Posts tagged Community gardening

It’s the Mid-Summer Harvest!

What an amazing summer it’s been this year!  Despite a vast number of problems and challenges the garden is still on schedule to begin harvesting some of its vegetables.  One thing I am sure of is that we now have a good idea as to how much work it took to tend a garden in the days before running water!

Mustard Greens and Celery...Spicy!

Mustard Greens and Celery…Spicy!

Cabbage Mix...some of which had bolted.

Cabbage Mix…some of which had bolted.

Have you ever seen Kale as robust as this?

Have you ever seen Kale as robust as this?

Weeding the Cabbage bed.

Weeding the Cabbage bed.

The Zuchinni and the Summer Squash are doing nicely but they need weeding and watering!!!

The Zucchini and the Summer Squash are doing nicely but they need weeding and watering!!!

Chief among all of the problems was the hot weather and the lack of rain during much of June and July.  The garden is located on the Nolan Elementary-Middle School playground and when the temperature gets too hot, they close the school.  When that happens, we lose access to the water system.  In the past, it has rained just often enough to offset a temporary school closing, but this year we have had consecutive days and subsequent weeks of hot, dry weather without being able to adequately water.

This Broccoli head probably could have been bigger if it had more water!

This Broccoli head probably could have been bigger if it had more water!

Eggplant A

Eggplant A

Eggplant B...What's the difference between A and B?

Eggplant B…What’s the difference between A and B?

Young Cayenne's...Muy Caliente!

Young Cayenne’s…Muy Caliente!

We were also vandalized.  Someone took it upon him or her self to steal our collard green plants, right after we had planted them.  We have also found a few of our new beds damaged.  It can be thought that the weather has something to do with the vandalism.  My reasoning is that when we are not on-site frequently and regularly, it provides opportunity for negative actions toward the garden.  We probably couldn’t have stopped the theft though.

"The Onion Field" er bed!

“The Onion Field” er bed!

There's more than one Beet in there!

There’s more than one Beet in there!

Pop-Pop-Pop-Popcorn!

Pop-Pop-Pop-Popcorn!

This Watermelon got a late start but let's see what happens?

This Watermelon got a late start but let’s see what happens?

Zucchini after it got watered!

Zucchini after it got watered!

There were Cherry Tomatoes here just a minute ago!

There were Cherry Tomatoes here just a minute ago!

What are these? Potatoes! (With a weed sticking right up in the middle of the picture!)

What are these? Potatoes! (With a weed sticking right up in the middle of the picture!)

Regardless, on July17th, we had six kids ready to harvest whatever was ready in the garden.  They have already enjoyed strawberries, radishes, garlic and zucchini, so now they were going to pick cherry tomatoes, broccoli, kale, mustard greens, and Chinese cabbage.  A few of the kids had never tasted vegetables raw and fresh from the garden and it was fun to watch the faces they made as they experienced the “unvarnished” flavor and texture of the various leafy greens.  “Awe” and “Amazement” are just two of the words that come to mind.  I must note that the kids ate the cherry tomatoes as fast as they picked them.  I wonder if any will make it home to somebody’s dinner table?

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Simply Irresistible!

2016 will be a much different year than previous years at the Nolan Elementary-Middle School “Planting the Seeds” garden in Detroit.  We have taken steps to change the look and feel of the garden and we are growing a slew of new crops that hopefully will make this year’s efforts more fulfilling and fun for our young growers.  Much thanks goes out to our supporting sponsor, Snelling Staffing Solutions!  They came out on a chilly April morning to build the new beds, clean out the old ones and plant some cold-weather crops in the ground.  We really appreciate all that they have done!

We would also like to announce that Be Culturally Exposed, led by Bonnie Odom-Brown, received yet another grant for $1000 from the Healthy Environment Partnership (www.hepdetroit.org).  We are very excited to be recognized once again for our efforts for maintaining this community garden and working with children and to receive the additional support.

What’s New?

New in 2016 will be 10 raised beds!  Our original beds were placed in 2011 and served us well until vandals and the weather caused a few of them to rot and decay.  We got 5 good years out of them but they had become a safety concern as they were breaking down and splintering.

Blueberries are new in 2016 also!  We actually planted the new bushes last fall (Oct. 2015) and we were very fortunate they made it through the winter.  It takes a number of years for the bushes to get established and to produce fruit, but we will be ready when they are.

We are also going to try to grow celery, popcorn, peanuts, okra and various winter squash.  It is vitally important that we continue to add new crops to the garden as it enhances the appeal to our young gardeners, primarily those who have come back from previous years.

Lastly, from an editorial standpoint we are going to introduce more recipes using the vegetables we are growing in the garden.

 

April – Cold Weather Crop Distribution & New Bed Construction

And a way she goes!

And a way she goes!

