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  • 1.  Backyard gardening lead me towards community gardening

    Posted 03-25-2022 15:39
    Hello again!

    Spring is here in Arlington Heights, IL and we're making plans for our backyard garden!
    Of course we are all dealing with the rising price of food and supply chain issues here in Chicago area, so I thought I would throw out a couple gardening ideas. If we are able to grow some food for ourselves and others, maybe that's a good response to shortages, and is a teachable moment to others.

    About 10 years ago, my church wanted to do some community outreach and we volunteered to plant and maintain a community garden for the  Elgin Community Garden Network: Elgin Community Garden Network, The Stewardship Mapping Project (cnt.org). We recruited local volunteers from Lutheran Social Services: Healthy Start Recovery Home | Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (lssi.org) to help till and plant a garden at the Lords Park Zoo in Elgin. The vegetables that we harvested went to soup kitchens in the Elgin area Soup Kettles (elgincoopministry.com)
    OK, none of this involved Rotary as I was not a Rotarian at the time, but now that I am a Rotarian, I realize that all the pieces of the community garden puzzle could be put together in lots of Chicago area towns, including my own.
    First, I have a 5 hp Craftsman tiller and I like gardening. I like it so much that I typically till gardens for friends and family, after I finish tilling my own garden.
    Second, I help my Rotary Club with Youth Services, and we partner with an Interact Club in Rolling Meadows HS.
    Third, I have seen some garden plots at middle schools and our park district rents plots. I have seen families doing gardening at these plots. 
    Arlington Heights also has a garden club that I can reach out to and possibly work towards common goals that Rotary has. Home | ahgardenclub.com
    And last but not least, Rotary recently launched a 6th avenue of service, Protecting the Environment | Rotary International 

    So now it's your turn. How about posting some photos of your garden projects for us to see?
    What does your local your community garden looks like? If your town does not have a community garden, perhaps your library has a seed bank?
    Does your Rotary club promote gardening, like they do in Harvard, IL? Rotary and garden support community | Rotary International
    Can community gardens create sustainability and reduce food insecurity in our communities?
    What ways can local Rotary clubs promote gardening?




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    John Kent
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  • 2.  RE: Backyard gardening lead me towards community gardening

    Posted 03-29-2022 08:55
    @John Kent, you're quite the Renaissance man! It's inspiring that you want to bring your already community-minded gardening skills to Rotary. ​ You'd be a valuable asset for any gardening endeavor through Rotary. I'm not a Rotary member, so I can't speak further on that, but you seem to have it covered! 

    Meanwhile, although I enjoy gardening, I'm not much into vegetable gardening. The deer and rabbits would decimate any effort and I'm not motivated enough to build the kind of beds that would prevent that! However, on a related level, I recently started a course to become a  TreeKeeper through Openlands. We're learning tree identification, pruning techniques and how to be a tree advocate in our communities. Here's hoping I can pass the final exam next month. :)

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    Maria Mooshil
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  • 3.  RE: Backyard gardening lead me towards community gardening

    Posted 03-30-2022 09:38
    Edited by Arnie Grahl 03-30-2022 09:41
    How did I miss this discussion without commenting? I love gardening! 
    It is one of the things that has been keeping me looking ahead with happiness through these winter months.
    @John Kent , I love your enthusiasm for gardening, and for using it to assist in feeding the hungry. I actually had the pleasure of working with our visual media department here at Rotary International to write the story that accompanied the photos and video in Harvard you link to. This included an enjoyable day when one of our video producers and I traveled to Harvard and I got to help while conducting interviews. It is a brilliant project, that combines master gardeners with Rotarians with the food pantry to benefit many. If it was closer, i would have signed up to be a regular volunteer.
    If you ever launch a community garden project of a similar nature in Arlington Heights, sign me up!! It's much closer to me than Harvard, for sure. There is perhaps nothing more satisfying than doing something you enjoy doing (like gardening) and doing it for a social purpose (providing fresh produce for a local food bank)
    My own back yard garden is quite small. We live in a duplex garden home and our entire lot is only ​40 feet by 100 feet. I have a small square about 8 feet by 10 feet to do my vegetable gardening in. Last year, I put more effort into it than normal and used a shovel to completely turn over small squares at a time and add compost/bone meal etc. It made a huge difference. I would have loved to have access to a tiller, but this year I am a member of a community tool library and I believe they have one. So I may have to borrow it.
    The thing about the Harvard project and projects like it is the scale and potential. I have always liked the idea of growing your own fresh food, but with a limited yard, one can only do so much. The Harvard project was like a dream.
    I hope this discussion will inspire others!

