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.
By Laureen Fagen
So your garden was going great – lots of beneficial rain and warm spring days that turned to summer heat. The Fourth of July weekend was fun and the break was well-deserved, since most of your planting is done and the weeds are under control. It was even time to enjoy the cucumbers and a few tomatoes.
And that’s when it happened, right? The zucchini plants suddenly looked as if they’d been dusted in baby powder. There are some scary-looking spots all over the black-eyed Susans, and mysterious holes in the raspberry leaves. There are filmy webs on the cabbage, and little horned fiends looking well-fed.
I hate this, and the reason is because I feel helpless and inadequate and I don’t know what to do. Maybe not about every insect pest or fungal disease in the garden – but enough for me to see a lengthy battle. It makes me wonder sometimes how humans ever grew enough food to thrive, and avoid our extinction.
It’s true that you can avoid a lot of problems by catching them early, so it makes sense to walk the garden every day. But then what? Here are a few ideas for diagnosing/treating some plant problems:
· Gather all the information you can. What was the weather like? In a spring this cool and wet, there will be a lot more fungal problems. What is the plant doing based on what you’ve seen before? The powdery mildew is pretty common in the cucurbit family – your squash, your zucchini – and the humidity makes it likely, but there’s more than one kind to deal with, too. Ask yourself all the questions first, and then start fitting the plant-science puzzle pieces together.
· Don’t be afraid to ask, whether that means asking a friend or double-checking the symptoms with photos on the Internet. Just be sure that you trust the information comes from a reputable source. This is a good way to see what a problem can’t be, too, before you decide on what it is.
· Act early. Start removing the tomato hornworms or squash bugs from the plant as soon as you see them. Prune away obviously infected parts of the plant, and keep them out of the compost. Decide how you want to manage the problem and by what method, and then remember what worked (or write it down) because you’re likely to see the problem again in other seasons. Try to remember, too, what you think may have caused the pest or the pathogens in the first place.
· Freak out! No, not always. Many plants experience common pest or disease problems without destroying the plant, or even needing much treatment. On the other hand … Freak out! I think that’s a downy mildew on the black-eyed Susans, and it’s a completely different problem than other mildews I’ve had before. The Plasmopara halstedii does infect the rudbeckia, along with other daisy-family flowers, and all of this water isn’t helping. It’s a little late for prevention and I have it in three different beds on two different sites, so feel free to send me your best ideas!
I love Laureen's thought on Gardening we all feel overwhelmed at sometime in our garden. I combat garden fatigue in August by refreshing my garden. I start tearing out stuff that has died or is going to seed and replant . Here are a few links to guides for fall planting
Planting Chart From Natures Crossroads
Purdue Fall Planting Guide
So the last week has had its up and downs. As a precaution Unity Gardens test all of its sites for lead, and if it in a area of concern we have a full panel done. In the past 5 years we have only had one garden not pass. This week we had a 2nd garden. While the levels were below what the EPA would consider unsafe to grow in we did not want to take any chances. But it got a little news coverage and got me to thinking about spending some more time teaching people about safe garden practices. We do teach some classes in the winter and touch on soil safety, but this just presents another chance. So should you be concerned ? First know a little history of the lot you are growing on. Is it an old dump site, or a site where a house burned down.? Old cars leak toxic chemcials into the soil, and fire ruble can contain all sorts of things. If your house is pre 1978 and has been painted with lead paint the soil could have lead in it. This is not meant to scare people off from gardening most areas are safe, but if you have concerns it does not hurt to check. The best place to start is the health dept. here is a link to the St Joe Co Website . There are some ways you can make your garden safer. Raised beds, and mulch in between the beds goes a long way. Most of the exposure to lead is from dust that gets on the food. Washing your food in the garden and then again in the home can also help. Check out this Soil Safety PDF
By Laureen Fagan
With all the interest in beekeeping and a potential urban beekeeping ordinance in South Bend, it’d be easy enough to think that bee talk is just for the apiculture enthusiasts. But many people can “keep bees” and support bee populations through the gardening plants they choose and practices they use.
