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

Monday, January 4, 2021

Full-Circle Generosity - A Year-End Overview

A cornucopia of garden-bounty!
Hello Folks - Wherever you are in the world we hope you are healthy and finding creative ways to respond to the challenges of these times. Finally, the pressure of the autumn season has lifted. The harvest is long-since gathered, food-preservation projects are complete, seeds have been dried, winnowed and sorted, grant reports written and we can finally relax into the season of stillness in preparation for the coming year of new growth and possibilities.

Here is our end of the year overview with Harvest Totals, a gallery of highlights, and gratitude for all our supporters near and far. You are appreciated!

 Our 2nd largest greenhouse, the Ark - April 2020. Full of carrots, beets, greens and veggie-seedlings.

...and here's the same view taken in early December 2020! We're still harvesting late-planted lettuce and arugula. With last season's parsley still going strong.

Burgundy Globe onions being laid out to "cure" in the greenhouse. These were then covered with fabric so they weren't in the direct sun till their greens dried making them last longer in storage.

Harvest totals: As our regular readers know, the Sharing Gardens is a unique model for a community garden. Instead of separate plots, we all garden together and share in the harvests. The surplus is distributed among food charities. LINK: Overview/How it works. Our grand total of harvests for the year was approximately: 6,100 pounds.

How we reached that total figure... 

This year, we donated to:
South Benton Food Pantry and Gleaners
- LINK: 1,110 pounds. We also donated approx. 200 veggie seedlings for Pantry customers to plant in their home-gardens.

Junction City Local Aid - LINK: 1,501 pounds. In addition, we processed an additional 601 pounds of produce gleaned from the Corvallis Farmer's market, composted any produce not fit for human consumption, and donated the rest to Local Aid, keeping that much food out of the waste-stream.

Tomatoes galore!

CSA members
received a total of 2,689 pounds which worked out to an average amount of 15-20 pounds per week (depending on size of family).

Though all the above harvest totals were carefully weighed each week, we estimate that we grew an additional 700-900 pounds of unweighed produce including all the food Chris and I ate and/or preserved through canning and dehydration, or shared with volunteers and friends of the garden. For a grand total of approximately 6,100 pounds for the year.

You can see why they named this variety Elephant garlic!

This has been a great year for seed-saving. We primarily save varieties that are running low or the seed is getting old. We save and use over 90% of our own seeds which helps us be more self-reliant if supply-chains shut down and, over the years, our seeds have become adapted to our local climate and conditions so they're more likely to thrive. Seed-saving is one of those homesteading techniques that's fairly easy to learn. If you're interested, here's a link that describes methods for saving several different varieties of seeds: LINK: Saving Your Own Seed. We have many varieties of seed to spare. Please be in contact if you are in need. LINK: Contact Us.

Rook - planting Sorghum...

...Mature sorghum plants which we are using in our hot-cereal and as a flour in our Corn Cake recipe. We also grew plenty for re-seeding next year. Our favorite variety is Kassaby. Easy to grow and delicious! (variety pictured: Ba Ye Qi)

Our Diamant Mill for grinding grains. Chris hooked it up to an old motor with a belt.

Our CSA was a big success. We had six full-paying members and were able to provide half-scholarships to two other low-income families through a grant provided by the Benton Community Foundation. We intend to keep our CSA member's circle small in 2021 in order to maintain high-standards for our members and still have plenty to donate to the food charities we serve. So, if you're local and wish to be a member, please let us know soon to reserve a spot. Cost and details can be found HERE.

Provence and Sweetmeat squash.

We grow our produce 100% "veganically" (no animal manures or animal by-products) and no store-bought amendments or fertilizers. Just leaves, grass, weeds and kitchen scraps, coffee grounds and wood-ash. LINK: Veganic Fertility

Leaves and grass clippings are donated by people who live in and near Monroe.

We dry and fold the bags and wrap them in bundles of 5 or 6 for people to re-use.

Some leaves are donated by the trailer-full! Here's Llyn putting some on a tarp to distribute where needed.

Donations: This year we received $2,900 in gifts from individuals. A special thank you to Karen and Peter Josephson-Stoel who, in addition to being CSA members for the third year in a row, donated $2,000! Judy Peabody was also especially generous with a donation of $650. Thank you to the others who donations ranged from $25-$100. Cathy Rose, Karen and Stanley Salot, Del Rainer and Pete Alford.

Grants: $300 from The Evening Garden Club and $1,200 from the Benton Community Foundation. Because our living/garden expenses average about $600/month, these contributions go a long way. 

We have also received much community-support in the form of tools, firewood and materials for gardening and building. Thank you to everyone who has supported the project in these ways.

John Kinsey with his worm "incubator". He makes hundreds of pounds of compost for us each year. Retired, he says it keeps him "from going crazy"! He also makes weekly stops at a local coffee shop and brings us coffee-grounds to help with garden fertility.

Judy Peabody (one of our most generous donors) who also comes each year to help in the garden.

Donn Dussell, has been volunteering all year on a weekly basis, helps us keep our equipment in good working order and made weekly deliveries of our donations to Local Aid.
Jim Templeton and Chris unload two cords of donated firewood.

Volunteers/Intern opportunities: We would have a very difficult time keeping this project going without the dedicated help of our volunteers/share-givers. Though it's amazing how much we get done with a core group of helpers, looking ahead, there is room for a few more folks who'd like to join our little gardening "family" and learn by doing, how to grow food that is nutrient-packed, delicious and light-on the environment. Preference will be given to those who can commit to regular times in the garden. Please let us know if you're interested. Contact Info

Volunteers/"share-givers" of all ages and abilities:

Cindy and Chris filling the compost bin with autumn garden clean-up.

Jim and Chris feeding young plants "compost tea".

OSU students sifting coffee grounds.

Cindy and Jim Kitchen putting collars and grass-mulch around broccoli plants. We cut the bottoms off the pots so we have re-usable collars to give protection from cold winds and slugs.

Donn, sifting compost for use as fertilizer and potting mix.

Young girls help gather rose-hips for use in winter tea-mixes.

Salvage and re-purposing:
At the Sharing Gardens, we have a strong commitment to keeping materials out of the burn-pile and landfills. We are almost finished building our newest 18'x30' greenhouse (below) made almost entirely out of salvaged materials! So far we have spent under $150 on lumber and screws and hinges. Everything else was gifted or salvaged!

The Phoenix greenhouse: made almost entirely from salvaged/re-purposed materials.

This year our winter salvage projects have included two loads of cedar decking material which we will use for making raised beds and other construction projects.

Wildlife habitat:
We are also "sharing" our gardens with the local wildlife who come to eat and make this place their home. Birds, small mammals and countless pollinators enjoy the Sharing Gardens as an oasis in an ever-encroaching world.

Adri and Kaylynn hold up Showy Milkweed plants that they helped start from seed. These will be planted in the ground next spring.

During early-summer blooming, our already established milkweeds (pictured) were covered in a variety of bees and flies and a few swallow-tail butterflies. We haven't seen any Monarchs yet but maybe, if we keep increasing their habitat, we'll see some in the future.

Swallowtail butterfly on our lavender. We discovered that Aspen trees are one of the host plants - for egg-laying - for these beautiful creatures. We planted 50 of them back in 2014 once we knew we'd be here permanently.

We enjoy hearing from you! If you have any comments, please leave them below so everyone can read them. We look forward to this coming season with positive anticipation! Llyn and Chris