Posts tagged Detroit

Just Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ Part One

On a winter day…

I was going through the collection of pictures that were taken at the garden and I couldn’t help but reflect on the trials and tribulations of this summer’s garden program.  Many have been addressed in earlier blogs so I do not have to go into great detail here and now.    All I will say is that it was a summer that was hot as hell and as dry as the Sahara on one end of the spectrum to rain forest-like ecosystem at the other.  There was definitely a time when I thought it was all in vain but then the weather changed and we got rain, and lots of it.  As the locals here know it was hot, tropically hot and humid but it was the right type of hot and humidity that nourished the plants back to life.  It’s not such a stretch to have felt that that was the gardens’ biblical moment…like a miracle the rain poured from the sky and everything grew and grew to alien proportions.  Not really, but as you will see it turned out nicely.  And most importantly, our kids once again took home bags and bags of fresh vegetables!

 

Cheery Cherry Tomatoes!

Cheery Cherry Tomatoes!

 

 

 

We planted watermelon that actually grew big enough to steal (we lost two to thieves), but everything ultimately worked out (more on that later)

 

 

 

Popcorn…perfect snack for squirrels and other varmints!

 

Our "Field of Dreams"!

Our “Field of Dreams”!

 

A forest of kale!

A forest of kale!

 

Digital Camera

Later!

 

These pepper plants will be very productive!

These pepper plants will be very productive!

 

 

This alien looking plant is Okra!  It was the only one to survive the drought-like conditions in June and early July. 

 

 

 

Pretty vine!

Pretty vine!

The picture above is the result of two surviving sweet potato sets.  We planted 11, but all but two were vandalized and pulled out of the ground.  In spite of the difficult start, we were surprised by the very impressive yield produced by the surviving plants.  Think size 12 shoes!!!

 

Orange tomatoes!

Orange tomatoes!

 

 

Second planting of collard greens…everybody got some!

 

Collards ready for harvest!

Collards ready for harvest!

 

Future star of "The Pickle Story"!

Future star of “The Pickle Recipe II” movie!

 

Onions

Onions

 

First harvest!

First harvest!

 

Leeks

Leeks!

 

To be continued…Part Two

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Just Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ Part Two

One of the unavoidable challenges we face with a school garden is what to do when school is on break and the kids are unable to get out there.  We basically go into maintenance mode.  Before school lets out, the children have already had a taste of the good things yet to come by harvesting strawberries, peas, radishes, beets, etc., all quick-to-grow vegetables that were planted in April and May.  In maintenance mode we work to ensure that the kids have something to look forward to and come back for…and boy do they come back!

 

 

 

Mother and son enjoying the fruit of his labor!

Mother and son enjoying the fruits of his labor…picking tomatoes!

 

 

Another big harvest day in August!

Another big harvest day in August!

 


 


HABENEROS!

HABENEROS!

 

Remember these from Part One?

Remember these from Part One?

 

The start of something sweet!

The start of something sweet!

To be continued…Part Three

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Just Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ Part Three

It’s after Labor Day and the kids have returned to school and the garden.  The weather, much to our surprise, has enabled the garden to peak at just the right time.  We set the following timeline for the remaining weeks of the garden…

Week of 9/12

Kale; Cherry Tomatoes; Eggplant; Squash

Week of 9/19

Potatoes; Tomatoes; Peppers

Week of 9/26

Peppers; Lettuces; Popcorn

Week of 10/3

Collard Greens; Sweet Potatoes

__________________________

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t quite cooperate with us and it remained warm enough to extend the growing periods and harvest production of several plants.

 

 


 

 

Popcorn or Birdseed?

Popcorn or Birdseed?

 


 

Digging up potatoes…

 

 

 

This could be the start of something big!

Oops…a worm!  Let’s chase Arthur!!!

 

A lot of small ones to start!

A lot of small ones to start!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still something out there…

 

A teacher and her son!

A teacher and her son!

 

The vice principal doing some grocery shopping!

The vice principal doing some grocery shopping!

 

Not the last of these!

Not the last of these!

 

 

 To be continued…Part Four

 

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Just Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ Part Four

The Great Watermelon Experiment!

One of the most anticipated events was the watermelon harvest.  After all, we had been trying to grow this plant for quite a few years without much luck.  This year, despite the fact we lost two melons early on to theft, our dream was going to be fulfilled.  We hid the remaining melons until they had grown to term and were ready for harvest.

But that’s not all we did…lol. Instead of growing the more traditional melons like “Jubilee” and “Stars and Stripes”, we grew a hybrid called “Yellow Doll” and it’s fruit was yellow instead of pink!  Our kids were surprised and at the same time disappointed.  Though it looked like a watermelon on the outside, it didn’t on the inside and therefore it tasted foreign to them.  Being allergic to melons, I was no help to them as I dared not touch the flesh.  To some of the kids it tasted more like a cucumber and for a few others it had no taste.  But for the majority of them though it may have looked like a watermelon on the outside, it definitely was not on the inside.  So much for the “looks like a duck, walks like a duck” theory!

 

 

 

Digital Camera

 

Remember those sweet potatoes I talked about in Part 1?  Well take a look!

 

 

 

 

 

So all in all it was a very good year.  The kids had fun…they got plenty of food to take home that they grew…we had fun…lots of fun and we are looking forward to next year, Spring 2017!

 

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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!

dark_honey_bee_hemberger

Bonnie Odom-Brown

B.E. Culturally Exposed

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Maura Ryan-Kaiser

MIFCU logo and tagline

Andy Daily, Bus. Development/Community Dev.

project-sweet-tomato-logo

Arthur Littsey

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