To seed or not to seed, that is the question… we’ve all had in our minds over the past winter.
This year we’ve decided that a mix of seeds and plants will do and have kicked off our gardening season seeding at the green house.
Mom’s, daughters, community volunteers and leaders came together together to plant our seeds.
If we could describe in a couple of words the effect of this marriage of seeds to dirt and the excitement that was passed down from adults to children about growing food at this event, it would be LIFE CHANGING! Here is why.
The clients we serve are not privy to what many of us take for granted: a lawn. Our clients live in small spaces surrounded by blacktops as opposed to green lawns. Growing vegetables even in a large pot is not an option when living in small quarters, on a higher floor or when it is not allowed by apartment rules. The logical solution would be to purchase fresh food instead of growing it. But, even this is a challenge for our clients.
The neighborhoods our clients live in are well stocked with stores but these are specialty/gourmet stores, big box electronic stores, hardware stores, coffee shops or fast food restaurants. A couple of stores that do sell fresh produce in the area have prices that are too high for our clients. As one client put it, “when a bag of potato chips is cheaper than an apple, I will purchase the apple for my child because that is what I can afford”. While this type of thinking has been slowly changing in America, there are still many places where affordable, organic, fresh produce is unavailable. To this add what the last census reported in our area, a lack of transportation. With a lack of personal and public transportation, traveling to stores that are affordable and have fresh produce, is impossible. So, when we say that planting seeds with your little ones and your community is life changing, indeed it is!
Because of Roots Community Garden:
- parents and the community can teach the next generations the importance of healthy eating and this alone has lasting life-long effects (too many too count!)
- children are taught the importance of caring for our environment
- families can save money for other needs instead of using it to buy produce they can grow
- parents get the opportunity to spend quality time with their children in a productive manner (Being able to pass down generations of garden knowledge that what once bottled up because of the lack of a venue, is priceless).
- our neighborhood has one less plot of land that is simply storing cigarette butts and trash
We can go on an one about the benefits of community garden but the benefits are indeed to great to number! Certainly, our little day of seed planting in the green house will give birth to those lifetime benefits that all communities can benefit from.
We encourage you to speak with your local community agencies, government and businesses and make that empty plot of land, a life changing plot of land!
If you are new to community gardening, welcome and thank you for thinking green! We hope this blog post inspires you, gives you insight into working with collaborative partners, community agencies and neighborhood families. Our garden is small, but mighty. We are proud of the hard work of everyone involved and if you scroll and click around here, you’ll see why.
Season 3 Takes Off:
Its hard to believe that Season 3 of our garden is here. Our new coordinator, Courtney, is a well known community volunteer who has been involved at the garden since its onset. We are excited to have her onboard. The frozen dirt, mountains of ice covered by snow, cold wind and un-Spring like weather isn’t stopping Courtney or Roots families from the hopeful gardening schedules that need to be created.
Mixing It Up:
Out here, we like to plant by May and really do cross our fingers that winter truly is gone. This means that our seeds from Herman’s Garden will be planted in late March at the greenhouse that is generously provided by Consolidated School District 15. Last year we had an issue with ventilation at the greenhouse and our peppers didn’t do as well as they should have. We are attacking this head on with ventilation and also mixing plants sowed from our seeds with those that are store bought. A mix should do the trick. While our community loves their peppers and tomatoes, we want to introduce them to other greens and herbs that are easy to grow and delicious to cook with. We also would like to start growing fruits this year. Last year our strawberries did not do very well given the ventilation issues at the greenhouse, and when they did grow, squirrels helped themselves to their sweetness. Critter control is also at the top of our planning lists to ensure a bounty of raspberries and strawberries.
