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issue 2012 #, date March

NILES COMMUNITY GARDENS DeLoach Grant Voting Opens Support Niles Community Gardens by Voting Every Day!


Helping others produce their own fruits and vegetables 2 while learning how to live more sustainably in Southwest Michigan

Niles Community Gardens has been chosen to compete for a $4000 grant through Organic Gardening magazine! Voting opened March 6th and continues until August 6th 2012. Please go to and find the Niles Community Gardens video. Click on the video and submit your vote! Remember, you can vote every day, so set as your homepage so you don’t forget!

Registered for the “Run to Grow 5K?” If you haven’t already, you still have time to sign up for the first annual ‘Run to Grow 5k!’ Get your family and friends together for a spring 5K run or 1 mile fun walk on April 21st at 9:00 AM at the Niles Amphitheater. The proceeds help the Niles Community Gardens in their quest to help others produce their own fruits and veggies while learning how to live more sustainably in Southwest Michigan. Register online at: Just click on “Find a Race” and find Niles Community Gardens under the date April 21st 2012. If you are interested in sponsoring the event or volunteering your time, please refer to the documents attached to this email. We will see you on April 21st!

Niles Community Gardens Needs 3 Help! We are in need of some coordinators and leaders in our projects this year.4 Please call Mark if you could give time to the projects below: - Garden coordinator - Farm gleaning - Fundraising - Project committees - Volunteer coordinator - Grant writer - Help with the “Run to Grow 5K” and “Spring Kickoff”

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Letter from the Director Sad March, it’s not really winter, it’s not really spring. It’s something in between, and in between is sad. It’s too much snow or too much mud. Everything seems dirty, especially the dog and car. The up side to early March is maple syrup – the best syrup there is. There is no comparison! It’s sweet and delicate with that rich maple flavor. There are several sites that locally make maple syrup. Go out and see how it’s made and take some home and treat the kids to pancakes that night. They will love you for it and they won’t forget. If you have a few sugar maple trees in your backyard or in the woods close to home, you should consider making your own next year. I have made my own for a number of years. It takes quite some time but the rewards are fabulous. It takes 40 parts of sap to make 1 part of syrup. In other words, 40 gallons of sap makes one gallon of syrup. It’s a great time to socialize or to just be

French Onion Soup Recipe Prep time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes Ingredients 6 large red or yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced. Olive oil 1/4 teaspoon of sugar 2 cloves garlic, minced 8 cups of beef stock, chicken stock, or a combination of the two (traditionally the soup is made with beef stock) 1/2 cup of dry vermouth or dry white wine 1 bay leaf 1/4 teaspoon of dry thyme Salt and pepper 8 slices of toasted French bread 1 1/2 cups of grated Swiss Gruyere with a little grated Parmesan cheese 2

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alone. You could watch the sap boil for hours – it’s kind of like watching paint dry. It is absolutely critical to watch the temperature in the last few minutes. Find instructions in this book Sugartime by Susan Carol Houser or online at: Your kids will love the experience and so will you. I hope to see you at our Spring Kickoff on March 24th from 10AM-Noon at the new Niles Fire Station or at your specific garden site meetings soon.

Keep on Growing, Mark Van Til Executive Director

1 In a large saucepan, sauté the onions in the olive oil on medium high heat until well browned, but not burned, about 30-40 minutes (or longer). Add the sugar about 10 minutes into the process to help with the carmelization. 2 Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the stock, vermouth or wine, bay leaf, and thyme. Cover partially and simmer until the flavors are well blended, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf. 3 To serve you can either use individual oven-proof soup bowls or one large casserole dish. Ladle the soup into the bowls or casserole dish. Cover with the toast and sprinkle with cheese. Put into the broiler for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned. Serve immediately. Yield: Serves 4-6 Courtesy of

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ZZ bravely tastes chive blossoms. She liked them!

Veggie of the Month: Onions There are many varieties of onions but they all fit within the 3 major groups: ‘long-day’, ‘intermediate’ (‘day neutral’) and ‘short-day’ onions. Here in Michigan we can grow ‘longday’ or ‘day neutral’ onions. ‘Short-day’ onions will not mature here and must be grown in the South. ‘Long-day’ onions need 14-16 hours of daylight to form bulbs. Onions can be grown from seed, sets (these are the miniature bulbs you see at seed and feed stores, sold in bulk by the pound) or plants. I find that plants produce the best bulbs, but seeds and sets work as well. If you want to grow green onions (a.k.a. bunching onions or scallions), then seeds and sets work fine and are cheaper than plants. Green onions are simply immature onions. Onion leaves grow first and their development is crucial to the formation of the bulb. Each leaf represents one ring of the onion bulb. Therefore, the more leaves the better and the bigger the leaf,

the bigger the ring (optimum number of leaves is 16). The bulb will begin to form when there are 14-16 hours of daylight, hence, ‘long-day’ onions. The bulb forms by stealing the nutrients stored in the leaves; so you can see how important it is to have many big and healthy leaves by mid to late June (our longest day is June 21). When the bulb has taken all the nutrients from the leaves, the leaves will fall over, the bulb will stop growing and the whole process is complete. To get a good stand of leaves by mid-June we need to plant as early as we can. This is ideally by early May because onions planted later will usually mature but be smaller. If you want to grow bulb onions from seed you should plant seeds in trays in the house or greenhouse by early March and then transplant by late April or early May. After they germinate, make sure they get plenty of light. Continued…


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Organic Pest Control Onions have few bug problems and can, in fact, help ward off bugs when planted close to other veggies (this is called ‘companion’ planting). Onions can however be damaged or killed by fungus which attacks the leaves. Poor leaves = poor onions. You can prevent fungus with regular application of organic fungicide such as copper.

