University buildings at the base of Mount Sentinel as seen from Mount Jumbo. Hughes Gardens are in the foreground. Missoula, Montana, 1901. Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.

“Putting the Gardens Back in the Garden City”

In my first blog post as the Community Gardens Outreach Coordinator, I wrote a “ramble” on the connection between historic preservation and community gardening, titled The Solace of Shared Place. On March 16th, 2016, a mere 30 days after I began working for Garden City Harvest, I waxed poetic in the concluding paragraph of that first post;

Community gardening builds community through agriculture and shared place. Historic preservation builds community through shared meaning. Both facilitate the observer, visitor, gardener, to cultivate their own sense-of-place. Both tie cultural landscapes together. As anew member of the Garden City Harvest team, my past in historic preservation has lent me an appreciation of the local place and a specific lens in which to view our mission. Yet, this organization has taught me more – – GCH has taught me the many other ways of building community, and most importantly, it has cemented my belief in the solace of shared place. Whether a green garden or a defunct industrial ruin, both serve as reminders of community, and undergirds the process of place-based progress. Both bring us all together.

Little did I know when rambling 15 months ago that the notion of historic preservation would become such a vanguard within the Garden City’s communal conversation.  Even less did I know that co-coordinating Community Gardens would lead me directly back into the world of building community through historic places, and that the lessons I learned while sowing seeds with my fellow community members would prove my previous romantically concocted notion, that a special union exists between old places, green places and shared places, to be inextricably true. That when value is cross-pollinated amongst these places, the collective strength of a community thrives: historic preservation and community gardening both serve to construct place through interaction with our local landscapes.

Which brings me to this: My last day as the Garden City Harvest Community Gardens Outreach Coordinator is today. In cyclical fashion, I accepted a position with our local government working to maintain Missoula’s historic fabric. The work will be different, but I can now say for fact that the mission is the same. I thank Garden City Harvest for:

  • Proving that the local is paramount in all aspects of building community
  • Illuminating the subtle nuances that make Missoula special, narrating our collective story, fueling the fire for which we choose to protect this city, progress this city, and respect this city.

Thank you Garden City Harvest for not only building community, but for believing in and celebrating this very special place we live in.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So! As my fond farewell, here’s a quick history lesson in celebrating the union of local history and community gardening:

Why is the Garden City named the Garden City, after all?

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Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.

Here’s why: because Missoula is so goshdarn dreamy that’s why. No, just kidding, not really, but no.

Much debate surrounds the origin of the Garden City. Some say it was termed due to our relatively mild climate compared to the rest of the state, and thus its delightful environs for habitation. Some say that Missoula became the Garden City as it was known across the region for its boulevards with mature trees and purposely landscaped median lanes – a practice we’ve lost with the onset of traffic, but one which will hopefully make its way back to the Garden City. Others say that it’s due to the fertile Bitterroot Valley, and the quick, widespread and easy settlement of farming.

Missoula, Montana and the northern portion of The University of Montana campus from Mount Sentinel. The Power Plant, Prescott house and garden is visible at the base of Mount Sentinel, 1922. Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library
Missoula, Montana and the northern portion of The University of Montana campus from Mount Sentinel. The Power Plant, Prescott house and garden is visible at the base of Mount Sentinel, 1922. Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.

Although this area was originally named “Nemissoolatakoo,” a Salish word from which Missoula is derived, our charming slogan commenced, like the majority of development in the American West, after the Northern Pacific Railroad laid ties along the Clark Fork in 1883.[1] With it came the usual flurry of development; city infrastructure, trading, industry and of course, farming. What sets Missoula apart from growth in other western towns is the succession from traditional style farming, with sprawled fields located outside the urban core, to subdivided and incorporated farming communities located within the Missoula urban core. The planned incorporation of “rural” living spaces, platted and added as a city addition, articulated farming and gardening as a major character defining trait of the community.

In the late 1800s, farmers and developers alike realized that Missoula’s soils were, despite the short growing season, especially conducive to growing, as Missoula quickly became the main supplier of farmed goods to lumber and mining towns across the region. As Missoula expended across the Clark Fork and to the south, land owners sought the opportunity in developing Missoula’s first intentional community. Orchard Homes was subdivided along the south bank of the river and marketed with the sole purpose of family farming and gardening.

In 1900, Samuel Dinsmore and R.M. Cobbin purchased 640 acres near present day 3rd Street and Reserve for $1.25 per acre. They subdivided the area into properties of about five to ten acres in size, which initiated the development of “gentlemen farms,” or “farmettes.”[2]  Shortly thereafter, an irrigation ditch was built and the land in the new Orchard Homes area was sold for $100 to $300 per acre. In total, 300 irrigated 5-10 acre tracts were individually farmed and cultivated between the turn of the century and the 1980s, when newer development and single and multi-family homes began to fill in the once open landscape. [3]

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Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.

