Sunday, December 4, 2011

Celebration of 2011 Hub Garden Achievements and Challenges

Although I have been absent from this site for a few weeks as I have tried to recuperate from closing the Garden and catching up with my life and housework, there is still much going on with community gardening – particularly in the last week.

On Wednesday, there was a Hub Garden meeting at the Caretaker’s Cottage at Franklin Park Conservatory (pictured). Bill served us Josie’s Pizza (from West Broad Street which his sister made for us).

Bill asked about which groups had received notice of receiving a Scotts Miracle-Gro Fund grant at the Columbus Foundation. Godman Guild and Franklinton Gardens reported that they had received good news.

Bill also reported that Franklin County was applying for a CDBG grant to support community gardening in 2012. The City thinks that they will have $25,000 again to contribute to community garden grants. Last year, the County, City and Foundation coalition awarded almost 200 small grants to support community gardening. However, in practice, small grants do not do much to help get a garden started and they have decided for 2012 to focus on fewer, but more significant grants in order to increase the effectiveness of the grant program. The City is also developing a program to give or loan large cisterns to gardens on City lots (like ours) to collect rain water because the City cannot give away water.

Bill then asked us to give a report about each of our gardens from 2011. He tried to videotape all of them, but you know that I almost never let my picture be taken:). I just took cryptic notes and hope people will let me know when I make a mistake so that I can quickly correct it.

New Harvest/Alma Vera Garden in New Linden. Tressa started off the reports and was a hard act to follow:

• This was their first year to participate in Earth Day. Nonetheless, they had the third largest site with 88 volunteers.
• They’re working with St. Stephens Community House and the Stem Academy to increase the number of youth volunteers.
• Engaged in neighborhood beautification projects with donations from Fishers, Oakland and Scotts.
• Helped with backyard gardens, like Ms. Beulah’s garden which recycles about everything and can be seen on youtube.
• They are working with the Dr. Dirt Garden on Westerville Road and an after-school program.
• They produced two plays and showed movies at their garden so that even non-gardeners in the neighborhood would feel comfortable stopping by. (They were having another production this weekend, which she was co-directing).
• They are starting an EEE program next year to focus on health and gardening education.
• They are working with OSU Extension and a dietician to start a 4-H program. (I am soooo jealous).
• They had four performing art productions
• They are exploring selling prepared foods through Urban Chef and to receive snap benefits.
• Their biggest challenge (as it is for all of our gardens) is improving the consistency of volunteer assistance.
• Nathanial – one of their youth gardeners – won the Youth Leadership Award from FPC this August. His is a senior in high school this year and plans to graduate. Kojo mentors a number of young men through the garden and funds it out of his own pocket.
• Next year, the Garden will focus on increasing the consistence of volunteers and funding.

This makes me tired just summarizing all of this. Tressa is a force of nature all by herself. She was recently accepted into OSU’s Master Garden program for 2012. She quit her job to focus on the garden. And I had to follow her.

Stoddart Avenue Community Garden. I gave a much briefer report. I started by reporting that we had done none of these things. We do not have a performing arts program, but we do have awesome volunteers who for the most part contribute significantly all season long and suffer much nagging from me about weeds.

• We had lots of volunteers to pick up neighborhood litter on Earth Day for about thirty minutes before it started raining cats and dogs.
• We had a gardening seminar in early June.
• Our biggest challenge has been the area crime. Our lawn mower had been stolen from our shed in September 2010. Then, more tools were stolen in May 2011. Two more attempts were made on our tool shed over the summer; neither were successful, but lock was broken and had to be replaced. We had two murders within six feet of the Garden in August 2010 and March 2011 and another a half-block away in September/October 2010. Accordingly, we have tried our best to support the re-establishment of the area block watch and are in the process of applying for a grant to purchase additional security cameras for the neighborhood.
• We raised more food than ever despite all of the rain this year. Unfortunately, all of the kids stopped tending their plots when it got hot in mid-June and one of our elderly gardeners got sick and had to drop out. So, I took over four plots in addition to my own and raised produce for area food pantries. Some guy even stopped by and finally identified colored greens for me (since I don’t eat them myself and had foolishly thought it was some sort of fancy cabbage). While we do not donate anywhere near the amount of produce that communal gardens (like Franklinton or Upper Arlington Lutheran), I’m pleased with our small contribution in relation to everything else we do.
• We created enough of our own compost to spread a very thin layer over the entire garden when we closed a few weeks ago.
• As is typical in the Fall, lots of people have expressed interest in joining next year. If they follow through and contact me in March, we may expand to adjoining lots (if agreeable to our neighbors). The Franklin Park Neighborhood Association has asked me to make a presentation about the garden in February.
• Next year, we will just have one communal plot for all of the neighborhood kids to share instead of giving them each a plot of their own.
• We raised $100 from plot fees, $110 from selling strawberry seedlings and $340 from raffling off the uber-chic garden cart we won as part of the Sustainability Award from the American Community Garden Association and Franklin Park Conservatory in August. Marge Telerski from the St. Vincent De Paul garden at the Bishop Griffin Center won it, which as you will later read, was extremely appropriate. Accordingly, we do not anticipate seeking additional grant funding next year. After all, we are a most ridiculously frugal community garden.
• We again shared our seed bounty with other community gardens (like Bexley and Growing Hearts and Hands) and the GCGC.
• Bill also pointed out that we do a great job of publicizing our work through this website. I shared that we get about 200 hits/day during the summer growing season. Less this time of year. Bill claims that he alone counts for 20 of those daily hits;)

