Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Demonstration Garden Approved

A proposed plan demonstration garden was approved on Monday, April 30th by the Wilmington City Parks Board.

The purpose of this garden is for public awareness of the accessibility to the nutritional and economical benefits of small-plot gardens. The garden will also serve as an educational tool for various organizations and local school districts.

The proposed plot is to be in the southwest corner of the fenced memorial site that is directly across from the Park Offices. The total area of the site is 51'x50'. The proposed area for the garden is 12'x14'.

The garden is currently being led by a group of the following individuals: Taylor Stuckert, Mark Rembert, Sandy & Guy Ashmore, Ceel Wathen, Chip Tabor, Angela Simonson, Tammy Reed and Hazel Niles.

The garden is in conjunction with the community gardens initiative which involves the following groups: Wilmington College, Energize Clinton County, Clinton County OSU Extension, Swindler & Sons Florist, McCarty Gardens, That Guys Family Farm, Clinton County Master Gardeners, No Child Left Indoors, Sugartree Ministries, Clinton County Regional Planning Commission, Wilmington FFA, among others.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Why people garden

By Mark

Yesterday we attended the first of two Gardening 101 class (the next is on April 21 @ Swindler & Sons) hosted by Phil Swindler (Swindler & Sons), Monty Anderson (Wilmington College) and Tony Nye (Clinton County Extension) had more then 30 people signed up for each class. Its pretty exciting to hear from someone like Phil--who has been in the gardening business his whole life--that there is a new energy building around gardening in Clinton County.

And as Taylor mentioned, gardening is growing nationwide. A recent report from the National Gardening Association found that the number of households planning on growing their own food has increased by 7 million over 2008, an astounding 19% increase.

Without a doubt, saving money is a great reason to garden. The same report found that the average American garden (600 sq ft)–when well maintained–will yield $600 worth of produce on a $70 investment. So while it is no surprise that we are seeing a bump in gardening in corresponding with the economic recession, it may not be as correlated as we think. In fact, only about a third of respondents in the survey said they were motivated to garden because of the recession.

The numbers actually suggest a deeper seeded shift in the way people are looking at the food system. The main reasons given for gardening were:

  • 58% – better-tasting food
  • 54% – save money on food bills
  • 51% – better quality food
  • 48% – grow food they know is safe

Looking at these numbers it, appears that gardening may not just be a trend, but may be part of a shift in the people are approaching their relationship to food.

At ECC, we have yet to find any practice that teaches us more lessons about sustainability than gardening. We often find ourselves marveling at all of the important things gardening produces in our lives beyond food and savings: it gives us a reason to spend time outside, it provides time for contemplation, it forces us to appreciate the luxury of having easily accessible food, it keeps us “rooted” in our home and community, it stimulates our senses and our intellects, it helps us understand how we fit into a larger system.

What do you find gardening teaches you about sustainability?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Small-Plot Backyard Garden

This year, partly due to the recession, we have seen an increase in vegetable gardens nationally, and certainly here, in Clinton County, with the growing Community Gardens initiative taking root. There's even a vegetable garden at the White House--the first of its kind since Eleanor Roosevelt's Victory Garden. 

For those that are of the 'Victory Garden' generation, having backyard or community plots is nothing out of the ordinary. For the generations since, however, it comes as a new concept, or a 'trend.' It is my belief, though, that this trend will lead to a more fundamental shift in our culture as more and more people witness the exponential value of growing produce. 

So as you begin to plant your seeds for 2009, or begin to lay out your plot, remember to enjoy the gardening experience--it is rewarding in so many ways.
Growing vegetables is something just about anyone can do. However, it does require proper care and planning as one quickly learns that a little preparation and planning can go a long way. So how can you plan your garden? Below I've listed a few key tasks that I think are useful to someone starting a backyard garden. 

1) Know your limits. Vegetable gardening is something that does not have to be a full-time job to be successful, but can quickly become so if it's beyond the capacity of the gardener. To ensure the success of your vegetable garden, start small or within your limits, document and evaluate how much commitment you're personally able to provide to the garden, so that each year you can optimize capacity. A nice 4'x4' square foot garden can yield a surprising amount of vegetables, and makes a good starter for the beginning gardener. 

2) Know your yard. Identify a good spot in your yard that will provide at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. Make sure the spot is clear of trees and is on a level piece of ground for drainage. If there are issues with ground and trees, consider a raised bed or container garden

3) Know your produce. Whether you are starting a small garden, or sowing large plots, the layout of your garden should depend on what you want to grow. Plants have different growing seasons, spacing requirements, some have issues with others, and some plants are helpful to others. Especially for organic growth, knowing your plants and their role in the ecosystem of the garden increases your success. So the more you know about the plants you grow, the better. 

The layout of the Home Spring Garden:

Some Pictures of the Home Garden (with square foot grids):


The streaks of light are from cassette-tape film that I webbed around the stakes to scare birds away.

To help, here are some resources that I find useful:

National Gardening Association- National non-profit with great resources for all gardeners.
Square Foot Gardening- Started by Mel Bartholomew and is growing popularity.  
Tim's Square Foot Garden- Blog by gardener Tim Beckman; well-documented and good resource.
Garden Web- Community of Gardeners

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