Progress of the Acre

200 lbs of compost...
4 sq.ft. of the acre sponsored...

Monday, December 27, 2010

White Christmas

Apparently, it was the first white Christmas in Atlanta since 1882.  The humans were unable to get to the compost pile, but things kept right on going on as usual under the plastic tarp even in temperatures that dipped into the teens outside.
A trip to Starbucks to grab some coffee grounds and we were able to add another 50 pounds of mass to the pile.  The average temperature at center remains approximately 120 degrees.  If the weather holds, we will go into phase II tomorrow with the separation into the next pile, all the while continuing with the first pile.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Phase I coming to close...Going into Phase II

We have appoximately 350 pounds of compost at a temperature of about 110!
We are gaining worms daily for vermicomposting! Pictures coming soon.
We are at 25 buckets...
We are collecting pounds of aluminum cans...only now we have several more places helping us gather them.
Including Atlanta Pro Bicycle and Peachtree and Pine homeless shelter.

What is Phase II?  We are going to refine the compost and add more to the main pile.  This will give us a finer final mix. 

We are also looking to create a CSA link and delivery system.  It may be winter, but things are still going on!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ode to the Onion (and garlic) and the recycled garden.

"People are like onions"--Shrek
Onions and garlic are on deck to be planted soon. We will be purchasing sets next week We are seeking "short day" varieties that can be grown in this cold climate and in this zone.  This will also give us a chance to condition the soil for the spring and summer. 
onion sets

The Compost pile continues to grow at a rate of about 50 pounds a day.
We are collecting cans at a rate of about 10 pounds a day
We are up to 10 buckets and lots of tubing from various restaurants...The beauty of this whole thing is that we have paid for very little and the things that we do pay for, come from the money that we raise from recycling cans.   We are creating a completely self sustained system!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Kamikaze Composting in the winter.

I am very happy with the way that things are going now but I have to admit that I am a bit impatient and more than a little excited for spring.  Note that we have just barely entered the cold of the Christmas season and it is not even winter yet. 
A lot of people think of the winter as a time of dormancy, when it is just to cold for anyone to go outside, let alone do any type of gardening.  This is somewhat true, but it is also a time of opportunity and preparation.  We have been doing some rather aggressive composting.  What does this mean?
There are, we are learning, two main types of composting: Active and Passive.  The names are pretty self-explanatory.  With passive composting, what you are really doing is just setting things in a pile and turning it when you get around to it, or as needed.  Nature will do its thing eventually, add scraps whenever you can and turn it whenever or so in 12 months or so you will have a great bit of compost.
That simply isn't our style!   Over the course of the past two weeks we have intermittently culled about 150 pounds of coffee grounds from Starbucks.  These are high in nitrogen.  This is great for the compost, especially now because it adds heat to the compost by drawing helpful microbes and insects to the pile.  It was about 25 degrees outside last night, the pile was about 54 degrees and getting warmer everyday. We would be happy with about 150 degrees.
If you think about the nearly 30 starbucks in the Atlanta area and the amount of other coffee shops there are out there, our 150 pounds means that on a daily basis, there are probably tons of usable matter getting wrapped up in plastic and buried in landfills.
Until now, it has been a pretty passive pile, but the bigger it gets, the harder we want to work at it.  We are adding things to it daily and at the same time, gaining friends as we go around getting mass.  We are looking for a lot of restaurant kitchen scraps and that means waiting until they close, and that means FREEZING temps right about now!  It will be worth it in the end.
The goal is to not be dormant, but just to be doing other things in preparation for what is to come.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ode to the heirloom!

I didn't know what I knew until I someone told me what I already knew I knew.  I was sitting, during "pre-shift" (where all the servers gather to be lectured by the chef about what is on the menu) at Parcel 104 with the same amount of anxiety that I had always had when waiting for the lunch shift to begin.  I was concerned about who would be in my section, whether my glasses were polished, and how shiny the silverware was.  When the chef came out with a little pile of the weirdest, yet still most familiar little fruit I had ever seen.  She went on a diatribe about the heirloom tomato salad that was on the menu for lunch and we tasted several of them.  A lot of the other servers were surprised at how tomato-y they tasted.  She continued to name them with a bunch of names that I barely remember...yellow taxicabs...screaming mimis or whatever...(gardeners are very creative when it comes to the names of things.)  The thing that I remembered most was that they tasted like the same tomatoes I had grown up with in South Carolina, the kind my dad grew in the backyard.  They tasted like tomatoes.  Somewhere along the way, I had forgotten that.  I had, somewhere along the way, like a lot of people, decided that tomatoes should have no taste and merely be filler on my burger or a little bit of color in my salad.  I have since come to my senses and realized that tomatoes should have flavor.  The craze for heirloom everything is not new and that is a good thing.  People have been hunting for them at farmer's markets for quite some time.  I am here to say that they are relatively simple to grow at home with a little effort and planning.  
The reason I am posting this now, in December, is that if you want to do it organically, if you want to grow them well, preparation for the perfect tomato is now!  If you want, you could go and grab something at Home Depot when the weather warms up...It will be pretty.  It will be disease resistant.  It will grow perfectly globular fruit that taste just like the water you use to grow them. 
I am saying take some time right now to start a compost pile.  Get your hands on a few seeds from that same Home Depot and get ready for the warm weather that will surely return.  The perfect tomato starts NOW!

Friday, December 3, 2010


In this business, it is good to be inspired.  It is good to meet people who have the same mindset because, goodness knows, there is strength in numbers.  Plus, it is very easy to get down and lose focus.  The good thing about this game is that there are a lot of heroes out there.  To get into this business you have to be the type of person who steps up and stands out.  When you meet someone like that, it is good to be nurtured by their presence, to draw from their wisdom.  Such a man is K. Rashid Nuri.  He is working to build a garden in the middle of Atlanta and making it look easy though it is anything but.
Mr. Nuri went to Harvard.  Mr. Nuri created Truly Living Well Natural Urban Farms ( Mr. Nuri is my new hero.  He has become so, not by doing something new, but by doing something old, but in a new way.  Not in the wilds of Georgia, but in the middle of an urban landscape where there is not a real tomato around for miles and kids have no idea where their food comes from.
It is hard to be impressed by people nowadays, but but doggone it, I have a new hero.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Art in Agriculture...Helping the homeless through edible art.

Since The Waiverly Projects was started, it has been our idea that there is no one solution to the problems we, as a society, face.  Our goal has always been to tie all of our projects together with a goal of making a difference in the world.  Though the problems are many, they do not all have one solution.  As well, the solution to another problem may in fact come from something that may seem unrelated.

  The Art in Agriculture project seeks to do just that.  Why can't artists and gardeners gather to create something beautiful where there was just an abandoned lot and donate the proceeds and produce to those struggling to eat?  In effect, we create edible art.
   We have found an abandoned lot in Doraville, GA where we will grow an acre's worth of food.  The task before us is to do so using organic methods as much as possible.  We want to take advantage of Atlanta's long growing season.  Most of all, we would like to do it as creatively as possible, highlight new technology, and above all, have fun.  Follow along and see how we do it and/or
Contact us and see how you can join in., call us at 404-723-7021.