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Lisa Staffelbach with Garden Inspirations

The FarmGirls have been busy with vegetable garden classes, DFW Truck Farm events, and preservation classes.   We are preparing for our upcoming Christmas and wreath making workshops that we are teaching through Light House for Learning Monday, November 5th and Monday, December 3rd, 2012, we would love for you to join us.

 

Like many gardeners this season, our leafy vegetables have been plagued with caterpillars in our fall garden.  This is an important reminder to walk through the gardens and keep a watchful eye on the plants.  We have sprinkled a product, Dipel Dust, on our leafy greens and it contains BT which is non-selective and kills all above ground worms.  BT is also found in a liquid product called Thuricide that can also be sprayed on vegetables.  This is a biological control and accepted in an organic program. 

 

Our mission is to encourage people to eat local and fresh foods even if that means there might be some holes in the leafy greens but remember, when vegetables are grown on your property you will know the integrity of the vegetables served at your table.  Our hope is to provide an opportunity for everyone to learn how to successfully grow their own vegetables.

 

If life is too busy to grow your own food, you can still be pro-active and meet the local growers at your farmer’s markets.  Asking the farmers questions is another way to find out the quality and integrity of the foods you are choosing.  Some questions you might ask at the market:  What methods are used?  Are the vegetables pesticide free?   Did you grow the vegetables or are they purchased from another grower?  

 

We find that many gardeners are on a mission to healthier lifestyle. They have planted and grown the finest vegetables but are overwhelmed with the bountiful harvest or perhaps, they want to purchase from the farmer’s market but are perplexed at the vegetables available.  What do they do with mustard greens, collards, kale, and Swiss chard?

 

Recently we invited Chef Lisa Staffelbach, a personal chef and health coach from 24 Carrot Health, to our Grow It * Eat It * Store It vegetable garden class.  She prepared the most delicious foods from our garden’s bounty.  We have a field of red giant mustard and it has a strong bite.  This was not a challenge for good healthy eating as she prepared a beautiful and delicious mustard pie, braised kohlrabi and turnips, and squash noodles.  Our personal favorite was the squash noodles.  As adventurous as the FarmGirls are, squash noodles were a first for us! This dish had an amazing taste, texture and flavor.  The students swore she used butter but we all watched her prepare the recipe and she did it without any butter.  Our goal for our students is to learn how to grow foods that do well in North Texas, learn how to prepare and eat the foods, and store the foods for later use throughout the year.  We feel that Chef Lisa helped us attain that goal by providing simple and superb recipes in our class.

 

Eating healthier does require some lifestyle changes, but change can be good.  Experimenting with vegetables that grow particularly well in North Central Texas is a lot of fun, are you up for the challenge?

Join the FarmGirls online, on the radio, or in a class to learn more about organic vegetable gardening in North Texas.  Tune in every Friday to The FarmGirls Organic Gardening Radio Show on KAAM 770 AM at 1:00 PM, just after your organic lunch.   Like us on Facebook at Garden Inspirations as we continue to make friends over the FarmGirls’ garden gate…

Sunday, December 09, 2012 @ 5:51 pm   3487 Views   Donelle Simmons
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A local tea plus garden tour:

Written by Marilyn Simmons

Note from the publishing date, even though this happened in October - we felt that posting it would be a fun read, as it was with local chefs and a local event!  The food was delicious and the rose jelly was amazingly local!

The FarmsGirls are board members of The Green Garden Club of Ellis County, the garden club promotes sound organic practices and is an affiliate of Texas Garden Clubs Inc. The club meets the second Tuesday of every month, 7:00 PM, at the Farley Street Baptist Church. We have covered wonderful garden topics including bee keeping, attracting birds, native plants, bulbs and soil structure. On October 13, The Green Garden Club hosted the first annual garden tea tour.

The club members spent 6 months gathering approximately 800 unique mugs, tea cups and saucers, plates, silverware, and fine decor to serve the 160 guests. The club designed five tea parties in one with three Dallas based chefs who showcased a fine cuisine in five Ellis County gardens.

The home owners on the tour diligently worked toward a garden goal while some built a dynasty, others added a bed here and there. The passion, the skill, and craftsmanship of each garden owner were evident on this tour.

The Green Garden Tour began in Rocket at the home of Alice O’Neal who opened her garden gate to the guests as they enjoyed an "Alice in Wonderland" theme. The guests were greeted by The Mad Hatter and a life sized Queen of Hearts ordering the garden to be painted red; guests enjoyed a mug of hot tea and strolled through her lovely shade gardens. Alice spent many hours in her garden making sure that her winding pathways, water feature, dry creek beds, sitting areas, and vine covered gazebo were in perfect display.

The second home, hosted by Ted and Bea Rocha, also a board member of The Green Garden Club, was a formal affair. Ted, an accomplished wood craftsman, and Bea, a well- traveled business woman, have mastered an artful garden with a beautiful wood crafted arbor, a tree trunk table, and water features. Chef Lisa Staffelbach from 24 Carrot Health featured scones, fruit salad, clotted cream, and jellies as the guests on the tour dined while having "Tea at Bea’s".

"Kick it Up Texas" was the theme for the lunch portion of the garden tea tour. Master Gardener duo, James and Melinda Kocian of Waxahachie, hosted the third tea. Chef Kevin Stewart and a host of volunteers featured rose-lemon glazed quail served with a quinoa salad from the Kocian’s lavish outdoor kitchen. Memories and stories unfold as James and Melinda walked guest through their gardens. The general store looking outdoor buildings evolved from a fallen hundred year old home that came with the farm and the earth kind rose gardens are a collection to see.

The next stop was in Waxahachie at John and Arlene Hamilton’s historic home. This mostly edible landscape was our touch and feel garden, and went with our "Herbal Dessert" theme. Arlene’s love for herbs has dubbed her The Sagey Lady. Scented basil, thyme, rosemary, lavender, and many fragrant blends greeted guest in this back yard treat. The towering bay laurel was a show stopper. The Green Garden Club’s finest tea cups with herbal teas were the spotlight for the lovely desert tea. Chef Josephine Rihoo served not only special herb blended teas, but also warmed the hearts of the guests with hospitality.

The final destination of the garden tea tour was a country drive to Ed and Suzanne Stegemoller, members of the Green Garden Club) farm in Ennis, Texas for a "tea to go". This garden is mesmerizing and the beautiful water gardens have earned their name, Winding Creeks. The tea featured at this property was a sparkling blend of gingerale and black tea. Guests gathered in the various garden nooks sitting on quaint park benches and sipped tea, it was a perfect way to end the tour in a tranquil water garden oasis.

