A unique and viable approach to establishing local food self-reliance and building stronger communities.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

4-H Community Giveaway at the Monroe Legion Hall - April 16

It's time for the Community Give-away at the Monroe Legion Hall organized by Christy Warden and the local 4-H club. This event happens twice a year - at Christmas and Easter and it's an event that brings the community together as everyone is welcome to participate; to give and receive as they have need. All income levels welcome. Everything is given away.

On Friday, April 15th, from noon to 5:00 pm, Christy and a crew of volunteers receive and sort donations into categories - setting up the event. On Saturday April 16th from 10:00 to 2:00 the doors are open and people can come and freely receive. It's a lively social event: people swap out clothes that their kids have outgrown for ones that will fit them, supplement their pantries with new food, find items to do a little interior decorating  or gather building materials for home-improvement projects. As times have become more challenging economically, this event serves a real need in our community. At the Christmas event, Christy counted over 100 families who received help through this Giveaway.

People helping people!
Donations needed: Please bring your donations on Friday, April 15, noon to 5:00 pm to the Monroe Legion Hall - the brick building kitty-corner from the Post Office, on Main St. in Monroe. Tax-Deductible receipts available.
  • Clothes
  • Food
  • Housewares
  • Toiletries
  • Surplus building materials
  • Extra seedlings for people to plant in their gardens.
Volunteers needed:  Call Christy: (541) 847-6030 if you are available to help or have questions. The main need is on Friday afternoon to help sort and set-up the donations but there may be other ways you can help too.


Left over items will be donated to other local charities.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Growing Gratitude

Have you ever noticed how plants grow exponentially? At first you plant the seed and it seems like nothing is happening for the longest time; then, the first simple leaves appear and you can hardly perceive their daily growth. Given the right conditions: a larger pot, enriched soil, water, warmth and light and suddenly the leaves are lengthening and multiplying almost visibly! The "Sharing Garden" project of Alpine and Monroe, OR seems to be coming into that super-growth phase. So much to be grateful for!
Volunteers at the Crowson/Monroe garden - 2010
Big thanks to Chester Crowson for giving us permission to garden on his property in Monroe for another year. The Monroe gardens are ideally located behind the Methodist Church at 648 Orchard Rd. which houses the Food Bank (the greatest recipient of our produce). The garden is huge (110' x 170') and we were only able to cultivate about half of it last year. There's a garden shed we use and Chester pays our water bill. His daughter, Lisa Richter has been a big help as liaison between the project and her Dad.

We continue to have very positive response to the articles that the The Tribune News is publishing about us. Thanks to the editor, Gini Bramlett and her support staff. The paper reaches a different audience than the posts we write for our web-site and many new "locals" are becoming involved as result. One of these is Barbara Standley who donated several stacks of home-built nursery flats and the 6-packs to go with them. She and her husband Waldo started "Victory Gardens" on River Rd in Santa Clara back in 1968. Waldo was single-minded with the nursery and would have grown only tomatoes if his friends hadn't said, "You've got to branch out and grow other things!". Eventually they added flowers and vegetable-starts to their repertoire. Their nursery was active until 1996 and lay dormant till recently when the Standley's daughter and son-in-law began to revive the business - renaming it the "Grateful Gardener".

Barbara Standley and Llyn load her donation in the truck
We've had a nice response to our request for help to create re-usable leaf-bags. Two local seamstresses have stepped forth and are poised to make the bags once we get more drapes and other heavy fabrics donated. Our vision is to distribute these reusable leaf bags, for people to fill themselves and drop off at the garden sites or, for those who are unable to do their own raking to circulate a team of volunteers for leaf collection through-out the Fall. We use the leaves to mulch the garden beds and feed the worms and bacteria in the soil. John Noreena and Jenny Grey donated four HUGE, heavy-duty bags that were originally used to deliver sand to a job-site but that he has used for leaf-collection on his own property.

Germaine and Larry join us in the greenhouse. So much fun!
People have started to step forth and volunteer their time in the greenhouse. We've begun a partnership with Albany's YMCA (more about this in a future post) and they've been coming to the greenhouse to learn the art of nursery work as they grow out the "starts" they'll use in their own food-give-away garden. Kyle Rd. residents Larry and Germaine Hammon were a great help in transplanting sunflowers into bigger pots. Bruce Hayler - host to "The Ark" and the Oak St. "Sharing Gardens" also keeps coming over to get his hands in the soil.
  
