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Myers Park Microfarmers : The Nicholson Family

Meet the Nicholson family : Max, Daralyn, Max Jr., Jack, and Riley .  Daralyn is a laser focused Bank of America Executive, and Max a busy entrepreneur , running both the Sub Station II store on 7th St., and Charlotte Pedicabs.  The family started growing organic produce back in May, in a raised cedar garden bed, custom made to nestle in perfectly between the boys’ play set and the fence at the back of the property. “I remember helping my mom out in the garden when I was little, and I wanted to give that experience to my kids,” says Max. “The garden has been a lot of fun, something that’s really brought us together as a family,” he continues, smiling. “We harvested a ton of green beans this year, and Max Jr. had a blast helping us pick them. We just planted our beets, chard, broccoli, snow peas, and cauliflower , and we’re looking forward to a great harvest later this fall.”

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Waging War on Garden Pests...Safely

Ever awakened to find that your tender young vegetable plants - the ones that were destined for greatness  like a four year old piano prodigy, had been annihilated by greedy, marauding  garden pests  in the night?  Cauliflower leaves that drooped heavy with promise were all gone, a neat pile of green cabbage worm droppings the only clue to their demise. Perfectly seeded lettuce rows that would have put a mixed greens salad on the table every week were eaten up by hungry birds and fat slugs. All the while, a crowd of rabbits, squirrels, raccoons and deer likely watched from the shadows, ready to clean up anything that was overlooked.

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Cool Season Gardening 

Your garden is beginning to look like  the bread isle on a snow day, as waves of exhausted summer vegetable plants find their way into the compost pile. The days are becoming shorter, and open windows welcome crisp morning air into the house. It’s time to plant for fall!

Cold hardy vegetable varieties like cabbage, broccoli, kale, and chard prefer cool temperatures and thrive in the mild spring and fall climates of the Southeastern United States. As you remove spent summer plants, and prepare your garden for fall crops, remember these important steps that will help ensure a successful harvest :

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So What Exactly is a Microfarm?

Simply put, a microfarm is a small amount of land - an acre or less to be exact- that is devoted to the production of food.  The term often applies to tiny farms operating in dense urban settings, but can just as easily describe a small area used for food production in a suburban or rural setting .  The idea is to utilize available space for raising food, and harvest the property’s natural resources, like rainwater and leaves, and recycle them back into the farm. For example, a series of sturdy raised beds installed in a tiny but sunny back yard near Uptown Charlotte, would provide a year round supply of seasonal produce for a family. Well placed fruit and nut trees on the property would complement the vegetables and herbs grown in the beds. Rainwater would be harvested with a series of rain barrels or a cistern, and recycled back into the garden to improve crop yields. A high capacity compost system would be built on site, to convert every bit of unused organic material like vegetable scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds and leaves, into organic humus for the garden.

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Tackling the Problem of Food Deserts

There are parts of the Charlotte area that have been deemed deserts. Don’t spend too much time looking for camels or sand dunes, though, because these are food deserts : typically low income urban and rural areas where residents don’t have  access to healthy foods, largely because of the distance to well stocked supermarkets and  grocery stores. Much of this problem can be attributed to the shift of large chain food stores away from urban areas and into higher income suburban areas. Food retailers are discouraged from opening chains in low-income urban communities because of high crime rates, transportation costs and low return on investment, as the poor have less money to spend on healthy food. This leaves residents of these areas to purchase food from convenience stores or corner shops that stock mainly cheap, processed foods or foods high in fats and sugars.

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