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Edible Avalon Takes Off Things are growing like mad at Edible Avalon! This is a new program for Project Grow this year. In spring, volunteers built raised wood or stone community garden beds at several Avalon Housing properties (www.avalonhousing.org) for tenants and the surrounding community. Stop by and visit the ones at Arbordale if you get a chance (see map of Edible Avalon gardens on the Project Grow website, www.projectgrowgardens.org). Tenants pitched in to build the beds despite the stones weighing 25 pounds apiece! The gardens have exploded with growth in the last few weeks, with squash leaves the size of basketballs and greens - collards, mustard, turnip, and beet - growing as fast as the gardeners can eat them. Over 20 bags of greens and lettuce were harvested at the Parkhurst gardens last week.

New Grow Staff: A Warm Welcome to Leigh Ann! Project Grow is thrilled to welcome Leigh Ann Phillips-Knope as our new Assistant Director. Leigh Ann brings a wealth of experience in community development, social action, organic gardening, and sustainability. Having managed a wide diversity of community-based programming within non-profit organizations, her leadership skills and enthusiasm will serve us well as we embark upon the next exciting phase of our growth and development at Project Grow. Leigh Ann is absolutely delighted to have joined our staff after returning to Ann Arbor; she recently completed her graduate Continued on page 3

We released ladybugs, with the local nursery school children visiting their plot for the occasion. Initially they were a litttle apprehensive but pretty soon they all wanted to hold a ladybug. They had ladybugs climbing all over their hands and even a few shirts and shoes, and one had to be unobtrusively rescued from a little girl’s ponytail. Continued on page 4

Project Grow to Go Completely Digital for 2010

This is our last issue! Many thanks to everyone for the years of support and contributions! The Project Grow board has decided to drop the printing and mailing of the Community Gardener newsletter in the interest of updating our connection to our gardeners and making our operations just a little bit greener. Members, friends, and sponsors will continue to get announcements by email, in the monthly E-News, and you can always keep up with news and events on Project Grow’s blog and calendar. Postcard announcements of special events and reminders about classes will be periodically mailed to members throughout the year. You can still submit articles and information to the E-News by contacting info@projectgrowgardens.org


2009 Fall Events

Designing Educational Gardens at Matthaei

August 22 September 12 October 4

By Dan Marcus

October 8 October 17 October 18

Tomato Tasting HomeGrown Festival Big House Big Heart Run/ Walk Fundraiser Annual Membership and Board mtg. Garden Cleanup Gardens Close

Saturday, August 22nd Project Grow’s Tomato Tasting Extravaganza!! 9:00am-12:00pm, Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market

Everyone loves homegrown vine-ripened tomatoes! If you are deciding whether to grow Sungold or Sweet Million, Pink Brandywine or Pruden’s Purple next season, then come taste other gardener’s tomatoes and many of our Project Grow tomatoes from our own heirloom garden! To donate your own tomatoes for the taste test, please bring them to the Project Grow table (at the Farmer’s Market on Fifth Street and Division) between 8:30am and 11:00am. Donated tomatoes should be washed and labeled as per variety, but not sliced. Grow will also be tabling a second tasting in conjunction with the HomeGrown Festival on September 12, also at the Farmers Market. For information call the Project Grow office: 996-3169 or email us at info@ projectgrowgardens.org

This spring and summer I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer with Project Grow for the first time. Through Grow’s coordination with the University of Michigan, I’ve taken charge of a demonstration project at Matthaei Botanical Gardens where I have been delighted to design display gardens that focus on three things. First, I use small nontraditional spaces to show the value of all sorts of available growing areas, even where space is a luxury or unusually proportioned. Second, I use recycled materials to create attractive, low-cost, and environmentally low-impact gardens. Third, I have constructed beds that are accessible to a wide range of gardeners with differing levels of physical abilities and needs. The primary audience I hope to reach are people who have a finite amount of room in which they can garden. To show these individuals how they can effectively use whatever space they have, I planted nearly all my vegetables in segmented raised beds. Some of the beds are simple in construction, using nothing more than common items like cinderblocks and steel troughs. For those who are more industrious, I have planted a variety of crops in larger beds ranging from spare timber construction to stone blocks configured in several different ways.

