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

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Stone Soup, Gratitude and Wishlist

Some of you have been receiving news of the Sharing Gardens since we began in April 2009. Others of you have joined us along the way. This post is a reminder of what makes our community gardens unique, as well as offering thanks to some of the people and organizations who help make the gardens thrive.

Alpine and Monroe's Sharing Gardens are a unique model of Community Garden. Instead of many separate plots that are rented by individuals, these gardens are one large plot, shared by all. All materials and labor are donated. The food we grow is shared amongst those who have contributed in some way as well as with others who are in need in our community. All surplus is donated to our local food-bank and other local food charities. No one is ever charged money for the food that is grown.

Remember the story of "Stone Soup"? A couple of strangers wander into a town of suspicious people and offer to make Stone Soup. No one believes it can be done, and everyone withholds contributing until a small child, who hasn't been tainted yet by the town's stingy spirit, brings forth a few onions stored in her family's root cellar. One by one the townspeople get caught up in the spirit of sharing and, by the end of the story they all sit down to delicious soup, made better by what each of them contributed.

Cathy Rose, Danielle and Llyn - 2010 with bouquets of kale.
The Sharing Gardens are a lot like Stone Soup. Everything that goes into making it a success comes from the generosity of people near and far. Some people give time, some give money and some bring us surplus materials they don't have need of, or even things like grass clippings, old cedar boards or other things bound for the dump or burn-pile. The gardens become a focal point for giving and receiving -- with each person who donates being blessed with the good feeling that they are making the world a better place through their contributions. And, for those local enough to partake, they're sharing in the bounty of the garden's beautiful harvest as well.
Local kids help with the harvest.

Each week brings new surprises in support and generosity and there are also on-going supporters who help make the garden's success possible.

Most recently we have some new, specific people to thank:

Bob and Cheryl Ballard brought us a dozen full bags of dried grass clippings - great for mulching the potatoes and putting under the burgeoning winter squash so they don't develop rotten spots.

Judy Todd has made a second cash donation.

We are grateful for our ongoing community of volunteers. People help out in the ways they are able; we find tasks to suit everyone's abilities. If you'd like to join in the fun of gardening without use of herbicides and pesticides, and share in the harvest, here is a link that shows our regular volunteer times, or send us an email and we can add you to the list to receive weekly reminders.

It's been awhile since we thanked our on-going supporters. These are people and organizations that help make the gardens possible:

Chester Crowson - owns the land where we have the Monroe site. He lets us use it for free as well as covering the cost of the electricity to run the pump in the well.

Bud Hardin - made a lump-sum donation to cover the cost of a portable toilet at the Monroe garden site for a whole year! The toilet is shared with the Monroe Food Bank volunteers as well. (And thanks to Guy Urbach for approaching Bud on our behalf - it wouldn't have happened without you!)

Best Pots -  is the local portable toilet service that provides a unit at the Monroe garden. They have given us a generous discount on the rental fee.

Weekly harvest - Alpine 2010

Mylrea Estell and Ray Kreth
- our landlords - continue to harbor us in a low-pressure and generous arrangement, making it possible for us to volunteer so much of our time to the gardens.

Alpine Community Center - has umbrellaed us under their insurance policy so the activities at both garden sites are covered.

Alpine Chapel Park - has provided us the site for our Alpine Garden free of charge, since 2009.

Alpine Pump - Dorothy and Gary give us permission to put the gardens' trash into their dumpster.

Jennifer Rivais - empties the garbage cans at Alpine's Chapel Park as an on-going service.

 ...and The Tribune News - our great, local, weekly paper has been very helpful in printing many of our posts and helping us circulate news of the gardens to a much larger audience than we can reach on-line.

If you've been itching to get involved in some way and would like to know how you can add your "onions" to the pot, check out our Wish List below, or come down on one of the volunteer days and share in the "stone soup" garden.

Here is our current wishlist

Garden locations and volunteer times

Happy pumpkin picker - 2010

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Harvest Totals - June-July 2011, Giver's Gallery

One week's lettuce harvest!
(Note: I started this post almost three weeks ago and then life took over! Rather than re-write it, just know that it's not entirely up to date...) 

We've been harvesting from the garden for ten weeks. The lettuce, peas and broccoli are finished for now. The beets, onions, zucchini, tomatoes and potatoes are just beginning. We started seeds for our fall/winter crops a few weeks ago and have begun transplanting them in the ground.  We weigh and tally all the harvests before distribution. This food is shared amongst volunteers and other contributors, the Monroe Food Bank, Monroe's Senior Nutrition Program (bi-weekly lunches at the Legion Hall), Harrisburg Gleaners and Linn/Benton Food Share. Here are harvest totals, as of July 31.

Beets: 21 bunches
Broccoli: 26 pounds
Kale: 127 bunches
Lettuce: 551 heads (a great year for lettuce!!)
Green onion bunches: 23
Peas: 20 pounds
Spinach: 25 bunches

After checking with our local market that sells organic food, we tallied up how much this produce would cost if people were buying it for themselves. The total came to a little more than $2,500.

Gallery of Givers

We've got a really wonderful core group of volunteers showing up once or twice a week now. One day we had three mother/daughter pairs. And another day we had four young people ages 7 to 11. My mom, Judy has been visiting for two weeks and sister, Sue and nephew, Miles, joined in for an afternoon, which was really fun. Here are a sampling of smiling faces, happy helpers and a view of the garden's progress.

Miles plants broccoli
Sue displays an early onion harvest proudly.

Kaitlynn and Kyra with a bucket of potatoes freshly harvested
Christine (Ms Bug) trims tomatoes
Monroe Garden - celery in sleeves on left, lettuce-starts in middle, potatoes on right
That's an 8-pound cabbage!
Judy-mom, Chris and Jennifer - mulching with grass clippings
Kaitlynn watering the lettuce and Brussels Sprouts
Mark building a new compost bin
Niko - our youngest helper, takes a turn at watering.