Our new and improved site

(with the same content as this one, AND MORE!) is

www.The SharingGardens.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Alpine Park Clean-Up - Giver's Gallery

The Alpine Park Clean-Up was fun for all who attended. There were many of the usual faces and quite a few new ones as well. The main focus was on mowing and raking the grass to be used as mulch in the Sharing Gardens. We are very grateful to Diamond Woods Golf Course on Territorial Rd for their generous loan of a ride-on lawnmower for the park's use, for a second summer in a row. Also in attendance at the clean-up (but not pictured) were Dorothy Brinckerhoff, Gary Weems, Ida May Foster and Elaine O'Brien. Here are some pictures:

Jack Jones on the lawn mower - on loan from "Diamond Woods" golf course

Peggy rakes grass

George loads it into the bins.
Celeste Jones, with a rake and a smile.
Her sister Cypress gathering grass-mulch

Stacy Ann, another sister, also helps out.

And brother, Shamus Jones, pulls weeds in the garden.
Basically, we figure, if you want to get the job done in Alpine, call the Jones family!

Celeste, Joanne and Cypress Jones in the park.
It's a challenge, "keeping up with the Joneses"!

The tree to the left was planted in spring of 2009 in honor of Alta Rainey who founded the park in the late 1960's. She always loved dogwoods. This spring is the first time it has bloomed.

We've been so busy in the gardens that we haven't had time to post these other pictures of volunteers who have been helping with the Sharing Gardens this spring. Here's a sample of our happy helpers:

Rann, Doreen and Eva, transplanting in the greenhouse - March 2010
Volunteer Danielle with plants for her garden.
Floy Alexander, 91, has lived outside of Alpine for close to 60 years. She happily receives some starts to plant in her garden.
Orvel and Rann trimming bamboo for the pole beans to grow on.
Timothy prepares beds with a spading fork.
Ismael helps Chris repair the water pipe in Monroe.
Steve Rose, at the Food Bank, giving away tomato plants from his greenhouse.

 It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Letter From Montana - USA

Dear Sharing Garden Coordinators,

First, I would like to congratulate you on your hard work, innovation, and obvious compassion for community.  Good work deserves good thanks, whether it happens in your own backyard or across the country!

Upon seeing your Sharing Garden featured in the most recent ACGA newsletter I was pleased to find a community garden project similar to the organization I am a VISTA Member with in Southwest Montana.  I was even more pleased to learn that your project operates in a setting equally as rural as my own!  (I hope that you will take the time to look into our project, called Jackson's Garden, in Sheridan Montana.)  Despite my best efforts, I have found evidence of very few gardens like yours and ours.  I'm not sure if this is simply lack of exposure, or if we really are as rare as I think.  But either way, it's a concept that I think deserves much more attention that it has received.

I believe that there has been too little attention paid to the rural community gardening.  Because of the the wider availability of land and prevalence of traditional skill sets in subsistence agriculture, the concept of small plot community gardening as it has been established in urban settings seems hardly applicable.  The truth is that the reasons for community gardening in a rural setting are different, though related, to those of urban settings.  And because of this, and many misconceptions about rural lifestyles, the community gardening movement tends to overlook us.

I believe, as I think you might, that a Sharing Garden, or Communal Gardening as we refer to our project, is the most applicable model to rural settings, and I'm quite convinced that this model needs to be promoted and shared with other communities.  While I see some differences in the way our two projects are run, the basic concept is the same - grow your food together and you grow more food, and build more community.  My observations lead me to believe that there are some very specific aspects of rural lifestyle that make this model not only possible but the most effective method of putting food on our community's table.

Yet sadly, community gardening advocates and researchers pay little attention to the communal or shared gardening method and rural community gardening in general.  Did you know that the last peer reviewed academic paper to appear on rural community gardening was published in 1999?  Since then, the research community, which has time and time again proven the benefits of urban community gardening, has done little more than mention our cause along side their larger concerns.

There are few things that I think we, as advocates for rural communities, can and should do.  The first is that I think we need to reach out to similar projects and similar communities, and establish a network of rural community gardens through which we can share insights, ideas, troubles, and celebrate our unique and profound achievements together.  To this end, I have contacted the American Community Gardening Association and requested information regarding rural community gardens and sharing gardens and hope to begin bringing together similar projects in an online community soon.

