Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hereford Garden Almanac

24 October 2010

Although our fall continues to be a dry one, and the foliage colors seem to less brilliant than usual, our garden is really looking good. Drop over some time to check us out. This Sunday, we had a great group that worked on harvesting sweet potatoes, weeding, and preparing beds for their winter nap. Thanks to all that participated.

Although we have to water, which is usually not necessary in the fall, the lack of bugs is really making gardening a delight. Our fall profusion of greens is awesome, and we have cabbage and broccoli that are looking great as well. Also, check out the sugar snap peas that are reaching for the sky.

We need to have a meeting in the near future to get ideas for what to plant in next spring’s garden.

Please stop by to enjoy the beauty and the bounty and to scratch in the dirt a bit. It’s a great way to unwind, connect to the earth, and be reminded of what’s really important.

-Jim Durand

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

UVA Child Development Center Outreach

The Hereford Minifarm is partnering with Tim Beatley's Sustainable Communities planning course to implement a local food and gardening program at the UVA Child Development Center. The project will include gardening, cooking, and related art ventures. Brian Hill and I are leading the project, with help and input from Jim Durand and Colleen Coyle. Ann Harrison, the director of the preschool, is great to work with. She is so enthusiastic about the project - it's great to have her support.

Earlier this month, Brian, Jim and I got together on a chilly, drizzly Sunday to build the first raised bed. Despite multiple difficulties, including being locked out of the yard and having to jump the fence, we were able to successfully construct the bed under Jim's guidance.

I also helped the kids plant bean seeds in plastic cups to sprout inside before being transferred to the bed. Brian and I went and helped the kids plant the new plants outside last Friday - look for an update and photos soon!

-Elizabeth Farrell

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hereford Garden Almanac

18 October 2010

I know that this is a busy time for all, but spend a few minutes wandering the paths of our fall garden. We hope that the beauty and peace of the place will sooth your spirit and bring a smile to your soul.

Over the last two weeks, we have had only a single work day due to the fall break. Still, a lot happened at Sunday’s work session. Keith’s Garden is now mostly cleaned out and a number of the beds are planted with vetch as a cover crop for the winter.

The kid’s program is doing great. Their bean seeds that were planted indoors in cups are up. The kids are really excited about their experience so far. The beans will be planted in the outdoor bed soon.

We planted a number of fall flowers. They really make the garden look great.

It still continues to be very dry. We have gone back to watering again. Frost will probably come soon and that will end a number of plants, but we intend to move under some hoop rows, into the green house, and in the cold frame.

We are starting to harvest the sweet potatoes. They are enormous! We are not sure how they got so big. We probably should have harvested them earlier. We are thinking of all kinds of creative ways to use sweet potatoes. Any ideas?

There are a lot of greens in now. We are enjoying thinnings or harvests of:
Turnips greens
Mustard greens
Beet greens
Lima beans
Sweet potatoes
Bell peppers
Banana peppers
Collard greens
Swiss chard

We need to have a meeting in the near future to get ideas for what to plant in next springs garden.

Please come and enjoy the beauty, and enjoy the bounty and remember to keep in fresh, keep it local, keep it at Hereford.

-Jim Durand

Friday, October 1, 2010

Apples Galore!

Elaine's Cooking Class Update

For session 3, we cut up zillions of apples from a local orchard, cooked them, pureed them in a food mill, boiled them again and poured them into mason jars. Then we sealed the pints and placed them into a water bath where they bubbled away. We also made a scrumptious apple crisp which we enjoyed while the apple caldron steamed and hissed. At the end, each student left with a pint of homemade apple sauce made from scratch by a very tried and true tradition! Next week, the class divides into two groups for a cooking contest! Each will be provided with the same ingredients just minutes before class and must produce an outstanding main dish and a dessert within a specified time. Then the feast will begin with independent judges determining the winning team! Buon Appetito!

-Elaine Durand

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hereford sponsors UVA Food Collaborative Public Forum

Hereford is one of the many sponsors of this great upcoming event! Everyone should attend.

The UVa Food Collaborative presents “What’s On Your Plate: A Public Forum on Local Food and the Media”, on Thursday, October 7th, from 4 to 6pm at the new LEED-certified Jefferson Scholars Foundation building at 112 Clarke Court.

This free panel will feature three of today's pre-eminent food writers and thinkers: Marian Burros, food columnist, New York Times;
Tom Philpott, food editor,;
and James McWilliams, author, Just Food: Where Locavores Get it Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly.

