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

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Sharing Gardens - Overview of 2019

Hello dear friends, We're already preparing for the 2020 season (we'll start our first seeds in just six weeks) but this post looks back at some of the highlights from 2019, one of our best seasons ever! This post also offers thanks to all our supporters, near and far. We couldn't do it without you!

We are truly grateful.

Chris and Jim harvesting potatoes with little Jace's help. Potato harvest 2019: 676 pounds; our best yet!
Well, the numbers are in! The Sharing Gardens have surpassed all previous records for harvesting this year with a total of 8,006 pounds!
Here are the highlights of our donations to charities:
South Benton Food Pantry: 1,513 pounds
Local Aid Food Pantry: 1,311 pounds
Other Misc. charitable donations: 575 pounds
                                                Sub-total: 3,399 pounds
Shared amongst participants:
Sharegiver's (volunteers) weekly distribution of the harvest (and one family facing a cancer crisis who we donated a CSA membership to): 1,447 pounds
Food Preservation (canning/dehydration) and winter storage (potatoes, squash etc) - also shared amongst participants and will continue to be donated to the SB Food Pantry through the winter: 1,078 pounds
                                                Sub-total: 2,525
Three CSA memberships (Community Supported Agriculture - LINK): 1,075 pounds
Equivalent of four CSA memberships offered to a class on healthy living for 12 weeks: 1,007 pounds
                                                Sub-total: 2,082

Sharing Gardens 2019 Harvest Total: 8,006 pounds!

OSU student-volunteers with sweet-meat squash harvest.
Previous years' harvests averaged closer to 6,000 pounds. The increase this year comes largely from the fact that our orchards and vineyards are beginning to really bear fruit (approx. 521 pounds). We also grew lots of potatoes (681 pounds) and winter squash (676 pounds). We've also continued to expand our vegetable garden spaces for growing annual vegetables, and in planting succession crops, so fertile ground is not left empty after crops are harvested early in the season.

In addition to the food we grew ourselves, each week we received all the surplus produce from the Corvallis Farmer's Market that was picked up by Jim Templeton from the Monroe Gleaner's. We sorted it and redistributed it back through the Gleaners and through Local Aid which amounted to over 800 pounds total - thus keeping this valuable food from going to waste.

We have so much to be grateful for.