The establishment of gentlemen farming was growing on a national scale as well. With the advancement of urban infrastructure and industry came concern for traditional farmer welfare. Eight years after Dinsmore and Cobbin subdivided Orchard Homes, and four years after the irrigation ditch was added, President Teddy Roosevelt established the Country Life Commission, or, the Rural West Initiative. As Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West states,

President Teddy Roosevelt believed that rural America was the ‘backbone of our nation’s efficiency,’ but that rural life risked being left behind in the modern America emerging in the first decade of the 20th century. In 1908, he formed a Commission on Country Life, headed up by Liberty Hyde Bailey, to investigate ways of making country life more attractive. The 1909 Report of the Country Life Commission highlighted a list of “deficiencies” in rural life that were prompting people to leave the country for the city, but had few concrete recommendations for remedying the situation. One hundred years later, just about all of those “deficiencies” still plague rural America, and people are still leaving country for the city. Despite its apparent lack of results, however, the Report remains a landmark for the attention it brought to issues of country life, and it remains an inspiration for our Rural West Initiative.[4]

Although the Country Life Report may have failed in enacting change in other locales around the country, Missoula took it in stride, and even exemplified remedies that the report otherwise fell short in advancing. In 1911, following the Country Life Report, and in conjunction with the success of Missoula’s farmettes, the ladies and gentlemen farmers enacted the Orchard Homes Country Club, “with the purposes of providing a community center, mutual welfare, and a better rural environment for its members.” [5]  Members of the club were able to volunteer as local firefighters, advocate for Women’s Suffrage, and generally promote civil and community service on a local level.

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Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.
Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.
Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.
Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.

In addition to gentlemen farming, rural advocacy and providing goods to the region, the Bitterroot was on the forefront of agricultural showmanship with the advent of the McIntosh Red Apple. The McIntosh helped the area develop a wider scale of export and recognition – but I’m getting a little off point, read more about our historical relationship with the McIntosh Red here!

University buildings at the base of Mount Sentinel as seen from Mount Jumbo. Hughes Gardens are in the foreground. Missoula, Montana, 1901. Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.
University buildings at the base of Mount Sentinel as seen from Mount Jumbo. Hughes Gardens are in the foreground. Missoula, Montana, 1901. Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.

The Orchard Homes farmette concept proved successful in the years following development. In 1904, four years after Orchard Homes was subdivided, the Northern Pacific Railroad flaunts this success in a report entitled, Irrigation in Montana:

“Missoula is at the head of the Bitter Root Valley, long celebrated for its fertility, and for its possi­bilities in the way of horticulture. Bitter Root Valley apples have long been famous, and it is expected that this year there will be over 200,000 boxes or bushels of apples shipped from this valley to the eastern market.

Plans are now under way for the construction of irri­gation ditches in this valley, which will put water upon 70,000 acres of land, and, with the completion of these projects, it is needless to say that this valley will soon be one of the most populous and prosperous in the west. What has been accomplished by those -who have settled in the vicinity of Missoula may be seen from the following statements:

Missoula, Mont., Oct. 9, 1901.

Dear Sir.—I have just harvested the last of my Orchard Home crop. Had you told me a little over a year ago, when I made my purchase of ten acres, that I would realize in dollars and cents the amount which I have this year, I would not have believed you.

My crop and profits this season have been enormous; I will clear over $1,000 on seven and one-half acres, two acres of cabbage alone bringing me $400. I know of no land anywhere that is so admir­ably suited to the raising of fruit and vegetables as that obtain­able in the “Orchard Homes.” I am more than satisfied with my investment and know of nothing which brings the return on the money invested which an Orchard Home tract will bring a man who will tend it properly.

I will freely give the result of my experience and success to anyone who will call on me or write me, feeling in so doing that I will be conferring a lasting benefit on him if I can interest him as I have been interested myself.

-H.G. DAVIS.

To: Samuel Dinsmore. Missoula, Mont., Oct. 8. 1903.

Dear Sir. I do not believe that there is a property owner in the Orchard Homes who can so freely and justly express his views regarding the fertility and productiveness of the soil as the under­signed….

M.A. ROBINSON.”[6]

And so forth and so on.

Thus became the Garden City forevermore.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yesterday, Garden City Harvest unveiled the public phase of building its new farmstead with an official press conference. The farmstead is located at the River Road farm, and will include a new farmhouse style office and community barn space. More specifically, the new home of Garden City Harvest, whose motto once stated, “putting the gardens back in the garden city,” is located on one of the original tracts of land platted within Dinsmore and Cobbin’s historic Orchard Homes. Although the majority of parcels within this plat addition have been further subdivided and developed into single and multi-family homes since the 1970s, the River Road Farmstead will now serve as a vestige, harkening to a time when the land was devoted to farming, the very land which constructed the identity of Missoula as we know it. Garden City Harvest is now joining our forefathers who sowed the same land, those advocates for the rural west, apple farmers who put the Bitterroot region on the map, and initial community builders through agriculture, over 100 years ago.

What a pleasure it has been,

Emy, Former Community Gardens Outreach Coordinator

P.S. – Check out the Montana Memory Project for more historic photos and documents about Missoula!


 

[1] Make it Missoula, “History of Missoula, MT,” Make it Missoula, last modified 2017, accessed May 10, 2017, http://www.makeitmissoula.com/community/history-of-missoula/.

