Taking Stock


Posted by jyarger | Posted in Gardening, Sustainability | Posted on 05-15-2012

By: Jessica Yarger, RIPE Member. Originally posted: www.growingupinthegarden.wordpress.com


Photo by: Jessica Yarger

The other morning, as I was trying to get out back to water the newly planted seeds, my four-year-old daughter was asking me to play with her and she couldn’t wait one more minute. I told her I would be done shortly and that it was important that I water now, so that the plants wouldn’t die in the heat coming later in the day. To that she asked, “If the garden dies, will we die?” This was coming from the girl who accompanies me every week to the grocery store and helps me load up the basket.

As I explained to her that we wouldn’t die if our garden failed, I was taken by the importance she lay on a successful harvest. Because, historically, when crops fail, people die. Her participation in the garden is sporadic: watering, poking seeds into the ground, harvesting. Nonetheless, it is deeply woven into her life. Some months ago she was curious about apartments and decided she would like us to live in one. When I told her that, often, apartments don’t have yards, she wondered aloud how the people who live in them grow their food.

Our garden this summer will be our biggest so far, and her comment the other morning made me pause and take a moment to, again, think of the bigger picture.

Photo by: Jessica Yarger

What’s in the Ground Right Now:

Artichokes (harvesting)

Red Russian Kale (harvesting)

Sweet Peas (harvesting)

Swiss Chard (harvesting)

Garlic (to be harvested at the end of May)

Basil: Genovese

Beans: Calypso

Carrots: Little Finger

Cucumbers: Sweet Marketmore, Early Fortune

Eggplant: Diamond

Melons: Blenheim Orange (Musk), Orangelo Watermelon

Peppers: Purple Beauty (Bell), Espanola Improved Chile

Summer Squash: Black Beauty, Raven

Tomatoes: Early Kus Ali, Van Wert Ohio, Goji Faranji, Clear Pink Early, German Queen, Amana Orange

Winter Squash: Chersonskaya, Burgess Buttercup, Dakota Dessert, Thelma Sanders

Photo by: Jessica Yarger


To Be Planted/Transplanted:

Beans: Good Mother Stallard, Brockton Horticulture, Provider, Black Seeded Blue Lake

Peppers: Fish, Feher Ozon Paprika, Purple Beauty

Tomatoes: San Marzano, Mom’s Paste




The Variety of it All – July


Posted by admin | Posted in Community, Crop-Swap, Gardening, Local, Neighborhood Produce Exchange, Sustainability | Posted on 08-02-2010

There are various ways of getting food. Lately, its all about local. For us it’s about Ripe from our own back yards.

Here is a scenario of how shopping and swapping are completely different cookies, er stories. Have you read the story about If You Give A Mouse A Cookie ? You may notice it’s influence on me below…

What’s different about a swap than going to the grocery store?

Going to the store you have a list. You hope you can find organic produce that is fresh and the quality you want. You come home with most of the items on your list. You are lighter by about $40.00 per bag of food. As hard as you might try not to, you pick up some processed or non-organic food. You eat and repeat, every week.

Going to a swap you first comb your yard to see what is ripe. You discover that, in reality, you have more than you thought! After harvesting, you take it to the local Ripe community crop-swap not knowing what will be there, but knowing that what will be there will be organic and just freshly picked. When you arrive you are pleasantly surprised over what you find, and you find some unusual stuff along with things that are more traditional to you. People are very friendly and willing to tell you about what they brought and grew in their yards. They share their enthusiasm and knowledge. You pick up some of the unusual produce that you have never tried before.

You come home from the swap with your traditional food and your surprises, so plentiful and so varied that you have a hard time trying to decide which to eat first. You realize that you have organic food and plants that you did not pay $40/bag for. Happiness and contentment fill you, not only because of the savings, but because you also have an opportunity to taste and experience a new food that up until this point in your life you have never tried before. You find out that some of those new foods are really really super, and that some must take getting used to. You find that you have fond memories of the people you met who grew your food. You think about them as you cook. You contact a few of them later to ask how they were able to grow their item so well. You visit their garden and get ideas. Sometimes you arrange to get seeds or seedlings of the delicious things you ate, and you now plant them too. Reflecting, you realize that you got so much more then just food, as you would have in the store.

You decide to go to all the park swaps that you can. You plant even more fruit, vegetables and other edible plants.

The whole community repeats and grows week by week.

If you came to our July Park Crop-Swap (see gallery) you may have seen and come home with any of the following 61 items:

Sweet Bell Peppers, Green, Chocolate
Egyptian Walking Onions
Yellow Onions
Cherry Tomatoes
Hawaiian Sweet Potato Greens
Yellow Crookneck Squash
Cape Gooseberries
Thyme plant
Passion Fruit plant
Celocia(Cock’s Comb) plant
tart Yellow Apples
unidentified Red & Green Apples
White Nectarines
Yellow Nectarines
White Grapefruit
Pink Grapefruit
White peaches
Yellow peaches
unknown Yellow and Green Squash
Zucchini, several varieties
Genovese Basil
Black Cherry-Tomato Seedlings
Lemon Verbena
mold-ripened Goat Cheese
Ricotta Salata Cheese
Bell Peppers
Chili Peppers
Japanese Cucumbers
Meyer Lemons
Bearss Limes
Swiss Chard
Green Amaranth
Red Amaranth
Valencia oranges
Pineapple Sage
Ein Shemer Apples
Red Cabbage
Serrano Peppers
Sour Dough Starter
Strawberry Plants
Macadamia Nuts
Tricolor Sage
Thai basil
Italian basil
Lemon basil
Cuban oregano
Green Shiso

My surprises this month included an amazing Genovese Oregano which I ate with home-grown Tomatoes; Quince which I’ve heard so much about and can’t wait to cook up and try; Egyptian Walking Onions, which I had just barely heard of the week before; now I’ve tasted Cape Gooseberries – so my newest goal is to plant those Gooseberries in a large section of my yard! Next time I will have to try Shiso:

“This flavorful herb deserves a place beside basil and cilantro in every culinary herb garden. The flavor has been described as curry-like and a combination of cumin, cilantro, and parsley with a hint of cinnamon. Leaves are a superior addition to mesclun salad mixes. Try Shiso as a garnish with sushi, and sprinkle it over cucumbers, cabbage and fish. Chop and add to pesto. Flowers are edible, and make a fragrant tea. Great in containers. Tolerates shade.”

Gail Murphy is the founder of Ripe Altadena and Ripe Communities

Turning a Leaf


Posted by admin | Posted in Local, Neighborhood Produce Exchange, Sustainability | Posted on 07-21-2010

Starting in early November 2007 as a Yahoo group, a few neighbors in Altadena, California started sharing their overabundant produce with each other. In July of 2010 with over 165 members, most of them in Altadena, it was time to turn over a new leaf. We had several years of experience and it was time now to not only share our produce, but this knowledge of how to bring a community together to share resources. We are now moving forward. Our name is now changed to an easier to recognize name. Ripe. Ripe Altadena. The Residential In-Season Produce Exchange of Altadena. It will be easier to remember and say than the previous name, CofeA, (The Co-Operative Food Exchange of Altadena), yet essentially means the same. We have been well known by CofeA, and I myself will always fondly remember it; but I am also very happy to have an easier name! My hope is that other Ripe Communities will spring from our model and that we will have a whole network of neighborhoods sharing local produce across the nation from California and Hawaii to Maine, New York and Florida.

cofea logo

Gail Murphy is the founder of Ripe Altadena and Ripe Communities