Cash donations from individuals:
  • Peter Stoel, Karen Josephson - $2,100 (from an I.R.A required distribution).
  • Judy Peabody - $500 
  • Karen Salot: $100 
  • Lee Cornforth: $100
  • Jim and Cindy Kitchen: $50
Jim  and Cindy Kitchen (with Chris in the middle) - enjoying watermelon.
Other donations:
  • Victor Stone - honey (when a huge maple tree split open in a storm this winter, it revealed a hive of wild bees who then abandoned their hive leaving us with two gallons of wild-honey). Four cords of maple-firewood (a $1,000+ value): Victor already had enough firewood stored up for his needs so he helped us chop up that maple tree (and two others that also came down in the storm) and load the "rounds" into our truck. He got the debris from the storm cleaned up and we got several winters' worth of firewood. Now that's mutual-generosity! Victor has many maple trees on his land and this year, once again, he's blown the leaves into huge piles and then loaded them into our trailer for garden-use. Nineteen trailer loads so far!  - Enough to cover the entire garden. Much thanks.
  • David Crosby - loaned us his log-splitter to split Victor's wood-donation. Who needs a gym-membership when you have to split and stack all the wood you'll need to heat your house for the winter? David is also a local with lots of big trees on his land. We received five trailer-loads this year that he and his helper collected and delivered! Wow!
  • Neighborhood leaf donations: Our leaf drive has continued to be a big success. We estimate that we've had approximately 150 bags of leaves donated this season.
  • Llyn spreading donated leaves. Donations have been enough this year already to cover all outdoor garden-beds, our greenhouse paths and still have a surplus for next summer's growing season.
  • S.A.G.E. Garden: S.A.G.E. Garden is a non-profit project run through the Corvallis Environmental Center. Like us, they grow a huge garden of organic vegetables to be donated to soup kitchens and food pantries. We donated over 100 cabbage and broccoli "starts" to them and they let us fill up a few dozen buckets of their surplus compost. Again, "mutual generosity"! LINK
  • John and Donna Dillard - donated a chest freezer that was no-longer needed. The Dillards also donated a couple of trees-worth of firewood from trees taken down to make room for their new house. Also, cinder-blocks, large plastic and terra cotta planters, and salvaged lumber. Best neighbors ever!
  • Larry M. - Fixed mower belt. Our trusty ride-on mower finally wore out the belt that drives the mower blade. Larry saved us the money it would have cost to have it repaired at the dealer, plus the hassle of transporting the mower.
  • Craig Erken: Llyn's uncle Craig donated a Mother Earth News-subscription - the classic guide to homesteading. Also, after her help in cleaning out his garage, Craig donated a dutch-oven we are using to cook with on our wood-stove, a  mini-shop-vac, a Champion juicer and a bunch of other useful miscellany.
    OSU Service-Learning students with kale-bouquets. Nov. 2019
  • Peter Alford - driving our donations to Local Aid.
  • Wanda Foster: a grocery bag full of fresh-picked Chanterelle mushrooms (it's been a great year for them but we've only managed to go out picking a handful of times ourselves).
  • Cheryl Anson: wheelbarrow, salvaged redwood decking. Cheryl is the warehouse manager at Local Aid - one of the main recipients of our produce donations.
  • Jim and Cindy Kitchen: gloves and pruners. The Kitchens also transported two of our CSA member's boxes each week on their way home from volunteering in the gardens.
  • Catherine Henry: three and a half pounds of seed garlic (six varieties) which we've planted in our greenhouse.
  • Mara Friddle - USDA/NRCS Plant Materials Center: Forty wire tomato cages made from fencing material.
  • Our wonderful Share-givers: We couldn't do this without our core group of six wonderful volunteers. They came almost every week during the growing season for three hours, doing whatever needed to be done.
  • Oregon State University "Service Learning" students: The SG has hosted six groups of 4-6 students-each to volunteer with us in 2019. The students receive hands-on experience in some of the many tasks needed to grow food for the community, an extensive Q&A session where we delve into their curiosity in living a more generous and sustainable lifestyle, and we receive an incredible boost of high-energy labor! A real Win-Win!
Llyn, with some of summer bounty donated to the SB Food Pantry.
Foundation grants:
  • Benton Community Foundation - $2,400: This grant funded the Sharing Gardens to provide vegetables to the Total Health Improvement Program (THIP), a twelve-week free class designed to help participants address, prevent and heal from chronic health issues through adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet, and stress-reducing behaviors such as meditation and exercise. The class is a partnership between our local, Monroe Health Clinic, it's vegan doctor - Dr. Kyle Homertgen, the South Benton Food Pantry and the Sharing Gardens.
  • South Benton Food Pantry: $1,800 - for general operating expenses. This is the second year in a row that SBFP (a main recipient of Sharing Garden's produce) has made this generous donation.
  • OSU Folk Club Thrift Store granted us $772 for general garden expenses: tools, hoses, gloves and potting soil to fill up our raised beds.
Thank you "berry" much! Bella, Adri and Jasmyn enjoy summer's blackberry abundance.
The Sharing Gardens is a non-profit and tax-exempt organization. We exist entirely through grants, our CSA program and donations from people like you. If you have found benefit from our site, our project or just want to support the work we do, please consider making a donation through PayPal. (Click button below.)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Leaf Love!

How we use leaves in the garden...

Shag bark hickory.
Hello folks - Well, the autumn leaves have mostly fallen here in Monroe. It's been our best year yet for leaf-collection! We had a couple of cold snaps early on and not much rain so the colors were gorgeous (prettiest I can remember in over 20 years of living out west) and wonderfully dry, which makes it easier to rake them and bag them. This is the second year we've had a sign out front welcoming leaf-donations and the locals are definitely catching on. Hardly a day goes by without at least several bags showing up under our big Hickory tree. 

It's a real "win-win" as neighbors have a free, local place to bring their leaves (which they would otherwise need to burn, compost or take to the land-fill). We recycle the leaf-bags by hanging them in our greenhouses to dry and re-bundling them in packets of six which we offer free to folks in a trash can out front, saving people money from buying new ones and helping to reduce the purchase of single-use plastic.

Leaves in greenhouse paths.
The gardens benefit from having a free source of fertilizer - whether added to our compost bins, the paths of our greenhouses or directly mulching the garden-beds over the winter.