[2] Stan Cohen, Missoula County Images II (Missoula, MT: Pictorial Histories Publishing, 1993), [16].

[3] “Orchard Homes Country Life Club Records, 1906-1994.” Archives West, last modified 2011, accessed February 29, 2016, http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv94555.

[4] Stanford University, “Teddy Roosevelt’s Country Life Commission,” Rural West Initiative – Bill Lane Center for the American West, last modified 2012, accessed May 10, 2017, http://web.stanford.edu/group/ruralwest/cgi-bin/drupal/content/country-life-commission.

[5] “Orchard Homes Country Life Club Records, 1906-1994.”

[6] Irrigation in Montana (n.p.: Northern Pacific Railway Company, 1904), [21].

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April Showers Bring May Flowers…

Welcome back new and returning gardeners! 

We’re two weeks in, after faring an especially chilly Opening Day.  Missoulian gardeners are tough cookies, they took the cold winds in stride, showing up smiling and ready to dig into the season (no pun intended ;). Take a gander at your hardy selves below, and pat your backs on a such a successful start!

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Kelly finds surprises from last season in her plot at Milwaukee Trail.
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The crew is all smiles at Milwaukee Trail.
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Maria holding down the fort at Meadow Hill.
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The lovely ladies of the Milwaukee Trail Leadership.
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Amy and Maria warm up by the fire at Meadow Hill, lucky ducks.
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Leadership Committee Member, Emily Kern’s mother helps get things started at ASUM.
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ASUM, with 70 plots, is the second largest garden of the troop, making Opening Day an especially social event.
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New gardeners, new smiles at ASUM.
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This pic of Northside Leaders Brian and Joe definitely wasn’t staged  ;)
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Returning gardeners know the drill at ASUM.
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A rare moment of sunshine see these returning gardeners off at ASUM.

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New gardeners dig in at the Northside.

Whether you’re a new or returning gardener, it can be challenging to get back in the swing of things, especially after the distressingly long winter we’ve endured. But fear not, we’re here to help. Attend the Gardening 101 & Planning Workshop tomorrow, from 6:00 – 7:30, led by gardening-extraordinaire Patrick (our Community Garden Operations Coordinator)! Patrick will cover the basics, leaving you feeling ready and confident to dig in. The workshop will be held at the Providence St. Patrick Hospital healing garden, located at 902 N Orange St behind the Providence Surgery Center (Here’s a map).

Flyer of Events_Page_1

 

P.S. – it’s free! We hope to see you all there!

Also, check out these other gardening opportunities throughout the season. Keep checking the blog, our Facebook page and website, as well as your email and garden blackboards for additional events.

Flyer of Events_Page_2

And remember, April showers bring May flowers…  and besides, what’s better than a nice shower followed by a bask in the sun, all in the same hour?

Patrick 2

Head Starts With Starts

Patrick, the Community Gardens Operations Coordinator,  grew up in Wisconsin, and from day one wanted to be outside whenever possible. While earning his degree from the University of Montana, Patrick enrolled in the PEAS Farm class, and couldn’t give it up – staying for two semesters and a summer session. Through the PEAS Farm and his Environmental Studies Program classes, he’s decided he wants to keep working on local food efforts now that he has earned his degree. When he’s not digging in the dirt, he is hiking, biking or fishing with his dog, Lola.


With spring officially just around the corner, many of our garden crops will be getting off to an early start.  With our cold and lengthy winters in Montana, several crops that we love to grow and eat need to get a jump on the season.  Farmers, nurseries, and gardeners around the area are getting busy seeding and tending to our favorite plants.

Patrick 3While it gets nice and hot in Missoula, our nighttime temps in the late spring and early fall allow us a mere 120 frost-free growing days, on average.   Many of our favorite plants are capable of braving the cold, so we may choose to focus on these crops.   However, many others will wither away at the first sign of frost.  Extending our seasons by starting some of our plants in controlled environments like greenhouses, allows us to grow many crops that we otherwise simply couldn’t produce in our climate.  Others we can simply direct seed into the ground and will do great with our natural climate.

 

Early Start Recommended

Tomatoes                       Peppers

Onions                            Cabbage

Squash                           Cucumbers

Broccoli                         And More!

Can be Direct Seeded

Carrots                          Beets

Peas                               Radishes

Corn                              Most Greens

And More!

It is certainly possible to grow starts in our houses, utilizing sunny areas or even supplying supplemental lighting.  However, starting seeds at home can be surprisingly tricky. Tending to watering needs can be time consuming, and often our home starts don’t receive the adequate amount of light to sustain proper growth.  This often results in lanky, stunted, or otherwise stressed plants.  We want our starts to be as healthy and vigorous as possible when we plant them out. The process of leaving their comfortable, pampered lives in their climate controlled homes will be stressful enough; we want them to hit the ground strong.

