Gardeners in Community Development May 2010
Gardeners in Community Development www.gardendallas.org Mailing address: 901 Greenbriar Lane Richardson, TX 75080
Dallas Area Community Gardening
Starting a New Community Garden Every Week
In the past few weeks, once the cold rainy weather let up, new community gardens have been starting up all over. A project called Healthy Harvest, in partnership with GICD, has helped five southern Dallas neighborhood groups begin construction of new gardens. These food production garden projects are hosted by churches for the benefit of members and neighbors: Saint Philips Community Garden, 1628 Panama Street Highland Hills United Methodist, 3800 Simpson Stuart Road Golden Gate Baptist, 612 N Cliff Street Christian Stronghold Baptist, 6810 Samuel Boulevard First Christian Methodist Evangelistic, 7575 S Hampton Road Other new garden start-ups are in the planning stages. GICD is providing development expertise and training for these Healthy Harvest new community gardeners. An orientation and training for garden liaisons, and garden bed building workshop on March 13, kicked of this series. It is estimated that at least 250 households will tend plots, and each garden has plans to share their garden and the produce grown with neighbors far and wide. As groups get better organized they hope to have a major affect on building better neighborhoods, promoting healthy lifestyles, and lessening hunger and food related diseases. The main training site for these new gardens is GICD’s Center for Growing People, the community gardening training center at 1616 N Jim Building St Philips School Garden, March 27, 2010 Miller Road (hosted by Church of Our Savour). Several other groups that trained at Our Saviour have recently started their own garden projects. These include: Acers Community Garden at Central Christian, 4711 Westside Drive Cliff Temple Baptist, 125 Sunset Avenue While a dozen or so new gardens started in the last two years, that is 2008 and 2009 (see our link “Find a Community Garden…” at www.gardendallas.org), this year promises a bumper crop. We are hopeful that all these new community gardeners will learn from each other, take advantage of the expertise accrued by GICD over the past 2 decades, become active with the American Community Gardening Organization, and stand together as city hall begins to appreciate these wonderful neighborhood projects that have been an ignored part of our history, and now are becoming hugely necessary and popular.
IN THIS ISSUE
Starting a New Community Garden Every Week Meadows Funding Tool Bank Grant Community Volunteers Save the City of Dallas A Peep at the Coops Tour Checklist of Garden Work Mulch Pathways Pleasant Grove Food Pantry Opens Community Garden Bike Tour, Oak Cliff Food For Good Farm at Paul Quinn College Plant Sale Suffers From Cold Weather East Dallas Gardens Lead the Community Garden Struggle Support Community Gardening Your tax-deductible donation will support GICD’s community gardening programs. Donations are gratefully accepted. Please make your check payable to GICD and send to 901 Greenbriar Lane, Richardson, TX 75080
GICD received a Meadows Foundation Grant just in time to keep our work going for this year. Finding funds has been difficult in these lean times, and shortfalls were beginning to threaten some of our projects. Not only is fundraising a greater challenge now, but requests for help with new garden projects, volunteers wanting to participate, food pantries needing fresh vegetables, people looking for someway to grow vegetables to feed their family, have greatly stretched resources. Thank heavens for Meadows. At least we now have some means to provide a little of the much needed support that can help sustain communities through gardening.
Mission: improving the quality of life in neighborhoods through community gardening
Ever Growing Gardeners in Community Development
Tool Bank Grant
This past January the Professional Convention Managers Association held their annual convention in Dallas. At that event their Education Foundation collected donations for local community projects. Working on behalf of GICD, Keep Dallas Beautiful submitted a request that funds be made available for a “community tool shed” to be established by GICD. Happily a check for $5,111.10 has been received. Our tentative plan is to purchase gardening tools that can be borrowed by established community gardens and community projects. We are working on details for housing and managing this tool bank. We truly appreciate the PCMA Education Foundation and Keep Dallas Beautiful for their support and this generous gift.