About a month ago, a local reporter offered to write an article about using leaves in one's landscape or garden and she included info about the Sharing Garden's leaf-collection program. Here is Edie's article re-printed with permission from the Tribune News (where it was first published).

By Edie Moro

The trees are beautiful in the fall with their shades of red, orange and burnt yellow. Then, the leaves are shed and the trees are bare. What do you do with the leaves?
Homeowners may want to make use of their bounty of leaves in their own gardens. Spread the leaves in a layer on the lawn and run a lawnmower over them several times. This chops up the leaves and adds grass clippings, which may then be spread over garden beds and under shrubs. Keep the chopped leaves away from the base of shrubs or trees where they could hide voles and other rodents that may chew on the bark.

Mowing leaves to use as mulch.
Also, for rhododendrons and azaleas, spread a light layer, no more than one or two inches, over their root zone. These shrubs are shallow-rooted and need access to oxygen. Piling mulch and clippings too deeply around these plants has been known to smother and kill them – called “death by volcano.”

Even easier - homeowners may want to just mow the leaves and let them melt into the lawn over the winter. It is a great, economical way to feed the lawn.

Sharing Gardens in Monroe would love your leaves. They use them to cover large areas of the gardens so they have time over the winter to compost and feed the worms and other soil-organisms and suppress weeds. The garden has stopped using animal manures as a source of soil fertility, and have turned to leaves, grass-clippings, wood-ash and coffee grounds as a replacement (see links below for more info).

Llyn Peabody and Chris Burns are the Sharing Gardens coordinators. They write a blog about the garden at www.thesharinggardens.blogspot.com/, which includes gardening information, recipes and other "homesteading" info. 

Llyn explains the need for the leaves, “There is a saying that, 'for every calorie you harvest out of a farm or garden, you must put at least a calorie back in'. In a typical year we harvest and share over six-thousand pounds of produce. We have to replenish a huge amount of organic-matter so our soils don't get depleted!”

Neighbors bring us grass!
The garden will accept most bagged leaves and grass clippings, with the following exceptions: “no animal waste, trash or sticks/branches, no holly or roses (too sharp), or black walnut leaves (they can kill plants). Also do not include diseased or insect-laden plant material. Just leaves and grass.

Sharing Gardens is located at 664 Orchard Street, Monroe, Oregon 97456, where there is a bright yellow house behind the Methodist Church. The coordinators ask people to leave the bags in a pile under the big, hickory tree at the back of the church parking lot. There are free previously-used lawn/leaf bags available in a trash-can underneath the hickory tree. The coordinators ask that bags be filled not too full and only lightly tied so that they may be re-used.

Thank you Edie and thank you to all the new and returning leaf-donors from this year! 
Gratitude for garden support!
For info on using leaves and grass clippings for fertility in your garden, CLICK HERE.

Leaves to mulch the gardens in winter.
For info about using wood-ashes and coffee grounds for fertility, CLICK HERE.

Adding wood ashes (and coffee grounds) for fertilizer.
For info about making your own potting mix (soil) in your greenhouse paths - using worms, CLICK HERE
Grass-clippings in our greenhouse paths.

The Sharing Gardens is a registered non-profit and tax-exempt organization. We exist entirely through donations. If you have found benefit from our project or our site, please consider making a small donation through PayPal. (Click button below.)

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Can We Create Social Change Without Money?

We're up to our eyeballs in harvesting and food-preservation so haven't had time to publish something new in awhile. This is a re-publishing of a post from October of 2015. Still as relevant as ever. Enjoy! Llyn and Chris

Here is a video and transcript of a Ted-Talk by Nipun Mehta, a pioneer in 'sharing' and the true gift-economy (giving without thought of receiving). Nipun beautifully articulates the community-building, healing power of generosity. We decided to post this on our Sharing Gardens site because our project is deeply founded in the principles outlined in this video. Enjoy!

Can We Create Social Change Without Money?

--by Nipun Mehta, Oct 28, 2015

Can we create social change without money? I don't have a conclusive answer but just holding that question can raise some very interesting insights.

Since we're talking about money, I thought I'd start with a story on Wall Street. One of my friends was running a venture fund on Wall Street. They had a great year, and his boss calls him in to congratulate him and offers the proverbial blank check, "What would you like?" He looks his boss in the eye and says, "What I'd love is a minute of silence before all our group meetings."

