Trap Garden: One man’s vision for food secure communities in Nashville and beyond

Life & Soul Magazine

Nashville-based Trap Garden is helping to put fresh foods on to plates for low-income communities living in food deserts by assisting in the creation of community gardens and the promotion of healthy eating.

The Trap Garden seeks to motivate and inspire others to be self-sufficient – to not depend on a major grocery store or business to provide them with their daily needs.

The social enterprise was set up by Robert “Rob Veggies” Horton, whose motivation stems from his own experiences growing up in a St. Louis, Missouri neighborhood with few fresh, healthy food items. Moving to Nashville to attend Tennessee State University (TSU), Robert Horton was frustrated with having to drive miles away from home for a grocery store that supplied quality, fresh products.

The then student set out to solve the issue by getting involved in the community garden at TSU, where he could learn about gardening from people…

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Growing Medicinal Herbs in Pots: 10 Healing Plants for Your Container Garden

By Juliet Blankespoor and Meghan Gemma
Photography by Juliet Blankespoor

You can grow a respectable herbal apothecary in pots. In fact, some of the most beneficial medicinal herbs will positively thrive in containers placed right on your porch or patio.

Many can even double as attractive houseplants, the likes of which may arouse the botanical curiosity of friends and neighbors.

These ten hand-picked herbs will round out any medicine chest and add beauty to your home. Adaptogens, first-aid herbs, digestives, and relaxing remedies are all represented.

We’ve included hearty medicinal tidbits for each plant, alongside the “green thumb” information you need to shower your medicinal herbs with proper TLC.

Need more guidance? For a fleshed-out primer on selecting containers and understanding the sensitivities unique to potted medicinals, visit our blog on Growing Medicinal Herbs in Containers.

Curious where to find herb starts and seedlings? Take a wink at our catalog of Herbal Seed Suppliers and Nurseries.

*Please note that this article’s discussion of medicinal uses is introductory in scope. We’ve provided safety guidelines for each plant, but we recommend that you research any new herb and consult your health care providers for possible drug/herb contraindications and precautions before ingesting.

Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) receiving a harvesting "haircut"

1. Gotu kola (Centella asiatica, Apiaceae)

Parts Used:  Primarily leaves, may include small amounts of stem, flowers, and fruit

Medicinal Preparations: Tea, tincture, infused oil, nibble, infused ghee, milk decoction, powder, broth, poultice, compress, green smoothie, and fresh juice

Herbal Actions:

  • Vulnerary (wound healing)
  • Diuretic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)
  • Nervine
  • Antibacterial
  • Alterative
  • Secondary adaptogen*

View remainder of article at: Growing Medicinal Herbs in Pots:
10 Healing Plants for Your Container Garden

Ryerson Urban Farm: Student-led rooftop farm creating opportunities to learn about growing food

Life & Soul Magazine

Students from Ryerson University in Toronto have converted a green roof on campus into an urban rooftop farm.

Ryerson Urban Farm began as a student initiative with the mission to grow food on campus and create opportunities for people to learn about growing food.

The urban farm aims to build capacity for rooftop farming through production, education and research. It also operates productive growing spaces across the Ryerson University campus using spray-free, ecological methods

The students sell the produce at a farmer’s market, to CSA (community supported agriculture) customers, and they give some to the campus food room, which is a place where students can have access to free food.

Ryerson Urban Farm is designed in the market garden tradition, with over 50 crops and more than 100 cultivars, along with three rooftop bee hives.

In addition to growing food on the rooftop, Ryerson Urban Farm also have a variety of…

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Seed Libraries where library members can “borrow” fruit and veg seeds for free

Life & Soul Magazine

Public libraries across the US are offering library members free fruit and vegetable seeds to promote sustainability.

Known as seed libraries, these collections of complimentary seed packets are being made available in hundreds of libraries across the country. While some institutions simply give the packets away to library card holders, others allow them to be “checked out” with the understanding that the seeds of any future plants will be returned to the library.

A seed library is a place where community members can get seeds for free or for a nominal fee and is run for the public benefit. Many seed libraries are open in public libraries and community centres, and are run by nonprofits, clubs, or school groups.

The Seed Library Social Network, an online resource for anyone wanting to set up their own seed library, said: “For some communities, getting folks to garden and grow some of their own food…

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Starting Plants: Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden Transplants

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Some plants can be started indoors early in the season, before soil and air temperatures are warm enough to plant outdoors. From a seed-starting perspective, most of our common vegetable plants fall into one of three categories.