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    Arnie Grahl
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  • 4.  RE: Backyard gardening lead me towards community gardening

    Posted 03-31-2022 13:34
    @Arnie Grahl, I will keep you informed as I develop a project! Arlington Heights has a community garden that is run through the park district and plots are still available at the Forestview location, but the Frontier location is sold out. So, I am researching if additional or expended community garden space is needed in Arlington Heights. ​

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    John Kent
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  • 5.  RE: Backyard gardening lead me towards community gardening

    Posted 04-22-2022 15:26
    Warm weather the past couple of weekends (finally!) afforded me the opportunity to follow @John Kent 's lead above and get my hands dirty preparing the ole garden bed. I went to our local Mundelein Tool Library, a project of a bunch of tool happy volunteers, that serves the greater Mundelein, Libertyville, and Vernon Hills area. Lo and Behold, they had an old gas powered tiller I could borrow. So for about an hour I manhandled the beast through my small garden plot, delightfully churning up the soil and adding in some mushroom compost and bone meal. It's all ready for carrots, and lettuce, and radishes once the Chicago area gets past the danger of frost. Looking forward to a little lawn work this weekend. Seems fitting to be outside for Earth Day.​​

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    Arnie Grahl
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  • 6.  RE: Backyard gardening lead me towards community gardening

    Posted 04-26-2022 10:26
    Great reminder, @Arnie Grahl, that many libraries offer far more than just books! This is something I need to investigate at my own very wonderful library here in Glenview. I've never gone beyond checking out books there, though. Another goal for my post-pandemic endeavors. ​​

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    Maria Mooshil
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  • 7.  RE: Backyard gardening lead me towards community gardening

    Posted 04-26-2022 10:30
    Yeh, libraries are great. But @Maria Mooshil this Tool Library is actually a separate thing. A handful of people interested in tools started it, and they rent space from the village in an unused equipment shed. They then accept donated used tools which they rent out. A neat idea really. Not sure how many other communities have one. But handy for things you don't use that often and don't want to store in  your garage. Although, I am such a nut for new things that it's hard for me to resist not rushing out an buying a new toy, like the weed trimmer I acquired this past weekend.​

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    Arnie Grahl
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  • 8.  RE: Backyard gardening lead me towards community gardening

    Posted 04-26-2022 10:34
    Ah, I misread! I probably did that because I'm not much of a tool person. I'm more of a hire-person-to-operate-tools person. haha!

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    Maria Mooshil
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  • 9.  RE: Backyard gardening lead me towards community gardening

    Posted 04-01-2022 12:02
    I listened to NPR and noticed that Ukrainian farmers struggle just to get adequate fertilizer.  I am not familiar with the farm system.  What could be done in Europe in terms of composting?  Would this be enough as a fertilizer?

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    Elizabeth
    Chicago, IL
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  • 10.  RE: Backyard gardening lead me towards community gardening

    Posted 04-02-2022 13:06
    Industrial size farms need fertilizer to get acceptable crop yields, organic farmers use natural fertilizers, like compost. Composting  takes a little bit of effort and preparation, but it's the best natural fertilizer, other than manure, in my opinion. It also depends on the size of your vegetable garden. Ukraine is the poorest country in Europe, so they struggle financially, in almost every sector of their economy.

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    John Kent
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