- Woodworking with Jacob: An intro to tools, plans for a raised bed, and building garden benches
- Homesteading in Williston, Vermont: A tour of Honey Dew Homestead
- Garden upkeep
- Harvesting, harvesting, and more harvesting!
- Presentations by Jeanne & Rose and Lynne
This week at the Community Teaching Gardens was packed with some seriously invaluable information as we jumped into the second round of student presentations and spent a wonderful, educational evening at the Honey Dew Homestead in Williston, Vermont. From woodworking to international garden recipes to root cellars, our students took advantage of several opportunities to expand their gardening horizons. Not to mention the gardens still remain extremely vibrant, and with each class comes another bounty of lovely vegetables and herbs.
Woodworking with Jacob: How to build a raised bed, tools 101, and group bench construction:
On Monday evening, the Ethan Allen group arrived to class surprised to see Jacob working away in the open trunk of his Honda Element, which happens to make a wonderful traveling workshop. Within the first half-hour of class, a freshly made garden bench appeared, and Jacob announced that by the end of his presentation, everyone would be helping to create a second. As a builder by trade, Jacob has quite a bit of experience when it comes to woodworking and tools, in fact he often leads courses at Yestermorrow in Warren and at UVM. As we all gathered around his ‘workshop’ he began with a crash-course on some basic tools that anyone interested in DIY projects will find useful. He identified and explained the uses for tools like an impact driver, a Japanese hand saw, a cordless drill, a bevel, a couple circular saws, and a combination square. He next got to work with getting everyone involved in helping construct a simple garden bench with some left-over lumber from a previous project. Each student took a least a turn or two drilling fasteners (aka screws) into the bench pieces until the final product was complete. Following this interactive piece, Jacob whipped out a whiteboard with some basic plans and tips for constructing a raised bed. Midst some of his helpful hints were:
- Never use pressure treated lumber!
- Use regular SPF 2×6 or 2×8 lumber for building projects
- If you go to a supply store and/or saw mill and just tell them your project, they’re sure to help you find the right material
- Know your desired dimensions in comparison the materials you have at hand
- Consider local saw mills for your lumber- they’re shrinking at an alarming rate!
Jeanne and Rose kindly brought some samples of Asian Slaw and Paddy Pan Squash with Caraway seeds as part of their presentation on International Garden-Inspired Recipes, and we munched away while enjoying the new garden benches. Great job, gardeners!
Honey Dew Homestead: A Guided Tour by Markey Read and Tim King
Husband and wife team Tim King, a mechanical engineer, and Markey Read, a career consultant, have called Williston, Vermont home since 1998 when they bought their home and 5 acre plot out on Old Stage Road. Since then, their property has developed into a ‘suburban homestead’ where they produce up to 50% of their foodstuffs and sell the minimal surplus they produce at local vendors. As a homestead, Markey and Tim do not meet agricultural production standards and they do not produce for means of income, merely to break-even upon their efforts. However, they do have the joy of saying that they eat from their land everyday in one way or another.
Upon arrival, we were warmly welcomed by Markey, Tim, and their cat, Ariel. Our tour began with the front section of their property that boasts multiple fruit-producing plants and a rice paddy that they’ve been working on for the past 5 years. The rice, a short-grain brown variety, is well suited to the colder climate of Vermont and they plant it from seed each season in the hand-dug paddy they manually flood regularly. Next stop was the greenhouse that Markey and Tim worked together to design and build with materials they collected over time. It became apparent it is one of Markey’s domains as she discussed how she starts her plants from seeds each season in this warm, moist environment and also uses it to cure the garlic and onions she grows in her garden. As we meandered out the back portion of the property, we discussed the homestead’s new garden (currently in the works), Tim’s bee hives, and the three massive solar panels that supply the energy for the whole operation. We then said a quick hello the numerous chickens, turkeys, Cornish hens and ducks that Markey and Tim raise as poultry, many of which will be ready for processing in the coming weeks.
Finally we reached Markey’s garden oasis, which was quite literally bursting with some amazing organic vegetables, herbs, and even amaranth (a highly nutritional ancient grain). Markey’s current garden offers 1,000 square feet of planting space in several raised beds, which she plants in a biointensive manner to get the highest yields possible. As an well-seasoned gardener, Markey maintains a map of her planting space and rotates crops between specific beds each season to maintain the health of her soil, which she feeds with her own biodynamic compost each season. Her veggie and herb selection was quite extensive and included several varieties of squash, celery root, asparagus, lettuce, kale, carrots, several kinds of peppers (hot & sweet), grapes, and several culinary herbs. Each bed is carefully mulched with cocoa shells, which happens to smell delicious and is clearly quite effective as there was no weed in sight. As the sun began to set, we said our goodbyes and thanked both Markey and Tim for the impressive knowledge and hospitality they bestowed on us.
Although Markey and Tim are quite busy during the growing season, they do offer tours and lead instructive planning sessions and homesteading courses for individuals interested in starting their own venture through Champlain Valley Union Access. Find the complete list of classes here: http://cvuweb.cvuhs.org/access/