Saturday, April 25, 2015

Beating the Rain Drops at 2015 SACG Earth Day Celebration

Right right Now now.  I thought that this was a very strange slogan for this year’s Earth Day Columbus campaign.  However, on Wednesday, I picked up our Earth Day participation rewards from Keep Columbus Beautiful and discovered the motivation for this year’s slogan.  Apparently, there is a Beastie Boys’ song with a refrain of “right right now now.”  So, the Earth Day 2015 t-shirts say on the back:

The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago.  The next best time is right right now now.

With that in mind, I was feeling very pessimistic all week about the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden Earth Day “celebration,” especially after all of the work we did on Wednesday to get supplies, etc.  Rain has dominated the weather forecast and the chance of rain increased as each day went by.  My labor attorney volunteers wimped out.  Even the organizer cancelled on Friday.  Sigh.

Then, Tyler from the Ohio Association of Food Banks emailed me about assigning the SACG 4 Work Experience Program (WEP) volunteers.  Whoo hoo!  Two of them contacted me Friday and were willing to come on Saturday morning to help us for four hours.  Yipee!  They asked if I could come up with another four hours of work for them by Thursday (which I did after recruiting additional SACG gardeners to supervise them).   I wasn’t sure if anyone else would come, but at least the trees would get planted.  Then, last night’s late night news reported that it might not start raining until the afternoon.  That became a sure thing with this morning’s newscast.  A little chair dancing, everyone.

I arrived at 9:30 this morning and there were a dozen cars parked in front of the Garden.  J. Jireh was building the raised beds for the community garden they are starting in the lot right next to us.  They had pretty much already built all of the raised beds by the time I arrived.  Two of their gardener volunteers, including Melinda Woda, were parked in front of me.  We chatted briefly.  As the morning progressed, their volunteers built some beautiful trellises for their beans and worked on improving the soil in front of their building so they could improve their flower garden.   They had lots of volunteers and I wondered where my volunteers would park and if any would come at all. . . .

I noticed that Frank, Rayna and Neal had been at the SACG on Friday evening.  Frank
replaced the broken spicket on the large tank and put up the sign on the front gate (with help from Barb, I’m sure).  The grass in the Block Watch lots had also been mowed.  Rayna had started to remove the fence on the west side of her plot (which is no longer necessary in light of the better J. Jireh fence and would only harbor unreachable weeds).  Neal had finished weeding the rest of his plot.

I measured off and put a stake where each fruit tree would go.  Then, I started to dig the hole for the Montmorency cherry tree would go in front of the Garden (finding a few bricks and large stones in the process) when Amy arrived.   

Amy took over digging that hole when my two new WEP volunteers arrived.  I gave them a tour of the SACG and told them about all of the projects we had lined up for them to complete today and over the next few weeks.  (In hindsight, that was probably a mistake).  They went right to work planting the peach tree and then started the nearly impossible task of planting the sweet cherry tree across the street.  However, when they mentioned that it was almost solid aggregate, I told them I would go to the Carter’s down the street to retrieve their pick-axe (which we used in 2012 when planting the two cherry trees already there).  As soon as I got to the Carter’s porch, my phone rang.  They said my name and then hung up.  I called back, but it rolled voice mail. I tried again with the same result.  When I returned to the SACG, they were gone.  I had hoped that they simply went to the Tool Library to get their own pick axe.  But no.  When I returned home, I had a message from them that it wasn’t going to work out because it had sprinkled for about 30 seconds and they thought it might make them sick.   They lasted all of 40 minutes.  At least we got a peach tree planted.    Thanks guys.

In the interim, Amy’s friend, Sarah, came and went right to work helping her plant the
cherry tree.  Much like Amy, she likes to be very busy.  They went right to work moving our five blueberry bushes from the south side of the Garden (where the greedy raspberries are hogging all of the sunlight) to the north side.   This way, we can have our wood chips dumped on the south side next year without having to worry about burying the blueberry bushes.  Methodical me had explained how I wanted the blueberry bushes (along with their stone turrets and special soil) moved one at a time, starting with the back one.   I’m not just a control freak.  I wanted to be sure that we used the correct number of stones for each turret and knew that we could get interrupted by bad weather at any moment. However, they wanted to make the most of their limited time by getting as much work done before they had to leave.    Sarah started digging out all of the bushes at once before we even had anywhere to put them.    They dug out all of the stones at once, so we ended up with extra when we were finished.    Happily, we ended up completing the entire project before the rain came, so all’s well that end well.    It was a lot of work and would’ve gone faster if we had another wheelbarrow or two.  (As previously mentioned, I had strong doubts that we would even be working this morning, so I hadn’t rounded up any extra barrows for us from Cathy or the Carters).

