Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bringing in the New Year

As 2010 slips into my rear veiw mirror I cannot help but revisit all of Unity Gardens successes , and shortcomings in 2010 . With that information we can look forward and plan for 2011 .

I can honestly say that 2010 turned out better than we ever imagined . At this point we are in all new territory , and learning on the fly . The growth was amazing . from 1 garden in 2008 to 34 in 2010 . But the downside was we were a little stretched , and may have not supported the gardens as well as we should have . We were not able to put signs up on all the gardens. We did a few fundraisers which were successful , but not to the degree we need to sustain Unity Gardens long term. Our plans to do educational events fell short . While we did some it was not enough . We increased the amount of volunteers helping , but we need more . On the upside we grew huge amounts of food , brought folks from inside their homes out into the garden, we educated people in the garden , raised awareness , and developed a plan for 2011 .

What's up for 2011 . Learning from our 2010 season we are starting off the year with a series of classes on how to grow a vegetable garden . Classes will be held at the Potawatomi Conservatories , and at the LaSalle branch library staring in January . We also are planning a Summer series on healthy cooking habits, and a fall series on harvesting , and saving food . In 2011 we will have 2 school gardens . We are adding a educational Isle at the LaSalle Square Unity Garden funded by PNC Bank , and the Greenhouse Garden is setting up a educational composting area showcasing different ways to compost .

We put up a shaded shelter at LaSalle Square , and the 1/2 mile walking path is in progress .

Several gardens will be getting , benches , and picnic tables , and all gardens will be receiving Unity Gardens Signs .

Some creative ideas are being tossed around for better fund raisers .

Bike Ride for Unity , Raffles , a Unity Dinner , Luau , Plant Sale , PayPal donate button on the blog , and several other ideas . I am learning that non-profits are always fighting the battle with having enough operating funds. Hopefully it will get easier.

In January we will be painting signs for all the gardens, and will start installing them in April .

We will be working harder to be more efficient in our growing methods, and work hard early to get more volunteers into the gardens.
I am excited for a new season of growing to begin

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Greenhouse Community Garden

The Greenhouse Community Garden sits behind the Potawatomi Conservatories, and is a shining example of what group of 24 people coming together can accomplish. Krista Bailey is the garden leader, and I have heard from some of her gardening group that the garden would not be anywhere without her organization skills . Its more than just about the garden for Krista. She lives a sustainable lifestyle . On any given day you may see her with her wagon heading to the garden , or she may show up at a garden opening on her bike. Krista also co-teaches a class on sustainability IUSB . She knows what she is doing when it comes to community gardens. She led the Americorp Community Garden group focusing on education, the environment , volunteer programs , and restoration .
A little history of the Community Garden; Late in 2007 a couple of people prepared a proposal to present to the city and the botanical society . In Oct of 2007 the proposal was accepted . Early 2008 the planning began . Discussions around garden design and management went from Jan to March . A cooperative framework was decided on . With 20 members ( or shares ) on board they decided on what to grow, with two shares in charge of each crop . The shares were responsible for securing seeds , finding best growing methods , and working the plot .
The first season was a roaring success . Many people toured the garden , attended workshops , an heirloom tomato tasting , and a end of the season open house .
Meanwhile on the other side of town another garden was growing . In 2008 Sara Stewart was growing an open community garden. She and Krista got together , and formed Unity Gardens in 2009.
The rest is history . In 2010 they became a non-profit 503-C with over 30 gardens . The Greenhouse Community Garden continues to stay true to it original framework of shared plots . They take a share of each harvest and donate it to a local food bank . Plans for next year include a harvest day for those in need , and a sharing shelf.
One of the things I like about the Greenhouse Garden are its use of a organic growing model . They also grow some experimental items including peanuts this year. This year they are doing a educational area showing the different ways to compost. Most of all the sense of community among its members .
So Thank You Krista, for not just your garden efforts , but also your work to protect our environment .