Patrick 1Most homes are not designed with plant growth as their primary function, and most people’s days are already busy enough as it is.  For this reason, many gardeners decide to leave the starts to the professionals.  Greenhouses are designed for the sole purpose of promoting plant growth, and are maintained by folks who dedicate their days to ensuring successful starts.  Farmers markets and nurseries are great spots to look for strong and healthy starts to grow.  They are also great places to make sure you are picking the right varieties for your needs and wants.

But! If you want to hit the ground running and start those starts early yourself, it can be an incredibly fun and rewarding process.  There are a few things we need to consider when starting seeds at home.  We need to choose the right varieties for our climate and preferences; sauce tomatoes vs. slicing tomatoes, for example.  We need to sow the seeds indoors and re-pot if necessary at the proper planting time; we want them to have a good head start while not outgrowing their containers and becoming stressed. We want to let them “harden off” before transplanting to reduce shock by moving them into a cooler and less controlled environment.  This can be done using cold frames or floating row cover. (Both of these can be used to extend the season for bedded plants as well).  Lastly, we want to make sure that the beds and weather are suitable for the plants before we transplant them outdoors.  Check out the links below for some more information!

Garden “Calculator”

Helpful Hints

Cold Frame

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Broth: not just for the tummy troubles

It is the dead of winter. There’s no more figgy pudding, the stored vegetable stores are starting to run low, and the light is still in short supply. I got fed up with my snow boots the last week and braved the snow in clogs. Winter be damned! Somehow, this was my rebellion against the endless layers and tense muscles that old man winter demands.

All I got was wet feet.

It’s times like this that require a little broth. There are many benefits to a cup of bone broth, including some protein,  gelatin, and glycine (the last two are good for your gut!). It’s a great thing to drink daily. Even if you don’t care a fig about the nutritional benefits, bone broth is a building block for so many recipes, that having it on hand is so handy. Buying it is expensive, and it is easy and quick to make at home. Plus, it saves you some bones! It will certainly make your day a little warmer, and that’s really saying something.

The difference between stock, broth and bone broth:

Broth — Broth cooks 45 minutes to two hours and usually uses meat, and perhaps some bones. The flavor is light, and it is generally not drunk on its own but instead used as a building block.

Stock — Stock and bone broth are similar in their ingredient lists, but differ greatly in the time they are cooked. They both always include bones, according to the definition, however a stock is typically cooked three to four hours and bone broth typically 12 – 24 hours. A note on vegetable stock: essentially, vegetable stock and vegetable broth are the same. The difference is how you use them in the end. (Will it be an ingredient of a larger dish? Stock. Will it be drunk on its own? Broth. )

Bone broth — Bone broth is always cooked with bones, and cooked for a long time (12 – 24+ hours). Some add vegetables, some do not.

Where to get bones:

Direct from the farmer (Lifeline Farm, Jamie’s Naturally Raised Grass Finished Beef, Oxbow Cattle Company, Manix Family Grass Finished Beef. . . Check out AERO’s Abundant Montana directory) — try the winter and summer farmers’ markets in Missoula, too. You can get a large amount and freeze them. You’ll need around 2 lbs of bones per 64 oz batch.

At a local natural food store –if you don’t see them on display, ask the meat department if they have any soup bones you could purchase. They’re usually very cost-effective.

You can keep a bone bag in the freezer, and put your chicken carcasses, ham hocks and other pork bones, and beef bones in there until you are ready to make some stock. A mixture of bones gives a wider flavor profile.

Make it without wasting all those veggies!

You can make bone broth without any vegetables (well, you always use the garlic). However, if you want the flavor vegetables offer, just start collecting your vegetable scraps. I’ve recently started keeping a bag in my freezer for my vegetable scraps. Any time I prepare a meal, I put the discarded ends and peelings, etc. in the bag for my next broth making venture.

Vegetables to keep — the basic aromatics are what I typically use (carrots, onions, celery) — they give a good base to work from. However, once I started staving scraps, root vegetables, stalks, leaves, tops, ends, peelings. Kale and chard stems, bell pepper cores, green beans/string beans, mushroom stems, herb stems. I put the garlic and onion skins in, though I’ve read that onions skins, along with beets, will turn your broth dark brown, so it’s more of a cosmetic thing. If you have some veggies that are about to turn (but haven’t yet) or are a bit dehydrated, this is a great use for them!

Vegetables to send packing — cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, (all from the brassica family, which has a certain odor you don’t want in your stock/broth), turnips and rutabagas (those are two roots to avoid). And of course, rotten spots and moldy veggies are also not a good idea.

How to make it

I prefer to make bone broth in my slow cooker. It is an Instant Pot so it can hold up to 64 oz, which is key for this recipe. If you are in the market, I can’t say enough about this one, it’s made of safe, stainless steel, it’s big, and can pressure cook, make yogurt, and rice. Anyway.

This makes 4 full quart sized mason jars.

Mason Jars

I got the bones (I used beef bones this time) and vegetables scraps out of the freezer, and dumped them in.

my ingredients

On top, I poured the apple cider vinegar and salt. I added a whole head of garlic, just smashing each clove between my knife and the cutting board before adding. I poured water to the max fill line in the slow cooker.

bone broth ready to boil

 

After that, all I had to do was stick the lid on, and put it on high until it came to a boil. Then, I turned it to low, and cooked it for 12 hours.

