Sunday, November 13, 2011

SACG Volunteers Are Awesome

Yesterday was our annual season-ending work day. As always, we had fabulous weather. It started out nippy at 10 a.m., but we had all shed our jackets well before we left at 2 p.m. As always, we got an amazing amount of work done because we have the hardest-working and dedicated volunteers in the world of community gardening.

Rayna was already there cleaning up her plot and harvesting her lima beans when I arrived. Three visiting young sisters then showed up to help us pick up litter, tear out sun flowers and harvest fall crops. Rayna worked with the sisters to cut down the sun flowers and cosmos from our flower beds. She then spent the rest of the day pruning our raspberry bushes.

Betty cleaned up her plot and Barbara's old plot. Mari and John cleaned out their plot and two pantry plots and then helped me harvest a trunk load of lettuce.

Charlie and Tom flipped the compost in the four bins. This was hard work. We harvested so much compost from our four bins that we had enough to spread some on each of the plots. Charlie also helped Frank take down the signs and pack up the gates and helped me pack up the shed when we were all done. Frank then helped spread the compost. Fred and Deb cleaned up their plot and then harvested mustard greens and spread the compost. Fred was the only person left when I left and he was mowing grass.

We missed Jeff's machete and cart to haul away bags of yard waste (i.e., thorny branches from the roses I pruned and raspberry bushes which Rayna pruned) and to cut down thick sunflower and other stalks which we removed.

Cookout Extraordinare. Tom brought a gigantic charcoal grill and grilled us all very large, juicy and tender chicken breasts and thighs as well as brauts. He also supplied grapes, coleslaw and potato salad. I brought fruit and brownies. We both brought apple cider. This was the best feast we have ever had in the history of the Garden. We were seriously hungry at noon.

Raffle Winner. Just before we began eating, Micayla pulled the winning raffle ticket for the Gardeners Supply Company garden cart we had been awarded from the American Community Garden Association for winning the Growing to Green Sustainability Award. The raffle winner is Marge Telerski (who manages the community garden supporting the St. Vincent DePaul pantry off Livingston Avenue). Congratulations Marge!

Volunteer Awards. When we finished eating, I made announcements. Before that date, we had donated 345 pounds of produce to area food pantries and shelters. I passed around a chart showing the percentages of produce donated, pantries receiving the produce and monthly distribution. We raised $340 from our raffle, $110 from selling strawberry plants and $100 from plot fees. We also discussed potential sites to expand the Garden if we grow next year.

I also recognized Charlie as Volunteer of the Year. Charlie recruited three gardeners this year and tilled the Garden in the Spring. He also provided transportation once or twice each week for another gardener who did not have a car. He also helped fill in by doing not only his chores, but chores of gardeners who dropped out. He attended every working event and was always one of the first to arrive and among the last to leave. I could go on and on.

I also created a new award. The Garden Rules mention the magic garden gnome who recognizes tidy gardeners. However, I didn't purchase a gnome until this Spring and couldn't decide what to do with it. It is now a traveling trophy for the year's tidiest gardener. Charlie also had the tidiest garden plot this year. He was also on top of the weeds and kept his plot almost fully planted all season long. So, Charlie will have the magic garden gnome to decorate his plot in 2012.

Other gardeners also received a collage of pictures from special events from this season.

Fall Harvest. We harvested over 38 pounds of produce from the Garden yesterday. It was mostly lettuce, which was time consuming to harvest. It also included turnips, beets, carrots, leeks, colored greens, mustard greens, kale, radishes, cauliflower, broccoli, and bok choy. Virtually all of the lettuce, turnips, carrots, beets, bok choy and kale was planted near the end of August and in September. Ultimately, we harvested more produce in just two weeks in November than we did in for the entire month of either June or July.

We finished an hour later than planned (because, ahem, some people had not cleaned out their plots before we started). As a result, I did not have time to get the produce to Lutheran Social Services (which closes at 3 p.m.), which was Faith Mission's gain (because its kitchen takes produce until 5:30 p.m.)

Some gardeners elected to leave some Fall produce in their plots so that they can continue to stop by and get lettuce, etc. Some crops – like spinach – were left because it will be abundant when we come back in April.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Is It Really Almost Time to Call it a Year?

You are all cordially invited to help us tidy up the Garden this Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., before we all go home and curl up with a good book or our knitting until next April.

We are again anticipating great weather and will be:

  • pulling and chopping dead flowers and plants from the pantry and common plots and flower bed;

● flipping and spreading compost;

  • planting asters in the front flower beds;

  • harvesting and sorting produce for our last pantry donation of the year;

  • emptying most of the rain tank and storing the last barrel;

  • tidying the shed; and

  • pruning roses.

As you can see from the pictures I took last Saturday, our roses are still quite cherry and our Fall crops have grown just swell, especially the turnips and lettuce.

At 11:00 a.m. we will also have our annual members meeting, review officer reports, elect new trustees, discuss upcoming goals and recognize stellar volunteers.

At noon, we will pull the winning raffle ticket for our uber-chic garden cart. Thanks and good luck to everyone who bought a ticket . . . . or two or threeJ

Finally, Tom is planning to BBQ chicken (so RSVP if you plan to attend and eat).

As always, refreshments will be served.

Be there or be square.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

GCGC’s November Meeting

Last Thursday, I attended GCGC’s November meeting at the Broad Street Presbyterian Church on the Near East Side.

Andrew Proud opened the meeting by describing the topics and activities of the past twelve months with GCGC.

