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

Monday, September 10, 2012

"Real People, Doing Real Things"

Volunteers select their produce from the day's harvest. Monroe Methodist Church in background.
We had the good fortune of a "senior" visitor in the garden last week. Lodie, the 85-year 'young', mother of one of our volunteers came to help us during one of our harvests. At the end of the morning she said, "My daughter Cathy keeps telling me about all you do and I am so proud of you! You're real people, doing real things." We appreciate the acknowledgment, Lodie; it takes one, to know one!

The year's growing season has been a full one! We've barely had time to write posts with our news and highlights; acknowledgements for the continued generosity of our near and far community,  and all the great help we've been receiving from the dedicated core-group of volunteers. Hopefully this visual record, showing some of the highlights of our harvest so far, will hold you over till the peak activity of harvest, food-storage and our upcoming benefit are behind us.

As many readers already know, food grown at the Sharing Gardens is distributed first amongst volunteers and others who have contributed in some way. The considerable surplus is then shared with various local charities. This summer our food has gone to the South Benton Food Bank, Harrisburg Gleaners, Calvary Church Food Pantry and South Benton Senior Nutrition Program (a bi-weekly lunch served to Seniors in Monroe). Here's a list of our big producers. We'll publish a detailed total at the end of the season.

Beets with greens: 98 bunches
Celery: 98 pounds
This has been an especially good year. Our celery looks, and tastes as good as 'store-bought'!
Cucumbers: 709 pounds
We've had plenty of both 'slicers' (for salads) and pickling cukes Volunteers take turns taking home the week's harvest so they have enough to make a full batch of pickles.
Savoy Cabbage: 279 pounds. Our cabbages have ranged in size from six to nine pounds!
Green beans: 106 pounds. Beans that get too big and 'woody' are left on the vine or bush for next year's seed, or soup beans through the winter.
Green, and Banana peppers: 64 pounds. An excellent year for peppers.
Lettuce: 376 heads. Our lettuce gets so big, we can hardly fit them in a produce bag. Some hardly fit in a plastic, shopping bag either!
Summer Squash: 233 pounds, and that's just from eight plants.
Kale/Chard: 101 bunches
Tomatoes: 782 pounds. We have 180 plants this year; 12 varieties - all "Heirloom' (non-hybrid). It looks like we may be only half-way through the harvest!
Sunflower seeds: at least 6 gallons. We use them to grow sprouts in the greenhouse through the winter, and also to feed the birds. Each year the heads seem to get bigger! Variety: Mammoth Russian.
Mid-Spring. Row of shallots on left. Bamboo tipis.
Being relatively new to vegetable gardening, I find it fascinating to experience the subtle variations year to year; the weaving of weather, soil conditions, seed-varieties and other factors that produce a tapestry of garden beauty and bounty. There truly is an artistry to farming. The soil is your canvas and you "paint" with the plants you grow; how you place them, feed them and nurture them to maturity. Your "vision" must include anticipating the plants' spacing and height during all the stages of their growth.
July 2012. Delicata squash - beneath tipis. Sunflowers getting bigger.

Garden at peak; late July. Pink cosmos in foreground.
Such beauty!


 The mysteries of weather, seed variations and unforeseen events and challenges make gardening a dynamic artistic expression calling for intuition and creativity. How fun it is to watch the garden mature through the seasons, and evolve from year to year!

(To learn how to grow sunflower sprouts, a delicious and nutritious winter "green", CLICK HERE.)