  • Don’t do well direct-seeded outdoors – these plants seem to do better if they are started in a controlled environment. The reasons may include poor germination rates or too short of a growing season. Plants that fall into this category include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, pumpkins, winter squash, onions, Brussels sprouts, gourds, and melons.
  • Do okay either started indoors or direct-seeded – these plants could be done either way. Some plants have a short enough growing season that even though they can be started indoors, the economics of doing it don’t justify the time and expense. Plants that fall into this category are peas, beans, corn, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, summer squash, spinach, Swiss chard…

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Starting Your Seeds Indoors This Winter

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Expert answers to your herb-growing questions.

Q.  This year I want to grow some of my herb plants from seeds. What are the steps to starting seeds over the winter?

A.  Seed starting is like baking bread- you need the right mix of ingredients, the right temperature, and viable yeast. In the case of seed starting, the ingredient list includes a lightweight growing medium and containers for planting. Provide the right temperature with a warm greenhouse or sunny window; and seeds, of course, are the viable catalyst.

Use a commercial potting mix or seedling mix for the growing medium. Choose from egg cartons, yogurt cups, flats of six-cell packs or small pots when it comes to containers. {Note: Fiber- or peat-based pots should be soaked well before adding soil.} Like yeast, seeds have a limited life, be sure the seeds are fresh or packaged for the upcoming growing season for…

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Urbalive Worm Farm: Making worm composting indoors a simple process

Life & Soul Magazine

There’s a myriad of choices when it comes to composting, and if you live in a small space with no access to a garden, worm composting, in particular, is still an option. Urbalive Worm Farm is an indoor kit for composting kitchen bio waste with red worms.

Designed by Czech designer Jan Pelcl, the Urbalive Worm Farm is a stylish container which stands on wooden stilts, like a stool. Its modern design is made up of composting layers where worms help create vermicompost leading to a container where the worm tea collects.

Vermicompost contains essential enzymes and natural growth hormones that are great for soil fertility and feeding gardens. Worm tea is rich in natural nutrients and enzymes that help plants grow strong and healthy. The tea can be mixed with water and added to soil in flower pots and plants for use as food.

By following a few simple basic rules,

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NYC’s largest student-built hydroponic farm leading students and Bronx community to healthier futures

Life & Soul Magazine

A hydroponic farm at a Bronx school is New York City’s biggest student-built, indoor, vertical hydroponic farm.

DeWitt Clinton High School campus students teamed up with Teens for Food Justice (TFFJ) to build an indoor, vertical hydroponic farm in an unused third-floor lab in the school building.

Students will grow more than 25,000 lbs of produce annually to feed their entire school and its 1,300 students daily and the local community on an ongoing basis, while mastering key STEM concepts and skills needed in a green workforce economy.

TFFJ works to ensure universal equitable access to healthy, fresh, affordable food. The organisation train youth in 21st century hydroponic urban agricultural farming techniques, entrepreneurship, and health/nutrition education and advocacy, empowering them as change agents who can lead themselves and their own food insecure communities towards healthier futures.

DeWitt Clinton High School is located in one of the most food insecure communities in NYC. Around 125…

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Thinking About Planting a Dye Garden?

Good Witches Homestead

Traditional dye plants offer intriguing materials for the gardener who is also a spinner or weaver, or who just wants to experiment with the vast usefulness of the natural world. Nature has its own subtle palette of colors and this little garden represents a few of the dozens of plant dye possibilities, which even include some nuts, fruits, vegetables, and other common foods.

And even if you’re more inclined to pick up some easy powdered dye at the corner store than to make a dye bath from the plants in your garden, you still might appreciate this connection to history and tradition. All of these plants are desirable garden plants.

About Dye Plants

A separate garden isn’t necessary to grow dye plants, as you can incorporate them into an existing flower border or bed (and you might unknowingly be growing dye plants already), but this small corner bed can give…

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A Passion For Herbs

Good Witches Homestead

Herbs are a fascinating group of plants with a history of cultivation stretching back to the dawn of civilization. Once the herb garden was a practical project, necessary for supplying flavorings for the kitchen and medicines for the family. Today, gardeners are growing herbs for medicinal purposes and for their attractive looks, pleasing fragrances, and tasty flavors. Whether your interest is kindled by taste, aroma, beauty, or history, you’ll find herbs a satisfying addition to your garden.

What is a Herb?

Traditionally, herbs have been defined as plants that are useful to people. The oregano and thyme on your pizza are herbs just as the ornamental foxglove, from which we once extracted the medicine digitalis, is a herb. The insecticide pyrethrin is derived from the painted daisy, making it a herb as well. The list goes on and on; we use herbs and herb products every day.

Choosing Herbs:

In…

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