Wow. The boss is thinking, "In a context where people are billing every three minutes, a minute of silence to do nothing? That's like wasting time." He refuses. "No. Anything else?" he asks. No. After sleeping on it, though, the boss comes back to say, "Look, if you really want that minute of silence, fine, I'll give it to you." They start meetings with a minute of silence. That minute turned into two to three to five minutes. Today, they do thirty minutes once a week, and even have their own meditation bell.

What was my friend thinking? On one side he could've asked for a monetary raise, but on the other side was very different kind of capital — mental quiet, connection, trust. He is thinking, "I don't want to meet people in a space of rush. I'd rather meet them with a bit more peace." It changed his relationship to himself, it changed his relationship to other people and certainly with his boss. And it didn't just stop there. It changed how everyone related to each other. It changed the whole culture of their office space. And that was something he valued more than the financial capital.

How do we broaden our lens to include alternative forms of capital? This is a question, this is a possibility, that we all have access to but in our current world today, we're very biased towards financial capital.

In theory, our society is supposed to balance all these biases. We have three big sectors. The private sector is rooted in extrinsic motivations like money, power, fame. On the other end, we have the voluntary sector that is rooted in very intrinsic sort of motivations. Compassion, knowledge, purpose. And then there's the public sector that is supposed to regulate between the two and work on both sides of the aisle.

This is how it's supposed to work in theory. In practice, though, the private sector starts to take over. In fact, it starts to dominate. We do have a public sector, but the public sector is increasingly being controlled by the private sector. There is a small voluntary sector, but these days, in the name of the sharing economy, even that is being commoditized. Courtesy of the "sharing economy", your lawn mower can get you six bucks a day, and you can rent out your Herm├Ęs purse for a hundred dollars a party and your dog for five dollars a walk.

When we have a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. If money is the only metric we have, we start to put a price tag on everything.

The problem with price tags is that we start to lose connection with the priceless. We start to lose connection with our intrinsic motivation.

What does science say about all this? Edward Deci at the University of Rochester has been studying incentives for over forty years. After thousands of experiments, he categorically asserts that the carrot and stick model doesn't work. This idea of a contingent reward — if you do this, you will get this — doesn't actually work.

For example, he studied people who loved to solve puzzles. Initially, they would solve puzzles just for the love of it, just for its intrinsic enjoyment. Then he started to pay them to do the same thing. So far so good. Then, at a later point, he stopped paying them. As soon as he stopped paying them, you would think they would return to that original state, right? It turns out, though, that they were no longer interested in solving puzzles at all!

What his research shows is that money desensitizes us. What science is actually telling us is this: Don't show me the money. When you're working with intrinsic motivations, financial rewards can backfire.

At the Max Planck Institute, researchers have been studying 18-month olds. These toddlers are just playing and all of a sudden they see a bunch of strangers who are putting clothes out for drying. In the process, they drop a clothespin and need help getting to it. The toddlers see that a person is in need, and immediately go out to help. They pick up the clothespin and hand it to the strangers. Now, at that age, they haven't yet been taught kindness or compassion but they're still moved to help. They're still moved to cooperate.

What science is telling us is that it's natural to give, that we're wired to care. In fact, not only is it guiding us to "don't show me the money", but it's saying to not offer any rewards at all. It's just not necessary.

The question we are left with is this — what designs emerge when we don't lead with money? What designs emerge when we lead with something subtler or something internal? We have many examples that offer insight into this inquiry.

Mother Teresa, of course, is an example that all of us know about. Someone purely motivated by intrinsic motivations. One of my friends, Lynne Twist, is a world-renowned fundraiser and author of a book titled, Soul of Money. She knows money. Many years ago, she had a very interesting conversation with Mother Teresa, whom she knew personally. "Mother Teresa, what's your fund raising strategy?" she asked. And Mother Teresa, with her big-hearted compassion, simply replied, "Oh, I just pray. Whatever I get is what I need."

It was simple. Here was a woman who had 400 centers in 102 countries and she's kind of like the CEO of this whole operation and she is saying, "I have no fundraising strategy." Or rather she is saying, "My fundraising strategy is to be rooted so deeply in intrinsic motivation that external security is not even a concern."