Gardeners at Clague

2 • The Project Grow Community Gardener

Summer 2009

I have been excited to incorporate recycling into my display. In one area of the garden I planted sunflowers in used burlap sacks. In another, I have cucumbers, climbing flowers and pole beans climbing reused mattress springs. For people who do not even have the limited space to grow food out of something like a used burlap sack I have grown a hanging tomato plant from a reused five gallon bucket, which takes up no ground space at all. My compost area is constructed out of reused pallets, and the cinderblocks which make up one of my beds are a familiar item in any city. Across the garden I present a variety of techniques that save space and demonstrate how limited areas can be used most effectively. I have grown a variety of crops from strawberries and lettuce to basil and nasturtiums in a bed that is wheelchair accessible. This bed is raised to roughly waist height and has ample space all around for easy navigation and barrier-free access to the plants. Many of the other beds, while not wheelchair accessible, have large surface areas making it easy for those with limited mobility to access all areas of the bed without bending over or reaching too far. It is still early in the growing season but I have already enjoyed a harvest of pak choi, swiss chard, strawberries, snow peas, spinach, basil, chives, thyme, rosemary and sage. I am looking forward in the coming weeks to harvesting pumpkins, beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, carrots, kohlrabi, shallots, onions, ginger, cucumbers, cabbage, collard greens, cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, squash and horseradish (though not necessarily in that order!!). This garden, though comprised of small beds, will likely generate many pounds of delicious and nutritious vegetables over the course of the season. Working on this display garden for Project Grow has been an absolute delight and wonderful learning experience. It has changed the way I see the earth and the food I consume. Many thanks to all.


Project Grow Project Grow’s office is located at 1800 N. Dixboro Road Ann Arbor, MI 48105 Mission Statement Project Grow Community Gardens provide the space, education and inspiration to make organic gardening accessible to all. Project Grow E-News will be published monthly. Readers are encouraged to submit articles and ideas. Advertising and additional sponsorship are always welcome. Please email info@ projectgrowgardens.org Board of Directors

Devon Akmon, President Joan Bulmer, Treasurer Melissa Kesterson, Executive Director Terre Fisher Royer Held Kirk Jones Catherine Riseng Damaris Suffalko

Community Gardener Volunteers Susan Cybulski Terre Fisher Liz McDowell Pamela Schwarzmann

Project Grow memberships are $10 a year and include receiving the E-News. Project Grow is a 501(c)3 organization; donations to Project Grow are tax deductible. Board Meetings Board meetings are held at the Grow office at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, 1800 N. Dixboro Road. Please contact the office at (734) 996-3169 for upcoming meeting dates. All Project Grow members are welcome to attend.

www.projectgrowgardens.org

Melissa’s Corner – Changes at Project Grow By Melissa Kesterson, Executive Director This is a wonderful time to be part of Project Grow. We can feel the energy around organic gardening, local food, and urban gardening. Our mission to provide the space, education, and inspiration that make organic gardening accessible to everyone seems more relevant than ever! Thanks to the reputation of our gardens and gardeners around town, we have seen quite an increase this year. To accommodate as many aspiring community gardeners as possible, we have created new gardens and have grown our existing gardens as large as site situations allow. We are also extremely pleased about our new partnerships this growing season with Avalon Housing and Food Gatherers—and excited about the growing Discovery Gardens, GO! Gardening, and Edible Avalon programs. Our Organic Gardener Certification program with Washtenaw Community College enjoyed record enrollments this year. Our awareness of these many areas of growth has inspired the Project Grow board of directors to respond by setting a course for organizational development, so we can continue to support and educate our growing membership. Even when we take into account all that we do as an organization, and all the people we already serve, we still see a broader need in the community for the programs we offer. This continues to energize us as an organization. All of us connected with Project Grow are proud that we have been a nonprofit in the Ann Arbor area for nearly 40 years. Like anything that grows, change is part of the cycle. For Project Grow change now means shifting entirely from our print newsletter to the monthly e-news—with occasional mailed notices to members about upcoming events. It also means a move from our office space at the Leslie. For over a decade we have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the Leslie Science and Nature Center, where our office and one of our Discovery gardens have been located. Since the Discovery Garden there will remain active, we anticipate many more years of working with the Leslie after the office has moved. Kudos to the Leslie on their staff expansion and the need for more space! We say good bye to them and hello to our new home at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens. We are excited about our new office space at Matthaei! While Project Grow remains fully independent, working alongside Matthaei staff will afford more opportunities to cooperate and build a strong feeling of camaraderie based on our compatible missions. Our members and those who support and care about Project Grow should see many positive outcomes from our office move and our organizational development. We remain committed to and enthusiastic about serving our community of gardeners.

Welcome to Leigh Ann Continued from page 1 degree in Service, Leadership & Management at SIT Graduate Institute, with an emphasis on working with communities for social change. As an herbalist and Yoga teacher, Leigh Ann is particularly engaged in the therapeutic and healing properties of plants and in connecting with the earth. She lives with her family in a purple farmhouse just outside of town, where they cultivate a bursting organic garden, share their produce through an old timey farmstand, and preserve the harvest to carry on throughout the year. Please extend a warm welcome to Leigh Ann!

