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Archive for August, 2007

Where has August gone? Slipped into the growth of tomatoes, emerged into the flowers of the beans, and left it’s heat behind. The full moon of August is past, and the next moon is the harvest moon of September. Have we done all that we need to? What must we do to put the garden to bed for another sleep? In what state do we want to wake next season?

August caught a few workshops in its tendrils as it passed, the most productive of which was the Solar Dehydrator making workshop that Wayne Grosko led. We began it on the 11th by tearing apart a semi-functional dehydrator and building our new heat collection chute (photos are blogged somewhere down below).

On the 26th we got together again and built most of the food box, leaving us with a bit of screening to do, a door to put on, and screens to figure out. We may have to make our screens from willow or wood, as neither of us want to put our food on aluminium or plastic. So, we will have another day to finish it up, then it will perch on my porch and be available to the community. If you want to come by and check it out drop me an email (garden at nspirg.org).

Another branch of the SeeMore Green has grown as well, this one mobile: the wild-harvesting guerrilla-gardeners. Three rides and a Facebook group of 103 members deep, this group meets at One World Cafe, Sunday mornings at 9am. Bring your bikes, breath, bags, eyes, and imagination; we explore the urban wildlands, listening to what nature offers us, and then ferment our ideas together to create more gardens and street art. Check the Facebook site here: and check the blogs below for some inspiration out of Ottawa.

Last week, Daniel Jardine and Kyla Milne came by to get the last of the footage needed to finish up the film on Seymour/See-More Green. It was fun running around the garden with cameras and big fluffy microphones, and a number of key folks stopped by with perfect phrases! The film is a great introduction to SeeMore Green, showing some history and depth of how the shed and roof were built, some of the folks involved, and the impact the garden has had on individuals through the course of the years.

The film will be screened on Thursday September 13th in the garden at around 8pm. Starting at 6:30 that Thursday, as part of rad frosh, a new school year, and the transition of the season, we are inviting all grassrooots food and urban agriculture groups to come by. Ideally it will be a ‘town hall meeting’; an opportunity to share where our groups are at, what projects we are invested in, and what we would like to see.

So, if you are part of any such group, please come by. If you have any interest in good food, healthy land, street art, healthy humans, and/or community come by, and bring a blanket to sit on.

For the next couple of Thursdays in the garden we will continue to have gardenplay workparties for putting the garden to bed, preparing it for next year, and naturally, harvesting! On the 20th and 27th workparties will be followed by an outdoor film screening, so bring your blankets!

In the garden, there will be lots of cherry tomatoes, beans, dill, and kale to nibble and share. It would be nice to get some seed out of the garden too: we could sell it in the spring as a funraiser, but that is site is too small to really facilitate all the taste-testing, crop sharing, and seed saving. We might be able to get some lettuce, dill and nettle seed though, which would be nice.

So this season comes slowly to an end. Hopefully through September, we can continue to develop as a group the peoples who are interested in being proactive in food and urban agriculture, and translate that energy into Campus Action on Food, and the Food Action Committee. Come springtime, the possibilities will abound.

SeeMore Green wants to become a nursery site. Using the Dal greenhouse, as well as the garden site, let’s learn to propagate and start plants. We could then sell the plantlets both to fundraise as well as to more gardens growing great plant allies. There is a real business opportunity in selling plant starts, but more importantly, it is a great skill for us to learn.

I have met with a program co-ordinator at the Phoenix Learning Centre (programs for youth-at-risk), as well as a Dal prof, who are interested in helping create a 10 week, pre-employment program within the garden for youth to learn plant propagation and garden skills.

What I need to do now is write up a bunch of proposals. What I really need now, is someone to help me write up all these proposals! If you have some time to help write please, please do. I am passionate about creating these jobs and programs; I know that our land and community will love us for it; the resources are available: we just need to write the plan. If you can help, please do.

So, I think that is all the updates for you… well, there is one other annoying detail to share: the garden has been experiencing theft! That is right… people are taking pots, watering cans, and plants from the garden without asking or even leaving a note. I know that it is a collective garden and that may nullify the concept of ownership or theft for some, but seeing plants lovingly tended in the garden for months just disappear makes me sad. Why not propagate them rather than steal them? Do they even know who brought them in, who wanted them for what? So what do we do about theft? How do we help people to understand that they may be more than meets the eye?