The panel will be moderated by Benjamin Cohen, historian, agrarian studies scholar, and Food Collaborative coordinator. Be a part of the discussion on alternative agriculture and the media forces that are shaping our perceptions of the sustainable food movement.

A locally sourced reception, highlighting produce from Charlottesville area farms, will immediately follow the forum. The UTS Blue Route and Trolley route both stop directly in front of the building. These are the recommended access points for the event as parking is extremely limited at the Foundation building.

For directions to the Jefferson Scholars Foundation building, visit
For other information, visit

-Elizabeth Farrell

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gnocchi and Slow Food

The second session of "From garden to table Italian style" featured a special guest, Professor Cristina Della Coletta of the Italian department who artfully demonstrated how to make home-made gnocchi in the style of her native region of Veneto, Italy. The gnocchi turned out quite scrumptious with a choice of sauces: fresh tomato sauce from our own garden tomatoes or an incredible fontina cheese sauce typical of the northern region of Piedmont! Dessert was an amazing iced vegan pumpkin spiced cookie made with fresh pureed pumpkin from the garden!

Our readings and discussion covered such topics as industrial versus locally grown food and sustainability as it applies to food. Something to think about is the following quote from Carlo Petrini's "Slow Food Nation" as he defines "eco-gastronomy":
"...the raw material must be grown and produced in a sustainable way; biodiversity and local traditions of cuisine and production must be preserved even if it costs more". Think about it! Check out this website for more information:

Hereford Garden Almanac

27 September 2010

This is a weekly update on Hereford mini-farm happenings.

A lot has been done over the last week. We continued clearing the summer carnage, trying to keep the garden alive, and planting the fall garden. Thankfully, we are, as I type, getting the cool refreshing rain that we have need for the last 6 weeks.

We had a good work day Sunday. We cleared and planted, repaired the greenhouse covering, and had a lot of fun picking cotton. You should check it out. We also built an awesome raised bed for Child Development behind Taco Bell on Emmett Street. It is 7.5’ by 2.5’. There are pictures of it on the blog. It will be used by preschoolers to experience the wonders of planting things and watching them grow. The kids will plant beans indoors in cups, and then transplant them outside in the raised bed a couple of weeks. We will also plant some greens (like spinach and kale) that will last throughout the fall.

We will have a work day this Saturday from 2:30 – 5:30 to make the final preparations for the garden tour that is this Sunday, 10/3.

The bicycle garden tour is coming Sunday October 3rd so be sure to drop by for snacks and a visit from the touring group. The cycling group should be at our garden by 1:30 or so. When the tour is over, join everyone for a community time of food and fun at Slow Food.

Take good care and keep it fresh; keep it local.

-Jim Durand

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hereford's Italian Cooking Class

The Hereford short course: "From garden to table...Italian style" cooking class launched its first meeting Thursday evening. The "guest of honor" was our garden's first butternut squash of the year! With the addition of a few other squashes from Krogers, seven class members made pasta from scratch, formed ravioli and stuffed them with spiced butternut squash, made a delicious sage-butter sauce and topped the fabulous creation with fine parmesan cheese!

We enjoyed great conversation as we got to know each other:four vegetarians (two of whom are vegan) along with the rest of us carnivores! What we all have in common is a love for gardening and cooking...especially preparing fresh, local, scrumptious foods straight from the garden! We also enjoyed muffins made from one of our own pumpkins, herbs and salad additions all from the garden.

We look forward to more culinary adventures in the weeks to come!

-Elaine Durand

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Green House Fix

16 September 2010

The fall acorns are cleaning our clock. When one falls on our green house roof (which seems like once a minute) it sounds like a rifle shot. Occasionally, a glass panel has given up the ghost and left for that great greenhouse in the sky leaving behind fragments of its life spread in a mosaic tapestry across our greenhouse floor (but I wax poetic).

I have thrown a temporary fix on the roof, but it does not cover the entire roof nor represent something that is sustainable (and it looks bad too). Would anyone like to work with me to design and implement a more permanent fix. The task will involve some design work, and then my favorite passtime, a trip to the hardware store, and finally a careful building phase (careful because working around glass is hazardous).

-Jim Durand

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hereford Garden Almanac

11 September 2010

This is a weekly update on Hereford mini-farm happenings.