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If you have any stories, jokes, poems, recipes or anecdotes you would like to share in our monthly newsletter, please send them to Sarah Markley via email at or via U.S.P.S. at 2625 Holland St, South Bend, IN 46619 If you are not on our email mailing list and would like to receive our newsletter, please send your email address to Sarah Markley via email or U.S.P.S. (address above). If you do not have email, you can get a copy of our newsletter at the Niles Public Library, City Hall or the Ferry Street Resource Center.

“God provided food for every bird, but he did not place it in their nest.” – unknown

A Bit of Laughter . . . “How are broccoli and boogers different?” “You can’t get kids to eat broccoli!” Please Support Niles Food Pantries

Garden with us!

Christian Service Center of Niles 322 Clay Street 269-684-0637 Time: 10-12pm and 1-4pm Mon, Tues and Thurs

Support us!

Salvation Army 424 North 15th Street 269-684-2660 Contact: Scott Time: 9-11am and 1-4pm Monday - Friday

If you would like to volunteer in the gardens or on special projects, or if you haven’t gardened with us but would like to, please email Mark Van Til at or call at 269-815-5034.

To make a monetary donation, please make checks payable to Niles Community Gardens and mail to: Niles Community Gardens PO Box 304 Niles, MI 49120 4

Quote of the Month

Mt. Calvary Church 601 Ferry Street 269-683-0243 Contact: Beverly Time 10-2pm Tuesday and Thursday

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Kid’s Corner – Coloring!


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Niles Community Calendar Voting for the Deloach Community Garden Grant Voting started March 6th and continues until August 6th 2012. Go to and click on the Niles Community Garden video. Type in your email address and name to vote! Remember, you can vote every day!

Garden Site First Meeting Schedule Westside gardeners’ meet- April 10th at 7:00 at Westside Admin Building Holy Trinity gardeners’ meet- April 23rd at 6:30 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Ferry Street gardeners’ meet- April 14th at 1:00 at the Ferry Street garden Arbor Trails gardeners’ meet- March 21st at 6:00 at the Arbor Trails community meeting room Northside gardeners’ meet- April 16th at 6:00 at Northside School Ballard gardeners’ meet- March 8th at 6:30 at Ballard School Ring Lardner gardener’s meet- March 14th at 6:30 at Ring Lardner School

NCG Nutrition Classes These classes are a fun and free way to learn about nutrition, gardening, cooking and more! Northside School: 2020 North 5th St. Ferry Street Resource Center: March 7, 14, & 21 from 2-3:30

March 12 & 26 from 6-7:30 April 16 & 30 from 6-7:30

First Annual ‘Run to Grow 5K’ Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 9:00 AM 5K Run or 1-Miles Fun Walk Niles River Walk Trail (Niles Amphitheater) To register, go to: Click on ‘Find a Race’ and Niles Community Garden Run To Grow 5K is under April 21st.

NCG Spring Kickoff March 24th 2012 10 AM-Noon at the new Niles fire station on Main Street Come and join us for the kickoff of the 2012 growing season! A fruit breakfast will be provided with yogurt and coffee! For more information you can call Mark Van Til at 269-815-5034


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Niles Community Gardens wants to thank all of our 2011 donors and volunteers. Thank you for helping us make 2011 a successful year! 2011 Donor List

in random order

Martin’s Supermarket Klug’s Nursery Vite’s Greenhouse Vicini Farms Shelton’s Varner’s Nursery Marschke Farms Niles Garden Club 4-Flags Garden Club Chemical Bank 5th/3rd Bank Teacher’s Credit Union Gateway Foundation Plym Foundation Johnny’s Selected Seeds Burpee Home Gardens Robert’s Service Co City of Niles Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency Jeff Saylor Dana F. Cole Mt. Calvary Baptist Church Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Niles Community Schools Wal-Mart Lowes Rural King Tractor Supply H.U.D. Block Grant “Feed the Hungry”

Niles Community Schools Administration Niles Education Foundation Michigan State Extension Citgo Petroleum All of our gardeners Meijers Jim Hippler Terry Holloway NCG board members NCG Pumpkin Committee Northside Child Development Center Cindy Wickham Ferry St. Resource Center Niles High School Greenhouse and ecology club NHS Key Club Ring Lardner kids Girl Scouts Bob and Jay Clancy Joe Rosser Elaine Metzger Dr. Dick McCreedy Bill Martin Jerry Jollay Veterans Niles Daily Star South Bend Tribune W.N.D.U. Ralph Wood- Andrews University Barbara Craig- Lake Michigan College PSI IOTA XI 7

NCG Newsletter - Issue 3  

Niles Community Gardens March 2012 Newsletter