An "urban" farm, I am told, is any farm where you can stand up in your field and see your neighbors. Well, I saw many neighbors in each of the neighborhoods I visited Sunday during the Urban Farms and Gardens Tour. Neighbors and all kinds of visiting folk from around the metro area were out an about throughout the city's urban farms and gardens.
a beautiful day for a farm tour
It was a beautiful day to go from farm to farm and see what grand diversity of food-growing there is within the city limits. From the Kurlbaum's lush, green, and secluded tomato farm in Wyandotte Co to Natural Grown, a suburban backyard in Johnson Co - and many farms in between.
Cross-Lines Community Outreach Garden
I started at Cross-lines Community Outreach on Shawnee and 7th St Tfwy in KCK. Cross-lines is a non-profit organization devoted to providing basic services to people affected by poverty. Their Community Garden provides an array of fresh vegetables that are available for their food pantry and for purchase at a reduced rate and which help Cross-lines address both hunger and nutrition in the community. Carey Sterrett, who directs emergency services, also heads up the community garden along with a master gardener who is on the Cross-lines board and other employees who contribute their time and effort to growing and harvesting food.
I headed west, down Argentine Blvd, over the Kansas river, through Amourdale, to Hun's Garden. I saw old parts of the city that were all new to me - entire neighborhoods that I had no idea even existed. Hun's Garden is a big, big piece of land, down the hill from the street. It's just off of I-635, near the railroad, off a main thoroughfare, and the garden (farm, really) is right next to Alvey Park, where it sounded like there was a game going on the day I was there. Pov Hun gives a very detailed tour so that you will see all the incredible productivity among the weeds that he allows to grow. Pov challenges all the recommendations and suggestions for successful vegetable growing and grows so much great food. Also Hun's is the Midwest's only ginger grower. All of their organic urban veggies can be found each weekend at the City Market Farmers Market.
Kurlbaum's Heirloom Tomatoes
Things got a little more rural-y when I went north of the Kansas River to find Blue Door Farm and Kurlbaum's Heirloom Tomatoes. Both are nestled in cozy, verdant neighborhoods and both grow an amazing amount of food on their beautiful land. The Kurlbaums farm on land that has been in the family since the 50s and they grow a stunning number of heirloom tomatoes using dry-farming methods that don't require any watering besides the rain. (They sell their exotic tomatoes to a number of upscale restaurants in the metro area.) The generous folks who own and live on the beautiful property of Blue Door Farm rent their land to Laura Christensen who runs a CSA and sells at the Brookside Farmers Market.
Blue Door Farm
I headed back down I-635 and into Johnson County for my last stop of the day. Just off of Long Street and Shawnee Mission Parkway is Natural Grown, Warren Messinger's backyard farm and garage farmers market. From this garden/farm I could see LOTS of neighbors everywhere I looked in the densely populated suburban neighborhood. And from what Warren says, it was the neighbors wanting to buy from his big garden that got him started with the weekend markets. He has loyal customers for his naturally grown, suburban vegetables.
I can only imagine how impressive a full tour of all 31 farms might have been. There's a lot of growing going on around here.
Check out all my the sights (urban, suburban, agrarian and surprisingly pastoral) on my Flickr page. A few of my faves...