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

Monday, November 16, 2015

Real People STILL doing real things


Llyn, slicing Ropreco tomatoes for dehydration.
The title of this post refers back to an entry we made in July of 2009 quoting our dear friend - Lodie as she remarked on how we at the Sharing Gardens were, "real people, doing real things."! Well Lodie, we're still going strong! Here's a newsy update about how some of our partnerships with other agencies are faring; our property-tax exemption appeal and an uplifting "Gallery of Givers"!

Nasturtium blossom.
Court Update: In June, of this year, the Sharing Gardens had its day in court, building the case for a full exemption of property taxes for the land and farmhouse that host the gardens. We needed to demonstrate that we are a legitimate charity, serving the public. We are very pleased to report that we received a 50% exemption! Magistrate Tanner was very honoring in her written "decision" and, though she did not feel that the farmhouse qualified for exemption, all of the land containing the Sharing Gardens, the orchards and outbuildings was included. Thank you to the dozens of people who wrote letters for us to include in our court materials. We feel that your heart-felt support really tipped the scales in Tanner's decision. she said:
"Plaintiff's charitable work through the Sharing Gardens was well documented by Peabody's testimony and numerous written statements from local beneficiaries of the Sharing Gardens' output. The overwhelming community support for the Sharing Gardens is evidence that Plaintiff's principle of generosity is more than an aspiration; it is practiced."
Connecting with other agencies: As we have mentioned in recent posts, our connections with other agencies is expanding and deepening. Here are some updates:
OSU students transplanting starts.

Oregon State University (OSU) Service Learning Projects: As many of our readers already know, the Sharing Gardens has been offering opportunities for OSU students to complete class requirements to do "service-learning" projects in the community. We began hosting one to two groups per term in 2012 and have expanded our offerings to four groups (of 4-6 students) every Fall, Winter and Spring! These students can get so much done in the four hours they're here that we often have to discourage our regular volunteers from coming for a week or two ahead of time to be sure we have enough to keep them occupied! We bring students for service-learning from two classes : Geo 300 and Soil Sciences.

Grant Partnership: Last June, we were approached by OSU's Soil Science class to see if we would like to partner with them in submitting a grant proposal. The funds had to directly benefit a project related to service-learning. All we had to do was give the writer (Deanna Lloyd) some details about our project and a list of how the money would be spent. She filled out the forms.

Koltavary GH, before dismantling.
We got it! The grant went through without a hitch. The $3,445 will cover the materials' costs for re-erecting a 50' x 30' professional-grade greenhouse on SG grounds. The greenhouse framework was donated by our neighbors - the Koltavary's. With the help of volunteers we have already dismantled and moved the frame to our site. The grant will cover the cost of the plastic "skin", lumber, screws/fasteners, cinder-blocks and soil for raised beds. In short - everything we need to expand the garden's capacity to grow food year-round and provide "indoor" classroom space for rural-arts classes.

Watering plants for sharing. The Sharing Gardens typically gives away over half of the 'starts' we grow.

Cindy helps Bella with her gloves.
Calapooia Food Alliance: A few weeks ago we were invited to give a slide-show presentation at a neighboring town's "Munch Night". The CFA coordinates a Farmer's Market and community-garden that combines your typical "pea-patch" (separate family plots) with a sharing-type plot that grows food collectively with several volunteers. The slide-show was a big success -- the largest turn-out they'd ever had. Don Lyons, president of CFA said, "Your visit was informative and inspiring. We hope to continue to learn from you and that your visit will spread a web of Sharing Gardens through the valley." We hope so too! Thanks to Gini Bramlett who invited us to be presenters. Over the years she's been a fairy-god mother of networking for the SG; helping us spread the word to diverse and widespread communities of folks here in the Willamette valley. Link to CFA

Monroe Health Clinic, Benton County Health Dept., Dr Kyle Homertgen and the Behavior-Change Class for Pre-Diabetics: Monroe was host to its first series of classes to help participants learn and adopt healthier lifestyle habits. Topics included: shifting to a more plant-based diet, increasing exercise, drinking more water and weaning off of diet- and regular-sodas. Participants were weighed and had blood-pressure checks at each session so they could track their own improvements. Each session also included time for them to share amongst themselves about challenges and successes.   

"Detroit" beets. Yumm!
The final session was held at the Sharing Gardens. We gave them a brief tour and provided the lettuce for a potluck salad bar. When Chris was asked how we deal with pests in the garden he drew a metaphor between plant health and human health. He said, "We don't use any pesticides or herbicides in the gardens. We nourish our plants from the ground, up; feeding the soil using mulch and compost. Plants raised on a healthy diet are able to withstand and resist invasions from bugs and diseases. This is as true for people as it is for plants. A healthy diet creates a healthy body and a strong immune system."

