Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

Urban Farm Tour: Take 1

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ugh!  This week has just been a nightmare for me at work, so it's nice to finally sit down for a breather.  It definitely feels like the world has passed me by.  I've been having fun catching up on what everyone else has been up to, and I'm so glad to FINALLY be able to find time to post the pics from last weekend's Urban Farm Tour for you.

We had a ton of fun, despite it being REALLY hot in the afternoon.  J. and I, his sis-in-law and two of her kids all piled into my Jeep and off we went.  I have so much cool stuff to show you, so let's go!

We started not far from our neighborhood at....

St. John Community Gardens (3916 St. John Ave., Kansas City, MO 64123)

What a fun place this was!  They have more than garden beds for rent for $30 per season, a HUGE water catchment system consisting of 8 barrels, a firepit and 3 rain gardens.  But the best part was all the art made from repurposed materials.

How about a reproduction of Grant Wood's American Gothic

Look behind the scarecrows in the picture and you'll see 3 repurposed ladders as a trellis with some art hanging between them.  The yard was full of these whimsical little items.  How about a totem pole made from painted plastic flower pots?  I love this idea!

The pond was beautiful and, according to my dear neighbor over at TheDeadlyNightShade, they have recently dug this out some more so that it's over 4 feet deep at one point.  See the fish?

My nephew's favorite part (and mine also!) were these adorable reindeer made out of all kinds of discarded junk.  The red Christmas light for Rudolph's nose cracked me up.  And the rake for his antlers!

And, finally, here's one of the beds that they rent to members of the community.  Each one had a piece of an old bed at the end.  Get it?  Bed?  Hahahahaha....  Again, a very creative way to reuse.

Just down the road was out next stop...

Jubilee Garden (130 N. Topping Ave., Kansas City, MO 64123)

We spent quite a bit of time here talking with one of the gardeners.  Started in 2010 on a once-vacant lot, the aim of this garden is to show how families with low income, people of all ages, and individuals with developmental disabilities can grow food for themselves.

We were greeted by this lovely archway, which you walk through to get to the garden.  This metalwork is really lovely, and the gardener told us that they plan on growing vines over it and also hanging gourds from it.  I can't wait to check back in with them in 2 years to see how much progress they've made.

Each of the 22 beds is laid out around this central bed, which is in the shape of a cross.  I really like this bed within a bed idea and immediately thought "wouldn't that be great for strawberries!"

The other beds have all kinds of shapes and my nephew remarked that he thought they looked like Tetris pieces.  He's right!

Our community is very diverse, with folks from all over the world, and near this garden is a large concentration of people from South American countries.  During the tour, they were all out tending to their garden beds. In the back of the property in the pic below, you can see their garden shed on the right hand side.  It looks like a little playhouse, doesn't it?  On the right is their education space where they've repurposed stumps and pieces of fallen logs from the lot to be used as tables and seats.  They hold free classes there on topics on gardening, nutrition, etc.

There were some really good looking veggies at this garden.  I mean, just look at this cabbage!

The Jubilee Garden is supported by the Mattie Rhodes Center, which I originally thought only did work related to women's shelters, battered women, etc.  Oh  no!  They do so much more, including programs for young people, family counseling, drug counseling, and even free community fitness classes.

At this point in our tour, the heat is starting to get us so we stopped by Sonic for some refreshing beverages before we headed on to our next stop.  Gotta have my tea or I might die, you know.  Anybody else have that problem?

Cherith Brook Catholic Worker (3308 E. 12th St., Kansas City, MO 64127)

I've watched this organization take a dilapidated old Victorian and turn the house and the yard into something absolutely beautiful.   You're greeted by a front yard full of fruit trees and edible vegetation. In the winter, these are covered by hoops, which allows them to grow almost all year.

They also own the building on the left side of the picture, which has been turned into a "green" building and, while it was open for tour, we didn't go in.  Look closely and you'll see the solar panels on the roof, which they claim are providing 65% of the power for both buildings. 

I'd love to put some of these on our garage because our garage is on a separate meter.  We could probably "make" some money from the power company by feeding some energy back into the grid this way.  Hey, if it offset just some of our energy costs, that would be awesome. 

We couldn't get a good picture of the backyard here, because of the various fences and structures, but it's full of veggies and fruit trees as well.  What they grow goes to feed the local homeless folks, including eggs from the chickens and honey from their bee hives.

Speaking of chickens, we were interested in the chicken pettin', but couldn't find anyone to let us in.  They were busy building frames for their bee hives.  Not a big loss, as we can pet chickens at our house any time except....

You can't pet this guy at my house!

Holy mackerel!  Look at the size of that rooster.  I bet he weighs north of 15 pounds.  We're not allowed to have roosters in the city because of their crowing, so I wonder how they get away with having him?  He never crowed while we were there.  I know that crowing decreases as the bird gets older.  Was he just old or did they cut his larynx to stop him from crowing?  That seems too cruel for me.

Well, that's a lot of pics for one post, so I think I'll stop here and do Part 2 tomorrow.  I hope you've enjoyed coming along on the tour with us so far and we'll see you soon!


  1. That looks so fun! I would love to go on an urban farm tour. I never thought about offering garden beds for rent...some people are so creative! What fun you and your nephew must have had.

    1. It was a ton of fun but SO hot! There are lots of community gardens here that are being used to get neighbors involved and out of the house. When we first moved into our house, someone walked right through barriers to put their footprints in wet cement that the city had poured in front of our house. There's a lot of "I don't care" attitude. So, when I first saw these community gardens, the first thought I had was that some jerk would probably chop all the plants down for the heck of it (or steal the produce). The exact opposite has happened...people are getting involved and it's become a great way to "knit" the neighborhood fabric back together.

  2. So very cool! Thank you for sharing the pics! That rooster *is* huge!!! We can have roosters here in the city, we just choose not to in an attempt to be kind to our neighbors. Not sure I could cut a roosters larynx to quiet him either. Crazy! Can't wait to see Part 2!

  3. Thanks, Bee Girl! Doesn't seem natural to snip an animal's vocal cords. I bet that rooster would make a tasty Sunday dinner also, but I'm certain I wouldn't be able to kill him. He's beautiful!

  4. I really really enjoyed this post! I haven't been on the tour the last 3 years, but I really enjoyed the year I went, though I did almost all the KCK Wyco stops, on both sides of the river. Interesting to see people make good use of those vacant lots!


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