Just when I thought we were free and clear of our animal prowlers with all the activity that accompanies the return of the students, we caught a ground hog in the act of pigging out on our tender parsnips (they look like carrots but are pale in color and have a strong flavor that many dislike). To add insult to injury, when we chased the hog away, a squirrel come over to nibble. Arrgh! Perhaps we need to look at caging in greens like carrots, parsnips, lettuce, spinach, etc.

On Thursday, we saw the movie Fresh. It was very inspirational. It portrayed a very broken food system and presented some ways to grow and deliver fresh healthy food to peoples tables.

We are struggling to keep everything watered. The cool fall weather is upon us, but it’s still very dry

Remember that we have a work day tomorrow (Sunday, 9/12) from 2:30 – 4:30, and the first or our regular weekly meetings on Monday at 6:00 at our place.

We met with a husband and wife team who are planning a bicycle garden tour of about 5 local gardens. The Hereford Mini-Farm garden is on the tour list. They will be stopping by mid-afternoon on Sunday, 10/3. They will be at our garden for about a half hour. We can give the folks a tour, explain our philosophy, and plug our activities. This will be a great incentive to get our garden in shape.

We have been cleaning beds of their summer crops, enriching the beds with compost, and planting fall crops.

At our work day, we want to continue cleaning beds and planting a variety of fall crops such as:
• Turnips
• Kale
• Beets
• Beans
• Parsnips
• Collards
• Spinach
• Sugar Snaps
• Swiss Chard
• Water Cress

-Jim Durand

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Fall Garden Begins

At the garden, we are all clearing out the (sadly) dying flowers and failing tomato plants to make way for new fall crops. Kaela has planted several different leafy greens (cabbage and kale) as well as some carrots. Elaine put in spinach, and on Wednesday she and I spent some time planting rows of beets and more carrots. We are lucky enough to have a great pile of compost to help get our plants off to a good start. Before planting, we cleared off the top layer of dirt, and worked a good amount of compost into the soil below. We then replaced the dirt cover and scattered the seeds in shallow trenches. While it has been done before, it’s best not to plant new seeds directly in compost because the intense amount of nutrients can overwhelm and kill the plant. After covering up the seed trenches with dirt, we packed down the soil to make sure the seeds have “soil contact.” Hopefully we’ll be seeing some new seedlings pop up in the next couple of weeks!

While the peppers and tomatoes have been less than prolific, our melon crop is turning out excellent! Yesterday I picked a huge watermelon from the garden. Taking it home, I had low expectations. But when I set it on the counter and stuck in my knife, the skin broke open with a crisp cracking sound to reveal a beautiful, red interior. I was overjoyed. And not only does it look great, it tastes amazing too! There are many more ripening on the vine, and hopefully they will be just as delicious as the one I am currently enjoying with my apartment-mates.

We are also very excited to have some new Hereford residents joining us at the garden. If you’re interested in helping out, or just coming by to see what we’re doing, we’d love to have you! You can find Elaine, Jim, or Nancy around the Hereford complex to find out more information.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Garden Photos

Here are some pictures from the garden!

Thai Basil

Marigolds and tomatoes

Butternut Squash plants

Our first butternut squash!





Sweet Potato vine

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Remember how I mentioned the garden’s abundance of basil? We finally got to enjoy this bounty last Thursday evening. In place of the normal garden meeting, members of the Hereford garden community opted to get together and make pesto. Shockingly easy and delicious, I would recommend pesto-making to anyone who has enough basil to pull it off. And you need A LOT of basil. The recipe we used called for a cup and a half tightly packed basil leaves…doesn’t sound like much right? Well, you’d be surprised just how much basil one can pack into a cup measurement.

We started off the evening with some of Elaine’s phenomenal homemade bread, then headed down to the garden with baskets to collect basil. Though nothing else is really producing, we are blessed to have a ridiculous amount of basil. We liberally broke entire stems off of several of our greener looking bushes (some have yellowed since flowering), and grabbed some parsley to add a little interest to our basil concoction. Then we headed back up to the kitchen for the fun (and rather messy) part.

Pesto is really easy to make. All you do is throw all the ingredients into the food processor and blend it well. Here’s the recipe we used:

1 ½ cup washed, drained basil leaves, tightly packed
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves
a handful of pine nuts
about 1 tsp salt

We added the pesto to some bow-tie pasta and served it with more bread and fruit salad for dessert. Our epic fruit salad proudly boasted cantaloupe and watermelon from the garden! And both fruits actually had flavor!