We have many modern examples as well. Linux rivaled Microsoft Windows purely with a distributed army of volunteers. Wikipedia did that with Encyclopedia Britannica. On Wikipedia alone, through those micro-edits that volunteers made, hundred million volunteer hours have been donated. CouchSurfing, similarly, allowed strangers to stay on each other's couches and disrupted the hotel industry.

As we look closely, we see an entire spectrum of motivations. It starts with extrinsic motivations on one side and goes all the way to intrinsic motivations. On the extrinsic side, there's money, power, fame; somewhere in between you have things like fun, learning, growth and purpose. Then on the intrinsic end of the spectrum, you have these very profound motivations like healing, forgiveness, inner-transformation and ultimately compassion.

On that extrinsic end, we have thousands and thousands of examples, but on the other side, on the side of intrinsic motivations, we don't have too many. Alcoholics Anonymous, for example, is a completely decentralized, distributed, and a never-monetized effort. It points towards the other end of the spectrum, but we have an opportunity to create a lot more examples here.

Back in 1999, we started ServiceSpace that rested squarely on the intrinsic end of this spectrum. It started with four of us, building websites for non-profits. Underneath the work, though, what we wanted to do was to anchor ourselves purely in the spirit of service. Over the last sixteen years, we've organized around three core principles that have kept us rooted in that intrinsic motivation.

The first one is that we are volunteer run. Many people look at that as scarcity of paid staff and ask, "How will you scale?" What we noticed was that we actually had an abundance of social capital. Imagine that you're trying to raise a million bucks. You could get it from one or two people, or a dollar from a million people. Which is stronger? A million people saying, "Yes, I believe in what you're doing. Yes, I care." The cumulative energy of that is profound. It's powerful. That's what we were experiencing with small contributions of time from many volunteers.

Similarly, our second principle is to not fundraise. When you don't ask for resources, you naturally feel a lot of gratitude for all that ends up in your lap. You learn to creatively work with what you've got, and you start to cooperate. Incredible synergies emerge, particularly when working with non-financial capital.

Lastly, our third principle is to focus on small. It wasn't about big things outside, but rather it was about the subtle on the inside. Being in the change you wish to see in the world starts to attune us to the subtle. The resulting awareness, in a very profound way, ignites our deepening understanding of interconnection.

With these three principles, ServiceSpace manages to create lot of impact in the world. We started by building websites for non-profits and we ended up helping thousands of efforts come online. Then we started building portals like DailyGood and KarmaTube. Every year we send seventy million emails, and not a single one of them has an ad -- or even a reference to buying something. It is purely non-financial.

Still, how far can we push ourselves while still operating solely on the strength of these intrinsic motivations?

We started this game of kindness called Smile Cards and it spread to over a hundred countries. In local communities we started these gift-economy experiments like Karma Kitchen where people are redefining what it means to engage in transaction. In living rooms around the world, Awakin Circles started. In all, more than half a million members were co-creating something that was engaging the attention of millions -- all without ever raising a single penny, and moved by love, service and our innate connection to each other.

It's not just that you can do a lot with this. We often take metrics from the extrinsic side of the spectrum to measure the impact on the intrinsic end. That puts a very low ceiling on its potential.

Operating with the power of intrinsic motivation alone fundamentally changes the way in which we relate to each other. It gives birth to a whole new realm of possibilities.

Karma Kitchen is like a regular restaurant, except that at the end of the meal, your check reads zero. It's zero because someone before you has paid for you and you get to pay forward for somebody after you. You are trusted to pay forward whenever you want. When people are just giving for the love of it, it changes the way they interact in that collective space. It's a profound idea that has worked wonders in seventeen places around the world.

What works, though, isn't the intellectual idea -- it's actually the experience. It's actually realizing that when you walk in, the greeter is a volunteer. The person who is waiting on your table, the person who plates your food, the person who's bussing your tables, they're all volunteers. That guy doing dishes in the back, who signed up to be on his feet for six hours, to just do dishes so you can have an experience of generosity, is also a volunteer. When you realize this, it begets a very different kind of generosity in you. A flow of deep compassion emerges. It's very natural.

Minah Jung was a student at UC Berkeley when she first volunteered at Karma Kitchen. She was so moved by the concept that she decided to study it. In fact, her research on Karma Kitchen and other gift economies became her PhD thesis. With eight different experiments, she poured through data with academic rigor, and came out with a seminal paper titled, "Paying More When Paying For Others." If you create a strong context, people respond to generosity with even greater generosity.

