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Show #7/4307. Community Gardens

SUMMARY OF SHOW

Elle Working With Plants And People
Eric next meets Elle and welcomes her to the show. Elle has been heavily involved in community gardening in Cleveland for years. Elle tells Eric what sparked her interest in gardening. When she first bought her house she was watching all the gardening shows and thought - I am going to do this. She would see Master Gardeners on TV and didn't have a clue what that was but was determined to become a Master Gardener. And Elle did become a Master Gardener and has had a love of gardening ever since. She had previously been working with seniors as a programmer at the senior center and she knew she could work with people. Combining that experience with WORKING WITH PLANTS AND PEOPLE in her neighborhood made a great match. People in the neighborhood would come by her house and say, "we love your garden, it makes it so nice to walk by." That was amazing to Elle. So she started working with community gardens and it has become near and dear to her heart, a real passion. And Elle has become instrumental in working with community gardening programs to bring communities together, to teach them about food and how to grow food.

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Blaine Avenue Community Garden
Elle's most recent project is the BLAINE AVENUE COMMUNITY GARDEN. This project had some real challenges. Originally they had 6 foot high weeds, trash underneath, sometimes dead dogs so it was a challenge. But they took it on and the team absolutely transformed this lot and it shows in the neighborhood because people are now taking an interest where sometimes before they didn't.

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Test The Soil
Elle and Eric look at a new plot that has recently been purchased. Before striking ground Elle first must think about SOIL TESTING. You need to know what you're working with. They often have challenging soils - heavy metals, it could be anything. You want to know what you're putting your hands in, you want to know what you're growing in, you must know what's going in your food.

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Lasagna Gardening
Elle mentioned earlier LASAGNA GARDENING. It is unusual but represents a quick way to get started when the surrounding soil is challenging. And in most urban gardens one does need to be concerned with lead and things like that in the soil.

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Three Sisters Planting
Elle and her group are utilizing a very specific, very unique type of planting. It's called THREE SISTERS PLANTING. They take 3 different types of plants that actually compliment each other when growing. This is the ultimate in companion planting. The 3 plants are corn, beans and squash.

Click here for more info

Typical Plants In A Community Garden
Elle talks about some of the PLANTS SHE TYPICALLY SEES IN A COMMUNITY GARDEN. Tomatoes and peppers are commonplace, collards, swiss chard, mustard and kale, garlic, eggplant and onions are popular and, peas are always a hit.

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A Brick Oven
Eric notices they take a very holistic approach to education. They're in the process of BUILDING A BRICK OVEN so people can pick this fresh food and cook it on site. They have a pizza oven workshop that emphasizes taking the food grown and cooking with it.

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CALVIN - A YOUNG GARDENER
The guys are next joined by Calvin who is already an avid gardener. CALVIN IS 14. He confesses he likes to grow anything you can grow although his favorite is cucumbers. But he also likes to grow corn. Calvin doesn't see a plant as what it is when he puts it in the ground, rather sees it as what it can be. If you plant a seed it turns into a cucumber, it's amazing to see that transformation from a little seed into a full grown plant.

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RAISED BEDS ARE A GREAT OPTION
Especially when growing vegetables it's important to have the soil tested. Another way to take charge is to utilize raised beds. RAISED BEDS provide lots of opportunities. One is the soil. We don't always know what we're planting in when we come into an abandoned lot or field. We can't be sure about the history. Raised beds are a great option.

Click here for more info

CONSTRUCTION OF THE RAISED BEDS
Sometimes the best design in a garden is the simplest design, one that achieves what we want functionally as well as aesthetically. These are attractive beds and are something the home gardener could easily put together and they should last for years. THESE WERE CONSTRUCTED using 2 by 6's with 4 by 4 corner posts screwed together with deck screws. It's an easy construction. For older people like Bill a raised bed makes life easier, there is less bending. If gardening with children, it's good because they can reach right in and work both sides of the bed without trampling the soil.