All in all, it was a delicious dinner and a great way to spend an evening.


Friday, July 30, 2010

What's In Season?


Even with the limited palate of veggies we grow in the Hereford garden, we still get to experience the joys of the changing growing season!

Late July into August is an especially prolific time. In our garden, all different types of squash, peppers, and tomatoes are coming into season! In the squash department, we have zucchini, patty-pan, and some interesting hybrids to taste and compare.

The peppers are exciting to watch as they mature and change colors. Besides the green sweet peppers, we also have many hot pepper varieties. Some are in the process of turning from red to yellow, a beautiful thing to see.

Unfortunately, the tomato crop is having a tough time, what with the persistent ground hog and the tomato blight. Our hopes are high that the million and a half green tomatoes just hanging on the vine will transform in to red deliciousness overnight! We have already gotten to enjoy some sweet cherry tomatoes though.

Our herbs are also ready to harvest. We have myriad basil plants just asking to be turned into pesto. This means the constant battle of removing the flowers from the sweet basil is in full swing. I have gotten to spend many garden sessions bonding intimately with the basil flowers as I nip them from their stems. Have you ever looked closely at a basil flower when it first starts? It’s actually quite beautiful. Tiny leaves form a perfectly symmetrical cross shape and then begin to layer, creating an extremely delicate and intricate geometry. But you have to remove the flowers, or else the leaves start to lose their flavor and become bitter.

Outside of the Hereford garden, this is high peach season in Virginia. If you haven’t gotten a local peach yet, GO GET ONE! You can find them everywhere (C’ville Market, Farmer’s Market, Feast, Whole Foods, Integral Yoga, etc), and in several different varieties. Every local peach I have had this year has been nothing short of heavenly. If you want to make an adventure out of it, there are lots of peach-picking orchards around the area. Check out Carter’s Mountain for a spot nearby.

Other seasonal items to be found around Charlottesville in late July/early August include cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, nectarines, plums, and potatoes.

Coming up next in the Hereford garden (and around C’ville) should be corn and melons! You can already find melons of many different varieties around town. Ours are maturing on the vine, and should be ready to eat throughout August. I haven’t seen much corn yet, but that should come into abundance in the next couple of weeks. There’s nothing quite as amazing as fresh corn on the cob for dinner.

Besides all the wonderful eating we’ve been doing lately, it’s also time to think about planting a winter/fall garden. Now is the time to put in butternut squash, broccoli, and greens. We’ve planted some squash with plans to put in broccoli and other crops in the near future. Hopefully these plants will be timed to come into season around September/October.

Eat well and enjoy the height of summer food!!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

response weeding and maggots

You are certainly right Elizabeth. There is a lot of weeding to do.
>>At this time of the year, it can get discouraging because bugs really
>>start to crowd you, it gets hot and dry, and the only things that
>>really thrive are the weeds, fungus, mildew, critters, etc.
>> I like your plan. lets try to get Weedon in decent shape as quickly
>> as possible, and then attack Keith's Garden. Hopefully we will have
>> an industrial strength weed whip soon to keep the garden edged.
>> In terms of mushrooms, maggots, and other generally undesirable
>> organic things, scrape them up with a shovel and either throw them
>> into the woods, or put them into the center of a compost pile (dig a
>> hole into the center where hopefully its very hot and the "stuff"
>> will get decomposed and neutralized).
>> Jim


This morning I went up and worked on weeding Keith's needs some SERIOUS help (no offense Keith). After Weedon, can we all spend an hour or two in Keith's garden? I think maybe we should try to edge the garden in some places to keep back the grass because I could barely find the tomatoes and beans. Also, someone left a tray from seedlings in the middle of the plot and it has collected water. I went to move it and found a sea of maggots underneath. Not sure what to do about that.... Also there are some mushrooms I noticed. I don't know how to combat those either, because isn't it an underground system? Finally, there is definitely something eating the squash plant up there. Which organic pest concoction was supposed to combat the squash bugs? Sorry to pile a lot on at once, but I was pretty overwhelmed by the task up there.

see you all this evening,



Our first eggplant gem of 2010! On second glance it does look like on of those curious purple peppers we grew last year ;)

garden lessons july 15 part two

Thank you Keith especially for your suggestion that we harvest the valuable garden fruits of relationships, lessons from each other, and diversity. I would just take the liberty to add that the 'harvest' you speak about is in my humble opinion, the most significant 'fruit' of all human endeavor... personally in our lives, families, communities, country, homes, workplaces, and schools. I've come to this conclusion in my many years in the 'school of life' ... still haven't graduated yet... and with much more to learn. Thanks for teaching us these lessons.... without even saying a word!


garden lessons July 15

Thanks you all for the great dinner and conversation. I will miss the garden club terribly! My thoughts will be with you as you harvest the most valuable fruits of the garden: the relationships you build, the many lessons you learn from each other, and the value of diversity.

