Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Buckeyes Pay it Forward at SACG on Community Commitment Day

The Stoddart Avenue Community Garden was once again blessed with assistance today from students of The Ohio State University’s Pay It Forward program on their Community Commitment Day.  About 20 students arrived by bus shortly before 9 a.m. this morning, while it was still cool.  Of course, they had to come on the hottest day of the year, but they were good sports about it.    I told them a little bit about the Garden and showed them around.  I had borrowed some tools from Rebuilding Together’s free Tool Library, but I wish I had borrowed more hedge clippers.  If I had, we could have cleared away all of the brush in the alleys in the neighborhood. I also wished I had remembered to bring my edger so that they could have re-edged the front flower bed.

The students were very energetic, if inexperienced, and got a tremendous amount of work done, as evidenced by the photographs.   I was also fortunate that Sabrina stopped by to tend her plot and, instead, supervised the students working inside the Garden.  Charlie also stopped by on his day off from work to help me reinforce the fence (which had been damaged last week by thieves) and to ferry a few students to a public restroom.  Cathy also interrupted her studies to dig out her family’s giant wheelbarrow for the students to use.

This is what we accomplished this morning:

·        They picked up 1.3 trash bags of litter from Stoddart Avenue and the piece of Cherry Street (aka the alley next to the SACG) between Stoddart and Morrison.

·        They weeded in and around the raised beds next door and watered them.

·        They weeded in and around our neighbor plot raised bed, watered it, pulled ALL of the weeds growing between the Garden and the alley and then spread another layer of wood chips.

·        They leveled the remnants of the wood chip pile leftover from 2013.

·        They leveled much of the wood chip pile from April and spread another layer of wood chips on the Garden’s paths;

·        They weeded the paths in the Garden (albeit Susan had already given them a pretty good head start when she pulled most of the weeds – particularly around the benches – on Sunday morning).

·        They deadheaded the sunflowers around the Garden;

·        With Sabrina’s help, they weeded Celess’ abandoned plot, pruned the flowering broccoli, harvested produce for today’s food pantry donation and planted lettuce for a fall harvest where there had been ornamental kale.

·        They pulled the pernicious morning glory and other vining weeds off of our fence and rose bushes.

·        They watered the food pantry plots and the kids’ raised beds.

·        They cleaned out an abandoned raised bed and planted lettuce for a fall harvest.

·        They cleared weeds out of the block watch plot across the street.

·        They harvested over 17 pounds of  collard greens, kale tomatoes and zucchini, which I took after lunch to the Salvation Army’s food pantry – just a mile west of the Garden on East  Main Street.

·        We emptied the shed and then re-filled it with our tools.

All that’s left for me to do on Wednesday is to water again and then, on Saturday, I may cut back the weeds growing in our compost bins before our weekly harvest.  Whoo hoo.

By 11, the students were feeling the affect of the heat and humidity and our complete lack of shade.  We quit a bit ahead of schedule for a group picture.  However, the air conditioned buses also came early to pick them up, so it all worked out well.

We are extremely grateful that OSU’s Pay It Forward students helped us out AGAIN.  Capital University is only .8 miles east of the Garden, but to this day none of its students have ever ventured west to help us at the SACG. [Editor's Note: Ok.  We were finally blessed with the assistance of some Cap students a month after the OSU students.]  OSU is miles away and they’ve sent students twice in the past two years.

This last weekend, I spent my time harvesting because we had received about 1.5 inches of rain last week.  Also, I agreed to speak at Urban Connection’s 15th Anniversary Celebration at Wolfe Park on Saturday morning.  I had to go there straight from the Garden (in all my garden finery) and then return to the Garden to complete our weekly food pantry harvest and donation.   Urban Connections started across the street back in 1999 and has worked with the neighbors and their children ever since.  I discussed how much they had helped the SACG, particularly during the drought in 2012 and how we worked together to get the building next door demolished.

As mentioned, we also had had another produce theft last week.  Curt called me on Friday.  They had attacked Sabrina’s leeks, but left them behind when they realized they weren’t onions.   They also knocked over one of my bean trellises and stole a butternut squash, but again, left it behind when they belatedly realized that it wasn’t ripe.  They took some of his peppers and his Chinese cabbage.  They escaped by climbing over (and damaging) the fence in the front of the garden and tromped down some of our flowers.  Neal helped me re-orient the fence until I could return with wire to tie it up better.

So, we’re looking very tidy at present in case anyone drops by unannounced.  On Saturday, September 6, we’ll have another brief litter pick up, but will be focused on East Main Street between Fairwood and Morrison.   Anyone wanting to pitch in should join us at the SACG at 10 a.m.

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