A Couple of Lessons Learned to Start Season 3:
Roots Community Garden is a collaborative garden. This means that we have to be flexible to the the needs of our community partners and families that dedicate their time to growing the garden. While we have had garden rules in the past, we have not held fast to these. Lessons learned from Seasons 1 and 2 indicate a need for the rules to be followed. With community gardens, its all about numbers: number of families involved, number of seeds planted, number of partners involved, number of visits to the garden, number of produce picked, number of pounds of compost, number of/and planting dates, grant due dates, temperatures, pounds of fertilizers, pounds of fresh dirt, dollar amounts and more. These numbers help us plan the costs and productivity of the garden and translate into grants for the garden. Because of this, rules have been put in place that will ensure that numbers are kept correctly by everyone involved. While this may be tedious for many, it is absolutely necessary. Families involved are required to help us keep adequate records for every single visit to the garden. Lesson learned: While community gardens must have a relaxed welcoming attitude, numbers must be kept up to date to ensure future gardening seasons.
We currently have a compost bin that was generously built by local high school students. This bin was made by recycling pallets. Instructions for a compost bin made from pallets can be found online at different sites. While the compost bin has been hard at work, it needs to be broken down and made into two or three smaller bins. This needs to be done to accommodate for local village ordinances. While a large bin makes composting a one stop shop, it does not necessarily make it easier. Three bins housing the different stages of compost makes easier use of the compost and of our time. Lesson learned: Village ordinances must be maintained and composting in three bins is more effective than one large bin.
When Roots Community Garden started the most gardening experience most of us had was watering that office plant that seems to thrive on neglect from time to time. While we aren’t experts, we certainly seems to have the hang of it. We welcome Season 3 at Roots Community Garden with patience and optimism and wait for the ground to thaw as we continue to plan. We will check back from time to time and share with you what we are learning. In the meantime, dream a little of the great impact your community garden will have.
Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth. ~Hugh Macmillan, “Rejuvenescence,” The Ministry of Nature, 1871
The leaves are turning and there’s a slight chill in the air. The kids are back in school and some of our garden plants are starting to sleep.
Garden cleanup is on our minds during this time of the year. Its bittersweet to put Roots to sleep. We want to still squeeze out that last bit of summer in the form of our wonderful veggies, but realize that giving the garden a good rest will ensure next years crop.
We will begin cleanup slowly and during our weekly work hours at the garden instead of a Saturday work-athon. Doing it slowly during the week allows those last minute veggies to ripen and let’s us take in those last days of dirty hands, kids laughing as they run between the rows of tomatoes and the overall satisfaction of team work for a wonderful cause.
If you helped this year in the garden, thank you. Roots is made possible because folks from all walks of life work together to help those who otherwise would not have access to fresh produce. If you planted a seed with us, you have planted a love of garden in the life of a child, respect for the earth, and most importantly planted the idea that no matter where we come from, no matter what our story is, no matter what language we speak, no matter where we stand socioeconomically, we can work together.
Thank you for growing with us!
Roots Community Garden
"More grows in a garden, than was sown there" _____ Old English Proverb
Does this ever happen to you? You see a flourishing plant and are certain that you didn’t plant it but don’t want to dig it up because you have an inkling that it may be something wonderful. This recently happened in the garden with a rogue pepper. While we do our best to ensure that our seeds are all properly labeled, once in a while we get a rogue seed that plants itself and flourishes quite nicely. Recently, a volunteer to the garden asked about a skinny long pepper that was flourishing. Because no one could identify it and no one could remember planting it, we ignored it and let it grow.
Lucky for us, her nephew is a professor of Horticulture and he was able to dig up information for us. Here is his response and a pic scanned below.
From what I can tell from the picture, it is probably a Cayenne pod type although it is a little “skinnier” than I would normally expect. If it is cayenne, then it is best when allowed to ripen to red on the plant. This should be happening pretty soon.
We are used to folks stopping by when we are working the garden. For the most part, they want information on what Roots Community Garden is, how to participate, how to create a community garden, etc. etc. So when Master Garden Kirstin L. happened to pass by and dropped off a plethora of gardening information, we were elated. We have a lot of respect for master gardeners around here. Many of us aspire to become one too. In the meantime however, we are busy writing grants, working the garden and organizing the community effort that makes Roots Community Garden possible. Kristin’s information is golden for us. Here is her advice based on what she saw in the garden.
1. Healthy from the start: Seed germination is very important. If they are not in a good environment at the beginning they will struggle throughout the summer. We had ventilation issues this year in the greenhouse. Kirstin thinks that is why are peppers are struggling a bit.