Monday, December 20, 2010

Beacon Heights Open House

Last Friday Unity Gardens had a open house at Becon Heights Apartments . Sort of a meet , and greet with our neighbors across the street from the LaSalle Square Unity Garden . Also a little bit of a mission to see how they like what we are doing , and what the see in the future for the garden , How will they use the garden . It was a little slow but folks came ito the clubhouse , had some snacks , and spent some quality time learning about the Unity Gardens . Some people knew about the gardens , some were new to the area , and had not seen te garden yet . Some things were clear . Like its a good place to get the kids out of doors, and teach them about healthy food . Some thought it was good to have healthy food close by . Some mothers would like a playground .
What I learn over , and over is that its a process of reaching people one at a time . The Unity gardens concept is a new one sharing , bringing people together , and building community . Its not just another community garden its for everyone not just select members . So far its working great one person at a time .

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Keller Park Unity Garden

Keller Park Unity Garden is located at 1001 Bryan St behind the Keller Park church . It was started 3 years ago by Meridith Eaton . After her first year she moved the garden to a new location in the neighborhood , and joined the Unity Gardens . Meridith is teacher at Marquette Montessori School . She uses her talents as a teacher to bring neighborhood kids into the garden . Much of the volunteer help comes from Keller Park church .

The church is very involved in helping the community . They host celebrate recovery meetings, Wed open community dinners, Spring , and fall block parties , GED classes , tutoring , and basketball . They also of course have Sunday Worship at 10:30 am .

Unity is excited to have Keller Park Unity Garden on board . They work hard to get the neighborhood involved in the garden, and on Saturday mornings they even harvest food and have the kids deliver it to the neighborhood . They work very hard to grow the garden . in 2010 they built several raised beds , and grew lots of food .

2011 holds some real exciting plans . Picnic tables ,rain barrels, mini greenhouse , a new sign with a sharing shelf , Raspberries , compost bin , and a decorative fence to highlight the area .

Looks like another busy year for Keller Park . We honor all the good work you have done .

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Looking for Funding

Unity Gardens is lookng for funding for 2011
Please read our story on the tab above . Unity Gardens is more than just growing food .

Please donate through the Paypal donate button on the right side of this blog . All donations are tax deductible
Or contact
Sara Stewart

Mail to :
Unity Gardens
PO 10022
South Bend IN 46680

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Master Gardeners

Last night I took my test for my Master Gardner test . Its the first step in becoming a master gardener . Next I become an intern, and do volunteer education.

Master gardeners are people who who study university approved research based horticulture practices through the local extension . There are over 94,ooo Master Gardeners in the US . They volunteer their time, and expertise to for the benefit of the community. To date Master Gardeners have logged over 5 million volunteer hours helping to save the world one garden at a time . Its all about helping others grow flowers , trees , shrubs, grass , and yes even vegetables . My class is taught by Phil Sutton who heads up the Purdue Extension office for St Joe County . I took the class to learn more about vegetable gardening so I could do some education for Unity Gardens . I soon realized that it was great to learn about all the plants, insects , and disease. Its seems we have lost touch with with the environment . Hopefully I can help others get back into their gardens through education . Its a great class I recommend it to everyone , even if you don't garden .

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wrapping for a Good Cause

Thanks to everyone who helped with the gift wrapping at Macy's this weekend . And thanks to Macy's for the space , supplies , and a program that helps support the community .

We will be back at Macy's next weekend .

Friday, December 3, 2010


When not working in the Garden we can find a little time to support the local community . United Way tree Sale , First Friday's at Junk Evolution ..All good fun .

