New Hampshire Community Gardens Putting People First

We traveled to New Hampshire this week looking at what community gardens in the Granite state are doing.

There was a lot of see.  In total, we went to seven gardens. I saw a garden set up on the grounds of a public library. A nice idea since there is pre-existing infrastructure such as a parking lot, bathroom when the library is open, and a ready source of garden reference materials.

BTW -With the Dewey Decimal classifications, gardening is under 635. ūüôā

Neighbors helping Neighbors

In Keene, one garden’s purpose is solely to feed the hungry. ¬†And they do, “Antioch University New England continued to operate the Westmoreland Garden Project on space leased from Cheshire County, where they added a hoop house and were able to produce 1212 pounds of produce for The Community Kitchen in 2018,” according to the¬†Community Kitchen website.

The Community Kitchen provides healthy food to low and moderate income people in the Monadnock Region.

In the ground this year are potatoes, tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, onions, sweet potatoes, carrots and more. Wesmoreland.jpg

In Durham, ¬†a 139-acre farm called Wagon Hill, ¬†Screen Shot 2019-06-21 at 6.05.01 PM.pngwas acquired by the town in 1989 “to preserve its scenic vistas, provide for future municipal purposes and preserve open space in order to provide for a healthful and attractive outdoor environment for work and recreation, and to conserve land, water, forest and wildlife resources.”

We were there on a rainy day and still dozens of people were out hiking, taking photos, walking their dogs, running, and enjoying the land in and around the community garden.  It was bustling.

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The community garden is nicely maintained and thoughtfully laid out with ample space for wheelbarrows in the pathways. If you look closely, you can see the seedlings of many different vegetables and herbs in the carefully weeded and mulched beds.

This was a very inviting garden with picnic tables, an arbor made from branches and fabulous field views. Definitely a place to come, gather, garden, put your feet up and enjoy.

They use a plastic mesh fence to keep out deer. Discreet, yet effective, it is barely noticeable and doesn’t interfere with the great views.

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North Hampton Community Garden

Not far away, in a community garden in North Hampton, the atmosphere is quite different. The garden here is on a busy road and the highway can be heard and seen in the distance.

Even so, the garden was relaxing and felt homey.

The gardeners who grow food here created “backyards” in their plots with chairs where they could sit and watch the garden grow. I suspect the fencing around some plots also helps keep bunnies out of the beds as I startled several as I walked around.

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One of the great pleasure of visiting community gardens is seeing how different they are and how they meet the needs of those they serve.

braches.jpgEvery garden has a personality from the rustic to the formal.

And I always learn something and make notes of features that I may use in a garden one day.  Sometimes it is an old idea seen in a new light. For example, branches for pea supports.

As I looked at this row, I was taken by how attractive it was and how inexpensive it would be to create.

Children could gather the branches and stick them in the ground.

And peas are a nice big seed for young fingers to plant.

Another plus is that sugar snap peas are sweet to eat right off the vine.

If you have a community garden you think I should visit, let me know.

I’d love to come see you in the garden, Natalie

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

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!

 

 

 

 

Time to Tuck in the Garden Beds for the Winter

Tucked in.jpgIt was a chilly, drizzling morning Saturday, but still we got so much done in the gardens.

Thank you all who came out and worked cleaning beds.  We stayed busy and enjoyed the homemade onion soup made from our own onions, fried dough, cookies and turmeric tea.

With the frosty temperatures forecast this week, everyone should be clearing out the last of the warm loving vegetables: basil, tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, eggplants. Harvest before the freezing temperatures.

Cool season veggies like carrots, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts do well when the weather gets nippy so – if you are a gardener in good standing – you can leave them for now.

Some gardens still need to be tended, but I trust it will be done by Oct. 22.

Our mandatory meeting is Oct. 24th at the Spring Street Gallery at 6 p.m. That is when you will be able to choose your garden beds for next season and hear about our plans for 2019.

See you in the gardens, Natalie

 

 

 

Great turnout at the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens’ Fairy Gathering and Sunflower Measuring

Approximately 800 people visited the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens for the 2nd annual fall fairy gathering and measuring of the sunflowers. Many wore fairy attire and the garden was a flurry of fluttering fairies enjoying field games, live music, dance and an appearance by the fairy queen.Screen Shot 2018-09-23 at 11.50.04 AM.png

 

Caterpillar Inspired?

Screen Shot 2018-09-16 at 6.38.31 AMI have a theory.

A Monarch caterpillar climbed up the cosmos and spotted the drawing of a chrysalis on the sign made by the students at the Waldorf School for the butterfly garden at Pitney Meadows Community Gardens.

Inspired, he thought, “I can do that.” And transformed from caterpillar to pupa right next to the sign. What do you think?

This is our fourth Monarch chrysalis in the garden’s certified Monarch way station which is brimming with flowers planted to support the lifecycle of the Monarch butterfly.

Children’s Sunflower Hour Program Had a Successful First Season

onion harvestEvery Saturday since June, children have been attending a reading and garden/craft program in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens we called the Sunflower Hour. Today was the last session of the season.

It has been wonderful with dozens of children coming over the summer to hear stories told by Faye Mihuta, a retired teacher, and experience life in the garden. Children sat in the sunflower house, which is just now beginning bloom and listened to books being read.

Over the last eight weeks the crafts they made with artist Jess Clauser included a fluttering butterfly, bee bracelets, and cards made with vegetable stamps. Other weeks, the children learned about sowing flower seeds, how vegetables grow, the importance of honeybees and the butterfly habitat we have to support Monarch butterflies. Jay Epstein came one Saturday to talk about worms and the children made worm farms from recycled bottles to take home.cly2

Today,  the project was to make a clay medallion by pressing the leaf of the herb sage into wet clay. The clay was trimmed with a round cookie cutter and set out to dry.  Once dry, they can be painted. Each one was very pretty and the children were please to take home several each.

onionfayeNext, we harvested onions. Each child had a chance to pull the onions from the ground and take one home.

Afterwards, we all tasted zucchini bread and basil lemonade. Both were delicious.

It was a great morning in the garden.

Special thank you to Faye and Jess for all the effort put into making Sunflower Hour a memorable experience for young community members.  You are deeply appreciated.

Natalie