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

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Dog Ate My Blog

"The Dog Ate My Blog"...well, that's as good of an excuse as any. Truly, we had written a beautiful, newsy blog several weeks ago, walked away from the computer and found it completely disappeared when we came back. ARRGH. Takes the wind out of our blogger-sails, it does! So, here are the basics of what's happening with the Alpine/Monroe Sharing Gardens.

This hoop greenhouse is the same size and style as the one we will be building for the Sharing Gardens
We are pulling together the support and materials necessary to build a 20' x 96' greenhouse. Chris has been building and managing greenhouses for over 30 years. We will be using a simple hoop-house design (pictured). If you are interested in learning how to build this style of greenhouse, or manage a nursery, let us know so we can keep you informed of volunteer sessions. Having a greenhouse of this size will extend the growing season of tomatoes and peppers by as much as three months (they will ripen earlier and continue later in the season). We will be able to grow enough "starts" for the gardens, for fund raisers and to give away at the food bank. We are grateful to Dorothy and Gary at Alpine Pump for providing us with hundreds of feet of used well-pipe for use in construction. We also have a donor (who wishes to remain anonymous) who has provided all of the 30-foot lengths of re-bar we'll be using for the greenhouse ribs. We are seeking funding for materials and stipend through several granting sources. All donations are tax-deductible.

Tomatoes, purple, yellow and green beans and a cucumber on their way to the food bank.
Harvest Heaven
In spite of a cold, wet spring, difficulties in getting our new garden-site sufficiently plowed, growing the majority of our "starts" out of an 8' x 8' greenhouse (thank-you Estell/Kreths!), the Sharing Gardens have had a remarkably productive second year. We kept a bathroom scale at the Monroe garden and kept a rough tally of the harvest as we delivered it to the food-bank next door. The gardens still have a week or two to go but here are just a few highlights of this year's harvest:

Tomatoes: 1,210 pounds (thank you Steve Rose and Larry Hammon for donating so many of the 200 tomatoes we planted this year.) Organic, heirloom tomatoes are selling for $4 to $5 a pound in our area.
Cucumbers: 575 pounds
String Beans: 220 pounds

"Moonglow" tomatoes - an heirloom variety
There were some crops that didn't do as well as we'd hoped. We planted four different corn crops at the Monroe garden and the crows ate the sprouting seeds for all but one crop that we had sprouted in the greenhouse and transplanted. We had high hopes for the potato crop as we had carefully "chitted" such a huge quantity of seed-potatoes. The time came when we just couldn't wait to put them in the ground any longer but the ground was still so wet and heavy. We'll need a different strategy on both crops in 2011.

A happy harvester, picking out his pumpkin
Community Celebration:
Every third Thursday, the United Methodist Church hosts a free dinner open to everyone who would like to attend. Cash donations are welcome (though not required) and, side dishes/desserts are always appreciated. Please come join us for a harvest celebration and meet neighbors you never knew you had! Food Bank is from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. The Community Dinner begins at 6:00 pm in the basement of the United Methodist Church: 648 Orchard St., Monroe, OR 97456

Gallery of Givers: Our volunteer team has been wonderful this year. We truly could not have done it without them. Here are some faces of some of those who have been willing to get their hands dirty, showed up week after week - regardless of weather, and sometimes arriving as early as 8:30 in the morning to be sure the harvest was in, in time for the food-bank's opening. We are also so grateful to all the behind-the-scenes support we have received through grants, donations and kind words spurring us on.
Rann and Doreen in the bean tipi
Steve N. watering the transplants
Llyn's mom, Judy, harvesting tomatoes
Jim and Norma harvesting beans
Rann and Bruce fertilizing the plants
Ryan and Cindy in the raspberry patch
Dustin, Lexi, Llyn and Dylan in the bean patch
The Mulch Brigade!
Harvest morning in Monroe

Monday, October 11, 2010

Basil! Come and Get It!

Beautiful, fresh basil!

We've had a great crop of basil this year. All the volunteers have freezers full of pesto and enough dried to make it to next year's harvest. We had the first kiss of frost in the Monroe garden last week and realize that it'll just take one night's cold snap to finish off the whole crop. Please come and take some or all of what's down there. First come, first served.

Alpine garden: Come through the gate and turn left. You may take ANY basil in the ten-foot row that starts with the mailbox and goes to the Chinese cabbage.

Monroe garden: Turn right as you come in the gate and there's a row that extends for about twenty feet from the hay-bale compost bin in the SW corner (near the garden shed) back (east) towards the rest of the garden. Take any and all! Enjoy!

Delicious basil pesto

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Harvest Happiness!

A sample of this year's bounty!
For the last month, the gardens have been producing more than 200 pounds of produce each week! This is more than the Food Bank can give away and they've been letting people come weekly (instead of once/month) if they want fresh produce. Sometimes the surplus has been taken to the senior center for them to distribute, the Methodist church gave some away when they had their yard-sale. Two loads have been taken to Food for Lane County in Eugene (thanks Larry Winiarski for taking one of those loads down...). Many of our volunteers have been learning to can for the first time this year and they have been taking home large loads each week. If you have need yourself, or you know of ways we can distribute our surplus, please contact us, or come by the food-bank as it's closing (noon Thursday, this week.) Don't be shy! You'd be helping us out by bringing the food where it can be put to good use.

Here are some of the sub-totals of the gardens' big producers so far this year:
  • Beans: 175 pounds
  • Beets: 70 pounds
  • Pickling cucumbers: 200 pounds
  • Slicing cucumbers: 400 pounds
  • Tomatoes (multiple varieties): 550 pounds
 Now that's a lot of food!

Do you need basil? Last year we had a killing frost before we could harvest and freeze much basil pesto and so this year we went overboard in our planting! Between the two gardens we have at least fifty feet of basil! Our freezer, and the freezers of our volunteers are bursting with pesto and we'd love to see the surplus get used before the first frosts come. Join us this week at harvest-time and you can take home as much basil (and other fresh garden produce) as your family can use.

Harvest times this week (times DO vary, so check with us if you're coming another week)
Wednesday: 3:30 - 6:00 Alpine
Thursday: 8:30 - 10:00 Monroe