Monday, July 11, 2011

July Recap of FPC Hub Garden Meeting

Last December, I received an email that Franklin Park Conservatory's Growing to Green Program was planning to maximize its resources by focusing on helping twelve community gardens in Central Ohio. These were referred to as "hub gardens," which would serve as hubs to help nearby community gardens with resources and training, etc. There was some thought that the program would be formalized in 2012 and FPC referred to this as the 12 x 2012 initiative. I missed the first meeting in December, so have been unclear about a lot of the details. In selecting these hub gardens, FPC looked both geographically and at how the hub gardens are addressing these five key mission areas: (i) Celebration of culture; (ii) Youth participation and education; (iii) Job training; (iv) Food production and feeding the hungry; and (v) Nutrition programming. It is clear that the SACG is in very good company because many of the other gardens have won "community garden of the year" sometime in the past. They include Four Seasons City Farms, Franklinton Community Garden, Highland-Hilltop Community Garden, Ganz Road Community Garden, St. Vincent de Paul Pantry Garden (on Livingston Avenue), Epworth Methodist Church Community Garden (on Karl Road), Weinland Park Garden (run by the Godman Guild), Upper Arlington Lutheran Church Community Garden (on Mill Run), Franklin County Juvenile Court Garden, New Harvest Café/Alma Vera Garden in Linden and the Native American Indian Center Community Garden.

Last Thursday, representatives from ten of the hub gardens met at the Caretaker's Cottage at FPC. Bill, Barb and their squeaky new Intern had a number of announcements for us:

  1. We need to select which of the five mission areas best describes us. We may be involved in several or all of the mission areas, but we need to describe which one is our primary focus. The intern handed out forms for us to complete and fax back to her.

  2. The current edition of Edible Columbus has two feature articles on community gardening. One focused on Patrick Kaufman and the Franklinton Community Garden and the other discussed the Somali immigrant group gardening on Ganz Road. Bill has been asked to submit articles and ideas for future editions and hopes to gain similar attention for our community gardens.

  3. Will Allen is coming the weekend of July 15-17, 2011. FPC is attempting to help Stilletto Gardener defray some of the cost of bringing Mr. Allen to Columbus by organizing a hasty fundraiser at the FPC. Due to the short amount of advance notice, it has been difficult to sufficiently publicize the event and Bill asked us each to help. Stiletto Gardener will be the local affiliate for Growing Power. Mr. Allen will be coming back to help Stiletto Gardener and hopefully we can have more lead time to plan an event.

  4. Barb was looking for feedback on the gardening seminars she held at some of the gardens. She made Patrick admit that he had learned somethingJ Many folks in Franklinton do not have internet access and so were not particularly interested in lists of good gardening websites, but we at the SACG find this information useful. I encouraged FPC to hold more scavenger hunts for kids like we had last year.

  5. Barb announced the pilot jobs program that FPC will be holding with COWIC and passed out postcards advertising the program.

  6. Bill encouraged us to contact neighborhood associations to get on any local home and garden tours as a way of promoting ourselves within a community.

  7. Nomination forms will soon be available for the annual Growing to Green Awards. Gardens may nominate themselves. There will be a new award category this year for sustainability. The nomination forms will be due July 29, 2011 – which is much earlier than in years past. The Growing to Green awards ceremony will be on August 25, 2011 on the lawn in the community garden campus at FPC.

  8. In connection with the FPC's next exhibit, "Hungry Planet: Local Food/Local View," FPC will be holding three farm market days on the following Sunday afternoons from noon until 4:00 p.m.: August 28, September 25 and October 23, 2011. Hub gardens may have a free booth at the Farm Market – along side regular farmers -- in order to sell produce to raise money for their community gardens. Gardens need not participate in all three market days. We need to complete a form and return it to FPC if we want to participate.

  9. The FPC Women's Board will be holding its annual gardening tour in a few weeks. Growing Hearts and Hands Community Garden will again be on their agenda as will Franklinton Community Garden.

  10. The Scotts Miracle-Gro community garden application deadline has been moved up a few months to July 15, 2011. With any luck, there will be a grant application available every six months. This lead to a discussion about how the city-county-foundation grant process worked out the last year. Apparently, there was a lot of miscommunication about who was being awarded what and why. One community garden received a letter indicating that they would be receiving a cash award and then a month later was told that this had been a mistake and they would only be receiving product instead.

  11. Beth Urban, the new Executive Director of the American Community Garden Association, stopped by to introduce herself.
Bill then finally let us break to have some pizza from Anthony's in Bexley (which had been delivered before the meeting startedJ) .

There were a few other announcements from various gardens:

  • Weinland Park has arranged for the OSU Extension Office at the Wooster Campus to come to its garden on July 23 to provide Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Going to Market Training advocated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. My notes seem to indicate something else on July 19, but my notes are far too cryptic on this point.

  • Peggy wanted everyone to know that the UWCO Neighborhood Partnership grant applications would be due in October. Contact Sharon Ware at UWCO for more information.

  • Franklinton Gardens is having an Art Mural Project with live music and food vendors on July 16 and 23 from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.

  • Someone passed out cards for Leslie Strader, the City's Assistant Environmental Steward (i.e., the Mayor's point person for community gardens). She can be reached at 90 West Broad Street, 2nd Floor and at 645-7673 and at

  • Epworth Methodist Church asked for information about someone who could volunteer to plow an extra field they have near their church. They could double their food production for food pantries if only someone would plow the field. Marge suggested that they check Craig's List.
Our substantive presentation for the evening was by Todd Marti from the Upper Arlington Lutheran Church. This Garden was started by Kelly Hern in 2009 and raised and donated approximately 1700 pounds of produce that year. Members from the UA Lutheran Church volunteer to plant, weed, water and harvest the produce. They are motivated by the Gospel's admonition to feed the hungry and to make the most of their talents and resources. Last year, they raised and donated approximately 8,000 pounds. Todd explained that each harvester is responsible for weighing the produce (at a convenient scale located at the garden), driving the produce to the recipient organization reporting back to the leaders, who track the information by type of vegetable, weight, date and recipient. By tracking this information on an Excel worksheet, they can create charts which show the percentage of donations to Lutheran Social Services food pantry, Faith Mission, the UALC Hilltop Ministry and the UALC summer lunch program. It helps with grant applications and to recruit volunteers to quantify the amount of produce donated and to determine which crops are more efficient and productive to raise. Having a good scale (i.e., weighing more than 10 pounds at a time) in a safe location is important. It also requires a lot of discipline. The information is shared informally with the congregation.

One of the gardeners mentioned a funny anecdote, which sent me to my reference books when I got home. Apparently, a group of what we'll call gypsies stopped by their garden and volunteered to do weeding -- a thankless task even without our recent spate of oppressive heat. All they wanted in return was to keep a pile of weed: common purslane. Apparently, it is the known to contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. there is a non-weed variety that is actually popular in Europe and eaten as a salad green. Who knew?! (There is some growing in my back yard . . . . . )

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