Our latest bout of rainy weather here in Wisconsin hasn’t kept us from moving steadily toward the sunny days of summer!
The greenhouse is brimming with seedlings. Our babies our growing up and in two weeks they will be ready for you to take home and plant in your own garden! Don’t forget to join us for our annual Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, May 17th from 9am-noon and Sunday, May 18th from 1-4pm (while supplies last!) This is an important fundraiser for us and a way to help you start your own vegetable garden!
This year we’re offering 4-pack variety packs of tomatoes, in addition to eggplant, broccoli, basil, peppers, and more!
We are still enrolling campers for our 3rd summer of Garden Camps! It’s not too late to sign-up to join us in the garden this summer. We’re in the process of adding a new outdoor kitchen and project area at the Youth Farm which promises to make this summer better than ever! Registration information can be found here.
Our summer intern team is taking shape! We are in the midst of our final round of intern interviews. Five amazing new interns are already signed-on to work with us this summer. We’re so excited to welcome them to our team and to involve them in a transformative summer full of farming, education, and community building!
I was extremely lucky to be able to visit the Summer of Solutions Oakland for their closing ceremony last night. Before I get into the bulk of my blog post and the fantastic work that the program leaders and participants have done with and for the Fruitvale community, I want to start out by asking you, the person reading this blog, to send $10, $20, $50, or $100 to their crowdfunding campaign. I just donated and I invite you to join me in supporting the locally driven efforts of Summer of Solutions Oakland. Here’s why.
SoS Oakland campers await their turn to graduate from camp.
Around this time two years ago, my sister Natalie and I hatched the idea for Growing Food and Sustainability. It’s amazing to see how far our program has come since then, when it was just words and a vague vision in our minds.
Our first year taught us so much: we kept a garden alive in a record drought, learned that 9 weeks of continuous summer camp is too much, discovered how to form a close-knit team in three months, and found out that working 55+ hours per week all summer ends up burning you out before the fall harvest. We met amazing kids, ate delicious produce, got a darker tan than ever before, and tried so many new things. It was exhausting, exciting, hard, inspiring, and we knew we wanted to give it a go for a second season.
Dear friends and supporters of Summer of Solutions Oakland, we are happy and excited to bring you updated news of what has been going on during the past 4 weeks of camp. First of all, sorry for not keeping up, but we will assure you that here we provide you with all details of what we have been doing. We started our camp on July 9, and started with 32 accepted kids, Sergio was able to get things going in order to provide free lunches and snacks for our kids and youth in the community. Our first week went really well even though there where 7 of us staff members; our 2nd week went even better we welcomed 9 more youth to our team. Our staff are wonderful. They show us that they are very passionate about working with our kids. Continue reading →
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.
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.