Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Did you see that thing in the paper?

About me and my neighbors?

Going and growing in Glendale

Behind Glendale's tough reputation are a lot of heirloom tomatoes.

And turnips. And melons. And peas. Coops of chickens. Roosts of quail. Honey fresh from the hive.

Too big for a garden and too small for an operation, Julie LaTendresse's backyard farm is "just a nice way to live," she said.

"I grew up around animals, livestock and gardening," she says. "I had yearned for the city, but I found that I missed getting my hands dirty, growing my own food."

LaTendresse moved from the SunCrest housing development in Draper to Cheyenne Street in Glendale, where low home prices and large lots have attracted an influx of urban farmers and large-scale gardeners. A neighborhood long associated with crime is now home to a burgeoning network of backyard food producers.

Around the corner from LaTendresse, Cari Pinkowski has transformed her acre on Van Buren into a mini-orchard, with about 30 fruit and nut trees and berry bushes next to her own chickens, grains and Italian vegetables.

"Buying an acre within the boundaries of any major metropolitan area -- the fact that you can do that is really amazing," Pinkowski said.

Pinkowski last year collected more food than her family of four could eat. "I didn't know what to do with it all," she said.

Exchanges among urban growers balance surpluses and deficits. From her yard on Cheyenne, Celia Bell trades extra potato starts for celery seedlings from a grower a few blocks away. Residents in the nearby Wasatch Commons townhouse complex share table scraps for compost. Bell and Poplar Grove resident Dan Potts exchange tomato varieties to diversify their crops, and Potts trades his wild mushrooms for Bell's chicken eggs.

"Economically, it's almost like having local money," said Potts, a West High School wrestling coach who has been studying intensive gardening and sustainable foods for nearly 30 years. "We're just shortcutting the system by trading that which we are really good at."

The group may grow with the help of a new organization the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has started with a federal grant.

The Utah Fruit and Vegetable Association expects to launch its online network this week, offering small growers a way to connect and sharing the type of information that Utah State University Extension Services provide to large-scale farmers.

"When you're talking about someone who's acting like a farmer, but they're doing it on two-thirds of an acre, a lot of the stuff hasn't been written for them locally," said Jack Wilbur, spokesman for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

The web site, http://www.ufava.org, will enable users to exchange questions and advice and locate other Utah growers.

"A lot of us are just trying to compare notes, see how you're preparing food, comparing bug populations," said Bell, who is working with Wilbur to develop the Web site.

"It's nice to not have to do it by ourselves."



Honey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Honey said...

..I might live near you now...hrm...850 South and 1400 westish...

Tara W. said...

How awesome!! Your homestead sounds amazing. If we do travel thru SLC you can bet we'll come and say hello! I would *love* to see all you have going on...especially bees! I'm simultaneously enthralled and terrified with the idea of keeping bees.