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 . http://www.nrc4neighborhoods.org/

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 !!