Donelle and I ended our day visiting with Ed and Suzanne watching the sunset over Winding Creek, thankful for a wonderful garden tea tour provided with beautiful gardens and new friendships. We have a fun garden club learn more at

www. greengardenclub.org Join the FarmGirls online, on the radio, or in a class to learn more about organic vegetable gardening in North Texas. Tune in every Friday to The FarmGirls Organic Gardening Radio Show on KAAM 770 AM at 1:00 PM, just after your organic lunch. Like us on Facebook at Garden Inspirations as we continue to make friends over the FarmGirls’ garden gate…

Wednesday, December 05, 2012 @ 9:27 am   2881 Views   Donelle Simmons
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It’s important to Know What Is in Your Food


FarmGirls August 19, 2012

Waxahachie Daily Light

Fall gardening is upon us and knowing what is in your food is something The FarmGirls encourage you to explore. Have you worried about E. coli, Listeria, or other soil/food borne illnesses? Do you wonder when you bite into a plump tomato or a fresh ear of corn how many miles it has traveled to be a feast on your table? Would it peak your curiosity to know what growing methods the farmer uses to produce your food? These are questions that we asked ourselves after Donelle returned from an extended trip to Europe. She found that her taste of produce in America was vastly different than what she had grown accustomed to in Bosnia.


It was the moment she snipped off a side shoot from the dividend broccoli growing in her mom’s garden that made her realize there was definitely a difference in the quality and flavor of the food. Soon she also learned that the homegrown vegetable is likely to have a higher nutritional content, which started the FarmGirl journey. Although having a delicious steamed broccoli side dish with the best flavor, great quality, and high nutritional value is important, the best part is growing your own food. Our favorite time of the year to garden is in the fall. The cooler temperatures that Fall brings us is not only a relief from this August heat, but you can stay outdoors longer, the pests are fewer, and your collards, kale, carrots, and tomatoes taste sweeter because the sugar content is higher in cooler weather. Wouldn’t you garden in the fall for sweeter tomatoes? The FarmGirls do!


It is time to start your fall gardens and The FarmGirls have a goal. We want to see an increase in organic backyard gardening, especially in our hometown of Waxahachie. However, if you are not going to garden this season, we suggest you check the local resources for organically/naturally grown foods like those at the Downtown Waxahachie Farmer’s Market or the local organic section of our grocery stores. Tune in every Friday to The FarmGirls Organic Radio Show on KAAM 770 AM to learn more about organic gardening. Our show is at 1:00 PM, just after your organic lunch. Like us on Facebook at Garden Inspirations as we continue to make friends over the FarmGirls’ garden gate…

Monday, September 10, 2012 @ 7:00 am   3184 Views   Donelle Simmons
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September 2, 2012 - Waxahachie Daily Light

Written By: Marilyn & Donelle Simmons

The Farm Girls are always watching for great new sustainable ideas. We visit many trade shows and learn about new products on the market. A few weeks ago we discovered "Ollas Pots". As you can imagine some of the new modern sustainable products are not really new ideas. What makes us chuckle is a lot of the new products are often times ideas that we left in the dust decades or even centuries ago. Just like bell bottoms reappear on the fashion market, so do some of these "green" ideas. The Ollas Pots may not be a new idea, but we are confident that this will be of great use for many gardeners. The Ollas Pots are a red clay urn-shaped pot with a lid. The pot is sunk into the soil in the middle of a 4’ x 4’ space of your garden and filled with water covering with the lid to keep out the mosquitoes. The clay pot slowly leaks out and waters the garden. This product would be wonderful not only for the conservation of water, but for the convenience of a busy home owner. Oh yes! The Farm Girls brought home two Ollas Pots and have sunk one into the DFW Truck Farm, which is a large container garden and the other will be used for teaching purposes in many of our on-going garden education classes.


Another sustainable gardening practice that we discovered on a garden consultation is a way to attract earthworms to your garden. Now this method requires a little effort of eating your favorite flavor of ice cream from a clear plastic tub. (It’s a tough job being a FarmGirl) Once the clear plastic tub of ice cream is finished wash it out and cut the bottom of the tub saving the lid. Bury the tub in a convenient spot in your garden and fill it 1/3 of the way full with enriched soil or compost. Purchase red wiggler worms from a local nursery put them in the tub adding a 1/3 more of soil leaving the top space open to place vegetable scraps in the tub either daily or as needed. (Exclude the use of high acid fruits such as oranges and lemon rinds) The moisture level in the tub should be that of a well-rung sponge. Worms are good friends to the gardener and we consider them to be King of the Soil. This is a fun activity to do with children in your garden or school gardens. If you have a sustainable idea - email us and share your idea!

farmgirls@gardeninspirations-tx.com


Tune in every Friday to The FarmGirls Organic Radio Show on KAAM 770 AM to learn more about organic gardening. Our show is at 1:00 PM, just after your organic lunch. Like us on Facebook at Garden Inspirations as we continue to make friends over the FarmGirls’ garden gate…

Friday, September 07, 2012 @ 10:00 am   3242 Views   Donelle Simmons
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Celebration: I Ate Chicken Fried Chicken and I Lost 3 lb

By Kacey Long

Posted by: Garden Inspirations

Danny rarely gets to pick the restaurant. Not because I’m a crazy control freak either (I know where some of your minds went), but because whenever the opportunity presents itself, he opts out and wants someone else to choose. I think making others happy is just so deeply ingrained in his nature that he cannot help himself (his parents definitely did a good job). It can be endearing and frustrating all at the same time.

Once a year, on his birthday, I try and get him to voice his opinion so we’ll end up somewhere he really wants to be. This year, he said, “Just choose somewhere on your LIST.” You would think that is easy, and it would be, if it was MY birthday. Afterall, these are the places that I really want to go. Does Danny want to spend his birthday eating “girl food” as he would call it? Probably not. So I took a look at the LIST to see what places I was not quite as excited about…greasy home cooking was staring me in the face….and I thought, “PERFECT!” Either that or Mexican food. Now I like both of these options, but as a girl that tries to pick healthy choices….these two avenues just aren’t go-to-hot-spots for people that want to be slim and trim. But Celebration on West Lovers, you proved me wrong on several accounts. Greasy food….nope. Delicious fried (and not fried) dishes with sides straight out of someone’s garden…absolutely! And even some fried okra that tastes like someone picked it, chopped it, and battered it that morning, just like Nana used to make.

 

First, the bread basket was quite interesting. It was packed full of cornbread, rolls, and blueberry and pumpkin muffins. Yes, muffins as an appetizer. You would think that might be a turn off, but it is not. Especially when you taste their pumpkin muffin! Sugar and spice and all that’s nice…even months after Thanksgiving.

The house salad was fresh and came with your choice of dressing. I had been reading good things about the ranch dressing, so that’s what I chose, although Nancy had the cucumber ranch and I think I might even like that better. For Danny, it was the blue cheese, pear, walnut salad.

 

The cool thing about this place is they serve things family style. They take family style seriously. Picture being at your house, no make that your grandma’s house and she really, really likes to feed you. “Oh, you finished all of your mashed potatoes, do you want more?,” she asks.

“Sure,” you answer. “Why not?,” you think to yourself.

“What about more okra?,” she suggests.

“Yes, please,” you answer.

