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

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

1 comment:

  1. Reading about these mutual generosity relationships and interconnectedness of communities really lifts my heart!


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