In many ways I think that theft from the garden will stop only when the community is saturated with gardens, and that we all have enough of something to trade for what we want. So team, lets keep gardening everywhere.

I really really hope to see more of everyone in the next month, both on Thursdays in the garden and for Sunday morning rides.

May the forest be with us.

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Aug 23 & 26

Heya greenies,

This week, in the garden…. Thursday the 23rd we are finishing up the documentary on Seymour/SeeMore Green between 4-7pm.  If you have had anything to do with the garden, with community gardening, urban agriculture, &/or local food production, please come by with your smile and your eloquence.

After that, on Thurday night, perhaps we can head out to Spryfield Urban Farm Muesum for some live music in the community gardens.

On Sunday morning, 9am, lets ride again.  Wild-harvest some of the medicines that may save my aching soul!  and  lets chose a spot or two to start another garden in, small or big.  Meet’cha at One World.

may the forest be with us.

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So, this Thursday in the SeeMore Green collective garden there will be a garden-play work-party, 6-8pm or so.  Michael and Camilla will host it.  There is some bed preparations to be done, and some weeding, tidying, harvesting, and whatever other fun creative things you can get up to.

There is nothing planned for Saturdays anymore.

But Sundays, my friends, Sundays:  wild-harvesting guerrilla-gardeners bike rides have begun!  Meeting at 9am, Sundays, at One World cafe, bring your bikes, baskets, bags, scissors, and breath!

The idea is to ride around and wild-harvest some of the plethora of medicines and foods that are growing freely in our city.  Right now raspberry leaf, red clover, yarrow, and rose petals are some of the many medicines available.  While we ride around, lets keep our eyes open for plants that could be moved or propgated, and areas of earth that could use some gardening.  Now is the time to harvest and plan;  soon the time to transplant and sheet mulch (to better the soil for planting) will be upon us, and we will be ready!   Also, let talk about street art projects we desire and plan to do them!

The facebook site for wild-harvesting guerrilla-gardeners is up!  Join it!

On Saturday the 11th was the solar dehydrator building workshop with Wayne of Ecology Action.  The day was slow, steady, sweet, and productive.  We dismantled one solar dehydrator that needed repair, and build a beautiful solar collection shute for our new one.  The food box still needs to be built, and that will likely happen in the afternoon of the 21rst (Tues) at the EAC.  If you want to swing by for that email me or Wayne to confirm that time.  It would be a great time to check it out because it is partially built, giving a good idea of how one works and how one might be built.   Check out the photos below!

solar-chute.gif

oh, it is so lovely!  I can barely wait!

And… next week…   August 23:  Thursday eve, between 4-7pm EVERYONE who has ever been involved with Seymour Green IS INVITED to come by the garden.  We are finishing up the documentary begun last year, and want to get a few more images of all the folks ever involved.  The documentary is almost done, and is super-great!  We are hoping to screen it in the Garden on September 13th.

On the 23rd, (of Aug) after our chatting and photoing in the garden, lets go out to the Spryfield  for live music in the Urban Farm Museum community garden, 7-9pm.

And one last nutritious note, if anyone is interested in Nova Scotia food security policy, the document Thought about Food? Understanding the Relationship between Public Policy and Food Security in Nova Scotia can now also be accessed through the Dept of Health Promotion and Protections’ Website at http://www.gov.ns.ca/hpp/repPub/LensDocument.pdf.

May the forest be with you.

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fun things

A number of fabulous links have crossed my screen recently that I would like to share.

First, the City Repair projects! City Repair began in Portland OR, and has been picked up by a number of cities across the continent. The City Repair Project is group of citizen activists creating public gathering places and helping others to creatively transform the places where they live. Some of the fabulous projects they have manifested:

Ottawa has begun its own chapter, and City Repair Ottawa has accomplished some fantastic projects such as this gorgeous little public cob oven:

the free tea station:

and the book exchange

.

Frankly, I hope that the wild-harvesting guerrilla-gardeners group that is beginning here evolves into a community art and city repair project.

Here are a few more examples of amazing public art.  The Wooster Collective.  Check it out.
And…. how about this for a team building tool?

