Category Archives: Projects

Public Harvest Map for Onondaga County and Central New York

Here is a map of publicly available sources of food that can be harvested in Onondaga County and the broader Central New York region. This map is being shared by popular demand. It is our hope that we, people sharing interest in public food sources and all their co-benefits, will populate and maintain this resource as a community. The map is viewable and editable by the public, hosted and occasionally backed up by non-profit mutual aid group The Alchemical Nursery Project, Inc. of Syracuse, NY.

Please respect the land these potential harvests are on. Alchemical Nursery is not moderating every map entry, and we cannot ensure that points on the map are 100% publicly accessible for harvesting. You sure are welcome at the public community gardens we host, which are on this Public Harvest map and are listed in our Projects page. If you have questions or suggestions, please email us ( info [at] alchemicalnursery [dot] org ) for assistance. Please harvest honorably.


To use this map, go to the following link for zoom and search functionality: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1kYz4UCuVrOMYC45WO4C1SspzhXc&usp=sharing

Or in the map below, you can click the top-left icon to view a legend of potential harvest points.

Rahma Food Forest Stewardship Team Orientation

This date is for an orientation work day for individuals wishing to join the stewardship team at Rahma. Spots in this training are limited to 15 people in order to provide adequate instruction and attention to volunteer needs. You should be willing to become a return volunteer stewarding the site for other volunteers at future work days. Orientation will include full instructions on processes and procedures for you to be a part of the stewardship team crew :>)  You must register at the Facebook event page or contact Frank directly at 315-308-1372.

The Rahma Edible Food Forest Snack Garden is looking for volunteers for the 2020 season. This permaculture project supports the watershed and the Rahma Free Health Clinic at 3100 South Salina St in the southside of the city through landscape maintenance, stormwater management, providing free pick fruits and berries to the community, and educating clinic members and patrons.

We are looking for groups or families that would like to coordinate a date (or two) for coming and helping. We are also looking for individuals who would like to join the stewardship team, agreeing to host volunteers and be on site once a month during the April-September season. Learn more about the free clinic at https://www.rahmafreeclinic.com/

Join our Stewardship Team at Rahma!

The Rahma Edible Food Forest Snack Garden is looking for volunteers for the 2020 season. This permaculture project supports the watershed and the Rahma Free Health Clinic at 3100 South Salina St in the southside of the city through landscape maintenance, stormwater management, providing free pick fruits and berries to the community, and educating clinic members and patrons.

We are looking for groups or families that would like to coordinate a date (or two or more) for coming and helping. We are also looking for individuals who would like to join the stewardship team, agreeing to host volunteers and be on site once a month or so (we’re flexible) during the April-September season. Learn more about the free clinic at https://www.rahmafreeclinic.com/

Contact Frank at 315-308-1372 or frcetera@alchemicalursery.org

Fundraiser successes supporting trees in CNY!

Two local agroforestry fundraisers have succeeded in their goals this summer! Germinating projects that will grow toward fruition as we head into winter and the year to come. Much thanks for all contributions and support.

Alchemical Nursery fundraised $748/700 toward the 3 part peachy goal! “For part one, we will plant two dwarf peach at the 610 Gifford St Community Garden ($100), for part two we will invest in an electric mower (Kobalt 80V ($550) to maintain the abandoned orchard site so the peach trees there stay healthy, for part three, we will plant an additional peach tree at the Rahma Edible Forest Snack Garden ($50).”

New York Tree Crop Alliance (NYTCA) co-op has raised enough funds to buy a Kern Kraft Oil Press near Ithaca! This enables tree crop stewards to process Earth’s gifts of hickories & hazelnuts into useful & healthy oils that can be stored, shipped, and used to create a variety of value-added products. A key step in scaling up toward more broadly accessible and viable tree-based livings.
🌲 🙏 🙌 🌳

Rahma Edible Forest Snack Garden 10 Year Environmental Benefits Assessment: Preliminary Estimates Before Complete Tree Inventory

JULY 13, 2019 – Day of Service at Rahma

On this training & volunteer day we’ll learn about Rahma’s environmental benefits using free scientific software called i-Tree Tools from the USDA Forest Service. A basic environmental benefits report about Rahma will be presented then we’ll measure trees on site to conduct a more detailed i-Tree Eco analysis. We ask that tree ID experts come help forest garden sampling teams – please come if you can, or invite friends to help!