Trish Dehnbostal discussed the community gardens which she operates and which Local Matters supports. She explained that Local Matters will again be evaluating which community gardens it will be supporting in 2012 and encouraged interested gardens to contact her if they were interested. She passed around a couple of lists of national grants which support community gardens and are open for local community gardens to apply. She also provides educational opportunities with traveling gardening seminars. For instance, she worked with OSU’s Extension Service to provide GAP training at the Weinland Park/Godman Guild Community Garden on how to market and sell produce. She surveys the gardens she supports and then provides a seminar on extending the season, seed gathering, etc. She can be reached at

Trish asked what our current needs were and the Kossuth Avenue Community Garden asked about heated greenhouse space for things like perennial tropical plants. Four Seasons City Farm has a greenhouse, but it is too cold to grow food in the winter. He thought hoop houses have the same impediment. Peggy explained that she sets up grow lights in her basement. Trish added that lots of plants, like kale, can survive in the winter in a hoop house or cold frame.

Peggy Murphy then discussed at length the upcoming deadline for the UWCO’s Neighborhood Partnership grant. She has been working with that grant program for over 16 years and used it once upon a time to build a $35,000 neighborhood playground. She discussed the areas available for grant funding and how community gardens could benefit. When she first began working with the program, it had lots of money to distribute, but now has to limit grants to no more than $10,000. In fact, last year, the program received applications for $800,000 in funding, but only had $200,000 to distribute. The UWCO has scheduled additional training/orientation sessions for November 9, 10 and 16, 2011. The deadline to apply is November 21, 2011.

Peggy also passed around a list assembled by Ms. Strader with the City. It described different legal issues -- like fences, signs, water and composting -- which is regulated by the City’s zoning and other ordinances.

The next GCGC meeting will be Thursday, December 1, 2011. However, we still need to have a place. We would like to have it at a restaurant, but Barley’s was already book for the month of December. The Kossuth guy suggested Plank’s in German Village, but we have to confirm its availability. If you can suggest someplace close to downtown (preferably on a bus line) that can give us a semi-private room, let me or Peggy know in case Planks does not work out. This will be a networking, story-telling gathering. It was suggested that everyone provide pictures of their garden that we can put on a powerpoint slide show.

There was no sharing of garden needs (as in past meetings), but we ended early at 7:40 p.m.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vegetarian Chili with Chard

Tonight at the GCGC meeting, as I was again talking endlessly about myself and what I had for dinner, I mentioned that I had made vegetarian chili on Sunday so that I could have it for lunch or dinner for the rest of the week. When I mentioned that it contained chard (one of a garden’s most prolific and nutritious vegetables), a few heads perked up and glazed-over eyes suddenly focused and asked me to go in more detail. No worries, I said, I’ll just put it on the website when I get home. So here it is:

This is modified from a recipe on the website, which borrowed it from
Bon Appetit.

Makes 8 bowels


2 tablespoons of EVOO
2-1/2 cups chopped onion
3 chopped garlic cloves
2-1/2 cups chopped butternut squash
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
6 cups black beans (pre-soaked or canned)
2 1-/2 cups vegetable (or turkey) stock
2 pints diced tomatoes with juice
3 cups packed coarsely chopped Swiss chard leaves (about 5 large leaves)


1. Pre-soak the beans the night before.
2. To chop your squash. Cut off the bottom so that it will be flat. Then take a serrated apple peeler/grater to scrape off the tough squash skin like you would peel a potato. Scoop out the seeds and scrape out the stringy seed pod with a grapefruit spoon. Then chop up the orange squash flesh with a knife on the cutting board. The squash should be chopped into ½ inch pieces. I still had a lot left over after I filled 2-1/2 cups and I saved the extra to make some pureed squash soup later.
3. Heat oil in heavy large pot (like a Dutch oven) over medium high heat
4. Add onions and garlic. Sauté until tender and golden.
5. Add squash and stir for 2 minutes.
6. Add chili powder, cumin, beans, vegetable stock and tomatoes (with juice).
7. Bring to a boil.
8. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until squash is tender.
9. Stir in chard and simmer for about five minutes.
10. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
11. Ladle into bowls and serve. You can spruce it up with sour cream, fresh cilantro, chopped red onions and grated cheddar cheese.

The beans make it very filling and satisfying.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

GCGC Meeting This Thursday

Greater Columbus Growing Coalition (GCGC)

Is Meeting Again After Its Summer Break
When: Thursday, November 3, 2011, 6-7:30PM
Where: Broad Street Presbyterian Church
760 E. Broad Street – Columbus, Ohio 43205


6:00 - 6:10 Introductions

6:10- 6:20 Successes of GCGC!

6:20 – 7:00 Resources for Growing Food Next Season – grants, soil, etc.

Speakers –

Trish Dehnbostal – Program Manager of Growing Matters, Local Matters – Local Matters Growing Matters program helps individuals and groups produce more food close to home. Through collaborations with schools, neighbors, community gardens, and urban farms Local Matters delivers resources, workshops and support to food production sites in urban communities. Trish coordinates donations for Lowes to food production sites in our area. She will give us information about finding resources for creating productive gardens.

Peggy Murphy – Highland Children's Garden and God's Gardens – Peggy has been on the Neighborhood Partnership Grants committee for 16 years and has successfully resourced material and funds for community gardeners. She will give us valuable information and tips on applying for the upcoming Neighborhood Partnership grants.

7:00 – 7:15 Next steps

7:15-7:30 Socializing and networking