Community Volunteers Give to the City of Dallas Community Gardens are possible because volunteers plan, build, plant, weed, harvest, and have a self-interest in keeping the garden in good shape. Some gardening volunteers have years of experience, and some are new. Their love for others and gardening grows food in neighborhoods that lack grocery stores, brings fresh produce to the needy, and enables children and families to grow their own lettuce, tomatoes, and squash. This is the best kind of self-help and working together to bring positive change. Citizens cleaning up unused spaces, struggling with scarce resources, bearing expense, blisters and sore backs, and exalting in joy that comes from knowing that action and shared passion makes the city a better place. Dallas city officials should be jumping at the opportunity to see vacant space taken care of at no expense to the city, and should not be trying to create
Volunteers transplant tomato seedlings in the Growing People greenhouse, March 29, 2010
Groundwork Dallas youth volunteering. Live Oak Community Garden, East Dallas, May 8, 2010
barriers and charge fees to people that voluntarily are doing so much good. This is especially true in neighborhoods where extreme poverty is the norm. Let gardening thrive!
GICD Gardeners in Community Development
A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1994 to promote community gardening in north Texas. Board of Directors Leo Guitierrez Amanda Brown Carolyn Bush Azenath Wright Pinkie White Lee Govidnia Executive Director Don Lambert Educational Assistant Rebecca Smith GICD training center: Center for Growing People 1616 N Jim Miller Road Dallas, Texas GICD mailing address: 901 Greenbriar Lane Richardson, TX 75080 email@example.com
Volunteers constructing garden at the First Christian Methodist Evangelistic Church, May 8, 2010
Peep at the Coops Tour Buys Chicken Tractor
The recent self-guided Peep at The Coops Tour, held on Saturday, April 18, gave folks an opportunity to visit chicken projects in 10 backyards and at the award winning Stonewall Jackson Elementary School Garden. It was a tremendous success, and hundreds of people came out to have a look and talk about urban chickens. Funds raised from sponsors and raffle donors went towards establishing chicken coops at local schools and community gardens. GICD and Stonewall Jackson Elementary were honored to be recipients of this year’s tour. We plan to build a mobile coop, commonly called a “chicken tractor” so that hens at the Center for Growing People can spend some time eating weeds, bugs, and scratching around in the community gardens at Our Saviour. A big thanks goes to tour organizers, sponsors, and all who donated to this great cause.
And, speaking of chickens…,
the Growing People chickens started laying their first eggs about a week ago. This project was funded as the last of the projects made possible by GICD’s multiple-year support of the Dallas Urban Gardening Initiative from Heifer International.
Ever Growing Gardeners in Community Development
Checklist of Garden Work in the Month of May
Work to do: Deep mulch pathways and beds Tie and stake climbing plants Fertilize all beds before planting Control bugs, slugs, aphids and worms Hand pollinate squash Plant hot season crops Harvest: greens, chard, peas, cabbage, radishes, lettuce Plant hot crops: okra, sweet potato (from slips), southern peas, pepper plants, squash, beans, melons, corn
Mulch: Mulch is needed everywhere. For pathways use wood chips (see “Mulch Pathways…” on this page). For planted beds in vegetable gardens use grass clippings, leaves (put saving bags of leaves on your “Fall to-do list”), hay, compost, etc. Tie and stake: Tomatoes need large cages (not the puny ones sold in stores) made from horse fencing or the heavy wire mesh (you need 6” square holes to reach through) kind used to reinforce concrete slabs. Peppers, eggplant, beans and other plants may need support or training as they grow. Fertilize: Use organic sources like cottonseed and alfalfa meal, fish emulsion and kelp. Dry molasses will add some nutrients and make soil life forms happy. Bugs: Hand pick and kill squash bugs, slugs, and worms on greens. Blast aphids from plants with water spray. Look for pests at night with a flashlight. Try D.E., soap or orange oil sprays if infestations are bad. Make notes to yourself to not plant varieties that bugs like. Hand pollinate: Some vegetable like squash, corn, cucumbers, and tomatoes, might need