By now, most people know why it’s important. Bee populations are suffering from mysterious fatal conditions that include colony collapse disorder, with losses upward of 30 percent. It’s a worldwide problem – and it’s your problem, because according to a 2010 United Nations Environmental Programme report, bees pollinate about 71 percent of the top 100 food crops grown around the globe.
I’m not interested in beekeeping. I don’t want hives in my yard. Frankly, I’d like to have the suit just for the mosquitoes sometimes! But I do garden to support bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects, and here’s a few ideas for how you can be a “beekeeper” at home in the yard, garden – or even balcony.
1. Choose plants that attract and support bees, and plant so that there’s always something in bloom that’s providing nectar and pollen. Consider native plants – at home, the bees love the spiderwort and sunflowers. Also consider herbs and small fruit in the garden. My strawberries and raspberries love the bees, and the bees love them. Leave your milkweed for the beneficials, and don’t forget to think about your lawn as a “beekeeper” too. That’s a lot of clover for the bees. There’s a great resource for bee-friendly plants in the Great Lakes region atxerces.org
2. Limit the use of insecticides. Lots of people are talking about the neonicotinoid use in U.S. agriculture, but some home products – carbaryl (Sevin) as one example – are highly toxic too.
3. Create a nesting habitat and provide shelter for bees. “While most people are not equipped to raise honeybees in their backyard, creating nesting habitats for native bees is surprisingly simple,” say the experts at University of Illinois. And don’t forget the H2O. Bees and butterflies drink too, and during hot dry spells may need help finding water.
wow .... So its Saturday May 25th at the LaSalle Square Unity Garden. I arrive about 7am ( late for me ) . One of or neighborhood gardeners Kevin is already there and has let the chickens out while he works on a flower garden project. Its about 8:30 and Gabby with WNDU is coming out to do and interveiw at the same time St Joe High students will be arriving to work in the Garden. Sara is off helping Henry Davis get his Unity Garden started. Chuck the Homeless man that lives in the woods stops by to chat with Gabby. Justin Joy the St Therse garden leader is there to pick-up tools and plants. We get through the first interveiw, and I decide to let Gabby interveiw the St Joe students for part 2 . Its about then the guy arrives to pick up pallets. Amy, Jim , and Cara showup to get ready for the Kids Club at 10am. Meanwhile Mike has showed up to work on his area. Dave and Brooklen ( new volunteers) show up to work , Cara gives them the tour, and Mike puts them to work. Sara arrives back to Meet the woman from AEP to sign a contract for or solar power usage meter. She has brought her grandkids out to see the Chickens and Bees . That means its 11:30 and Steve is ready to start his Beekeeping class. Next the Boy Scouts show to drop off some rain barrels they made for the garden. The day like every Saturday is such a blur. About 150 people passed through the garden. They planted, the learned, they made friends. All these people from all walks of life, with diverse backgrounds, and diverse interest all together. This is a community !!
Hello! My name is Carla Geglio and I am so excited to be the newest Unity Gardens intern! I am currently a senior at Purdue University studying History and Art History. I am from South Bend originally and I am happy to be back for my last college summer. I first heard about Unity Gardens from my mom, Helen Geglio. She is a volunteer for Unity Gardens and started a garden at Zion Church. I went with my mom to the Unity Gardens Luau last July and I knew immediately that I wanted to get involved with the gardens. The Luau was really fun and I was exposed to all of the different components of Unity Gardens- everything from Peace Bees to the free classes offered to the community. I love that the gardens make healthy food and a healthy lifestyle attainable and accessible for members of the community. I have been vegan for six years and consume a plant-based diet. Because of my restricted diet, I have had to learn a lot about nutrition and maintaining a healthy diet. I am excited to put my love for food, nutrition, and my hometown into my work at the gardens!
April 6th was Communiversity Day. What is Communiversity Day ? Its one day a year where Notre Dame students sign up with different charities to do community service. Its our 3rd year having students come to the LaSalle Square garden, and we love it. Its at the time of year that we are looking at this big old garden that has been dormant all winter, and is in need of some TLC. In one day the students kick start the garden, mulching paths, cleaning up, and painting. This year we had around 50 students. It was amazing !!
