Staff Spotlight: Brinton Fox, Cut-Flowers Manager

In an effort to acquaint you with the fine folks who provide you with a steady stream of City Roots' tasty (and gorgeous) local product week-to-week, we present our (new!) Staff Spotlight Series! Follow along for series installments. First up: Brinton Fox, City Roots' Cut Flowers Manager. 

Brinton's City Roots Pick(s): Flamingo Feather Celosia, Mustard Greens, Shishito Peppers, Hakurei Turnips, Snow Pea Microgreens, Oyster Mushrooms

Brinton Fox WHAT UP.jpg

Small scale farming has always been a part of Brinton's life. Her mother ran a small, organic herb farm when she was a child in Chapin, SC, and her favorite thing to do as a kid was planting seeds in the greenhouses and harvesting basil. Brinton went to college at Clemson University with the aspiration of going to law school, but soon found herself working on the Student Organic Farm. She immediately fell in love with being back in agriculture and has never looked back! Since graduating from Clemson, Brinton worked on organic vegetable and flower farms in the mountains of NC and in the deep red clay of southern Georgia. She returned to the Midlands to help with starting a Farm to School program for the school district she grew up in. Now, at her new farming home, City Roots, she is able to combine aspects of her previous farming and education endeavors in her role as Cut Flowers Manager.

What Brinton does at City Roots:
Brinton manages all aspects of the cut-flower production at City Roots, from seed to bouquet. Starting with a comprehensive flower plan--which she follows through the year--she plants, cultivates and harvests, all by hand. After each harvest, she creates beautiful and seasonal bouquets for our farmers markets, events and Flower CSA. In addition to her cut-flower role, she helps with educational programming. Second graders from a local school planted sunflower seedlings with Brinton, which grew mighty and beautifully over the summer! Brinton also coordinates the farm's weekly Thursday Farmers Market.

City Roots launched its first Flower CSA this year, which was one of Brinton's favorite things about the 2017 season. Along with harvesting and arranging the bouquets for the Soda City Farmers Market, The Augusta Market and the City Roots Farmers Market, she sells wholesale flowers to florists and the farm's event partner, F2T Productions, for harvest dinners and events.

Brinton says, "Concentrating on the production of flowers has opened my eyes to a better understanding of a farm’s ecosystem as a whole. Crop planning and succession planting is vital in order to have a continuous harvest from our flowers, especially in the heat of South Carolina summers. All of our flowers are started from seeds or bulbs, and are sold as fresh as possible, which ensures a better product and vase life."

 

 

The Psychology Behind Flowers

Why We Enjoy Giving and Receiving Flowers

by Hannah Cangilla

It's no secret--we all love giving and receiving flowers. Across all countries, cultures, and generations, people have enjoyed the gift of flowers for as long as scientists and anthropologists can trace. But why is this? Some people believe that our adoration for flowers as gifts is purely societal, meaning we like them because we are supposed to like them, but among people who study behavioural psychology there is a growing consensus that there is something more going on when we react positively to flowers. New research shows that flowers, specifically the sight and the smell of them, can change your brain chemistry and lead to more positive feelings and emotions, says Jeannette Haviland-Jones, PhD, professor of psychology and director of the Human Emotions Lab at Rutgers University. Here are some of the perks of living with flowers:

Flowers Create Happiness
Need a mood boost? Receiving flowers, whether you bought them for yourself or they were sent from another person, can give you an immediate boost of happiness. A bouquet of flowers means that someone cares for you. A bouquet with bright colors and sweet, soothing scent can brighten any room. Give yourself some love and add some blooms to your home or spread the love by picking up some fresh flowers for the important people in your life.

Flowers Boost Creativity
Texas A&M University researchers found that women had more innovative ideas and creative solutions to problems when flowers were nearby their workstations. Next time a work project has you stumped or your calculus homework has your head spinning, try adding some blooms to your desk to get you through your day.

Flowers Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Reach for a bunch of daisies instead of a pint of Ben & Jerrys when you’re down. There is a reason that people turn to gardening when they are stressed out or battling the blues. There is a reason people give flowers as gifts for patients in the hospital; yes, it’s a thoughtful thing to do, but it may help patients heal faster. More commonly, hospitals include access to green space for patients in recovery because simply spending some time in the fresh air surrounded by plants and flowers helps stressed people feel more relaxed and a more relaxed patient typically heals faster than someone who is stressed out. Don’t just save that knowledge for someone in the hospital, treat yourself to those same benefits next time work or life has you feeling under the weather or stressed out.