Here’s the beautiful elixir:

IMG_5077

Other notes:

set your slow cooker for 12 hours

Cooking time: Some say the vegetables will become bitter if you cook them longer than 12 hours. The longer you cook the broth, however, the better for you it gets. I often cook it for 24 hours without a problem, but if you are concerned about bitter broth, just scoop out the vegetables at the 12 hour mark and keep on cooking. Or skip the vegetables and just use water, vinegar, bones, salt and garlic (that doesn’t get bitter). You can also check doneness by taste and smell. This batch tasted perfect at 12 hours, so I didn’t have to worry. You know you’ve gotten all the nutrients out of the bones when they are starting to crumble at the edges.

Stovetop or oven: You can also do this on the stove top or in the oven. You want to bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat so that it is simmering in such a way that a tiny bubble trickles up every few seconds. Same cooking time (12 – 24 hours). For the oven, bring to a boil on the stove, then place in a 200 degree oven.

Storage: You can keep it in the fridge for 4-5 days, then it’s time to freeze. I like to either freeze in an ice cube tray or small baggies. Remember to label the baggies so you know how many cups are enclosed, and when you made it.

Roasting the bones for flavor: This is a great idea if you have time and want to bring out a richness in the bone broth, but easily skipped for simplicity. Coat the bones in a high heat oil (I usually use a solid fat like lard, bacon grease, or duck fat) and distribute them in a roasting pan. Roast at 400 degrees for around an hour.

To drink on its own: add your favorite herbs (fresh or dried), or just a little garlic and salt.

Recipe

This recipe is designed to make 64 oz of broth. Make sure your soup pot or slow cooker has the capacity. 

Ingredients:
  • Whole head of garlic, broken apart and each clove smashed (leave skin on)
  • 1.5 – 2 lbs stock bones (can use chicken, beef, or pork bones)
  • Vegetable scraps (optional)
  • Bay leaf (optional)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Water
How to:

Combine the bones, vegetable scraps, and bay leaf. Pour the salt and apple cider vinegar over the top. Add water until you reach the max fill line in your slow cooker or soup pot.

Bring the water to a boil, then cook it for 12 – 24 hours. The longer the better. Remove or skip the vegetable scraps if you cook it longer than 12 hours. Let cool and refrigerate or freeze.

If this bone broth doesn’t do it for you, then try this quick video. There are places in Alaska where they only get minutes or an hour of sunlight some parts of the year. And start garden dreaming: sign up for a community garden plot or CSA share!

 

 

Home Made Gifts: Holiday Hot Cocoa

Hot cocoa
Hot cocoa. Photo by Slice of Chic.

During the holiday season, I’m always grateful to receive homemade gifts. The hot cocoa mix recipe listed below is a perfect family activity and makes a tasty gift for friends and neighbors. Of course, it’s also perfect for placing in your own cupboard and enjoying during Missoula’s winter!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup powdered milk
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Directions:

Combine ¼ cup of the powdered milk with the cornstarch and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Pour into a pint jar or into two half pint jars. Pour sugar into the jar (or jars if making two). Combine the remaining ¼ cup of powdered milk and the cinnamon. Pour into the jar or jars. Add ½ cup of chocolate chips to the top of two jars or the entire cup if using one pint jar.

That’s all! This recipe doubles and triples very easily and is perfect for children to make as gifts.

To Serve: Pour contents of jar into a bowl and mix. When evenly blended, add back into jar. For a single serving, place 4 Tablespoons cocoa mix and 1 cup milk or water in a small pan. Stovetop: Heat milk and mix on medium until the chocolate chips melt, stirring occasionally. Whisk for 30 seconds or until smooth, pour into a cup and serve with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Mix and milk can be heated in a microwave. Place cup on a plate in case of the milk/water boils over. Heat for a minute and stir. Heat for another minute or two if needed, whisk and serve.

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Make Pumpkin Rolls for Thanksgiving

5350998200_ea6b3b34b7_o Eating freshly baked bread is one of life’s joys. When my daughters moved away, my recipe for Pumpkin Rolls was one of the few they requested from me. The recipe below makes delicious dinner rolls and is a great addition to your Thanksgiving table. It’s also a wonderful way to get non-squash/pumpkin lovers to eat the nutritious vegetable.

Ingredients:

1 scant tablespoon yeast (or 1 package yeast)

1/4 cup warm water

2/3 cup milk (whole, 2%, skim, or soy)

1 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin or winter squash (If using a small commercial can of pumpkin, buy plain pumpkin not pumpkin pie filling. Use the entire can even though it’ll be a little more than a cup).

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup butter or margarine (butter tastes better!)

2 cups whole wheat flout

2-3 cups unbleached white flour

Oven temperature: 400 degrees

Makes 12 dinner rolls, 1 large loaf, or 2 small loaves

Directions:

Mix yeast, warm water, and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar in a large bowl. Set aside for 10-20 minutes so the yeast can “proof.” The yeast mixture will look like a foamy, tan mass when it’s ready.