 April 23rd

Getting Started!

 

Breaking out into teams!

 

 

 

Cabbages

 

Broccoli

Broccoli

 

Strawberries

Strawberries

 

One wheelbarrow load at a time!

One wheelbarrow load at a time!

 

 

 May 3rd

Blueberry Bushes and Curly Kale

 

Collard Greens

Collard Greens

 

Planting Celery

Planting Celery

 

Planting lettuces!

Planting lettuces!

 

Planting Onions and Leeks

Planting Onions and Leeks

 

The villagers have gathered!

The villagers have gathered!

 

Yeah, I Got It!

Yeah, I Got It!

 May 5th

Planting Potatoes...

Planting Potatoes…

May 17th

Keep Growing Detroit came out to test the soil!

Keep Growing Detroit came out to test the soil!

 May 19th

Hot Crop Distribution Day at Earthworks!

Hot Crop Distribution Day at Earthworks!  Oops, excuse my thumb!

 

What a crowd!

What a crowd!

 

 

I got some tootsie rolls and some candy corn!

I got some tootsie rolls and some candy corn!

May 24th

Cabbages 1 Month

Cabbages @ 1 Month

 

Broccoli 1 month

Broccoli @ 1 month

 

Pretty lettuces in a row @ 1 month

Pretty lettuces in a row @ 1 month

 

We need to weed this kale and blueberry bed @ 1 month

We need to weed this kale and blueberry bed @ 1 month

 

Red Skin and Blue Potatoes 3 weeks

Red Skin and Blue Potatoes @ 3 weeks!

 

 

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The Major “Get” of 2015

October 2015 BE Culturally Exposed, the organizer of the garden at Nolan Elementary-Middle School, participated in the Detroit Community Development Awards “People’s Choice Awards” which was presented by Comerica Bank.  This was the first year of the People’s Choice Award and the winners would come from 7 geographically defined districts in the City of Detroit.  Each winner would be given $1000 and would be determined by an online voting program where supporters could vote as often as they’d like, once a day, during a 15-day period.

 

Winning out of District 3 was BE Culturally Exposed!  We contribute our success to the online efforts of friends, volunteers and supporters, you know “people who know somebody that knows somebody”.  We used every social marketing tool that was available for us to use to reach out to our constituents to get them to vote not just once but as frequent as the rules allowed.  It was a social networking miracle that enabled us to compete with other “more recognized or established” programs.  But like the little engine that could…we did, we won and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

 

We were vandalized at the end of the year by some individuals that do not appreciate what we are doing for the students of Nolan, the school, families and the community immediately adjacent to the school and several of the beds were in need of repair.  That’s where the award money is going…new raised beds!  New beds will be easier and safer for the young gardeners to manage.  Plus, we suspect they will be slightly more durable.  Lastly, they are modular, so we should be able to come up with some unique bed formations that may fuel their creative minds.

 

We also received a sizeable donation from Michigan First Credit Union toward the repair of the beds.  Lowe’s Home Improvement then stepped up big time by selling us some beds at cost, donating several more and providing soil upgrading materials at cost. We were able to feed and upgrade the soil conditions of each bed, including the new ones!

 

So a Big THANK YOU to all of our friends and supporters (the people that know somebody) that voted and helped us win the $1000 award.  Thanks to Michigan First Credit Union (Andy Daily) for their continued support and thanks to Lowe’s Home Improvement for their timely contribution.

 

This was so much fun, let’s do it again!

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Bonnie Odom-Brown

B.E. Culturally Exposed

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Maura Ryan-Kaiser

MIFCU logo and tagline

Andy Daily, Bus. Development/Community Dev.

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Arthur Littsey

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Powdery Mildew

This year there seems to be an epidemic of powdery mildew at garden sites across the city.  It would be too easy to blame the source of the plants that have been affected, in this case our prime seed/plant benefactor “Keep Growing Detroit”, but since they only give away seeds of the affected plants, there has to be a larger force responsible for such a mass infection.  Personally, I have had this problem for over 5 years.  Some years were worse than others.  Not knowing what to do has been very problematic, especially since I have stopped planting some plants as a result.

The article below was found in my e-newsletter from Rodale Press and it clearly states what it is, the source, conditions and directions for dealing with this bothersome plant ailment.

Powdery Mildew

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Here are steps you can take to prevent powdery mildew from blemishing your garden.

Description

A gray, talcum powder-like coating that covers the leaves, flowers, and even fruit of some of your vegetables, perennials, and shrubs.

Where it’s a problem
Powedery mildew is found throughout North America

Lifecycle
Fungal spores are spread by wind and overwinter on plants and in plant debris. Unlike mildews that appear in bathrooms or basements, powdery mildew does not need direct contact with water in order to grow. The warm days and cool nights of late summer create an ideal climate for spore growth and dispersal.