She suggestively sells, “I’ve got another chicken friend steak left. It’s a little smaller so I’m sure you’ll be able to finish it.”

“Well, I sure wouldn’t want it to go to waste. I never eat chicken fried steak, so okay, I’ll have seconds,” you concede.

Now this is the concept behind Celebration. It’s like you are at your grandma’s table (the restaurant is set in a house, by the way) and she’s in the kitchen serving up the never-ending seconds (free-of-charge of course) we’ve all come to love. Seriously, if someone told me they were holding a grandmother hostage in the kitchen and making her slave over the stove, I’d believe it. The food tastes that good and fresh. 40 years of cooking and this place sure has it down.

Without further adieu, our entrees paired with squash, herbed new potatoes, and steamed chard (which tasted a lot like steamed spinach/collard greens).

 

We all agreed that the side dish we would trade in next time would be the roasted potatoes. Perhaps the mashed potatoes might be a little more to our liking? When I was reading reviews online, it was suggested that you may be able to order side dishes that are not featured on the menu that day. The restaurant prepares take out meals via online orders and dinners for 2/4 on weeknights at their Market next door. Now this intrigues me because I saw that they make squash and broccoli rice casserole and these are two of my favorites. I cannot confirm if this is true, but if anyone knows for certain….please let me know.

We could not leave without dessert..

If I must declare a winner, I’d say Chuck won this round. Danny would disagree, however, because he greatly enjoyed the pudding for the two reasons I didn’t: runnier consistency and lightly sweet. My favorite puddings are the complete opposite.

We left happy and full and Chuck even introduced me to a new Malbec wine. He is the wine enthusiast in our life and it’s nice to have someone that knows his stuff! I, on the other hand, am just starting to learn a thing or two. I’ll add Malbec to my favorites, along with Pinot Noir.

Although this statement/title cracked up sibling #4, it is true. After going to Celebration for Danny’s birthday dinner with his parents, I was in fact 3 lbs. lighter the next day. Now, I can’t guarantee these results for everyone, but I thought I should at least let you know about it….in case there is some combination of jalapeno gravy, chicken fried chicken, and garden vegetables that works as a super metabolism booster that science has yet to prove. If anyone’s interested in doing their own single-subject research, then Celebration would be happy to serve you up a meal. Perhaps you, too, will lose a few!

What to Order: Well, it’s hard to pick because everything was sooo good, fresh (no canned vegetables here), and local. This will most definitely be a return destination.  Byt the way, Celebration is the perfect place to bring out of town guests that are wanting the full southern experience.  If you have one night in Dallas, this is somewhere you should go.

1. Chicken Fried Chicken

2. Catfish – I’m assuming this one was good….the orderer did not share, so that’s usually a good sign ;)

3. Fried Okra

4. Coconut Pie

Read more of Kacey's blogs, www.gardeninspirations-tx.com and click on Who's Cooking For Kacey

Wednesday, August 08, 2012 @ 6:23 pm   2995 Views   Donelle Simmons
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Chicken Scratch: It's Not Just a Restaurant, It’s a Destination

by Kacey Long

May 14, 2012

It’s different and original and the concept is from the same man (Tim Byres) that brought us the wonderful Smoke.  I’m not just a little bit of a fan…I’m a HUGE fan of this guy’s work and what he stands for.  Anyone that is trying to bring wholesome, local, garden fare and all natural, hormone-free meats to the masses is a hero in my book.  Top it off with working towards having a 100% compostable restaurant, well that’s just a smart business plan when you’ve got a garden right next to you that will benefit from the nutrients anyways.  Byres is truly an innovative leader in the restaurant industry.

When I found out that Joel Skipper had recently signed on as the Sous Chef at Chicken Scratch, I couldn’t quite put my finger on who was luckier….Byres for gaining such a wonderfully talented up and coming chef, or Joel for getting to be a part of Byres’ new vision.  But then I thought about it for awhile, let’s be honest.  We are the true lucky ones because we get to enjoy the fruits of their labor!

Chicken Scratch is not your typical eat and run restaurant; it is a true destination…the main event… and a place worthy of bringing your friends, pets, family, and whomever else piles into your car when you mention you’re heading out for some of the best chicken in Dallas.  You will probably drive by the place on Pittman St. on your first attempt.  From the road, it looks like a curious establishment, but one you most likely will end up making a U-turn to find.  Once you park and walk around to the courtyard, with the garden to the left and cacti to the right, you know you’re entering something special.  There are picnic tables and a large stage set next to The Foundry (a great bar hang out), bean bag toss, booths set inside rail cars, and generally enough space to feel like you’ve rented your own piece of the place all to yourself.

Chicken Scratch serves up lunch from 11:00-2:00pm and dinner from 4:00-10:00pm daily.  At 4:30 on Sunday, I chose to eat inside and was promptly greeted by Joel Skipper, the Sous Chef, who gave Danny and I a personal tour of the property and happily answered all of our questions.

He was smart to save the tour to the end so I could spend most of the time gushing about how amazing the food was and how I’ve never tasted chicken so sweet.  One of the things Joel really likes about his job is feeding people good food, and boy does he!  From rotisserie to fried, the chicken was some of the best I’ve ever tasted.  He mentioned it has to do with Tim Byres’ philosophy of using hormone-free meat and that the fresh-from-the-farm chicken hits the special brine as soon as it makes it through the doors of the restaurant.

I cannot stress it enough, but holy crap this chicken is good!  Chicken is one of those things that I’m picky about as I like to know that the meat I’m eating grew up on a farm with a chance to see the sun and spread their wings.  After just one bite you know…these chickens were loved.

I cannot forget to mention the wonder that are the homemade-fresh-daily chicken tamales! My husband, Danny, is quite the tamale connoisseur and he was very impressed at how much chicken was packed into this thing.  It was the size of a burrito.  I, for one, was excited that I was actually able to eat a tamale without fear (tamales have a tendency to be made with scary, unidentified meats).  Not this plump little guy.  One bite and it was no wonder that Texas Monthly recently came out to take pictures of these babies.

Come for the chicken, but try all the sides.  Anytime you see a garden next to a restaurant, that’s a dead give away that they care about good side dishes (oh sides, my true love after dessert).  Chicken Scratch cooks up collard greens, mac ‘n’ cheese, mashed potatoes, and fries like nobody’s business.  I seriously think their elbow mac ‘n cheese will be in the running for The Dallas Observer’s Best of  for 2012.  Real cheesy goodnessly recently came out to take pictures of these babies.

 They should also be on the radar for best biscuits, because this is the best biscuit you will ever have for $1.  Hey, they could tack on a $3-4 price tag on one of these things, throw in some local honey, and serve them up as dessert with how sweet and texturally amazing they are.  I saved one for breakfast the next day and Danny thought about just letting me have it all to myself, but after he watched me take a bite…he grabbed a knife and halved that sucker.  So close.

