Sunday, November 18, 2012

What a Difference a Week Makes

 I stopped by the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden to finish a few odds and ends which I had been too tired to complete during last week’s closing day.  There were things to put away, tulip bulbs to plant, herbs to harvest, etc.  It’s amazing how different the Garden and the neighborhood look now compared to the start of the season.    The eyesore building next door has been replaced with a grassy field and fruit trees.  The overgrown lot across the street has been replaced with raised flower beds, cherry trees and a general brush removal.   Our overgrown, shoulder-high rose bushes have been pruned to knee height.

When I left last week, the volunteers from the Ohio Youth Collide Conference of the Church of God were still busily working under the supervision of their youth leader, and Cathy & Doug from Urban Connections to remove all of the brush and leaves from the lot across the street.  It’s positively breathtaking how much work they accomplished in just a few hours on one Saturday afternoon.  I only wish the youth and youth leader from my church felt moved to improve a neighborhood less than a mile west of our church.  These Collide youth volunteers had spread out among the City, but two of the crews were assigned to help improve the Stoddart Avenue neighborhood and made a huge difference in just one short afternoon.

With the help of the Collide volunteers, we moved three compost bins last week to the north side of the Garden so that they will not be such an eyesore to the drivers and pedestrians on East Main Street.  Frank and Barb removed our gates and sign to protect them from the winter weather.  I watered the bins and carried some of the ripe compost over to give the bins a good start.   We hope to polish their appearance a bit next year.

Despite the drought and freakish heat this year, we set a new personal best for food pantry donations in 2012 with over 500 pounds from our lot.  While our squash suffered from the drought and bugs, and our greens were attacked by late season aphids, our peppers exploded and the tomatoes were quite respectable.  Sadly, we never would have had so much fresh produce to donate this year if so many of our gardeners had not become discouraged and dropped out in May, June and July.

Of course, I have put my newfound free time to good use cleaning up my own house, cleaning out gutters and raking leaves.   It seems that my house began falling apart around my ears over the summer and I’m so relieved to now have some time to deal with it.  It’s been very helpful to have so much food put up over the summer to save time cooking.   And, believe it or not, I’m still putting up food.  I’m drying herbs (like dill, parsely and the basil I still have growing in my kitchen window), making italian farmhouse and bread-and-butter pickles out of green cherry and roma tomatoes, harvesting kale, freezing  pumpkin and drying pumpkin seeds.  Whew.

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