Wednesday, April 23, 2014
By Avery Yale Kamila email@example.com
Backyard gardener Jerry Lord of Yarmouth is skeptical of food from factories and factory farms.
This greenhouse will be part of the tour at Maureen Costello’s house in Portland.
Kelly Ash photos
At Katy Gannon-Janelle’s backyard garden in Falmouth, you can see her flock of chickens, protected from predators by enclosed fencing.
BACKYARD LOCAVORE TOUR
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Rain date: Sunday.
WHERE: Thirteen sites in Greater Portland; tour starts at UMaine Cooperative Extension office, 75 Clearwater Drive, Suite 104, Falmouth
HOW MUCH: $10 advance/$15 day of/free for kids under 12
• Large herb garden, four vegetable gardens and a small orchard
Preserving topic: Herbal vinegars and drying herbs
Food sample: Herbal vinaigrette and veggies
Gardening topic: Native plants to use and avoid
• Large suburban vegetable gardens, container gardens, flower gardens and compost bins
Preserving topic: Root cellaring
Food sample: Applesauce
Gardening topic: How compost works
• Seaside front door herb garden, companion plantings and edible landscaping
Preserving topic: Drying herbs
Food sample: Dried herb dip
Gardening topic: How to prune your woody plants
• UMaine Cooperative Extension Office, 75 Clearwater Drive, suite 104 – pick up/purchase tickets
Preserving topic: Hot water bath canning of high acid food
Food sample: Low-sugar blueberry jam
• Tidewater Farm, off Farm Gate Road, see new garden beds at saltwater farm; between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. only see live sheep display and wool spinning demonstration
Gardening topic: Maine Harvest for Hunger Program
• Organic garden with berries, raised beds and decorative deer fencing
Preserving topic: Low-sugar jams and jellies
Food sample: Angel food cake with low-sugar strawberry jam
Gardening topic: How to protect yourself from deer ticks
• Chicken coop with flock of laying hens and front yard vegetable garden with perennials
Preserving topic: Relish and chutneys
Food sample: Zucchini relish
Gardening topic: What's the difference between a weed and an invasive plant?
• Garden with 13 raised beds and 34 vegetable varieties using season extension techniques and lasagna soil creation method
Preserving topic: Pickling
Food sample: Dilly beans
Gardening topic: How to extend the gardening season from spring to fall
• Small organic, urban farm with bees, chickens and greenhouse
Preserving topic: Freezing fruit
Food sample: Rhubarb lemonade
Gardening topic: Beneficial insects and spiders in your backyard garden
• Growing organic fruits and vegetables in city soil conditions
Preserving topic: Canning salsa
Food sample: Salsa and chips
Gardening topic: How to test your garden soil and what to do if you find lead in the soil
• Garden plants that pair well with decorative miniature train display
Preserving topic: Canning vegetables and tomatoes
Food sample: Beet bruschetta
Gardening topic: Seed saving
• Organic vegetable garden with raised beds, small farm market and chickens and guinea fowl
Preserving topic: Freezing vegetables
Food sample: Vegetable chili
Gardening topic: How to contribute surplus garden bounty to a food pantry
• Extensive gardens with orchard, greenhouse, goats and chickens
Preserving topic: Drying fruits and vegetables
Food sample: Fruit leathers
Gardening topic: How to raise egg-laying hens and add berries to your backyard
"All this food is shipped in either from somewhere else in this country or somewhere outside this country," he said. "We don't know what's in that food, who's growing it and what happens to it in the shipping process. If it's locally grown – whether it's in your backyard or at a local farm – the better control you can have."
His skepticism comes from keeping abreast of the news. In just the past few weeks, Hannaford Supermarkets recalled almost 30,000 pounds of ground beef produced by Cargill (which, according to Forbes, is the largest privately held company in the U.S.) after a seven-state salmonella outbreak, and all cantaloupes from a 6,500-acre North Carolina farm due to suspected listeria contamination.
Last week, Kenosha Beef International (whose CEO is the immediate past chairman of the American Meat Institute, a lobbying group) recalled 37,600 pounds of frozen bacon cheeseburger patties sold at Walmart stores because they may contain pieces of gaskets used in the production process.
During the same time, other national firms recalled smoked salmon for potential botulism contamination, onions for possible listeria contamination, Colombian-style cheese for potential staph contamination and sausage products for possible listeria contamination.
Over the years, as Lord has watched the steady stream of recalls of foods produced on an industrial scale, he realized he needed to take matters into his own hands to protect the health of his family. So seven years ago, he acquired a flock of chickens.
"There's nothing like having fresh eggs," Lord said.
Over the past five years, he has slowly expanded the gardens and orchards on his third-of-an-acre lot. Among his newest acquisitions are three Nubian goats, who now provide fresh milk daily.
This Saturday, participants in the fourth annual Backyard Locavore Tour will have a chance to explore Lord's homestead and the food-producing backyards of 12 other homeowners in Brunswick, Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, North Yarmouth, Portland and Windham. The event is sponsored by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and tickets for the self-guided tour cost $10 in advance and $15 the day of the event. Hundreds of people buy tickets to the tour each year.
According to Kate McCarty, one of the coordinators of the tour, the organizers look for small backyard gardens that demonstrate sustainability, self-reliance, permaculture techniques and resilience in the face of a changing world.
"People find it's a really different type of garden tour," McCarty said. "The ideal (tour site) that we look for is a small backyard garden that doesn't require a lot of land, is in an urban area and is doing something different."
Those who take the tour will not only be able to explore other people's small-scale food production efforts, but will also get to see a food preservation demonstration, sample a recipe and learn about a particular gardening tip at each location. These lessons will be delivered by certified Master Gardeners and Master Food Preservers.
The preservation topics include such things as drying herbs, using a root cellar, making low-sugar jams and jellies, freezing fruit and canning vegetables. Tour attendees can also learn about seed saving, encouraging beneficial insects, pruning and composting.
At Deb Hopkins' home in North Yarmouth, tour-goers will get a chance to see her large vegetable gardens and her flock of 19 Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rock hens. Many of the older chickens are friendly and can be petted by children.
An avid canner, Hopkins said one of the benefits of growing and raising your own food is the savings that show up in the weekly budget.
"For me at this point now, I buy a lot less produce," Hopkins said. "It definitely does help with your grocery bills. To me, it's such a wonderful achievement that you can grow what you eat. The other part I think is great is you know what you're eating."
Participants start the tour at the Cooperative Extension office in Falmouth, where they pick up tickets, learn about hot water bath canning for high-acid foods, and sample a low-sugar blueberry jam.
At Lord's property in Yarmouth, he'll be demonstrating what you need to do to raise laying hens and how you can add perennial berry plants to your garden.
His garden is currently home to ever-bearing strawberries (which he grows on a shed roof); high- and low-bush blueberries; elderberries; beach plums; serviceberries (also known as saskatoons); grapes; hazelnuts; peach, apple and cherry trees; blackberries; raspberries; high-bush cranberries and goji berries.
The chickens and goats both consume weeds pulled from the gardens. Fallen leaves are ground up and used as bedding for the animals, and the used bedding is composted and then becomes fertilizer for the gardens. Nothing goes to waste.
"I think a garden like this is going to become the norm down the road," Lord said. "Both economically and also health-wise."
Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org