Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Columbus Department of Public Health Is Funding a Water Tank for the SACG

In mid-April, Ms. Anthony forwarded to me an email she had received about a small grant program that City Councilperson Priscilla Tyson had put in the City's budget this year to support community produce gardens. I then received a slightly revised version of the grant description and application in the mail. It had a very short deadline (i.e., April 26) and was limited to existing community produce gardens. Grant applications were to be prioritized by the level of partnership/collaboration, volunteer participation, and community benefits. The grant was being administered by the Institute for Active Living at the Columbus Public Health Department and the funding decisions would be made by the Health Department.

We already have five rain barrels attached to the downspouts of the offices of BTBO. Four of these barrels were donated to us last year by Rain Brothers and I loaned a fifth (which I purchased at a reduced cost from Rain Brothers through a federal government subsidy program administered by the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed – or FLOW). We had a small portion of our grant from the Scotts Miracle-Gro Fund at the Columbus Foundation already set aside to purchase two additional rain barrels because we ran dry a few times last summer. However, we would need to buy a 500 gallon water tank if we ever hoped to expand the SACG because even 350 gallons of rain water would be insufficient to support a larger gardening program. (This had been one of the recommendations of our visitors during the American Community Garden Association annual meeting last August). Moreover, because BTBO has also decided to create a gardening program for its clients behind its office and to create a similar community garden on the lot between our two properties, we clearly needed to increase our water source sooner than later. Thus, Ms. Anthony and I decided to collaborate on obtaining a tank to satisfy our joint watering needs for our gardens. The plan is that the tank would replace the three rain barrels on the east side of the BTBO offices, although it would still be connected to the same downspout to harvest the 18,000 gallons of rain water coming off the BTBO office roof. Then, we would put 3 rain barrels (instead of the current two) on the west side of the BTBO offices to harvest the rain water from that downspout. The fourth rain barrel will eventually be connected to the roof of our new shed. Altogether, that would give us 700 potential gallons of water to support both community gardening programs.

I submitted the grant application and kept my fingers crossed, but became concerned when I did not hear anything on April 30 (as promised). (That was also the same day that our new shed was delivered and The Cougar Group held a fundraiser for the SACG to raise funds for our needed water tank). However, hope springs eternal and I waited for an announcement from the City about the grant.

Last week, our prayers were answered when Barb Seckler called and told me that the SACG would received funding from the Public Health Department for our new water tank. Yipee!! I then contacted Rain Brothers and Jonathan told me that it would actually be less expensive to get a 550-gallon tank. Like other Rain Brothers' products, the tanks are manufactured locally. In this case, the tanks are manufactured in nearby Lancaster – only 45 minutes away. Unfortunately, he had just sold their last tank of that size and we have to wait 10-21 days for a new one. Rain Brothers will deliver it for free.

I think the neighborhood will be happy with the new tank because its earth-toned color will be slightly less conspicuous than the neon blue of our rain barrels and will altogether will take up slightly less space. I know that I'll be happier to not have to worry as much about running out of water during those pesky dry spells in August and September.

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