2. Cover crops help nourish the garden for next year: Fall is a very important time of year for gardens. Kirstin suggests pulling all plants in the beginning of October and dispersing a cover crop like alfalfa or fava beans. The fava beans would be better than alfalfa because of the amount of nitrogen it puts back in the soil. When the cover crop is frozen and done growing dump, manure on top. Leave this mixture of cover crops and manure all winter long. In the spring till it all under.
3. Compost bins need TLC too!: Make sure to stir the compost and add kitchen scraps. The compost bin can not just be the weeds that are pulled. It needs brown and green items too. Kirstin suggests adding a layer of hay every once in a while as the brown part.
A gardener learns more in the mistakes than in the successes. —Barbara Dodge Borland
When Amy of Path of Intention stopped by our home base, we were thrilled. Amy has been an active member of our community in the past and is always interested in philanthropic work. When she mentioned that she had become a yoga instructor, we were thrilled! Because space at the home base is limited, we decided to try yoga at the garden.
Gardening is not just a wonderful way of growing veggies and beautiful flowers, its also hard work and can leave you stiff, achy and sore. Our Roots members were pleasantly surprised when we asked them to trade in their gardening gloves for yoga mats for the day. And, to many it was just what the doctor ordered. According to the Mayo clinic website, yoga has shown to reduce stress, enhance mood, improve flexibility and strength and help reduce certain factors of chronic diseases. If you want to give it a try, check with your doctor before engaging in any form of exercise.
Yoga is the perfect way to unwind after a hard days work in the garden. Amy was able to instruct both children and adults during her family yoga session. We hope to have her back soon helping us reap the benefits of yoga.
Yoga and gardening are a natural pairing. Planting a seed, nurturing its growth, and experiencing its beautiful expression in full bloom is not unlike the yogic process of setting an intention, nurturing one’s practice, and, finally, experiencing the Self as an individual expression of the creative life force. “Gardening, like yoga, pulls us into that relationship of being connected to all things,” says Veronica D’Orazio, a yoga teacher in Seattle and the author of Gardener’s Yoga. “People garden for that timeless connection.” From http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/2752.
A note before you read on: Please respect the privacy of our members and their children, our donors, volunteers and collaborative community partners. You must request permission before re-blogging, copying or distributing any information and media posted on here. Thank you for your cooperation!
950= The number of vegetables picked in July alone!
Given the rough start our seeds had in the green house (little ventilation caused slow and short growth) and that this is only our second growing season, we didn’t expect much progress or change in the garden this year. We have been pleasantly surprised! In July alone we were able to pick nearly 950 vegetables! We couldn’t have done it if it weren’t for a number of factors.
A look at our numbers:
120=The number of visits logged into the garden by garden members to work the garden despite the rain and high temperatures! Thank you green thumbs!
15=The number of community collaborative partners who have helped with logistics, volunteering and financially at the garden (of which 6 are new to us this year).
2= The number of master gardeners who have volunteered their knowledge to help us grow a healthy pesticide free garden.
3=The number of days a week garden families are weeding and caring for the garden.
85=The number of likes on our facebook page that have helped cultivate an interest in Roots Garden.
Calculating all of these numbers together brings us to a strong conclusion: A dedicated community can grow a healthy garden and in the process do so much more. Roots helps underserved families gain access to healthy fresh produce, educates on the importance of teaching our young ones where food comes from, educates on the many uses to social media and technology, helps foster friendships across all ethnicities and helps keep an empty lot looking busy, beautiful and growing healthy foods.
Thank you to all of you who have contributed this year.
We look forward to a few more months of growing this season!
—Verizon Wireless visits the garden in July 2013.
Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth
"Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as one of the most important events in their lives."
At Roots Community Garden our goal is twofold:
1) To give families in need an opportunity to grow healthy foods and in this process 2) create a stronger connected community.
In 2012, our birth year, we were able to commit to and fulfill our goal. Goals need sustainability and this was we met through the generous donations of our community partners, private donors, grants and through the very families that volunteer at the garden. This being our second year, we are looking at sustainability in the broader sense and have put it to question:
How do we continue to help POC families grow healthy foods, connect our community and touch the very future lives of those that will one day ignore or respect the land (the latter being our wish)?