Color Therapy
The effects of colors on the brain are well-known and flowers elevate our moods through color. When you’re picking a bunch of flowers in your yard or at the local farmers’ market, remember that less saturated and brighter colors are generally more relaxing, while bold saturated colors will energize you. A bunch with colors that fall near each other on the color wheel will also be more calming; with the opposite effect ensuing if the colors are opposite each other. Curvy shapes have generally been shown to be relaxing — make an informed choice!

Aromatherapy
Fragrance is another way that flowers affect the brain. For example, phenylethylamine is a chemical in roses that gives them their signature scent. This chemical holds an amino acid that slows the breakdown of beta endorphins; beta endorphins are hormones responsible for making us feel euphoric and in love. Other flower scents help promote sleep, relaxation and health. A whole field of study is devoted to aromatherapy and how it affects the brain. City Roots includes fresh herbs like mint and basil in arrangements, making the whole room smell fresh and amazing.

Who knew that something as simple as a flower could have all of these amazing beneficial effects on the human brain? Well, all of us who have ever received flowers, really. Science is now proving what we have always known to be true.

Check out the new flower CSA shares at City Roots to keep beautiful blooms in your home or office all season long.  hhttp://www.cityroots.org/flower-csa/

Here are the flowers we are planning!

Ageratum, Bachelor Button, Calendula, Celosia, Cosmos, Sun Ball, Flowering Basil, Dill, Mint, and Oregano, Gladiolus, Gomphrena, Lilies, Marigold, Salvia, Scabiosa, Snapdragons, Stock, Sunflower, Sweet Pea, Yarrow, Zinnia

CSA Recipe: Curly Cress!

Curly Cress is a new crop for City Roots!  Its flavor is similar to watercress and arugula, adding a nice spice to any salad or sandwich.

Curly Cress and Orange Salad

  • City Roots Curly Cress (substitute for Watercress!)
  • oranges
  • olive oil
  • orange juice
  • lemon juice
  • salt

In a large bowl, combine curly cress and oranges. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients. Drizzle over salad; toss to coat.

How to Grow Potatoes in a Trash Can

Potatoes tend to take up a lot of space in the garden, can be difficult to harvest, and must be planted in a different area each year. For these reasons, it is often easier to grow potatoes in a container where they are easy to harvest and take up minimal space; an ideal container is a regular plastic trash can. Follow the steps below to learn how to grow potatoes in a trash can. Have any Pro Tips of your own? Share in the comments!

Photo from Hope Gardens

Photo from Hope Gardens

1. Drill holes in the bottom of the trash can for drainage. If your can does not allow water to drain, the potatoes will rot. Holes can be drilled or cut with a small saw. Drill as many holes as possible without making the trash can bottom too weak to hold in soil.

2. Add a layer of potting mix to the trash can. Once the drainage holes are drilled, you can begin adding soil. It is best to use potting mix rather than soil from your garden, as potting mix produces the best results when container gardening. Begin by adding a layer about 10 inches (25 cm) deep.

3. Prepare your potatoes for planting (called "Chitting"). Small potatoes can be planted whole, but larger ones should be cut into smaller pieces. Each piece should have at least 3 "eyes," or dimples. After cutting the potatoes (if needed), allow the cut edges to air dry before planting. 

4. Plant the potatoes. Bury the seed potatoes about 4 inches (10 cm) under the potting mix. In a 32 gallon (120 L) garbage can, you should only need about 4 potatoes, spaced evenly apart. Place the garbage can into an area that receives direct sunlight for 4 to 6 hours a day. 

Tip: Keep the soil moist as the potatoes grow. 

5. Add more potting mix as the plants grow ("Mounding"). When the potato plants start growing, you should continually add potting mix to the garbage can to cover the plants' stems, making sure to leave the leaves exposed to the sun. This allows more room underneath the soil for new potatoes to grow.

Tip: You should continually build up this hill of soil throughout the growing season (called "Mounding"). This is why the trash can is such an effective vessel - it allows for plenty of vertical room to continually bury the plants' stems while keeping them covered from the sun.)

6. Harvest the potatoes when they're ready. At the end of the growing season, you simply have to lay down a tarp and overturn the trash can onto it. You can then pick the potatoes off of the tarp. Do not reuse the potting mix for growing potatoes again, as this will make the plants more susceptible to disease.

 

Farmer's Market Recipe: Pizza w/ Whole Wheat and Honey Crust

Spicy Microgreens make an excellent pizza topping!