Click here for more info

LINKS

Garden Walk Cleveland
GardenWalk Cleveland

Ft. Worth Botanic Garden
Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Coleman Park
Coleman Park | West Palm Beach Parks

 

Show #7/4307. Community Gardens

TRANSCRIPT OF SHOW

Eric next meets Elle and welcomes her to the show. Elle has been heavily involved in community gardening in Cleveland for years. Elle tells Eric what sparked her interest in gardening. When she first bought her house she was watching all the gardening shows and thought - I am going to do this. She would see Master Gardeners on TV and didn't have a clue what that was but was determined to become a Master Gardener. And Elle did become a Master Gardener and has had a love of gardening ever since. She had previously been working with seniors as a programmer at the senior center and she knew she could work with people. Combining that experience with WORKING WITH PLANTS AND PEOPLE in her neighborhood made a great match. People in the neighborhood would come by her house and say, "we love your garden, it makes it so nice to walk by." That was amazing to Elle. So she started working with community gardens and it has become near and dear to her heart, a real passion. And Elle has become instrumental in working with community gardening programs to bring communities together, to teach them about food and how to grow food. She managed the City of Cleveland's Community Garden Program from 2006 to 2008. Her activities spread from the city to the county because she handled suburban gardens as well. Elle found herself helping people develop new gardens and watching gardens that were already established move to the next level. She found that exciting. Even though community gardening and the cities program has been around for 35 years, helping to expand that and make sure more people have access to fresh food is important to her. Many neighborhoods like this are food deserts, meaning they don't have stores with fresh food. Often when people go to the corner store, at best, they're buying canned vegetables. But fresh food is where it's at. She feels there isn't anything she could do that would provide a greater impact.

Elle talks about City Rising Farm. City Rising Farm is located in the heart of Cleveland. Their mission is to help people in under-served communities learn to grow fresh local food and build healthy, long lasting relationships with each other so they can use those skills and relationships to create opportunities in their own neighborhoods.
Through this program they have been able to give people the opportunity to grow local, fresh food for themselves.
Top

Elle's most recent project is the BLAINE AVENUE COMMUNITY GARDEN. This project had some real challenges. Originally they had 6 foot high weeds, trash underneath, sometimes dead dogs so it was a challenge. But they took it on and the team absolutely transformed this lot and it shows in the neighborhood because people are now taking an interest where sometimes before they didn't. People will come by and say they love this place, it has become a source of pride in the neighborhood. That is one of the great things about community gardens, they become a beacon of light in the community. And, they bring people together, people that might not have come together before. They then tend to work things out and that makes the neighborhood stronger. They've done a lot of hard work here Eric is anxious to look around the Blaine Avenue Community Garden.
Top

Elle and Eric look at a new plot that has recently been purchased. Before striking ground Elle first must think about SOIL TESTING. You need to know what you're working with. They often have challenging soils - heavy metals, it could be anything. You want to know what you're putting your hands in, you want to know what you're growing in, you must know what's going in your food. Many of these sites, even though they have lush vegetation are not actually safe to grow in. There are different ways to address these problems. Raised beds are an option. On this site they will mulch it about 2 feet high with wood chips then come in and lasagna garden over the top (more on that later). That will build a new soil and create a barrier that should keep the lead or whatever elements they don't want away from the food. Nature is effective at cleansing soil. And they use some remediation plants on some sites. They use sunflowers and Indian Mustard and they love the results. But it takes longer. No matter where one lives it's important to remember that what's in the soil is what ends up in our food. We need to test it to find out. The soil in every garden should be tested. Your local county extension agent is a great place to start.
Top

Elle mentioned earlier LASAGNA GARDENING. It is unusual but represents a quick way to get started when the surrounding soil is challenging. And in most urban gardens one does need to be concerned with lead and things like that in the soil. What they do is lay down cardboard, then on top of it put grass clippings and dry leaves, then top it off with straw. Let it sit and it will compost in place. This is a method that goes back many years but still has relevance today.
Top

Elle and her group are utilizing a very specific, very unique type of planting. It's called THREE SISTERS PLANTING. They take 3 different types of plants that actually compliment each other when growing. This is the ultimate in companion planting. The 3 plants are corn, beans and squash. The corn acts as a support for the climbing bean vines, the beans fix nitrogen in the soil for the high feeding requirements of the corn and squash and the squash provides mulch and root protection for the corn and beans. They are very symbiotic plants that help each other. And, it's a great combination, particularly for a community garden.