But we also need to be outspoken advocates for this concept within the greater community gardening and food security movement.  In my mind and perhaps in yours, this method is all but proven to increase food security, build healthier people, and bring together communities - and we we need to share this!  In June, I will be presenting a case study of Jackson's Garden at Food and Agriculture Under the Big Sky, a joint conference of three research societies centering around food and agriculture.  I would like to use this opportunity to spark the discussion about rural community gardening.  You can help by sending me information on your organization and work that I can use as part of my presentation.  I sincerely hope that we will be able to engage the research community in a dialogue about the importance of rural community gardening.

What our projects do for our communities is no simple, easy to summarize thing.  I am constantly challenged when visitors to Jackson's Garden ask, "So what is this place???" - because the simple answer ("It's a community garden") just doesn't seem to sum it up quite right.  My hope is that by our continued dialogue and sharing of ideas, we can establish a concept as well recognized as that of the individual plot community garden.  But my greatest hope is that someday, sharing gardens like yours and ours will be a regular, recognized feature of the rural lifestyle.

I think that the seeds our communities have sown to protect their own food security can be harvested as part of a larger movement that will benefit many, and I hope you will agree.

Yours in Solidarity,

Marguerite Jodry
AmeriCorps VISTA
Ruby Valley Community Food Project
Sheridan, MT
(406) 596-0492
Alpine Park Clean-up Day and "Potluck" Picnic

Volunteers from 2009 Alpine Park Clean-up Day
The Alpine Park was established in the 1960's by local residents. It is maintained entirely through the efforts of volunteers. Come and meet your "neighbors" and share in the fun of caring for this little park gem. We'll be weeding, pruning, raking and making the park beautiful in time for Memorial Day weekend when visitors come and pay their respects at the Alpine Cemetery up the hill. After the work is done we'll have a potluck picnic lunch for those who want to enjoy each others company for a little while longer.

When: Saturday May 21, 2011 ~ 9:00 - 12:00
Where: Alpine Chapel Park - across from the Elementary School

            (for directions, Mapquest or Google the school: 25114
            Alpine Rd, 97456)
Bring: Gloves, landscaping tools, sunhat, drinking water, potluck dish, dishes to eat on.

Steve Rose painting door - Clean-Up 2010

Monday, May 16, 2011

Growing Gratitude

We have so much to be grateful for. The Sharing Gardens community--near and far--have been showing their support for the project.

Chris paints garden benches made from recycled materials, and refurbishes the donated trailer.
Our local weekly paper, The Tribune News continues to publish frequent articles about us. Many of the donations listed below have come as a result.

Fabric for the Great Monroe Autumn Leaf Drive was donated by Danette Puhek of Alpine. She gave us a huge role of a canvas-type material that can be sewn up by volunteers to make leaf bags. Our intention is to distribute these around town once the leaves have begun to fall and come back later to gather them for garden-mulching. Leaves provide valuable organic matter to improve the quality of the garden-soil and feed our "micro-livestock", the worms, bugs and bacteria that add their valuable "manure" to our gardens. The colorful, reusable leaf bags will provide a visual demonstration of our whole town's participation in growing food to share. (More fabric is still needed - see our wish list).

John Dillard, owner and manager of Monroe Telephone Company read our wish-list published in the The Tribune News paper and has offered his company's services to laminate signs we can post around the Gardens for people's information. We'll print the signs from our computer and bring them over to them for laminating.

Greenhouse/nursery donations: The Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture at Oregon State University -  nursery pots and flats (thanks Cody, for setting that up!). Barbara Standley of Santa Clara - pressure-treated lumber, saw-horses and nursery table tops. Eva Fife - straw bales for the muddy greenhouse paths, and help with transplanting. Knife River Corporationalmost $3,000 worth of gravel to expand the parking capacity where the greenhouse is located. Cindy Cantor for taking over the watering of all the starts.

Garden supplies and plant materials: Bodhi - about a dozen raspberry plants from his Eugene garden. Jason and Christine - sprouting potatoes. Laurie and Warren Halsey - ten gallons of gray house-paint. (We gave half of it to the Monroe Food Bank to spruce up their interior after they did renovations; we're using some to refurbish the trailer donated to the project earlier in the season by Dick and Jan Skirvin.) Gary Glore has brought us two plastic compost bins to process vegetable waste/kitchen scraps. We've put them at the Crowson/Monroe site.

Thanks to Mylrea Estell for the bicycle that Chris can use to travel to the gardens and back to our home, cutting down on the use of gas to drive our truck, and increasing our fitness as well.

