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Children in the Saturday morning Sunflower Hour program made worm farms with master gardener Jay Ephraim last weekend.

Check out this article about the growth of Pitney Meadows Community Gardens in Saratoga Today by Marissa Gonzalez.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — In the last year, the community’s beloved Pitney Meadows Community Farm has made a lot of changes.

Since this time last July, the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens have become an official Monarch way station, created a large “Grandparent’s Garden,” started a reading and gardening Saturday program for children, increased the number of plots and now has more than 70 gardeners growing fresh healthy food in their gardens.

“It’s truly amazing. People who visit the gardens can’t believe it is only one year old,” said garden director Natalie Walsh, crediting the community of gardeners that has made the difference.

“They aren’t just tending their plots, but also are interested in learning organic gardening techniques, engaging children in the gardens, and extending a hand to each other and to the Saratoga community at large. It truly is a community in the gardens,” she added.

Last year the Community Gardens had 50 spaces available. This year, there are 72 beds.

“We are working to respond to what the community wants. When gardeners asked for bigger spaces, we offered them,” Walsh said.

Gardeners pay to lease the space for the season and the costs vary according to plot size.

In addition, Walsh added flowerbeds to draw pollinators such as butterflies, bees and beneficial insects. Of particular interest was offering habitat to Monarch butterflies whose populations have been in decline across the United States.

In the community gardens, a large garden was installed and planted with butterfly plants that have different bloom periods and provide nectar throughout the summer and into the fall. The milkweed provides the Monarch caterpillar with its only food source.

Engaging the community is a goal for Walsh, who traveled over 13,000 miles last winter talking to community gardeners across the country.

 

This year, the gardens offer programs for adults as well as children. “We were fortunate to have two community gardeners interested in working with children. One is Faye Mihuta, a reading teacher, and the other is Jess Clauser, an artist. Together they designed a reading program that meets once a week and is followed by an art or garden project,” Walsh said.

The reading program is free. The art or garden project costs $5 per child and includes activities including learning how to make jam, making art and learning how to plant and care for seeds. The program, which is held every Saturday morning starting at 9:30 a.m., has been very well-received as have the adult programs on topics such as growing tomatoes.

Also on Saturday mornings, Walsh will lead a gardening class for participants to walk around the gardens and discuss any issues, problems and receive tips from Walsh, who is a master gardener and holds a horticulture degree from SUNY Cobleskill.

The garden also saw the construction of a beautiful cedar pergola that was donated in memory of the late Charlotte Justin by her family and built by local craftsman Rich Torkelson and his son Arik.

The grandmother’s gardens were funded with a grant from the Soroptimists and multiple private donors who also purchased furniture for the space. In addition, the popular sunflower house has also been expanded. A sunflower house is an enclosed space that has “walls” of sunflowers.

Other organizations include the Waldorf school that illustrated signs for the butterfly garden, Saratoga Bridges who care for their own plot and help water others, Franklin Community Center, the Saratoga Senior Center, Saratoga Transitional Services, Saratoga Catholic Central, the Girl Scouts and the high school.

(Note: Sunflower measuring day and the Fall Fairy Gathering will be September 22 at 1 p.m. – this was left out of the article. Rain date September 23.)

That will also be the day the sunflowers in the annual sunflower contest will be measured for height and size of bloom. The biggest in each category will receive a prize. Last year, 26 people entered, this year there are 60 participants.

“There no doubt the garden is growing,” she added. “If you haven’t visited, come by on a Thursday or Saturday morning and I’ll show you around and tell you what we have planned for next year,” Walsh said.

 

https://www.saratogatodaynewspaper.com/home/item/8744-pitney-meadows-community-farm-continues-to-flourish

We have done so much in one year!

 

Preregistration Required for Jam Making Class

On July 14, the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens Sunflower Reading and Activity will be books about jam and then a jam making class.

Community Gardener and Teacher Faye Mihuta will read two books starting at 9:30 a.m.

At 10 a.m., there will be a Children’s Freezer Jam Making Program with Diane Whitten, from Cornell Cooperative Extension. Children must be between 5 and 12 years old to participate.

Due to the anticipated popularity of this class, pre-registration is required.

If you are interested, please sign up your children up before July 7. Cost is $5. per child and space is limited.

We also need 5 adult volunteers. One per table to work with the children. These volunteers will need to be in the garden at 9:30 a.m. for a brief training session.

If you’re interested, sign up in the garden shed and leave contact information.

Children will be taking home a container of blueberry jam.

You can also register by contacting Natalie Walsh, Garden Director at natalie.walsh@pitneymeadows.org before July 7.

Sunflower Art at Pitney Meadows

Screen Shot 2017-08-19 at 8.34.27 PM.pngNineteen people participated in the sunflower making art class Saturday morning at the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens.

Working under the direction of Miss Judy and Miss Rose, the group sat at the picnic tables in the garden and made large paper sunflowers.

They also had the opportunity to play in the sunflower house, play with the miniature farm and enjoy being creative outdoors on a beautiful summer day.

Next week on Saturday, August 26th, there will be another free art class for children.  This time, the participants will paint and draw sunflowers and other elements of the garden under the guidance of artists Martel Catalano, Nancy Hicks and Jess Clauser.  Children 6 to 14 years old are welcome. If you are interested, registration is required. Contact Garden Director Natalie Walsh at natalie.walsh@pitneymeadows.org.

 

Together, Volunteers Made it Happen

Last night I realized there was no way I could get all the landscape fabric down and pinned in place before the Navy volunteers arrived between 8:30 and 9 a.m. this morning.