While the yeast is “proofing,” place the milk and butter in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until the butter has melted (or microwave). Once the butter has melted, cool slightly (you should be able to touch the milk and butter mixture with a finger and it should be warm, but not hot) and add to the yeast. Add the cooked pumpkin or squash, the brown sugar, and salt to the yeast and milk, then stir until blended.

Add the 2 cups whole wheat flour, and stir. The mixture should be getting thick. Now add the unbleached, white flour one cup at a time – the dough should get so thick you’ll eventually need to give up the spoon and will have to knead, by hand, the rest of the flour in. Depending on the flour, you might not use it all or you may need a few more tablespoons to get firm dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding additional flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands. As you knead, you’ll feel the dough taking on an “elastic” quality – this is the gluten strands developing. I like to knead yeast breads in the bowl I’ve mixed them in – it contains the flour mess and I don’t have to clean up the countertop or table afterwards.cooking

Once kneaded, round the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl that is at least twice as big as the dough. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise. After an hour, punch the dough down, re-round into a ball, and let rise again for 40 minutes or so. Once it’s grown to about double in size again, push down, knead gently for a minute or so, and then set aside for five minutes so the dough can “rest.” Letting the dough rest allows the gluten to relax and makes shaping rolls or loaves easier.

At this stage, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Butter or oil your baking pans. I suggest a 9×11 cake pan for rolls, one large loaf pan, or two small loaf pans. This bread also makes a lovely, free-form round loaf that can be cooked on a cookie sheet.

The bread dough is now ready to shape into a dozen rolls, 1 large loaf, or 2 small loaves.  After shaping the dough and placing it in a pan, cover and let rise 30 – 40 minutes. The shaped dough should be about doubled in size; if your kitchen is warm, it may rise faster than the 30 minutes. When finished rising, place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. You can check for “doneness” by tapping on the top of the bread – if it gives off a “hollow” sound, it’s ready.

Take the rolls or loaves out of the pans and cool on a rack; let them cool before cutting. It’s very tempting to eat the bread as soon as it comes out of the oven but, if the bread’s still hot, it won’t slice well.

Note:  This recipe doubles or triples easily. Also, once baked, the rolls freeze well for later use.

bread

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So Long & Minestrone Soup

static1-squarespaceThis week we’re featuring special artwork from Northwest artist, Phoebe Wahl.  Phoebe is an artist whose work focuses on themes of comfort, nostalgia and intimacy with nature and one another. She grew up unschooled in Washington state, and credits her ‘free range’ childhood in the Northwest for much of her inspiration and work ethics. Phoebe graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 2013 with a BFA in Illustration, and currently lives in Bellingham, Washington.  Her first children’s book Sonya’s Chickens (Tundra) was the recipient of the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for New Illustrator, as well as a Kirkus star, and was listed by School Library Journal, Kirkus and HuffPost Books as being one of the Best Children’s Books of 2015. Phoebe is represented by Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary


While sitting here in an effort to write our closing blog for the season, it is this quote that sticks:

how lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard,”

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Moon Dance. Watercolor, collage, colored pencil. Phoebe Wahl.

…perfectly articulated by the original and ever so wise, Winnie the Pooh. We’ve now said goodbye to our shared gardens; they’ve been tended to, cared for, and put to sleep for the cold winter to come.

Cider Pressing. For October in the 2015 Taproot Magazine wall calendar. Watercolor, collage, colored pencil. Phoebe Wahl.

How lucky are we that we have something to miss and reminiscence through the snow. We say goodbye to our gardens, to these places that we tend, and to the neighbors we tend with, with the luxury in knowing that we will be seeing it all again come spring.

Preserve. For August in the 2016 Taproot Magazine wall calendar. Watercolor, collage, colored pencil.

In the meantime, we hope you continue to enjoy your garden goods through the winter.

**So here is a winter recipe and a few last quotes to last you the winter through:

Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination. ~Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897

One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides. ~W.E. Johns, The Passing Show

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. ~Audrey Hepburn


Community Gardens Minestrone Soup

Last week we celebrated the hard work and devotion that our volunteer garden Leadership Committees put forth with a dinner party. Here is a recipe from the event: Community Gardens Minestrone Soup to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

This is a go-to for me; it doesn’t take long, and usually doesn’t require a trip to the grocery store. You can be creative with what ingredients you have on hand.

Ingredients:

Veggies – This is more of a “kitchen sink” soup, so use what you like or what you got! I’ve found that anything from Brussels sprouts to kale to spinach to beets to peppers all tastes good and blends well. If you are worried about cooking times check out the Kitchn’s guide to making soup with almost any vegetable.

