Articles, Blog

Urban, Farming, Farm, Family Farm, Mushrooms – America’s Heartland

December 1, 2019


Hi I’m Sarah Gardner. We leave the country
behind on this edition of America’s Heartland
to meet some people who do their farming…
in the city. We hit the road to
Albuquerque, New Mexico where some residents are
getting close to the land with a community effort connecting consumers
to their food. We’ll take you to
Massachusetts where one farm family keeps a
farming tradition alive even as the city moves
closer to their land. If I said New York City, you
wouldn’t think of farming. But this farm has been
in the Big Apple for more than
three hundred years! And we head to
California’s Capital for some mushroom farming in
a very unlikely location. It’s all coming up on
America’s Heartland. ♪♪>>America’s Heartland is
made possible by… CropLife America-
Representing the companies whose modern
farming innovations help America’s farmers
provide nutritious food for communities
around the globe.>>The Fund for
Agriculture Education – A fund created by KVIE
to support America’s Heartland
programming. Contributors include
the following: ♪♪ You can see it in the eyes
of every woman and man ♪♪ ♪♪ In America’s Heartland,
livin’ close to the land ♪♪ ♪♪ There’s a love
for the country ♪♪ ♪♪ And a pride
in the brand ♪♪ ♪♪ In America’s Heartland ♪♪ ♪♪ Livin’ close…
close to the land ♪♪ ♪♪>>Welcome to
America’s Heartland. We’re spending a
little time in the city on the program this time. If you’re a regular viewer, you know that we’ve taken
you to farms and ranches all across the country
including Alaska and Hawaii. But we’re heading for
some urban destinations for a focus on farming
that’s just a bit different. City farms are nothing new. Early Americans grew their
own produce close to home and many urban
residents kept livestock on their property even
into the 20th century. The growth in the organic
movement has prompted many city and suburban families
to try large scale gardening or search out
“sustainably” grown products at farmers markets
close to home. And many cities have
created community gardens as part of their recreation, socialization and urban
redevelopment programs. So let’s take a look at
some different aspects of farming in the city. And let’s head for
New Mexico to start. That city is helping
residents learn more about eating healthy and where
their food is coming from. ♪♪>>Oh my gosh,
here’s a perfect one. This is the size
we want right here.>>We’re not just growing food,
we’re growing farmers. And we’re growing
citizens that are educated and informed
about the environment and the connection between
food and the environment.>>Minor Morgan oversees
a “growing” project that has deep roots in his
Albuquerque community. ♪♪ Minor runs a non-profit
organization known as the Rio Grande
Community Farm. It shows the public how
“soil and society” interconnect by allowing
ordinary folks to grow produce on a publicly
owned urban farm. We operate a community
garden where anybody in the community
can take a plot and learn how to
grow their own food. We distribute the
food to our citizens. We have education programs. It’s the perfect combination
of social work and farming!>>People rent out a row,
it’s $40 a year. It goes January to December. Rows are somewhere between
80 to 100 feet long- approximately
2 to 3 feet wide. [buzz of weed whacker] We have weed whackers,
tiller, tools, seeds. We get seeds donated. And the garden provides
all that stuff along with some workshops.>>Let me grab this puppy.>>The farm has operated in
collaboration with the City of Albuquerque
for some fifteen years. It attracts growers
of all ages who plant just about
everything… from corn, broccoli,
and peppers…>>He’s perfect>>…to okra, tomatoes,
and a variety of herbs.>>The community garden is
extremely popular. It is the longest running
community garden in the city, and the biggest as well. And that community building is also a very
unique part of it.>>The roar of traffic nearby is a reminder that this
is truly an “urban” farm. But, that proximity also
allows the growers to easily connect with other non-profit
organizations in the area.>>We work with one of our
local agencies, Adelante, that works with the
developmentally disabled. They come out here
twice a week. We work with a program
called ‘Meals on Wheels’ that helps provide food
to the elderly. We’re an AmeriCorps
training site. What that means is
that we have a cadre of 10 to 15 young folks
that want to be farmers and they come out here and spend
a year learning how to farm.>>Shane Hobson is an
AmeriCorps Volunteer. While looking ahead to
a career as a lawyer, working on the farm has provided some
