Thursday, March 19, 2009

Water Update

One of the biggest challenges facing every community garden is how to obtain a reliable and affordable water supply. Some gardens supply chlorinated city water, but that is pretty expensive and it is hard to allocate the costs fairly among the gardeners. Rain is rarely sufficient during the late summer months. The Stoddart Avenue Garden has been blessed with four rain barrels, each of which holds 55 gallons of water. It could be difficult to fill these barrels based on normal rain fall.

We have good news. The offices of Build The Bridge of Ohio, Org (BTBO) are located two lots west of the Garden (off East Main Street). BTBO has two downspouts from its roof on the east side of its office building and has graciously agreed to let us connect our rain barrels to these east-side downspouts. It is estimated that approximately 18,000 gallons of rain runs off each roof in Central Ohio each year. Unless that rain is diverted to a rain garden or barrel, it runs into storm sewers and empties – in this area – into Alum Creek, taking with it any pollution and debris it passes along the way. By capturing the rain water before it runs into Cherry Street and then into area storm sewers, we will be filtering the rain and improving the quality of the water in Alum Creek as well as going a long way to satisfying the needs of our thirsty vegetable gardens.

We need to be sure not to wear out our welcome with BTBO by disrupting its operations or its clients. BTBO serves clients in its offices between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Accordingly, gardeners should not retrieve any water from the barrels during BTBO’s business hours. Gardeners can retrieve water to supply their garden plots after 4:45 p.m. on weekdays and at any time on weekends. This should provide sufficient flexibility for our gardeners. It is still possible that we will run out of water if we have a dry summer and, in that event, gardeners will need to bring water from home.

BTBO is a faith-based, prison re-entry, non-profit organization which provides housing, employment and life skills services to ex-offenders being released from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC) and placed on parole or post-release control (PRC). BTBO’s services assist ex-offenders to find housing, improve life and conflict resolution skills, obtain employment and establish credit so that they can transition from prison into productive and taxpaying members of society and not return to homelessness or their criminal past. BTBO also provides its clients with clothing, food baskets, referrals for food stamps, Bible classes, mentors, and referrals to other social services and agencies (like health care, mental health counseling, literacy assistance, etc.). None of BTBO’s housing services are offered near the Garden, but BTBO provides employment training, job referral services and life skills training at its Main Street office. All BTBO clients are required to remain drug-free as a condition of its program.

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