The past few weeks, we’ve been steadily getting more and more fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden. We’ve harvested strawberries, kale, and green onions. All of these are delicious, and we’ve even been having the strawberries with our potluck dinners every week. However, knowing what to make with strawberries, kale, and green onions in it might be hard. No worries! I found delicious recipes to use with fruits and vegetables from the community garden or with the same ones you may have in your gardens at home. Many of them were salads, such as Strawberry Coconut Kale Slaw, Strawberry, Kale and Quinoa Salad (a recipe we enjoyed at this week’s potluck), or Summery Salad with Strawberries, Chive Blossoms, and Balsamic Vinaigrette. There were a few unique ideas though. One was Buttered Kale with Lemons and Chives which sounded like a simple, but delicious meal. The most interesting and exciting recipe was Chive, Kale and Parmesan Pancakes with Poachies. What I loved most about all of these recipes is that they come from most of the same ingredients, but they turn out so differently. Some keep the ingredients much like they were when pulled out of the ground, while other change the ingredients to a completely different food item. This is much like how people can have similar roots or backgrounds, but be entirely different people. Don’t judge food based on the ingredients, and don’t judge a person based on his/her background. Comment if you use any of these recipes!
– Elliot Coulter
This week we focused on the large areas of tall grass and weeds in the areas of the garden we have yet to plant anything. We laid down cardboard to hold down the grass and weeds, giving them a smaller chance of popping back through. Then over the cardboard we spread wood chips, preparing the ground for adding new plots and, on top of that, making it much more pleasing to the eye. While we worked together to tear apart various sizes of boxes and wheel pile after pile of wood chips to pour over the cardboard, I began to think what these actions could mean on a deeper level. Much like weeds in our life that need to pulled out by the root, sometimes we have bothersome things in our life that need to be pushed down and given less power. You can’t always pull problems out by the root. Sometimes they’re like grass—they will always be there and it is very difficult to pull out every root, so instead you focus on how to take away the power from the problem. An important thing about this action is that it is always easier with help. Tearing apart boxes and bringing all these loads of wood chips in would have taken countless hours as one person, but because we worked together, as a community, we covered a lot of ground in just two hours. Sometimes it takes a community to work on a problem, and that’s okay.
This week the community aspect of the garden shone its brightest. For the first time, all three of our interns were together in the garden, after one of our number returned from Juniors Abroad. That night, families with young children and college students gathered together to share a meal and work together in the garden. The meal shared was the classic sign of a community—a potluck. We each brought our own food items and shared them together at the table.
But what made this experience feel even more like a community was the hard work we shared in before and after the meal. We came to the meal hungry and tired. We left it nourished, recovered, and ready to finish our work in the garden. Strawberries were harvested which became a part of our community meal. We were also able to plant some new seedlings. There are several habanero and swiss chard plants. Some individuals wondered how to use habanero, since to most it is unbearably spicy. We agreed that habanero jelly may be a nice treat once we harvest the plants.
Our irrigation system was worked on as we attempt to find a way to reach more beds with water. Hopefully, with a larger irrigation system we will be able to see more things being planted. We also were able to lay down cardboard over a large section of our plot and spread bark dust over it. This will hopefully stop the grass from going through so we no longer have to worry about regularly mowing it down.
All of this completed work was thanks to the nutrients we received that day, not just from the food, but from the community experience.
– Elliot Coulter
Gardening is always hard work, but some jobs are harder than others. One of the hardest is weeding, which we did a lot of this week. There’s a lot of reasons weeding isn’t the most exciting part of gardening. You’re required to be continuously squatting as you move up the line, crouching down to pull out any small weeds. Sometimes weeds are stubborn, and to get the whole root out you have to dig and pull as hard as you can. It can be hard to see the benefit because you aren’t pulling up something you will later eat, and you aren’t planting something you can watch grow and blossom. But the hardest thing is probably having to focus on the negative. Much like in our personal lives, focusing on the negative aspects that need to be removed isn’t fun. Effort and pain are often necessary on the path to less negativity. Whether it be in gardening, or our emotional lives, weeding is hard, but always beneficial. Once those weeds are gone it is easier to find the beauty in the rest of the garden. You can connect the healthy plants to the fact there weren’t weeds choking them. It all becomes worth it when you look up and notice a child learning to love gardening at a young age:
Or you plant rosemary in the spot you just pulled up chives last week and plant in soil that has been waiting for new life:
We weeded this week, but we also watched children garden with joy, planted new seedlings, and worked on irrigating our thirsty soil. The weeding was definitely worth it.
– Elliot Coulter
This week in the garden, we took from the earth and gave to the earth. We pulled up all of our kale, and in its place we planted broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, and more. We also pulled up our bed of chives, and the bed awaits new seedlings. To plant these new vegetables we did add onto our beds and put in some new soil, but we also planted in the exact spot the kale had been in moments before. There is something beautiful about this equal exchange. Typically, we talk about how you reap what you sow—but long after you sow. This week we were able to reap and sow within the same hour, and we could see the benefits of our labor. This week, I have been using the chives as a wonderful addition to my potatoes at dinner, and others took kale home to add into their meals. Our bellies were filled after our hard work in the sun. We reaped what we sowed, and it was wonderful.
I’m Elliot, and I’ll be the new documenting intern for the GFU Community Garden, so you’ll be hearing a lot from me this summer! Last Saturday was my first time working in the garden, and it was actually my first time ever working in a community garden. There’s a distinct difference between a small flower or herb garden in your front yard and a large community garden like this one. The differences of size and variety are pretty clear, but the greatest difference is the feeling you get working in the garden. As we laid out soil to expand the garden beds and put down bark to ward off weeds, I felt a connection to all of the people who had put their sweat into this garden over the years. I knew that my work was benefiting not just me, but everyone else who has a stake in the garden. What I felt was a sense of community, and I can’t wait to continue participating in that community this summer. Thank you for working in connection with me and everyone else in this fruitful project!
With the weird and wonky, wet and cold weather this year, it’s been a bit of a challenge to get out into the garden, but we’ve been getting it cleaned up from the winter for the last few weeks and it’s starting to look like a garden again.
If you’re interested in joining us this season, we’d love to have you! Our first official work day will be Saturday, April 15, 2017, from 1-3pm. Feel free to come check out the place and see if it’s something you want to be involved in, or just come out for the afternoon for some time outside and getting your hands in the dirt.
This year, we’re experimenting for the first time with individual plots, in addition to some communal space like we have each year. We have several individuals and families signed up for plots. If you’d like a plot, contact us soon! We’re excited to offer space to Newberg community members who don’t have a space or the know-how to garden on their own, or who simply want to have some accountability and community while they work the land. Participation in the garden for the season is $10/GFU student or $15/community member or GFU staff/faculty.