Dr. Kyle Homertgen, DO is a family medicine physician who focuses on plant-based nutrition for the prevention and reversal of chronic disease. Dr. Kyle encourages all of his patients to eat a local, nutrient-dense, plant-based diet. He tells his patients that they can "pay the farmer or pay the doctor," and that their most important form of health care is what they decide to put into their bodies. To borrow from Michael Pollan, it should be whole, not too much, and mostly plants. If you are curious to learn more about Dr. Kyle Homertgen and his philosophy of medicine, here is a link to his site.

Sabine, Chris and Cathy weeding.

Now, doesn't that look nice?
Ten Rivers Food Web (TRFW):   Another partnership that has begun to take root and blossom is with Ten Rivers Food Web. This is a local non-profit agency that works as an advocate between small-scale, local farmers and consumers (through farmer's markets, their annual Fill Your Pantry event, and Oregon’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (providing coupons and support to connect low-income folks with fresh, local foods). Their website has many links to resources for locally produced food.

Another great season of giving. After our volunteers (share-givers) have harvested the food, and taken what they can use for their families, the rest is distributed weekly to (primarily) two local food pantries: the South Benton Food Pantry and Junction City's Local Aid. We don't have the season's total from SBFP but we delivered 1,592 pounds to JCLA. We are very grateful to Dave Cook for faithfully driving our delivery to them each week.

Gallery of Givers: The 2015 season is basically done. We're still harvesting a trickle of tomatoes from our greenhouse plants each week but that too will soon end. It's been a great year.
Sifting manure to add to potting soil and transplant-holes.

Adri and Sabine planting beans.

Seed-planting with OSU-Sam
Maiya weeding in the greenhouse.

Potato planting in Spring.

...and Fall potato harvesting.
Sabine and Elisa transplanting melons.
...which grew into these beauties! 2015- A great year for melons.

Adding lots of straw-mulch...
...leads to bountiful harvests and fewer weeds.
Heather - our summer intern from OSU and Calla in the beet-patch.
Gini making compost "tea".

The McDougals (Chris' daughter and family) enjoying garden-time together, potato-hunting.

Re-purposing gallon pots to use as collars around young plants.
Chris with grand-daughter Calla, picking beets.

Guys in the potato-field.

Gals in the beet-patch

OSU students "turning" compost piles.

OSU gals picking Scarlet Runner Beans
Students, shelling beans.

Picking flowers is a favorite task for young and 'young-at-heart'.

Elisa and Maiya bring the bounty to the Food Pantry next door.

Fruit smoothies with kale at snack-time. Even the little kids liked 'em!

Llyn picking tomatoes in our newest greenhouse. The canopy is formed from the leaves of just two gourd plants held up with netting. Better than "shade-cloth", this natural covering kept the greenhouse from becoming too hot on those record-setting, scorcher-days in July and August. We'll make rattles and bird-houses from the dried gourds.
We are grateful for another wonderful year. Hard to believe that we'll be starting seeds again in about ten weeks! We're glad for the slow-down of winter; time for indoor-creativity and a slower pace. Thanks to everyone for your participation and support. Llyn and Chris

6 comments:

  1. Such wonderful news, and an inspiring photo gallery. I especially love the gourd-plant shade canopy. Reminds me of the wonderful thick mulch you make, which discourages bad bugs and holds in the moisture. You do miracles above and below what's visible -- and that's true on more levels than the soil. :-) Blessing you! Janaia at Peak Moment TV.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janaia - Thanks for "witnessing" us so truly! You have been with us (through your Peak Moment TV interviews - http://peakmoment.tv/) since almost the beginning and watched our tiny seedling of a project become a fruiting plant.

      We were quite amazed at the tremendous amount of leaves and gourds generated by the two gourd plants! At the peak of the season, we were cutting off about a foot of growth from all the edges of the plant every two days!! Cut off dozens (hundreds?) of baby gourds too (so the plants would focus on ripening the 20-30 that we are now curing for craft-projects). Chris is researching other vining plants (for next year's garden) that would produce similar shade-tunnels and an EDIBLE fruit.

      Here's a link to amazing gourd-tunnels in Asia. Wow!
      http://www.growsomethinggreen.com/squash-and-gourd-tunnels/#more-72227

      Sending love to you and Robin. Thanks for all you do! http://peakmoment.tv/
      Llyn and Chris

      Delete
  2. Sharing Gardens is one of the places where GIVING is a reality. People get to serve there and many more beings benefit from the efforts. Amazing!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am so pleased to see you got your 50% tax exemption; another cog to ensure you will always be able to 'share' at your wonderful garden. And, thanks again for your presentation in Brownsville. We are talking about coming out for a tour when your gardens get underway in spring. Thanks so much for all you do for your communities.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we're excited at the growing cooperation between our two projects/communities. See you in the spring!

      Delete