I’m a little sad I forgot to try their Paletas (popsicles).  It’s their only dessert on the menu, which is typically a good thing and means that the one-and-only dessert is of headliner caliber.  Joel mentioned that these are a Chicken Scratch recipe made with chunks of real fruit and water.  I saw a child blissfully nibbling away on one of these until she dumped herself out of her chair.  No worries though, she was fine and obviously she valued her delicious popsicle because she was careful to make it stay upright the entire time and didn’t lose a single bite.  It is the perfect choice in light dessert after a meal of comfort foods.  It’s very hard to say that you don’t have room left over for a little fruit and water.  Should be a sure-sell every time.  Genius.

This place is so new I feel like I’m in on a secret.  Before 2 months have passed since the doors open, before the menu even makes it to the website, and before this place becomes so wildly popular you need to bring your own picnic blanket just to have a place to sit, you should rush on over to Chicken Scratch and be a part of something special.  So sure bring the kids (there’s an outdoor area, even the screamers are welcome), leash up the dog, and come and let Joel do the cooking for your next picnic.

*Special thanks to Joel Skipper, Sous Chef at Chicken Scratch, for the interview.

What to Order:

1.  Fried Chicken, rotisserie chicken, chicken strips, chicken tamale….you get the picture

2.  Elbow Mac ‘N Cheese

3.  Biscuits (made fresh daily)

This blog has been contributed by Garden Inspirations and was written by Kacey Long, a food blogger. 

You can follow Kacey by clicking here: http://whoscookingforkacey.com/ 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 @ 6:00 am   3497 Views   Donelle Simmons
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Butterfly Gardening FarmGirls Radio Show – Legends KAAM 770 AM

May 11, 2012 written by: Donelle Simmons

Last Friday's FarmGirls Radio Show was all about the fluttering butterflies.  It was a light and fun topic.  Sometimes we get into the foods we eat and raise and I leave the radio studio with a heavy heart, knowing how much more there is to accomplish.  After Friday's show, we went out with a light hearted step, butterflies are just good for the soul.  That’s what my mama always says.

To have butterflies, you must have an organic garden – Marilyn told the listeners.  How does one create an organic yard?  You get on an organic program.  There are several to choose from, we have our own – the FarmGirls Organic Program.  You can follow Howard Garrett or Lucy Harrell.   If you take Garden Inspirations's 8 week vegetable course, you are taught in class how to turn your yard from chemical to organic.  It’s probably one of Donelle's favorite lessons to teach -  how to leave the nasty chemicals and learn the patience of being organic.

Marilyn talked about designing your landscape with host and nectar plants.  The host plants will offer the catepillars a place to munch before they begin to change into the pretty little butterflies.  The nectar plants are food for the butterflies.  When thinking of attracting butterflies, make sure you add boulders and an element of water.  The butterflies use the heat from the warm boulders for their wings and adding water not only creates a pretty scene but adds more for the butterfly’s new home.

You can tune in every Friday to the FarmGirls Radio Show, and like Garden Inspirations on Facebook to find out what the topic or special guest might be.  The archived shows are on the website:  www.gardeninspirations-tx.com under the radio tab.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 @ 4:00 pm   3513 Views   Donelle Simmons
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FarmGirls' Radio Show

Written by: Donelle Simmons

 

Tune in every Friday at 1:00 PM on Legends KAAM 770 AM or www.kaamradio.com (stream online) to listen to Marilyn Simmons and Donelle Simmons - the FarmGirls of Garden Inspirations.  Each week they will bring you organic garden topics that will help guide you with your gardening efforts.  It's a challenge to garden in North Texas and throw in the organic methods, it takes time and patience to raise beautiful gardens, but is it worth it?  Of course it is! 

Marilyn and Donelle have had a variety of topics and guests on the show, from talking about the challenges of our soil to butterfly gardening, they anticipate to cover what they feel is deemed important in the organic gardening world.  Guests on the show have been Lucy Harrell, an avid organic gardener friend and mentor of the FarmGirls she spoke about companion planting the weekend of the TOFGA Conference on the show, Amber Dietrich and Meghann Monsanto from Artizone came in to talk about Artizone and the DFW Truck Farm 5k, Dr. Deb Tolman spoke on the show about Keyhole Gardening, Mason Arnold and Aspen Lewis visited with the FarmGirls about Greenling, and Dr. Judy Griffin spoke to the listeners about herbs and her company Aroma Texas Health, but probably Marilyn's favorite guest was her 5 year old granddaughter, Rena, who was visiting from Seattle, Washington and cheered on the DFW Truck Farm Runners from the studio Friday before the run. 

The show is an organic garden call in show and anyone is welcome to call into the show with gardening questions.  Marilyn and Donelle, The FarmGirls, have an organic program for anyone to use to turn a yard from chemical to organic.  With the constant news battle of chemicals in our food and how it is greatly affecting our bodies, becoming an organic gardener might not be a bad idea.  You can call 972-445-0770.  If you would like to know what the show topics are going to be, like the FarmGirls on Facebook:  Garden Inspirations.  They usually post what the topic is going to be ahead of time.

Tune in Fridays on Legends KAAM 770 AM or stream online at www.kaamradio.com to listen to this new and exciting gardening show.  The show is currently sponsored by Redenta's and Nature's Guide.                                                                                                                                                                  

Sunday, May 13, 2012 @ 11:11 am   3765 Views   Donelle Simmons
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By Sara Johnson

Pack a picnic and bring the whole family for fun and educational run at this  year’s Earth Day Dallas. On April 22, the city’s Earth Day festival will host  The DFW Truck Farm 5K Fun Run prior to its Sunday kickoff at Fair Park. Proceeds  from the race will benefit the DFW Truck Farm, which is used to teach kids and  the community about growing local foods and gardening in small spaces.

Truck Farm began in Brooklyn in 2009 when a mini-farm was planted in the bed  of a 1986 Dodge pickup truck. Now, the farm is a fleet of 25 trucks located in  25 different cities across the U.S., including Dallas. Donelle Simmons, runner  and owner/operator of Garden Inspirations and DFW’s Truck, says she wanted to do  a 5K with Truck Farm to bring fitness enthusiasts and healthy eating enthusiasts  together.

“The truck farm teaches you can garden anywhere!” says Simmons. “Everyone can  garden, and making healthy choices will help with energy levels, for runners and  for everyone.”

The DFW Truck Farm provides non-profit garden education to schools and other  groups in the DFW area. Simmons says one of her main goals with the truck is to  help connect real food with kids.

“It’s fun to see kids discover that there are so many vegetables out there  other than what it in the grocery store. I want them to realize that there is  more to eat out there than macaroni and cheese and hot dogs.”

Simmons says that part of their presentation includes making salads for the  kids or sending home produce from the truck that the kids can enjoy at home. She  says that she hears from parents who say their children are more likely to try  vegetables after seeing them on the Truck Farm.

“We grow climbing spinach on the back of the truck. The kids are often  surprised when they try something from the truck that they have heard of but  only had it one way, like spinach, and now they like it!” Simmons says.

