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Green Teens: July 5, 2011 Urban Roots Farm Tour
Mon, 07/11/2011 - 10:51 — KAB
Green Teens - July 5, 2011 Urban Roots Farm Tour
Green Teens and Out Youth Taste their Way Through a Farm!
Nestled off of 183 on a windy road, Urban Roots Farm sits on 3 very productive acres of sustainably grown vegetables. From figs to Japanese eggplants, Green Teens interns sampled a wide range of veggies straight from the vine. Most of what is harvested heads off to the farmers market or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), but a large portion also gets sent to help feed the homeless at the local food bank.
The Green Teens arrived a bit early, so we met the lazy farm cat, Sapphire, then headed out to help Urban Roots interns pick cherry tomatoes. The best part? Eating a few before putting the handful in the bucket.
Once we met Out Youth, our groups got together to play an eye opening game about food. We learned that most carrots travel over 1,300 miles before arriving at a grocery store! A student from Out Youth captured the process best - “There are a lot of hands that touched those carrots.”! After asking who likes French fries, Shirene, our tour guide shared that more potatoes are eaten as French fries than any other way.
As we passed around a smaller variety of watermelon called Sugar Baby, Shirene showed us how to check which ones were ready to be harvested. Above each melon is a small tendril that grows between two branching stems, once the tendril has curled and turned brown, the watermelon is ripe and ready to be picked. You can also check for a soft yellow or brown spot too.
Austinites may not love the July heat, but okra sure do. We picked some large okra that grow vertical from the top of the plant, and sampled the fruit capsules raw. Not everyone was impressed, but we did share how tasty it can be in gumbo, fried, or pickled. Many students tried it after learning that okra is good for the skin, and a staple of Cleopatra’s diet.
Two great things came together on our next stop – a walk in cooler and figs! All fifteen of us huddled inside the walk-in to cool off and eat freshly picked figs. The figs were absolutely delicious and tasted like candy. Interns Traneecia and Lesley were so impressed that they stopped at the fig trees later in the tour to nab some more.
Everyone in the group loved Sorrel, a perennial herb with a tart taste that comes from the presence of oxalic acid in the plant. Shirene recommended using it with salmon or other types of fish, and said it reminded her of Sour Patch Kids. That was enough to change one interns mind so she pinched off a large leaf and ate the whole thing.
Urban Roots distracts insect pests like this lubber grasshopper from their crops by planting sunflowers and Celosia cristata, a colorful annual that also attracts beneficial pollinators.
Not the band, but the vegetable black-eyed peas are drying in the greenhouse.
After the tour, the Green Teens and Out Youth came together to share what they learned and pose for a group photo. For our interns, they shared their most profound lesson - to be thankful for every fresh piece of produce in the grocery store because someone had to plant it, grow it, then pick it in the hot sun! Thank you to Urban Roots for hosting us and having such a great program.