Monday, November 30, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!
I spent a few days relaxing up in northern Minnesota. The lack of snow was distressing, but the warmer weather meant I could spend a lot of time by Lake Superior.
After a much-needed break, I feel ready to dive in to the tasks ahead! Christmas is less than a month away and I have many things I need to accomplish before then, especially since I will be spending more vacation time with family.
The volunteer meeting is right around the corner (December 9th at 7 PM! Here at the Foodbank, 3562 S TK Ave in Boise! Food provided! Should be pretty low-key) and I hope to hold the first meeting of the Garden Committee as well. I also need to start seriously planning for the Community Seed Swap, which is coming up in February (mark your calenders!! Exact date still to be determined, but I'll put it up here as soon as I meet with Edward's).
Tell your friends! Become a fan of my Facebook page and join my Facebook group (both called Idaho Foodbank Community Gardens)! Haha, how much more advertising can I do? :)
I'm going to put up an ad on Craigslist as well and submit something to the Boise Weekly. I'm really excited to meet other people interested in gardening, and to hear other people's input! I'm tired of only hearing my own ideas all the time. This is meant to be a project for the community, and will not be the efforts of just one person.

On a side note, I can't believe it'll be December tomorrow... as I mentioned before, there's still part of me that's stuck on a student's schedule. And since I haven't started school yet, there's some area of my brain that still thinks it's early September... not quite!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hey folks, it's the holiday season!

It's now late November, which means... we are in the holiday season! Which means... Thanksgiving is this week!
Tomorrow I will hop on a plane and head up north to Minnesota for a few days. As much as I love Boise and as much as I love my job, I'm looking forward to a few days of relaxing, (hopefully) playing in the snow, playing with dogs, and eating. Ohhhhh the eating. Turkey doesn't really mesh with my mostly-vegetarian lifestyle (and I've never really liked the way it tastes, anyway), so as an alternative to turkey I'm going to make some vegetarian tacos.
That just goes to show there are lots of ways to celebrate the holiday. So no matter what you're doing for Thanksgiving (if anything!), the important thing is to enjoy yourself, and whether you spend it with family or friends, remember that home can be anywhere you make it.
And now, I'm signing off, and I'll be back again on Monday morning. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Calling All Interested Citizens!

What: First Ever Idaho Foodbank Community Gardens Interested Citizens Meeting
When: Dec 9th, 7:30 PM
Where: Idaho Foodbank, 3562 S TK Ave Boise, ID

I know, it's a mouthful. That's right, I've set a date. And seeing as I'll be gone for a few days due to Thanksgiving, I better get the word out now...!
I hope, with this meeting, to start making the public aware that this program exists and to start recruiting volunteers. Even if you have little to no experience in gardening, or even if you don't want to get your hands dirty but would still like to help out somehow, there's something for you to do.
I would also like to open up a part of this meeting to hear people's ideas! This program is brand new, and while I have some set paths I would like to take it's very open to interpretation and new ideas. Let me know where you'd like to see it go! I'm listening with open ears! This program is based and founded on the idea of community, and therefore would be useless without the community's input.
Oh yes, and there will be food. I still have the college mentality: People will only come if there's free food. Maybe that's not a reflection of the real world, but it can't hurt, right? :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Great, Wide Beyond

The other night, a friend and I climbed to the top of a foothill near my house. Though I went for drives all over the mountains when I first came to Boise, I had not yet been to the foothills that were only 5 blocks from my house... for the same reason I went to college in Wisconsin, 2 hours from Chicago, but never actually visited the city itself. Now that I know what there is to explore in that foothill I will be there often...

The point of this trip was to sit on the top of the hill and watch the meteor shower. We did this for a little while, but I was obligated to go to sleep before its peak at 2 AM in order to be awake for work. However, I was not disappointed. The first meteor we saw, which streaked across the sky like a flare, was the largest meteor I have ever seen.

As a physical geographer (I majored in enviornmental/physical geography in college) and a gardening enthusiast, I am constantly in awe of nature. It never disappoints me. Whether something as grand as a meteor or as small and intricate as a seed, I find all of it amazing and fascinating. After studying the smallest shred of botany in college and taking my physical geography classes, I find that looking at things scientifically and having an idea of how they work makes them more interesting.

But you don't have to be a "scientist" to enjoy nature. I was enjoying it long before I knew how anything worked. Gardening, especially, is whatever you want it to be. Enjoying it because you can feed yourself or enjoying it because you like to watch flowers grow are both legitimate reasons.

The reasons for gardening are as varied and complicated as people themselves. You may ask, what does a meteor have to do with gardening? The answer is, everything is connected. By starting a garden, you are plugging yourself into the natural world and connecting yourself on some level with the great, wide beyond.
And I think, personally, that that's absolutely amazing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

This morning I met with Kim Metez. She runs the one-woman operation known as the Abundance Project, which started this past summer. The program is essentially very simple: she decided that she wanted to get extra garden produce to refugees in Boise. Through her efforts and her efforts alone, she talked to local gardeners and farmers. She picked up and delivered the donated produce by herself, on her own time. This was based on a first-come/first serve system. She hopes that as the program becomes more established, more people will know about it, and she can set up a system for people who would like to volunteer. This is yet another sign that if you want to do something, you just have to do it. It will be hard and frustrating, but it's not out of your reach.

She also offered to help me host an upcoming Garden Committee meeting. The date is yet to be determined, but the idea is that growers in and around Boise can get together, meet each other, and we can brainstorm. Because who would know better where this program should go than the growers themselves? I don't claim to be an expert. I want to do what I can for them, and I need their input.