Wrapping Presents

Unity Gardens is wrapping presents at Macy's this Holiday season to raise money 100% of the proceeds goes to Unity Gardens.We need volunteers to man the wrapping tables so please can to help out, or just come shop, and get your presents wrapped
Please sign up to raise money for Unity by manning our wrapping station at Macy's Dept Store Dec 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th, 19, or 20th from 12 to 7pm. Call or message us to sign up! Work an hour or all day! Any helps!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Potawatomi Conservatories

Last night Sara & I attended to Volunteer dinner at the Potawatomi Conservatories . It was a time to honor the people who keep the place going , a to present plans for the upcoming year . Andy Schnabel the President of the Botanical Society spoke a little about the upcoming collaboration with the Unity Gardens . Heidi handed out awards to the Volunteers . Don Spoke about future plans for a website , blog , and membership drive . Jon Burke with city layed out the plan for revamping the heating system in a more environmental way . All in all there are great things going on at the Conservatories . If you have not visited in awhile or you never have , it might be time to pay them a visit . Maybe join the Botanical Society , and lend a hand . The Conservatories are a one of the cities fine gems from another era that we must preserve . I am glad to say that are city is doing just that . Its just one piece in the puzzle of revitalizing our city .

The role the Unity Gardens will play in supporting the Conservatories is still evolving . We plan on doing a growing a home garden series starting in January , Starting plants in the greenhouse to sell to raise funds , helping them with their blog , and maybe even growing some vegetables in the greenhouse .
All good , and exciting stuff !!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Neighborhood Resources Roundtable

Last night Sara , and I attended the NRC round table . Its where the NRC brings together neighborhood leaders to discuss Ideas , and talk about their successes . I was a great learning experience for me . I was also nice to see that the Unity Gardens have had a impact on the city . Alfreda ( HUD garden leader ) spoke about what she learned at the regional neighborhood network conference in Dayton . Before she spoke about her trip she thanked Sara and I for our support of her Unity Garden , and suggested that every neighborhood should have a Unity Garden . She truly gets the Unity Mission . She also told a story of how she worked with about 30 kids in the housing development in the Garden . A the end of the season they presented her with an award for all she had done for them over the summer in the garden . Hard work , growing vegetables , and enjoying the outdoors thats what every child needs . I can see Alfreda will be even more of a driving force next season . Her education background makes her a perfect fit.
A few people spoke about their INSPIRE grants and how they used the grant money .The Unity Gardens received a $ 5000.oo grant earlier in the year to add some things to the LaSalle Square Unity garden Benches , shelter , walking path etc.... . Its clear to me that the Neighborhood Resources is heading in the right direction by creating positive impacts on neighborhoods .
If you do not know about them please check out their website .

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Busy Fall at LaSalle Square

People always ask what am I going to do in the winter . I always respond there is always Unity Gardens work to do . Mid November , and things are buzzing at the LaSalle Square Unity Garden . The shaded shelter went up today , thanks to The Neighborhood Resources Corporation, Inc inspire grant . The Shelter will be used for educational events , and a place for the neighbors to relax, and enjoy after a walk around the 1/2 mile walking path around the garden .

The City of South Bend donated some crushed concrete to put inside the shelter as a base . Jim is delivering more grass clippings to mulch in the new Community plot section , and the Center for the Homeless Landscape services is dropping off leaves in the big garden to mulch in . I am thrilled at how the Garden is shaping up .

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Speading The Leaves

More help from St Mary's

Some girls from the St Marys Rotaract club came out to help with the LaSalle Square garden today . The Rotaract club is Sponsored by the Roseland Rotary Club . The 5 girls came out to help spread the leaves in the garden to help enhance the soil . Volunteers from St Mary's have been out 6 times this year to help in the garden . They have been a great help . Its great to see that St Mary's is so involved in doing service in the community .


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Unity Story

Today I was putting away some stuff in the shed , and I came across a sign from the first Unity Garden . At the time it was not even called Unity . It was just an question . What would happen if ?? There are a few pictures from that year that have an impact on me . A homeless man pushing a shopping cart through the maze of abandon buildings . Who would think to put a garden there to serve him ?
A shot of the landscape company watering the garden during the dry spell , after weeks of hauling water to the garden in gallon jugs . A crude sign on an old peice of plywood tells it all .
The Unity Gardens has come a long way since the first garden in 2008 .
In 2009 Sara Stewart with her lone garden on Franklin street , and Krista Bailey with her group of gardeners at the Greenhouse community got together to form the Unity Gardens . In 2009 they put together a group of 12 gardens with similar goals . In 2010 the Unity Gardens became a 501-3C non-profit , and grew to 34 gardens . The future plans became more formalized , and a 3 year plan is in place .

