Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Birds and Bees Story

Disclaimer: Despite the title of this post there will be no talk of sex here. Though dirt is peripherally involved, anyone hoping for down and dirty details will be disappointed. What I do want to tell you about is how to win your very own colony of honeymakers or a pair of egg layers.

Carl Skalak, a photographer turned field hand, is the man behind the giveaway. It’s a promotion for Blue Pike Farm, a former vacant lot on East 72nd, about 3/4 of a mile from the Shoreway, that he’s transformed into a thriving commercial garden. He began digging in the spring of 2006, harvesting a first crop of bricks, concrete chunks and other rubble. Now the parcel is an edible urban Eden, producing bushels of unusual and heirloom varieties of eggplants, tomatoes, greens, carrots, snap peas, peppers, cantaloupes and beans- all naturally raised and for sale. A weekly market is held there on Thursdays afternoons. The competition is also a tool for spreading the sustainable living and eating gospel.

The contest is open, Skalak says, to all breathing residents of planet Earth and there’s no entry fee. Just submit a work of art in any medium- essay, poem, photo, video, sculpture, musical composition, performance piece, whatever- that has something to do with either bees or chickens. When I asked him to elaborate, this is what I got: "A paean to a 57 Chevy probably won't win but then again something about chickens to the tune of "Little Deuce Coop" has a good chance." Entries should suggest which prize you're competing for. Said work must arrive, via email, as a digital representation suitable for viewing on a computer screen by the stroke of midnight (actually one second before that stroke) on April 16, 2011. Send to . To request full contest details and rules email to Even those who have no interest in animal husbandry or creative endeavors should contact him for details. Skalak is a very funny guy and the document he’s produced is an amusing read.

There are some things you should know up front. Beautiful women need only send an 8x10 glossy. Even better is a photo of your tractor. Skalak suggests altering your will to stipulate who should get your prize in case you meet an untimely end and be unable to pick it up at the Blue Pike Farm Open House on May 7th. “Entries, “ he writes, “ will be judged based on arbitrary and capricious criteria, Google’s ® published secret algorithms, and whatever else strikes the judges’ fancy at the time.” If family members disapprove of having critters take up residence in the yard, it gives you an advantage so share this, and don't hesitate to lie about it Lucky winners will be announced at the May 2nd meeting of Local Food Cleveland. “Winners need not be present,” according to official rules, “but it will be a lot more fun if you are.”

photos courtesy of Carl Skalak

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