Simmons, an experienced runner who has lived and ran around the world, says  some of her favorites runs were in such places as Sarajevo and along the Nile in  Egypt. She’s added some special touches to this non-competitive, non-timed 5K  that will help families have fun and learn about growing healthy food. The run  will have optional farming challenges along the course of the run such as  planting seeds, gathering eggs or moving worms from bin to bin. The race bibs  will be seed embedded. Participants can take it home and plant it or donate it  back to the DFW Truck Farm and they will plant it at a school in the upcoming  season. The race “goodie bag" has been made out of repurposed, donated  t-shirts.

Registration for the fun run is online now at dfwtruckfarm.com. The first 100 registrants will receive a  picnic blanket, personally made by Simmons, to use during the attempt to break  the record for the world’s largest simultaneous picnic after the run during the  Earth Day Dallas festivities. Day-of-race registration begins at 7:30 a.m. at  Fair Park, with the race kicking off at 8:30 a.m. Proceeds from the event will  benefit the DFW Truck Farm. Participants are welcome to stay and enjoy the rest  of the day’s Earth Day Dallas activities.

For more information on DFW Truck Farm and to find out how to bring the truck  to your event, visit dfwtruckfarm.com.  To learn more about the 2012 Picnic for the Planet, the attempt to break the  world’s record for the world’s largest simultaneous picnic, visit The Nature  Conservancy’s web site at www.nature.org. Visit www.earthdaydallas.org for a full schedule of Earth Day  Dallas events on April 21-22 at Fair Park.

Register for the event at www.dfwtruckfarm.com and click on the logo!

Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 7:00 am   3622 Views   Donelle Simmons
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Story by Donelle Simmons
 

When Marilyn & Donelle Simmons from Garden Inspirations, decided to incorporate the DFW Truck Farm as part of their garden education program, one good garden deed led to another. The DFW Truck Farm, educates local schools and communities about gardening in small spaces and fresh, local, real food all in the back of an old pick-up truck.  The duo has decided to add one more aspect to their DFW Truck Farm educational platform, The North Texas Food Revolution. With the efforts of the DFW Truck Farm and the goals of the North Texas Food Revolution, they decided it was a perfect match.    

The DFW Truck Farm

What is a truck farm? A truck farm is a vegetable garden planted in the bed of a pickup truck, yes it’s that simple!  The DFW Truck Farm is the 25th truck farm in the Nation, the fleet began in Brooklyn, New York by Ian Cheney.  What does a truck farm do?  The DFW Truck Farm educates, empowers, and encourages its audience on gardening topics.  The opportunity of bringing a garden on wheels into the community through events or schools, is a powerful message of fresh, local, and real food.   



Running the program are two dedicated women, Donelle Simmons and Marilyn Simmons. These ladies are a mom and daughter team and own a garden education company, Garden Inspirations that is located in Waxahachie, Texas.  They are both passionate about gardening and finding fresh and local food.   When Ian Cheney and Natalie Morris from Truck Farm in New York approached Garden Inspirations about becoming the DFW Truck Farmers, Marilyn & Donelle sat on the tailgate of their pick up truck and smiled knowing that another way to garden was a wonderful addition to their company.




Challenges of their ambitious educational program came in extremes, like our Texas temperatures.  Most of the challenges are keeping the truck on the road, funding the educational materials, and driving the truck down the highways with tarps to keep the gardens safe from the wind.  "We have been fortunate to have a corporate sponsor, Nature’s Guide, that helped keep the truck rolling into schools in 2011," recalls Marilyn. The rewards of visiting a school or setting up a booth at a local community event seem to deflate these challenges.  “The interest we receive is worth the long drives on county roads in the old truck,” Marilyn states.  Establishing a DFW Truck Farm curriculum,  the mom and daughter team drive down the Texas Highways bringing mint, basil, oregano, and vegetables in 4” pots along with a vegetable garden in the bed of a truck to share the experience of gardening in a positive and healthy manner.  To continue the program, the DFW Truck Farm needs to be fully funded.  The upcoming DFW Truck Farm 5k Fun Run at Earth Day Dallas Sunday, April 22, 2012 is the fundraiser for the 2012-2013 school year.  

The North Texas Food Revolution

 

The North Texas Food Revolution group is affiliated with the Food Revolution Movement through Jamie Oliver, this new food revolution group will be based in Dallas, Texas. "The DFW Truck Farm has made us more aware of the work to be accomplished with bringing awareness of real food to the public, more importantly our children,” Donelle Simmons states, who is starting The North Texas Food Revolution group. The main goals of the North Texas Food Revolution group is to bring awareness of fresh and local food, working with local schools and local farmers connecting them together, and plans to work with FoodDay Dallas to create events to help revolutionize North Texas food.

The North Texas Food Revolution plans to kick off in February of 2012.  Donelle plans to have the DFW Truck Farm Program and the North Texas Food Revolution group work on projects together.  Find North Texas Food Revolution on Facebook and find out how you can be more involved.   

 

Marilyn Simmons and Donelle Simmons have a busy schedule with the DFW Truck Farm, but feel the program is important and want to pave the way to bring awareness and stimulate our local food system.  You can learn more about what they are up to through their website www.gardeninspirations-tx.com and tune in on Fridays at 1PM to KAAM 770 AM to listen to their organic garden radio show or stream online at www.kaamradio.com.   They will have DFW Truck Farm weekly updates and will keep the details of The North Texas Food Revolution events on the program. 

Monday, January 30, 2012 @ 5:16 pm   3554 Views   Donelle Simmons
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Community Gardens

Written by Marilyn Simmons

Where do you find adults bursting with pride, full of chatter, working with and for each other?  There is such a bubbly group at the Waxahachie Senior Center Community Gardens.  In the early Fall Season, the Senior Center hosted Garden Inspirations for a vegetable gardening educational program.  The Senior Center was a blessing to work with and the facility has a wonderful and welcoming appeal with friendly staff members who were more than willing to help with the vegetable session. 

The Waxahachie Senior Center had several raised growing vegetable beds with easy water access.  The garden area was not only flourishing with vegetables in the end of the summer heat, but there were garden stools in between the rows that provided a resting place for the ambitious gardeners.  The composting area was an impressive sight to see that has become the gardeners’ gold, rich, and loamy compost that has provided the community gardeners with rich nutrients from their own property. 

It was very obvious that the community gardens were taken care of in great pride with the growing beds bursting with harvest.  One gardener showed off her prolific okra and says she harvests daily.  The tomatoes were tall, green, and waiting for cooler temperatures to start producing again, but one tomato bed was full of red Juliets.  One concerned community gardener was worried that something was wrong with her tomato vine, since the tomatoes seemed to be a little cracked.  After showing our excitement of her incredible tomato vine and that her tomatoes were cracked from the uneven watering, she was happy to know she could start feasting on the overloaded Juliet vine.

The community garden was in full harvest swing, cucumbers, squash, Swiss chard, basil, okra, sweet potatoes – the love of the community garden showed through the abundance of harvest and how well cared for the garden was.  We had walked into the Senior Center to educate on vegetable gardening and left full of admiration for the avid vegetable gardeners’ they had become, through the community garden program.

