Big (Green) Deal: TILT Event Educates Children on Compost

Originally written for the Watertown Daily Times by Amanda Taylor, who covered TILT’s (Com)Post-Halloween event at Zenda Farm Preserve over the weekend.

Christopher A. Nevala, 7, smashes leftover Halloween pumpkins with a mallet during the (Com)Post Halloween event at Zenda Farms in Clayton on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Amanda Morrison for the Watertown Daily Times.

TILT Event Educates Children on Compost

CLAYTON — Creating a manageable compost heap is not as difficult as many may believe.

“It’s quite simple and should not be intimidating to anyone,” Corinne M. Mockler said.

Ms. Mockler is the coordinator of education and outreach for the Thousand Islands Land Trust. The group organized a (Com)post Halloween on Saturday to educate children and their families on maintaining a compost heap.

“A lot of families have gardens, but we’re not sure how much kids are involved in the gardening or if they are aware of the fact that anything can be composted,” Ms. Mockler said.

People were invited to bring their leftover pumpkins and jack-o’-lanterns to Zenda Farms at 38973 Zenda Road and smash them up in a wooden box with a shovel. The pumpkin pieces were combined with old leaves to create compost that will be used in the spring on TILT’s Community Garden.

“Who can resist? You get rid of grass, old jack-o’-lanterns and kids get to go around and smash stuff,” she said.

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All Cooped Up

Over the course of a weekend, Butch built us a chicken coop! He designed it himself and got the materials mostly free from work. And despite how the photos make it look, I did help out (mostly with the painting/decoration side of things). Butch has been researching heritage breeds that are both good layers and meat birds. We’ll be ordering in the spring from a supplier that doesn’t require a minimum (since we’re not planning on having more than 8 or 10 total). I grew up with chickens (and one mean rooster that loved to trap me on the jungle-gym), but this will be a new experience for Butch.

Between our expanded garden, the upcoming chickens, working out a quarter-share situation on our neighbor’s cows down the street (and cutting down on beef-consumption in general) and trading in a clunky gas-guzzler for a new fuel-efficient Subaru, we are trying to do our part to live sustainably in our small corner of the world!

Inspiration Station: The Homestead of Ashley English

In browsing through Design*Sponge’s Sneak Peaks, I happened upon the incredible 11 forested acres of author Ashley English:

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Bounty in the Land of No Rain


While I’ve been taking random photos throughout the summer (and I’ll get them up eventually), I haven’t been very good at sharing much of the newly created flower beds and newly expanded garden. I can’t express how thankful I am to the various friends who’ve given me perennials from their gardens/stores – my little flower beds look like they’ve been there forever, not like they were just built this year! And Butchy has put in SO MUCH WORK in expanding Fort Knox (including having to build raised beds in parts that were too rocky) and adding in all sorts of new veggies. We now have root veggies, rainbow swiss chard, flashy trout-back lettuce and have even started an asparagus patch! We still seem to be having issues with coaxing forth any green peppers, and unfortunately by the time we realized our brussel sprouts were not flourishing there were no plants left to buy….But the beauty of the North Country is that you always have a friend, a community garden, a co-op or a farm stand that you can buy veggies from cheap and fresh!

We also started a few different berry patches and a variety of fruit trees – I’ll post photos of those soon. And as usual, there was no shortage of butterflies, bees and birds nesting in our birdhouses….or building nests wherever they felt! Even Smash-cat, perpetual homebody, decided that she was now a wild-thing and wants to be outside all the time, stalking the wild potato beetle.

2011 saw torrential rains that stalled the creation of the original part of the garden, and this year we were sidetracked by a neighbors broken tiller…but at least we seem to be right on the same production schedule we were last year. Maybe next year we can get an earlier start, but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, all by ourselves! We’re in talks with a neighbor on buying a quarter-share of a cow and on the horizon for next year at the Five Birch Perch? CHICKENS!


A Trip to the Old Moss Woman’s Secret Garden

“A man sooner or later discovers
that he is the master-gardener of his soul,
the director of his life.” ~ James Allen

More at my Tumblr blog….

Images from the Old Moss Woman’s Secret Garden

Five Birch Perch: Opening Weekend 2012

Memorial Day weekend was gorgeous up here in the North Country (altho’ a tad bit “August”), and Butchy and I both had the full weekend off together. There was a lot to do – with Butch planting trees and bushes and expanding the veggie garden (photos of that coming soon), and me putting the finishing touches on the flower beds/pots, picking up the slack around the house and running errands I don’t usually run (ie. grocery shopping!).

So without further ado (and do please ignore the weeds and woodworking projects-in-progress), enjoy the 2012 opening weekend of the Five Birch Perch, including new flower beds along the house full of donated perennials, our brand new fruit trees (apples, peach and fig) and berry bushes (blueberry, strawberry and both red & black raspberry)…and, of course, Grim-cat helping out with the gardening:

Spotlight On: North Country Community Gardens

In a 2010 article from North Country Public Radio on Zenda Farm’s community garden, the benefits of such gardens is described perfectly: “The Community Garden Initiative brings neighbors together and empowers them to supplement their food supply by growing healthy and nutritious food themselves.  Community gardening stimulates social interaction, encourages self-reliance, truly beautifies neighborhoods and produces nutritious foods, while reducing family food budgets.  Also, the community is connected to the source from which their food originates, fostering a sense of trust and collaboration among the participating residents.”

A more recent article from the Trust for Public Land, has farmer Jen Smith elaborating: “It’s so important that people have the option to get food locally,” says Jen. “One can see, from looking at the current food system, that it’s just not sustainable to truck and transport food. There’s real strength in having local agriculture in cities and towns…We want to offer super-fresh local produce, but also a place to see your neighbors, a place for kids to camp, run through a field, and watch a carrot come out of the ground—places like this are hard to come by these days.”

Naturally, Zenda (pictured above) is the first community garden I’ll mention, the farm being a TILT preserve, but other established, and fledgling, community gardens are available in the North Country as well:

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