Tuesday, June 6, 2017


On Saturday, June 10, from 9 until noon (or until supplies run out, which may not be very long depending on how many people come), the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden will be having its first ever Black Raspberry Festival.  Because non-gardener pickers are limited to the berries growing on the outside of our fence, there is, of course, no charge. Those berries are free to all every day.   However, we will have baked goods and some plants for sale and will accept tax-deductible donations.  The SACG is a 501(c)(3) public charity.   We have 120 feet of black (and gold) raspberries to be picked.  They don’t last long and new berries ripen every day.

Cathy is baking her famous strawberry cupcakes (that will have strawberries in the cake and icing that we picked just last week).  I make some black raspberry and some tart cherry muffins.  Regan is also baking.    I have to believe that Rayna will also contribute some oatmeal cookies filled with some sort of goodie.   I will also have many plants and seedlings available, including ferns, basil, cosmos, tomatillos, daisies, perennial salvia, coneflowers, thyme, parsley, white phlox and African marigolds.

We are running out of money at the SACG.  We are running short on hand tools (like pruners, trowels, shovels, hedge clippers, etc.).  Applying for grants is very time consuming and grantors often seem more interested in a good story than anything else and feel compelled to help new gardens buy basic supplies that we purchased years ago.   Also, we have lots of berries ripen every day in early June and not enough people are picking them.  I hate to see them go to waste.  They are great in pies , cakes, ice cream, jam, cobblers and crisps.    The neighborhood kids like them in smoothies. 

We could also use more help picking berries for our weekly food pantry donation because it takes about an hour to pick a pint (due to the thorns).  I will give you pint containers and if the outside berries are already picked over, and you seem like a very careful person, I will let you pick from inside the Garden in our food pantry plots where there are berries.   That is a special privilege granted to very few non-gardeners.

As readers know, black raspberries are among my favorite foods on earth and they are highly nutritious. Their dark color makes a great dye (and was used by the USDA to stamp meat) and is associated with high anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and other beneficial properties. Among other things,

  •  Studies at Ohio State University showed a 60–80 % reduction in colon tumors in rats fed a diet with black raspberries added.
  • Studies at Ohio State University showed an 80% reduction in esophageal cancers in mice fed a 5-10% diet of black raspberries.

I won’t deny that the berry brambles are covered and filled with weeds in some places. (I pulled a lot last night on the south side).   Pickers should feel free to pull weeds when they find them because there are often ripe berries behind and under the weeds (in my experience). 

I also spent some time picking another quart of sour cherries last night and I suspect that we will still have some left on Saturday.  Feel free to bring a ladder because none of us have reached the high cherries yet. Of course, you pick at your own risk.

We would also be happy to send you home with as much spearmint and chocolate mint as you would like.   Those plants are prolific at the SACG.  I’m not too aggressive with them because their pleasant smell deters certain bugs away from our squash.

If you come, feel free to bring some books for our perpetually under-stocked Free Little Library.  Half-Price Books won’t be donating more books until after Father’s Day and I’m feeling guilty about how empty it looks.

You will need to bring your own container for the berries that you plan to take home with you to eat.  We assume that you will eat some as you pick.  At least I hope so.  Too many city dwellers don’t know the joy of picking a berry and putting it immediately in your mouth.  Yum. Yum.

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