Author Archives: gardennyu

Summer 2014 – Gearing up for the new school year

Our blog has been quiet for a while, but don’t worry, fall semester has started, so we’re back to show you some of what CommAg has been up to this summer and what our plans are for the next couple of semesters.

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Filling up the beds with fresh soil

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Maggie and Alex assembling our new bench

A few dedicated members and a very committed advisor have been working hard all summer to beautify and update our Washington Square Village garden. The wood of a lot of our beds had completely rotted through, the soil we had was so nutrient-depleted after many years of use that it hardly grew anything (even weeds!), and the space in general needed a lot of loving. Alex, Christina, Maggie, Morgan and Nick began meeting weekly to update the garden in May. We requested some new beds and fresh soil, built some new beds and lined them, redid our compost area in the back, added a bench and planted tons of flowers and veggies.

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Cherry tomatoes and basil, with sunflower sprouting in the back

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Some of our new beds with happy sproutlings

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Spinach and beans

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A midsummer lettuce harvest

The garden is already blooming with big tomatoes plants, zinnias about open and bean stalks climbing up their trellises. We can’t wait to spend a lot of time in the garden with you all this fall semester and to continue working on the garden. We’re even hoping to use some of the produce to make delicious snacks for our meetings and use the garden to learn about agriculture in the city. We’ll be sending out meeting information over our OrgSync list (join here), on Twitter and on Facebook. We hope you’ll join us this semester!

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Be a Part of the Brand New NYU Farm – Volunteer 10am – 7:30, Thurs. to Sun. — Houston and Wooster

Hi Everyone!

After long delay the NYU Urban Farm Lab is about to be established at an accelerated pace. Over the next four days — Thurs. May 30th to Sun. June 2nd — we are going to transform the patch of ground at Silver Towers from bare dirt into neatly laid out garden beds, mulched paths, and hopefully even start planting.  In order for this to happen, your help is urgently needed for several intensive work days.

On the first day we will be marking out and shaping the beds.  On the second and third days we will be further digging the beds and spreading mulch on the paths. On the fourth day these activities will continue and it is hoped that we might also be planting.

This is also the time for people who want to be involved in a committed and responsible way to become familiar with the garden and to talk about planning.  In Food Studies Professor Matthew Hoffman’s absence, some people will have to be responsible for planting and transplanting and for watering whatever gets planted.  On Saturday he will lead an introductory workshop on garden planning so that those who want to take responsibility for it can know how to organize planting in time and space.

If you are willing to volunteer, be it for an hour, a day, or several days, please follow this link to the official volunteer page and sign up for one or more time slots between 10am and 7:30.  The NYU Farm is located on the north side of Houston Street in front of the Silver Towers building on the corner with Wooster, here.  Make sure to dress appropriately for work: trousers in which you don’t mind kneeling in the dirt, sturdy shoes, gloves if you don’t want to dirty and roughen your hands, and generally clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty and abrading.  If you happen to have a garden fork or spade (the digging kind) bring it along.  On Friday-Sunday a pointed shovel will also come in handy.

We won’t be able to get this done without a lot of help, so if you are at all able to volunteer, please do.  This will only happen once — be a part of history!  We will have a lot of fun and you will have ample opportunity to learn one of the most fundamental skills of biointensive gardening: how to prepare garden beds.  Join us!

Thanks for you help!

The Farm Crew

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GETTIN’ CHEESY

(Yeah, that title is super cheesy. It was on purpose and also not because I am cheesy and I like it)

Happy post- daylight savings day and almost springtime time. Last Thursday we spent our meeting chatting and turning simple ingredients like flour and salt and water and milk into delicious food that is usually really expensive in the grocery store. Here are some pictures of us doing that and the recipes we followed!