Community gardens have sprung up all across America; Waxahachie has the opportunity to share the benefits of this wonderful, worthwhile trend.  The Waxahachie Senior Center Community Garden is directed by Kathy White, a local Master Gardener who helps oversee the community project.  She says you have to be a member of the Waxahachie Senior Center to participate and a Waxahachie resident, but the startup fee is minimal to have access to the community garden spot year round. 

Even though this story took place at the beginning of the Fall Garden Season, it is inspirational to know that the effect and benefits of community gardening can be stretched through all demographics.  As a garden educator myself, I want to encourage you to locate a community garden in your area and join in on all the digging and harvesting fun!  Spring is around the corner and now is the time to begin your garden prepping to enjoy your own bountiful harvest season, as these gardeners had in the late summer this year.

Marilyn Simmons is the owner of Garden Inspirations, a garden education company.  You can learn more about her work and programs at www.gardeninspirations-tx.com or email marilyn@gardeninspirations-tx.com

Thursday, December 29, 2011 @ 6:00 pm   3147 Views   Donelle Simmons
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DFW Truck Farm visits the Earth Club at Northside Elementary in Waxahachie

 

The recent drop in the temperature did not keep the DFW Truck Farm from roaring down the county roads and making its first Fall school visit of the season.  The 1985 Dodge pick-up truck pulled into Northside Elementary Tuesday, November 8 to visit with the 2nd – 5th grade Earth Club Members. 

 

As Marilyn Simmons, owner and operator of the DFW Truck Farm, sat on the tailgate the children circled around to listen to the story of how the DFW Truck Farm began.    

After the brief story Marilyn Simmons and daughter Donelle Simmons, split the Earth Club Members into groups to have a lesson on planting for a winter crop.  Marilyn planned the lesson to allow the children to get their hands dirty! 

 

The groups kneeled around garden containers and learned how to plant lettuce and cabbage by transplanting and planting radishes by seed.  The lesson included talking about what types of meals that could be made out of all three vegetables. The children were very excited to help plant and were enthusiastic about the conversation.  One young girl spoke up and said told the group that in her family they use radishes in a special Spanish dish while others chimed in on how much they loved eating salads. 

 

After the students planted the winter containers they each had a turn to look and sample off of the DFW Truck Farm.  They stood on the stepladder and tried to identify the vegetables growing and left with a minty treat “a spearmint leaf” out of the DFW Truck Farm.  Even though all the students learned about gardening and why it’s important to change out the vegetables each growing season, they did not leave empty handed.  Marilyn Simmons gathered everyone in a circle and cut lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach, radishes, and banana peppers off of the DFW Truck Farm and handed out a small sample to each of the Earth Club members.    

 

The goals of the DFW Truck Farm are to educate, encourage, and emphasize to grow your own food and understand where your food comes from, the visit to Northside Elementary was a success with plans to return in the Spring. If you want to check out what The Huffington Post called “the coolest urban agriculture project around” and have the DFW Truck Farm visit your classroom or event, contact Donelle Simmons at 214-842-2100. 

DFW Truck Farm is owned and operated by Garden Inspirations, visit www.gardeninspirations-tx.com for more information.   

Thursday, November 10, 2011 @ 8:00 am   3258 Views   Donelle Simmons
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CSA is a program that many local farmers have available for the local consumers to have the option of receiving freshly grown vegetables.  The program allows the consumer to invest into the vegetable production and share a bounty of the seasonal harvests.  Garden Inspirations has had a CSA in operation since 2008, each year and harvest season has brought new and exciting gardening challenges.  For 2012 the CSA program through Garden Inspirations will be a mentorship program.  They are accepting 10 applications for 2012.

The CSA Mentorship program was developed through the interest of consumers’ wanting to grow their own food and the importance of knowing where and how food is produced/harvested.  The program will begin in January 2012 and will end December 2012.  Garden Inspirations will take the CSA Mentorship members through the growing process from the seedlings to the harvest seasons.  Each member will spend time with Garden Inspirations in the gardens and will share the bounty of the harvests.  The Members will also be mentored by Garden Inspirations in their own personal garden. 

For more information on this program please contact Garden Inspirations by email

duchess@gardeninspirations-tx.com visit www.gardeninspirations-tx.com to view more information.

Monday, October 31, 2011 @ 8:12 pm   3307 Views   Donelle Simmons
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There are many organizations that are helping create the interest and paving the way to bridge the gap between producer and consumer.  The rise of interest in eating local, organic, and wholesome food has created the need for more farmers and producers.  Feed Texas First is an organization that is leading the way in creating more farmers and producers.

Feed Texas First, founded in 2009, focuses on creating more food production by teaching classes in cultivation, season extension, urban farming, and gardening.  “Our main goal is for everyone to grow something they can eat.  We want to see more food production for this region and to see the food that is produced used locally rather than shipped elsewhere,” stated Trish Percy, director of Feed Texas First.  Providing the local economy with more producers of locally grown food will help to expand the markets for farmers through networking and celebrating the distinctions between different farms. 

 The North Texas food culture and farming community is growing exponentially, this is a great time to become a grower.  The message Feed Texas First wants to send out to their audience is whether your interest is to grow for yourself, your family, or on a larger scale this is the time to step in and become a local farmer and or producer.  The age diversity of upcoming farmers and producers is from the 20’s to the 50’s and most everyone is coming together with one common goal, to change the food system in which we live.  What better way to celebrate local food and stimulate our local economy than having your own backyard garden or digging your shovel in your local community garden? 

Feed Texas First is participating in the strawberry growing workshop on November 7th, 2011 at Eden’s Organic Farm in Balch Springs.  Find Feed Texas First on FaceBook or check out www.feedtexasfirst.org  for more information and upcoming workshop information. 

Written by Garden Inspirations visit www.gardeninspirations-tx.com for more information on Garden Education.

Monday, October 31, 2011 @ 5:14 pm   3009 Views   Donelle Simmons
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FoodDay is approaching and there are many events popping up to celebrate the first annual event, and one event you don't want to miss is the DFW Truck Farm at Company Cafe from 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM on Monday October 24.  Company Cafe's chef will peek at the truck bed and prepare a few menu items that fancies any joining restaurant patron during the FoodDay event.  Company Cafe's menu offers a selection of savory dining options that are prepared from local sources.  Come check out what Real Food is all about!

The DFW Truck Farm has been in operation since April 2011 and is part of a national fleet of 25 truck farmers that begain in Brooklyn, New York.  The non-profit program, DFW Truck Farm, takes the mobile truck to local schools and community events to promote gardening in small spaces and reconnecting people to food. "It's amazing how the connection to our food seems to be missing. When we have visitors at our truck touch and sample food that is growing before them, they begin to feel the connection once again and this is what we want to emphasize. Real Food is simple to grow!" Marilyn Simmons owner of the DFW Truck Farm says.  Don't forget FoodDay is a celebration of Real Food.  Whether you stop by Company Cafe, have a dinner with your family, or perhaps create a potluck dinner at work - celebrating real food is what October 24, 2011 is all about.

