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St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden in2002

  • Subject: [cg] St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden in2002
  • From: Alliums garlicgrower@earthlink.net
  • Date: Sun, 05 Jan 2003 09:02:41 -0500

Hi, Folks!

Since the community garden is sponsored by St. John's United Church of Christ, I am required to make year-end report to the congregation about what all we did. Through the wonders of e-mail, I thought you folks might enjoy reading it, too!

Happy New Year and forgive me if I owe you e-mail -- having a new puppy *really* is keeping me busy!


Dear Community Garden Friend:

As the year 2002 closes, we thought this would be a good time to share with you what an interesting year this has been at St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden.

VOLUNTEERS: VolunteerMatch.org and a perfect Spring day brought a record number of volunteers to our Spring Work Day during National Volunteer Week on April 27th (80 volunteers!). In spite of terrible weather, we had 64 incredibly dedicated volunteers for the Fall Work Day during "Make A Difference Day" on October 26th who accomplished every task had for the day! Tina Abel, our Perennial Assistant extraordinare, came once a week every week from Spring until late Fall to tend the herb/fruit tree/perennial areas. She was joined this Fall by Carol Henzel. Since March, we've also been joined every Wednesday afternoon by Roy and selected compatriots from the Ken-Crest Services Day Program who do the landscaping work too heavy for our regular volunteers. John Kook continued doing skilled hardware jobs whenever needed. In March and April, three Plymouth-Whitemarsh high school students worked at the garden as part of their senior year community service. In May, Boy Scout Troop 100 cut down the weed tree in the back of the garden. The now-sunlit area has become part of the lilac area and the new formal herb garden to be designed by Irene Sobotincic in 2003. In December, we welcomed Pepper Desimone, a 6-month-old Border Collie from Rescue Animal Placements in Doylestown, who will protect the garden from voracious deer and other unwanted hungry visitors when she is not training for marathons with Frank.

GARDENING: Our primary focus remains providing free garden space to anyone in the Phoenixville area who wishes to garden organically and agrees to donate at least 10% (the Biblical tithe) of their harvest either directly to someone in need or to the food bank operated by Phoenixville Area Community Services (PACS). In 2002, our 33 gardeners on 13 plots remained the primary source of in-season fresh produce for the PACS food bank. Our gardeners also donated so much quality produce to St. Mary's Franciscan Shelter that the sisters found a volunteer to can our donations so that their clients could enjoy organic vegetables during the winter months. We had gardeners in age ranging from toddlers (helping their parents!) to senior citizens and from the range of ethnic groups which live in Phoenixville. For our food-growing efforts, we're listed with the "Plant A Row For the Hungry" (PAR) program of the Garden Writers' of America Association. In June, United Church News, the newspaper of the United Church of Christ, featured our community garden in an article about church gardens.

SHOWS: In January, Dorene went to New York City to be taped as the garlic expert for the Food Network's "Follow That Food" show on garlic. The Garlic episode was originally aired in June and has been repeated several times throughout the year. Irene Sobotincic and her partner entered another windowbox and basket combination in the Philadelphia Flower Show. In spite of the drought, St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden won the Medium-Sized Community Garden Sweepstakes Award, given to the medium-sized community garden winning the most blue ribbons. We had 19 of blue ribbons and 3 Bronze (Best of Division) Medals in vegetable, dried floral and herbal divisions. None of this would have been possible without the help of Bob Noll, who drives our entries to the Show and smooths our way with the judges!

DONATIONS: Morgan Food Company in Phoenixville donated two months supply of their 5 gallon plastic buckets to the garden. David Caplan installed bird feeders and laminated bird information cards at the pergola. Harold Snyder built a bat box which the Chester County Housing Authority will install on the baseball backstop next to the garden. In October, Boscov's Department Store invited us to sell tickets for their "Friends Helping Friends" sale. The garden received $40 from this ticket sale which was spent on unique herbs and irises at Johanna Reed's final plant sale in November. In 2003, St. John's United Church of Christ will purchase $5 composters from the Chester County Recycling Office so that each plot at the community garden will have its own composter to recycle organic matter back into the soil.

COORDINATOR'S ACTIVITIES: In February, I attended the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture conference in State College PA as a reporter for "Progressive Health" newspaper. In March, I testified about the difficulties of living with brain injury in Pennsylvania to the chair of the PA State Senate Committee on Health and Public Welfare and was rewarded by the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania with the co-chairship of the Public Policy Committee. In June, I married Frank Desimone at St. John's United Church of Christ and held the reception at the community garden. In July, we attended the American Community Garden Association Conference in New York City. In December, I completed my time on the Phoenixville Communities That Care (CTC) Community and Executive Boards, received a scholarship from CADCOM in Norristown to attend the Food & Farming Conference in Wilmington, DE and accepted temporary management of the American Community Gardening Association National Office until a permanent Executive Director can be found. Throughout the year, I wrote articles and did book reviews related to sustainable agriculture.

THE 2003 SEASON: While the garden is currently taking a much-needed break for winter, we'll open in March for volunteering in the perennial area and open for plot gardening on April 5, 2003. The deadline for signing up to purchase your own $5 composter from Chester County is February 28, 2003. Our Spring Work Day, open to gardeners and community volunteers alike, will be April 26, 2003 from 10 am to 2 pm. "Make A Difference Day," when we hold our Fall Work Day will be on October 25, 2003. If you or anyone you know would like to donate time or garden on a plot in 2003, just call the church at 610-933-5311 or drop me an e-mail at <alliums@yahoo.com>. Agriculture is an infinitely expandable activity, so there's always something to do for everyone!


Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden

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St. John's United Church of Christ, 315 Gay Street, Phoenixville, PA 19460

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