If you are reading this, you are checking out what's going on with Victory! Sometimes there's a lot and sometimes there's not. I'm hoping that along the way; someone will be inspired or inspire me.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Patchwork Quilt Gardens on the Move

It's been awhile since I posted to my blog ... I've just been busy working in the community helping to prepare backyard and frontyard gardens with our wonderful volunteers helping others grow food at home. Since my last entry; I've logged about 30 hours working in neighbors gardens since February and another 8 hours teaching gardening classes. So on average with all of our volunteers; we've logged about a combined 220 volunteer gardening hours. With each Garden Work Party; we create a gardeners' bond and another resource for food and helping each other to grow the food.

And, you know, each Garden Work Party is a teaching and learning opportunity. While I tend to know more about the edible flowers, herbs, and vegetables; I learn so much more about fruit trees, flowers, other plants, and pests right in their habitats ... not a book! Books are good; but to hear from novice and experienced gardeners is so inspiring and causes me to want to learn more and experiment in the garden more to get some answers. You know, gardeners experiment!

And, it is a wonderful experience. Not only do we build edible gardens; but we build friendships and local resources. There have been so many great people willing to lend their time to help someone else grow food at home. We've had so much fun with the interesting stories from the volunteers who have such diverse experiences, expertise, and careers. And, I must say; our garden hosts have been most generous with sustaining the volunteers with wonderful food and beverage for the heart, soul, and stomach.

I hope you get an opportunity to come to an upcoming Garden Work Party or Garden Class that has an on-site garden to see what the instructor is saying. If you are outside the East Bay CA area; you can still do this. The Victory Garden Foundation Inc will assist you with forming your outreach to your neighbors in the community. Just stop by the website and ask.

So here's a bit of the joy that we've had in our neighbors' gardens building Victory Gardens since Alice's Frontyard Menagerie.

Here are the past GWPs from my viewpoint. I've labeled these efforts for what I felt and experienced from them. I really want to hear from our hosts and volunteers about their viewpoints. I've heard from hosts and volunteers about how much they've appreciated and enjoyed this opportunity. Your voice is valuable. Comment in and keep it real :) Thank you, you're the best! If you had to label a GWP; what would you label it? Let's hear about it and again, Thank you .. V!

The Fruit Garden Party: About 10 volunteers joined in to plant mulberry, apricot, pomegrante, and grapes along with moving some plants to replace with a beautiful wild rose (great herb) and Elderberry (herb shrub) and more food seeds in a large space in the back and side yards. Everyone pitched in to help create an urban farm. Our hosts erected a shed in short order from parts of wooden shipping crates and raise chickens right in the own backyard.

The Small Space Party: About 6-7 volunteers stopped by to remove these plants that seem to grow everywhere in the area ... remember, I'm not a non-food plant expert :) especially the common that grows in the Bay Area CA. Don't ask me the name; but I'll show you a picture and maybe someone can tell me what they are. This small space will yield enough food for a 2-person family to eat healthy from the space for a long time. The host will install a 12"-24" high raised garden bed to grow food right at the bottom of the stairs in a duplex unit. We'll go back to install the raised bed and plant the food. The beverage and snacks were great and gave our volunteers the energy needed to remove those weeds and plants to make room for the food!

The Front Yard Flax Snail Party: About 5 volunteers gathered to chat and work in the front yard to remove an abundance of weeds to prepare to grow food in the front yard. The host has a wonderful back yard of herbs and vegetables growing along with some wonderful like the lilacs that I remember as a child in Michigan. Oh, back to the front yard ... we will be able to literally eat the 'lawn.' We'll go back to the site to complete the job - clear the north side of the yard and plant the food!
At this site, we also cataloged snail families (by their strips) before relocating them to a more suitable situation for the garden ... if you know what I mean :) Too bad we didn't have chickens. But the beekeeper in the back was at work. Now we don't volunteer to help a neighbor because of the food ... but, having a no meat quiche and coleslaw? OK, that's an incentive :)

By the way, the Flax in the garden label you ask? Well, there was this one flax plant surrounded by some much other vegetation. The host insisted that we leave these 2 lanky 1 or 2 stem flax (they're spread). We worked around them, almost trampled them, and really hollered out "watch for the flax" - the red flower. A tiny red flower. We managed to save the flax. It will thrive. It was a bit of fun ensuring the surviving of the flax!