Plants it attacks
Powdery mildew is the blanket name for a few different species of fungi that infect many ornamentals, such as beebalm (Monarda), lilacs (Syringa), zinnias, roses, and garden phlox (P. paniculata). It also affects vegetables, including beans, cucumbers, grapes, melons, and squash.

Why it’s a problem
Powdery mildew is unattractive and it can affect the flavor and reduce yields of some fruits and vegetables. Although plants are unsightly and can be weakened by an infection, they do not usually die. Powdery mildew on ornamentals is an aesthetic issue, and not usually worth treating. Prevention and control is more important for vegetables.

Organic damage control
Powdery mildew can be prevented, and it can be controlled once it appears, but it can’t be cured. The key to preventing it is planting mildew-resistant or mildew- tolerant varieties. Resistant varieties get less mildew than susceptible varieties; tolerant varieties may get some mildew, but it shouldn’t affect the performance of the plant. Prevention also includes siting plants where they will have good air circulation, and exposing as much leaf surface as possible to direct sunlight, which inhibits spore germination.

To control minor infestations, pick off affected plant parts and either compost them in a hot compost pile or bag them tightly and put them in the trash.

Homemade Sprays
Research studies in 1999 and 2003 on infected zucchini and winter wheat (respectively) indicated that spraying cow’s milk slowed the spread of the disease.
To try this at home, mix 1 part milk with 9 parts water and spray the stems and tops of leaves with the solution. Reapply after rain.
Spraying leaves with baking soda (1 teaspoon in 1 quart water) raises the pH, creating an inhospitable environment for powdery mildew.

Now I have to admit that I was told about the milk spray technique this summer and I kind of pooh-poohed it.  I will have to correct myself to my associates and acknowledge that when it comes to gardening, I don’t know it all.  I’m alright with that because who does?  This shows that I need to do a better job of communicating and sharing with my fellow gardeners and listening to what they have to say, for they just might know what ails my plants and have a cure as easy  as a bottle of milk (diluted of course).

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An Important Second Opinion

Parents and teachers probably are not always aware of the total good that comes from having an outdoor or in this case a gardening experience. As one of the administrators of the garden at Nolan Elementary-Middle School, neither am I. I tend to focus on garden prep work, planting seeds/plants, watering and getting the plants ready for harvesting. Who has time to sit around and conduct studies about what benefits, other than a successful harvest, the kids and their families receive from their gardening experience.
Fortunately, there are people that have the time and energy to study, analyze and determine some of the not so obvious benefits of outdoor activities in the schoolyard. Without a doubt, some of them apply to our little program at Nolan and a recent blog published by the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, with information sourced by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, provides some “quantifiable” information on how much good the kids at Nolan and other schools with similar programs and outlooks are receiving from being outdoors engaged in gardening and other activities. I have copied the information in its entirety for you to read and share with other concerned parents and adults.

EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS OF SUMMER

Posted on Jul 30, 2014 in Blogs, News by ymurphy

Many times we think of the summer as a period away from school and formal study, without considering the other benefits that children receive during the days when the school doors are closed. Yet we know that exploring our world has significant educational benefit that may not be focused on a specific topic or discipline. You might not know that:
• Studies show that outdoor experiences improve self-esteem, self-confidence, independence, autonomy, and initiative in teens.
• Contact with natural and physical activity in a natural environment improves psychological well-being.
• Students who play and learn in outdoor settings perform better on tests, have higher grade point averages and cause fewer classroom disruptions.
• Spending time in the open air and learning outside increases student’s ability to think creatively and improves problem solving skills.
• Seven out of ten U.S. children have low vitamin D levels due to reduced exposure to sunlight thus risking their bone and heart health.
• Exposure to the outdoors reduces the symptoms of ADHD
• Exposure to natural morning light promotes better sleep.
• Each hour that a child spends outdoors beyond the average of 3.7 hours per week reduces the risk of myopia by 2%.
• Children who play outside in natural settings are less likely to suffer obesity and less likely to contract diabetes.

There are many other health and social benefits to being outdoors. In Michigan the best time to do so is during these summer months, however winter sports and fun are as important as the summer ones. We must all encourage the development of the positive behaviors of sharing and cooperative engagement. Reducing stress and increasing attention time enhances students’ ability to focus and therefore their ability to learn. For all of these reasons the Detroit Public Schools Foundation supports Camp Shurly, Metro Detroit Youth Day, the DPS Day Camp, and other summertime activities that will lead to greater academic achievement in the fall.

Bulleted statements are from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

So you can see there is more going on than what meets the eye and speaking for all of the adult participants and sponsors of the garden program we are all glad to be just one of the “tools” in use to provide a better learning environment for the student gardeners at Nolan. And for the record, the Detroit Public Schools Foundation was an early supporter of the garden at Nolan and other schools before they became a part of Michigan’s Education Achievement System.