Richard Whitaker runs his art magazine in the same way. He was running it for fifteen years with the traditional subscriber model, and then he ran across ServiceSpace and said, "Wow, this is great. This is how I want show up in the world." He offered refunds to all his current subscribers and said, "From now on, the magazine will operate only offerings of gratitude."

Similarly, Thuy Nguyen is experimenting with this pay-forward model at her acupuncture clinic.

I want to end with this story of one of my friends, Uday-bhai. He's a rickshaw driver. By all traditional metrics, he would probably be a UN statistic on one of those poverty charts. He's a humble rickshaw driver but he has another kind of resource. He believes in love, he believes in people. Uday-bhai decided to run his rickshaw on a pay-it-forward basis. You sit in his rickshaw and there is no money meter. Someone before you has paid for you and you get to pay forward for people after you, whatever you moved to offer. He trusted that goodness in people, in the sixth largest city in India. Naturally, many asked him, "Is it working?" He says, "Here's my ledger. Point A to point B, point B to point C. Yes, some paid more, some paid less. On the whole, it evens out."

Then he adds, "Let me also show you this other notebook. This is where I ask people to write down how they felt sitting in my rickshaw." Imagine sitting in Uday-bhai's rickshaw and being completely caught off guard by the generosity of his process. This is not a billionaire doing philanthropy, but an everyday hero putting his entire livelihood on the line -- for love. It moves people to tears, people take vows for life. It's just deeply transformative and you can see that in all the notes.

Uday-bhai didn't have money, but he had a deeper kind of resource. Through that resource, through his belief in our innate generosity, he created a massive ripple that is certainly changing the world. He is redefining what it means to have capital. He's diversifying that portfolio of wealth. When you do that, when you really start saying yes to that idea, you are essentially saying, "It's no longer about the CEO, it's about the everyday Joe. It's no longer about fundraising, it's about friend-raising. It's no longer about price tags, it's about the priceless."

All of this sits on a single idea — what we will do for love will always be greater than what we do for money. May we all lead with love and change the world. Thank you.   

Nipun Mehta is the founder ofServiceSpace.org, a nonprofit that works at the intersection of gift-economy, technology and volunteerism. You can read more of his talks online.    
This video and article were copied from the Daily Good site, a free service that sends out emails featuring inspiring, uplifting news from the world free of charge and with no advertising. LINK

Monday, August 5, 2019

Enough and to Spare, To Give and to Share!

Cindy sorting beets and carrots. 

Harvest totals and garden update:

Hi folks - We had a beautiful post almost finished when we lost it to a computer glitch. Arrgh...We'll recreate it soon but the gardens have really kicked into high gear in the last couple of weeks and we've been harvesting and weeding and watering like crazy! Here are the harvest totals so far this year, some pictures of many of the wonderful people who help to grow the food and some recent pictures of the gardens so you can enjoy the beauty and abundance. Much love, Llyn and Chris

So far, we've been sharing produce out of the gardens for 18 weeks. Depending on when the first major frost hits, we could be past the half-way mark of garden productivity but the next 15 - 20 weeks will also be way more productive in terms of how many pounds the gardens will yield. So, we could be looking at a record year! (For those of you who are new to the Sharing Gardens, here's a quick overview of our project.)

Donated to S. Benton Food Pantry: 507#
Donated to Local Aid Food Pantry: 455#
Donated to THIP class being led by our local Health Clinic ("Total Health Improvement Program"): 268#
Shared with Share-givers (volunteers): 284#
Used in canning projects so far: 36#
Potatoes harvested so far (that weren't counted in other totals): 94#
CSA member-boxes: 408

Grand total so far: 2,052 pounds!

Huge thanks to all the contributors who are helping to make this, our 11th season, such a success!