Gantz Road. Sarah Kincaid from Franklin County talked about their extensive program and a companion program for the Mid-Ohio Food Bank:

• They have three separate garden areas at the old Franklin County Children Services site.
• They also experienced the normal community garden problem of some gardeners dropping out during the season and the overgrown/weedy plots that follow.
• The Somali garden was a great success, but they pretty much keep to themselves.
• Getting the Burmese Garden started has been slower because of all of the effort involved in digging out all of the construction debris that has been left behind so that they could till. The community had been extremely enthusiastic and the youth have worked extremely hard carrying away bricks and stones.
• The County installed some water spickets between the gardens which are shared by the various communities.
• MOFB wants to start using high tunnels to grow food year round.
• They are exploring adding a 4-H program next year. (Did I mention that I’m really jealous?)

St. Vincent De Paul/Bishop Griffin. Marge Telerski and Connie Ford reported:

• They were robbed at the beginning of the growing season and lost their lawn mower and garden cart. Good thing they won ours in the raffle!
• They raised a massive amount of melons (courtesy of the massive donation from Strader’s Garden Center).
• They had lots of volunteers from every Catholic High School in Franklin County.
• Watterson students started seedlings, some of which they gave to the food pantry clients so that they could grow food at their own homes and apartments. Dozens of Catholic Churches collected gallon planting containers which they then planted the seedlings to give to food pantry clients. They plan to expand this ministry next year.
• They have a new greenhouse which will let them grow food through three seasons (i.e., Spring, Summer and Fall). They are unhappy with its heat in the winter.
• They have established a program with the Women’s Group at the Cathedral. Although the Cathedral Chef will not let them grow food there, they supply the women’s group with lettuce for their lunches.
• A Girl Scout group came and planted rose bushes and hostas.
• A pre-school group planted Spring crops, but were hardly expert about it She plans to only let the children help adult gardeners next year.
• MOFB sent volunteers from other area food pantries to see how each pantry could also have its own gardening program to supplement the canned food donations.
• Their pantry fed 25,000 clients in 2011.
• Next year, they will focus on growing greater amounts of a fewer variety of crops so that they can consistently have certain produce available.
• They had trouble with consistent volunteer assistance because two of her core volunteers became very ill over the summer. I told her that I would send her Louise from the SACG (who live closer to them and attends church with them):)
• They were successful growing their own compost this year.

Evergreen Gardening Ministry. I hope that you’re sitting for this because the report of Suzanna Evans and Penny Upp exhausted me just hearing about it:

These two women – who each have a regular full-time job that does not involve running a community garden -- manage SIX different community gardens in THREE different counties:

1) Epworth Methodist Church
2) Nursery Garden (for toddlers)
3) Christian Assembly – the largest
4) A City lot on Cleveland Avenue
5) Buckeye Lake – in Licking County
6) A Delaware County potato farm.

• They are exploring getting a 4-H program (jealous again)
• They visit each of their gardens once a week. They visit two gardens every Saturday.
• They could use more volunteer help. NO KIDDING!!!!!
• They stopped blogging in July and now are only on Facebook:(
• A widow in Delaware County offered them several acres, but would only agree to growing potatoes. She supplies all of the seed potatoes for them. They grew 600 pounds of potatoes.

