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

Monday, June 25, 2018

"Work is Love Made Visible"

Hi folks - The coolest thing happened the other day! We were playing in the gardens on Food Pantry day when our friend Dave Cook (who's wife, Janeece runs the Monroe Food Pantry) drove up with a trailer-load full of firewood to donate. No sooner did we get finished unloading and stacking it when another guy, Jimmy Templeton - who runs the Monroe Food and Firewood Gleaners - pulled up with another load to donate. He and his crew then brought another trailer and truck-load to us the following morning and have promised us one more load before the summer's through. That's five cords of firewood; probably enough to get us through two and a half winters, if they're not too harsh.

Unloading firewood donation.
The Gleaners is an organization that "gleans" a community's surplus - whether from farmer's fields, grocery stores, restaurants or, in this case, trees for firewood - and provides them to members of the community who are in need and can't afford it for themselves. Though we're not officially members of the Gleaners, the Sharing Gardens has been supportive of their organization. In the peak of summer, when we have more vegetables than the two Food Pantries we serve can handle, the surplus has often gone to the Gleaners. We have also let them use our flat-bed trailer for over a year to pick up large donations on a bi-weekly basis and donated a large chain saw that the firewood gleaners have used for several years. I guess they felt that they wanted to give back to us in some way.

Their donation is a huge help to us. We heat exclusively with firewood and, cook most of our stove-top meals on our flat wood-stove through the coldest part of the winter. Then, since we don't burn any treated or painted woods, all the ashes are clean and pure enough to use as fertilizer in the gardens. Wood-ash contains most of what's needed for plant growth except nitrogen and sulfur so it's a great resource. LINK to article about Wood Ash Use for Lawn and Garden.

Jimmy Templeton-a man of generosity!
Note: Just as I was writing this post, who should drive up but Jimmy - head of the gleaners, with a donation of surplus organic vegetables gleaned from the local Farmer's Market. He receives more donations than he can distribute through his networks so, by bringing them to us, he knows we'll get them into the hands of people who will appreciate them.

This post is about gratitude. This year feels like a real turning point. After having given away everything we grew for the first nine seasons, many members of the community who appreciate the services we provide have begun looking for ways to give back. The Sharing Gardens is beginning to fulfill its dream of becoming (as it says in our banner) "a common-ground gathering place dedicated to the cultivation of mutual generosity".
Rainbow over the Sharing Gardens - June 2018
Our first expression of gratitude goes to our sharegivers - the volunteers who come on a weekly basis during the growing season and join in the myriad of tasks involved in keeping the gardens thriving.
Cathy, Cindy, Jim, Sabine, Rook, Kat, and Jessie.

Share-givers enjoying homemade soup after a garden-session.
Cathy Rose - (left) helping us sort a huge donation of seeds. She is also being our delivery person for CSA members in Eugene. We love you Cathy!
We also continue to feel gratitude to Oregon State University for its dedication to "service-learning" (students receive college-credit for volunteering in the community). We have been hosting 4-8 groups of students per year since 2012. We estimate that's about 180 students who have spent three - four hours each at the Sharing Gardens learning about sustainable living and how to grow food. Here are some highlights from the four groups we've hosted so far in 2018.

We always share a snack with the OSU students. This provides a great time for conversations about organic gardening and sustainable-living.
We had an abundance of lettuce in March so OSU students helped us harvest it and...
...here they are displaying the lettuce we donated that week to Local Aid Food Pantry.
We have a number of "neighbors" who support the project by bringing us leaves and grass-clippings on a regular basis or make other donations of time and materials to keep the project thriving. John Kinsey, Victor Stone and David Crosby bring us many trailer-loads each, full of compostable materials each year. Keep 'em coming, guys!

Bob Nelson - refrigerator repair and re-wiring of an electrical outlet that kept 'shorting out'.
St Vincent de Paul - honored a warranty for a defective refrigerator we bought from them last Fall. The warranty had expired but, because of what we do, they let us come and pick out another refrigerator to replace the one that 'died'.
George and Irene (leaves and zucchini plants) - they've been donating leaves for many years.
Sally and Gary Smith - donated a miniature greenhouse, still new in its box that we will pass along to a family in-need.
Uncle Craig Erken - computer help.
Pete Alford - pick up for Local Aid. Pete drives several miles out of his way to come pick up our donations.
Chris' Dad, Pete Burns, for being a role model for community-service and teaching Chris so much about using tools.
Pete Alford - picking up a vegetable donation to take to Local Aid.

Papa Burns - Chris' Dad - chief of his town's volunteer fire department for many years; he built their brick station-house by hand. Chris' Mom, Rene drove the ambulance and taught first aid classes through the Red Cross for decades. True community-servants.

New for us this year is our membership-farming (CSA - Community Supported Agriculture). We have seven members/share-holders. Two in Corvallis, two in Eugene and the rest are more local. Special thanks to Dr Kyle Homertgen (our local, vegan doctor) for his strong encouragement to move forward with our idea and for being our first subscriber.

Our first subscription food-box. April, 2018.
And last, but not least, we wish to extend gratitude to all those who have made cash donations. Though we do our best to live simply and keep costs of the project low, there are just some things that only money will get you (just try trading a case of ripe tomatoes for a tankful of gas...).

Our largest donor by far is the South Benton Food Pantry-LINK. They invited us to make a presentation to their Board at the beginning of the year, outlining the Gardens' income and expenses.They granted us a very generous annual grant of $1800 with no strings attached so we can spend it on whatever the project needs to continue. They also continue to allow us to add the Garden's trash in with their weekly pick-up service. We don't generate a lot of garbage but this saves us from accumulating enough to warrant a trip to the dump.
Chalk-sign, Llyn made for the Food Pantry in our town.

Since January of 2018, we have received cash donations from several other individuals, ranging from $100 to $500 each, for a total of $1,100. Thank you so much!

John and Donna Dillard - our neighbors - who have also donated paint and fencing material to the project and tolerate our lackadaisical approach to weeding our common fence-line. Much thanks!
Rich Locus - a stranger we met at a restaurant who, after talking with us through breakfast, pulled out his check-book and wrote us a check, right on the spot!
Judith Peabody- Llyn's Mom who gives generously, each year.
Rob Wiseman - a local friend, former share-giver and repeated donor. We love you Rob!

LINK to Wish List

P.S. We sure love hearing your comments! Won't you please take a moment and leave them below so others can enjoy them too :-). Love, Llyn and Chris  

We got a nice comment on this post from a friend of ours and guest-blogger to our site. She wrote:
Llyn & Chris -- 
Well, this post just begs a big THANK YOU in return -- both for the work you do, and for faithfully reporting back on your progress. This project is social experiment that I SO enjoy watching unfold (better than anything on Netflix, let me tell you!)
Happy summer gardening!!

 Here's the post she wrote about the SG back in 2012:

Conscious Cultivation: A community food solution flourishes in rural Oregon