I have been helping out with the with the gardens since 2009 , and I will say its been a wild ride . Never did I think it could grow so fast , and have such an impact on the city , and on me . So I guess with fall coming on it seemed like a good time to reflect on a job well done .

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Community Plots at LaSalle Square Garden

While 95% of the LaSalle Square Unity Garden is open to pick free next year we will be testing a pilot plan to open up a new section of garden to community plots . We are fencing in an area about 200 yards from the main garden . it looks like we will have about 8 10'x10' plots available to the neighborhood . The plots will be free , and Unity Gardens will provide seeds to each gardener . The city as always helpful will provide water . Please contact us if you are interested .

Monday, November 8, 2010

Working to be more sustainable

While I admit I do not spend all my waking hours thinking about being more sustainable , I understand it very well . So when realistic opportunities arise I implement them if I can .
Last week I was out in the LaSalle Square Unity Garden putting down some leaves in the garden to mulch for next year , and twice I see the Center for the homeless landscape services truck drive by full of leaves. So I am thinking ( insert light bulb moment here ) Instead of driving to organic resources with the leaves , why not drop them in the garden !! Less gas is used to drive leaves out of the neighborhood , less energy is used in grinding up the leaves to make compost , I call it a win win . Not to mention that we are helping The Center for the Homeless Landscape services be more efficient. Do not get me wrong I love organic resources , and the city program of leaf , and organic waste recycling is ahead of most cities in the country . We love all the guys out there , and they support the Unity Garden as well. Its the best deal on compost , and Mulch in town .
So a simple thought can make a difference . Part of the Unity Gardens mission is to bring fresh healthy food to the neighborhood in a sustainable way .

So if you support the Unity Gardens or just want to do a good thing please look into the CFH Landscape Services .They provide a supportive and comprehensive job training environment through which homeless men and women can transition into the workforce, moving beyond and breaking the cycle of homelessness.
Check them out online or call them

Also visit Organic Resources page

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Still Harvesting

Today I met Sharon , and Gwen at the LaSalle Square. They were out in the garden harvesting all sorts of greens in the cold , and rain. They did take time out to tell me how much they have enjoyed the garden . Their visits to the garden have become something they enjoy together as friends. Gwen had so many stories of food she made out of the vegetables from the garden , I am hoping to get her to do a few classes on the food she cooks. Its great to see folks enjoying the garden so late in the season .

Unity Updates

I heard a story this week I feel the need to pass on . A woman was getting her hair done, and the hair dresser told the story of her mothers visit to the Memorial Unity Garden . She was taking her mother to the doctor in the building next to the garden . When they arrived her mother noticed the garden , and wanted to walk through it . As the walked through the garden her mother spirits were lifted . She walked up and down every row telling stories of her garden , but also telling stories about her mothers garden that the daughter had never heard . For the rest of the day her mother was in a good mood .

While this story is not a surprise to me because I spend a lot of time in the gardens, and hear stories all day long it still has a profound impact on me . On the surface yes the gardens seem like their mission is to provide healthy food for those who need healthy food . Simple yes , but it is so so much more than that . The gardens are just the catalyst for much more . Diverse people coming together yes, Education programs yes, Improving the environment yes ! The list goes on . Over the past 3 years we have seen neighbors come out more , and more . We are planning several Unity Gardens education programs for next year , both on growing gardens , and eating healthy . Our collaborations with the schools , and daycares are being realized . Benches , picnic tables , shelters , mini greenhouses , and a walking path are all planned for 2011 . So when Sara coined the phrase " We are growing more than vegetables here " She meant it , and the Unity Gardens goal remains strong .