Franklinton. No surprises here; Patrick Kaufman always has lots of interesting things to report:

• They started their fifth and six gardening site. Altogether, they have a full acre now.
• This was their most productive season. They raised 2500 pounds last year and 7,000 pounds this year.
• Most of their produce goes to Gladden House’s pantry and Holy Family’s Soup Kitchin. They also began contributing to the Homeless Family Foundations day care center’s lunch program.
• This was the second year for their produce market. Last year, they had to set up a tent and equipment every day. This year, the Neighborhood Design Center designed a permanent structure (a percola and storage shed with a power and phone line to operate EBT equipment for food stamps) that is located in the parking lot of St. John’s Episcopal Church. This market grew out of the Local Matters Vegee Van program.
• They have branched out and are selling food to restaurants, like tomatoes, squash, greens and herbs. They are also supplying food to the Green Grocer at the North Market (which pays better than wholesale prices paid by restaurants). They made $2,000 from selling produce.
• They have established a relationship with CaJohn’s Fiery Foods (of which my father and hometown are big fans). They sold it 600 pounds of hot peppers and it is making a specialty sauce to highlight local produce. CaJohns will then donate a portion of the proceeds back to the Franklinton Gardens. A Watterson High School student designed the label for the new sauce. CaJohns has already placed an order of specialty peppers for 2012. (I related that none of my jolokia pepper plants produced anything this year)
• They have benefitted from regular work groups.
• They learned from visiting Will Allen’s Growing Power operation in Wisconsin last September 2010. They started their own unpaid internship program. They had four full-time volunteers (one of whom came from Boston) and two part-time interns. However, this meant that Patrick spent more time managing interns and less time growing/gardening.
• They have continued to expand on their relationship with ODJFS. The Work Experience Program pays unemployed clients to learn gardening and other works skills by working at Franklinton Garden. While a few didn’t work out, most were very hard-working and already knew a lot about growing food.
• Their compost program dwarfs the rest of us. I am not going to go into much detail, but they have built a six-foot fence around it. They turn it every three months, and it takes a bobcat or their volunteers from OSU’s Athletes in Action ministry. Jonathan Meier from Rain Brothers recently helped them out by turning it with his bobcat. Yea Jonathan!
• They are coordinating a Fresh Food marketing campaign with OSU, UWCO, and Local Matters. It is funded by Franklin County and the Department of Agriculture. They are focusing on putting fresh produce in three area corner markets. They will design the produce displays and signage for each market. He passed around some of materials, which were very impressive.
• Go Patrick!

Godman Guild. Yolanda was the unofficial photographer for our meeting. Now it was her turn:

• This was her first year as a full-time employee as the Wellness and Garden
Coordinator. She had worked previously at Local Matters.
• She is working with a large grant from HUD (through MORPC) to do an agrarian overlay in the Weinland Park neighborhood. They want to put a community garden within ¼ mile of each home. They are getting a logo for the Garden.
• She is still working with Local Matters to support the Garden. LM sends its Vegee Van, but now they are operating more as a CSA by giving each client a bag of pre-selected available vegetables instead of letting them select produce.
• They produce a Grub N Groove with PB& Jazz and Local Matters

• An industrial fire next door as the gardening season was beginning delayed opening the garden as they had to determine whether their soil had become contaminated. K.B. Jones arranged for freesoil testing by OSU students to allay those concerns.
• They are working on a Roofs and Root program with Campus Partners.
• They donate most of their produce to the Fruit of the Vine Pantry operated by the
Vineyard Church. She has no idea how much because she doesn’t have time to weigh it.
• TANF funds pay teens to work in the garden over the summer for six weeks and then get help developing their work resumes.
• She participated in the Will Allen visit in July (which was freakishly hot) and helped build a hoop house.
• After the GCGC program on the same topic, she worked with OSU Extension to provide GAP training to other area gardens. Thirty people attended. Go Yolanda!
• They had 60 volunteers show up for the UWCO’s Community Care Day. They couldn’t use all of these volunteers so she sent some to other neighborhood gardens. However, all this help enabled her to move their stage to make more room for raised beds (including some for disabled and elderly gardeners).
• The Make a Difference Day sponsored by the Columbus Foundation enabled them to put their garden to bed (with the help of Trish from Local Matters).
• She is also working at West High School developing an after –school gardening program.

Bill and FPC are getting ready to announce and promote the Hub Gardens for the 12 x 2012 program. He wanted help creating a brand/sign/logo for signs to be placed at each of our gardens. They want to hold an event at each of our gardens in 2012, probably starting with Earth Day. We are to consider an Open Garden tour where everyone in Columbus can visit our gardens (which will have to be staffed for the entire time of the tour) at their own pace on that day. Unlike past tours, there will not be a bus bringing tourists en masse. Mayb this could be a joint fundraiser?

He encouraged all of us to apply for the City’s Green Spot program so that we could have that logo on our signs as well.

He hopes to expand the number of Hub Gardens.

We finally left at 8:44 p.m. A long night. There will probably be another Hub Garden meeting scheduled in December so that we can receive reports from the rest of gardens and discuss more about launching the program.

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