The Victory Garden Party. About 18 class and gardener participates with a morning class and morning to afternoon Garden Work Party. The monstrous, short Meyer Lemon tree and sun lovin' Rosemary bush were pruned to look very prim and proper! Much of the winter weeds were removed to prepare the space for the Victory Garden Foundation's production and demonstration garden. The harvest from these gardens will be donated to volunteers, neighbors, and local food banks. This was a great learning lab experience. There were many folks working and talking about what was being experienced in this and other gardens. The great part of this kind of event (the Garden Work Parties) is that it's an casual, unassuming environment to get your questions answered and build your confidence for growing your food ... community! And, you get to take home some plants for your own garden.

The Victory Party. After a day of classes and 2 Garden Work Parties; gardeners gathered to relax, chat, tell stories, and just enjoy the food after a full day of morning class and early afternoon Garden Work Party ... a grilled turkey, hot links, salads, vegetables, and fruit and herbal tea beverages. I think that my fruit sangria may have a following :) Every once in awhile; we'll have a Victory Party to just get together and chat after weeks of working in the neighborhood gardens.

The Strawberry Party. For awhile, our host has not been able to do a lot with her garden and is looking for gardening partners. But, she has a great strawberry patch, and she loves her tulips (they're big red and whites) in one of her garden beds and fruit trees in her sizable backyard. Although, she wasn't sure about preparing the second garden bed without garden partners; we took care of that one also. There are perennials there now and space for food along with the violets (edible).  Hmm! The herbal tea, deviled eggs, and homemade guacamole among other delectables cannot go unmentioned. We even had a demonstration from Aviad and his wife about his ready to use raised beds. These are a great solution to delineate a space as small as 3x3 which is plenty to grow a lot of food in your yard. And, Luna (their dog) was such a joy to have around in the garden. She was just so excited and friendly; I thought she was going to help us out somehow ... maybe doing some weeding :)

OK, that brings us to now ... gardeners are caring people. We are looking for share garden opportunities for some of our gardeners in the Lake Merritt area (who by the way come to North Oakland to help out); I left a hand tool at a site and a garden brought it to me at home; one of our gardeners consistently brings plants or seeds to the garden site to share; our organizer was found sitting on the ground with bare hands creating a perimeter around a fruit tree so it could breathe ... can you image :) and we just have a down-home good ole time in the yard.

I'm really jazzed that we have Oakland residents (and beyond) who are interested in the movement of growing food at home. This is a great environment for growing food and a wonderful community. I am hopeful that we can expand this effort throughout the area, region, United States, and get more garden hosts and volunteers. I'd like to see more communities organizing Garden Work Parties and In-the-Garden classes to encourage growing your own food; supporting sustainable living; and supporting local farmers when gardening at home is not your option (although I believe that even if you live in the concrete jungle; you can grow something to eat at home - indoors or outdoors in containers). We'll chat more about these growing methods soon.

While we continue to volunteer at residents' homes to grow their own food; we will soon launch a challenge to grow our food at home to connect to the next county (and beyond) with enough gardens to continue our Victory Patch of Victory Gardens ... the quilt work of one garden at a time to create a blanket of gardens. Stay tuned ... more information is coming soon. Save the dates ... May 15 and May 16 to garden at your place or be a part of a crew to garden at a site to grow our food at home. Yes, that's some of the really best food to eat.

Chat with you again soon ... V!

P.S.: For more photos, go to The Victory Garden Foundation Photo Gallery. And to learn about the next Garden Work Parties, check out the Calendar. We encourage you to register as a member of the website so that you are always informed and can reduce the number of emails that you receive. We know that you receive a lot of emails; so if you are a member; you will be able to check out the calendar when you want to and not receive a number of emails. 

The Victory Patch is just one of the sections of a growing your food at home quilt encouraged by The Victory Garden Foundation Inc. If you are registered as a member of one of the websites (at no charge); you are an automatic member of the other website (just use your same username and password). Victory V Lee is the founder of the Victory Garden Foundation Inc (a nonprofit 501c3 community-based organization) and principal partner of The Victory Patch LLC (a for profit organization committed to providing 30% of its revenues to charitable organizations).