In 2015 we are planning another mini food forest using a little different model. Last year's mini food forest was designed to look very natural, with clover and low growing plants for ground cover. Our next plan is to grow an edible gathering area for the neighbors. It will feature seating, a shelter/bus stop, and, of course, edible landscape. The Neighborhood Gateway Project's concept is to make the garden more welcoming to the neighbors across the street that can walk over and visit. It sits right on the bus line, so it can double as a bus stop. It will have a small garden area, several permanent fruit trees and berry bushes. We are referring to it as the Gateway because, as you pass through the shelter, a path will lead under a grape arbor and direct people to the larger, open garden. Thanks to a grant fromMemorial Community Health Enhancement, (supporting this, more welcome attractions, and the Youth Camp) the project will start early spring 2015!
By Sara Lowe
At the Growing Summit this past March, I led a group of yardeners in a discussion about being revolutionaries by growing our own food. The virtues of yardening are empowerment and economical independence. By growing our own food, we have freedom of choice in what we eat and how it’s grown.
Joel Salatin, a revolutionary farmer himself, said that “a community that feeds itself is free.” We are free, as the Growing Summit imparted, when we make deliberate choices of eating food that is grown by our own hands or by farmers who live in our community.
The Growing Summit included discussion not only about growing our own food, but also to that of food produced by local farmers. The booths, speakers, and even the hosts of the event, Unity Gardens, were there to persuade us as a community, to feed ourselves.
A community that feeds itself buys from its own producers. The buyers know the people who produce, or can easily be connected to them easily. We can ask about the methods used to grow the food and then make the most informed decisions about what we eat.
The community that feeds itself is free from outside economic support because the money it spends on food stays in that local economy. If the average family’s food bill is $100 per week, that family would spend $5,200 per year. If that family shifted its food spending to locally produced food by 20%, $1,040 would stay in the local economy. If 50%, $2,600; 75%, $3,900; 90%, $4,680 per year. If just 500 families spent 90% of their yearly food budget on locally produced food, those families would keep $2,340,000 in the local economy every year.
A community that feeds itself is free from need when it supports itself through community gardens. Organizations like Unity Gardens supports the community through the free food it offers. Communities that work together to support one another in this way bond together and grow together. Communities that grow food in communal gardens have seen a decrease in rates of robberies and thefts.
A community that grows its own food, one of our most basic needs, is free to determine what it eats, how that food is grown, and ultimately, the quality of life of everyone who lives within it. The Growing Summit is held each year. Its growth in attendance and widening breadth of topics relevant to building healthy communities is an encouraging sign that his community is catching on quickly to those benefits of controlling its own food source.
Thirteen diverse and (overly) excited University of Michigan students embark on their Spring Break volunteer trip at the Unity Gardens in Southbend Indiana.
Imagine this: two (exceptionally ancient) minivans packed to the brim with caffeinated kids and excessive luggage with custom throwback CDs. Sounds fun right? It gets better. Instead of a quick run to a drive-thru they end up taking up a whole room at Marjo’s All Day Breakfast Diner. And that was just the beginning of the adventure!
Our hotel ended up being a small palace complete with Starbucks in the lobby, fluffy beds, glass elevators, and a suspiciously murky hot tub. We didn’t get too comfy though, because we had to meet our gracious hosts Sara and Mitch at the Unity Gardens!
We came armed with parkas, snow boots and hats, expecting to work in the polar vortex of South Bend Indiana, at Unity Gardens. We were greeted by an informative PowerPoint explaining how the gardens grow more than food; they help sustain a community. We also learned our first task would be painting bee homes!
The next day, our “bee boxes” range from Picasso masterpieces to shameless stencils. During lunch, we were treated to a presentation on how to raise urban chickens. We all want to adopt several now!!
Excited to see what tomorrow has in store….. Until then!
Jennet Ingle came to us over the summer with an idea about Musicians supporting local non-profits. She wondered if it would be congruent with our mission of building community.
"Of course", we said, "the more people we reach the better!" That was the beginning of Musicians for Michiana , a group of Musicians performing concerts to support 4 non-profits in 2014: Unity Gardens, Hannah & Friends, The Music Village, and Girls on the Run. They are having 4 concerts and the first was last Sunday supporting Unity Gardens. It was a great turnout and great fun, so we would like to thank them. The next concert supports Hannah & Friends and will be held on March 2nd at the Music Village at 2pm. Check thewebsite for more info.
