Tag Archives: community gardens

Project 365 – Square Foot Gardening For Food

Anyone who has ever gardened has heard the expression, “square foot gardening.”

It’s a modified version of “raised-bed intensive,” an old technique that is supposed to create a highly controlled space where dense planting produces greater yields.

Some of us (me included) have employed some of the methods to get the greatest amount of food out of the smallest patch of dirt.  And some, like the Square Foot Gardening Foundation, have taken the concept of maximum yield from small space to the nth degree.

They’re good at it too and should be.  The founder of this organization is Mel Bartholomew — PBS host, author and gardener himself.

Bartholomew has been nominated twice for inclusion Cambridge Who’s Who for this gardening method.  He simplified this gardening technique and made it easy for total beginners and seasoned gardeners to use successfully.  And his books and videos made this method of gardening readily available to anyone, anywhere.

Bartholomew could have stopped with fame and international accolades but he didn’t.  That’s why I’m writing about him.  He took his interest in  big yields from small patches and created The Square Foot Gardening Foundation.

The foundation’s purpose?  To end world hunger.

Square foot gardening is the method this group of dedicated people use to teach families how to grow healthy food and improve their diets.  The foundation also teaches classes and supports local community gardens. And it trains certified teachers who then support NGO (non-governmental) projects overseas.

The Square Foot Gardening Foundation is teaching folks to grow their own food all around the world. That’s why they are on the list of 365 organizations and the people behind them who are helping to save the world.

My thanks to Michele McCarty for suggesting this group.  Michele, who is a member of the Linked In group, Grow Girls Grow Organic,  is also training with Square Foot Gardening Foundation to become a certified teacher and she is the owner/President of Wonder Wormin Vermicomposting Systems.

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Project 365 – Growing Is Good For The Soul

As an organic gardener, it’s tough for me to separate myself from the deep emotions that working with soil, in the early morning sun brings to my small corner of this vast planet.  If I were a betting woman (never started because my Dad said if you can’t afford to lose it; don’t), I would say that every gardener feels the same way.

Gardeners know that growing plants is therapeutic whether you’re growing vegetables, flowers or herbs.  At the end of a long winter, warm soil, warm sun and the wonderful, rich aroma of earth just waiting for seeds or seedlings can lift the spirits of many.

Growing is good for the soul.

What makes growing even more fulfilling is when it’s coupled with programs that bring the joy, the peace and the satisfaction of bringing seeds to life — programs like The Growing Center in Frederick, Pennsylvania.

The Growing Center offers horticultural therapy programs that  focus on youth at risk, the physically and mentally challenged and senior citizens.  Using gardening as a healing element, the Center also helps people whose lived have been disrupted by illness or injury.

Programs are designed to improve participants’ abilities to do tasks and help them cope with the changes that have occurred sometimes unexpectedly in their lives.  The Growing Center also offers horticultural stress relief workshops once a month for people who just need a break.  And what better place to get it.

The Healing Garden at the Growing Center, a four-acre bit of heaven adjacent to the greenhouses, is a riot of color and scent from spring to fall.  The gazebo offers a peaceful spot for just closing your eyes and relaxing.  The pond, benches and shaded areas add to the pleasure and peace that people who come to the Center can enjoy.

Aside from its horticultural therapy programs and The Healing Garden, The Growing Center has also developed ten acres of its land  into community gardening plots offered to anyone in the community who would like to grow vegetables for themselves.  There is only one requirement – gardeners must give any surplus to a local food bank or others in need.

No fees are charged for the horticultural therapy sessions.  Most of the funding comes from donations and from membership fees.  And the Growing Center is a mostly volunteer organization.  It grew out of the life experience of its founder and current Executive Directory, Linda M. Boyer, and her husband David who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1992.

Surgery left him in a wheel chair, one side of his body paralyzed.  Costs for his care drained the Boyer’s bank accounts and almost led to the loss of their farm.  Neighbors helped raise funds, saving the farm from foreclosure and their generosity led the Boyers to start this non-profit organization.  Once they started, they never slowed down or looked back.

The Boyers and their neighbors are another example of people working  every single day to help change the lives of others.

 

 

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Project 365 – The Simple Act of Planting a Seed

Some people might think I’m talking about a metaphysical seed – the kind that germinates into a new life, a new business, a new charity, a new product.

Actually, I am talking about real seeds – lettuce seeds, tomato seeds, pepper – eggplant – pumpkin – vegetable seeds of all sizes and shapes.  An organic gardener for close to 30 years, I spend the cold, dark months of winter planning what will grow in my garden, when I will plant it, and how much I will need for my family.

Organic vegetables

My organic garden in June of 2011.

But then, I add a row or two extra of everything I plant; I grow food for the hungry.  So do millions of other gardeners across the country and around the world.

Don’t believe me?  Google “plant a row.”  You’ll get more than 27 million results.  A lot of the results are for programs that ask gardeners to Plant A Row (PAR), literally.  The PAR program began in Alaska almost 20 years ago to help feed the hungry but it has participants (couldn’t resist) all over the country.  (More on PAR in a later post.)

So there are a lot of people growing food to feed the hungry.  And there are a lot of organic gardeners like me who take the program just one step further.  We don’t buy just any vegetable seed; we buy seed that is locally grown, not genetically modified, and helps support other charitable programs.  I buy from a small but growing farm network — Hudson Valley Seed Library.

The farms that make up this group  raise seed you can trust, that’s a given.  But the partners who started this business, Ken Greene and Doug Muller, also use artists to create seed pack covers and donate free seeds to a school garden, community garden, or garden organization  in need.

One other program that really shows the power that a single gardener who has some seeds, some dirt and some determination has, is Ample Harvest.

Started in 2007 by a New Jersey gardener who grew more than he and his wife could eat, today you can find the gardeners who support this organization in all 50 states.  The first donation went to a shelter for battered women just 4 years ago.  Since then, Gary Oppenheimer’s “home grown” operation has drawn national attention including getting its founder named a CNN hero.

Ample Harvest has also gotten the support of some pretty heavy hitters including the US Department of Agriculture, Google, the National Council of Churches and the National Gardening Association in its quest to “…diminish hunger, improve nutrition and help the environment.”

Growing a garden this summer and want to help?  Ample Harvest offers an easy, zip code-based search tool that will help you turn up food pantries in your back yard that could use your extra veggies.

Got a food pantry that could use some fresh produce? You can also register at Ample Harvest so people in your neighborhood can find you.

Just one  small act, planting a seed, can make a huge difference in your neighborhood, your city, your state and  country….and yes, the world.

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Filed under Gardening, Inspiring People, Life & Death, Project 365, Religion, World Changing Ideas