Eartheasy Article on Natalie’s Community Gardening Work

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Click to read more: Eartheasy

Thank you to all the wonderful people I met from coast to coast who are creating community gardens and orchards. I am grateful for the time and information you shared with me.

See you in the gardens, Natalie

Creating an Enchanting Fairy Village

fairy elements

Pitney Meadows Community Gardens is lucky to have artist Jess Clauser expanding the fairy village near the pergola.

The project started two years ago in a 4×8 plot and from the start captivated an audience of adults and children. It grew and grew from a plot to a flower border and now is expanding even more. Magic happens.

It is still under construction, but you can already see the imaginative space Clauser is creating.  This summer, houses and fairies will work together in preparation for a fairy fest in September.

What makes a fairy garden especially spellbinding? Mushrooms, branches in unusual shapes, moss, and lots of charming details. Anything from acorn caps to tree stumps can be incorporated.

 

 

 

Touring California Community Gardens: Fun, Sun and Lots of Ideas

Here are three highlights of my recent adventures in California visiting community gardens from Sacramento to the Bay area:

LaybugSacramento: There are waiting lists four and five years long to get into some of the gardens and if you visit, you’ll see why.  The pride and care that goes into the city’s Parks and Recreation community gardens is evident in the upkeep, the design and the spirited innovation.

There are fruit trees growing, individual gardener plots, even a small vineyard (It is California after all!) and artful ways of conserving water and engaging gardeners. For example, a sculpted cistern shaped like a ladybug collects water from giant metal flower basins.  This is just one of many artful touches.

BayerSanta Rosa:  A bilingual garden at the Bayer Community Farm with signage in Spanish and English. This is a welcoming space with garden plots, a large area with a dozen colorful picnic tables, a labyrinth and a teepee trellis house for children.  The garden space accommodates young and older with raised beds designed for people with disabilities.  One of the nicest aspects of the garden is that it is adjacent to a recreational space that was buzzing with activity as neighbors played sports, skated and rode bikes.

PotHill copySan Francisco:  In most gardens your attention is drawn down to ground level where the vegetables, flowers and herbs grow. In Portero Hill Community Garden, located at the edge of a ridge, your eyes look up and out to see a breathtaking city scape. Perched on land that was once the abode of the goat lady of San Francisco, this is a striking garden and so well tended.  The gardeners here love their spaces and it shows.

More to come….

BTW- Sacramento is agricultural zone 9. They plant tomatoes in March!

 

 

 

 

Community Orchards

I’m working on an article about community orchards. These are fruit or nut tree orchards grown as a community endeavor with participants sharing in the work and harvest, donating part of the harvest to others or selling produce locally. Often these orchards are part of a community garden, but not always.

The article will be published on the American Community Gardening Association website. I’m hoping to share what it takes to create and manage an orchard and include your personal experiences. As we know, there is a lot we can learn from one another.

Thank you, Natalie

Building Garden Structures with Sticks and Saplings

Screen Shot 2019-01-17 at 9.16.05 AMThis is my idea of fun.

Patrick Doughtery, a carpenter and sculpture, is creating a huge stick sculpture at the Mounts Botanical Garden in Palm Beach County, Florida from truckloads of saplings.

Dougherty, who is based in North Carolina,  has created his Stickwork projects in Scotland, Japan, Brussels and all over the United States, including Cincinnati’s Taft Museum of Art.

I’m looking at this and thinking…Hmm. Can we scale this down and make a sapling sculpture in a community garden? What would you create?

A tunnel for hanging gourds? A playhouse? A secret room?

Has anyone made one? If so, let me know about it please! And send pictures!

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Have Questions About How to Use What You Have Grown?

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 11.07.38 AMTwo programs on using all the delicious produce you have grown in the garden are planned in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens.

The first is Thursday, August 31 at 7 p.m. when Pattie Garrett, R.D. and Nicole Cunningham R.D. will discuss familiar and some unfamiliar ways to prepare and preserve your bounty.  There will be taste testing to enjoy.

And on Sept. 14,  Barbara Biagioli, health and nutrition counselor, will discuss building a healthy lunch box.  Barbara will share quick, healthy and  kid-friendly recipes inspired by the fresh foods grown in the gardens.

Come join us. All lectures are free and start at 7 p.m.

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.