Other Unity news

The shelter is going up at LaSalle Square in a few weeks

Dickinson School is taking on a art project to decorate 9 donated church pews to use as benches in the gardens .

There was some concern that we were losing the Monroe Park garden in 2011 , but its going to be back .

The city is looking at a garden around the county city building .

Broadway Christen Center is looking at a garden in Ravina Park on Indiana street .

We are collaborating with Potawatomi Conservatories with a winter fundraiser at the Greenhouse .... Beach Theme !! Yes

Thats it , Happy Gardening !!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Harvest Party

The 2010 gardening season was very successful , and just like last year the Unity Gardens capped off the season with a harvest party at the Potawatomi Greenhouse . The event is to celebrate all the people that made the gardens happen .

This year the gardens grew to over 30 gardens , and it was thanks to the hard work of the garden leaders , and the support of the community .

We had a special guest at the harvest party this year Mayor Luecke . More , and more the support of the city , and the Mayors office is helping to grow the Unity Gardens . In 2011 we already have many educational collaborations with schools , and daycare centers planned . We are looking at several new garden sites , and maybe even a garden at the South Bend courthouse .

We are thankful to the folks who brought food out to the party . Starbucks donated coffee , The Botanical Society donated the use of the Conservatory , and Channel 16 news was out to cover the event .

So a quick thanks to everyone . Now its time to put the gardens to bed , and start planning for next year .

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thanks May Lee

Article published Oct 29, 2010
Celebrating a season of growthUnity Gardens' harvest event is Saturday.

By MAY LEE JOHNSON Tribune Staff Writer SOUTH BEND Tribune

There are at least 34 reasons to celebrate the Unity Gardens -- and that's what organizers plan to do Saturday.The Unity Harvest Celebration will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Potawatomi Conservatories in Potawatomi Park.Everyone is welcome to attend and celebrate the end of the 2010 Unity Gardens season. There is no charge.There will be food, a discussion of plans for 2011 as well as a recap of the third season, when the number of public gardens grew to 34.That's a large leap from the dozen or so last year and the lone garden on Franklin Street in South Bend the first year.Unity Gardens founder Sara Stewart said some of the gardens are more successful than others, but they all contribute to the mission of improving community health -- physically, socially and economically.That seemed to be the case at the South Bend Juvenile Correctional Facility's garden, where youths experienced the rewards of growing fresh vegetables with their own hands.The process also helped the troubled students -- boys ages 12 to 16 -- focus on a positive experience and gave them a therapeutic outlet, facility representatives said."These kids had a chance to see where our food comes from," said Geoff Jankowski, a science teacher there. "I was able to utilize the garden into the curriculum."They were able to get their hands in the dirt and actually see the structure of flowers, pollination and photosynthesis."After the harvest, three youths at the correctional facility made salsa from the tomatoes, onions and peppers. They also donated salsa and other vegetables to Catholic Worker House.Esa Ehmen-Krause, superintendent of the juvenile facility, said the garden project was a good fit."All the boys at one time planted, weeded and watered the plants. They worked the garden from start to finish," she said."In the end, they felt great about giving back."And Aimee Shelide, of Catholic Worker House, said they were grateful to be the recipients."This food will help supplement our meals because we eat vegetables all the time. They are a very important part of our mealtimes," Shelide said.The correctional facility garden is in a highly visible spot in the neighborhood and a source of pride for boys, according to Jankowski."It built pride in them and when their parents would leave they could be heard saying, 'Hey, mom, stop by and look at our garden,' " Jankowski said.One more reason to celebrate.
For more information on the gardens or the celebration, call Sara Stewart at 574-315-4361.
Staff writer
May Lee Johnson: 574-235-6326

Monday, October 25, 2010

More Leaves

Working on putting the LaSalle Square Garden to Bed !! For covers we are using grass clippings & ground leaves. This should make for a nice rich soil this spring .