Bruce Hayler and Chris planting lettuce in donated "plug trays"
We want people to know that our thanks goes out to all the people behind the scenes and those we've fail to specifically mention, whose support makes this project possible. The anonymous donors who drop things off at the garden sites, the well-wishers who think warm thoughts and send notes of appreciation and those who help to spread the word by forwarding our posts/articles. You are the light, the water and soil that makes it possible for the "Sharing Gardens" to blossom.

Current Wish List: Heavy fabric (drapes, shower curtains, canvas), at least 3' x 5' - to sew leaf bags out of. T-posts (slightly bent, OK). Nursery pots and flats (six-packs and large 4" sizes). Mud boots - various sizes for people to use when they come to the gardens.

We have available: Thornless ever-bearing raspberries: the canes are coming up and already getting leaves so the window is closing to transplant to your garden beds. They like full sun and well-drained soil. Let us know you're interested and we'll tell you where to dig them up.

Chris and Llyn can be contacted from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm and 3:00 to 8:00 pm - (541) 847-8797

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Volunteering at the Sharing Gardens

Volunteering at the Sharing Gardens is a fun and meaningful way to contribute to your community, learn about gardening, strengthen your body and share in the harvest.

 
Tibbi, Llyn and Danielle - first volunteer day - 2010
People have begun to inquire about volunteering at the "Sharing Gardens". Our needs are sporadic at this time but as the season progresses we will definitely need a lot of help this year.

Here's how the volunteer program works: Send us an email with "Volunteer" in the subject line. AlpineCoGarden@gmail.com We will add you to our exclusive volunteer list. Once the season begins in earnest, you will receive a weekly email which tells you the times/days/locations and tasks in the gardens that week.

You do not have to come every week but you are welcome as often as you like.

You bring your own sunhat, drinking water and gloves (we have some you can borrow if you forget yours). We provide the tools.

Please no dogs, tobacco or alcohol use in the gardens and younger children must be supervised by an adult.

Volunteers displaying the harvest at the Food Bank - 2010

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Starting Tomatoes from Seed


Transplanting tomato starts
Here in the Pacific NW, it's time to start tomatoes from seed. Most varieties need 6-8 weeks to grow large enough and sturdy enough to be transplanted into garden beds. Since our last risk of frost is around Memorial Day, mid to late March is the time to start the seeds. Tomatoes are warmth-loving plants needing to germinate at around 70-75 degrees so they need to be started indoors to thrive. We germinate ours on a heat -mat specifically designed for this purpose. Once the seeds are up, they need full sun to keep from getting pale and leggy. A greenhouse is best, as long as you don't get freezing temps or a heat source on cold nights. If you don't have a greenhouse, a grow-light will work, or a south-facing window. Keep rotating plants so they grow straight up (not towards the window).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"Sharing Gardens" Potpourri

Liz Hayler at the greenhouse.
The community support for the "Sharing Gardens" is growing. We send out thanks to Warren and Laurie Halsey for donating two, unopened 5-gallon buckets of house paint. We can spruce up the bathroom at the Alpine Garden--inside and out and use it for other garden projects as well. Our continued gratitude goes to the Canters and Haylers who are hosting the greenhouse on their property in Monroe.

A big thanks goes out to Bud Hardin of Monroe. He has donated the funds to cover the cost of renting a portable toilet for a full year! This has been placed between the Monroe Garden site and the Food Bank. Since the closest public bathroom to the site is several blocks away, there are many volunteers in both programs who will be very glad of this donation.

Linda with a Mason Bee house.
Linda Zielinski has given us a "starter" batch of Mason Bees (Osmia Ribifloris). These industrious pollinators do not build hives but lay eggs in tubes which they seal off with a daub of mud (hence their name). Since they have no queen or honey to defend they are easy-going and will not sting unless you step on them or squish them in some way. For this reason they are ideal to keep in your garden if you have children nearby. They have a fascinating life-cycle which Linda is going to write about and post to this blog in the coming months.