The Navy was coming to move gravel onto the fabric below the pathways and then level the pathways out with a layer of stone dust.  This is hard, heavy work and I am grateful to have their help.

With the help of Jim Gold, the areas were marked out for fabric earlier this week. What needed to be done was the rolling out of the 6 ft. fabric, cutting the strips to fit, and pinning it in place.

Should I get up at 4:30 a.m. and head to the gardens? That’s what I was thinking. Could I get it done in time? Gulp.

I quickly put out a call for early morning help. The response was fabulous.  At 8 a.m. our volunteers showed up, ready,  willing and prepared to laid down the landscape fabric around the area where the pergola will be.

Thank you to early bird heroes Gus, Jan, Jess, Dan, Kim, Buster and Andy for their help.

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 1.49.54 PM.pngJust as they were finishing up, 11 volunteers from the Navy base stepped into the gardens up wearing their yellow shirts and immediately pitched in. Smooth, flawless transition.

As Bill moved the gravel in place with his tractor, the Navy volunteers raked it out.  In no time, the pathways were covered with a layer of gravel and then stone dust.  They worked like a well-oiled machine, making sure there were no low spots and adding stone dust until it was as level as possible. Taking pride in their efforts.

Two other volunteers who couldn’t work in the gardens, but wanted to contribute, brought drinks for the group and bought lunch from Putnam Market, which was received with enthusiasm.

Thank you all.  You are the community in our community gardens and I appreciate every thing you do for us as we make our gardens grow.

P.S.  Here is a photo of the color-coordinated Navy volunteers in front of our sunflowers.  Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 1.58.10 PM.png

 

 

Good Morning in the Garden

Screen Shot 2017-07-22 at 12.49.37 PMIt was a very pleasant morning in the community gardens.

Bailey and Esmee came to water and weed.  Jessica and Margie thinned annuals and transplanted along the edge of the sunflower garden.

Margie anchored the pumpkin patch sign Judy made into the ground. Paul did the last bit of the irrigation on the northwest side of the community gardens before going to work on the high tunnel.

Tom and Jim were busy nailing siding to the barn and Chris C. painted at a steady pace. George drilled drainage holes in an old trough and then planted it with flowers. He also help with the making of the scarecrow as did Judy B., Bailey and Esmee. Bill came over and gave us a pair of jeans for the scarecrow to wear.

All the while, gardeners came and took care of their plots; weeding, watering and saying hello. They shared ideas and tools. Some folks – like Kim and Karen – helped to water the newly planted sunflower area and the cosmos bed along the back of the garden.

There was community in the garden today. You got to love that.

Geologist Update on Rock Found in Garden Topsoil

A couple of weeks ago Kim Fonda found this rock in the topsoil.  green rockWe took images and sent them off to the New York State Museum geologist Dr. Marian Lupulescu.

His first reply asked us to see if it scratched glass.

Kim tested and it did. That told us it was quartz. We let him know and this was his second reply:

“The quartz sample could come from a pegmatite (igneous rock with very coarse crystals) or from a quartz vein from the metamorphic rocks. Both are common in Saratoga County.

“I think that the sample you have is from a pegmatite because of the black quartz (we call it smoky quartz) that is common in pegmatites. The green stuff could be the result of some lichens or algae infiltrated in the crystal through microscopic fractures.

“It is possible to find more rocks like this in the soil.” he wrote in an email.

It’s fun to know.  Keep an eye open, there may be another.

 

Sometimes the Pictures Tell the Story Best

 

 

 

 

Thank you to all the volunteers who came to the garden this morning. We worked through the rain and were able to set the last long row of raised beds in place and we staked the 8x12s in ground beds on one side.

Then the skies really opened up and we ran for cover. I will be in the garden at 8 a.m. Sunday to set the other side, which means every gardener will be able to plant tomorrow. The plots will be labelled with your names.

Thank you all for your patience and your help and a special thank you to Rocco who brought us a delicious lunch and to Kim F. for those yummy brownies. Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 1.35.09 PM.png

Thank you everyone for everything. This is a great COMMUNITY GARDEN because of each of you. The talents you bring to the garden are varied and welcome.

Special shout out to Jim Gold who has been tireless in his volunteering, Heather von Allen for her continuous support and Gus, for his willingness to do anything that needs doing.  You are priceless.

I watched everyone working together, helping each other, and I realized how grateful I am for all of this and all of you.

The Navy Came Through

What a great morning.

Volunteers from the Nuclear Power Training Unit in Ballston Spa came to give us a hand and were able to set beds in place, lay down landscape fabric, line the pathways with fabric, then gravel, and rake it out. They also filled the raised beds with soil and the sandbox with play sand.  What they did on one hot, humid morning would have taken us a day and a half. Thank you.

And, a thank you to all those who dropped off drinks and snacks and to Barbara for bringing lunch from the Putnam Market.  Every bit was appreciated.

 

Beautiful Beginnings….and a little trouble.

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I was in the garden enjoying how fresh and lovely it looks. Flowers blooming. Seedlings sprouting. Moreau6.7.2015_5207

The garden is beautiful.

But I did notice a problem. Something ate the tops off tomatoes and a pepper plant. It also pulled some plants out of the ground. I suspect it was a deer . . . but I’m not 100 percent certain. It might have been a woodchuck. If you see a critter in the beds, please let us know.

Thank you.

This is what the damage looked like. Anyone have experience to know what troublesome varmint feasted in our garden?Moreau6.7.2015_3