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More Up Coming Events

Oct 30
11am to 2pm "Unity Harvest Celebration" Will be held at the The Potawatomi Conservatories Everyone is welcome to attend , and enjoy the celebrationof the end of the 2010 Unity Gardens Season Enjoy food & refreshments . We will have food , and refreshments , a reveiw of the 2010 season , and plans for 2011 .Come see what the Unity Gardens are all about !

Nov 7th
The Unity Gardens will have a booth at the NNN Arts Cafe
8th Annual Arts Café on Sunday, November 7th from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The Near Northwest Neighborhood, Inc. (NNN) invites you to the 8th Annual Arts Café on Sunday, November 7th from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. This free walking tour will open five homes for the community to view, showcasing the distinctive character of area homes and providing a unique backdrop for local artists, musicians, and culinary specialists to share their diverse talents.
This year’s Café will be on Cottage Grove Avenue, between Lindsey Street and Van Buren Street – guests will begin their tour at the corner of Lindsey St and Cushing St.; just follow the signs from the South Bend Civic Theatre (at the corner of Portage Ave. & Lindsey St.). At the event artists’ wares will be available for sale – featuring everything from watercolor, pottery, photography, and jewelry, in addition to culinary delights. Local musicians will add to the atmosphere, providing music for your enjoyment. Also, take a minute to stop by the Children’s Activity Tent where there will be interactive activities for youth.
Not only does Arts Café provide a chance to see the hidden beauty of the homes in the near northwest neighborhood but it also gives participants the opportunity to see and appreciate local artists’ talent. We look forward to bringing the community together to help celebrate the great things happening in our neighborhood. So don’t forget to mark the Arts Café on your calendars for Sunday, November 7th, and plan on joining us in celebration.
For more information, call the Near Northwest Neighborhood, Inc. at (574)232-9182 or visit us online at

Please Like the Unity Gardens Facebook Site!/pages/The-Unity-Gardens/123560624328366

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Up coming Events

Upcoming events
October 19th 6pm to 8pm "A Path to Healthy Eating"
The class will be held at the LaSalle Branch Library
Edie Sutton will be demonstrating a simple vegetable recipe
Participants will be given ingredients to take , try the recipe at home
The cost is free !!

October 30th 11am to 2pm "Unity Harvest Celebration"
Will be held at the The Potawatomi Conservatories
Everyone is welcome to attend , and enjoy the celebration
of the end of the 2010 Unity Gardens Season
Enjoy food & refreshments
Meet the Unity Garden Leaders
Learn about plans for the 2011 gardens
There is no charge for this event

Please Like our Facebook Page!/pages/The-Unity-Gardens/123560624328366

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Found a nice article on fall clean-up

Putting Your Garden to Bed By: Nathan Harman of Dome-Grown Farm

Putting your garden to bed for the winter can be compared to putting a child to bed: finish dinner, put away toys, go potty, brush teeth, put on pajamas, and read a story.

Finish dinner - This means tending your food plants. Gather the last tender crops before frosts come, save seeds from the best specimens, protect your winter crops with blankets and cold frames, and plant your bulbs and perennials.

Put away toys - Take care of your garden toys (tools). Locate, clean, oil, sharpen, touch-up, and generally care for all the tools, pots, hoses, buckets, and other implements you've been using all summer. Store carefully indoors out of the elements.

Go potty - Put garden waste on the compost pile. Plant tops and debris, unseeded weeds, leaves, old mulch, etc. should be used to build up a goodly compost pile, or amend and turn a current one. Work your compost well now to have finished compost ready for you in the spring.

Brush teeth - Freshen up the garden. Burn any plant material that carries a known virus or pathogen that is only destroyed by fire. Tidy your pathways, mow, mulch. Make things look nice to your eye, cause it's going to look that way all winter.

