Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday Reading

This break is turning out to be a great time to catch up on some reading and gather up more inspiration for being a part of Vancouver's urban agriculture movement.

Here are a few good sites for those interested:

1) The Tyee's summer series on urban agriculture in BC - here

2) City Farmer's new News Blog for more international stories - here

Have a safe and happy end to 2009. We hope you have a lovely time welcoming in the New Year and that it is filled with great new resolutions, like growing local.

- Marnie

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Holidays

As you wind down for the upcoming holiday season the idea of building an organic food garden might be far from your thoughts. Not here at SPEC!

Our School Gardens Coordinator, Catriona Gordon and our School Gardens Facilitator, Marnie Newell, have been busy attending meetings, doing research and gathering resources to help 4 Vancouver Elementary Schools start their gardens in the spring.

It’s amazing what can go into the process when you’re trying to do things right!

We’ve been discussing garden plans/dreams with incredible teams of passionate people at all of our participating schools. But our goal is to start building the physical infrastructure for our garden as soon as the ground has thawed. This means deciding on the design and materials for garden boxes and raised beds, which are the best options for school gardens (the little guys don’t compact the soil by walking on the beds).

Our teams are learning more and more about what needs to go into a garden to make it successful. Perhaps the most important words here are “teamwork” and “staying power”. Many gardens have been built on school grounds only to be torn down soon after because they fell apart or their creators left them and no one kept them up. This is what we’re working to avoid right now. Schools interested in building a garden should establish a Garden Committee with teachers, parents, students, administrators and the community involved. The more individuals who are ready to commit to the garden’s continued success the better. When the project is a whole school and even a whole community initiative more people become invested in its success and ready to offer their expertise or even supplies to help it thrive and grow.

What has been absolutely inspiring in our experience so far is how many people believe in this work and are ready to donate their time and skills to make it the best it can be. The wealth of resources provided by the internet and other agriculture-related organizations is also astounding.

Keep an eye on this blog to learn more about this work. Updates, insights on school garden design and links to resources are on their way shortly.

posted by Marnie

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter greetings from City Square!

Here are some images from our last meeting of the year, Dec. 7th.

Our beautiful new sign, created by SPEC volunteers Marcie and Carmen. Thanks so much for your contribution!

Broccoli and Brussel Sprouts still going strong, we look forward to harvesting these in the next couple months!

mmm, already looking delicious...

These were the oats we had planted in September, the most successful of the cover crops we planted. Once turned in, they will help to build the complexity of the soil.

Our gardener Beng, with a celery - harvested in December! Only in Vancouver....

Also parsnips! Although dirty, they are beautiful (and tasty!) A highly recommended crop for winter gardening.

This is one of the many marigolds we planted as a companion to tomatoes and other crops. Now that they have finished their life cycle we can harvest the seeds from the pods for next year.

Just open the dried pods, remove the seeds, and put in an envelope for future use. No need to spend $ on expensive bedding plants.

Our next meeting is Sunday, January 17th at 10am.

Seed catalogues are in, which means soon we will begin planning for next season. Let the fun begin!