Recipes:

Mozzarella
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1 1/2 tsp citric acid

1 1/4 cups cool water (filtered or boiled)

1 gallon whole milk (not ultra-pasturized)

1/3 teaspoon liquid rennet

4 tablespoons kosher salt
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  1. Ice a large, heavy pot. Combine the citric acid with one cup of the water in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Add the milk to the pot. Slowly pour the citric acid mixture into the milk, gently stirring with a slotted spoon for 15 seconds. Set the pot over medium heat, attach a cheese or candy thermometer to the pot, and heat the milk to 90F, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes. This will take about 10 minutes, and the milk with start to curdle. Remove the pot from heat.
  2. Combine the rennet with the remaining 1/4 cup water in the liquid measure. Pour the rennet mixture into the milk, and gently stir with a scooping motion for 30 seconds. Cover the pot and let sit for 5 minutes. The curds will solidify into on mass that looks like tofu or custard. Press your finger about 1/2 inch into the curd. If it comes out mostly clean, the curd is ready to cut. Otherwise, check again in two minutes.
  3. With the curd still in the pot, cut it into 2-inch cubes: place a long knife 2 inches from the left side of the pot and draw it through the curd toward you in a straight line, taking care to cut to the bottom of the curd. Continue with parallel lines to the first in 2-inch increments. Turn the pot 90 degrees, and repeat so you have a grid. Then, make 2-inch diagonal cuts at 45 degree angle to the side of the pot. Repeat from the other side. Cubes of curd will float in the whey.
  4. Return the pot to medium heat and stir the curds very gently with a slotted spoon as you heat the whey to 110F. Remove from heat. Set a metal colander over the mixing bowl and use the spon to gently transfer only the curds into the colander. Set the curds aside.
  5. Return the pot with whey to medium high heat. Add the salt and heat the whey until it reaches 170F, about 10 minutes. If there is any whey in the mixing bowl, add it to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium to keep the whey between 165F and 180F for the next step.
  6. Transfer half the curds to a medium mixing bowl and set them aside. Submerge the colander with the remaining curds into the hot whey until they get glossy, about 1 minute. Put on heatproof rubber gloves o pick up the curds and firmly squeeze them into a ball over the pot. The ball will release more whey as you squeeze. Put the ball back into the hot whey for 1 minute, then stretch between your hands, folding it back on itself. Put the cheese into the whey again and repeat the process up to three times, until the cheese is soft and glossy and holds together as you stretch it up to 12 inches. The surface of the cheese should be smooth. When you have reached this consistency, you can eat the mozzarella warm, dividing it into little balls if you’d like. Repeat the heating and stretching process with the second  half of the curd.
  7. If you would like to store the cheese, put the balls in a bowl, cover with cool water, and let sit for 5 minutes. Then add ice cubes and keep the mozzarella there for 30 minutes. Remove the cheese from the water and transfer into a covered container.

Wheat Crackers

Makes 50 to 60 crackers

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1 cup all purpose flour plus additional flour for the counter

1 cup spelt or whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup whole, uncooked millet

1/3 cup ground flax seeds

1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling

Optional: 5 medium garlic cloves, minced, and 1 tbs minced fresh rosemary

1/2 cup plus two tablespoons olive oil

Freshly ground pepper
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  1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, combine the two flours, baking powder, millet, flax, salt, and garlic and rosemary, if using. Add the olive oil and combine with a fork. Slowly add 1/2 cup water, mixing with your hands as you go. Continue to add more water (up to 1/4 additional water) to the dough until it holds together. Knead the dough with your hands in the bowl for 2 minutes until it is smooth and very workable.
  2. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, press into a flat disc, and roll with a rolling pin until the dough is 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. For square crackers, use a pizza wheel or sharp knife and cut the dough into 2-inch squares, For round crackers, use a 2-inch biscuit cutter. Any leftover dough can be rerolled for more crackers.
  3. With a spatula, transfer the cut dough to ungreased baking sheets and sprinkle each cracker with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, switching the position of the sheets and rotating them midway through, until the crackers are hard to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack.

Storage: covered container, 7 days

Freezer: freezer-safe container or bag, 3 months (recrisp in a 375F oven for 3 minutes)

Cheese Crackers (like Cheez-its)!

Makes 40 to 45 crackers
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3 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, plus additional for baking sheets

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus additional for the counter

