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

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The "Beet" Goes On

Monroe Sharing Gardens - August 4, 2012 (Grade School in background)
The Sharing Gardens project demonstrates an efficient way of growing food that is light on the Earth, builds community, and provides ample surplus for those in need. We have steered away from seeking large government, or private grants because, in order to be sustainable, we must demonstrate that this type of garden can thrive through the support and participation of the community it serves. This year has been an amazingly successful demonstration of these principles in action.

Llyn, with Striped German tomatoes
For the 2012 season, expenses specific to the gardens, were just under $2,800. This included gas and up-keep for the farm truck, materials for a 12'x40' greenhouse as well as other garden-growing basics. With the stipend that Chris and I receive from the project, to cover some of our living expenses, the total comes to $11,350. With these financial resources we were able to grow (on a piece of land 110' x170') over 30 varieties of vegetables. Our top ten producers yielded just under 6,200 pounds of food, including over 500 heads of lettuce, with a total market value of $15,800!

This food has gone to feed people at four charities in the area, the volunteers, and other contributors -- all free of charge. Because we are growing food in such volumes, many of our volunteers have 'canned' and dried food for winter storage as well.

The gardens would have cost much more to operate if it weren't for the community support we have received in materials-donations, tools and equipment, a trailer and RV we fixed up and re-sold, and countless volunteer hours - (our core group of gardeners each gave 3-5 hours weekly). We are grateful too that many people have offered their grapes, apples and nuts to glean and share. The project has also received many cash donations ranging from $20 to $3,000.

As we look to the 2013 season, we're excited about a growing partnership with the United Methodist Church adjacent to the gardens. It looks like we'll be cooperating on a series of classes, movie nights and potlucks meant to inspire and educate people about healthy eating, food preservation, organic gardening and other relevant topics. CLICK HERE

We continue to be thankful to the Crowson family for the use of the land and water on their property in Monroe.  We've recently tilled up an additional 8,000 sq/ft to include more winter-storage crops such as squash and potatoes, and to expand the existing orchard area to include figs, berries and more apples and plums. This brings our garden-area total to 2/3 of an acre! We are also determined to build a second greenhouse. CLICK HERE for an expanded list of donations given in 2012.

Let us know if you would like to participate in any way. We can always use more donations of cash, building materials, tools, garden supplies, leaves and hay (either to expand the existing site or spawn some new sites in surrounding communities.) Contact us: ShareInJoy@gmail.com - (541) 847-8797 - www.theSharingGardens.blogspot.com/

John Kinsey and Chris Burns wrestle buttercup squash vines over to the compost bins!
Top Ten producers - 2012

Sweet, ripe melon!
Beets: 462 pounds
Bell Peppers:135 pounds
Cabbage: 330 pounds
Cucumbers: 950 pounds
Lettuce: 511 heads
Melons: 185 pounds
Potatoes: 315 pounds
Tomatoes: 2,450 pounds
Winter Squash: 1050 pounds
Zucchini: 300 pounds

At local market values (not counting the 20 other crops grown) this comes to a value of $15,800.

Pie, "Oh my!"

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ride of the Century!

(l to r) Gini, Dan, Linda, Danielle and Christine harvest fresh produce to be used in the dinner meal.
For the past two years, the Sharing Gardens of Monroe, Oregon have catered an event called the Farm to Farm Century Ride. This year, we'd like to tell the story of the ride's success, in pictures. To read more about this unique 100-mile bicycle tour that features four small-scale working farms in the southern Willamette Valley, you may follow the links at the bottom of the post:

On the day before the event, a team of volunteers showed up to help with preparations. First they went to the garden (right behind the United Methodist Church) and harvested ingredients.
Gini Bramlett, editor of our local, weekly paper (Tribune News) thins carrots.
Jud and Mike picking nasturtium flowers to spice up the salad.
Janeece Cook does a pre-rinse of lettuce heads. We harvested 60 for the ride!
Kaitlynn Cook harvests kale (for a garnish).
On Friday, after the morning harvest, our kitchen crew prepped much of the food so it would just need assembling for the Saturday event. Our menu included vegetarian chili, basil-hummous stuffed tomatoes, green salad, cornbread and corn on the cob. Most of the produce was either harvested from our garden, or gleaned locally (corn).
Danielle scoops out Roma tomatoes (to be filled with basil-hummous).
Christine Musacchio and Linda Sebring prepping cucumbers (all from the garden).
Dallice steps outside for a breath of fresh air after making salad for 200 with her husband David Roux.
Betty and Sierra Briggs fill the tomatoes.
Linda chops peppers for chili (all from the garden).
Saturday morning, the cyclists began arriving at 6:45. The kitchen crew was struggling with the only real glitch of the event...the coffee-maker on loan came without instructions and, as we poured water in the top it flowed right out the holes spreading water and coffee grounds over the counter. Fortunately, the church had some other coffee makers that we could figure out and no-one had to wait very long for their first cup of Joe!
Cyclists arrive at the church for a breakfast of porridge, granola, fruit and coffee. (all donated)
Quite a sight, seeing 150 bicycles on the church lawns!
Such a happy buzz in the room as cyclists prepared for departure.
Meanwhile, Cameron...
...and David Crosby began husking the 400 ears of corn donated by local farmers.
We didn't take a lot of pictures during the morning/middle of the day set up. Volunteers put the last touches on salad; Chris cooked the chili in our new 40-qt. stainless steel stock pot. The composting/recycling center was moved outside (another year of very low-waste! All dishes and flatware were compostable, contributing to the health of next year's garden-soil.) We learned that we don't need to have quite so many volunteers for this middle stretch but when the cyclists returned, boy were we ready for them!
...Not to mention locally-made pie and ice-cream for dessert!
Green salad with nasturtium blossoms and 'toppings' behind.
We had no volunteers signed up for the afternoon of the event (all other slots filled up fast) but when it came time to serve, people were standing in line for a chance to feed the hungry returning cyclists.
Sisters Doreen and Denise, Azra and Kaitlynn in the serving line.
Llyn Peabody performed two sets of 'originals', and folk-classics.
Johan Forrer filled the air with sounds of the sixties on a guitar he built himself. His music added such a festive feeling!
An early wave of cyclists.
The evening meal was served on a 100-foot long table (made from a single board!). What a great place to have a party!
A good time was had by all!
Mike Hall was a great help in the kitchen.
Still smiling, Chris Burns set up an outdoor washing station to finish clean-up the day after.
A very special thank-you to the Monroe United Methodist Church (pictured) for allowing us to host the event on their premises with no cost to our program.
None of this would have happened without the initiative and hard work of Jenn Hughes and David Kunes - the organizers of the event. We thank them for their very generous financial contribution to the Sharing Gardens. We hope to see you all back again next year!
There were many more volunteers and riders that we didn't take pictures of but this gives you a feeling for the event. People had fun, ate great food and experienced first-hand a taste of "eating local".

For more info about the ride, follow these links below:
"More Than a Bike Ride" Tribune News article (Sept.18, 2012): LINK
"Stream Lining the Waste Stream" (about our successful efforts at making this a low-waste event as we compost and recycle the majority of materials that otherwise might end up in the waste-stream): LINK
"Info, Gratitude and Stories" from the 2011 Ride - LINK
Farm to Farm Century Ride's Home Page: LINK