Put on pajamas - Don't let that poor garden bed shiver naked all through the winter! Keep the ground covered with mulch (shredded leaves, grass clippings, straw, etc.) and/or cover crops (wheat, rye, oats, clover, etc.).

Bedtime story - Tell your garden story from this season and write down whatever you can still remember. What worked well, what didn't? Any new plants or techniques to comment on? Any good ideas for next year? The act of writing, and telling yourself the story of the garden, seems to give finality to the season while also inspiring the future.
Much of the winter we will spend away from the garden, so we should be sure to leave it in the best possible shape as we step out this fall and enjoy a few months of winter calm. Like a child, once the garden's awake, there's no stopping. Happy Gardening!
To view the complete article, please click here to visit our blog.

Nathan Harman is an active member of the Bloomington Permaculture Guild and participant in Transition Bloomington. He and his wife (with their two young daughters) operate Dome-Grown, a small permaculture farm in Bloomington.

Help support The Unity Gardens please Like our Facebook Page!/pages/The-Unity-Gardens/123560624328366

Saturday, October 9, 2010

My Visit to the Niles Community Garden

Sara & I visited the Niles Community Garden this week . We met Mark , and Joe at the largest of the 4 gardens they have in Niles . It was a treat . The Garden is comprised of plot that you can buy for $15 ( 10 x 10 ) or $25 ( 10 x 20 ) . They also devote a part of the garden as a communal growing area , and a fair amount of the garden produce is donated to local food banks .

These guys really know what they are doing , and they share it with the community through an education program . The afternoon was a learning experience for me , and I plan on learning some things from these guys to implement in the Unity Gardens Program

Niles Community Gardens
508 E Main Street
Niles, MI, 49120-2618
Phone: 269-462-2787
Or 269-683-5292

Friday, October 8, 2010

This Week at LaSalle Square

This week at LaSalle Square we got our first big fall frost . On Sundays some girls from St Marys came out & helped put down Mulch in the Isles , and do a lot of harvesting before the frost came . On Sunday , and Monday night we got hit with some pretty frosty nights . It changed the garden season like a bookend to a great year . While we still have many cool weather frost resistant veggies doing well most everything else is wilted away .

The good news is we had some Fruit trees donated by George at McKinley Terrace Garden Center . So we can start work on the Orchard . I also started laying out the area for community plots . Next season we plan on fencing off another area away from the main garden for community plots . We will give plots to those who want them first come first serve . The Unity Gardens will provide Seeds , tilling , and water donated by the city . It will add another demension to the The Unity Garden Framework.


Friday, September 24, 2010

More Help from St Marys Girls

Thanks to the girls from St Marys basketball team for coming out to the LaSalle Square Unity Garden Friday afternoon . The Basketball season does not start for 3 more weeks , but they are already champions in my book . They volunteered to come out and work in the garden , and they worked hard . Putting down mulch , and hoeing out the old rows getting ready for winter . Its all hard work at the garden because we use very little power tools . So great job girls !!

