Moving Toward Our First Gatherings!

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Momentum is building for our first events of the season this Saturday! We’ll be meeting at 11am with people who are interested in being part of the garden this year, and then we’ll have a work day in the afternoon, where students are encouraged to come even if they aren’t going to be around for the summer. Students even get elective chapel credit for this experiential service opportunity.

This semester I have six social work majors who are working with me for an assignment for one of their classes. The class is Social Work Practice III, and the students are seniors. They are in groups, working with community members on projects such as a diaper drive, building awareness for the need for a new aquatic center, and this community garden. They’re learning about community organizing and the macro-level systems one has to deal with when doing social work and community organizing.

Regarding these macro-level systems, it’s been an interesting week as we’ve attempted to get the word out to the Newberg community about the opportunity to be involved in a community garden. One of these students, Elena, has worked with Love INC and Newberg FISH to advertise this opportunity to their clientele. Both sounded like they were on board, but it has been harder to deal with logistics of how and when we are allowed to share information. Here are Elena’s thoughts from her attempts to share community garden fliers this week:

So far the project has been going well. Collaboration within the Newberg community is not strong as I thought it would be, specially partnering up with Love INC. However, for the most part I feel like we have a good connection with FISH who very are willing to advertise the project with their clients. The work day is approaching and I am excited to see how many community members will show up and participate!

We’re working on getting a Spanish translation of our fliers so that FISH can hand them out to Spanish-speaking clients. We found out we couldn’t put fliers directly into FISH’s food boxes, but FISH staff can hand them out to people who come in, an we’ll also have posters up on their bulletin boards. We also had the opportunity to put fliers in with the weekend backpack meals of free and reduced-price lunch grade school students from one grade school here in town, where we had a contact.

We’ve also been working on getting the word out to students, staff and faculty at the University. Crystal and Megan have connections with the Spiritual Life staff, so we were able to gain approval for three Saturday work days for chapel credit (March 15, April 5, April 19, 1-3pm). They will be utilizing social media to get the word out about the work days, and we have a table reserved in the Student Union Building at lunch each day this week so students can hear about the opportunity and sign up to come.

Another aspect we’ve been working on is communicating with the University’s Plant Services department. They supply us with compost and wood chips for the garden, and help with watering issues and other questions as they arise. We’ve been working with them on creating an edible, perennial border for the garden: berries, herbs and grapes so far. Anna is communicating with Plant Services and making sure we have tools and stuff to spread for the work day this weekend.

Emily and Anna are connecting us with local businesses and Newberg High School to find partners who want to work with us on seeds, seedlings, tools and other supplies. They’ll be writing up proposals for donations, meeting with interested parties, and finding out ways the Newberg community can support this endeavor. Emily is also talking to other community gardens, particularly interested in finding out how they compost. What kind of structure do they use? Do they do worms, or hot compost? What needs to happen in order for these to do well? What kind of structure would we want to build? Hopefully by the end of the summer, we’ll have a good compost system in place.

Katrina is working on putting together a plant list, organizing the dates when things need to be planted, how far apart, whether they need to be planted in the ground or in pots, etc. A couple helpful resources are: 

  • Dates for Planting Vegetables in Oregon, produced by the Oregon State University Master Gardeners Association
  • Garden Planner, through the Territorial Seed Company, an Adobe Flash program where you enter in the dimensions of your garden and your beds, and what you want to plant, and it gives you a list of when to plant, how far apart to plant them, and how many you can plant. There is a 30 day free trial, so if you get it all done in 30 days you can write/print the info and not have to pay, or you can pay a $25 annual fee and then you can use the same schematic for next year.

It’s so great having people working with me to springboard all these ideas into reality! I’m so excited for this Saturday, when I get to meet those I’ll be working alongside with this summer, and begin preparing the garden for a fruitful season, both in vegetables and in friendships.

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