your assistance to achieve pollination. Maybe a good topic for future Ever Growing newsletters. Harvest: If you tended your garden from last fall through early spring, you should still have some spring greens, Swiss chard, peas, radishes, and maybe some lettuce (lettuce gets bitter once hot weather arrives, just like some of us). Plant hot season crops now: It will soon be too late. It is already for tomatoes. Spring and summer gardening depends on the soil building you began last fall and work done over the winter. Spring is hectic. It is a struggle to get cover crops turned under, early vegetables planted, find seeds, get seedlings started on time, transplant and protect tender tomatoes and peppers, harvest greens and lettuce, and do the many other tasks that compete for time. Proper execution of each is critical for a garden to be successful in the months ahead. Rain and cold weather may cause delays or plant loss. And don’t forget to mulch. Begin serious mulching by late spring or summer heat will destroy your hard work. Soil between plants should be covered with 2 or more inches of mulch (grass clippings, chopped leaves, compost, but not those bark or wood chip mulches that break-down slowly). This will keep weeds from growing, protect soil and roots from heat, heavy rains and droughts, and provide nourishment as decomposition occurs.
Mulch Pathways Deeply with Free Wood Chips
Nothing does more good for long term garden soil quality and maintenance than applying mulch deeply in pathways. The best mulch available can be obtained for no money, delivered free to your community garden from local tree trimming services. This is not imported bark mulch, or ground wood like products that are shipped and sold locally, but an opportunity to recycle the chopped trimmings from local trees within our urban forest. Deep wood chip mulch does many things: 1. It suppressed weeds. It must be at least 6” deep so sunlight does not go through, and works best if applied on top of cardboard or several layers of newspaper. This will stop even Bermuda grass. Screening compost from pathway mulch at Plot Against Hunger 2. Weeds that grow in the mulch layer are easy to remove because their roots grow into the soft mulch layer. 3. Instead of removing plant materials to a compost pile, you can add them into your pathways. 4. This mulch all becomes compost in a few months. It nurtures beneficial soil life forms. This compost can be easily dug, screened, and added to adjacent beds. Free compost! 5. Deep mulch absorbs rain water and controls erosion. Pathways in a well mulched garden can hold several inches of rain to naturally water your garden and leach slowly into the water table. This saves money and protects water quality in streams, lakes and rivers. 6. Well mulched gardens look great! They are neat, clean, and never muddy. 7. Mulch moderates temperatures in your plant’s root zone, which increases yields. 8. Saves you money. You will save on fertilizer costs, need less disease and pest controls, and use less water. 9. Saves you work. Spreading mulch to control weeds is far less work than digging weeds out, and making compost in pathways is less work than lugging materials to a pile and back again.
Ever Growing Gardeners in Community Development
The Pleasant Grove Food Pantry Opens
The Chapel on Jim Miller, 1655 N. Jim Miller, Dallas, 75217 Serving zip codes 75217, 75227, and 75253!
The Southeast Dallas Emergency Food Center has re-opened as the new Pleasant Grove Food Pantry. Pleasant Grove community members have seen the need increase for the pantry to reopen due to the economy and loss of jobs, but finding an affordable location has been impossible until now in space generously donated by Joyce Carr and managed by Sophia Brown at the Chapel on Jim Miller! Ascension Episcopal Church Parishioners donated the funds to remodel and make rooms ready. And ready we are!
Volunteers from Pleasant Grove, including local churches, businesses and organizations, gathered Tuesday morning (May 11) to sort and package donations of canned goods from local food drives, and with funds donated from the Pleasant Grove Kiwanis and help from the Pleasant Grove Fiesta Food Market. At the same time, garden volunteers harvested fresh vegetables at Our Saviour Community Garden to donate to the pantry. First Day Service: 14 volunteers 14 families served (47 people) 468 lb (1,872 servings) of food including freshly harvested vegetables from Our Saviour Community Garden.
