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Big Garden Update

The St. Lydia’s Enough for Everyone Garden, at 346 Bergen Street in Brooklyn, is an experiment in radical generosity, where growing and eating fresh, healthy food becomes a possibility for everyone.  This is our second season, and we invite you to participate! We are building the garden together, so if you are interested in volunteering or just learning more about our garden or A Small Green Patch, the larger Greenthumb Community Garden we are one part of, email us at rachel@stlydias.org. You can see more photos of our first work day on March 3, 2013, here!


Sweet grow light set-up


Our first seedlings! (Butterfly weed)

Seeds and books (and our christmas cactus, in bloom in the background!)This post is all about news regarding our brand new 2013 season of the St. Lydia’s Enough for Everyone Garden. All are welcome to participate! If you are interested in getting involved and doing some gardening this year, please email Rachel at rachel@stlydias.org.

Some news about the space
First off, some good news. Our tenancy at 346 Bergen has, from the beginning of this project, been temporary. The lot we use, as well as the one on the west side of the space, is owned by the city and has Greenthumb Community Garden status. But the middle lot is privately owned, and the owner has always planned to build on all three lots. He has generously allowed us to use it until he secures the permits and financing he needs to build. We’ve heard from him that the earliest he’ll begin building is August or September of this year, and we have decided to go ahead with our growing season full-steam, with the understanding that even if we have to leave in the late summer, our work will have been well worth the effort for even a truncated season’s worth of fun and fresh produce. Hurray! He’ll give us 30 days notice if he needs us to vacate, and we will decide then what the best way forward will be should that happen.

January planning meeting summary
We had a little planning meeting with some of the folks at St. Lydia’s who are interested in participating in the gardent this year, and I want to give a little summary of what we talked about. We discussed what we liked about the garden last year, and most of our comments were about the pleasure we all took in being able to work together outside. We liked that we got to learn from the other groups at Small Green Patch, and that it was easy to get to know each other while working alongside each other in the garden. And we all loved having fresh produce to share and eat.

The thing we hit on as being important to think more about this year is how to have an outward focus. We decided that our strategy will be to build relationships with people in the neighborhood that will be based in mutual learning in the garden, with a special focus on people who may not otherwise have access to land or fresh produce. We know it will take time to build these relationships, and we hope that the Season of Listening will help us start to make connections. But we want to make sure as we proceed that the garden continues to be a way for us to share all that we’ve been given with others, and to make connections and do healing work in the community and the world (and not just a way for us to hoard heirloom tomatoes for dinner church).

Speaking of tomatoes
Based on what folks mentioned at the January meeting about things they are interested in growing this year, we’ve made a growing plan for what we hope to plant this year. It is by no means complete or concrete, so if you have things you’d like to add, you are welcome to! If you are going to grow something, let us know what you are planning to do so that we make sure to save space in the garden for it. Eric and I bought some seeds at the coop, and ordered some more from Johnny’s, and we even set up some shelves with fluorescent lights to grow some seedlings in our apartment (the seedlings we tried to start last year were a sad affair, begun too late and raised on the weak light we get from our windows, so we decided to invest in some tools to have a better shot at it this year). If you are interested in starting seedlings in your home, we encourage you to do so! It is more fun than you can believe. We have learned some things, and we are interested in hearing from you about your experience, so let’s all share our seedling knowledge. We got The New Seed-Starter’s Handbook by Nancy Bubel and have been finding it very helpful. We also also got this Seedling Grower Kit from Johnny’s that includes five trays and a bag of their special potting soil medium. It is on sale right now for $31 and we found it to be a good deal. This weekend we started tomatoes and some flowers and parsley, and you can see in the attached photos that we already have our first teeny sprouts! So exciting.

Schedule for Gardening
This Saturday, March 2: we are going to begin this weekend by buying some more soil from home depot and filling out the beds that weren’t quite full last year. We’ll also be planting some early crops like greens, radishes, peas and okra so if you are interested in coming on Saturday to help, let me know! We’ll be hauling soil in the morning starting at 10, and working in the garden after about 1 PM. The other groups from the garden will also probably be working this weekend, so it should be a fun time to come out and see everyone and hear about plans for the new season.
Sunday, April 14–Season Opening Party: A Small Green Patch will have a party to celebrate the beginning of the new season and invite the public to visit the garden. Hopefully it will be starting to warm up, and we will be invited to bring drinks and snacks to share, so save the date!

An open question about volunteer days
When we had our meeting in January, we talked about having Sunday be our volunteer day again this year, as it was towards the end of last season. However, since then I have had to move the time slot for the Fresh Direct order up to 2 PM on Sundays, so it will be tough for me to get there in time orient volunteers or spend much time in the garden on Sundays. For the time being, Eric and I will be working on (some) Saturdays, but that doesn’t mean that Sunday can’t still be the St. Lydia’s open volunteer time. So I want to ask you to help us think through this.

Goals
Our goal is to have a consistent time during the week when we can have the garden be open to the public. This is important for us, because we want to make sure the garden has an outward focus in relationship to the community. It is also important because part of our committment to A Small Green Patch is to help host some of the required 20 hours a week to maintain our Green Thumb status.

Different kinds of garden time
Last year we discovered that there were two kinds of time we spend in the garden. The first kind happens when there is a big project to do, and we schedule a work day to all be there together and do what needs doing. Last year there was a lot of this time–clearing the lots, spreading soil and mulch, building beds etc. This year there will be less, but there will still be some–filling the beds with extra soil this weekend, planting seeds and seedlings, and spreading new mulch when we get some.  The other kind of time is the regular weekly slot of open volunteer hours, where we open the garden to the public and do regular maintanence like watering, weeding and harvest produce.

Since Eric and I are doing most of the organizing for the larger structural aspects of the garden, we will schedule the work days when we are available, on Saturdays throughout the season. But for the second kind of time, we need to work together to help come up with a good system for scheduling open volunteer time at the garden. So give some thought to what kind of time you’ll want to spend, and which days you are most likely to want to spend in the garden. Its worked well in the past to have Sunday be the day, so that volunteers can harvest during their time in the garden and then bring produce to dinner church. But there are lots of possibilities, it could be on Saturdays, or on a weekday, so think it over and let me know what your thoughts are.

OK folks, that was a big information download, thanks for sticking with us. We look forward to another great season of the St. Lydia’s Enough for Everyone Garden!

Blessings on the blossoms,
Blessings on the roots,
Blessings on the leaf and stem,
Blessings on the fruits!

Posted in: Garden

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