That said, pretty mandatory veggies for base –

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

Three cups diced tomatoes, canned or fresh (no need to de-seed fresh tomatoes)

2 large carrots, chopped

2 large or 3 medium potatoes, chopped

2-3 cans of beans, whichever you’d prefer (I generally use black, great northern, or whatever is in my pantry)

Broth –

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 32 oz. container of vegetable broth + water to dilute

1 – 3 tablespoons of vinegar – I prefer red wine vinegar, but rice vinegar works well too

A splash of red cooking wine

Spices –

I spice to taste; start with a dash or two, add more as you go

Salt

Pepper

Dried thyme

Dried oregano

Dried basil

A hint of cayenne

FRESH curly parsley – a large handful, chopped. You can be generous with this; I usually use the entirety of one produce bunch.

Grains –  

1 bag of whichever noodle you like, I usually use macaroni, shell, or whatever is in my pantry so long as its bite-size, i.e., not spaghetti, angel hair, etc. Gluten free are fine too.

Directions:

Cook pasta in separate pot. Once pasta is cooked, drain and run under cold water until it is no longer steaming and set aside.

On medium-high heat sauté onions in olive oil until slightly tender in large stockpot. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute or until fragrant. Once sautéed, add carrots, potatoes and any other starchy or hardy veggie that needs time to cook. Once all veggies are tender, turn heat to medium and add tomatoes and beans and stir. Add all dried spices plus salt and pepper and bring mixture to a soft boil while stirring. Add liquid broth ingredients on medium heat; bring mixture to a soft boil once again.  This is your time to add spices and liquids to your taste. If it’s bland, add a pinch of salt, more herbs you desire, and a teaspoon or two of vinegar and wine. If it’s too salty or strong, dilute with a cup of water. Repeat this process as necessary. *The beauty of this soup is that it is very forgiving. Once you’ve seasoned to taste, bring soup to a low simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir in pasta and parsley five minutes before serving.

Optional garnishes-

A dollop of plain yogurt with a hint of fresh parsley sprinkled on top

A sprinkle of grated parmesan or asiago cheese

Makes 8 – 10 quarts

Thanks all and see you next season!


**All quotes from “Quotations: Gardening, Farming, Dirt, Soil.” The Quote Garden. Last modified July 16, 2016. Accessed November 1, 2016. http://www.quotegarden.com/gardens.html.

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Falling For Garlic

This week The Real Dirt is featuring a guest blog from Patrick, Community Gardens Operations Coordinator. Patrick grew up in Wisconsin, and from day one wanted to be outside whenever possible. While earning his degree from the University of Montana, Patrick enrolled in the PEAS Farm class, and couldn’t give it up – staying for two semesters and a summer session. Through the PEAS Farm and his Environmental Studies Program classes, he’s decided he wants to keep working on local food efforts now that he has earned his degree. When he’s not digging in the dirt, he is hiking, biking or fishing with his dog, Lola.


Fall can mean a sudden change of pace for those of us who spend time working in the dirt.  Our lives as well as those in our gardens undergo some major changes as we transition from the warmth of summer into Missoula’s cool and dark winter.   For many of us, this is a bittersweet time.  We will miss our time in the garden, fresh picked meals, and chatting with fellow gardeners.  But winter also offers a chance to reflect on the past season, plan for the next, and hunker down with a warm winter dish.

An oddball in our fall routine of closing our gardens down, putting our storage foods up, and settling into a new schedule is garlic.  This time of year, when all of our crops are reaching the end of their lives, or have already passed, another round of garlic is getting ready to grow.  We plant our garlic in the fall to overwinter so that it can begin to grow as soon as weather permits in the following spring.  Garlic can also be planted in the early spring as soon as the ground is workable.  However, bulb production seems to be greater when fall planted.  Also, fall planting is simply a much welcomed change of pace from our usual fall routines.

Planting Garlic

When planting garlic we do not plant seeds, we plant individual cloves.  The first step then is to harvest and cure your previous garlic crop.  Read Emy’s blog post about harvesting and curing for more details.

Since we produce our next garlic crop asexually through cloning, we want to make sure to choose the right cloves to plant for next year.   We want to choose cloves that exhibit traits that we like, and would like to continue to see in our crop.   So we don’t plant small cloves or cloves from heads that have rotten, because we don’t want small or rotting heads next season.  After the garlic has been cured, choose the cream of the crop; good looking cloves with desirable traits.

Choose cloves with desirable traits.
Choose cloves with desirable traits.

If you did not grow garlic this year, don’t worry!  Simply use garlic that you normally buy from the farmers market or grocery store.  (It is best to save cloves from a local garlic source, as you can be sure that they will grow well in Missoula!)

Once you have your chosen cloves, keep them in a dark, dry space until late fall.  I normally plant garlic in late October when the weather is getting cold yet the ground is still workable.  Garlic can be planted pretty close together; I usually plant cloves about 5-6 inches apart.  Make sure that the cloves are planted root end down, and cover with soil.photo-4

Your next round of garlic is now underway for next season!  Cover your garlic beds with a significant amount of straw.  The straw will help keep weeds down and also balance out temperature fluxes in the soil surface.photo-1

Next spring when things start to warm up, start pulling back/removing a portion of the mulch.  Leave some mulch in place as weed suppression (garlic has a small leaf area and is a poor competitor against weeds), but do be aware as too much mulch can cause rotting at the base.

