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 2

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Continuing on from Urban Farm Tour: Part I, our next stop is to the local favorites, The Urban Farming Guys.  These folks are in our neighborhood and are very active in our neighborhood association.  What they're doing for the community is great, so I'm proud to introduce them to you.
The Urban Farming Guys “Myrtle Plot”(1121 Myrtle Ave., Kansas City, MO 64127)

Oh, my goodness!  So much to see here including an aquaponics fish farm, vertical gardening, worm farming and heugelculture!  They even rent plots to the community, including the apartment building next door.

I was, of course, in love with this old Victorian that they have been restoring.

Shortly after I arrived, this little guy started following me around.  At one point, he even perched on my arm.  Quite the ham, he stopped to pose for several pictures as well.

He was particularly enjoying the onion flowers.  (Anybody know what kind of onions these are?  They were close to 4 feet tall!)

And, of course, the duckweed.  Duckweed is a plant that grows on the surface of the water.  The intern that was giving us the tour explained that they use window screens to harvest it and then lay them in the sun to dry.  They then feed the dry duckweed to the fish in the aquaponics tanks.

While we were talking , a constant stream of bees from their hives were stopping by to take a rest on the surface of the duckweed and get a sip of water.

Right after this, we toured their bunny cages and were told that they take the bunny poo and reuse it in the garden.  They had several baby bunnies out for petting and how the heck I managed to NOT get a picture of a baby bunny is beyond me.  It was at this point that we lost the niece and nephew to cuteness.  We didn't see them again until we were ready to leave.

I think I was distracted by their stand of bamboo.  Now that's not something you see in KC everyday.

Our guide explained that the bamboo served several purposes: they use the stalks in the garden as trellises, the leaves are fed to the bunnies, and the whole stand provides shade and a natural screen from the neighbor's house.  Behind the bamboo are their beehives, so the bees are tucked away in a shady, protected spot where they won't be disturbed.

This is a neat place.  They welcome visitors at any time so, if you get a chance, stop by and see Jason @ the Urban Farming Guys.  Next stop....

HoopDog Studio Garden  (3314 Troost Ave., Kansas City, MO 64109)

HoopDog is a jewel shining in the deep "hood" in Kansas City.  This isn't a place you would want to be after dark by yourself, let's put it this way.  And that's coming from someone that lives in the highest crime rate zipcode in KC.

Love their logo!

The garden covers 2 city lots and, in conjunction with the chickens that are allowed to fly around unfettered, it feeds 10 people all year round.  Not only that, but it's chock full of stuff to look at - much of it repurposed materials.  For example, they use commercial muffin tins to act as lily pads in their ponds!

Here's a picture of their quonset-hut looking chicken coop.  Even though the day was hot, it was nice and cool in there.  But, alas, no chickens!  I found them hiding in various shady spots in the garden.

Those concrete pieces make an interesting kind of "wall" for the entrance.  I'm pretty sure those are concrete cores that they got from the city or the highway department.

Next to the  garden on a separate lot are the house that is home to several artists, a separate studio and this "greenhouse" in the backyard. 

The greenhouse had been converted into a lovely shady spot - I LOVE this idea.  I think the material they used to cover this is the same thing as webbing off of lawn chairs, but it was hard to tell.  They just weaved it through the openings in a goat panel that had been bent over into a U shape.

While I was there, I fell in love with a piece of art:

It's a little hard to tell, but that's a fly (or a bee - there was a slight disagreement on this point) and it's made out of a hand grenade.

Leaving HoopDog, I couldn't NOT take a picture of this dumpster adorned with images of chickens before we left to go grab some lunch.  By this point, it was well past 1 p.m. and tummies were growling and we were getting a little grumpy.  A quick stop for Minsky's pizza and calzones and then we were on our way to Independence to see ...

St. Paul Community Garden (11200 E. 36th St., Independence, MO, 64052)

This community garden was started in 2007 by 8 gardeners and it's now expanded to include 26 plots that are rented out, a fairly decent fruit orchard and strawberry beds. Of all the cool things I saw on the tour, St. Paul's had the coolest.  Check out this arched entrance to the garden!

The gardeners in attendance explained that the arch was built by the local Boy Scout Eagle troop as one of their badge projects.  It's very well built and gave lots of room for people to walk through and sit (this came in handy later!)  I took lots of pictures of how it was put together, because I'd love to reproduce this in our neighborhood.  Basically it's just a wood arch with chainlink fence bent over the top.

Can you imagine this as a shady hideaway with vines growing over it in the summer?  Beautiful!  They had started some native passion flower vine and gourds, but they weren't very far along.  I may drive by later this summer and see what it looks like.

The gardeners here were so incredibly informative and helpful...and nice.  They explained that they try to grow food in harmony with nature, so many of the plants are native to Missouri.

While they have a city water spigot on site, they are working on rain catchment systems for the gardeners to use as well.

They had a huge compost facility setup.  With no mortar between those blocks, I'd be a little afraid it might fall over.

A Monarch Waystation welcomes butterflies, and the site is a National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Habitat. This is where I took those beautiful pictures of milkweed, sunflowers, and coneflowers that I posted earlier this week. 

The paths through this garden were clearly defined by chain link (without the chain) and they were using these to support some of the plants as well.  Along most of these were various kinds of sunflowers that were about 2 to 3 feet tall.  Again, I can't wait to come back in a month or so and see how things have progressed.

One other thing that I found really interesting about St. Paul's was their garden shed.  Instead of the traditional barn doors, they had put in a garage door.  Now why the heck didn't I think of that?!  We have problems getting our equipment out of ours right now because the doors are too small, and we've been thinking about making it bigger.  Since you can pick up used garage doors pretty cheaply on Craigslist, this is a great idea!

Well, that pretty much does it for this year's Urban Farm tour.  There were 60+ sites, but we only made it to 9 of them in one day.  We had too much work to do to go out for another day, plus...did I mention it was really stinkin' hot??!!

I hope you enjoyed going on the tour with us.  I know we had a ton of fun and will definitely be going on the next tour in 2015.


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