Since we were denied grant-funding, we added a donation button on our website. We have had a strong initial response from supporters both near and far. We'd like to thank Dick and Helen Hewitt, Cathy Rose, Marian Spadone, Rann and Doreen Millar and Sue and Scott Peabody-Hewitt, Claudia McCue and Judy Peabody for their generosity. If you would like to donate, just click on the button below or mail a check to

Sunlit cabbage leaf
Sharing Gardens
PO Box 11
Monroe, OR 97456

Please indicate if you need a tax-receipt.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Comment from Denmark

Here is a comment that was made on the Peak Moment site after this person from Denmark watched our interview: 

Tonny Nielsen Says:
  1. How amazingly lovely, I've dreamt of gardens like this, but here in Denmark we are rapidly converting our, once greatly productive agriculture, into what america have been doing (we even call it Americanization, as you would call the integration of imigrants into your culture, as in we are embracing your culture with both good and dire consequences), completely ignoring stuff like the great dust bowl and degradation of topsoil on huge areas in your country. As expected we initially saw a great boost in production, but now soils are getting toxic, Roundup is reaching our groundwater (we were blessed with clean enough groundwater to just pump it up and drink it without cleansing it, those days are rapidly coming to and end as up to 400 wells are getting closed due to pollution every year, this in a country the size of 16,621 square miles, roughly twice the size of Massachusetts). We now, for the first time in 80 years of recorded agricultural history, are getting less and less every year, in terms of harvest.

    I wish this catches on like a wildfire and spreads around the globe so our soils can be rebuilt from the salty hell of synthetic fertilizer.

    With love, sharing and community, I'm imagining . Thank you Chris and Llyn for your very inspirational work/fun. :)

    Sincerely Tonny

There's No Competition on the Giving Side of Life!

The Garden's Bounty
Many people may have a mis-perception about the Sharing Gardens and how they work. As it says in our Overview, "All materials and labor are donated. The food we grow is shared amongst those who have contributed in some way as well as others who are in need in our community. All surplus is donated to our local food-bank. No one is ever charged money for the food that is grown." Even though it clearly says that the food we grow "is shared amongst those who have contributed in some way," we realized in this conversation with our neighbors,  that many local people, who are not particularly suffering financially have held back on participating, or feeling OK about receiving harvest from the garden because of their perception that the primary purpose of the Gardens is to feed "those in need."
First of all, while our guiding purpose is to feed "those in need", even last year, with about half of the garden space we'll have in cultivation this year, we managed to grow and give away about 5,000 pounds of food! (That figure included both the volunteers and the Food Bank recipients.) One of our greatest challenges last year, as the Food Bank was closing up each week, was to find people to take home all the fresh produce that was still left over! Growing food in the style of sharing creates tremendous abundance and "rising waters lift all ships." Even if you or your family is not in dire financial circumstances, you are still welcome to participate in the growing of food and sharing in the bounty. There is plenty to go around!

Secondly, there are many less-material benefits to those who volunteer in the gardens that go beyond the amount of food you would be able to take home with you in harvest times. Getting your hands in the soil, moving your body as you prepare the ground, pulling weeds and harvesting--all contribute to your physical health and well-being. Sharing in conversation, meeting the other volunteers and making new connections is good for you emotionally. Learning how to grow your own food organically and having stimulating conversations about the current world-situation while pulling weeds or picking beans, is good for your mind. And stepping into active service; giving without a specific calculation of what you'll get in return is just plain good for the soul!

Conversation in the bean-patch.

As the weather becomes more pleasant, we will begin to have regular times to gather and grow food in the gardens. It's not too late to be added to our email list to be informed of where and when we'll be in the gardens. Just email us at: shareinjoy@gmail.com and let us know you want to be added to the volunteer list.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Free Farm Stand Needs Our Help

Free Farm Stand, in San Francisco - A variation on the Sharing Gardens theme
There is a project in the heart of San Francisco, that started around the same time as the Alpine and Monroe Sharing Gardens, that has very similar aims and values. Not only do they grow food in large, shared garden plots with volunteers and donated materials but they have a weekly Free Farm Stand that has become a channel for many other community gardens and local farmers with surplus food to give away to those in need.

It's founder, Tree, has become a friend and support for the project we are doing and we have exchanged many emails since we first found each other a year or so ago. His project, the Free Farm and Free Farm Stand, is one in five finalists for the Citizen of Tomorrow Award from The Bay Citizen. He, and the many participants of the project would appreciate it if you'd go to the following link and cast a vote.  Link to citizen of tomorrow voting  The Free Farm/Stand is the third project. You can vote as often as once a day until May 16th.

Please spread the word!