We love it when Cindy and Jim's grand-kids come to The Gardens. Here are Adri, Kaylynn and Jace helping Llyn harvest cucumbers, one of their favorite snacks!
Cindy, Rook and John, weeding. On our volunteer days, we often team up and swarm a whole quadrant of the gardens together leaving no weeds behind! This massive amount of weeds is put in our compost bins where the heat of their decomposition kills a majority of the weed-seeds.
This picture was taken July 31st. The gardens are in full bloom!
Here's Becky, weeding beets. Becky is one of our newest 'share-givers' (volunteers). She brings a friendly and playful spirit.
Jace (left) munching on a carrot, to keep up his strength for the potato harvest. We harvested 30 pounds that day off of six plants and they're looking beautiful. Our best year for potatoes yet (and we still have many more plants to harvest, well into the Fall).
Here's one quadrant of the garden in late July. Provence squash, cabbage, Delicata squash and  four rows of blue corn. All but the cabbage will provide storage-food to get us (and the Food Pantry) much of the way through the winter.
Megan, our youngest 'share-giver' (who also started this year), teamed up with 'young-at-heart' Jim - who's been coming since 2011. Here they are trimming the tops off onions.
With this team of guys, weeds don't stand a chance! Our motto is: "Weed 'em and reap!"
A late-July photo taken of the NE garden-quadrant. From top-left to bottom-right: Blue-corn (dried and ground for cereal and baking), red potatoes, a mixed row of celery/collards/kale, a row of cucumbers and a row of kidney beans which we dry for soups and chili. (Marigolds and Cosmos flowers in the foreground.)
Jim harvesting soft-ball sized Elephant garlic. We filled that wheel-barrow, mounded high, twice.
Adri helps Grandpa Jim and Chris with a potato harvest. Kids love this job because it's like hunting for eggs on Easter; you never know how many you're going to find!
Bean tipi at entrance to garden and Sunship greenhouse. The beans are called Giant Greek White beans and we got the seed for them out of the bulk-food section at our local natural foods store. They had made the beans into a salad for their deli and were delicious! We like them as much as Scarlet Runner beans for flavor and grow to be 2-3 times the size! (LINK to Scarlet Runner Bean post)
Cindy with an early crop of onions and greens. Cindy's been coming since 2010 and never misses a garden-day if she can help it. We love her cheerful, 'can-do' spirit!
Dear Rook, in his third season, has fallen in love with being in the garden (and we've fallen in love with him)! He loves to help people and to serve, and has come to embody the spirit of the Sharing Gardens. "Gee, it's great to be alive!"

Friday, April 26, 2019

"Sharing Gardens" for Local, 'Plant-Based' Food Security

 A unique and viable approach to establishing local food self-reliance while building stronger communities.
Sharing creates abundance! Greenhouse full of plants in mid-April. Chris spreading grass-mulch in paths.
We've been watching the dramatic weather world-wide: floods, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves and record snows! In recent years, every country that grows food has experienced repeated significant crop-failures. Pests, weather and super-weeds are all taking their toll. It seems more important than ever for people to learn to grow, at least some, of their own food. At the Sharing Gardens (MAP), we demonstrate a style of gardening that builds soil fertility using locally-generated, renewable and sustainable materials - like leaves and grass-clippings - that are commonly considered waste products. This model also fosters trust and a sense of community at the neighborhood level; relationships that can be called upon in times of social, or environmental stress. It by-passes "business-as-usual" in that it generates a bounty of "organic" fruits and vegetables feeding far more people than it takes to run it and no money ever changes hands. We call it a "Sharing Garden".
Sharing the bounty - garden helpers "shop" for their week's vegetables. 
What makes these Sharing Gardens unique is that, instead of many separate plots, that are rented by individuals, we all garden together. All materials and labor are donated. The food we grow is shared by all who have contributed in some way. All surplus is donated to local food-charities (like Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens).
Lettuce and other vegetables being donated to a local food-charity.
This model is easily replicated anywhere there are vacant lots with a water-source, and people with enough gardening experience to oversee the project and does not require a large input of money to make it work. It can be adapted to many different scales of gardening; from a few families who live and garden on the same block, to a multi-acre production farm. "Sharing Gardens" help keep materials out of burn-piles and the land-fill (garbage dumps) through re-using, re-purposing and encouraging people to share their surplus.

Overview of the Sharing Gardens
Benefits of a Sharing Garden 
Harvest Totals - 2012
Using Leaves and Grass-Clippings to Create Soil-Fertility
Making your own potting soil in greenhouse paths
Grow Your Own Protein - Scarlet Runner Beans
Grow Your Own 'Blue Corn'
 Wish List - To Donate

To view videos about the project, LINK including the the Peak Moment video: The Giving is Growing.
To read articles about the project: Click Here
Volunteers from our local university help the gardens thrive!