Sunday, April 9, 2017

Slow and Steady Progress at the SACG to Celebrate Earth Day Early

Earth Day is not until near the end of the month, but the Easter holiday next week seems to have motivated Earth Day Columbus to move up the work days and festivities.  Accordingly, the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden – like many other area community gardens – celebrated Earth Day yesterday.  The day started off with a freeze warning and seemed to have scared off most of our regular gardeners and Board members, but we achieved most of our goals nonetheless with help from some new neighbors, Amy, Rayna and Earth Day Columbus.

We’ve missed Robert Seed from Keep Columbus Beautiful who has always kept supply distribution very organized and highly communicative.  With his medical leave of absence following the brutal attack on him in February, the remaining volunteers have been scrambling.   I picked up our supplies on Friday morning and heard that he was planning to stop by KCB around noon to wish them well.  (That's great news, isn't it).   While we received all of the mulch (donated by Kurz Brothers) that we had requested, we only received a few litter grabbers, 3 lawn waste bags and one safety vest (which I declined).  There were no bus passes this year (which I generally use throughout the year for volunteers and to assist some of our economically challenged neighbors).   But, we got a bag of luna bars (for our volunteers and to occasionally pass off to hungry neighbors) and free Jeni’s ice cream.

I arrived bright and early at the SACG on Saturday.  Unlike last week, we had brilliant sunshine and clear blue skies.  At least our pictures would be better!  Alexi quickly arrived with his garden agreement and plot fee and I immediately put him to work unloading our mulch.   He then moved on to edge the front flower bed and reconstruct the edging along the strawberry patch.  

Then, neighbor Cameron arrived and was willing to do anything.  Dirtier the better he said, so I put him to work flipping compost from one bin into our new western bin.   He was such a good and willing worker that I tried to recruit him for the Garden, but he’s apparently moving to Brazil in six weeks to work on an organic commercial farm.  (What a sense of adventure!).  He then mowed our lawn and the large Block Watch lot and then weeded the kids’ beds and one food pantry plot before calling it a day.

 I removed and bagged the brambles from the other compost bins, pruned our fruit trees, transplanted a peony bush and pruned some spent perennial flowers in the beds.  Despite the prior night’s freeze, our fruit trees seemed unfazed.  The peach blossoms were still blooming and the cherry blossoms were starting to appear.  I then started planting cold crop seedlings (kale, collards, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage and brussels sprouts)  in our neighbor plot along the alley and watering in the new transplants.  I also had to again clean out our Free Little Library because someone keeps putting perishable produce in there!  Ugh.  Today, it was cucumbers and apples.

Danielle (from Earth Day Columbus) stopped by with her husband David to pass out free Chipotle gift certificates for our volunteers.  They then returned and helped us out a lot.  First, they planted two grape vines for us along our new trellis.  Then, they transplanted a poorly placed hosta, dug out a weed tree growing in the fence line and spread mulch in our flower beds.  (This is one of my least favorite jobs because the mulch sticks to my clothes and runs up my arms.  A few years ago, my legs and feet were attacked by ants that had been living in the bag.  Ouch!).

Amy arrived and I put her to work cleaning up our herb garden.  The chives and oregano really take over.  She expressed interest in the  cherry branches I had pruned.  What a good idea, so I took the branches that she did not want.  We have so many chives (and they are so pretty with their purple flowers when in bloom), and she could not bring herself to dig out more than one bunch.  She put them in a flower pot in the hope that someone would take them home.   She also helped Alexi with the flower bed.

As seems to happen every year, Alexi, Danielle and David left before I remembered to pass out the volunteer rewards (other than luna bars).    I know that I’ll see Alexi again soon, but I wasn’t so sure about Danielle and David.   I finally remembered them as Amy packed up to leave.  

I wanted Cameron to remember Columbus while he is in Brazil, so I gave him our extra Earth Day Columbus t-shirt to wear and advertise our event on another continent.

Rayna and her niece Sarah then arrived to volunteer.  Sara weeded the strawberry patch and liberated a few for the garden at Stewart Avenue Middle School where Rayna works and helps her class raise food.  I had Rayna spread mulch in the herb garden and plant cold crop seedlings that I had brought in our food pantry plot.   I finally got around to planting another two rows of cold crop seedlings in my plot.  Later in the afternoon, I drove down to Dill’s Greenhouse to purchase some onion sets.  Once I put in a couple of rows, I’ll share the remainder with the food pantry and neighbor beds and then with the other gardeners.

In the small world category, Alexi lives a few houses down from the Garden and moved into the neighborhood within the last couple of months.  However, his partner, Isaiah, had visited the SACG a few years ago when, as an employee of Whole Foods, he gave us a cooking demonstration during our 2014 Opening Day and motivated all of us to plant lots of garlic by telling us about all of the garlic he grew for himself in his backyard.    Now, he’s one of our gardeners. 

I’m trying to convince David and Danielle to return.  They cannot grow anything in their condo . . . . . .
We were not the only ones in the neighborhood who were busy.  J. Jireh had a crew picking up litter along East Main Street.
There are always a few more tasks to be addressed, and so these are some of the tasks which will still need to be addressed this month:

1)    Maybe extending the alley curb in front of the western compost bin

2)    Picking up litter in the entire neighborhood and alleys
3)    Straightening up our leaning benches of pisa. (or at least lifting them out of the wood chips because the seat is only six inches above the ground at present) 
4)    Touching up the paint on the shed’s rain barrel
5)    Transplanting some volunteer raspberry bushes to empty spots

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