Saturday, September 6, 2014

SACG Picks it Up and GCGC shares announcements

This was a busy morning at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden.  First, Susan and I were disappointed to find yet another produce robbery at the Garden.  Then, Rayna and I met with our new neighbor Norman Brown about the community garden project that he is starting in the land bank lot next to ours, our water tanks and the new community garden he started behind Rock of Faith Baptist Church (across the Street) last April.    After that meeting, I joined Barb, Susan and neighbor Rose to pick up litter with the City’s Keep America Beautiful campaign along East Main Street.   Finally, it was off to Dublin for my nephew’s football game in Dublin.  (I harvested for our weekly food pantry donation bright and early yesterday morning.  My handyman – who was fixing my fence --  was very impressed with our beautiful cabbages when I brought two back to my patio to weigh).   On Thursday, I attended the monthly GCGC meeting at Redeemer Lutheran Church on James Road (south of Livingston).

Our weekly thief once again came over our back gate (by bending the wire lattice over the gate to squeeze in).  Again, the idiot can’t tell onions from leeks.  He pulled Neal’s leeks this time and then threw them back on the ground upon discovering that they were not onions.  He took some of Susan’s tomatoes, knocked over at least one pepper plant in Curt and Charlie’s plot and pulled some of Rayna’s carrots.  There was even a pumpkin missing from the kids’ garden area.  The nerve.  It is so frustrating and disappointing – as other community gardens all over town know.   To add insult to injury, we found partially eaten beefstake and brandywine tomatoes on our lawn and on the sidewalk across the street.  Grrr.

Pick It Up.  We were expecting a downpour for the City’s annual Pick It Up campaign this year and I had my welleys and rain jacket handy.   However, as most of you know, we received no rain whatsoever in Bexley and just a little more than that at the SACG (which means I have to return on Monday to water).   Usually, for the City’s early September litter eradication efforts, we are allowed to select our own neighborhood, but have to pick up our supplies from the City about a week in advance.  This year, the City wanted to focus on gateway/major traffic thoroughfares and set up gathering sites all over town. East Main Street was the natural selection and  our gathering site was just west of Fairwood, which is an easy walk from the SACG.  

I foolishly thought it would take us about 30 minutes – if that – to pick up the litter between Fairwood (one block to our east) and Morrison (one block to our west). It would have been a very short project if we only had to pick up litter on the north side of Main (where we and our neighbors  -- like Harry at the body shop and Urban Connections on Fairwood  -- routinely pick up litter).  However, we also had to pick up litter on the south side of Main and it was a wet mess – particularly on the stretch between Fairwood and Seymour.   Rose was walking by and I invited her to join in the event; and she did.   We picked up 6+ bags of litter in 90 minutes (and could have picked up more if I hadn’t been in a hurry to get to Dublin).

After our meeting with Norman Brown, we asked to see the new garden he started across the street.  There is a regular section (which I did not photograph).  However, some of it is on an abandoned playground  They built raised beds under the old swing set and hung twine from the top to support pole beans, which grew to the top.  I thought this was hysterical.  I do not know, though, how they are going to harvest those beans near the top without a ladder.   We then gave him the nickel tour of the SACG and the tanks.

GCGC’s September meeting was full of announcements and seeds.    When I arrived, Cara Gorman from OSU Extension was discussing their Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, which they have offered at local libraries.  

Mike Hogan then made a number of announcements.  He discussed expansion of the Double Up program, which doubles the value of SNAP benefits when the purchaser is buying fresh produce from five area farmer’s market, including the Pearl Alley market downtown.   They need more funding to expand it.   

Franklin County Extension is now offering soil testing for land owners and community gardens for $11 per sample.   You need to bring or mail your soil sample to the Extension office, pay the $11 and they will mail the sample to Penn State which will email you the results along with fertilizer/lime recommendations.  This does not include testing for lead or heavy metals, which costs more.   Call 866-6900 for more information. 
OSU is again going to offer the Master Urban Farmer program every Wednesday evening between October 1 and December 3 for $89.   The classes will be held at the Waterman Farm and 4-H Center.   He emphasized that the written program materials by themselves cost more than $89 and you will be fed.   The topics to be covered include:
·        Introduction or Urban Agriculture
·        How to Choose a Farm Enterprise
·        Site Selection Issues
·        Soil Testing
·        Basic Plant Science
·        Keeping it Legal
·        Tools & Storage
·        Soil Quality and Health
·        Insects and Diseases
·        Integrated Pest Management
·        Bees and other pollinators
·        Season Extension Techniques
·        Business Planning
·        Marketing Bootcamp
·        Vegetable Production
·        Tomato Production
·        Food Safety and GAPS
·        Harvest Timing
Registration will be first-come first served before September 22.   You can register online at  GCGC may offer two scholarships.  Contact Peggy Murphy for more details.

OSU Extension will also be offering a standalone composting workshop and probably one on season extension.   
Mike will also be showing the documentary Growing Cities  at next month’s  GCGC meeting at East Baptist Church on October 2.  The movie stops at various urban farms and gardens in a number of cities throughout the United States (but none in Ohio).  It is about 90 minutes long.  Susan and I saw it at The Drexel a few months ago.

Fiona Doherty from Franklin Park Conservatory announced that they have a lot of free seeds available for area community gardens.  Just contact her or Bill so that you can come over and grab some for your garden when they are there to let you in.

The Greater Columbus Growing Coalition recently obtained its 501(c)(3) status and plans to have its annual election of officers in December or January.  Peggy needs a break and is looking for a nominating committee and volunteers to take over for her and to fill other officer positions.
Everyone introduced themselves and it was the first time I had seen Patrick Kaufman in almost two years.  NEAC Chair Kathleen Bailey was also there and discussed the pocket garden she and her neighbors started in their neighborhood almost 18 years ago on a vacant city lot.  The Police Department used it as an example at the city-wide block watch meeting this week of a neighborhood calming effort.  We actually had some regular back-yard gardeners attend this meeting.  They explained that they started growing their own food because they lived in a food desert and were tired of, for instance, their fruit options being limited to apples, oranges or orange juice at the local bodega.  You go girls!
The evening ended by sorting through seeds donated by Livingston Seed Company and Straders and picking up planters that had been donated by Strader’s Garden Centers.  I took a pot of geraniums and put it in our front flower bed where the thieves had trampled down spearmint.  I also toured the tiny pantry garden of the Redeemer Lutheran Church, which is in their courtyard facing James Road.  It was easily the best tended garden I had ever seen (which is so consistent with Lutherans).  You could cut yourself on the sharp edges of that lawn. (I wish I had pictures, but the battery on my cell phone camera died during the meeting).   I don't know why, but the pastor was almost insulted by the compliment.  They have 8-10 raised beds and most of them have amazingly constructed trellises.  They also used landscaping fabric in most of them, which reduces the spread of soil-borne viruses.  They were growing chard, tomatoes, peppers, beans and peas.   They had donated over 1200 pounds of produce so far this year.  

We don't donate anywhere near that much each year, but I've attached charts showing the distribution of our food pantry donations as of August 30 this year.


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