The Coman's Teaching kids about chickens
It was a pretty crazy idea to put a 1st time large fundraiser, and our big Growing Summit event all in one 4 day weekend, but we did. Our Chocolate fundraiser with Indulgence Pastry Shop and Cafe on Thursday followed by a 3 day Growing Summit at IUSB and Potawatomi Conservatories.
We cannot thank those involved with making this weekend happen enough. The team at Indulgence, The Doubletree, CityWide, and Junk Evolution made our Chocolate Fundraiser an awesome evening. I have to admit that a 3 course meal of desserts seemed a little crazy, but everyone who attended loved it . Sean and Dave did a great job of pairing the Chocolate with the Beer and Wine. We hosted about 125 people. click here to see pictures of the event .
So after the big event with little sleep it was time to get ready for The Growing Summit. Friday's Keynote by Krista and Joel was Awesome. Next up was Saturday morning at IUSB . We had about 15 vendors and held 20 classes of all sorts of things. All the classes were well attended. Lots of new faces and some from last years event. One person came up to me and said she tried growing potatoes in a container like she learned in my class the year before and it worked great. Always good to here. On Sunday we moved into unknown territory. We tried having hands on classes for kids at the Potawatomi Conservatories. It was awesome 4 classes, Chickens, Plants, Container Gardening, and Bees, The whole place was alive with Kids. So that topped off an awesome weekend of learning, and building community.
Click Link Below For Tickets Online
Unity Team Heads For Chi Town
Many of the Unity Gardens’
staff, leaders, volunteers, and Master Gardeners spent the weekend at the KAMII Social Justice Conference in Chicago.What a great way to reflect on our mission and count our blessings through the eyes of others! From planning a garden for a homeless shelter to use to help their neighborhood have access to healthy food,to listening to the many classes on urban farming, the entire conference was one delight after another.It was both
educational and reinforcing.We learned so much from others, but also saw how much we had to offer!
Academic discussions on what it meant to give and to receive, discussions on empowerment, social inequity, and dignity all helped reinforce the Unity Gardens model.By day 2, when I was scheduled to speak about our framework and journey, I was eager to share!Seeing Unity Gardens through the eyes of others helped me appreciate how far our community has come
and what wonderful opportunities for “growth” we still have.
The Unity Gardens story enthralled those who heard the story.I could visibly see hope grow in the eyes of those listening.
In a full room, the questions started flying:How
do we make sure there is enough food, what about funding, and more.Each
group of questions led to more discussion as people there, just like in our
community struggled with the concepts of free food and social inequity.People who did not believe they could have an urban garden without fences took pause and inquired further.Social
justice leaders from across the country asked if we had grown throughout the
United States, and others asked for our information so they could learn
One of the most common threads of inquiry, second to the overall framework was about funding.How did Unity Gardens survive fiscally?This line of questioning is why I am
Unity Gardens survives because this community, our community, believes we are sprouting something special.We are growing a new way of living together and caring for one another.
While pursuing a grant, I was asked, “How does Unity Gardens hope to move
beyond grant dependence?”I replied that I could only wish to write so well as to be mostly grant supported!Unity Gardens major source of revenue and in kind donations come from hundreds and
thousands of people giving what they can.
Every donation to Unity Gardens; $25.00, the purchase of a T-shirt, or the donation of a garden tool,
weeding, even attending a fund raiser, EVERY donation, is what keeps us growing.
I am so grateful for those who come and help us garden, the volunteers who help
teach our classes, the interns who take on projects or even the other
non-profits who share their expertise.Every single person in our community makes the
difference! Through the eyes of Chicago
I was able to see what a truly remarkable project we have grown. Our community
may have more community gardens than any other in the nation.We
do this by growing each other. Please reflect on what you value and take the
time to offer part of yourself to make our world better.
I would be honored if you choose to give back through Unity
may be mailed to
PO Box 10022
Bend, IN 46680
Hi, my name is Mitch. I am the Unity Gardens 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 newsletter.