At the Blaine Avenue Community Garden most of the beds are wood side beds. Even early in the season there is a lot going on. They can grow a wide variety of vegetables in a 4 by 8 raised bed, enough to feed a family of 4 to 6 people depending on what one is growing. Elle tells us about Mrs. Miller. She started with just 1 bed last year, now the whole Miller family has come down and they have expanded to 3 beds and are growing an amazing amount of food. Particularly in these challenging times, when the economy isn't that great, being able to grow your own food is a huge resource.
Top

Elle talks about some of the PLANTS SHE TYPICALLY SEES IN A COMMUNITY GARDEN. Tomatoes and peppers are commonplace, collards, swiss chard, mustard and kale, garlic, eggplant and onions are popular and, peas are always a hit. Beans are always in demand but since beans have a tendency to shade out other plants they have decided to devote one bed to beans and some vining squash.

Eric knows part of Elle's job is teaching people how to fish. Absolutely, they may feed folks for a few days but they teach them how to feed themselves for a lifetime. And in the process they found it was an educational process for Elle and the other volunteers because when they came in they assumed everyone knew more about food and growing food than they do. For example, they quickly realized that there were adults that didn't know what cherry tomatoes were. That was shocking. But Elle and others educated those folks and found people coming to the gardens to get cherry tomatoes, and other tomatoes. Although they didn't know before what they were, their eyes have been opened and now share that information. So the education process goes on and on and that's what they're here to do.
Top

Eric notices they take a very holistic approach to education. They're in the process of BUILDING A BRICK OVEN so people can pick this fresh food and cook it on site. They have a pizza oven workshop that emphasizes taking the food grown and cooking with it. But as well they have nutrition classes to educate about healthy eating. To Eric that seems unique but very positive. Elle believes that the education process is critically important.

The guys are next joined by Calvin who is already an avid gardener. CALVIN IS 14. He confesses he likes to grow anything you can grow although his favorite is cucumbers. But he also likes to grow corn. Calvin doesn't see a plant as what it is when he puts it in the ground, rather sees it as what it can be. If you plant a seed it turns into a cucumber, it's amazing to see that transformation from a little seed into a full grown plant. And, it's not that tough to do, in fact it's easy. Calvin gives us a planting demonstration. He has some sunflower seeds. Of course they are not only beautiful but additionally attract birds and wildlife and we can eat them. Calvin shows us how he plants them. One can dig a little trench either with their finger or a shovel, dig it about an inch or so deep, just use good judgement, then plant each seed, just lay it down about 4 inches apart, then cover it up lightly and pat it down. Once that is done water the area, it will start germinating and by the end of the season one will have giant, beautiful flowers full of more seeds. It's almost too easy. Thanks Calvin, it was great to meet you and to know the next generation of gardeners is out there.

Especially when growing vegetables it's important to have the soil tested. Another way to take charge is to utilize raised beds. RAISED BEDS provide lots of opportunities. One is the soil. We don't always know what we're planting in when we come into an abandoned lot or field. We can't be sure about the history. Raised beds are a great option. You can add the type of soil you want in the bed.

Sometimes the best design in a garden is the simplest design, one that achieves what we want functionally as well as aesthetically. These are attractive beds and are something the home gardener could easily put together and they should last for years. THESE WERE CONSTRUCTED using 2 by 6's with 4 by 4 corner posts screwed together with deck screws. It's an easy construction. For older people like Bill a raised bed makes life easier, there is less bending. If gardening with children, it's good because they can reach right in and work both sides of the bed without trampling the soil. It also provides a higher water column which makes for better drainage. Bill has used a weed fabric to line the beds. The fabric keeps the soil in place. For raised beds as well as containers there is a difference between using a soilless media like bark, peat, sometimes pearlite or other volcanic type materials and sandy loamy soil or clay or whatever might be in the ground. Water requirements are different for a raised bed compared to the soil in ones backyard. Raised bed requirements are what might be considered a little more needy because they're up in the elements. Wind is hitting them, thus they tend to dry out a little more quickly. But Bill suggests people use what he calls his Dawson digit device, his finger. Just plunge it into the soil next to the plant. If it's wet, don't water, if moist, wait a day, if dry, then you know that the plant needs water. Wait until the plant is on the moist side of dry, then add water. Push your finger next to the root zone, that's a common sense way to monitor your plants watering needs.

LINKS

Garden Walk Cleveland
GardenWalk Cleveland

Ft. Worth Botanic Garden
Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Coleman Park
Coleman Park | West Palm Beach Parks

 
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