This should be a “heads up” for all parents with school-aged children.  Get them up and outdoors even when they are not in school. They can save those video games for the winter time when there’s absolutely nothing to do.

project-sweet-tomato-logo

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Back To School!

Intercom Voice: (SQUELCH) All students in the garden club please come to the auditorium immediately. BEEP!

It’s Tuesday at Nolan Elementary-Middle School and Bonnie Odom-Brown (BE Culturally Exposed) and I (Arthur Littsey/Project Sweet Tomato) are meeting with our student gardeners for the first time. They are a rag-tag bunch that covers at least 4 different grade levels. For the first time since the move to Nolan, Planting the Seeds has an abundance of students. There are almost 20 kids of varying ages and for another first, we have strong representation from the young males of the school. 8th graders too? Yes, I am very surprised.

As you would expect, this has brought a few more challenges for the team, but we are starting to get a grip on things, with the help of some recent advice from our sponsor, Maura Ryan-Kaiser. She helped create a plan for managing so many students. One can tell that she never forgets that she is dealing with kids (I think she has the camp counselor gene) and in spite of that they can be managed effectively. And she had an immediate affect on them. She grabbed their attention and held it throughout the gardening session. They performed very well for her. And I can tell you from previous experiences that’s not a very easy thing to do.

We’ve got a lot of vegetables in the ground with more on the way, courtesy of Keep Growing Detroit. New this year will be watermelon, a new variety of sunflower, peas, strawberries (they are surviving so far), onions and sweet potatoes. We are also growing many of the standard summer vegetables, like tomatoes, green and yellow beans, garlic, zucchini, greens, cabbage, kale, broccoli, lettuces, basil, parsley, peppers, radishes and potatoes (Yukon Gold and red skins). There’s a lot going on and it would be difficult to manage without the help that we get from the Snelling Staffing Services volunteers. They are a great bunch…easy to get along with; supportive (for me that means young and strong)…that takes their volunteer work seriously and has fun doing it. It’s a lot of fun to watch them learn a few things about gardening too!

There has been a change outside the garden as well. Sandra Tomlin, the former Vice President, Community Relations, of Michigan First Credit Union, retired. She was a wonderful advocate for our little program and we thank her for her support. She has said that now that she is retired, she might pay the garden a visit. So, now would be a good time to welcome Mark Guimond as our new contact at Michigan First Credit Union. Mark’s title is Assistant Vice President – Business & Community Relationships. MFCU is active with several schools in and around Detroit and I hope that we continue to earn their support.

Pictures? Yes, here’s a few…

Getting ready to plant some onions!

Getting ready to plant some onions!

 

Lettuce, Cabbage and Greens

Lettuce, Cabbage and Greens

Prepping the big bed!

Prepping the big bed!

Putting the kids to work!

Putting the kids to work!

Is this a weeding party?

Is this a weeding party?

Our first peas...ever!

Our first peas…ever!

Thursday's Garden Angels!

Thursday’s Garden Angels!

Well, I’ve got to get back to work. Between home and here, there’s a lot of work that needs to get done.

 

This story is dedicated to one Jack Kaiser. He’s a great guy to be around and to have around. Thanks Jack…for what you do, the way you do it and for who you are!

BOB669

 

Thanks To…

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BE Culturally Exposed

MIFCU logo and tagline

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project-sweet-tomato-logo

And a Special Thanks to the gang at…

Keep Growing Detroit

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It’s the Great Pumpkin…Decorating for the Holiday!

2013 Summer Gardens 072

Bonnie’s Pumpkin!

It’s the last week of October and the garden club, under the direction of DeAndrea Rogers, P.C.I.S., and teacher Carrie Hahn, were decorating pumpkins to take home.  With the cooperation of Farmer John’s Vegetable Market (Warren), we were able to give away nearly 20 pumpkins.

(Click on each picture to enlarge)

photo 1

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 photo 1(4)

 photo 2

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 photo 3

 photo 2(4)

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Without the cooperation and the support of the following this classroom 

moment  would not have happened…

 

The Administration of Nolan Elementary-Middle School

Angela Underwood, Principal

DeAndrea Rogers, Parent & Community Involvement Specialist

Carrie Hahn, Teacher

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Bonnie Odom-Brown

dark_honey_bee_hemberger

B.E. Culturally Exposed

 ********************

Sandra Tomlin, Vice President Community Affairs

MIFCU logo and tagline

Michigan First Credit Union

 ********************

Maura Ryan-Kaiser

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Snelling Staffing Services

 ********************

Project Sweet Tomato

project-sweet-tomato-logo

Arthur Littsey

 

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