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Re: Looking for Gulf Coast garden news

  • Subject: Re: [cg] Looking for Gulf Coast garden news
  • From: Don Lambert grower@flash.net
  • Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2005 10:25:08 -0500

Amanda,

Here in Dallas, like most cities that have large numbers of evacuees, every church, shelter, and center is busy helping with food, clothing, housing, jobs, health needs, etc. A handful of our community gardeners, for the last 2-3 years have been working hard to grow extra vegetables to donate to local food pantries. Normally they have trouble getting enough volunteers to harvest and deliver this donated food to the pantries each week. For that reason, gardeners have not planted more than what is easy to harvest using their own labor.. But...

Since Katrina, much has changed. We have had surprising numbers of people show up to help with picking. Extra harvests have increasee the number of pounds normally delivered. Instead of letting some crops, like black eye peas and worn out tomato vines, struggle through one more whimpy picking, as gardeners would normally do, now volume production is in. Gardeners ripped out all their low yield plants to put in fast-producing high-yield nutritious crops like mustard greens. An announcement that we were going to plant extra for Katrina victims brought a large group of new volunteers, including some Master Gardeners we had never met before, that helped pick every little bean and cherry tomato, and cleared some very difficult spaces so that gardeners could expand planting areas.
Over the last week our community gardeners have expanded new plantings onto our reserved areas, and planted an extra 3,620 square feet. These are all fast growing high-yeild crops, like Florida Broadleaf, Tendergreens, and Southern Giant Curled Mustards; Dwarf Essex Rape; Red Russian Kale; 7-Top and Purple Top Turnip; Radishes, and Green Amaranth. We will start delivering thinnings within 3 weeks, and 5 weeks from now until at least mid-December should have 200-400 pounds donated each week. This may not seem like much, but considering that people in pantry lines, at least here in Dallas, rarely see fresh vegetables, this contribution will translate into 800 to 1200 servings of fresh nutritious vegetables each week.
We currently only have 3 or 4 plots that could be offered to Katrina families. One of the partner service centers is looking for those families. If numbers of Katrina relocatees do want to garden, which we do not currently have much of a feel for, since there is so much immediacy about urgent needs, we are making plans to be ready. Some of our partner churches by early winter, or by early next year, could provide plot space for maybe 100 new gardening families. That is something to work on.

It is hard to even think about restoring gardens in devastated areas, but I could see that teams with resources may be something to look into. Something weeks or months off. For now, we are doing what we know how to do, right here.
I am sure what we are doing is going on everywhere. We garden, we work together, we know how to grow. It would be interesting to hear from community gardeners in other cities that have large numbers of evacuees, and to hear from evacuee gardeners. In these times, gardening is more relevant than ever.
Thanks, Amanda, for your request for information and ideas.

Don Lambert
ACGA board member
Gardeners in Community Development, Dallas



Amanda Maria Edmonds wrote:

Hello--

I'm glad to know Jeannie Abi-Nader and family are safe... I don't personally know any others in the community garden world on the Gulf Coast, and I presume that restoring gardens will be of secondary importance after basic needs for shelter and water and such are met. Once that happens, though, I'm assuming food security in these communities will be an ongoing and growing concern, as people have lost financial resources, jobs, etc that let them stock their pantries. I understand the America's Second Harvest is playing a big role in emergency food assistance, but want to figure out how best to catalyze community gardeners elsewhere to think about how best we can help eventually restore. I'd like input from all of you on the role ACGA can play in these efforts. Please send a message to the list with your thoughts.

I would love to be in touch with gardeners and garden leaders from the Gulf Coast, though I imagine many are still displaced or occupied with find family and restoring basic needs. If anyone can connect me, please do.

Maybe a Relief Seed Bank would be a place to start? We work with a family from Niger here in Michigan, and as the mom took a trip back last month to her mother's village in rural Niger, we sent lots of extra veggie seeds with her. She said that most people in the villages were literally starving (the current famine in Niger has only received marginal press here), and to imagine that these seeds could literally be their only food source was humbling about how a little could do a lot. I could imagine with a little effort from gardeners all over, we could get seeds of plenty to that region of the country.

I've been exploring web sites of many of the grassroots groups in New Orleans who are contributing to relief efforts-- those may be some organizations to partner with for whatever effort is appropriate and what is most needed to restore gardens and hope throughout the Gulf. Is anyone familiar with any one of them?

Looking forward to hearing people's ideas.

Best,
Amanda
(ACGA Board Member in Michigan)

Amanda Maria Edmonds
Executive Director, Growing Hope
amanda@growinghope.net
734.330.7576

"We must be the change we wish to see in the world."
"To forget to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves."
-Mahatma Ghandi



______________________________________________________
The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org


To post an e-mail to the list: community_garden@mallorn.com

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your subscription: https://secure.mallorn.com/mailman/listinfo/community_garden

______________________________________________________
The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org


To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your subscription:  https://secure.mallorn.com/mailman/listinfo/community_garden





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