Once again, our donors, grantees and volunteers have answered the call to help us successfully begin the 2013 growing season and once again begin to fulfill our twofold goal. But what of those that will one day ignore or respect the earth? It became evident that we needed to reach out to the little ones that run and play at Roots Community Garden while their parents and caregivers volunteer their time.
This weekend we were able to reach out to our local preschool program and have an educational excursion to the garden. Despite a very wet week, the sun shone brightly at Roots Community Garden and the air was full of the laughter and oohhs and aahhs of the little ones. Once again, ROLE members answered the call to educate preschoolers and their parents on the importance of growing your own food, on respecting the earth and the little creatures that inhabit it. It was awe inspiring to see ROLE women give back not just to the here and now community, but to our very future as they educated the little ones about nature.
Thanks to our grants we were able to purchase lady bugs and praying mantis’ that were introduced to the garden by the children. They planted plant pumpkin seeds, enjoyed stories about lady bugs and other insects, made insect arts and crafts and bird feeders out of toilet paper rolls to hang in their own homes. We finished our day with games and more laughter.
Close to 40 preschoolers visited the garden that day and we are certain that 40 seeds of admiration for earth have been planted and will begin to flourish.
To teach one child about respecting our treasure Earth, is to teach multiple generations about caring for fellow man, building community and helping fulfill the original plan of living at peace and respecting the land. RCG
We are right in the middle of it….. growing season!
And, what a wonderful growing season it will be!! We have formed new partnerships with Northwest Community Healthcare, Ware Landscaping and Thrive Vineyard Church. Together with our partner agencies from the previous year, we will be able to bring healthy produce to the tables of many underserved, low income families in our area.
Other exciting things at the garden:
Our opening day, as mentioned is on May 18th. We are thankful for Ware Landscaping in helping us till and mulch the area, and to Thrive Vineyard Church who is providing lunch and craft time for the children so that parents can help plant. Thank you to our many other generous partners who help with plants, financial support, tools, seeds, the green house and so much more! Without you, this garden would not be possible.
We received a special visit from Virginia Lake Kindergartners and their wonderful teacher. The kindergartners donated plants that they grew from seeds. Their mandate to us as they left cheerful and giggling : “take good care of our little plants”. We will little green thumbs, we promise we will. Thank you for sharing your plants with our community.
We will soon be on the map at Little Free Library. We have been working diligently to finish our Little Free Library for our opening day: May 18th. If you have not heard of the Little Free Library, stop in and check out their website. Not only are the little libraries cute, they open the doors to adventures for both young and old. Because after all, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” - Cicero
Keep those thumbs green and those hands dirty!
Above, zucchini plants growing at the green house for Roots Community Garden.
Dear ROOTS Gardeners,
It looks like Spring may finally visit us this weekend and this means more activity in the garden and green house!
We had a visit from 2 master gardeners at the greenhouse recently. They said that everything looks fine but that we needed some ventilation or air moving throughout the greenhouse. This will help fight mold growth. Scott found 2 fans and he quickly plugged them in. He said he will turn the fans on and off everyday plus he will prop the door open. Please leave the door open when you come and go. Thank you Scott for always helping us out.
Note that we moved the plant date back a week, so the new outdoor plant date is May 18th. Hopefully the weather will cooperate with us as it starts to warm up. Please pass the word about the change of the outdoor plant date and check facebook often, all updates will always be on facebook.
Some things that need to be done:
1) Please let Elisa at the front desk at the POC know if you are watering at the greenhouse. We need watering every Monday and Friday.
2) You can start to split the little tomato plants that have too many growing in one cup. Go ahead and open another bag of soil for the splitting of the tomato plants. We want one strong plants in each.
3) Finally, remember to park across the street at the greenhouse in the park district parking lot.
As always, I am available via facebook and email. Please let me know if you need anything from me or notice anything at the greenhouse that needs immediate attention.
Thanks and I look forward to seeing everyone soon,
Below, proper ventilation will help our plants grow nicely!
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