South Bend has been know for many things The Studebaker, Oliver Plow, Its River, and Notre Dame. Now Unity Gardens is proud of our city for something a little bit different. 2 years ago Unity Gardens teamed up with Peace Bees in an effort to put a few hives in the garden. The goal was to increase pollination, and do a little Honey Bee education. With all the bad news in the world about the loss of the Honey Bee it was a perfect time to take some small steps to help the gardens best friend " the Honey Bee"
Its was somewhat of a perfect storm. Peace Bees a group with a mission of educating the public on the benefits of the Honey Bee, Tim Ives a beekeeper that looks a beekeeping in a different way going against the grain of traditional beekeeping, and showing extraordinary results. A city on the move to become a leader in the green movement. All this was a perfect storm for South Bend to become a Bee Friendly City. The city ordinance on Bees stated that they were not allowed in the city limits unless you had 5 acres ( a rare thing in South Bend) A a Unity Gardens class on Urban Chickens Councilman Tim Scott, and Vince Barletto were in attendance and the subject of making beekeeping legal in South Bend was brought up. Soon after Vince, Tim and Steve( Peace Bees) were in discussions of how to change the code and make Beekeeping legal in the city. A short time later the law was changed and beekeeping in the city limits is now legal. Moving forward the city has embraced bees and local Honey. The Unity Gardens and Tim Ives have located hives in 3 locations in the city, and plans to install several more in several neighborhoods providing " Honey from the Hood" in everyones "hood". The City and Mayor Pete have been so supportive of our Honey projects we felt it fitting to give Mayor Pete our first " Bee Friendly City Award" In the future we hope to honor area residents for doing their part to make our city a Bee friendly one. So lets all congratulate Mayor Pete.
Winter at Unity Gardens what ever do we do ?. Every year folks say to me and say "I bet its great to have a break in the winter". Oh how I wish that was the case, or maybe not. We stay very busy all winter long sometimes busier then summer. Around November when the outdoor garden winds down I take a little down time, a working vacation. I like to head out to Arizona and do lots of hiking, visit friends, and visit some community gardens. In between all that I work on things like our website, newsletter, and event flyers. I spend much of my vacation time making list of all the things I need to get done (regrouping). The hiking gives me lots of time to think and try to clear some space in my head to get geared up for the next year. By the time the week is through I am ready to hit it hard. We have 2 greenhouses and plenty of work in the garden to do as far as clean up and prep for the next season, and we do it sun rain, cold or snow , and we get it done. I never like to roll into March being behind. To put it into perspective when I get back from my week off its about 100 days until we are planting in the garden again. And everything takes longer when its cold. Our garden classes start in early January. This means going over all the classes I am teaching, and lining up people to teach speciality classes. All this while we are watering, planting, and harvesting in our greenhouse. Everything is harder in the winter. We continue our food waste program which means emptying and cleaning frozen food waste buckets into the snow covered composter. At some point I can no longer drive close to the greenhouse so I make the 200 yard trek through the snow. This year we added Honey from the Hood to our to do list, labeling, and selling honey all year long. The cool thing for me is I love it all, and believe no one has a better life then me.I come home cold tired and sore every night, but I sleep great.
Kelsey is joining the Unity Gardens as an intern to help with fund raising, grant writing, and research as well as work in the gardens, of course. She recently completed her bachelor’s degree at Duke University with a self-designed major entitled Sex and Power: Gendered Relationships. She plans to attend law school and become a human rights lawyer and activist. Eventually, she hopes to work for an organization such as the ACLU or the Justice Department.
Kelsey’s background is mainly in the field of advocacy for women. She has worked on issues ranging from sex trafficking in Southeast Asia to dating violence and sexual assault her own college campus. She has experience in the nonprofit world as well as with grant funding processes through the federal government. However, Kelsey is excited for this opportunity to branch out from her expertise and learn about a different kind of nonprofit as well as develop her professional skills while doing good in the community.
Lots of Groundhog talk this year so I thought I would rerun an old newsletter post showing the frustration of one intern ....Remember its all tounge in cheek
This is a photo of the Unity Garden at Saint Mary's College, located on the south side of Havican Hall. Notice anything strange? I'll give you a hint: it's empty! For the past three weeks I, along with plenty of sad ECDC children at the preschool, have been hard in battle with a ground-hog at both the college garden, and the ECDC garden. This little creature, with it's sweet brown eyes, has been mowing absolutely anything and everything that is not grass! This includes: tomatoes, carrots, radishes, ALL lettuces, kale, collards, green peppers, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and countless flowers. The pesky animal in most gardens has been the rabbit, but I swear to you that a ground hog is much worse: they are hard to scare, they get used to your normal routines, they like plants right after it rains, and they do not give up their unity salads easy. So after a few weeks of research, and much re-seeding I have a few helpful suggestions to those who are unfortunate enough, like me, to have this selfish dinner guest.
1. Don't name your pests. It makes getting rid of them hard.
2. Show up and work in your garden at very random times during the day--this will help confuse the groundhog, and the more random you are, the less they can memorize any sort of routine!
