Marvel, a favorite lettuce variety of mine.  I got my flats of soilless mix ready to go.  I am planting a bunch because I need to put some transplants in my home garden,  the container garden at Hocking Valley Community Hospital as well a put a few in here at the educational garden at the fairgrounds.

Four flats of soilless mix,  firm seedbeds ready to go:

fall seed1

I sow thick.  I will thin later to the best 8-10 seedlings.  I can pick variety better this way as well:

fall seed3

Water the plants and then get them 2-3″ from the light:

fall seed4fall seed5


If you want to sow seed outside feel free to do that.  My garden has such tough clay that seeds have a tough go of it until it cools way down.  You can sow seed now and then do a second sowing in about 2 to 3 weeks to give you a longer harvest.  The fall is the best time to grow greens like these as the nights are cool,  the rains are a little better and the bugs are simmering down.  Make sure to give a fall harvest a chance.

Logan Community Garden Walk Pictures

A small but energetic bunch met at 7pm in a pleasant rain to celebrate Local Foods Week at the Logan Community Garden.  I was grateful to see folks show up during the rain and grateful for the rain as well although we probably did not get a quarter inch total.  I took some pics to share with you all.

Oxheart tomatoes.  The plants were groaning with them and they looked beautiful

Oxheart tomatoes. The plants were groaning with them and they looked beautiful


I am dying to know what this pole bean variety is. Large bi-colored Italian bean?

I am dying to know what this pole bean variety is. Large bi-colored Italian bean?


Harlequin bugs.  They were ravaging the cabbage family plants throughout the garden except in one case where the gardener was using the ultimate organic control - picking them off and squishing them

Harlequin bugs. They were ravaging the cabbage family plants throughout the garden except in one case where the gardener was using the ultimate organic control – picking them off and squishing them!


All in all a good time was had.

Hope to see you all next year!


Container Gardening class at Hocking Valley Community Hospital Wednesday September 7th at 6pm

I am working on a really neat project right now that I am excited about.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Latricia Johnston, Director of HVCH Foundation and Community Relations for the Hocking Valley Community Hospital about helping them design a project to celebrate their upcoming 50th anniversary.  They have an event upcoming and wanted to show off the hospital which they are rightfully proud of.   We bounced some ideas on the phone to come up with something cool.

They have a really neat courtyard in the middle of the hospital.



The plan is to plant a container vegetable and herb garden with 5 different stations of containers that will be used as a display of healthy produce with a collaboration from HVCH Nutrition and Food Services.  The timeline was to have this done by the end of September.  That was not a ton of time to get a veggie garden fully planted, but with some awesome donations from Rick Webb of Webb’s Perennials and two runs to get dirt in my truck I got the herbs, tomatoes, and peppers in.  More veggies will follow in late summer.

HVCH flyer pic

The garden is coming along nicely and should make a great display for their 50th anniversary event.  I wish it would rain so the Master Gardener Volunteers and myself did not have to make so many watering trips but what can you do about that?  I will be teaching a class on container gardening in concert with Denise Kiamy, Director of Nutrition and Food Services in September.   Info is below courtesy of the HVCH weekly newsletter.  It is free and open to the public and will showcase how anyone can have a garden even if you do not have a yard.

Gardening class at HVCH Sept. 7


Hocking Valley Community Hospital in partnership with Ohio State University Extension presents: Successful Strategies & Healthful Benefits for Growing Herbs and Vegetables in Containers.

Growing in containers can let the home gardener have a successful gardening season even if they have limited space and time. Come learn the basics of container gardening with a presentation as well as hands-on display of a container herb and vegetable garden. Gardeners of all skill levels are welcome to attend this free class taught by Tim McDermott, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Ohio State Extension.

Denise Kiamy, Director of Nutrition & Food Services will share the nutritional benefits of eating the fruits of your own labor! Join our guest speakers in the HVCH Courtyard on Wednesday, September 7th at 6 p.m. Please call 740-380-8336 to register for this FREE event. Limited seating is available. Snacks will be served from container produce.