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Iflizwerequeen and Charlie Visit We Over Me Farm at Paul Quinn College

Spike, The Touchdown Tomato is the mascot and logo for the Paul Quinn College urban farm--known as the We Over Me Farm.  Spike is toting a turnip and spiking a football. The tomato is an appropriate logo considering that a vegetable patch occupies what was once a football field for Paul Quinn College--almost a sacrilege here in Texas.  But Spike pays a tribute to the farm's football roots so all's well.  Apparently the Cowboys' fans hold no grudge as many of them who attend Cowboy games also eat salsa made from vegetables produced at the We Over Me Farm.

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This morning, as part of our information gathering for the Garland Community Garden Planning Committee, Charlie and I visited the We Over Me Farm located on what was once the football field for Paul Quinn College. Unfortunately Charlie was not able to tromp around the farm with me because of a recent motocycle accident in which he broke his foot.  He was sidelined at a picnic area near the entrance to the farm but he was surrounded by several We Over Me "farm hands"--most of whom are students at Paul Quinn.  They were engaged in the task of washing and bagging vegetables for market. [Being the expert horticulturist that I am, I was amazed at the size of the "radishes" they were washing--until one of the students informed me the vegetables were turnips.]

According to their record-keeping,  this two-acre former football field farm has produced over 15,000 pounds of 100% organic produce since it began in March 2010.  The farm is also home to four active beehives that are maintained by members of the Texas Honeybee Guild, about 16 hens, at least one peacock, and an aquaponic system that supports approximately 100 tilapia fish.  This is all in addition to tomatoes, kale, turnips, radishes, onions, Swiss Chard,  mustard greens and basil currently growing on the farm.

Hannah Koski, a horticulture graduate from Cornell, has been the manager of this urban farm for the past four months.   She is one of many people who are growing this urban farm into a huge success.

In addition to Hannah, there are of course many of the students who attend Paul Quinn College who are helping to make this urban farm a success--a few of whom will be featured in this article.

Ashley Daly is another dynamo who is bringing the news of the We Over Me Urban Farm to the world. Ashley is in charge of media marketing and public relations for Farming at the Paul Quinn College. From the looks of things today, Ashley is doing a great job.  A team from PBS was at the farm interviewing and filming Hannah in the fields and later interviewing some Paul Quinn College students in the greenhouse where the aquaponic system is located.

Speaking of the greenhouse. . .It is huge and appears to be "nearly new" as there is a lot of unused space. Currently it houses an aquaponic tank filled with approximately 100 tilapia. The waste from the fish is nourishing seedlings that are housed in trays in another tank.  It appears that the tank is large enough to nourish at least twice the plants that are currently being fed by the system.  No doubt that will happen in the future.  Hannah mentioned that the other half of the greenhouse will be reserved for raised beds where tomatoes and other vegetables can be grown year round.  Aquaponic designers from the community are assisting in the design and expansions for the aquaponic systems.

 

Below is a photo of the tank that houses the tilapia.  It is located near the back of the photo shown above.

Volunteers and Students from Paul Quinn College contribute greatly to its growing success.  Below are featured a few of these people.

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Claudea Locke, a Paul Quinn College student, is featured below with a "mess" of turnip greens.

 

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Alyssa and Anacleto are two Paul Quinn College students featured in the next photo.  Anacleto is from Dallas, and Alyssa is a freshman who hails from Detroit.  She was convinced to attend Paul Quinn College when President Sorrell came and talked to a group of students in Detroit about the college, its commitment to community and the urban farm.

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Below is another of several students working at the farm this morning.  This young man is planting seeds.

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Chickens, yes the We Over Me Urban farm not only has chickens, they also have a peacock.  I didn't get the scoop on the peacock, but for some reason it does not live within the safety of the enclosure for the laying hens (currently numbering about 14).  I'll have to ask Hannah or Ashley for more information about this critter.

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 Below is a photo of the Claudea washing and bagging the turnips (not radishes).

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Here is photo of another Paul Quinn College student--Timothy Tucker.  Although Timothy grew up in nearby rural areas and knows a lot about farming, and even though the farm is one of the reasons he chose Paul Quinn College, this honors student is interested in marketing and hopes to one day land a job at Sony.  To get some experience in between here and there, Timothy is creating some informational brochures about the farm.

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Cynthia Dade is a volunteer and supporter of the farm.  Cynthia reported that she and members of her family have purchased over 100 pounds of delicious watermelons from the farm.  I know where I'm coming next year for at least a few of my watermelons.  

Currently you can call We Over Me to place an order of basil, heirloom tomatoes, mustard greens, rosemary, specialty radishes, specialty turnips, swiss shard and organic free-range eggs.  Call to order and pick up by appointment:  (214) 379-5457.  You can also email Hannah at hkoski@pqc.edu to place your order.  Cash and checks are accepted.  Produce from the We Over Me farm is also sold at the White Rock Lake Farmers Market from 8AM to 1PM every Saturday!

 

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 Our last photo is of another Paul Quinn College student who also works on the farm:  Chakesha Smith.  Like many of the others, Chakesha proudly wears a shirt with Spike, the Touchdown Tomato.

 

Thursday, October 17, 2013