Monday, February 14, 2011

Know Your Gardeners

Here is a great article about Larry and his gardening endeavors by Clark Semmes on the Mt. Washington Blog.

The direct link is:

Summary of the First Meeting by Naomi

I am copying my notes from our first meeting, originally sent in via e-mail:

Dear Neighbors:

We had our first get-together and planning meeting this afternoon. I am writing a synopsis of what transpired for both those who attended and those who were not able to be there.

LAND: Naomi's piece of property does not receive sufficient sunlight throughout the day nor is it large enough to accommodate our large group. Various alternatives were discussed and, at Larry's suggestion, we will be contacting Springwell Senior Living Community (formerly the Weslyan) about use of their property for a community garden. If anyone has any contacts at Springwell, please notify Naomi. Larry, Phoebe, Cheri, and Naomi will make the proposal to Springwell. Our hope is to create a partnership in which Springwell gives us land use in exchange for produce and the opportunity for their residents to participate in the garden.

COMMUNICATIONS: Dinah volunteered to create a list-serve for the 26 Mount Washington families who are interested in participating in this project. Naomi will supply her with all e-mail addresses.

TIME: Larry described several models for community gardens. Given his experience he anticipates that, once we are up and running, gardeners would need to volunteer to work together once every two weeks, on a weekend day for about an hour or two. We need to expect to give a larger time commitment initially to create the garden and at the end of the season during harvest time. Our optimistic goal is to be able to begin planting in the middle of March for spring harvest. Regardless, we will be planting in May for summer harvesting vegetables.

MONEY: Larry outlined the initial up-front expenses for creating a vegetable garden. Supplies will include lumber, soil, irrigation supplies, and plants and seeds. While we may explore applying for grants (e.g. Parks & People) and approaching the Mount Washington Improvement Association for funds, each household should expect to contribute approximately $50 in order to participate. Until we know the exact number of households and cost of materials, this is an estimate only.

WHO WE ARE: Most of the group at the meeting had dabbled in vegetable or herb gardening and the majority had some success. One member teaches gardening. Few had sunny space in their yards appropriate for vegetable gardening. There was a real interest in learning more, learning by doing, and being part of a community project. The group is diverse in its interests and skills and offers were made to teach the group how to can vegetables, how to cook Indian vegetarian dishes, and receiving discounts on gardening books from the owner of Brief Books.

We will meet again once we determine whether Springwell will allow us to farm their land.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Starting Our Group

We had a start-up meeting at Naomi's house today. Eleven families were represented and some of us have had no experience with growing vegetables, while others have had extensive experience. Larry is the group mentor, and he started several community gardens and had a great take on what needs to be done both from the aspect of a community organizer and as a master gardener.

From here we need a plot and several members agreed to approach the Wesley Homes (Springwell) about the possibility of partnering with them. We also discussed the possibility of Northwest Park--- Mt. Washington has a shortage of sunny plots because of all our trees! Phoebe, Naomi, Cheri, and Larry will approach them to start a dialogue. Catherine and Phoebe will first find the contact names. The point was made that we should see what other communities are doing so we can learn from them (and avoid their mistakes) and this blog is set up in the hopes of getting input from community vegetable gardeners in other places.

There was a lot of energy and a lot of excited people with experience and great ideas. I'm not doing the best job of reporting on the details of what happened because I didn't take notes and I don't want to get it wrong, but this is to start our blog going.