Spicy Microgreens make an excellent pizza topping!

You'll love the flavor of a little local honey in your pizza crust, it adds the slightest touch of sweetness and crisps up beautifully. This quick and easy pizza dough can be topped any way you like (we suggest lots of farm-fresh toppings and our Spicy Microgreens mix!).

Whole Wheat and Honey Pizza Dough
Dough Ingredients:
3/4 Cup Filtered Water (110 degrees F)

2 1/2 teaspoons Dry Active Yeast

2 Cups Organic Whole Wheat Flour

1 Tablespoon Local Honey

1 teaspoon Sea Salt

3 Tablespoons Organic Olive Oil

To make the dough:
Combine the water, yeast and honey together. After about 5 minuted the mixture will look frothy. Then add in the olive oil. In another bowl combine the flour and sea salt and whisk together. Then combine both mixtures together and mix well with a wooden spoon and your hands. Place into a bowl in a warm area and allow dough to rise. After 45 minutes, punch down and wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the Pizza:
To shape your crust you will simply use your hands and gravity. DO NOT use a rolling pin- it will press out all of the air that has formed in your dough. Take the ball of dough in your hands and simply begin pulling it around the edges. It should start to stretch easily. Rotate it around your first making sure you are stretching each side evenly, so that you have a round crust. The middle will be fairly thin, and you want to leave the edges thicker so they will puff up. Sprinkle a small amount of corn meal on a pizza stone or baking pizza pan to prevent the pizza from sticking. Top your pizza with a combo of your favorite farmer's market ingredients, like Trail Ridge Farm's Lavender Blues goat cheese, Wil-Moore Farms bacon and some crushed walnuts. Bake pizza in a preheated 500 degree F oven for 12-15 minutes until the the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown. Top with spicy micros and another drizzle of honey!

**What market meals have you created lately? Let us know and share a photo on our Facebook page!**

Week in Photos: 5 & 6

Microgreens

I once read microgreens being described as "vegetable confetti," and think that's a pretty fun and accurate way to describe them. Bright in color and flavor, they make a festive garnish, topping, and nutritional "pop" when sprinkled on any dish! 

Microgreens are the cornerstone of our farm's business, growing year-round in the tempered climate of our greenhouses, and are our most-widely distributed product. We recently expanded to include over 9000 square feet of greenhouse space and a repurposed soil shed system for our microgreens! In addition to micros, we grow nasturtiums and watercress in the greenhouse using an acquaponics system, which mimics a pond-and-stream system found in nature. To learn more about what a microgreens is and the different types of microgreens we grow, visit http://www.cityroots.org/microgreens/.

Our Greenhouse Manager, Beth, works tirelessly to ensure the microgreens production stays on-task and on-time! We're grateful for our entire Greenhouse team. 

Greenhouse Manager, Beth, seeding microgreens trays: sango radish.

Greenhouse Manager, Beth, seeding microgreens trays: sango radish.

The newest greenhouse in production, also housing some potted herbs.

The newest greenhouse in production, also housing some potted herbs.

Amaranth microgreens in the first greenhouse, Greenhouse 1.

Amaranth microgreens in the first greenhouse, Greenhouse 1.

Nasturtium and watercress growing in water through the farm's acquaponics system.

Nasturtium and watercress growing in water through the farm's acquaponics system.

Matt and Steven repurpose the current frame of the greenhouse soil shed, sawing out cubes to wedge in new boards. The greenhouse team is adjusting the soil shed compost system to ensure regular turning of the soil to keep in fungus-free. 

Matt and Steven repurpose the current frame of the greenhouse soil shed, sawing out cubes to wedge in new boards. The greenhouse team is adjusting the soil shed compost system to ensure regular turning of the soil to keep in fungus-free. 

Week in Photos: 4

Every year, we look forward to the Annual Pig and Oyster Roast at the farm, and this year did not disappoint! We spent the week prepping for the party, while plugging along with farm work:  new tires for the John Deer tractor, prepping a former blackberry field for field crops, and planting the new high tunnel. 

Saturday arrived, with clear blue skies and sweater weather making a perfect day to pick and shuck all afternoon, cold beverage in hand. A team of chefs skillfully roasted our Wil-Moore farms pasture-raised pork and bushels of fresh, briny oysters straight from the SC Coast for a hungry crowd. Guests tapped their toes to live bluegrass music, warming up by the open fire pits, while kids hung on the perimeter, hands in the ground. What a way to end the month!

