Exhibit In a Day: 3 Ways to Grow Food in A Window

Reblogged from Summer of Solutions Hartford

I’m on the team working at the Burns Latino Studies Academy and the Connecticut Trash Museum. Recently, we planned to build an indoor garden exhibit at the museum using recycled materials.

This is the wall where we installed the exhibit. It has three big windows. Step 1: Remove the window blinds
This is the wall where we installed the exhibit. It has three big windows. Step 1: Remove the window blinds

The exhibit is an inside garden used as an example of things you can create in your own garden, house, or apartment. The purpose of the exhibit is to show that you don’t need a lot of space to grow your own food and it can be as simple as hanging curtains on a window. We installed the garden in one big workday on June 27th as to interrupt the museum visitors as little as possible. We planted a variety of things that need just the right amount of space to grow in a box, gutter, or plastic bottle. We planted swiss chard, lettuce, parsley, rosemary, mint, strawberries, and succulents, cilantro, basil, and a few flowers.

This is Tenaya painting the gutter garden. The gutters were recycled from a construction project. We cut  them to 4 feet, drilled drainage holes and wire holes in the bottom, and cemented gutter caps to the edges.
This is Tenaya painting the gutter garden. The gutters were recycled from a construction project. We cut them to 4 feet, drilled drainage holes and wire holes in the bottom, and cemented gutter caps to the edges.
Step 3: We filled each gutter with soil and transplanted our seedlings. Next, we installed hooks over the window frame and hung the gutters. At home, you can just hang them, but because the museum has thousands of children visit each year, we also drilled the gutters into the window frame on each side, so they couldn't be tipped over.
We filled each gutter with soil and transplanted our seedlings. Next, we installed hooks over the window frame and hung the gutters. At home, you can just hang them, but because the museum has thousands of children visit each year, we also drilled the gutters into the window frame on each side, so they couldn’t be tipped over.
This is Brendan and Tenaya mixing compost and manure to make a soil mix for the gutters.
This is Brendan and Tenaya mixing compost and manure to make a soil mix for the gutters.

The first window holds a gutter garden. We built this by taking used gutters and drilling holes at the bottom. Next we strung the gutters with wire that was strong enough to hang from a window and hold the gutters once they were filled with plants and soil. After threading the wire through the gutter, we looped it at the top so the garden would have something to hang from. After assembling the garden we filled it with a mixture of manure and soil (you can use whatever you find suitable for what you want to grow) then transplanted all of our seedlings. With the help of all of our team members and volunteers we hung the gutter garden on fish hooks that we screwed to the top of the window.

Last year, Mike Roach carved a sign for the Zion Street Garden, renaming it in honor of our neighbor, Wesley Colbert. We built this box out of the scrap wood he used to practice the carving.

Last year, Mike Roach carved a sign for the Zion Street Garden, renaming it in honor of our neighbor, Wesley Colbert. We built this box out of the scrap wood he used to practice the carving.

In our second window we made a window box using recycled wood that we painted and lined with landscape fabric and plastic bags. This window will act as our activity station for children visiting the museum. Here we’ll teach them how to make recycled origami planters and more about what they can do to create a garden at home. We’ve also installed a shelf on the window to display samples and visitor creations.

First, Becky and Brendan cut holes in the bottoms and sides of recycled bottles.
First, Becky and Brendan cut holes in the bottoms and sides of recycled bottles.
Next, we wove each bottle through recycled twine to make sure they were evenly suspended.
Next, we wove each bottle through recycled twine to make sure they were evenly suspended.
We installed a hook in the window frame for each column of bottles.
We installed a hook in the window frame for each column of bottles.

The last window in the exhibit holds our bottle garden. We used recycled beverage bottles and removed the label, giving the roots of the plants an opportunity to show. We removed the top off the bottle, giving ourselves enough room to insert soil and plant inside of the bottles. Next, we poked holes onto the side of the bottom so we could have a way to hang our bottles in the window. We then threaded string vertically through the holes we poked each bottle so they’d hang about 4 inches away from each other, allowing what we planted to have room to grow. We filled the bottles with soil, transplanted our seedlings, and then hung each set of bottles on a fish hook from our window. Once the bottles were hung it created a beautiful stained glass effect that can be a great accent in any apartment or garden.

Here is our exhibit at the end of the day!

Here is our exhibit at the end of the day!

We are so grateful to our extra volunteers who came out to help us pull it off in one day! Thanks Brendan, Diane, and Joey! We are so grateful to our extra volunteers who came out to help us pull it off in one day! Thanks Brendan, Diane, and Joey

CT March Against Monsanto

Reblogged from Summer of Solutions Hartford

 

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Last week we participated in the March Against Monsanto put on by Activate CT! March Against Monsanto is a world-wide day of action against the biotech company Monsanto. They were the makers of Agent Orange, DDT, PCBs, and rBGH, and now they are the leading producer of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The safety of GMOs is still up in the air, with Monsanto and the FDA saying they are safe, but independent scientists and concerned activists don’t think their studies have been through enough. When the history of Monsanto is taken into consideration, it makes sense that people would be worried about the safety of their products. For more information, check out the pamphlet below. We were in Hartford near the Old State House on May 23 handing out these pamphlets to people on the street and holding signs about Monsanto and GMOs to raise awareness. We handed out 300 pamphlets to people on the street and had some great conversations. We also included information about all the farmers’ markets and community gardens in Hartford to help residents find access to fresh, local, GMO-free produce.

Our Solutionary Power

This post is by Eli Shepherd, a program leader with the Iowa City, Iowa program.

This summer, the Iowa City Summer of Solutions (ICSoS) Our Power project hosted two public forums on rental energy efficiency issues. With all stakeholders working collaboratively- tenants, landlords, utilities, city officials, and community members- we developed a comprehensive list of barriers to energy efficiency for both tenants and landlords, as well as possible solutions. We then, with the help of a local energy efficiency consultant, developed a comprehensive recommendation to Iowa City City Council based on the most feasible solutions. Kira Stoller of the ICSoS Our Power team then prepared and presented our recommendation to council during the community comment period at the most recent council meeting and we will continue to communicate with the city in order to, with any luck, implement much if not all of our recommendations. Without further ado, here is what we came to council with, hope you like it!

Part of the Iowa City Our Power team following the first public forum.

Part of the Iowa City Our Power team following the first public forum.

Council Speech Continue reading

Perspectives on our Garden Progress

Location: Hartford, CT

Originally posted on July 12th, 2013 on Summer of Solutions Hartford

Perspectives on our progress in the garden from two participants: 

Wesley Colbert Zion Street Community Garden:

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Working on Zion St was a big task. We had many challenges that we got through and made a tremendous change in the Zion St garden appearance as in weeding , cutting, planting and growing. We’ve made it all happen in just three weeks and we are still working to make it better . Continue reading

Dedication of the Zion Street Community Garden

Location: Hartford, CT

Originally posted on July 3rd, 2013 on Summer of Solutions Hartford

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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.

Returning to the Twin Cities

Graduation season has ended and school is wrapping up which means one thing for the Twin Cities Team, we held our first in person meeting since January Gathering.  Patricia, Elizabeth, and I met at Ruby and Timothy’s house early last week to discuss our Training Week Schedule.  It was good to see everyone back in Minneapolis again (except Aly who couldn’t make it).  Plus, meetings in person are just so much more fun and productive than Skype meetings.

1 Some of the TC Team planning training week!
From Left: Patricia, Elizabeth, Timothy, and Maddie Continue reading