valuable skills.>>Teamwork has been one of
the most important skills that I’ve learned. Just working with people
from all over the country, with different backgrounds. And working with
members of the community as well from all sorts of
different backgrounds, different cultural and
socio-economic backgrounds. I’ve also learned
specific farming skills.>>We’ve had to weld. We’ve had to build a
lot of different things, use a lot of
woodworking tools.>>I’ve always wanted to
learn how to farm. And like what
goes into a farm. So, it’s been really nice to learn some of that
this summer.>>How’d it go, Dan?>>Looks pretty good,
actually. Y’know we chopped this before
when it was about this tall.>>Yeah.>>And so this is
cutting up pretty well.>>Minor and associate
Dan Schuster, also use the farm
as a teaching tool. Working with the U.S.
Department of Agriculture, they review approaches to
no and low till farming.>>We’re looking at changing
our tillage practices. We’ve done
traditional tillage where we have heavy discs
and shanks and plows. What they’re finding
is that kills the first 12 inches of soil-
the biological activity. So the USDA now is looking
at how do you grow crops by preserving the soil. And one of the things
that they’re finding is that if you can keep a
residue on the surface, the organisms in the soil come up and actually
break down the material. You can see it’s a
mat on the surface. And all this residue over
a period of a year or two will break down and become
nutrient for the soil. [rush of water, squeaking] Irrigation, especially in
dry areas like New Mexico, is another area of focus. We’re modeling for farmers
how to use water efficiently, using drip systems, using surface water
in a drip system, using flood irrigation
with efficient methods like pipelines and
laser levels. [hum of motor]>>Those educational ideals, directed at
society as a whole, are the driving force
behind the Community Farm. As we all know,
resources are limited. And the more we can
raise a population that understands the importance
of conserving resources, the better we’re going to be
as a society and as a world. So for me, we’re out
there saving the world! I mean, what problems
do you got? I have an answer for you! ♪♪>>Ready for some facts and fun
about New Mexico agriculture? The New Mexico state flower is the blossom of
the Yucca Plant. It’s a versatile plant whose leaves can be used
to make rope and baskets. And the “Land of Enchantment”
grows lots of chiles. In fact, New Mexico has
a state “question”. Red or Green… depending
on your chile choice. ♪♪>>Sharing knowledge
about agriculture doesn’t have to involve
getting down in the dirt and growing your own food. Take New York City,
for example. The urban farming experience
there is just a bit different Now there are a sizeable
number of rooftop gardens in the Big Apple and you’ll find community
gardens there as well. But let’s share one
farming destination that’s been part of New York City
for more than 300 years.>>Hey girls, how’s it goin’?>>You could call them
“Urban Farmers.” And “urban” certainly
applies in this case. We’re a little agricultural
oasis here in this urban area You can see if you
look to the North, you can see the
North Shore Towers. We’re surrounded by a
residential neighborhood.>>That “residential
neighborhood” is in the midst of the
country’s biggest metropolis. This small piece of
the heartland is the Queens County Farm Museum
in New York City. But beyond the concept of
“Big Apple Agriculture” is that fact that this
farm has been part of the New York landscape
since the 17th century.>>It’s been farmed
since 1697 continuously. It was originally
a Dutch farm, part of a
hundred-acre spread, that the Adriances family
built the farmhouse in 1772. It was after the
Adriances family it became part of the
truck farming era. So it provided from
the turn of the century into the 1920s
and early ’30s, provided farm fresh vegetables
for the City of New York.>>Since 1975, the now
47-acre spread has been run by the New York City
Parks Department, making it available to the
public seven days a week.>>It’s place that you can go and not have to spend a lot
of money, it’s free. It’s a great place to come
and bring your kids and walk around in a
park-like environment.>>Just the kohlrabi? Okay, that’ll be three
dollars please.>>The farm also allows city
visitors to be “locavores,” those who enjoy buying
locally grown produce.>>Seasonally we sell
right here on the farm five days a week
June to November. Then all year round we go to the Union Square
Farmer’s Market, which is in New York
City every Friday. And that’s really exciting
