Since our 2014 Closing Day, the SACG received two large boxes of donated children's books from Half Price Books, which I used to re-stock our Free Little Library before Christmas and the long Martin Luther King and President's Day holiday weekends. When I was there on Friday, the Library was practically empty. Susan and I have also been busy recruiting new gardeners for our 2015 gardening season. Franklin Park Conservatory donated numerous packets of vegetable seeds for our upcoming gardening season. Strader's Nursery also donated several bags of tulip and daffodil bulbs, which I picked up at December's GCGC meeting at the FPC. Susan and I planted them around the SACG the following weekend. I also attended the annual February Columbus City Land Bank Community Garden meeting (where they had lots of interesting announcements, some of which are mentioned below) and the GCGC meeting at the Columbus Foundation (discussing the annual City-County community garden grant process).
Neal is going to be out of town on both dates, but agreed to make up his time. Frank, Rayna and I know that we want to grow early Spring crops (i.e., peas, lettuce, spinach) and so are opting for an early March 28 date.
- The City Health Department has become concerned with the mosquitoes that might be breeding in land bank community garden rain cisterns. (The City provided us with funds to purchase a 500 gallon tank and loans us a 350 gallon tank). This year, the Department will be inspecting the tanks and putting something in them to kill mosquito larvae. This prompted a discussion about what chemicals will be used since many gardens are organic and we are concerned about the effect certain chemicals have on our plants and produce.
- The City's Parks and Recreation Department has 7 benches looking for a good community garden home.
- GCGC is organizing a road/bus trip to Cleveland on August 1 to tour various community gardens there. Cardinal Bus Lines is providing the transportation at $35.
- OSU is publishing a local foods guide and will include a free listing of any community garden that sells produce directly to consumers (like a farmer's market). Contact Mike Hogan at Franklin County Extension for more details.
- OSU is offering another popular urban agriculture class in the Fall. It will start earlier this year to take advantage of daylight.
- OSU will be organizing an urban farm tour in August as part of local foods week.
- For the City-County community garden grants this year, the city is contributing $25K and the County $20k (of federal funds). Priority is given to gardens in low income census tracts and to produce gardens that benefit low income residents. Because there are comparatively few county applicants, it was recommended that city gardens partner with a county church or garden in a grant application to improve their odds. Also, while critical needs of new gardens still receive funding priority, there may be funds available this year (for the first time) for aesthetic projects, like trellises, benches, lighting, etc. Last year, the average grant was for $1500. Awards will be announced at the end of March or early April. The grant report is due by November 1.