1 tsp dry mustard powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

2 tsp distilled white vinegar

1 ice cube
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  1. Combine the butter, flour, dry mustard, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until the mixture is crumbly and the butter starts to integrate into the mixture, about 30 seconds. Add the cheese and mix again on low speed for a few seconds.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup, combine 3/4 cup water, the vinegar, and the ice cube and let sit for a moment to get cold. Add 6 tablespoons of the vinegar mixture to the dough and mix on medium speed for 20 seconds. Continue to add liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clings in a ball to the beater. Then mix for an additional 30 seconds. Mound the dough into a ball, wrap it in waxed paper or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 3 days.
  3. Remove the dough from the fridge 15 minutes before you are ready to roll it out. Preheat the oven to 325F and grease two baking sheets. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, press into a flat disc, and roll with a rolling pin until the dough is 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. For square crackers, use a pizza wheel or sharp knife to cut the dough into 2 inch squares. For round crackers, use a 2-inch biscuit cutter. Any leftover dough can be rerolled for more crackers.
  4. With a spatula, transfer crackers to greased baking sheets, allowing 1 inch between crackers. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating trays halfway through baking, or until the crackers are lightly golden. Turn off the oven, but leave the trays in the oven as it cools for at least one hour.

Storage: Room temp, covered container; 5-7 days.

Freezer: freezer bag, 4 months (recrisp in a 375F oven for 3 minutes)

**All recipes are from Alana Chernila’s The Homemade Pantry**

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by | March 12, 2013 · 8:35 pm

Spring Planting Today!

What? Help CommAg plant greens, radishes, carrots and more! Learn about succession planting, and how you can become a part of the garden this summer to reap all the delicious benefits! 

When?  Saturday April 28, 2012, 1-3PM

Where?  Wash. Sq. Village Garden (Walk South down Schwartz Plaza, cross W. 3rd, and walk under the big #1)

See you there!

<3<3 NIKKI and CommAg Friends >^..^<

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Last Week’s Meeting, This Week’s Sun!

We had a fantastic meeting last week with a great turn out. Thank you to everyone who came and helped us make seed starter pots. We are so excited for this planting season! If you missed out or are just interested in making more seed starter pots on your own, I attached a DIY video to the end of this post for simple pots from just a sheet of newspaper.

Where is this beautiful bundle of crocuses and sunshine, you may ask? No where other than the garden a few days ago, in late February! Thoughts on this year’s early bloomings? See what the New York Times has to say about the early buds and concerns of climate change, along with the lack of pollinators and fears of a sudden turn of weather: Much to Savor, and Worry About, Amid Mild Winter’s Early Blooms.

How about stopping by the garden this weekend to see? And while you’re there start visualizing how you want the garden to look come springtime!

We also had Justin from Ethikus stop by and share Shop Your Values Week (SYVW) with us. Ethikus is a great organization focused on getting New Yorkers to “vote with your wallet” by highlighting businesses that ethical and sustainable, based on how the business engages with the community, supports its employees, addresses its environmental impact, and how its products and services are sourced. Shop Your Values Week is a week long event that is being organized now, for the beginning of May. Ethikus gave us a grant last year and for that we are very thankful! And they want to continue to collaborate with us, which is great! But as Justin put it well, “we want our relationship to be a mutually beneficial one”! A.K.A. If you want to get involved with their great organization, check out their website or send them an email (Or talk to us and we’ll put you in touch with Justin!). They have a Meetup coming up next week where they will be talking more about Shop Your Values Week and anyone is invited to join in and collaborate!
Check out their social media pages: ethikusNYC Twitter ,  Facebook , Blog , Meetup !

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Meeting This Thursday!

Come to our first meeting of the semester 

THIS THURSDAY AT 6:30 PM IN KIMMEL 901

for good company, some updates on the garden, upcoming events, and moreeee!

Meanwhile, 

Keep an eye on agrowculture, they are supporting urban farmers by connecting them to their communities. Find a farm near you, petition for one, or start your own!

Watch this video of an adorable 11 year old boy talking about what’s wrong with the food system.

And grab a student discounted ticket for the 2012 Just Food Conference with food talks, workshops, panels,  a Good Food Jobs Fair, and a keynote address from Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen A. Merrigan. Read more here!

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Alternative Food Production Continued: Hydroponics

We didn’t get to talking about hydroponics or aquaponics at the wonderful meeting tonight, as we were amazed by the concept of in vitro meat as an alternative food production system, but if you are interested, here is the lowdown. Hydroponics is a system of growing crops without soil by exposing the roots to a nutrient-rich water solution. Aquaponics combines hydroponics with aquacultures through a symbiotic relationship between the crops grown and aquatic animals that are raised in the underlying water solution.

So check out this short, awesome TED talk by Britta Riley who started Windowfarms, a vertical hydroponic growing system designed with our new york apartments and dorms in mind and let’s get to building our own!

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