because we have a faithful customer base there, a lot
of regulars who rely on us. ♪♪>>This living museum is
more than just a historical display of old tractors and
even older farm structures. It’s a demonstration of
what life was like when New York was an
agrarian city.>>And we farm about
three acres, just a diversified
vegetable operation. And in addition we have a
small livestock operation including sheep and pigs and goats and one cow
and chickens. We really try and grow a
diversity of vegetables to show the community
what you can grow and also to appeal to a lot of different
tastes and preferences.>>Recently we just released
our first vintage of wine. We sell farm fresh eggs. We have hundreds of
thousands of honeybees, so we make honey. We obviously have two
hundred thousand school kids who come here each year
for education programs, and we have many, many events including my favorite, the
county fair in late September. It’s an old style
County Fair.>>Because of its location,
the farm is also able to offer hands-on opportunities
to those who may never be exposed to an
agricultural environment.>>So many people that want
to come out to the farm. We have probably
around an average of ten to twenty volunteers a
week throughout the season, which is just a great way to
meet people in the community and to get people hooked
on farming and growing. Actually that’s just
a green bib lettuce.>>And for the urban
agrarians who work here, it’s a bit of city
and country life. When I walk in the gate
and I’m here on the farm I do not feel like
I’m here in New York City. It’s pretty wild. As you can see, it’s a nice
escape from the city life.>>You can just find everything
you want in this city. I can sit here and work and
plow the fields during the day and 25 minutes from now
I can be at a Broadway show.>>Every time I see a kid who’s from an urban
environment walk up and say, “Oh my gosh, that’s a
chicken or a goat,” it really gives me a
thrill even today.>>Home to the farm museum, the
New York borough of Queens was established in 1683 as one of the 12 original
counties of New York. And what about its name? Historians say it was named for Queen Catherine
of Braganza, the Portuguese
princess who married England’s King Charles
the second. ♪♪>>Hi, I’m Paul Robins
and here’s something you may not have known
about agriculture. If you were an athlete
in ancient Greece, garlic was part of
your training regimen. It was thought that
garlic gave you strength and endurance. Americans like their garlic. We consume a quarter
billion, with a “B” pounds of garlic every
year and scientists say that garlic is good…
and good for you. Garlic is one of the world’s
oldest cultivated plants. It was first grown in
Central Asia and worshipped by the Egyptians who fed it to workers
building the great pyramids. French settlers brought it
to America and today garlic is grown in almost
every state with California being the leading producer. Garlic has been shown to
have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties as
well as being beneficial in preventing coronary disease. Health benefits aside,
garlic is very, very popular in many types of cuisine adding a spicy, fragrant
flavor to everything from soups to stews
to burritos. Now, garlic is a member of
the onion family along with leeks, shallots and chives. And, of course, we can’t
mention garlic without talking about vampires. Central Europeans thought
so highly of garlic’s powers that wearing it
around your neck or hanging it in your window would ward off vampires,
demons and werewolves. Of course, if you
don’t like the smell, it will keep the
neighbors away as well. ♪♪>>A large number of
farms were once part of the urban landscape in
Lexington, Massachusetts. But things changed as
the population grew and farmers were forced
to sell their land to make room for
housing and development. That meant increased pressure
on those farmers left behind. Jason Shoultz introduces us
to one farm family looking to serve their community
and keep their farm alive. ♪♪>>If these shoppers are like
many Americans these days and want to know where
their food comes from, boy are they in luck. The customers of the
Wilson Farm Store can just look out
from the parking lot! ♪♪ Squash being
picked this morning will be in the store
within a matter of hours. Why is it that you
come here? You know, you can go to the
grocery store and pick it up, along with your other items;
why come to this market here?>>It’s a- it’s a very
enjoyable experience and they have great stuff;
great prices; I mean there’s- it’s- I come here you know,
it’s just a great place and I have a huge smile on
