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

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

On your mark...Get set...Grow!

Lettuce and kale at harvest time
We have exciting news! Chris and I are just days away from finishing our new greenhouse at the Monroe site. It's a moderate size, 12' x 40' but plenty big to grow enough starts for the garden and to share with others in need. It's our own design, made with bamboo held together by PVC fittings and a plywood skirting around the bottom. We've screwed it all together so, if we ever need to move it, it will come apart easily.

We'd love to show you a picture of it but that brings us to another topic...Our camera no longer "talks" to our computer. It still takes pictures and stores them on its memory chip but we can no longer upload them. Help! Does anyone have a digital camera they're no longer using, that they'd like to donate to the project?

Other news:
Saturday, March 31 - 9:00 to 2:00 is the springtime Giveaway at the Legion Hall in Monroe, organized by Christy Warden and her "Crafty Critters" 4-H group. This bi-annual event gives us all a chance to clean out our closets and pantries and make way for the new. You may make donations on Friday, March 30th between 10 and 2 at the Legion Hall in Monroe. Please bring: clothes, housewares, non-perishable foods and whatever else you are ready to let go of. The Sharing Gardens will have broccoli, cabbage, peas and sunflower starts to give away. The event is open to everyone, regardless of your income level. Leftovers will go to other charity groups (decided by the 4-H members).
4-H Giveaway - 2011
Wednesday, April 25 - 5:00 to 8:00 pm, Sharing Gardens is participating in the Health Fair at the Monroe High School. There are many other groups participating, offering free blood-pressure and other health checks and information on living a healthier lifestyle. We'll be demonstrating a simple and delicious way to grow your own winter-greens: sunflower sprouts.

Farm to Farm Century Ride: Last September, this 100-mile cycle event -- touring local farms -- was such a fun and successful way to raise money for the gardens (the organizers donated $2,000 to our project) that we're going to do it all over again. Save the date: Sept. 15, 2012. There will be a fifty-mile version, and a 100-mile version. We'll be looking for volunteers to join in the fun.

Volunteers at harvest time
Volunteering: We're starting to get inquiries from people who want to help out in the gardens. Here's how this works. During the spring months, we have to work with the challenges of the weather and the wetness of the land. It's difficult to establish consistent volunteer times. By June, things will start to fall into a rhythm and we will have regular times we'll be gathering in the garden to plant, weed, mulch and harvest. If you'd like to be informed of times you can help out in the greenhouse, or gardens; learn about growing food organically, and share in the harvest (and you're not already on our list) just send us an email to shareinjoy@gmail.com.

Gratitude: We have a big thank you to extend to Larry Winiarski. Not only did he hire us to help him set up his greenhouse for maximal functionality but he let us start a bunch of seeds while we speedily finished up our own new greenhouse in Monroe. If it weren't for Larry we wouldn't have been able to get broccoli, kale, cabbage, lettuce or spinach started in time.  John Kinsey has also been a huge help. He's started peas and onions in his own greenhouse, donated a considerable amount of salvaged lumber for use in building the greenhouse, and also helped us spread donated leaves in the gardens for mulch. We'll be doing a whole post on John at some point. He's developed quite an amazing set-up for growing red-wiggler (composting) worms and he's provided the gardens with dozens of bags of their pure castings for us to amend our soil and grow starts in. John Sundquist generously opened up his River's Bend Farm and let us harvest all the bamboo we needed to build the greenhouse (and more!). We also wish to thank the others in the community who have hired us to do pruning and other yard-work jobs. The income from this work is what is allowing us to keep doing the gardens as we are financing the project primarily out of our own savings at this point. Thank you all.

Barbara Standley donating nursery flats
Wish List:
  • A digital camera: preferably 8.3 mega-pixels (or better) as lower-resolution pictures don't work as well for our blogs.
  • Save those six-packs! If you buy starts commercially, save the six-packs and other pots they come in. We can use all sizes. We prefer square containers that fit into trays but bring us what you've got and we'll find homes for what we can't use.
  • Utility trailers: We've been talking to the landscaper at the grade school and, if we have a trailer that he can dump the grass clippings onto, it will be an easy matter to haul them to the gardens and use for mulch, or in our compost piles. We haven't talked to the high school landscapers but we suspect they'd be willing to work with us too.
  • Plastic tubs, 5-gallon buckets, kitty-litter tubs etc. (please no broken ones)
  • T-posts (slightly bent, OK). All lengths helpful.
  • Metal pipes: (like from a well) - we can cut them to size and build trellises from them.
  • Cedar fence boards - we use them to build bird houses and compost bins (among other things).
  • Cash donations always appreciated.

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