The DFW Truck Farm will be at the State Fair of Texas Friday - Sunday October 21 - 23 at The Texas Discovery Gardens from 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM, you can stop by the booth and see the Truck Farm at the fair.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 4:50 pm   2976 Views   Donelle Simmons
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DFW TRUCK FARM VISITS THE STATE FAIR OF TEXAS

Written by Garden Inspirations

 

The State Fair of Texas is an adventure every year for many North Texans, and while there are many new attractions to see, don’t forget to stop by the Texas Discovery Gardens and visit the DFW Truck Farm!  The DFW Truck Farm program is part of a fleet of 25 truck farms across the United States and each truck is a mobile garden providing gardening education off the bed of the truck. 

The DFW Truck Farm is owned/operated by Garden Inspirations, a mom and daughter duo who have teamed up with Truck Farm to spread the word about gardening in small spaces.  The mission of the DFW Truck Farm program is to educate, encourage, and emphasize the necessity of growing your own food and/or knowing where your food comes from. 

Since the beginning of September the DFW Truck Farm has rolled into a few outdoor classrooms in the local school districts, but now it’s time to shine at the State Fair of Texas.  The DFW Truck Farm recently had a makeover into a 1985 Dodge D150, this classic beauty stands proud in its champagne color with vegetables flourishing in its truck bed. 

The program at the Fair is open from 10: 00 AM – 6:00 PM daily from September 30, 2011 – October 23, 2011.  This is a great event to bring children of any age and adults alike to feel, smell, and see the vegetables growing.  The DFW Truck Farm program has planned activities such as making seed balls, story time, a quick lesson on soil and the vegetables that grow in North Texas, and take a photo in the mini pumpkin patch.  Stop by the booth and visit with us and find out how to bring the DFW Truck Farm to your local event and or school!

Story Time Hours:  12:30 AM & 3:30 PM daily

The DFW Truck Farm does accept donations for the educational program, this is non-profit and you can inquire at the booth or by emailing dfwtruckfarm@gardeninspirations-tx.com

Friday, September 30, 2011 @ 6:53 am   3251 Views   Donelle Simmons
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Garden of Eating

Written by Garden Inspirations 9/29/11

 

In today’s market sourcing out local foods is becoming more and more common.  Between the Farmer’s Markets, grocery stores that have a local section, restaurants that are offering local selections, and many city dweller’s trying their own hand at backyard gardening – the market is beginning to have a more consistent selection of local goods.  Often times what becomes a challenge for many shoppers from local selections is the abundance of the same product for weeks at a time, which becomes an educational experience for both the local food vendor  and consumer.

There are many times in a season of any given harvest that one plant decides to flourish and mass produce that even the local grower is left scratching their head.  The hope of not to discourage newcomers to the local shopping selections , most local vendors try to find ways to keep the local shopper encouraged to try the produce a new way.  Some vendors give new recipes, some prepare the produce and showcase it at the market, and some continue to talk about the benefits of eating what is grown locally and in season. 

There are many events around the metroplex that are occurring from locally sourced food.  These are great events to discover simple ways to continue enjoying the abundance of the harvest.  Some events are referred to as  pop up dinners, sustainable table dinners, and local flavor dinners.  A recent event that occurred this month was the Garden of Eating at Garden Inspirations.  This event was designed for anyone who wanted to participate, the guests stopped by to sample over 32 different recipes.  The menu was selected from a variety of magazines and was chosen to showcase what can be done three or four different ways using the same vegetable.  Examples of the menu, Cheese Stuffed Jalapenos, Sweet Potato & Jalapeno Soup, Spaghetti Squash with Pesto, Eggplant Puree, Watermelon Sorbet, Mint Watermelon, Sweet Potato with orange thyme butter, Swiss Chard Cream Rolls, Swiss Chard Quiche, just to name a few.  Guests were invited to come and go to the event and there was no charge.  The most popular feedback was, “I never would have thought to try peppers this way”  “I didn’t think I  liked swiss chard until I had this recipe”.  The excitement of sampling something new but with a vegetable that grows well in North Texas was the hype of the event.

There are other events in the area that are available, this write up is to encourage you to participant.  Company Café off of lower Greenville in Dallas is a locally sourced restaurant, Potager Café in Arlington, Texas creates a daily menu of the available products, the local Farmer’s Markets are another source of great local food selection and ideas.  The current upcoming event that will showcase a variety flavors and recipes is the Barn Aid event on October 9, 2011.   According to Marie Tedei , who is hosting the event, “The chefs will be preparing heavy hors d'oeuvres "created from featured wines and cheeses and will be  giving guests some recipe ideas for the upcoming holidays." You can attend this event by visiting www.edensorganicgardencenter.com  Another upcoming event is the Local Flavor Dinner hosted by Garden Inspirations and Chef Jeri McGinty.  Together they source local food within a 100 mile radius and prepare a menu from the food that is donated to the event.  It’s an evening under the Texas Sky and an unforgettable meal, so much so that it is hard to believe you are dining on a selection of locally sourced foods.  You can find out more about this event by visiting www.gardeninspirations-tx.com

When the abundance of a seasonal harvest is underway, keep in mind there are many farmers, vendors, and chefs who have found creative and simple ways to enjoy the duration of the harvest.  Hopefully, you will find a new way to prepare a lovely meal for you and your guests as well.

Garden Inspirations is a Garden Education Company who specialize in teaching their clients how to garden and preserve their own food.  For more information email duchess@gardeninspirations-tx.com

Friday, September 30, 2011 @ 6:37 am   3590 Views   Donelle Simmons
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The DFW Truck Farm trimmed the basil, set up the new solar powered drip irrigation system and took off for their first school visit this Fall season.  The little red truck slowly drove down FM 813 hoping the growing vegetables in the bed of the truck would survive the windy ride! 

 

DFW Truck Farm visited a group of children who get together for educational programs within their homeschool community.   Marilyn and Donelle taught the group of 15 about herbs and how to plant using the wet to wet planting method.  The children were able to sniff basil and rosemary plants, plant herbs in the grill on the back of the truck, and pick Malibar Spinach leaves off and sample them as a tasty healthy treat! 

 

When Marilyn teaches the wet to wet planting method, whether it is to adults or children, she teaches everyone to yell, “WATER IN THE HOLE!” This is a way to remember to fill the hole water so when the plant is transplanted the roots stay wet.  All morning long you could hear, “Water in the hole!” from the children.

 

After a lesson on herbs and wet to wet planting,  the children were given “goodie cups” to take home full of chocolate mint and basil, mammoth sunflower seeds, and a recipe for basil pesto.  Before the truck took off in the mid-morning heat, there were murmurs of excitement from the children talking about how “cool” the DFW Truck Farm was and how soon they would plant their sunflower seeds. 