A digital copy of the preliminary report is available here as a PDF.

This Day of Service will be led by volunteer permaculture practitioners Robbie Coville and Frank Cetera. Please consider volunteering or donating to Syracuse’s permaculture mutual aid organization Alchemical Nursery, or even join the board of directors! Interested individuals of any skill level are welcome to get involved. To donate please consider our $1/mo campaign at https://www.patreon.com/alchemicalnursery

McKinley-Brighton Artwork & Student Garden at Rahma Edible Forest Garden

It’s taken quite a few years to figure this out, but we finally created a relationship with McKinley-Brighton school that worked! The kids and teachers did a great job with integrating their artwork into the garden, and we even coordinated a new growing space just for them to have fun and learn in. :>) Check it out when you’re heading down South Salina St! By the way, strawberries are ripening as we sleep and breathe, grab a snack, and take a look at what’s new, what’s old, and what’s in real.

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June 15 and 16 Sessions / How THE ANP PDC Works

Hi PDC learners!  Our next Sessions are this Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday June 15, at 610 Gifford Garden at 11:00 AM

Come together at the 610 Gifford St Community Garden this Saturday June 15th at 11:30 for a hot dog, and a chance to give your input on where the South Geddes Street Business District Wayfinding Signs should point to, and what should be highlighted in the Near Westside or Skiunk City neighborhood. Find out more about how we are planning this project with https://walkyourcity.org/

Those who arrive at 11:00 AM and participate in the learning discussion will have a chance to earn a Permaculture Design Certificate Badge on the topic of Urban Permaculture. Learn more about our free PDC diploma course at http://alchemicalnursery.org/blog/get-involved/the-anp-pdc-a-slow-local-permaculture-education/  We also hope you might help with some garden weeding, as growing season has kicked in!

On Sunday June 16, at Rahma Forest Garden at 11:00 AM
(3100 South Salina St)

We’ll consider this a session on introduction to Permaculture and Forest Gardening from the perspective of sharing more of the site history and strategic plan, sharing with each other our experiences in the fields, and working on more biomass management, through sheet mulching!  Still need to make an event page so stay tuned, but it’s on the calendar, so please share!


Learning Session is comprised of a 20-30 minute Lecture/Discussion led by the Instructor (all Instructors must be current PDC diploma holders), plus a 30-40 minute Hands-On Experience.  Learning Sessions are based upon Curriculum Topics from the Permaculture Institute of North America PDC Curriculum at https://pina.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/CoreCurriculum.pdf

Students must complete at least one Learning Session for each Curriculum Topic (26 in total = 26 hours towards completed diploma).  Some topics will require multiple hours of participation, and small group participation, such as Topic 25 – Design Projects and Presentations.
Reference Materials are made available prior to each Learning Session to those registered.  The Reference Materials are what the Instructor draws primary Lecture/Discussion information from for each Learning Session, in addition to Instructor personal knowledge and experience, and site specifics. Students are highly encouraged to read Reference Materials prior to each Learning Session.
One additional hour per topic can be obtained through Self-Directed Continuing Education in which the Instructor assigns a Reading or Viewing after the Learning Session, and then presents one or more queries to the student related to the Reading or Viewing, in which the student is asked to respond with a minimum 250 word answer.
A Total of 72 hours are required for PDC Diploma completion.

Syracuse Grows Member Garden Meeting: March 19 Notes

The resource drive will take place on April 27th. We need 2 or more people and shovels on site to unload compost and woody debris/mulch. Also, Syracuse Grows is looking for pickup truck drivers to help move material around and will pay for cleanup costs. The HQ for the Resource Drive will be on the corner of Colvin & Salina St.

Spring seedlings partnership with the Brady Farm was announced: member gardens will get a $20 credit to pickup seedlings at Brady Farm. The images below link to the available seedlings list passed out at the meeting (front and back). Most items will be available starting May 6th (farm is open Monday-Friday 9am-3:30pm and Saturday 9am-1pm). Spring greens/brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, collards, mustards, pac choi) are only available the week of April 22 – 27th, 9am-3pm.

Seedling List – Back

Seedling List – Front

Syracuse Grows Mini-Grant Program for member gardens is available this year. Applications are short and just call for receipts and status updates if awarded. Awards are reimbursement-based with a maximum of $400 per garden. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis at the 2nd Tuesday of each month.

