Friday, January 14, 2011

Edible Landscaping in Portland

"Food not Lawns!"
 Since moving off the farm on rural Orcas Island and back to my hometown of Portland, OR I have been re-inspired by urban agriculture.  While on the island I would travel through Crow Valley with its vast expanses of pasture, a greenhouse here, Maple Rock Farm there.  Sheep and cows grazing, a horse in a stable with an enormous barn as a backdrop.  Extremely picturesque I might add.  
View of Crow Valley from Turtleback Mtn.
One of the great things about being back in Portland is that although the scenery has changed, much of the lifestyle seems to remain the same.  As I ride my bike around town I am constantly amazed by the parking strips turned to garden beds, trees espeliaed, chicken coops galore, goats grazing in a vacant lot, an alley way turned food forest, community gardens busting at the fence posts with gorgeous produce, all the while honey bees buzzing about.  This is what I see where the sidewalk ends and local food begins in the city.

As I continue to embrace city life it is my goal to get-in, on the urban-ag action.  I was fortunate enough to take on a few edible landscaping projects in the summer of 2010.
One fun project was growing food for a woman who cleared out her backyard lawn to make way for a veggie patch in 2009.  My goal for 2010 was to grow as much food as possible in the space provided, while keeping it asthetically pleasing.
This is more or less what I had to work with...
A great "U" shaped raised bed for a backyard.

Perennials line the fence and garage.
In these photos you can see the veggie plot in the spring.  Just like on the farm, I used Remay and put a mini-cloche during the cooler months of spring.
By the time summer hit, I let it all fly.  

Things filled in quite nicely by mid summer.  I found the hardest part of this gardening project to be quantifying the size of my successions for salad greens appropriately.  My farming background had me error on the side of too much.  Sometimes, way too much.

I took on another edible landscaping project next door.  In this case the client wanted me to create the space and they would grow their own veggies.  Fortunately the yard had this perfect little nook to put two large raised beds.  One for the upstairs folks and one for the downstairs folks.  Here is a little before and after...
I ended up using cedar decking boards with a coat of Lin Seed oil to help them last a little longer.  Another good option would have been to use the Trex Decking (made from recyled plastic, which lasts a lifetime, but is also more expensive and has a much different look.  For the corners I used a stack-able joint.  They are little on the pricey side, but finish the corners nicely and should last a long time (also made of recycled plastic).  Moreover, they saved a lot of labor hours for the sixteen corners it took to put these beds together in this configuration.

Thanks for taking a look at a little edible landscaping by Edible Horizons.  Let any of your friends in the Portland area know that I am available for design, implementation and/or consultation for their own veggie patches in 2011.  

Take care,

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Voles, voles and more voles.  Josh and I, at Slow Hand Farm, got hit hard this winter by these pesky little rodents.  They have taken out multiple beds of carrot, beets, chicories, and even climbed their way up stocks of Brussels to nibble the sprouts.  Winter harvest can be discouraging enough as it is.  Motivation is put to the test when heading out to deal with frozen Remay in 20lb muddy boots, soaked rain gear and icicles for fingers.  So when you make it out there to find hollow beets, nubs for carrots and tunneled through sugar loaf chicories a sense of despair sets in...followed by an onslaught of giggles and laughter.  If there is one thing I have learned as a farmer, it's the importance of a healthy sense of humor.  Besides, half of farming is out of our control and the other half can always be done a little better.  With that in mind we invested in traps...not the "Have a Heart" kind (Viewer discretion advised).

Caught in the act! 
This is "The Better Mousetrap" by Intruder!  My farming partner, Josh Volk, heard about them on Elliot Colemans website  which has a good resources page.  Like any new product it has it's pros and cons.  For instance, it is made of plastic, and it is made of plastic.  Easy to clean, possibly more likely to break.  Although this hasn't happened yet.  However, we have lost a few.  I'm afraid some of these critters may have walked away with them.  They are fairly easy to set, so long as you don't use too much bait (in our case PB).  More importantly, they are much less scary than the traditional wooden-wire-spring traps.

This reminds me another varmint I have experienced on the farm.  There's nothing like an Orcas Island rabbit.

Here is a video I put together a few years ago (many of you may have already seen a slightly different version).  It highlights my experience with this adorable, yet destructive and tasty little creature (Once again, viewer discretion is advised).

Check back in for an update of the projects I worked on this summer and to learn about what is on the agenda for 2011.

Kji McIntyre

Friday, January 7, 2011


Rainbow lacinato at Slow Hand Farm. Adam breaking ground in the background. 

Hello All,
I have created this blog to share what I have done in the world of food...past, present and future.  Please check-in to see what evolves in my world of Northwest grown food.

 My newest creation is the start of my first business.  I am calling it Edible Horizons, hence the title for this blog.  Edible Horizons is a culmination of my work in the realm of agriculture over the past eight years.

Edible Horizons is currently based in the Portland Metropolitan area.  It comprises a vegetable farm project on Sauvie Island in collaboration with Slow Hand Farm and Wild Goose Farm, a nursery project in NE Portland and a small edible landscaping and design endeavor within the city.

Since venturing back into my hometown of Portland in November of 2009, I have continued to grow food, volunteered with the Portland Fruit Tree Project as a Tree Care Team Leader and helped launch Fresh Exchange, a token match program for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) participants at the Buckman Portland Farmers Market.  In addition to volunteering and farming I have managed to pay my bills by working at Garden Fever! ( and by installing and tending to local edible gardens in NE Portland.

I look forward to growing more food with Slow Hand Farm and fully launching Edible Horizons in 2011.  Stay in touch to see what develops. 
I guarantee that you will see good food in your future if you do.