3. If you have any pets, let them walk through and around your garden A LOT. Letting them potty around the perimiter will deter ground hogs until the scent washes away. The bigger the dog, the better. Dogs that shed should be most welcome, don't be afraid to scratch and pet your dog as much as possible without straining a muscle, and then sprinkle all that icky hair all around the vegetables!
4. Ground hogs hate stinky things! If you've been hit more than twice it's time to put down things that reek. Some suggestions: peeled garlic, cut onions, moth balls, ammonia soaked rags, epsom salts, urine, ANYTHING that is repungant will work.
5. If putting out stinky things still isn't keeping him away, it's time to spray! If you're organic you can try putting one tablespoon of extra spicy hot sauce into one gallon of water OR buy fish emulsion (which can be found through New Life Soil, or at Lowes). Be sure to spray around and on the plants so the animal gets a big mouthful of nastyness. WIth things like hot sauce and fish emulsion, it is important to know that you will need to re-spray after any rain or heavy dew. If you just aren't too particular about staying completely organic, there are some chemical sprays that are not harmful to plants to deter animals. These can be found at any store with a home and garden section (e.g. Lowes, Meijers, Walmart) and are listed as animal repellants. it is okay to go this route too, but please be sure to follow the directions on the label of what you've purchased before using.
If You Gave Everything You've Got...Or You Can't Stand the Stink!
Your lettuces are nothing but roots, you can't remember where your carrots are because their tops are gone, your cucumbers are just prickly stems, and you're exhausted: welcome to the Saint Mary's College Unity Garden (just joking). If you are in distress and nothing has worked do not hesitate (let's repeat that: DO NOT HESITATE) to put out a live trap. You can find the St Joe County ordinance on trapping and such here.
When trapping and releasing PLEASE DO NOT put a garden-eating animal (such as a rabbit or a ground hog) into another area where people might have gardens, and especially farmland where people make their living on their crops! I wouldn't wish this nuisance on anyone, and coming from a family of farmers, I know they wouldn't aprpeciate it too much. This being said, remember folks that you do not have to re-locate this animal....there are other options for disposing of the groundhog that I'm sure you can think of.
For more information about this animal, try googling it.
Or click on these links:
Happy Gardening and Harvesting!
Ground-Hog Home (inside of the garden bed!)
Unity Garden Intern
Saint Mary's College Garden Leader
By Carla Geglio
When I signed up to be the summer intern for Unity Gardens, I had no idea what I was in for. I remember the night before my first day on the job discussing with my friends what would be the most appropriate outfit to wear, a concern that seems pretty ridiculous in hindsight. Although my mom, the garden leader at the Zion church, is an amazing gardener, I had never taken much interest in gardening. My motivations for interning with Unity Gardens had more to do with the gardens’ mission and role in the community rather than actually, physically working outdoors in the garden. I came in knowing next to nothing about gardening. My first day at LaSalle Square, I was told to put down grass clippings (which keep down weeds and help to retain moisture, by the way!). Although a pretty simple task, I managed to completely invert the process, putting the clippings directly around plants instead of between rows. I remember Sara’s reaction when she saw my mistake was so characteristically positive. She saw it as nothing more than a great teaching moment and showed me how to do the job correctly. Now, entering my 12th week in the garden, not only can I spread grass clippings properly, I can plant most vegetables like a pro, I finally figured out how to effectively wield a hoe, and I can make straight (ish) mounds and rows. This summer, I discovered that I actually like gardening! Especially weeding, to the point that now, whenever I see weeds at the garden or not, I feel a strong compulsion to pull them.
This summer, a lot of my friends had internships in offices and research labs, in places like Chicago and Indianapolis, where they had to dress up every day and sit in stuffy cubicles. My internship was a bit different, and I feel like I really lucked out. Although, prior to this summer, I would never have described myself as an out-doorsy kind of a girl, and most definitely not a morning person, I absolutely loved waking up early and heading to the garden for a couple of hours every morning. I picked up skills that I will one day be able to take into my own garden, I found something that I really enjoy doing every day, and, most importantly, I know that all of the hours I put into the garden went toward something I can really be proud of: helping the community and feeding hungry people. Sara, consistently cheerful, and Mitch, the eternal grump, were both so great this summer and made my internship such an enjoyable experience. This fall I am headed back to Purdue for my final semester. Although I am not really sure what the future holds for me, I am sure that I will look back on my last college summer with fond memories of working away in the garden.
And Studebagels>Einsteins. Always.
Hi my name is Mitch I am the Unity Garden Manager. I am a Purdue Master Gardener, and teach many of the gardening classes. I also manage the LaSalle Square Garden, and maintain the website, blog and newletter