Other funding opportunities were discussed: the Parks Conservancy offers up to $2,000 grants and Syracuse community gardens within the city are eligible. The Gifford Foundation’s What If grant is another potential funding source, with rolling applications and a history of awards to community gardens.

We announced the upcoming Plant Sale & Swap hosted by Alchemical Nursery & Bread and Roses.

Seaberry aka Seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) – Plant Highlight

Seaberry Benefits

A list and table provided by Whole Systems Design, LCC: http://www.wholesystemsdesign.com/wsd-seaberry-products/

  • Exceptional essential fatty acid content.
  • Nitrogen fixer
  • Hardy from USDA zones 3 (maybe 2b) to 7 for sure, probably 8 (I’ve seen growing in Tuscany Italy and have heard first hand reports of them growing in central Canada where it gets to -50F)
  • Nearly deer proof (very resistant to browse once established and even early on with thorns present)
  • All parts medicinal from leaves to fruit to bark (non fruit parts used as a tea for centuries)
  • Fast growing and drought tolerant
  • Soil hardy – we’ve grown them well in everyting from sandy to heavy dense clay
  • Birds do not harvest them much if at all
  • But great bird nest habitat
  • Needs full to 3/4 day sun minimum
  • Exceptionally wind hardy – great wind heedge and snow fence
  • Salt tolerant – grows on Siberian coastal dunes
  • Bears every year, bears at a young age
  • Flowers hardy to below 20F – exceptionally reliable and resilient in the face of late frosts
  • Maintenance free once established -no need to prune
Constituents of Sea Buckthorn Fruit (per 100 grams fresh berries)
Vitamin C 200-1,500 mg (typical amount: 600 mg)
Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) Up to 180 mg (equal to about 270 IU)
Folic acid Up to 80 mcg
Carotenoids, including beta carotene, lycopene, zeaxanthine; these contribute the yellow-orange-red colors of the fruit 30-40 mg
Fatty acids (oils); the main unsaturated fatty acids are oleic acid (omega-9), palmitoleic acid (omega-7), palmitic acid and linoleic acid (omega-6), and linolenic acid (omega-3); there are also saturated oils and sterols (mainly β-sitosterol) 6-11% (3-5% in fruit pulp, 8-18% in seed); fatty acid composition and total oil content vary with subspecies
Organic acids other than ascorbic (e.g., quinic acid, malic acid; ingredients similar to those found in cranberries) Quantity not determined; expressed juice has pH of 2.7-3.3
Flavonoids (e.g., mainly isorhamnetin, quercetin glycosides, and kaempferol; these are the same flavonoids as found in Ginkgo biloba. 100-1,000 mg (0.1% to 1.0%)

To hugelkulture or not to hugelkulture? Mulch is the question @ Rahma

Rahma Forest Garden is likely one of the most carbon rich soil sites in the city of Syracuse. Trees and perennial plants have been established there for over 5 years, and many truck loads of mulch have been spread on the site with Syracuse Grows’ annual garden Resource Drive. We chop and drop some plants like black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) and comfrey (Symphytum) to help build soil Carbon & Nitrogen. In addition to chop & dropping some plants, we accumulate a lot of plant matter from weeding, thinning, and pruning on site, which gets piled up in a low pallet fence roughly separating woody debris from green materials.

This piled up plant debris is useful in theory. In reality, the piles are too loosely stacked to effectively break down, they are unwieldy to move or turn over, and they ultimately end up an eye sore (or once upon a time, a nest for abandoned kittens!), needing to be brought to the curb for city pickup.

Mulch from Syracuse Grows waiting to be spread with pitch forks & shovels, buckets & wheelbarrows at Rahma Forest Garden September 22, 2018

City pickup is a nice option as the city has substantial mulching infrastructure & logistics, and the mulch made from city yard waste like that at Rahma Forest Garden is available for pickup at various locations for free. We end up cycling nutrients from Rahma Forest Garden, to the city composting facilities, then back to Rahma Forest Garden in some cases (or in some ‘Carbons’)! Taking a closer look at this nutrient cycle, city pickup means the use of fossil fuels (trucks, heavy machinery) and the removal of nutrients from on the garden. That yard waste grew from sun, water and soil. If the goal is to build soil with a low-footprint as part of the regenerative garden, isn’t there a more regenerative solution? Some options being considered are listed below. The question at hand is: what’s the best way(s) to handle plant waste from the forest garden, maintaining healthy nutrient cycles for the site and beyond?

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