Workshop on Fall Crops and Cover Cropping Oct. 17th

Guy D’Angelo, Wenting Chen plus one other in Imani II with hoop house

On Saturday October 17th at 1 PM, Guy D’Angelo, an organic farmer with 20 years experience growing on a 1/4 acre garden in Center Moriches Long Island, will be discussing fall crops and cover cropping at Imani II. Find out what plants you can grow in the fall in this zone and how to prepare your planting beds. Also learn about the advantages of putting a crop on your planting beds that will protect and enhance the soil over the winter. We will provide a demonstration of how to start your crop, how to cultivate and harvest it. Learn how you can extend the growing season even further with hoop houses over your growing beds.
Imani Garden II is located at 1680 Pacific Street in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. It has 13 raised beds, a 350 gallon water storage tank and a year around polycarbonate greenhouse.
To get there by mass transit, take the A/C or 3/4 trains to Utica Avenue. Walk Utica to Pacific Street and then walk west to Schenectady Avenue. Imani is located at the corner of Schenectady and Pacific Street.

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Compost Tea Workshop at Imani Garden April 18-19

Compost with worms in Imani II compost bin

What’s compost tea and how do you make it? Come find out on April 18 and 19 at Imani Garden! We’ll be brewing a batch on Saturday and applying it on Sunday t…o our garden beds. Many soil biologists including Dr. Elaine Ingham believe that compost tea is an excellent way to amplify the biological activity in your compost.  For a 10 minute video that explains how to make compost tea click here. We’ll also be doing some work to get the garden ready for spring, including bringing leaves from a nearby park in a wheelbarrow brigade and cleaning out our water storage tanks and fish ponds. Lots of fun. Bring some work gloves and if you have them, rubber gloves for cleaning the tanks and ponds. We’ll be providing some tasty vegetarian stew. Bring your favorite beverage and some hearty bread. See you there! Donation of $5 requested to cover material costs. Loving those worms in the compost pile at Imani!
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Climate Battery Completed At Imani II

Climate battery in formation. Imani II

As the darkness of December descends on Imani, a group of volunteers completed work on the climate battery in the greenhouse at Imani II.  Just to recapitulate, the climate  battery concept was introduced by Jerome Osentowsky at the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute to extend the growing season in their greenhouses.  Located in Basalt Colorado, CRMRI has been able to achieve remarkably warm temperatures in their greenhouses during cold winter weather using what Jerome calls a “climate battery“.  At 7,200 feet above sea level, the greenhouses suffer very low winter temperatures, but also enjoy lots of sunlight.  CRMPI was able to capture the heat generated by the sun and keep it in the greenhouses using a climate battery. The climate battery consists of ducts located at the top of the greenhouse which connect to similar ducts in the ground under the greenhouse.  Using small fans, the heat available during the hot sunny days is blown into the ground where it warms the soil.  Jerome grows a number subtropical and tropical plants in the greenhouses.  When the cold is too intense for even the climate battery to overcome, the staff fires up the adjacent hot tub and lets the heat warm the greenhouse.  Now that’s not just sustainable, that’s a great permaculture lifestyle!

Climate battery under construction showing buried tubing
Solar panel powering climate battery

At Imani II. we’ve run 4″ aluminium duct commonly used to exhaust household dryers along the top of the greenhouse.  We’ve connected this to 4″ drainage pipe buried a few inches below the ground on each side of the greenhouse floor.  At the front of the upper duct is a 12 volt fan repurposed from a discarded computer.  The fan is controlled by a thermostat commonly used for attic fans.  When the temperature at the top of the greenhouse reaches 60 degrees, the fan comes on and blows hot air into the buried drainage pipes.

55 gallon barrels filled with water will store heat gained from the sun.  Barrels are reused, water was captured from a nearby roof.

To enhance the solar gain, we’ve placed six donated 55 gallon plastic drums filled with water along the sides of the greenhouse.  The water will capture the heat during the days and use it to warm the greenhouse at night.  We’re also using the tops of the drums as platforms for our planting beds.

The fan is powered by two 6 volt deep-cycle batteries connected in series to create 12 volts.  The batteries are charged by a single 100 watt PV panel mounted on the south side of the greenhouse.
We installed an inexpensive ($12) electronic indoor/outdoor thermometer to measure the indoor and outdoor.  Because it has been raining here in Brooklyn for the past week, the differential has only been averaging a couple of degrees between indoor and outdoor.  I’m waiting on some sunny weather to see how much the sun raises the indoor temperature.
Today, Roman Yavich, Corey Hopp, Tommy and myself spread about 700 pounds of sand and gravel on the floor of the greenhouse on top of a layer of heavy plastic.  The plastic will prevent moisture from coming up into the greenhouse house and the sand and gravel will help retain heat.
Finally we painted the drums black to increase their heat absorption.
Total cost: $172.  The solar panel and batteries are not included as they were borrowed from our aquaponics system which doesn’t work in the winter.
Below is the story in pictures.