The Conference Bike!

cobi_01.jpg

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Well, the summer does fly. ‘Tis early August: I have only three weeks left in the formal position of collective garden coordinator, then school begins again.

The garden has had a good season so far, it seems to me. There is much to nibble on in the garden: dill, basil, kale, chickweed, radishes, lambsquarters, and soon peas, tomatoes and teas. The soils are productive, the compost is super-hot and working fast, and we have created a number of new beds for good growing next year. Part of the fence is up and divinely whimsical. The back corner of the garden has embraced the influx of strawberries and raspberries, and now awaits more native plants and climbing vines.

The water systems are fully functional and easy to use. A full tonne of water awaits any dryspell, and works well to rinse hands. (What is even more exciting for me is that I feel competent to create a three-barrel rainwater catchment system for anyone inexpensively. Indeed, I think that later on this year the Military Family Resource Centre, which hosts an urban garden project [with the EAC and Halifax Independant School], will invite us to facilitate an all-girl building party to install three raised rainbarrels for their summer water source! I do believe that access to water will be a vital necessity in the near future; being able to create a catchment system will be the first valuble step: learning how to cleanse the water will be the next.)

The garden has had about 250 kids through the garden, mostly from the SuperNova science and engineering kids camp! And I would say that 80% of those kids were actively engaged in their visits. So great! We have been nibbling, making compost and planting seeds. It has been fantastic, and truely made my summer rewarding.

But, while the physical structures of the garden are sound, the social structures that manage the garden are still needing care.

As you can see on the blog here, there has been nearly 1000 hits on the blog. In contrast, there have been about 35 people come through the garden during workparties and for workshops (aside from the kids, which I do not count as being there to attend the garden). Even if I assume those who have hit the blog hit it 5 times, and that 100 of those hits are accidental, the disparity between attendance and virtual numbers is huge. In speaking with people, most people have heard of the garden, and know when the workparty times are, and have been meaning to come down, but have not yet quite made it. I think that this speaks to modern life, where more of us can make time before a screen then being active in the real world.

A number of the 35 folks who have come by the garden have come repeatedly, and many many locals are beautifully dedicated to gardening, wild-harvesting, and living closely with our local plants for food and medicine, but still, I do not see enough investment by the community to feel at ease.

A sustainable social structure is necessary for the project to be healthy. I think there needs to be multiple groups using the site with enough frequency that learning, trust, and affection are continually shared and built.

How do we create such a dynamic social structure? What groups should we look to involve? What elements are holding people/groups back from developing investment in the project? What structures need to be in place in order to invite groups’ involvement?

First, do you, sweet reader, have any ideas? Who should or could be involved? How? What needs to be in place to facilitate this? And how do we contact them?

The ideas I am pursuing are the involvement of Dalhousie’s faculty and classes, some seniors groups, and youth (specifically the youth ‘at-risk’) that live nearby. Meetings are scheduled, and any suggestions are welcome.

The other ideas that I have begun to put out, and there is much interest about, is a Guerrilla-gardening+Wild-harvesting+BikeRide: Gypsy Gardening, or Land-Reclaiming, we might call it. (Ideas for a great name are welcome.) This group will meet at One World Cafe (on Agricola) Sunday mornings at 9am with bikes – all welcome. We will ride around and wild-harvest (there are so many medicines and foods growing wild in our urban landscape, available for free, waiting to be used and acknowledged). While we ride around, we will see plants strong enough to be propogated, and places (closer to home) that could be gardened. Slowly, we will pull the edges of the wild and productive land over the neglected lands, gardening everything, producing more free food and medicine. I also envision this mobile group as being able to check up on SeeMore Green, and the Dal Women’s Centre garden, offering some care and continuity to these gardens.

As I mentioned, there has been a tonne of interest in the Gypsy Gardeners idea. (First meeting, sunday the 12th, 9am, One World Cafe: all welcome). I think that one major draw of this idea its mobility, as well as the democratic format similar to Critical Mass. It seems that possibly SeeMore Green is too deep in the south end, too connected to Dal, to have the active community that it needs. I am hoping that by weaving other groups, such as academia, seniors, and youth, as well as our roaming band of wild-harvesting-guerrilla-gardeners, enough fine minds and hearts will pass through the garden to make it a fertile place to learn, and grow.

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