Sunday, September 25, 2016

Community Garden Wins Blue!

 

And Red and White too:


Growing Together Community Gardens entered fruits and vegetables in the Pacific County Fair this year.  Seven entries were made and all seven won ribbons!  Blue ribbon winners included Aronia berries, which were covered in the article about the garden last month.  Green Broccoli, rhubarb, sea berries (another rare and very nutritious berry), and flying saucer summer squash also won blue ribbons.   In addition, golden broccoli won a red ribbon and elderberries won a white ribbon.  Hurrah!




Growing Together Community Gardens is the only community garden in the Raymond / South Bend (WA) area.  It is located on the corner of Water and Adams streets in South Bend, Washington, in the back yard of Legacy Community Outreach Food Bank, and cater-corner across the street from The First Lutheran Church of South Bend.  The First Lutheran Church (FLC) is the sponsor of the community garden.

The garden’s vision is unique.  It incorporates three different ideas, each found on their own in various community gardens across the nation and around the world.  First, rental beds are available to individuals and families, who make their own choices about what to grow for their own households.  While most people grow vegetables in their bed(s), some people just want a spot to putter and grow flowers.  Everyone who rents a bed becomes a member of the garden, and also helps with the up-keep of the garden as a whole. 

Second, there are designated ‘community’ areas in the garden.  Featured in the community areas are ten different kinds of berries, rhubarb, apples, herbs, garlic, and potatoes.  The berries and rhubarb for which we won ribbons were grown in the garden’s community areas.  ‘Community’ produce is shared among members.  Any surplus is donated to Legacy Community Outreach Food Bank.   The garden’s rhubarb is also a delicious part of FLC’s Fruit Crisp Fundraiser.  The fundraiser was held this year, on Sunday September 4th, at the church, from 11:30 – 2:30.  Other fruit crisp varieties, besides rhubarb, were available and one could purchase a slice or a whole crisp.  All funds raised stay in the local community and support a variety of worthwhile causes.
 
Third, is the garden’s ‘food bank bed.’  Garden members also help care for this part of the garden, and all the produce is donated to Legacy Community Outreach Food Bank.  Last year, the garden was able to donate over 500 pounds of fresh organic produce.  The green and golden broccoli and the flying saucer summer squash mentioned above came from this bed.  In addition, this year, there are fresh herbs and plenty of cucumbers growing here.  

It’s a lovely model for a community garden.  Provision is made for the food bank, for sharing and creating community, and for individuals to grow what they would most like in plots of their own.  In fact, two of our members entered items from their plots and won ribbons at the fair!   Andy Carlson won a blue ribbon for his Scarletbor Kale.  Shelia Rickers won five blue ribbons; one each for a pumpkin and a zucchini, and three for flowers. 

There is one sad note about the garden’s fair entries this year.  Due to some confusion, they were all erroneously entered under a single person’s name.  That’s why you don’t remember seeing any entries from the community garden.  A better job will be done next year.  

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If you would like to visit the garden, we are open Tuesdays between 4:15 PM and 6:00 PM and Saturdays from 10:30 AM until at least 11:30 AM.   While there are no beds available at this time, there is a short waiting list for prospective new members.  Volunteers are also always welcome.  We often have fresh herbs to share with volunteers, as well as tips on how to use them and preserve them.   For more information please contact the coordinator, Harvest McCampbell, (360) 934-5792 or (707) 834-2985.

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Published in the Willapa Harbor Herald on  8.31.16, reprinted here with permission.  All rights       reserved. 

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Note to readers:   I have been the coordinator of Growing Together Community Gardens for about a year and a half.  It keeps me very busy.  :)  You can check out our photos and posts on our facebook page.   Thanks!  

Saturday, August 27, 2016

August’s Community Garden Stars!

Super foods are very much in demand by everyone interested in nutrition. Berries, of course, are all famous as super foods. Many of them taste great and they provide us with important health benefits. Aronia berries, pictured growing at our local community garden, are the queen of super berries and one of the stars of the August garden. 





According to the USDA, Aronia berries have the highest antioxidant score of all berries tested! (1) They are also high in fiber and vitamins C and K, (2) as well as iron. (3) Aronia berries health benefits have been well researched. The studies indicate that they may be healthful for people suffering from many different conditions. Whether you are looking for preventative foods to reduce your chances heart attacks or cancer, lower your cholesterol, help lower elevated blood sugar, improve and heal the digestive system, reduce inflammation, slow or reverse weight gain, and improve the immune system, (1) Aronia berries might be just what you need. No single food, however, is a cure all. But making good food choices is certainly a good idea. 

While you may not have heard of these rare berries before, they are native to the North Eastern United States and range up into Canada. They prefer cool moist climates, thus thriving here in Pacific County. They are easy to grow, can be started from cuttings or divisions, and they don’t require any supplemental irrigation here in the Willapa Harbor area. They are vigorous, however, and need room to stretch out, or careful attention to pruning.

Growing Together Community Garden members; Fransisco Valencia, Edna Garcia, and Norma Tapia, as well as their children love our Aronia berries as you can see.   They have also been the members providing the Aronia berry shrubs with their care this year; resulting in berries that are three times as large and twice as sweet as ever before.  




Now you’re wondering what those blueberry look-a-likes taste like, aren’t you?  They taste like a cross between blueberries, cranberries, and pomegranates.  Some people like them right off the bush, and some find them to be a little bit strong flavored and a little bit puckery.  But most of us wouldn’t enjoy a cranberry straight out of the bog either.  Aronia berries do well in jams, sauces, and pies, mixed with other fruit, and tossed into smoothies, pancakes, and muffins.  If you search the internet you will find many recipes.  Here’s a great page to get you started, ‘Aronia Berry Love and Six Recipes:’  http://deeprootsathome.com/aroniaberry-love-and-6-recipes/

You can taste test Aronia berries at the community garden on the corner of Adams and Water Street in South Bend any Tuesday between 4:15 and 6:00 PM.  The garden is also open for at least an hour on Saturdays beginning at 10:30 AM. Those who like the berries can help prune in the fall and take home cuttings to start for their own yards.  If you don’t have room, you might want to ask about a garden membership.  The garden doesn’t have any openings right now, but there may be an opening or two in the near future.  For more information contact the garden coordinator, Harvest McCampbell, at (360) 934-5792 or (707) 834-2985.

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Published in the Willapa Harbor Herald on  8.3.16, reprinted here with permission.  All rights reserved.

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Sources:  


(1)   http://aroniaberryservicesofneiowa.com/health-benefits.html

(2)   http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/chokeberry.html
(3)   http://spiritfoods.net/health-benefits-of-aronia-berries/

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 Note to readers:   I have been the coordinator of Growing Together Community Gardens for about a year and a half.  It keeps me very busy.  :)  You can check out our photos and posts on our facebook page.   Thanks!