Growing Up in the City Doesn’t Mean You Have to Miss Out on the Farm

Nico and DogThis week, our Orchard Gardens Farm apprentice, Nicolas Matallana (or Nico for short), has recorded a bit about his experience this summer. We are grateful to the Missoula Federal Credit Union for funding his position, enabling him to learn about farming and nonprofit operations. It also helps us grow Orchard Gardens as place where those of any income can eat fresh—whether that means bringing a prescription, a few bags to fill, or a few seeds and a caring hand. Nico originally came to Missoula to explore the mountains and learn about the ecology while pursuing a degree in Ecological Restoration, but little did he know that local food would strike his passion. Nico has been gardening and volunteering on farms since his first semester in Missoula. 

I’m going to tell you about a youngster that I got to know this summer. He lived in the Homeword housing complex, next to the Orchard Gardens Community Farm. Let’s call him Carrot.

As a five year old, he was too old for the resident play structure, but still too young for Kindergarten, so he would spend his days looking for something, anything, to let him let out his creative energy. From the field, I would often see him speed by on his bike, yelling unintelligibly, as he lapped and lapped the housing complex. It reminded me of the endless summer days of my childhood, biking or skateboarding back and forth on the curb, trying to spend an unlimited amount of energy.

Orchard Gardens Farm
Orchard Gardens Farm. Photo by Chad Harder.

He wasn’t usually allowed to come into the farm, so he would often swoop on us while we hauled our harvest across the parking lot to the barn.

“What are you doing?”

“We’re getting ready for the CSA.” One of us would respond.

“Why?”

“Because we have to get these vegetables ready” One of us would say patiently

“Why?”

And so on, he would hang around and ask questions and linger and pick up things he shouldn’t and we’d sometimes have to kick him out. But he would always be back, laughing and goofing off the next day.

My co-worker, Michelle, was the true wizard at keeping him busy. She’d see him coming towards us and immediately find something to entertain and occupy him.

“Do you want some kale?” She’d ask.

“Mmmmm… No!”

“How about some cucumber?”

“Mmmmmmmm……. Okay!”

And off he’d go munching on his cucumber to chase around the other neighborhood kids. He ate most things that came out of the field, which impressed me for his age – I certainly didn’t eat so many vegetables when I was that young. When good things were being offered, like apricots or cherries, the entire neighborhood kiddo-herd would come, flocking around us impatiently.

“What do you say first?” Michelle would remind them all.

The chorus would respond, “PLEASE!”

We knew this was a special place for Carrot. While the other kids came and went, Carrot came by consistently. When Dave was out running errands, he would ask where he was every couple minutes. If we were busy in the field, he would always ask us when CSA was, which he knew was when he could get our attention. At first, entertaining him felt like another job, but over the summer I grew to appreciate his persistence.

Nico and Campers
Nico and some summer campers at Orchard Gardens.

I wish I had grown up with a farm next door, with a Dave and Michelle to put a cucumber in my hand when I needed something to do. My neighborhood friends and I would get so bored that we would eventually end up in trouble, and over the years it just got worse. Carrot sometimes got in trouble, but handing him a vegetable would usually do the trick.

Next year he will be in Kindergarten. I’m sure he’ll come around every summer, looking for a snack or a human to talk with. And it will be the farm employees, the vegetables, and the community gardeners that will welcome him. I’m glad the farm can keep him out of trouble. Maybe he’ll even be a farm apprentice one day.

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Apples from Heaven

One of the joys of fall cooking is the abundance of apples. Local apples abound in Missoula for the next month or two:  Macintosh, Transparents, Ruby Reds, Sweet Sixteens, Pink Ladys, and Honey Crisp to name a few. Apples, of course, are well suited for sauce, cider, and pie. One of my favorite apple dishes is the tart recipe below. Simple and tasty, the tart makes a wonderful finish to any autumn dinner or the perfect breakfast treat.

Apple Tart

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Ingredients for crust:

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons flour

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon sugar

½ cup butter

1 egg, beaten

Ingredients for apple filling:

2 lbs (4-5 larges) apples – any variety will do and a mix of varieties works well

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 tablespoons sugar

½ cup raisins, dried cherries, or dried cranberries

2 tablespoons corn syrup

2 tablespoons butter, chilled and diced

Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter. Once the flour and butter resembles fine crumbs, add the beaten egg. Mix only until the dough begins to stick together. If the dough is too dry, add drops of water until it holds together. Place in a sheet of wax paper, press together lightly, and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Once the dough has chilled, remove from the wax paper and use your hands to press into a 9-inch tart or pie pan.crust

While the tart crust dough is chilling, make the apple filling. Quarter and core the apples. You may leave the peel on the apples. Coarsely grate the apples then mix with the cinnamon, sugar, and dried fruit.ingredients-1

Place in the tart shell and smooth out.fill

pitter-patterSpoon the corn syrup over the filling, and then dot the filling with the diced butter.prebake

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and eat warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves 6 – 8.done-tartplated-1