Thursday, May 5, 2011

Closer to Earth Visits Guilford Gardens

Kam of Guilford Gardens educating CTE youth in sustainable farming practices
      In April of this spring Closer to Earth youth took a farm tour of Guilford Gardens, a 3 acre urban farm located in Oklahoma City. Kamala Gamble started farming at her home in Oklahoma City almost ten years ago. Guilford Gardens is comprised of field vegetable production, two hoop houses and one green house. Closer to Earth youth learned of many sustainable farming practices and about growing in hoop houses to extend the growing season.

      Chef Barb of Kam’s Kookery held a healthy cooking demo for us, showing us how to prepare a fresh salad, with home made dressing, and yummy cooked greens! Thank you Guilford Gardens and Kam's Kookery for inviting us to come and learn from your work!  To learn more about Kam's Kookery and Guilford Gardens visit
Kam explaining the benefits of growing food in a hoop house

Chef Barb teaching us how to prepare greens from our garden!


Friday, March 11, 2011

Big Event Spring 2011

This past weekend's Big Event Work day was a huge success! Thanks to the hard work and generosity of UCO and OCU students and youth groups from across Oklahoma, we accomplished a lot of work at our urban farm and at Central Park Community Garden.

At central park students helped remove Bermuda grass, edge and prepare garden beds for planting
 The big projects at our farm site were setting raised beds in our field and building compost bins for our large scale compost initiative.

We were greatly impressed with all of the volunteers enthusiasm and tireless energy. Thank you all so much for spending a day with us and come back soon!
(photos from volunteers at Central Park coming soon!)

UCO Students moving wood chips for the compost area
 UCO students measured and staked out raised beds and then did the hard work of digging them! 

Students from Marlow organized our compost area
Students from Marlow use cardboard and wood chips to help suppress weeds in our paths
The Marlow Crew

Thanks again to all our volunteers and to UCO and OCU for organizing the BIG Event!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Join Us this Saturday!

Come join CTE this Saturday March 5th as we host students volunteering from UCO and OCU's 'BIG Event'!

We will be working at both of our sites:

Central Park Community Gardens located at NE 31st and Shartel 
Community Youth Outreach Urban Farm a few block east of NE 50th and Kelly
UCO Big Event hours 9am-12pm
OCU Big Event hours 3pm to 5pm

Both sites will be hosting both groups at both times so please join us at either location at either time! 

At Central Park we will be preparing garden beds for spring planting, edging vegetable beds with recycled material, harvesting worm castings, working to in the Shartel medians to prepare to install a rock boulder sign and removing Bermuda grass.  

At CYO Urban Farm we will be preparing our plot of land into raised beds, building compost bins from recycled pallets, planting onions, harvesting worm castings, starting seedling trays and making walking trails with wood chips.

This is a great opportunity to get your hands dirty, come see our work sites, get to know our youth and learn some new gardening techniques. We hope to see you there!

If you have any questions or need directions e-mail

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Greenhouse Operation

After incurring severe damaged in the hailstorm last spring our green house was in great need of a new cover (or glaze). On Dec 11th Closer to Earth’s youth and volunteers successfully recovered our greenhouse. We postponed recovering the greenhouse several times, waiting for a wind free day. Our wind free day never came exactly…so we had to just go for it. We were amazed to get it covered in the semi windy conditions that Saturday. It took a lot of pulling, and stretching, and standing on plastic, and more pulling, but we did it. Our greenhouse is covered in a double layer of polyvinyl plastic that can be inflated with a small fan to create a insulating layer. We don’t heat our greenhouse but with the protection of our cover we can grow lush lettuce, and other greens all winter long. In freezing weather we give our greens a bit more protection by covering them in a thin garden fabric.

We are proud to announce that Forward Foods on 50th & Western is selling our lettuce, arugula and sweet potatoes. Forward Foods is incredibly supportive of Closer to Earth’s work and we look forward to supplying them with lots on fresh produce in seasons to come. Prohibition Room off 23rd and Classen is also using some of our greens and sweet potatoes in their dishes. We are so grateful to have the support of our local business and community. Be sure to stop in Forward Foods and Prohibition room and ask for our produce!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thumbs Up to the Green Thumb Challenge! = $5000!

We are VERY happy and proud to announce that Closer to Earth is the recipient of Green Education Foundation and Gardener's Supply Company's $5,000 Green Thumb Challenge grant! We cant thank them enough for this support! I am so proud of our youth and the hard work they do to merit this grant.

$5,000 is a lot of money for us and we will be investing it well. This grant is going towards:
1. Helping to cover the costs of our weekly transportation of materials for our large composting initiative
2. A business investment to jump start our youth's project to sell veggies, compost and worm castings at farmers markets and special events
3.  Providing bus passes and assisting with van transportation costs, helping youth to and from work and between work sites  
4. Revamping our greenhouse for winter crop production and season extension
5. Purchasing winter materials such as row cover, cover crop seed and alfalfa hay.

Thank you and thank you again to Green Education Foundation and Gardener's Supply, and to all other foundations and companies who support those creating change through gardening.

Visit Green Education Foundations site
and Gardener's Supply

See the Press Release: here

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Takin' it to the Street

On a chilly Saturday morning we all met at CYO's farm site to harvest the result of our early fall labor, salad greens! Our youth harvested all of the ripe lettuces, mustard greens and Asian greens. Allen, the  kids and I loaded up in the van to share our fresh produce with OKC. Our first stop was to a local restaurant the Red Cup. Four youth, carried buckets brimming with greens into the restaurant- everyone was interested in what was going on. The Red Cup purchased the food they would use in their menu and we continued on to our second stop, Other Options food pantry.

Other Options is a local non-profit organization supporting people living with HIV/AIDS. In the van on the way to Other Options the youth had several questions about the people they were going to come in contact with. Were they going to see people with AIDS? Could they get AIDS from being there? We discussed how HIV is transmitted and assured the youth they would be safe delivering the food. We washed and packaged our greens at Other Options. The youth interacted with the managers, volunteers and clients in the food pantry. As we walked out of the front of the office we passed by their clothes donation section. Chris said "Can I bring them my old clothes, I have lots of clothes I don't need". Back in the van I asked how they felt about the experience, if the people they saw looked strange or sick, and if they would like to do this again. They all responded they really enjoyed the experience. They wanted to do it again and were shocked by how normal and nice all of the people in the pantry were. We talked a bit more about stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV effects our society.

Our third stop of the day was to the OSU/OKC farmers market. The youth explored the farmers market, asking farmers questions about produce, seeing how produce was presented and checking prices of produce.

What an exciting, empowering day for all of us! We cant wait to do it again!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hurry the Cold is Comming!

We have been VERY busy on the farm this past month. We decided not to till our 1/2 acre plot of land so we have been working it by hand with a broadfork, removing old crops, removing plastic mulch, and pulling out weeds as we go. We are cover cropping with a variety of green manures including: Austrian winter peas, rye, an edible winter mix, fava beans, and garbonzo beans. We are a bit late in the season for planting- but we are going for it- trying to improve our soil. I have been throughout impressed by the kids persistence in the hard labor of broadforking.

We are also starting production inside the greenhouse. Last week we planted our first round of lettuces and greens! We are still experimenting with seed, growing medium and container. So hopefully we will have a wonderful salad mix to market in a few weeks!

Also, our greenhouse is getting a new cover! We were hit hard by the hail storm last spring and our double layer poly cover is in no shape for winter. This Saturday we are having a recover work part at the farm, come join us!