As we were sending off the final draft of our Wish List to our local weekly paper (Tri-County Tribune) for publication last week we added, almost as an after-thought, our need for a small utility trailer. Over the weekend we got a call from Dick and Jan Skirvin, life-long residents of the Tri-County area. They had a trailer they could donate! They had found it decades ago, when they first took over the family homestead. It was lost and buried amongst a wall of Oregon's famous blackberries. Dick and his son resurrected the trailer and it served their family for many years. They no longer have use for it and so now, with a stiff wire-brushing and a fresh coat of paint it will join the ranks of refurbished garden-equipment at the "Sharing Gardens" and along with the wheelbarrow just donated by Brigitte Goetze will serve for many more years to come.

Dick and Jan Skirvin with their donated trailer.
We are happy to say our wish list is dwindling. Our main need at this time is for some bailed hay or straw that we can put down on the floor of the greenhouse. Even though it is fully covered and sealed, the ground below is wicking moisture from the surrounding field and the paths are really mucky. We realize that most people with livestock wait until the new hay is coming in before they get rid of the old so we'll probably just buy some bails. If you do have some moldy bails to donate, we can come pick them up. Just let us know.

Something else to keep on your radar screen: Next fall we're going to have a volunteer team of leaf-rakers go around the area and bag up leaves to mulch the garden. We'd like to sew a few dozen re-usable leaf bags out of drapes or other sturdy material. So, if you have fabric you think would be appropriate and/or you are a seamstress and would be willing to sew a few of these bags to help out the project, let us know. Our current Wish List

Mason Bee
If you have sprouting potatoes and don't wish to grow them yourself, we'd be happy to grow them in the "Sharing Gardens". if you'd like to plant them in your own garden, follow this link to learn how.
Why grow your own. How to "chit" potatoes

Sunflower seeds are a great crop to grow; the seeds can be harvested and sprouted for winter greens, they make great bird food for our wild friends and they are a beautiful border on the north side of any garden.
How to Grow Sunflower Sprouts

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sharing Garden Update

We have much to be grateful for!

Karen and Chris unloading barrels
Karen Finley, of Alpine's Queen Bee Honey drove with Llyn down to Eugene and back and loaded twenty recycled 55 gallon barrels donated by Glory Bee Foods onto her truck and brought them back to the greenhouse. They are set up to support our potting tables and, once filled with water, will provide thermal mass--moderating the temperature of the greenhouse year round. The water-filled drums will absorb the heat from the sun, or the woodstove, during the day and release it slowly through the night.

A sample of our seed bank.
We received a seed-donation from Brigitte Goetze of Alpine. All together we had three lidded buckets full of seeds - most of which Chris saved systematically over the course of last year's harvest. We sorted through them and determined which ones we could give away and have been sharing them with other gardeners, and people growing food for those in need.

We are grateful to the Tri-County Tribune for offering to print our complete wish-list and an explanation of the "Sharing Garden's" purpose. The article has only been out two days and we've already received a donation of over 2000 "plug trays" from Frank Pitcher who grows cabbage-seed commercially. We haven't decided if we're going to cut them up with a razor knife - to be able to give away smaller amounts of starts (there are 128 holes per flat!), or if we'll plant multiple varieties of seeds on one flat to have "variety-packs" we can give away. We'll put the word out when we have seedlings available.

Bruce and Chris planting seeds
Today we got some breaks in the rain. It's amazing how fast the greenhouse heats up as as soon as the sun comes out! We all peeled down to tee-shirts though the temps were still chilly outside. Bruce Hayler showed up to give us a hand. Though he's been a gardener for many years, this will be his first experience in a greenhouse. We sifted potting soil, added some fertilizer and sifted rabbit manure and, between the three of us started seven flats of seeds. It's starting to really feel like a greenhouse!

We've received a beautiful green-painted mailbox from Renee and Johan Forrer of Monroe. We'll put that up in Monroe once the season gets going and it will be a place for plastic bags and a harvest knife for people to pick produce. Save your clean, plastic bags for us to use during harvest season!

If you need thornless ever-bearing raspberries, contact us and we'll arrange a time to show you where you can dig them up. We can supply pots if you need them for transport. Our contact info.

Here's a link to our updated wishlist. New items include: water-based exterior house paints, a wheelbarrow or garden-cart and, though we received all the plug-trays from Frank today, we still especially prize the standard "six-pack" size so let us know if you have some you don't need. Even a small amount helps.

Garden Tip: If the ground where you live is still too cold and soggy for planting peas, try this method we used last year with great success.

Another beautiful rainbow over "The Ark"