my face when I leave this and it changes every season
as you can see right now, it’s very summer like. And by the time
you get to the fall, the color changes, they
have all the pumpkins out.>>Wilson Farm is located in
Lexington Massachusetts, the historic town just
10 miles west of Boston.>>We built the retail- the
first retail store in 1954; the year I was born, and…
it’s really the reason we’ve been able to
survive in this location.>>As this community grew over
the decades, acres and acres of prime farmland were
gradually transformed…>>Into houses.
It’s the last crop you grow.>>The Wilsons have been
able to maintain and grow their farming operation- because of a decision
to sell their goods at their retail market
instead of wholesale. Besides their 28 acres in
Lexington, the family also grows 600 acres of produce
in nearby New Hampshire. You know, you’ve got an
interesting perspective, because you’ve seen,
over the years, your neighbors that farm,
close up shop, right?>>Yeah. There a-
in Lexington, when I was in high school,
was nothing but farms. There were probably 60
working farms, mid-size, a few big ones,
but mostly mid to small, this is the only one left. When- when you had neighbors
all farmers, it thought- it was thought of as an
agricultural community.>>Is it safe to say that
for a farm like yours, because you’re surrounded
by non-farmers now, you really have to have
direct engagement with the people in
the community? In some respects, you kinda
have to educate your neighbors on what you’re doing here.>>Oh absolutely and we’ve
I’ve done walking farm tours for adults for
20 years on the farm, to try to people bring
this thing forward. But it’s also I mean, the
advantage to non-farming neighbors is that they are
potential customers too. And so everything’s
a plus and a minus.>>And bringing it forward
for the Wilson’s has meant transforming
the roadside stand into a grocery destination. All run by the
Wilson family. ♪♪ You’ve got choices
where you can shop, obviously, and go to
the grocery store. What brings you back here?>>Because everything’s fresh.>>Besides an expanding store, the Wilsons are
taking advantage of the renewed interest
in locally grown food, giving residents here a
chance to commit to purchasing produce
throughout the season with a “Community Supported
Agriculture” program. It guarantees folks fresh
produce every week.>>When I was little,
I lived a few houses away and I’d come down. My family was all-
my grandfather, my father and my mother were all working
at the farm every day. And I would come
down the hill. I was too young to cross
the street by myself. So I’d have to yell. One of the cashiers would
come out and cross me so I could go to work. I knew I’d always, I always
knew I’d end up here. ♪♪>>Let’s give you some sweet
facts about Massachusetts. Do you like donuts? The Dunkin’ Donut chain
got its start with its first store in Quincy,
Massachusetts in 1950. And the state has an
official state dessert. It’s the Boston Cream pie,
of course.>>Now we’ve taken you
to New York, New Mexico and Massachusetts where
the urban farm experience is all… out of doors. So how about an
urban farm crop that’s just a bit different
and might well be perfect for growing in
the heart of a city. Well, Rob Stewart
takes us to meet a woman in Sacramento who’s farming
in a pretty unique place. ♪♪>>This is the heart of the
Capital of California, downtown Sacramento. It is a bustling city, home
to a half million people. ♪♪ This is one the city’s
industrial parks… street after street
lined with warehouses. And we found something inside
this building on B Street -that just might
catch you by surprise. When we pulled up here
and I saw this warehouse, I said no way this
can’t be a mushroom farm.>>Urban farming.>>It is urban farming;
we’re just a mile from the State Capitol
building of California. Meet Roxana Walker, a
mushroom maven who turned this ordinary warehouse into
an 8,000 square foot farm.>>Mushrooms are a
unique product that they don’t require sunlight. So they don’t need
to be outdoors, in fact you have to protect
them from too much sunlight and a warehouse is ideal because you can
control humidity, you can control how
much light they get, how much fresh air they get. So it’s kind of a-
it’s a perfect urban farm. There is a science to
every method of farming… especially mushrooms. Roxana turned this warehouse
into a micro-climate to cultivate her creations. Misters keep the humidity
high- between 65-70 percent. Each of these bags contains
the materials to spawn and grow her mushroom crop. They just pop right up
out of here? Yes, it’s sort of like
the phenomenon of your mushrooms in your yard.>>And so how long will
