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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Importance of Local Food Self-Reliance

Those who are familiar with the Sharing Gardens know that we are motivated to guide people towards a model of local food-production, seed-saving, and Earth-friendly gardening techniques while increasing people’s sense of responsibility to assist those less fortunate members of our communities. 

In this eight minute video, physicist Vandana Shiva makes the observation that the highest incidence of hunger in the world shows up in rural and agricultural communities. The very people who should be most able to feed themselves have been forced, through commodity-trading and mono-cropping to abandon growing the diverse variety of foods needed for a nourishing diet. We see examples of this even here in the lush and fertile Willamette Valley of Oregon  where most of the local canneries closed down years ago and many farmers are making their livings growing such crops as grass-seed, animal feed and pumpkin seeds to ship to Asia.

Shiva says, “Access to food should be a basic human right.” 

Please take a few minutes to listen to this warm and intelligent woman connect the dots about GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), seed-saving, the rights and responsibilities of corporations and other important topics related to local food security.  We hope that it will help you to understand a little better ‘why’ we do 'what' we do at the Sharing Gardens.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter Projects Galore!

By Chris Burns
It’s been some time since we’ve written, and that might lead some of you to believe that there’s nothing going on in the Sharing Gardens at this time of the year. Some people have commented that “It must be great to have a break from all that garden work.”, or something to that effect. We can assure you all that although we are ‘chomping at the bit’ to start planting next Spring’s garden, we are enjoying a variety of projects that are keeping us happily busy through these colder and shorter winter days. We really DO enjoy what we do! We love to get out and rake leaves to use for soil-building, for example. It’s an activity that keeps us from turning flabby and depressed, We call it “Rakey Therapy.”

Thanks to some additional contributions of leaves from our local community, we now have almost 3/4‘s of the Monroe garden covered with leaves and have tilled them into the top few inches where they will provide a rich supply of nutrients for soil organisms and create a condition of high fertility for next year’s crops. Leaves need to be worked in during the Fall so that they have enough time to decompose. Otherwise, if they are put into the soil just before planting, it is very likely that they will pull too much nitrogen from the soil and result in withered and yellow looking starts.

Leaves need to be worked in during the Fall so that they have enough time to decompose. Chris, tilling in donated leaves, in between cover-crops.

Another project that we’ve taken on is the building of a 12 x 40 greenhouse in the Monroe Sharing Garden. (Please see our wishlist below.) We have two design ideas for its construction. Our first option would be to use two of those portable, tarp-covered parking structures like the ones that people buy at Costco. We often see them on people’s property, frames only, since the tarp coverings seem to deteriorate in a few years (see picture). We came up with another idea to build a greenhouse using bamboo, of all things, and it just so happens that Betty Briggs of the Harrisburg Gleaners contacted a friend of hers, John Sundquist who has a farm with bamboo “jungles” that are in serious need of management and selective thinning. Llyn and I have become great friends with John and have been given permission to harvest as much as we need.

Carport-cover used as greenhouse frame.

Aside from the Plan ‘B’ to build a greenhouse with some of the larger material, it can be used in a variety of ways in the garden such as bean and pea trellises, A-frames and trellises for tomatoes, garden stakes, teepees for climbing beans, garden gates, shade houses, you name it. Since the first seeds are ready to start in mid-February, (onions and peas) that doesn’t give us much time to ‘get ‘er done’ as they say. Having a greenhouse in the garden will afford us the opportunity to offer classes and workshops that I’m sure many people will enjoy while learning a lot of valuable methods that can be applied in their own home gardens. And of course, we plan to have extra starts to give out, as well as enough to offer ‘by donation’ to those who can afford to contribute financially as a way to help the project.

Bamboo has many versatile uses

And just a reminder, anyone can make tax-deductible donations to the Sharing Gardens. We can always use operating capital, so if you are in need of a “write-off’ and want to help support a great cause that helps local folks in need, please go to our website, and click on the ‘Donate” button in the upper right-hand corner; or send contributions through regular mail to the address given, and we will be sure to mail you a receipt, with our deepest appreciation. Any other donations of materials, tools and so on, are also eligible for tax receipts.

Having fun and learning in the greenhouse. Germaine and Larry Hammon with Llyn Peabody

However you choose to celebrate the ‘Holy-days’ Llyn and I want to wish you all the very best of times spent with friends and family, and thank all of you who have helped us to help others. Keep up the good work and together we can alleviate food insecurity and restore a sense of caring and sharing amongst those who we call ‘Neighbors and Friends.’ Be well!!!

Wish List:
Other Greenhouse Materials we need: 
  • Aluminum-framed, slider windows with screens. 4' x 4' is optimal but anything that size or smaller could work. 
  • Pressure-treated lumber: (4 x 4's), (2 x 4's), (2 x 6's), (4 x 6's) - all sizes. We can salvage materials that have nails in them.
  • Plywood: full or partial pieces 
  • Food-grade, 50-gallon plastic barrels (preferable) or metal drums. We paint them a dark color (if they aren't already), fill them with water and use them to support potting tables. They provide thermal-mass by warming up on sunny days and releasing their heat through the night. Very helpful in the spring (for germinating seedlings) and the fall, for extending the growing season.  
Other Garden Needs:
  • Raked leaves for garden mulch. Please bring them to either garden. LOCATIONS Let us know if you need any leaf bags. We re-use them if they're not too torn.  It helps if you don't tie them too tight (the ones you're dropping off). Please no trash, dog-doo or walnut leaves (they're toxic to plant growth.) 
  • Spoiled Hay or Straw- We use literally tons of hay to mulch and feed the gardens. If you're cleaning out your barn and need some place for the old stuff to go, we'd welcome it! We can even give you a tax-write-off for your donation.
  • Mechanic who's good with small-engine repair: Our roto-tillers and lawn mowers get quite a work-out! The gardens would really benefit from someone who likes to tinker and tune up small engines to keep them running well. We'll keep you supplied with lots of fresh, organic produce!

  • Garden cart or two-wheeled wheel barrow
  • Leaf rakes and other garden tools
  • Trash cans 
  • Plastic tubs, 5-gallon buckets, kitty-litter tubs etc. (please no broken ones)
  • T-posts (slightly bent, OK). All lengths helpful.
  • Cedar fence boards - we use them to build bird houses and compost bins (among other things).
  • Mud boots: some of our volunteers are low-income and can't afford mud boots. We will keep them on-hand for use in the garden. All sizes welcome. 
  • Straw hats: We keep a supply of them at the gardens for volunteers to use.
  • Accurate grocer's scale (to weigh the harvest at the Alpine Garden) 
  • Clean plastic/paper sacks 
  • Canning jars - all sizes, brought to either site
  • Seeds - heirloom varieties, not hybrid (so we can save seeds)
All Donations are Tax-deductible - ask us for a receipt.

       To contact us, please call or email:
       (541) 847-8797 (call from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm)

Cash donations - make checks out to the "Sharing Gardens"  and mail to 
       Sharing Gardens
        PO Box 11
        Monroe, OR 97456

Or use your credit card to make a donation through PayPal (click the button below).