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

Monday, April 24, 2023

Garden news and Springtime LINKS

We have so much to be grateful for at this time of year.

Our greenhouses are filling up with beautiful plants, both in the raised beds, and on our potting tables. We've been eating and sharing lettuce and green onions for the past month with our share-givers and the Monroe Food Pantry. Our kale and collard plants (outside) have been producing such healthy, good food all winter. We finally picked the last of the kale raab (flowers) - a highly nutritious form of the plant before it goes to seed. Here's a link to our post about why it's important to eat organically grown kale; Kale, again makes the Dirty Dozen - LINK, and How to Grow Kale - LINK

Lettuce harvest in front of our Ark greenhouse. We've eaten and shared over 45 pounds of lettuce so far this season and we're still planting more!

Slo-bolt lettuce on the left, potatoes coming up in the center (it's an experiment to grow them in our greenhouse) and Chris planting onions on the right. April 24, 2023

We have a deepening collaboration with Lua Siegel (left) and the Luckiamute Valley Charter School gardening programs (both grade- and middle-school sites). We're very excited about the reciprocal generosity we feel with this project. Read about it here.

If you're local and would like information on our grass-clipping drop-off site (right) or volunteering at the gardens, Click here: Local News: Grass-clippings drop-off, volunteering, gratitude 

Here's an idea for people who are wanting to jump into gardening but without the expense of building raised beds. This system only requires cardboard boxes, chicken wire and burlap. Instant raised beds: An attractive, inexpensive idea
Why pay for a gym membership when you can work out in your garden instead!
Gym, no! Garden, yes!

​We wish to extend blessings to everyone reading this, Llyn and Chris​

Local News: Grass-clippings drop-off, volunteering, gratitude

This post features locally relevant news: Where to bring your grass-clippings, how to volunteer in the gardens and continued gratitude for the support we feel from our local community. Much thanks!

Grass clippings: Thank you to our neighbors, the Dillards for having their yard work guy - Chuey - bring us their surplus grass-clippings. And thank you Chuey for bringing those, and from your other local clients as well. This is a real win-win because in our small rural town, there is no yard-waste pick-up service. Many people have no way of disposing of grass-clippings on their own land and so without our drop-off site it ends up in landfills, burn piles or must be driven 30-miles to the nearest urban large-scale composting site and "donated" for a fee.  

Thank you too, to the mystery people who have begun to bring us your bagged grass-clippings this season. Grass clippings are a major source of garden mulch and fertility. Here's Donn (left) spreading them in our Sunship greenhouse paths.

Grass-clipping donations: We have a drop-off site under the big hickory tree in front of the gardens. Please, no sticks, loose weeds, trash or thorny-plants. Don't fill the bags too full or tie them. We hang the used bags to dry and re-distribute them for free (in the trashcan at the base of the hickory). Feel free to take as many recycled bags as you can use.

Our drop-off site for leaves and grass.

People have begun to ask us about helping in the gardens this summer. Because of the cool, wet spring, all our garden activity has been confined to our greenhouses and we've been able to manage them ourselves, with the wonderful committed help of Donn and Jewels who have come almost weekly throughout the late fall and winter. If joining in the fun of growing food and learning gardening methods that are light on the Earth; sharing in the harvest and helping us to grow food to give away to local food charities sounds like something you'd enjoy, send us an email and we'll let you know when there's more to do in the gardens, later in the spring. LINK to volunteer info

We want to extend a special thanks to our friend Rook (right), who's been participating in the gardens as a share-giver since 2016 and who works at  Safeway's deli in nearby Junction City has made it a point to collect clean, food-grade 5-gallon buckets for us. These are great for collecting rain-water as we can be sure there are no harmful residues in the buckets. Rook has also been collecting used coffee-grounds from the coffee-shop at his work and completely filled both our 30-gallon bins this winter. We use the coffee-grounds as a soil amendment (Coffee Grounds and Wood Ash for Soil Fertility).

Thursday, April 20, 2023

A new collaboration: Mutual-generosity

We're very happy to announce a growing partnership between the Sharing Gardens and the Luckiamute Valley Charter School Gardening Program. The head gardening teacher, Lua Siegel, is a real gem and shares so many of our values and vision for a healthier, mutually-caring world. The two school gardens (grade school and middle school) are grown using organic methods. Lua coordinates with the school's science teachers to create relevant lesson-plans. LVCS Garden projects have included such diverse activities as building Hugelkulture mounds and using hydroponic tables to grow winter greens. (Left: a child from LVCS sampling collards, right out of the garden!)

The garden program has a regular feature of exposing kids to new foods, either plain, or in recipes the students help prepare themselves. Last fall, the school gardens produced enough surplus tomatoes for them to preserve through canning. These were then used to cook meals for the students throughout the winter. Lua's program is truly full-circle: from seed to table. (Rt: a platter of foods to sample)

Lua is always finding new ways to encourage participation from the parents in the school community. This year she has secured funding to install ten cedar raised beds at the homes of ten school families. Any parent who volunteers at all in the school gardens has been entered in a drawing to win one of the raised beds. (LFT: more sample foods from the school gardens)

The Sharing Gardens is supporting Luckiamute VCS both through a cash grant and by growing 'starts' both for the gardens at school and for the families who receive a raised bed from the drawing. Our only regret in this partnership is that our gardens are so far apart. (They're about an hour's drive north of us). (That's Lua and llyn with last year's starts-to the right)

We met Lua several years ago when she answered a Craig's list ad we placed, giving away free building materials for another garden program she was overseeing at the time. One thing we've always appreciated about her is her commitment to reciprocity, or "mutual generosity". Early on in our relationship she began asking us if there was anything we needed. Over the years she has loaded her pick-up truck with leaf-mold (compost made from decomposing leaves) that she purchases from a local organic farm (who makes it from surplus leaves gathered by city-workers in Corvallis). The leaf mold is an excellent mulch for our potatoes and other heavy feeders as the plants receive a slow-release fertilizer as we water through it. (More student food sampling - Left)

Lua, unloading leaf mold compost, 2022.
It just so happens Lua will be bringing us a load of leaf-mold at the end of the month for college students to unload for us. This leads us to another partnership we have in the community: Oregon State University, in Corvallis, invited us to participate in another "service learning" project with one of their Soil-science classes this spring. Service Learning is a great OSU program where students receive college credit for performing relevant volunteer work in the surrounding community Service Learning LINK. We've been hosting groups since 2013: six students for four hours. They learn a bit about organic gardening, feel the joy of being in service and get a lot done!

OSU service-learning students loading buckets of compost to build squash mounds.
Carrying compost...
Turning the compost piles...
...and bringing in the harvest.
With the Luckiamute Valley Charter School garden program, we're just really grateful to have a found such an appreciative outlet for the Sharing Gardens surplus 'starts' and other resources we can channel their way. For more information, here is their Facebook page.

Blessings to all who are reading this.  Llyn and Chris