Your friend always, Keith

Hereford summer interns Virginia, Joel, and Colleen take a work break with Engineering Lecturer and Hereford Fellow Jim Durand.

Monday, July 26, 2010

oh deer!

I sprayed the deer spray this morning. That stuff is nasty! The first ingredient is whole putrefied eggs! I sprayed the perimeter of the garden again and did a little more weeding.

I also found something that says just mixing eggs with water and spraying will work. This could be helpful as we are almost out of Bobbex.

I have really cool stuff to tell everyone about soy for our next meeting! I also found some mycorrhizae in the greenhouse. that's the stuff that we talked about that allows you to water less frequently.


lemon grass july 6


Following some wisely kept old Cameroonian traditions, and with the help from fellow coworker Elizabeth, I was able to begin on the lemongrass project. We were able to increase the height of the mount, which was assigned to me by Nancy. After digging in the trenches to collect some more soil, we used it to cover the older dying mound. Elizabeth and I were then able to take some soil and mulch to top the newly made mount.


raspberry planted

What a delightful day for gardening today.The early showers that ran throughout most of the day greatly helped with watering. Upon meeting with Elizabeth, we were able to till the soil, weed it, and turn it over. Upon it being readied, the soil welcomed the new raspberry plant into our toad-filled garden. Now the raspberry lives happily for ever with the newly planted four lemon grass shrubs.

Amongst other news, I would like to take this moment to welcome into our midst, Leo. Welcome! As we wish all the best for the future to one of ours-- Keith-- we yet welcome other great ones-- the Durand family and Leo. Great people just seem to flow within our midst.

I must point out that history was made yesterday as world collided with Keith and James taking on Leo's orientation. With such great counsel, you sure are to be on a path of success, Leo,

That's all I had for you. Le votre, Joel

Deer Vik repellent

hi all,

You may notice a bunch of 2 inch square green cardboard tags on and around the garden fences in the heaviest hit areas. They are covered in a goo called Deer Vik-- a substance which hopefully deters deer and rabbits. We'll see. Let's monitor. I see Leo watered.... one more day of intense heat and then relief!


ground hog trap suggestions

The landscape crews suggested we move the ground hog have-a heart trap to the side of the garden opposite the road where there is clear evidence of the critter trying to dig holes near that part of the fencing. They suggested facing it in line with the wall of the green house with one opening leading under the greenhouse. We need some new tasty sweet treat in the trap... maybe pineapple. If you go to the garden tonight, please place the food in the trap and test the mechanism again. The men also thought it might be good to try the trap uncovered. Another person suggested that we put very bright pink plastic ribbon in strips along our fences. He said deer don't like that.

Please continue to weed and mulch both the Garden of Weedon and Middle Earth. the more weeds will get rid of, the more our precious water goes to fruits and veggies.
Keith suggested we transplant some of the 4 o'clocks from the north garden down to the south area. They're like an army of defense against deer which don't like them.

happy gardening!
Dear Farmers,
I spent this morning at the garden... so much cooler than the last few days.. it was refreshing! Saw a bunch of beautiful yellow finches near the sunflowers and colorful butterflies.! A new pile of mulch arrived early this morning. I weeded and mulched the new pepper beds, butternut squash, and patty pan/ cotton patch. I took away the diseased parts of the plants to keep the good parts healthy and keep bugs away.

Also, raked up the grass clippings and threw them in the compost bin. This is very important or else the clippings will kill the grass. PLEASE MULCH vegetables with new mulch rather than clippings which contain lots of grass seed. if you mulch with clippings, grass will start popping up all over the beds.


Monday, July 5, 2010

MInifarm blog reborn!

Hi everybody! Let's post all work updates and new minifarm pix etc. here!

If you are a participant in the Hereford minifarm and wish to blog, please contact Nancy regarding the userid/password for access.