I look forward to working with the Abundance Project, because Kim clearly has what it takes to get things done. We're currently mailing people all over Boise to update the Master Contact list. I've written up an agenda for the meeting and I finally have a clear idea of what I would like to accomplish, and I think I know how to run it so it isn't tedious (I hate tedious meetings... why would I want to put someone through that?). I have never really run a meeting in my life, and I suspect that a meeting of volunteers versus a meeting of the Garden Committee may be different... different set of folks with a different set of knowledge. Though really, we're all people, aren't we? So they may not be very different after all :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Good News!!

This past Tuesday, I drove out to Edward's Greenhouse to have a meeting there. Now I may have mentioned this before, but just in case, I'll say it again. I am from Minnesota, in other words, land of the Midwest where you don't ask for things. Therefore I have never asked for a donation in my life, and I wasn't entirely sure where this meeting would go.
Almost as soon as I sat down with Anju Lucas, one of the managers, she asked me straight out "What do you want from us?" I stuttered and mumbled something about the Community Seed Swap in February. She immediately asked me if I needed a place to hold it, and if I would need anything donated. I was, frankly, fairly flabbergasted. I feel like I've been spoiled for all my future non-profit dealings... I didn't even have to ask for anything! Who knew it was this easy to get donations?!
Moral of the story, the Community Seed Swap now has a venue and a sponsor. They told me they're on board for whatever I want to do, and I just need to call them as the event gets closer. This is such great news... I had never been to Edward's before, and as anyone who has been there knows, the facilities are incredible. What a place to start off the growing season!!
Things are also progressing in other ways. I spent most of yesterday before lunch walking around downtown and Hyde Park putting up flyers (with the gracious help of one of my friends). I also sent an e-mail to the Boise Weekly, and I hope to have something in the Idaho Statesman. Edward's have also said they will help with advertising, and when I met with Anju she gave me a number of leads.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Changing your diet is a very intimidating and complicated prospect all on its own. If you throw a garden into the mix, things get even more confusing. It's a lot of work just to plant a garden, maintain it, and harvest everything. Then once you harvest it, there are a number of things you can do with it: sell it, save it, cook it, eat it,...
So say you decide you want to eat it. What if you've very recently left the microwaveable world that so many of us know? What if you have no idea how to cook squash or zucchini or eggplant?
Part of eating healthy produce from a garden is learning what to do with it once it's in your kitchen. Understandably, this can be very, very intimidating for some people. It was for me, and it still can be at times! Sometimes when you read something in a cookbook it can sound impossible or even scary. In my case, for instance, I had a pumpkin and I wanted to make pumpkin muffins from scratch. I had no idea how to prepare a pumpkin from scratch, so I consulted The Joy of Cooking (that has information on any food ever). Their description sounded not only complicated, but scary. I ended up consulting my roommate instead and once I did it, it was not very hard.
So where am I going with this, you ask. I have begun a new portion of this project which, as a food enthusiast and lover of cooking, I am extremely excited about. I'm attempting to make some pamphlets for gardeners of certain vegetables that briefly explain optimum planting conditions (As a source I'm using "The Organic Gardener's Complete Guide to Vegetables and Fruits"), common ways that people eat whatever vegetable it is (fried, sauteed, etc.), and then including a recipe. I am purposely trying to pick recipes that are interesting and not so hard they would make Julia Child cringe. I hope, these pamphlets will be brief enough to be accessible and informational enough to be useful. In order for good food to be available, people need to know what to do with it. Eventually I would like to translate the pamphlets so that the refugee population can access them as well. In their case, they may never have seen our vegetables before.
Just for the record, I can't take credit for this idea! Mark Drew from the King of Glory Lutheran Church garden suggested it during our meeting. I thought it was a fantastic idea, so now I am attempting to do it justice! I'd like to have some paper copies available and post them on the website (which is taking shape, coincidentally!)

Monday, November 2, 2009


The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things...
Seriously though, folks, the time has come to start publicizing this thing. What good is a community garden program if nobody knows about it??
So here's the plan of action. I am going to attempt to organize two meetings. One will be the first meeting of the Garden Committee, which will help advise me as to where this program should go. Who would know better than the gardeners themselves what they need most? The members of this meeting will be invited personally by me.
The other meeting will, I hope, help to recruit a number of volunteers. I've been calling it the Interested Citizens meeting. Essentially, I want to gather a lot of people together, feed them a bit of food, and tell them about what I'm doing. And hopefully, they'll want to help!
But the first step is advertising. I'm in the process of making a flier, which is about finished. This Saturday I'm going to organize some volunteers to help me hang fliers up all over Boise, and hopefully I can hear from some people who are elsewhere in the Treasure Valley. The plan is to make a list of places to hang fliers, assign people certain parts of the city, tell them some about the program, and set them loose. Once again, I will have food for anyone who is willing to help me out. I also plan to put an ad in the Boise Weekly and the Idaho Statesman and whatever else I can think of...
One small glitch, besides me being only one person, is that I don't know the city of Boise very well! November marks the 4th month I have lived in this beautiful place, and I hope people who know the area better than I can help me.
If anyone in Boise or the Treasure Valley reading this would like to help hang fliers on Saturday or would like to know more about the interested citizens meeting, send me an e-mail at and I can give you the details. I could also use hints about where to put things up and where to advertise!!
Help out your fellow Boisean and your local community gardeners (and the integrity of a local food system to help feed the hungry)!