There are countless and valuable things I have learned as an intern of Growing Food and Sustainability. In this entry, I want to talk briefly about my feelings over using young people as productive power across cultures. I was born and raised in Taiwan, a country where Chinese is the dominant culture. After coming to the US to study as an undergraduate student, I observed difference in people’s attitude and faith in what children and young people could achieve between the two continents.
Nothing has moved me more than seeing our members cooperate and accomplish so many things with our bare hands and sweat. Within a couple months, we restarted compost, weeded and seeded the Youth Farm, ran a stand at the Farmers’ Market, set up a drip irrigation system, and built a fence around the farm to protect vegetables from hungry wild animals. The children at the summer camp also eagerly participated in our farm works. They proved to me that young people, even teenagers, are just as capable at many tasks as older adults are.
Even without campers this week at Growing Food and Sustainability, the farm has been bustling with activity. Activities included planning for our second camp session, building a produce wash table, planning for our harvest festival, and our main focus, “beautifying” the farm in preparation for our on-farm dinner.
The beautification process included a lot of weeding and mulching of pathways, two tasks that involved a lot of time in the sun and physical effort. In other words, after a day on the farm we left covered in dirt and sweat. Although at times it was hard, uncomfortable work, the dirt and sweat didn’t fail to make me feel like I had done a good, hard day’s work that made a positive impact on the program.
Growing Food and Sustainability has now reached it’s halfway point this summer, and I could not be prouder. The interns have grown closer and found work rhythms together, the kids are already giddy about coming back for the next session of garden camp (and as are we to receive them), and we are beginning to plan our upcoming community events including a benefit dinner and harvest festival. There have been major construction team accomplishments, and the garden is looking beautiful. While it seems strange to see the chard get harvested and watch the radish bed lay dormant, it is after all the middle of July. It seems about time for these things to happen, and we can simply look on our accomplishments, savoring our hard work and our harvest.
A year ago today Wesley Colbert, our neighbor at the Zion Street Community Garden, passed away. He has been our most enthusiastic supporter and advocate, he taught our whole team how to properly shovel, and he came to every event we ever put on at the garden.
We met Wes our first day working on Zion Street. We had just started cleaning out the lots, when a man poked his head over the fence and said “are you guys building a garden or something?” When we said yes, he didn’t wait for any explanation, grabbed tools from his house, and came over. He helped us every day that first summer and in no uncertain terms made the Zion Street Community Garden possible. We are so grateful for his enthusiasm, love, understanding, and astounding gardening skills. We miss him dearly.
Today we will be officially naming the Zion Street Garden after him – The Wesley Colbert Zion Street Community Garden.
It’s been a very productive week here at Growing Food and Sustainability. We finally finished our fence. That means no more rabbits nibbling our plants!
The proud construction team with the completed fence!
This week our camp theme was water. This included not only the water cycle, but also how plants are affected by rain and drought. The older campers created their own rain sticks and learned about the chemistry of water molecules. They also learned how to plant melons. Meanwhile, on Friday, our younger campers had the chance to diagram the water cycle and learn how weather and outside factors impact plants. They also planted summer squash. Continue reading →
Happy July All! We at Growing Food and Sustainability hope you all have fun, safe and relaxing plans for the upcoming holiday weekend. Last week we had our first garden campers! We had 8 campers arrive for fun mornings on Tuesday and Wednesday with activities for our older campers (ages 10-14), from making spring rolls for snack with veggies harvested fresh from the garden and collecting compost by bike to learning about how toxins can get into our plants from the soil. Our younger group (5-10 years old) met Friday morning and learned about how and why we compost, planted squash and made safe space friendship bracelets which mark our ties to each other and remind both campers and farmers (our name for counselors) of the fact that our behavior has both intended and unintentional impacts on those that we share our lives with.
Tis’ the season, the growing season that is! It has finally arrived after a long hard winter and for gardeners the growing season beats Christmas by a land-slide. This is Morgan here and I have been part of the Growing Food and Sustainability team since the beginning in 2012. I’ve spent my time this past year volunteering with the Hinahara sisters and working with children at the youth garden. Even though my time spent will be limited this summer with GFS I am continuing to take part in gardening with local community members and will be a face around the town.
I’ve got to say that it has been a splendid summer thus far with plenty of rain and sunshine and I hope we are as lucky in the following months to produce a bountiful crop yield. This past week I have picked more strawberries than I could have ever imagined. Being a new gardener as I have been this past year, I have had an eye opener with how much food one can grow within the own boundaries of their yard. I’m telling you, if anyone would wants to cut down on their grocery bill, all they have to do is plant a small garden in their backyard. Continue reading →
For Growing Food and Sustainability (GFS), our training week signified the end of a successful journey through our first year or so, and the fresh start of a second year. Unlike the first training week though, this one witnessed the continuation and growth of existing programs and the beginning of even more! Likewise, this training week had more participants attending, and caused the same amount of (if not more) giddy excitement and inspiration that last year’s did.
One of the most exciting areas of growth for me to witness was that of our farmers market stand. Last year we had a booth at the farmers market with ample kids activities – we reached many new families with them, but did not sell any produce. This year during training week there was time for our team to plan out what we wanted the market stand to look like, with focuses on selling produce and increasing attendance at the market. I found it especially exciting that we focused on this in our training week, as it is a way to get participants involved directly with the revenue generation aspect of our program and a way to ensure a successful farmers market stand. In our discussion we built on the rough plans to have an event promoting the market. We decided to have a Summer Season Farmers Market Kickoff which happened yesterday, Tuesday 6/18.
Hello! My name is Shoshana Blank. I went to St. Olaf College and participated in the Summer of Solutions in 2009. I joined SoS because I wanted to get involved in the Twin Cities community with students from other colleges. Also, I was so passionate about trying to create solutions to climate change, I knew from the title of the program that I wanted to be a part of it. I think that I found out about the program through an email from the Environmental Coalition at St. Olaf.
Even as young college students, we were able to do some big things in Summer of Solutions-Twin Cities because we were well organized. We could offer solutions to community members and be taken seriously because we had a plan of action and materials to back us up. I am specifically thinking about Cooperative Energy Futures, with structured meetings, a nice website, and a good business model. I have so many good memories of my time with SoS, and I particularly love my memories from the potlucks we would have, at least once a week. It was such a good way to create community! Continue reading →
The past month was full of holiday spirit and generosity, but the highlight for Growing Food and Sustainability was receiving a Metcalfe’s School Garden Leader Award at the Badger Bioneers Conference! The award included a gift of $1,000 for the organization and also allowed program leaders Gabrielle and Natalie to attend the two-day conference free of charge.
Natalie and Gabrielle with their check! The other winners of the award were Mary Michaud of Van Hise Elementary in Madison and Cheryl Stout of Oregon Middle School.