Near East Neighborhood

Diversity in area exists on many levels
By GENE STOWE Tribune CorrespondentDate: Sunday, August 8 2010
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When they couldn't find land for a Unity Garden, organizers in the Near East Neighborhood suggested everyone plant vegetables in unused recycling bins.
People at nearly half the 125 addresses in the stretch from Eddy to Sunnyside between Madison and Colfax participated.
"We gathered a lot of contact information and got to know people," says Laureen Fagan, who moved into her home about nine years ago. "We have 56 different addresses who agreed to grow tomatoes or peppers or whatever they chose."
Gardening comes easy to Bill Whipkey and his wife, Margaret, who moved into their Madison Street home 88 years ago when she was 4 months old.
"We've always had a garden," she says. "My father had a garden, I remember. There was a grape arbor and a cherry tree. They're gone."
Gone too are the drugstore, tavern, grocery store (once an A&P), meat market, barber shop, beauty salon and dry cleaner that once provided walking-distance shopping near the intersection of Madison and Eddy.
The old Coquillard School at Colfax and Notre Dame avenues is gone.
"I think it was more stable when I was younger," she says, figuring that the trend to more rental properties picked up about 15 years ago.
Neighbors are determined to protect their neighborhood. Terry Berger, who arrived about a year ago from Lake Station, Ind., recently called Fagan and volunteered to be a block captain.
"The neighborhood we live in has had some break-ins," he says. "I've noticed some suspicious activity. This is a nice neighborhood over here, and I would like to keep that quality of living safe and have everybody enjoy the neighborhood. We all have to live on this planet together."
The neighborhood includes a synagogue, a church and a small apartment building. Residents relate to neighbors who lived at the 130-bed Cardinal Nursing Home, which hosts occasional ice cream socials or cookouts for the community.
"We definitely want some community involvement," says Kay Rendal, Cardinal's director of marketing.
Fagan visits the home every Monday. "Even residents who, for mobility reasons or cognitive reasons, are not going to garden at all, you get them talking, get them involved in conversing," she says.
The neighborhood, with easy walking or biking access to downtown, the Farmer's Market and Notre Dame, still has old-fashioned charm in its homes and along its streets.
"It's very diverse, not just in terms of race but also in terms of socioeconomics, lifestyles, the kind of thing you want in a neighborhood," says Fagan, who can see six-figure houses from one side of her porch and much-less-expensive homes on another side.
Residents drop off their green beans, peas, tomatoes and cucumbers on her porch on Tuesdays and Fridays for her to take to the Northeast Neighborhood Association's food pantry.
"We may have been motivated at first by crime prevention concerns, and of course still focus on Neighborhood Watch," Fagan says. "For me, it's really so much more than that in terms of quality of life, community projects, knowing names and talking.
"I have a lifestyle commitment to simplicity. This is a smaller and compact, and yet, in my view, a very attractive little property. This house is exactly what I need. I'd say the same thing about the neighborhood. It's a really interesting place to be."

Know of a neighborhood worth writing about?
Let Gene Stowe know at

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Taking Down the Garden

Well the time is getting closer to taking down the garden at LaSalle Square . Although right not it is still putting out lots of good veggies . I was at the garden this morning and 5 different people stopped by to harvest , and none went home empty handed . ,
What I am doing now is seeking out areas that are done ( completely done !! ) producing , and pulling all the plants , and weeds . I will put them in my compost pile . A better option if you live in the city is to let the city pick up all your plants , and compost them . Its important to take most plants out of your garden . It will help remove disease, and weed seeds . If you are wanting to be more sustainable , and compost your own make sure you learn about composting .
There will be a "Composting 101" workshop Monday September 27 at 6:30pm at the Main Library in South Bend. If you want to learn about composting you may want to check it out. Sponsored by the Soil and Water Conservation District, it will earn you an "instant rebate" coupon that can be used towards the purchase of a 5...5-gallon compost tumbler and/or a rain barrel. For more information or to register: 574-291-7444 ex3
After I pull out the plants I hoe up as best I can then put down grass clippings , or shredded leaves . This will breakdown , and enhance the soil . I will put the clippings on thick , and hopefully next year I will pull the top layer off and with a little hoeing be ready to plant without tilling . What I pull off the top I will put back in between the rows as mulch to keep on feeding the plants .
More fall projects include a walking path , covered shelter , small greenhouse , fruit trees and benches . Also we a doing community plots that we will give to neighbors to grow their own garden in
2012 plans include a fitness trail . So I think I will be busy right through winter .

Sunday, September 19, 2010

ND Students Shine

Great job today by a real action driven environmental group from ND . They help the enviroment through service . Which is the way it should be . A great day lots of work was done . They cleaned out beds , and got bthem ready for next year . Put down mulch in the isles , and harvested .
We also had a large amount of visitors in the garden . Still lots to harvest . Some folks came to harvest , and enjoy a good sit !!