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

Friday, June 18, 2021

It Takes a Village...Gratitude and update

It's been a beautiful spring this year. Though much of eastern Oregon is experiencing severe drought, the Willamette Valley, where we live, has been receiving adequate rainfall, spaced nicely apart. This keeps the grass growing (a major source of mulch and compost-building) and has meant that we spend less time hand-watering our outside crops which is especially crucial when they're first sown or transplanted.

March in the Ark greenhouse.

May in the Sunship greenhouse. Scarlet runner beans (left) were seeded in January and now (mid-June) are already loaded with beans!

Though we're in a bit of a lull now between the spring greens (lettuce, kale and such) and summer's bounteous, heat-loving crops, we've still managed to fill six CSA boxes per week, feed ourselves and our volunteers and still been able to donate a surplus of over 180 pounds of vegetables to food charities in our area. Once the summer bounty comes on, the number will go way up!

Chris, transplanting clusters of bunching onions.

Our largest greenhouse, the Sunship, had the honor of hosting a litter of three baby bunnies last month. One of our volunteers was startled by the mulch moving just inches from where he was preparing a bed for planting. They've already left the nest just two weeks after we discovered them. Hopefully the neighborhood cats won't find them. The wild rabbits have never been a problem in our garden as they seem to prefer eating the clover in our lawns to any domesticated veggies we grow.

Three baby bunnies the first day we found them nested in the mulch in our greenhouse.

Three weeks later, we spotted this one near our wood-shed, a week after s/he left the nest. We've seen another one that likes to hide under the scarlet runner beans in the greenhouse where s/he was born.
We have birds and butterflies and other pollinators galore. Our Showy Milkweed patches continue to expand and though we've yet to see any Monarch butterflies (for which they are a host plant), there are plenty of other pollinators (including hummingbirds) that seem to enjoy the flowers' sweet scent.

Milkweed started from seed four years ago is now naturalized in three places on our land and comes back each year. A favorite of many pollinators - including hummingbirds.

There's a saying from African tribal peoples that "It takes a village to raise a child". Here at the Sharing Gardens, it "takes a village," to grow the food, provide habitat for wildlife and a sanctuary to those people who visit here for respite from the hubbub of day-to-day life. It has been our goal all along to demonstrate a model of "mutual generosity",  where "sharing" is an experience of reciprocity; of giving and receiving, but not everyone is in a position to be generous. Though some folks are primarily at the receiving end of the gardens, there are others who primarily give and some for whom the giving and receiving happen more or less equally. By everyone doing what they can do, this keeps the project sustainable over time. (LINK: Overview and Benefits of the Sharing Gardens Model).

As Anne Frank has been purported to say, "No one has ever become poorer by giving." It has actually been our experience that generosity has increased our sense of abundance and prosperity. 


We've received $2,190 in cash donations since our last gratitude-post in February. Thank you to the South Benton Food Pantry (LINK), John and Donna Dillard, Karen and Stan Salot and Cathy Rose.

We are grateful to our small but mighty volunteer crew: Donn and Marilyn Dussell, Jim, Cindy and Adri Kitchen, Rook Stillwater, and Becky Bauer. There's still room for a few more folks on our crew. For more info, CLICK HERE.

Donn, tilling a bed for squash to grow in.

Marilyn loves to mow!
Jim's our other champion mower. Just look at all that luscious mulch!

Llyn and Cindy always look forward to gardening together each week. Here we are planting lettuce and onions.

Adri, dead-heading the calendula flowers.

Rook, digging compost, coffee-grounds and wood-ash into the garden beds.

Becky, starting seeds.

Our collection site for bagged leaves and grass clippings continues to be very successful. This is a clear example of reciprocal generosity: the Sharing Gardens provides free re-used leaf bags and a free site for people to dispose of their yard-waste (which would otherwise end up in burn-piles or the land fill) and we receive as much organic matter as we can use to mulch and feed our gardens. (LINK: Create your own 'veganic' potting mix).

Our collection site for leaves and grass-clippings in front of our wonderful yellow house.

A special thank you to our friend John Kinsey who generated hundreds of pellet-bags of compost for us over the winter and continues to bring us coffee grounds from a local drive-through cafe' every week. Thanks also to Lua who brought us a load of leaf mold (from Harry McCormack at Sunbow Farms - one of the founders of Oregon Tilth and a pioneer in the organics movement) to enhance our garden's fertility.

John Kinsey with garlic "seeds".

Just a fraction of the "tea" John makes from his worm-compost. We use it to feed our plants.

Firewood is our only source of heat, and our primary means of cooking and drying our laundry in the winter. This year we are feeling especially grateful for the community's generosity regarding firewood. We have received donations of wood "rounds" from David and Jo Crosby (who had a couple of oak trees fall down in a bad storm two years ago). Bob and Cheryl Ballard brought us a load of fir to be split. Thank you to the Dussells for the loan of your splitter too!

Chris, splitting firewood.

We are grateful to our five and a half CSA subscribers and to David Roux and Dallice Drake for their $250 scholarship donation which covers most of the second half of the membership to a low-income family who is committed to eating healthy food to stay cancer-free after the Mom contracted an aggressive case several years ago. (She's been cancer-free for over a year now and attributes some of her success to receiving a CSA box last year as well.) Thanks to Catherine Henry who perused our Wish List and keeps finding items we can use.

Thanks to Communities Magazine and Chris Roth, editor - for publishing our article on Veganic Soil Fertility with Local Materials - in their latest issue on "Ecological Culture" Whatever your living situation, whether in a large community or small household, you can adapt these methods to grow food with a lighter footprint on the planet. (LINK to order a copy of the whole issue on Ecological Culture ($5.00 for digital copy. $10 for digital copy and hard copy mailed to you in the USA - see drop down menu) LINK to Global Ecovillage Network - USA - publishers of the magazine.

And last, but not least: thanks to all our unsung partners in garden abundance: the pollinators, bug- and slug-eaters (birds) and the billions of microbes and soil organisms for whom without their contributions, the gardens would soon cease to exist.

If you feel inspired to leave a comment, please do so below so everyone can enjoy it. Thanks.


No comments:

Post a Comment