The Pleasant Grove Food Pantry will be open on Tuesdays immediately following the weekly harvest at Our Saviour Community Garden every other Tuesday for two months and then every Tuesday beginning in July. Hungry families will receive fresh produce and staples and will be encouraged to volunteer at the Community Garden to help others in need and to learn how to grow their own food. The Pleasant Grove Food Pantry Steering Committee would like to give special thanks to:
Eastminster Presbyterian Church Joyce Carr, Sophia and Amanda Brown Southeast Dallas Chamber of Commerce The Chapel on Jim Miller Umphress Park United Methodist Church Ascension Episcopal Church Kiwanis of Pleasant Grove Blake Ingram, Auto City Our Saviour Community Garden gardeners and volunteers Our Saviour Episcopal Church Martha Doleshal, Exec Director, Southeast Dallas Emergency Food Center and our Pleasant Grove Community Members who have graciously and generously reached out to care for each other!
The next steering committee meeting is Sunday, May 23, 4 pm at the Pleasant Grove Food Pantry, located in Chapel on Jim Miller, 1655 N. Jim Miller. Please join us! To Volunteer Time, Talent or Treasure, contact: Becky Smith, 214 564-5801 or Martha Doleshal 972-313-5564.
Community Garden Bike Tour in Oak Cliff
The folks at BIKE FRIENDLY OAK CLIFF are heading up a tour of our community gardens in north Oak Cliff, and we couldn’t be more thrilled! Here are the gardens, projects, and other locations we will be going to, as well as the event schedule. This is a family event, so bring your kids. The route is approximately 7 miles long, so if the little one’s can’t ride the entire way, please accommodate. Tours, refreshments, and educational presentations about composting, bees and other interesting activities will be provided at some of the garden stops! Fix up your ride at Oak Cliff Bicycle Company (http://ocbicycleco.com) for this great event Ride Date: Sunday, May 23, 2010 Start Location: Eno’s Pizza Tavern, Bishop Arts District Start Time: 1:00 pm (times are approximations based on amount of time at each stop and travel time) 1. 1:15pm Community Garden of Cliff Temple 2. 1:50pm Methodist Hospital System Garden 3. 2:50pm St. Cecilia’s Community Garden (http://stceciliascommunitygarden.blogspot.com/) 4. 3:20pm Jefferson Median Project 5. 3:50pm Urban Acres Farm Store (http://urbanacres.wordpress.com/) 6. 4:30pm Eno’s Pizza Tavern (http://www.enospizza.com/) Many thanks go to all of the gardens and volunteers involved who will make this ride the best of BFOC’s yearly rides!
Ever Growing Gardeners in Community Development
Food For Good Farm at Paul Quinn College
On May 5, 2010 PepsiCo and Paul Quinn College inaugurated their Food for Good Farm at Paul Quinn College. The urban farm, located on the school’s former football field, will be a fully operational farm that emphasizes sustainable growing practices, stewardship, and community engagement. The college will follow an innovative curriculum that will integrate the farm into its academic program, teaching principles of botany, biology, and social enterprise. PepsiCo is working with students and staff to develop farm related businesses that will serve the surrounding Highland Hills and South Dallas Communities, as well as local chefs and restaurants.