Sand is placed top of plastic on the floor of the greenhouse.
Tommy and Cory spreading gravel on top of the sand
Roman painting the water-filled drums with black paint
Some trays of micro greens on top of the black drums.

We will be monitoring the climate battery’s performance over the winter months and will fine tune and adjust the system based on its performance.  As an old boss once told me, “all good big systems are based on good small ones”.  As we learn about climate batteries in our little 10′ x 12′ greenhouse, we hope to apply our experience to larger greenhouses.  The goal: help feed ourselves year round, not just in the warm summer months.  After all, I do eat 12 months a year, and I suppose you do the same.  Let’s learn how grow locally 12 months a year as well.

Roman Javier painting water barrels in greenhouse with climate battery

 

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Lobster Dinner 2014 a Great Success

Travis with lobster pit

On Saturday, Sept. 27th, 2014 Imani Garden held its 5th annual lobster dinner and permaculture talk.  The talk this year was given by Claudia Joseph, a well-known permaculture instructor and gardener at the permaculture garden at the Old Stone House in Park Slope.  As she spoke, garden members Roman Yavich and Travis Frazelle loaded lobsters and corn on the cob onto steaming seaweed over a bed of charcoal.

Around 5 PM the cooked lobsters and corn made a journey over to the Concern for Independent Living at 151 Rochester Avenue, a few blocks from Imani.  There the David Ambrosio trio performed live jazz while diners partook of delicious lobster, corn on the cob, potatoes, Bangladeshi steamed vegetables and homemade cake.  This was the first year we’ve served our dinner at this location and it worked out great!

Many thanks to Cynthia Solomon and the staff at CIL.  Also thanks those who donated tickets for the event, to David Ambrosio and this trio and to all of the Imani gardeners who worked so hard to pull of this labor intensive event.

Claudia Joseph, permaculturists, with attendees at lobster dinner

 

 

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Highlights from the 2012 Imani Lobster Dinner

Lobster and corn on seaweed Luke Todd  in background

On Saturday September 29th 2012, we held our 3rd annual lobster dinner fund raiser for Imani Garden.  Over 40 people attended and in total 50 lobsters were served.

Emmy Gay giving talk at lobster dinner

Emmy Gaye, drawing on her extensive theater experience and knowledge of permaculture, gave a heartfelt talk to about 20 attendees before the lobsters were served.  

 With the help of Travis Frazelle, Salome Perry, Lydia Schmidt, Fabian Rosario, Tawhid Uddin, Fabian’s son (sorry I didn’t get his name), Marie Rosey and Claudia Chaqui, the dinner, which is a huge undertaking for the garden members, went off without a hitch.  Not only do we bring in 60 fresh lobster from the Red Hook’s own Lobster Pound, we also bring in two large bags of seaweed, 75 ears of corn, 60 potatoes, a dozen bunches of collards (all produce is minimally treated or organic from the Park Slope Food Coop) and 80 pounds of charcoal.  With a crew of five, we build up a lobster “pit” out of a dozen concrete blocks and cover it with a large sheet of stainless steel.  Once the charcoal is ready, we stack on the seaweed, the lobster and the corn, cover the entire large pile with canvas tarp and soak liberally with water.  Let steam for two hours, or until the lobster are a bright red, and voila:  a feast fit for Kings County!

Jasmine Williams at lobster pit

In case you’re concerned that we might be depleting our lobster stocks in Maine with our large consumption of lobsters, please see the linked article from the Maine Sunday Telegram.  It seems that the lobster population has exploded in recent years, perhaps in part because lobster are bottom feeders and actually eat the stuff we throw out.  According to the article, the Maine lobster catch has grown from about 20 million pounds in 1990 to 104.9 million pounds in 2010, a five fold increase in just 20 years.

Here’s the link to the article:

http://www.pressherald.com/news/lobster-fishermen-all-in-the-same-boat_2012-08-12.html?searchterm=eric+russell

Many thanks to all who made this dinner a steaming success.  The funds raised will do a long ways towards further the projects planned for next year, including adding a water storage tank to Imani II, improving our chicken operation in Imani II, upgrading our solar-powerd aquaponic system in Imani I. adding covers to our compost bins in Imani II and more yet to come.

Be sure to tell your friends and family about the dinner, so we can make it a bigger and better event next year.

Water harvesting system in Imani I at lobster dinner
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Imani Lobster Dinner 2013

New England Style Lobster Dinner

Fresh from Maine Cooked outdoors

Saturday, September 28, 2013

see pricing and menu choices below

Seating is limited. Make sure to reserve a spot online!

Register Here

Travis Frazelle  working on lobster pit in Imani I

 

Imani Garden, a set of two gardens located in Crown Heights on Schenectady Avenue between Dean and Pacific, is hosting its 4th annual New England style lobster dinner

Continue reading “Imani Lobster Dinner 2013”

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