Monday, August 31, 2009

Life is full of produce!

To continue our tour of area gardens, Cindy and I went to the Synagogue garden by the Ahavath Beth Israel Synagogue. This is a garden solely for refugees, and in its present state it serves 21 refugee families. The majority of these families are Somali Bantu, although there are a few families from Afghanistan and other areas. At the beginning of the season, many volunteers are needed to help set things up, and the coordinator, Aimee Moran, makes sure that the refugees have sufficient donations, etc. Volunteers are also needed at the end of the season to clean everything up. Besides that, however, the gardening is left entirely up to the refugees themselves. Which, clearly, is the way it should be. They are allowed to grow whatever they want however they want, and they maintain it throughout the season. This attitude is important to remember when doing community garden work; from the perspective of the Foodbank, for example, it would be far too easy to regulate things too closely, and to require gardeners to donate some of their produce to us. Be that as it may, the most sustainable community gardening technique is to let the locals run it. Generally, they will have a much better idea of what works in their area than an outsider would, anyway.
While we were there, a lovely woman from Ukraine loaded us down with vegetables from her garden. We received fresh parsley, all sorts of tomatoes, squash, hot peppers, zucchini, and cucumbers. This food was a perfect addition to the basil and oregano I had from the Community Tapestry Garden on Wednesday! On Friday I mixed everything together and made some spaghetti sauce from scratch. It was delicious, and not very complicated to make. It was amazing to have such fresh ingredients (not to mention free)!
We asked the coordinator of the garden, Aimee Moran, what her needs for the garden are. She told us the need for volunteers at the start and end of the season, and mentioned having volunteers to help clean up the commons area in the garden. She also mentioned that it would be great to have some kind of hands-on, how-to classes. This is a great idea, and while I had thought of it beforehand I need to pursue it. If the Foodbank is going to offer all sorts of other resources, why not free classes?? We have the resource of Master Gardeners and possibly even Boise State students. Why not arrange for horticulture students to get credit by teaching others how to garden? We also have the resource of local farmers, who clearly, could be of great help (If they can spare time, of course! Having been on a farm myself I know how busy it is). Just some ideas to throw around! There's often so much local wealth in a community if you just take the time to look around you.
I did remember my camera, but I took a lousy picture and ended up using the one from their website instead... oh well!

On the Food Stamps topic again, Boise State Radio/NPR News is doing a story on Food Stamps. They want to go shopping with someone who has a Food Stamp budget, so I volunteered. Maybe somehow I can get myself onto the radio...? I'm not counting on it, but it would be great to be able to talk on Boise radio about community gardens... we shall see!

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