 

The goals of the DFW Truck Farm are to educate, encourage, and emphasize to grow your own food and understand where your food comes from, today’s visit was a success.  If you want to check out what The Huffington Post called “the coolest urban agriculture project around” and have the DFW Truck Farm visit your classroom or event, contact Donelle Simmons at 214-842-2100. 

 

 

DFW Truck Farm is owned and operated by Garden Inspirations, visit www.gardeninspirations-tx.com for more information.   

Sunday, September 04, 2011 @ 5:17 pm   3058 Views   Donelle Simmons
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Submitted by Garden Inspirations

August 29, 2011

DFW Truck Farm

                What started as a single 1986 Dodge pickup with a mini-farm planted in the truck bed has turned into a fleet of 25 trucks in 25 cities across the United States.  Check out what The Huffington Post called “the coolest urban agriculture project around” when the DFW Truck Farm visits the State Fair of Texas September 30 , 2011 to October 23, 2011 in the Texas Discovery Gardens Green Exhibit area.

Truck Farm is a national urban agriculture project helmed by Ian Cheney, the Peabody Award-winning co-creator of the 2007 film “King Corn.”   Truck Farm was born in Brooklyn, NY in 2009, when Ian planted a vegetable garden in the bed of his grandfather’s pick-up truck.  With long time collaborator Curt Ellis, Ian exhibited Truck Farm at 40 schools in order to promote equitable access to healthy food and encourage kids to grow their own vegetables. 

The capstone of the project, the Truck Farm documentary, premiered at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in January.  In coordination with the release of the film, the fleet was scaled to 25 Truck Farms in a select 25 American Cities.  DFW’s Truck is owned and operated by Garden Inspirations – Marilyn Simmons and daughter Donelle Simmons from Waxahachie, Texas with support Susie Marshall from  The Gleaning Network of Texas, www.gleantexas.org

Each of the 25 Truck Farmers are using their traveling, tactile, edible classrooms to organize workshops for kids that will show them how fun, creative, easy and rewarding it can be to grow your own food.  Ultimately the goal is to engage youth with gardening and inspire them to make healthy choices.  Garden Inspirations plans to have designated story times during the open hours of the Green Exhibit and hands on projects for children and parents to enjoy that involve learning about growing food in small spaces.

The DFW Truck Farm’s first major stop will be the State Fair of Texas but is scheduling for the 2011-2012 school year.  If you are interested in having the DFW Truck Farm visit your school or community event, contact Garden Inspirations.  The contact information is below. 

These workshops will also inspire kids to participate in Truck Farm’s third-annual Garden Contest, a challenge to see which student group can grow food in the most creative place.  This year, the judges of the Garden Contest will be celebrities from the sustainable food movement. 

For additional information, please contact Donelle Simmons 214-842-2100 or duchess@gardeninspirations-tx.com  www.gardeninspirations-tx.com

Monday, August 29, 2011 @ 6:47 pm   3449 Views   Donelle Simmons
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Written by Garden Inspirations

August 18, 2011

 

Fall Gardening is Here!

The interest in local and fresh vegetables has become a popular topic.  You can find local selections at grocery stores or your local Farmer’s Market, but maybe this is the year to have fresh and local vegetables in your own backyard.   Gardening can be done in a container on your balcony, a raised bed in your yard, edibles planted in your landscape or a kitchen garden, or a small garden in your backyard - the time to plant for fall is now.  Squash, green beans and okra are seeds that need to be planted immediately.  Tomatoes and peppers can be planted from transplants now.  In a few weeks cool weather plants will go into the ground.   Spinach, collards, radishes, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, leeks, mustard greens and kale are great vegetables to plant for our tremendous Texas fall gardens.   Economics, nutrition and flavor are enticing the novice to bring out the shovel and dig in the soil.  The satisfaction and joy of growing, gathering, cooking and eating nature’s bounty from your very own garden is what keeps the seasoned gardener going. 

 

Has your interest been perked a little, wondering how to get started?  It starts with the soil, whether a container, raised bed, or in the ground.  When you have healthy soil, you will have healthy plants, and therefore a healthier you.  For your container gardens, be sure to choose good organic potting soil such as Vortex, by Lady Bug or Big Pot by Rabbit Hill Farm.  These products contain sound nutrients for growing vegetables and have no chemicals.  (Vortex by lady bug will however will stain cement patios, you may want to consider this).  You will want to choose larger pots, the Texas temperatures dry out small pots quickly and you will be more successful if you start with a large container.  Many vegetables will grow in a container such as: squash, lettuce, spinach, collards, kale and much more.   


The following is an example of container gardening with a tomato plant, we’ve listed this in a step-by-step method:

Steps and your list of items to purchase for your Tomato Container Garden

  1. Purchase 4” to 1 gallon tomato plant from a reputable nursery
  2. Purchase 4” basil any variety ( Basil plants and Tomato Plants are companions, which means they bring great nutrients to the soil and root systems for each other)
  3. Choose and purchase a rather large pot that measures 15” or more across the opening with drainage hole (you can re-purpose a pot that you have around your house as well)
  4. Choose organic potting soil from reputable nursery (we recommend Vortex Potting Soil or Big Pot Potting Soil)
  5. Purchase  earthworm castings,  MaxiCrop seaweed and tomato and pepper food (we recommend using Rabbit Hill Farm products if your local nursery carries this brand)
  6. Save 2 to 3 egg shells and crush to add to soil when planting (egg shells provide calcium for the tomato plant)

Steps to Plant the Tomato Container Garden

  1. Drop a few pebbles/or broken pottery in bottom of pot (this is to secure drainage)
  2. Pour organic potting soil into container
  3. In a separate bucket fill with water and a cap full of Maxicrop Seaweed  (Maxicrop seaweed is a root stimulant)
  4. Place plant in its original container inside the bucket that has the water & Maxicrop seaweed mix
  5. Place soil in your 15” container and make a well (a deep hole) in the soil
  6. Place a handful of worm castings, tomato and pepper food and eggshells in the well (deep hole)
  7. Wet the well (deep hole) with water
  8. Take the tomato out of the bucket of Maxicrop Seaweed and water mixture, remove from its container and trim the bottom leaves of the plant and plant into the well (deep hole) burying it deep
  9. Pack the soil tight around the tomato
  10. Do the same with the basil
  11. Put in morning sun with some afternoon shade
  12. Water daily occasionally with the Maxicrop Seaweed mixed in the water
  13. When blooms set, side dress with about a handful of the tomato pepper food
  14. When fruit turns red pick and eat

 

There are a multitude of ways you can enjoy your own fresh, local, and homegrown Fall harvest, this is just one of several ways.  Garden Inspirations teaches a variety of gardening classes that are affordable and will empower you to grow your own food.  For more information or if you have any questions on Tomato Container Gardening, email Marilyn – marilyn@gardeninspirations-tx.com  Enjoy the Fall Harvest!

Monday, August 22, 2011 @ 2:00 pm   3009 Views   Donelle Simmons