Left: The entire football field is planted to summer crops Above: Dignitaries & quests ceremonially plant the new farm
GICD Plant Sale Suffers From Cold Weather
GICD’s annual fund raising plant sales were held on April 17 and 18 at the East Dallas Community Garden, and April 24 at Our Saviour Community Garden. The extended cool weather and rain in April has not been good for gardening, and kept many buyers from attending the sales. Last year we made almost $8000, but this time it was closer to $5000. The plants donated by local nurseries and growers were some of the most beautiful ever. The top donor, YC Nursery, really grew some beautiful dianthus, begonias, impatiens, coleus, petunias, and geraniums. Other plant donors included Bruce Miller Nursery, Greenlake Nursery, Ruibal’s Plants of Texas, and Yellow Rose Landscape. We had gift cards donated by Walton’s Nursery, North Haven Gardens, and Jimmy’s Food Store. A nice lunch Thank You Sale Donors was provide by our YC Nursey friends at Bruce Miller Nursery Blue Mesa. We really appreciate the support of these wonderful Greenlake Nursery businesses, and hope that GICD supporters will thank them as they Ruibal’s Plant of Texas go and shop at these fine community friends. Again, please help us thank these supporters! Yellow Rose Landscape
Walton’s Garden Center North Haven Gardens Jimmy’s Food Store Blue Mesa Grill
GICD grew plants in the Growing People greenhouse for the plant sale and to supply other local community gardens. Cool temperatures made for tomatoes available about 2 weeks later than usual, but this worked out due to our late spring. We were unable to have basil, peppers and eggplant ready for the East Dallas sale, but some were just barely big enough at Our Saviour. If anyone is looking for basil, we still have some. Call 972-231-3565.
Ever Growing Gardeners in Community Development
East Dallas Gardens Lead the Community Garden Struggle
On Saturdays the East Dallas Community Garden, at 1416 N Fitzhugh, has a small produce market where the garden’s growers sell some of what they grow. This marketing, encouraged by Dallas Mayor Annette Strauss when this garden opened to serve area Asian refugee families over 20 years ago, is the oldest community garden in Dallas. Most of the garden’s farmers came from rural farming communities in Cambodia and Laos, and are now seniors suffering various disabilities. They grow traditional Asian vegetables and herbs, like long beans, bitter melon, wax gourd, bunching onions, mint, and various leafy greens. The extra cold this past winter and spring has brought hardship, and they are struggling to get new plantings in and to cover their expenses. Please help out by visiting this garden and buying some vegetables. GICD is currently adding some newly arrived families from Karen and Karenni areas of Burma. These and many other new refugee groups desperately need a place to garden. While GICD supports the idea of community gardens for eveKaren gardeners grow food for their families ryone, we are committed to keeping our East Dallas sites as a special place for new immigrant families who come to the US as refugees. Property taxes may bring about the end of community gardens on land within the City of Dallas. Current interpretations of zoning and current codes do not recognize community gardening as a legitimate or exempt land use. As an example, the small Peace Community Garden on Virginia St, is owned by GICD. Every year we struggle to pay taxes approaching $2000 per year for this tiny lot with garden space for only 10 families. Repeated requests for exemptions have been denied. And really scary, starting next year, the Dallas
Central Assessment District, will begin collecting taxes on four lots where the Live Oak Community Garden operates, and on the single lot where the 22 year old East Dallas Community Garden sits. GICD does not make a profit by managing gardens or providing community gardening education, and we currently are in a state of crises as to how to keep this wonderful garden open. Work in these gardens is done by community volunteers, and the gardeners themselves are volunteers. This is necessity gardening, not some casual recreation. It is extremely hard work for a meager return. These are not commercial enterprises. We feel that the locations where community gardeners apply their labor, most of which are low-income people producing food to feed their families, should be tax-exempt. Current tax codes and zoning are not in accord. On top of this, the City of Dallas wants to begin charging gardeners, or organizations with gardens, fees for permits to start a new gardens. What needs to happen? Change current zoning to certify that individuals and groups have a right to garden. Allow tax exemptions for community gardens that have an established record of food production for low-income households and of feeding the hungry. Let growers sell some of what they grow to cover costs of water, tools, seed, etc. Let urban farming become a source of local food and local jobs. Avoid expanding city government functions to include charging fees, requiring permits, and other top-down control that will undermine local volunteer commitment to building better neighborhoods through gardening. Give support to current programs like that of GICD, instead of creating new city run programs. Vacant lots in the poorest neighborhoods of Dallas, where children go hungry, should not be allowed to fester with crime and grow weeds when neighbors are eager to grow food there.
Don Lambert, Executive Director, GICD
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