Thursday, October 8, 2009

Yesterday afternoon, after an extended game of phone tag that lasted a few weeks, I finally visited the King of Glory Community Garden and met with Mark Drew. Located on land donated by the King of Glory Lutheran Church, this garden is mainly tailored to refugees but it also serves a few local Boise families. There are 12 family plots total, and there are hopes to expand in the next growing season. When plans for a community garden were announced, 30 families expressed interest. The land is available, but, as Mark explained to me, the water constraints limit the growing area considerably. He told me about water laws in Idaho, which I knew very little about before.
For those of you who know all of this already, bear with me... I'm learning something new every day! Essentially the area that was settled first has first rights to the water... no sharing, no compromising. The system is archaic but it still remains. This means, as Mark told me, they pay a certain amount of money each month for water they can't use. So the prospects of expanding are limited; because of their water set-up they would have to install some sort of spigot or something to allow the water to reach far enough. As you can imagine, this is a very expensive proposition.
He gave me a number of wonderful ideas. For instance, I brought up the possibility of funneling volunteers from the Foodbank to help in community gardens. He took this idea further; volunteers would be more efficient if they were more organized, maybe in core groups around the Treasure Valley. If we could somehow have a reliable group of volunteers that community gardeners could use, or some system of that nature, it would be a very efficient use of volunteer time.
He also suggested having some sort of greenhouse space for community gardeners to grow seeds and veggie starts. That's something I never even thought of. If people don't have the land to grow a garden themselves, they probably don't have the space to start seeds on a large scale, either. This could be trickier to accomplish... but I really like the idea and I'm going to see what I can do with it. Maybe we won't have a greenhouse exactly, but perhaps I could coordinate with local businesses and nurseries and somehow get space...
Another idea he had pertains especially to refugees, but also to anyone else unfamiliar with cooking and gardening. Some information, translated into several languages, on what grows in Idaho and how to use it once you pick it would be very, very beneficial. If people are coming from other places, how are they going to know what kind of food grows here? And how are they going to know how to prepare it? Because really, what gardening comes down to is eating. If you can't eat what you grow, the point of having a garden is nearly moot. This is where translation comes in. Maybe we could somehow develop pamphlets in Russian, Swahili, Spanish, and of course English. I cook often, but even I don't know how to prepare some of those vegetables!
My head is spinning with all these ideas, and the time has come to start acting on them. Another step in this process is the start of applying for Service Learning. It could be highly beneficial to me to partner with a Service Learning class and get some publicity!
There are so many possibilities that I need to be careful not to get caught up in the details. I only have a year or so to do this, and whoever follows me can continue where I left off and take it in a different direction. One step at a time...

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