At the latter end of a busy and exciting season of expansion and new growth, we — Peter “Sunshine” Cahill and Janaya Crevier — the garden’s current managers, are reviving this long-dormant blog to post a few updates! As the harvest (finally) begins to speed up despite a long list of setbacks, we are happy to display in photographs the progress of the garden this summer.
Since 2009, the Calvin Community Garden has consisted of 18 – 8×4 ft raised beds in a small plot behind the KE apartments. These are rented out to Calvin students and other members of the community and have successfully produced all kinds of beautiful veggies, fruits, and flowers (see previous posts).
But this year, a long-awaited expansion was finally approved: the garden now has a new plot, and this one is for produce for Calvin’s dining halls! The new, (much) larger plot is located behind the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex, in the backyard of 3151 Hampshire, the house right next to Calvin. [Please visit anytime!]
We are growing all kinds of herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, carrots, radishes, and a whole lot more; the majority of it will be sold to Calvin Dining Services for use in its catering program and (to a smaller extent) in the dining halls.
Below is an illustrated history of the past four months: it’s amazing to watch the transformation from a plain green lawn to a full garden bursting with produce!
May 3: Groundbreaking. Friends gather for the official breaking of ground for the Hampshire Gardens.
May 26 – present: Buckthorn Battle. Two large hedges of invasive buckthorn lined the east and west sides of the garden. Now that the east side hedge is cleared, passers-by walking or driving on Calvin’s road can actually see into the garden! And we cleared space for a gate.
June 6: Tilling time. With the help of Henry Kingma from the Physical Plant, the rows take shape.
Jun 14 – present: Planting! Cucumbers were the first to go in. These days, we are sowing fall crops like garlic and asparagus.
Jun 27 – Herb Spiral: Sunshine’s garden castle! The artist at his finest.
Jul 24 – Raised Beds: For more permanent planting spaces, we built nine 6×16 ft raised beds, which currently are growing tomatoes, basil, radishes, kohlrabi, and various salad greens. Shown: tomatoes and arugula bed, immediately after planting (July 29) and now.
Aug 06-13: Building the Gate. To our great excitement, we found a massive pallet while dumpster diving and used it to build a beautiful gate for our main entrance. On August 13, a cheerful group of friends came to help us paint the gate and share a cookout meal! (Another reason to help out in the garden — delicious free food!)
If you don’t yet have enough reasons to come visit us, let this convince you:
After all, there are two things on this earth that money can’t buy: true love and homegrown tomatoes.
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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.
A few weeks ago, we had a garden dinner. We used fresh vegetables from the garden, as well as other local produce, to create a fantastic dinner for people associated with the garden. By the end, all but two people ended up canceling on me, so It was just me, a neighbor and a friend’s mother. IT was still a fantastic dinner. We didn’t even have room for dessert. We made Cajun, Cauliflower Au Gratin and a Vegetable, bean soup.
We’ve begun to get bucket loads of tomatoes! A class at Calvin is coming to help out once a week, and they’re taking the community plot produce to a local food pantry. Their load consists mostly of tomatoes :)
The rest of the week I carry bags of tomatoes to classes or through the hallways of my apartment, offering everybody produce.
A very kind renter provided us with this Japanese Beetle Trap. It is disgusting. The beetles fill four inches of the bag, and they are still covering out beans as well!
This is another garden invader. I don’t know what it’s called, but it likes our cucumber. We usually spray hot pepper water or smash them.
As you can see, the transplanted mint is already growing new shoots! Sooo excited! I think Mint must be the easiest plant to transplant. I just make sure that I get some of the root (Mint shoots are usually connected underground to each other like vines) and shove it in the ground wherever I want it :)
This has to be one of the most organized plots at the garden. It isn’t ours, that’s for sure. One of the renters is very good at gardening.
And here’s a picture of the group ^.^ I love the group! They’re all so wonderful!
This Past Week, for our community event, we had signs made up for us out of scrap wood by Physical Plant Wood Shop. Then we brought paints, Wood glue and random odds and ends and recycled pieces, like milk jug tops and old CDs, and told the gardeners to have at it. They came up with some amazing designs for their signs! A few pictures are posted here.
We also made other recycled art pieces for the garden. Some, like the CD fish-chain, we hope to have additional purposes, like scaring away animals. Others are just beautiful. We’ll be having a Kids crafts day at the garden later this summer in order to get kids involved in the garden. They will come and make their own art for the garden and learn how to recognize certain herbs, and how to take care of a garden.
Lucky for us, physical plant gave us a big pile of wood chips the same day as the event, so we were able to utilize the volunteers working hands to spread the chips. now we have a beautiful layer of golden wood chips covering the paths in the garden. Soon we’ll have a border to plant native wildflowers and grasses in as well.
Thanks for reading!
We must have had over a thousand carrot seedlings growing in a single plot. That was a problem. Last year we had a group of carrot flowers that we let go to seed. We shook them onto the plot at the end of the season last year, hoping that some would grow. Well, they grew. And grew and grew and grew.
By the end of the night, we had a bucket full of carrots ranging in size from bite-size to decently-sized-but-not-as-big-as-in-the-store. And they were beautiful. And I’m told they were delicious, though I don’t eat carrots personally.
We’re hoping that this great load of Carrots means that we will be able to have a few plantings. We have seeds left in a bag from last year and would love to be able to plant them again in a month. It’s so great that it is the beginning of the season, and we already have some well-grown carrots. So far we haven’t had any bunny problems either. Cat litter at the fence must really do the trick. That and the new fencing, thanks to our incredible grounds crew friends. ^.^
Whew! It’s the end of the semester, finals are done, and there are finally a few minutes to breathe! But work at the garden is already going. A few weeks ago, we had a clean-up event to get all of the plots ready for spring. We pulled up our winter cover, rye grass, and turned it into the soil, pulled weeds from the paths, and filled our entire green bucket with weeds to compost. Here are some pictures:
First, the chives, growing beautiful as ever!
Next, the oregano. You can see how big it got compared to my foot.
Here’s what the entire garden looked like before we started:
And here’s what it looked like while we were working:
A big thanks to everyone who came, despite the poor weather conditions.
And a reminder that there is an introduction event next Thursday, May 31, at 6pm. Everyone is welcome, and bring your friends! We’ll take a tour of the garden, plant some seedlings, pull some weeds, and pull up any carrots that are big enough. It will be a chance to enjoy some good company, good work, and (hopefully) good weather!