Week in Photos: 3

Change is constant on the farm: unfolding slowly and steadily through the lifecycle of crops and daily tasks, and sometimes abruptly with a burst of activity on the farm. This week seemed to buzz at City Roots. Construction began on the new "Farm Kitchen" building, sides went up on the new High Tunnel, and fields were prepped for the first of Spring planting. The current flurry of activity signals change ahead, while the steady hum of growing food grounds us.

Before construction begins

Before construction begins

Day 1

Day 1

Day 1

Day 1

End of Day 1

End of Day 1

Day 2

Day 2

Day 2

Day 2

The High Tunnel allows us to over-winter and start summer crops, like tomatoes, earlier in the season.

The High Tunnel allows us to over-winter and start summer crops, like tomatoes, earlier in the season.

Prepping Fields at Heathwood for Spring planting

Prepping Fields at Heathwood for Spring planting

Matt with a hefty turmeric harvest

Matt with a hefty turmeric harvest

Andrew and Rigsbee Processing to the Beet

Andrew and Rigsbee Processing to the Beet

View from the Roof onThursday 1/12/17 at 5pm:  Farmers Market, Building Construction, High Tunnel

View from the Roof onThursday 1/12/17 at 5pm:  Farmers Market, Building Construction, High Tunnel

Week in Photos: 2

We experienced zany wintertime weather this week; freezing at the beginning (we saw a few flakes of snow on Saturday!) and a high of 75 by the end of the week. Construction on the high tunnel continued, and as we bid farewell to some of the winter crops, like carrots and turnips, we welcomed a newcomer on the farm in the form of an historic, native grape, the Herbemont. Keith Willoughby of Wil-Moore Farms flexes his culinary skills at the farmers market and we all relished the warmth of the sun after a bone-chilling few days. 

City Roots Farmers Market getting started, with Peter making sure we're all set.

City Roots Farmers Market getting started, with Peter making sure we're all set.

This is a City Roots Farmers Market meal, created off-the-cuff by farmer Keith Willoughby of Wil-Moore farms, using one pan, a hot plate, and ingredients from the market! You're looking at fresh butternut squash ravioli topped with garlic pork sausage (sautéed in a healthy pat of Happy Creamery butter), Trail Ridge marinated goat feta, and City Roots microgreens. Voila! 

This is a City Roots Farmers Market meal, created off-the-cuff by farmer Keith Willoughby of Wil-Moore farms, using one pan, a hot plate, and ingredients from the market! You're looking at fresh butternut squash ravioli topped with garlic pork sausage (sautéed in a healthy pat of Happy Creamery butter), Trail Ridge marinated goat feta, and City Roots microgreens. Voila! 

Keith Mearns (left). Horticulturalist at Historic Columbia, first propagated the Herbemont at the Robert Mills house in Columbia last sprong. These cuttings are from those vines, and are the second planting of the grape since the 1820s. 

Keith Mearns (left). Horticulturalist at Historic Columbia, first propagated the Herbemont at the Robert Mills house in Columbia last sprong. These cuttings are from those vines, and are the second planting of the grape since the 1820s. 

Eric McClam, Farm Manager, placing the cutting in the planter at the entrance of the Pavilion. 

Eric McClam, Farm Manager, placing the cutting in the planter at the entrance of the Pavilion. 

The unassuming, dormant cuttings of the Herbemont grape went in the ground this week, as part of the efforts to revitalize the hybrid variety, first created by Nicolas Herbemont in the early 19th century. 

The unassuming, dormant cuttings of the Herbemont grape went in the ground this week, as part of the efforts to revitalize the hybrid variety, first created by Nicolas Herbemont in the early 19th century. 

Week in Photos: 1

Happy New Year! We're starting 2017 on the farm with resolutions, projects, and plans for a healthy, happy and productive new year. One of the projects is committing to a weekly photo stream to share with you the happenings, experiences, challenges and successes of farm life at City Roots. We hope you're inspired to set your own intentions for a happy and healthy year and join us for the journey!

First harvest of Golden Beets

First harvest of Golden Beets

Panoramic view of the low tunnel planted with lettuce

Panoramic view of the low tunnel planted with lettuce

New high tunnel construction to help us grow over the winter

New high tunnel construction to help us grow over the winter

Andrew, Rigsbee and Audrey

Andrew, Rigsbee and Audrey

Big, beautiful heads of butterhead lettuce ready to harvest!

Big, beautiful heads of butterhead lettuce ready to harvest!

Lettuce rosette

Lettuce rosette