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Friday, June 10, 2011

Giver's Gallery, Gratitude and Updates

Lettuce ready for planting - April 2011
We've been watching the dramatic weather world-wide; floods, droughts, tornadoes, hurricanes, heat waves and record snows! It seems more important than ever to be helping people learn this basic skill of growing food while building community ties amongst neighbors. We are very grateful for the surge of support that has come to us since we lost greenhouse access and the big grant we applied for. All told, we received close to $2,000 in donations from people near and far. We have also received materials donations and the warming weather here in the Pacific NW has brought out droves of volunteers, both new faces and familiar friends from last year.

Our garden "palette" to choose from - May 2011
We have been moving forward in faith, trusting that there is some greater purpose to recent events. We don't want to miss it by wallowing in regret or judgment. We feel on-purpose again and happy to honor the commitments we have for growing food for those in need, and continuing to develop this model of gardening that builds community and helps increase local food security. We have some exciting prospects calling us forward and are freeing-up our energies to pursue those. Thank you to everyone for your wise words and all the ways you have shown us that this program matters to you. It has really helped.

A few highlights since our last post:

Jan with lettuce for the Food Bank
Harvest has begun: We've begun to harvest from the gardens! The cool, wet spring has been very good for our lettuce and kale. Volunteers have been taking home as much as they can eat, we took thirty lettuce-heads to the food bank last week and another twenty to the Monroe Legion Hall: they serve lunch to seniors twice a week and appreciate the fresh vegetables we're able to provide. The seniors take home whatever isn't used in the lunches. This week's lettuce harvest was over 40 heads!

Llyn with spring's bounty!
Straw delivery: We are extremely grateful to Mark Frystak, a resident of Monroe who saw our recent wishlist posted in the Tribune News and came through with 55 bales of straw for us to begin to mulch the gardens. Everyone agrees that the straw makes the garden look so tidy, volunteers love the dry comfort of weeding from straw paths and the worms, snakes and other garden-friendly wildlife appreciate the food and shelter it provides. We can still use much more straw, and will continue to have need all through the season. We used about 10 tons last year and had about a third less garden in cultivation. If you know of anyone with bales to donate, we can probably arrange for pick-up. Here's a link to our full wish-list.

A-Frame - tomato cages with mulch on the paths
Young people in the garden: The last day of school is June 10 but we're already receiving lots of help from some of the local young people. Weeding, mulching, planting seeds and transplanting starts...all these tasks provide meaningful activity and fun in a town without much else to do after school. One afternoon last week we had five kids stop by; some just to visit, and others to help out.
Seth and Ricardo take lettuce home to their families after helping us mulch the garden paths
Volunteers: We've got some new faces and many of the core group of volunteers coming back from last year. Today we had five people helping with the harvest and other tasks. These included Pastor Mark Peterson from the nearby Monroe Church of Christ, Jim and Cindy Kitchen who are the coordinators for a garden modeled after the Sharing Gardens, in Corvallis and Larry Winiarski who went above and beyond the call of duty and patiently took apart our donated lawnmower that hasn't been working at all this season. He finally sleuthed out the problem and got her running! Now maybe our garden paths won't look quite so shaggy. Thanks to all the rest of you who have been coming out to help.

Jan, spreading mulch
Jennifer and Llyn planting tomatoes
Larry (the lawnmower doctor) starting seeds at the Monroe garden
The gardens are starting to take shape. We've been preparing beds and planting almost every day. Here are some pictures of the garden's progress:
"Butter Crunch" lettuce
Pepper plants interspersed with red lettuce. The lettuce will be harvested before the peppers get too big.

Much thanks too to all the people bringing us your used pots and flats. We're glad to give them new life. Phyllis Derr has been calling us to pick up her lawn clippings in Monroe. We use them to mulch. We've received financial donations since our last post from Jennie and Kris Rhoads, Craig Erken, Karen Josephson, Angee Costa and Chuck and Betty Conway. And thanks to Steve Rose who, once again has grown hundreds of tomato starts which he gives away to food-bank recipients, volunteers and provides us with the surplus at the Sharing Gardens. 

It looks like we'll have quite a few extra tomatoes to give away. First come, first served. Stop on by the Monroe garden during volunteer times if you'd like to take some home to your own garden.