this continue to fruit?>>This is the third fruiting
for this particular set of baskets and basically
they continue to fruit until they have used up
the water in the bags. ♪♪>>Every Saturday, Roxana’s crew makes the
mushroom bags from scratch. They start with recycled
saw dust, wetting it down, and pumping it into
these individual bags. Then the bags are cooked-
sterilizing them with steam. Each bag is then
capped with cotton, then seeded with mycelium,
called spawn. Roxana says it’s a
Chinese method of mushroom cultivation. What are these white
clumps in there?>>That’s the actual plant,
that’s the mycelium, and same with the brown they
give off this waste product basically that
browns up the bag. So the plant is this and
this is its fruiting body.>>All of this began as a
hobby for Roxana. In 2000, Roxana,
a chemist by trade, starting growing
mushrooms in her home to sell at a local
farmers market.>>They look gorgeous. I mean look at
this is the blue and it’s just
velvety and huge. These are my favorites. Roxana quickly outgrew her home
mushroom farm and in 2010, took a leap of faith
transforming her hobby into a career growing more than a
thousand pounds of mushrooms a week. Everyday at 5:00 AM, Roxana combs each aisle,
gently harvesting her crop. This box of mushrooms you say
just picked a couple hours ago?>>Yes this morning and
we are setting up for our farmer’s
market tomorrow.>>Tomorrow?>>Yes, everything’s
going out.>>So this is a pretty quick
turnaround from crop, or in this case, warehouse to the farmer’s
market to someone’s plate.>>Absolutely. You like those. On the very end everything we
grow is in a combination pack. This is the brown oyster and
this is the golden oyster. We’re making a beef shitake
onion soup.>>Roxana loves to
meet her customers- selling her mushrooms
at farmers markets all across
Northern California. And delivering to gourmet
chefs at regional restaurants>>Ok, so this is the
King Oyster and it’s dense and meaty, excellent
substitution for meat. We’ve got shiitake, kind of
a smoky woodsy flavor, the most medicinal mushroom
we’ve got on the table. Beech, we’ve got
white beech and brown beech kind of a nutty
little crisp mushroom. And this guy is our
fantastic showboat for the summer it
loves heat, Golden Oyster. And it’s cousin the
brown oyster. This of course is our
best seller here we move massive amounts of oyster
here at this market.>>Roxana also teaches
her customers how to grow their
own mushrooms… with kits she creates
at the warehouse.>>It looks so good,
it’s so exciting!>>Oh, I’m glad you’re having
a good time with them! It’s fun.>>It is a full circle moment
for the happy mushroom farmer from hobby to career,
to teacher of the trade.>>Being in the warehouse
satisfies my intellect that I can grow these but my heart is clearly
satisfied by being here, seeing people
enjoy my mushrooms, coming back week after week
and buying my mushrooms. I love it. I love it. ♪♪>>One interesting note
about mushrooms. Today, of course,
we use mushrooms as a popular food item, but did you know
that for centuries mushrooms were also used as
a natural dye for clothing. Have you logged onto our
America’s Heartland website? It’s AmericasHeartland.org We have video from
all of our shows and a lot more on different
aspects of agriculture. And find us as well through some of your favorite
social media sites. That’s going to do it
for us this time. Thanks for coming along. See you next time on
America’s Heartland.>>You can purchase a DVD or
Blu-ray copy of this program. Here’s the cost: To order, just visit us
online or call 888-814-3923 ♪♪ ♪♪ You can see it in the eyes
of every woman and man ♪♪ ♪♪ In America’s Heartland,
livin’ close to the land ♪♪ ♪♪ There’s a love
for the country ♪♪ ♪♪ And a pride
in the brand ♪♪ ♪♪ In America’s Heartland ♪♪ ♪♪ Livin’ close…
close to the land ♪♪>>America’s Heartland is
made possible by…>>CropLife America-
Representing the companies whose modern
farming innovations help America’s farmers
provide nutritious food for communities
around the globe. The Fund for
Agriculture Education – A fund created by KVIE
to support America’s Heartland
programming. Contributors include
the fo♪♪owing:

3 Comments

  • Reply الزاجل الحمام November 9, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    i dream about a farm who can teach people about agriculture

  • Reply Caleb Grill March 29, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    definitely would help the smog problem

  • Reply SHAH REZA July 13, 2019 at 1:03 am

    What's th water price for farming at us ?

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