Wednesday, January 20, 2010

So I have a new approach for the Disney volunteers. It has been pointed out to me by a few sources that it's pretty useless to build new gardens that have no interested people to take care of them... seems obvious, right?? When you're kind of removed from them like I am, you often forget these things. Yet another reason for good communication!!
So here's the new approach. I am not simply looking for land donations, but for groups of people who are serious about starting a community garden in their neighborhood (This is also important... the garden should be very accessible by those who use it.) with prospects for land. We can then set a date and then hook you up with however many volunteers you need. We have already gotten such an overwhelming response from Disney volunteers that we need to be smarter in the future... and make sure we know what's actually needed before we advertise for volunteers!
I am also grateful there are people to point out my mistakes! In a perfect world (from my position's point of view), EVERY garden plot would have an owner and EVERY person would be excited about starting one. I've had to take a step back and look at my work realistically, and all of the things I would like to do will not be accomplished this growing season. And that's all right! You have to start somewhere.
I'm starting out by helping BUGS (Boise Urban Garden School) as much as I can. This growing season there's going to be a new garden at Taft Elementary School. This is absolutely thrilling! What better way to learn about science than to dig around in the dirt? And what better way to get kids to learn about nutrition and eating healthy right from the start? Personally, I would like to see Idaho littered with school gardens, but again... this is not something that I can accomplish this year. Maybe that's what the future brings!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Open Office Hours

This is a first (I think)... two posts in one day! But I think what I'm going to say is worth saying, despite any repetition.
As everyone (hopefully) knows, communication is important. And face-to-face versus e-mail or phone is invaluable.
Which is why I am now declaring Open Office Hours. If you want to talk to me, whether it's a question or an idea (I would love to hear your ideas!) or whatever else, just stop on by. Whenever, really. And if I'm not here, I'll get back to you as soon as I possibly can. I know, I've been there... that's often an empty promise. But believe me when I say, I'm just as excited about this as you are (if not more so) and the integral part of community gardens is community involvement. So come and see me!
If you don't know where I am, the Idaho Foodbank is located at 3562 S TK Ave. That's off of Federal Way behind the Flying J. It's a huge warehouse with the Idaho Foodbank logo on the side, so it's pretty hard to miss.
And of course, there are the old stand-bys if you can't make it over here, communication through telephone (336-9643 x 246) or e-mail (
I am a firm believer in feedback and communication, and I stick to what I mean. Community Gardens of Idaho won't be known for its impossibility to get a hold of!
Talk to you soon!

Go Chicago!!

Chicago's mayor Richard Daley is looking ahead to the future, and for him, the future is sustainabilty and urban agriculture. In a place like Chicago, where there might not be an abundance of open, green space, he's looking upwards... to rooftops!
Rooftop gardening is a way to conserve energy and, of course, add to the beauty of a conventional building. Not only is he promoting this gardening practice, but he's put out a 16-page booklet free, on the internet, and available to the public.
Let's hope that other politicians are leaning in this direction! And even if they aren't, this information is now open and available to the general public. The spread of knowledge is powerful!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Community Garden Building

Disclaimer: I have decided that Idaho Foodbank Community Gardens sounds too much like the gardens belong to us, which obviously, they don't. To avoid giving people the wrong idea, I'm going to begin referring to it as Community Gardens of Idaho instead. Unfortuantely I'm not going to really be able to change the Facebook groups, but oh well...
Yesterday marked the inception of a new idea for Community Gardens of Idaho, which will hopefully be a huge incentive for families and a huge help for new community gardeners!
Disney is challenging families to do a day of volunteer work in service to their community (they say 8 hours) in exchange for a day pass. There are a variety of activities that families can participate in, and one of them, which has literally fallen into my lap, is to build a community garden. The Foodbank is one of the few organizations in this area that has signed up for this program, and as of yesterday we are in the process of coordinating projects to build community gardens.
My hope is to have Saturdays put aside in the spring for families to get together and build community gardens together, probably the last week in April until early June, if we have that much response. Now my task is to find land, water, and stuff donations and to find volunteers. I feel fairly optimistic about this, but I am also aware that it's going to take a lot of work. But think of the results!! If we can get people together to build even two or three gardens, that means there are two or three more gardens waiting for people to grow them. And, of course, there's the incentive of a Disney pass for families if they participate.
Now I have to figure out what materials I'll need... obviously a rototiller (if not several), compost, lumber for raised beds, stones, etc. I would appreciate any input!! And, of course, if anyone knows of any land and water to donate! I have a list of churches that I plan to contact, and a couple that has already graciously donated their land and water.
I think if properly executed, this event could be a lot of fun. There is so much potential for a fun, great family activity! I hope to include some sort of education with it as well as some fun games for kids. Though really, I know when I was a kid, I was perfectly happy digging around in the dirt. I'm hoping I can really market this as a fun, family event.
I also am peicing together another idea I have been toying with. On top of the (hopefully good) response building new gardens, I want to offer new community gardens a "Garden Starter Kit". I hope to include seeds (Preferably heirloom. What good are seeds if you can't save them to use again?), gloves, tools, informational materials, and whatever else I can think of.
I also received a call from Elaine Walker yesterday. It was one of those moments in life when something very unexpected and awesome happens. She was calling to donate some seeds to the Foodbank garden, which no longer exists. So of course, I mentioned Community Gardens of Idaho and we got on the subject of the Seed Swap. She writes an online, weekly gardening column for the Idaho Statesman, and this time part of it's dedicated to Community Gardens of Idaho. Go ahead and read it here. How exciting!!!
So now, all I need to do is get out of the fog from vacation... easier said than done, I know!

Monday, January 4, 2010

2009 far behind, 2010 large as life!

Well, that was a much-needed break, though I am finding it a little hard to get back in the swing of things this morning! Such is the trial of vacation-time...
I pulled into my driveway in Minnesota literally as the blizzard was starting. It was a fantastic welcome, but the freezing rain that followed froze the snow into a hard, unusuable rock. After the rain it snowed a little and I attempted to ski on the thin layer of powder... but alas, the fates were against me and I fell many a time. But the time I spent with family and friends made up for lost recreation time. It's always important (and wonderful!) to remember where you came from, because it made you who you are. I find that in the hustle and bustle I can sometimes lose sight of that.
I am also amazed at how incredibly relieved I am that it isn't 2009 anymore... and the feeling seems to be widespread. We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that we are now in 2010. A new, clean, fresh gardening season awaits us, and I feel prepared to make it the best one I can.
I am in the process, with the help of my GIS/cartography volunteer, of finding available plots of land. This involves mapping church land and eventually putting an ad in the paper asking people if they have land they would like to donate.
I'm trying to write an ad for the paper today but my brain is still fuzzy from vacation mode... if I were a coffee drinker I would appeal to the caffeine gods. Since that is not the case, however, I may have to rely on some herbal tea.