Sarah is also a gardener.  Amy and I tried to talk her into taking a plot.   After Neal arrived, it turned out they were friends, too.  Small world.  Neal worked on recruiting her, too, while he helped to move the blueberry bushes.     Then, Tony stopped by and said he wanted to join.   Neal knows him (and everyone else), so they chatted for a while, too.

Sabrina and Zephyr came and went to work spreading wood chips around our new picnic table.  I had given them a stack of newspaper to place under the chips and kill the grass (so it won’t grow up through the chips).  There were a lot of comic pages in there.  Zephyr couldn’t take the temptation; he grabbed the comics and read them in the car.    When they finished that, I put Sabrina to work spreading our donated soil in the Neighbor plot and planting seedlings in it (of cabbage, lettuce, collard greens and broccoli).  I’ll put some kale in there tomorrow.  Tom arrived and filled the flat tires on our cart (which apparently had been flat for several weeks).   This is made it much easier to lug the turret stones from the south side to the north side of the Garden.  Then, we developed a system where we lugged stones north and returned with wood chips to fill in the holes where the berry bushes used to be.

Lea and Zion arrived and went to work cleaning out the rest of the northeast plot.  They then helped us clean up and move blueberry bushes.     While I was raking up wood chips, I discovered a baby garden snake, to Zion’s delight.  I showed everyone and then released it in the flower bed so that it wouldn’t get hurt while we continued to work in the wood chip pile.   When Zephyr and Zion heard nature’s call, Pastor Brown graciously allowed them to make use of his facilities.

Amy went to work on tidying up the south flower bed so that we could spread wood chips around it, too.  She also made a point of finding bugs to entertain Zion.  He walked around for about 10 minutes carrying a worm.  Boys.   Lea relocated the bags of mulch to the back food pantry plot where I’ll plant tomatoes in late May.

I gave everyone the Earth Day volunteer rewards, which included free Chipotle
burritos, a free Gateway movie, Jeni’s ice cream, etc.  I had a t-shirt, which went to Neal when Lea refused to take it.   We also had Cliff Bars to feed everyone, courtesy of Keep Columbus Beautiful.

Shortly after 1, Neal and I started to put everything back in the shed.  As we did so, it started to rain.  It wouldn’t be Earth Day at the SACG without rain.   While we were walking out to our cars, a truck pulled up and it was Kinte, Ms. Dee’s nephew.  He had left a flyer in our gate this morning about his  2 Neighbors & A Lawnmower service (which can be reached at 406-9528).  He volunteered to mow our lawn this summer whenever he was in the neighborhood, but wanted my permission to do so.  What a sweetie!  I hadn’t brought gas with me for our lawnmower, so it wasn’t going to get mowed this week.  Now, I don’t have to worry.

Frank has volunteered to plant our cherry tree, as though he doesn’t already do enough.  He’s fixed the door for our free little library and will be able to reinstall it tomorrow.   Because I want to get Tony (and hopefully Sarah) on board as soon as possible and get our big tank back in business, we’ll be re-convening tomorrow (Sunday) at 2.  I have to leave at 5 because it is my niece’s 18th birthday.   This is what we’ll be doing on Sunday:

·        Planting the cherry tree (which could easily take the entire afternoon . . . . )

·        Raising the tank with the stones donated on Wednesday by GreenScapes

·       Preparing three food pantry plots for planting.

·        Planting in the food pantry plots (if it's dry enough): potatoes, onions, beets, turnips, lettuce, peas, kale and greens

·        Picking up litter along Stoddart Avenue, and maybe

·        Turning the material in the compost bins. 


Whew!  Before I headed over today, I meant to fill my slow-cooker with a chicken mole recipe, but as I was filling it, I changed my mind and made coq au vin instead.  I had a nice hot meal waiting for me when I came home this afternoon.   Yummy.

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