Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I'm off to the frozen north once again tomorrow... and hopefully I can dodge a storm, the kind I like, that is supposed to rage for a few days starting tomorrow afternoon. My flight is in the morning, so hopefully, it'll be OK. Then I can be cozy inside my house, riding out the blizzard in front of the fireplace.
Gardening activities will resume in January... I'll be back in the office on Dec 30th, but the New Year's holiday will interrupt proceedings a little further. Think of it as a new year, a new start... we can all make resolutions in 2010 to plant a garden! At least, that's a resolution I plan to make. I requested a copy of the Seed Savers Exchange catalog and I plan to pick out a variety of heirloom seeds to try. I also have some prickly pear cactus seeds that my friend sent me from Arizona. It should be an interesting conglomeration!
Well, this is me signing out, wishing all of you the happiest of holidays!! However you celebrate them, I hope you are surrounded by those who you care about and who care about you, and that this much-needed break will prepare you for whatever 2010 has to offer.
Until next year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Yet Another Reason to Garden...

I stumbled across this article today called Nature Makes Us More Caring. It was a scientific study conducted at Rochester University that compared people's reactions to synthetic versus natural environments. The results show that higher interaction with nature makes people feel better and it makes them act better! In this study, participants with more exposure to natural environments "value community and close relationships" and are "more generous with money".
So it looks like all we have to do to abolish greed and make people happier is plant some gardens, right?? Welllll.... maybe not quite... but this is further evidence that urban greenery has side effects OTHER than edible results.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Busy busy busy...

The meeting took place Wednesday night as planned! It was quite cold here in Boise, and that had a toll on the attendance... however, I am not disappointed with the results! One very dedicated volunteer wants to meet with me once a week and work on what needs to get done. I would rather have one very dedicated volunteer than 100 flaky ones. And anyway, you have to start somewhere! So I am, in reality, very pleased.
I also got a call from someone who couldn't attend the meeting, but wanted to be included on any mailing lists and in any events in the future. We ended up talking for a few minutes on the phone, and he had an idea that's really sticking with me: go to the mayor's office hours. If we can convince the mayor that community gardens are important, then, well, they are! So eventually I would like to assemble a small group of people and go to his office hours. Then, together we can present "The Case for Community Gardens".
Another volunteer and I (mostly the volunteer...) are in the process of finding lands suitable for community gardens. This could prove to be fairly difficult... city-owned land has, of course, many restrictions that apply. I'm not going to give up, but I'd like to see all of my options. I came across the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands website, and it got me thinking... what if we could somehow partner with them, and get people to donate land for the use of community gardens? Essentially a community garden land easement, if you will. There would even be something in it for the people who donated the land; they could get a break on their taxes. It's worth a thought anyway... I have absolutely no idea how the whole easement thing works, but their website has been helpful so far, and I'm going to start doing research. It can't hurt.
What is boils down to is this. I've done research on tons of community gardening programs throughout the country (and Canada), but none of them so far are able to offer people land. No matter how many dedicated volunteers you have, they're useless without some land to work on. If we could offer committed gardeners and interested neighborhoods land... and if we could connect donors to Sharing Backyards or some other mapping service... what would stop them from starting a new garden??
In other news, the website should be up and running by mid-January! Finally I won't have to try and remember everything that's happened... I can give a summary and direct people to the website. Eventually, this blog will become a part of that website as well, but that won't happen for a few months yet. No rush...
This is completely unrelated to gardening, but I think it's hilarious. The town where I spent my undergrad, Madison, WI, got pounded by the blizzard this week. They got 17 inches of snow, and when you combine that with a bunch of college kids who have a snow day, you get a huge snowball fight with over 3000 people.
Most of the time I'm very happy to be away from the homework and tests... but this made me miss college a little bit. :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Due to the nature of my previous posts, I'm sure anyone has a good idea of what I'll post here today....
Tonight is the FIRST EVER Interested Citizens Meeting, here at the Idaho Foodbank (3562 S TK Ave), off of Federal Way. It starts at 7, and as I am generally not a fan of long, structured meetings, it will be a short, casual affair with some food to munch on.
If you can't make it but would still like to help out or just have some thoughts, call me or send me an e-mail! My number is 208-336-9643 x 246 and my e-mail is bparham@idahofoodbank.org. I promise, I am listening to EVERYTHING! I want to hear what you want to say and what you have to do!

On another note, there's a blizzard back home in Minnesota happening right now. They're supposed to get over 2 feet of snow in my hometown! So what are we waiting for??? There's only 2 inches of snow in Boise, and it's not nearly as cold. I'll see YOU tonight!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Interested Citizens Meeting!

That's right, folks. The Interested Citizens Meeting is Wednesday night (Dec 9) at 7 PM, here at the Idaho Foodbank, 3562 S TK Ave. Come and share your thoughts!! And of course, come and eat some food. :)
I also wanted to rejoice about the snow! Even though I know lots of people are probably grumbling about it, you have to admit it's very pretty. It covers the ground and cleans off everything... to me it always feels like starting over again.
So think of it this way: The ground is being wiped clean and preparing for a new growing season. After a few months' rest, we'll start again, with new hopes and new aspirations. Like the newly fallen snow, we'll be fresh and full of possibilities.
Or, if you're like me, you can go for walks in it and hope for enough to ski on...:)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I met yesterday with Lindsey Schramm from the Northend Organic Nursery (formerly Hillside Nursery). They held a pumpkin sale to benefit the Abundance Project (previously mentioned here), and they have a strong commitment to community and local assets. Newly opened for the holiday season, the store carries local plants, local dishware, local food, seeds from Earthly Delights Farm (also previously mentioned here) and all manner of other things local. Not to mention, of course, Christmas trees! They assured me that once spring came there would be more plants, but I was not disappointed.
The meeting with Lindsey, though short and to the point, proved to be very fruitful. She offered their establishment as a drop-off point for seed and tool donations. Any customers who donate will get a discount on their purpose. Furthermore, they'll offer free classes in the spring that are open to the public. She said if I knew of any volunteers who wanted to teach classes, she would offer the space.
Things are, literally, falling into place. This is the kind of break I was hoping for. I would love to accept seed and tool donations, but the Foodbank doesn't really have the capacity to hold a large amount of either of these things. Maybe with these donations we could have some sort of "Community Garden Starter Kit"?
And as for classes, it makes no sense to have classes here at the Foodbank. We don't have the staff to do it. I would much rather collaborate with classes that already exist, or in this case, space that already exists, and have links to community calendars from our website.
If you or someone you know would like to volunteer to teach a class, come to the Interested Citizens Meeting next Wednesday and let me know what you'd like to do!
I am very excited, because it appears that without much hassle, this program is going to work. What almost excites me more is that someone will take this up after I leave, and they'll expand upon the foundation that I've layed out!
I've said it so many times before, but I'll say it again until I'm blue in the face. The possibilities are endless! And the community response is astounding. Who knew there was so much interest in community gardening and so much desire to help?? I wonder how many other places are as community-oriented as Boise, Idaho??