The Project Grow Community Gardener

Summer 2009 • 3


First Harvest Goes to St. Andrew’s Breakfast Program Greenhills School Gardens with Grow for Food Gatherers By Gail Wolkoff and Vicki Blayney A new adventure for Greenhills students will reap benefits for the community. For a number of years, our students have volunteered community service hours at Food Gatherers and the St. Andrew’s Breakfast Program. Our community has held many annual food collections and we had long talked of starting an organic garden to supply vegetables for people on fixed incomes who are unable to purchase fresh food. We wanted to complete the circle by growing, then donating, our produce. This spring, thanks to Project Grow and Greenhills parent, Vicki Blayney, our talk of a garden has turned into the hoeing of a garden. We have a 15 x 24 ft. plot at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Since our goal is to donate all the produce to Food Gatherers, we have selected vegetables that will withstand being harvested and put in a box until pick-up. We decided upon tomatoes (including one heirloom called “Peace”), marigolds to repel tomato hornworms, a couple types of peppers and beans. Also, we planted onions, beets and radishes to inter-crop with the tomatoes. Last but not least, we planted hills of cantaloupe, butternut squash and zucchini. The digging, composting, and mulching days of May were wet and cool. Now that the sunshine is here we are seeing the beauty of our garden. Student volunteers are experiencing the joys of weeding, watering, and harvesting their crops. Our garden plot has a beautiful sign made by Jim Horton and his art class. Come on by to check it out!

Edible Avalon Continued from page 1 We also made strawberry jam - a messy but tasty endeavor. Activities scheduled for July and August include a class on pickling watermelon rinds and cucumbers, medicinal plants, community Salad Bowls, beneficial plants and insects, and children’s programs including building a sunflower fort, doing plant ID, and selling produce at the Wednesday Farmers Market. Gardens are located at five Avalon apartment properties: Arbordale, Parkhurst, Stimson, E. Davis, and 819 S. Third.

4 • The Project Grow Community Gardener

Summer 2009


Go! Gardening: The Future of Food and Our Community For the past several years, Project Grow has worked with teachers, administrators, and staff at Mitchell Elementary School, part of the Ann Arbor Public School system, to develop the Go! Gardening program. This school-garden program enriches classroom education by giving students in the first through fifth grades a chance to dig in and get their hands dirty while learning about organic gardening, nature, and food. Since many students get little exposure to these important basic concepts outside the program, this experience is key to encouraging early science learning and responsible environmental citizenship. Project Grow staff work with teachers and draw on the talents of volunteers to coordinate lessons and schedules so students get the most out of their time in the garden. In Spring 2009, the program went into the classroom, working with the second graders to plan the garden, prepare the soil, plant

seeds and plants, and even taste a few things before school got out. The Go! Gardening fun continues this summer with four weeks of programming associated with the summer school enrichment program at Mitchell. Come fall, students will gather in the garden to learn about gardening topics like planting and harvesting, as well as to sing songs, paint signs, and taste the delicious foods we harvested. The Go! Gardening curriculum draws on Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCEs) and strives to address needs identified through Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) examinations. Improved test scores demonstrate that students who participate in Go! Garden learn important “concepts exploration” with all 5 senses as well as getting the chance to garden, identify plants, weed, water, label crops, harvest produce, taste the fresh foods they have helped raise, and more. The future of Go! Gardening involves big plans. While Mitchell is the flagship site for the program, it is set to spread to additional schools in the near future. Program goals include: - engaging more classrooms - working with school kitchens to use garden produce in school meals

- making gardens available to any teacher for any subject throughout the year - developing physical garden spaces though hardscaping, structures, and perennial plant selection

Volunteering with Go! Gardening is rewarding and fun. Because of the variety of activities covered by the program, Go! volunteers fill a variety of roles and are vital to our success. To learn more about opportunities to work with this growing school garden, contact Jacqueline at jacqueline_venner@yahoo.com. As our society becomes more distanced from the sources of our food, the need for school and community gardening programs only becomes greater. Go! Gardening presents unique and important opportunities to make a real difference in the future of food. Support school gardens in your area!

A Labor Day picnic! We are partnering with Slow Food Huron Valley to host Slow Food’s National Day of Action with Time for Lunch to support school gardens and healthy food initiatives. This potluck event will take place at the Go! Garden site at Mitchell Elementary on Labor Day, September 7, 2009. Please join us to learn about the program, lend your support, and learn how to get involved for the Fall and for next year’s planning.

The Project Grow Community Gardener

Summer 2009 • 5


1831 Traver Road, Ann Arbor MI 48105

Non Profit Org. US POSTAGE PAID Ann Arbor Michigan Permit No 289

Project Grow Summer 2009 Newsletter  

Project Grow Summer 2009 Newsletter

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