Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Food Bank Garden

You've seen pictures of our garden plots, but they are small-time compared to the 2-acre food bank garden in our city. The work is done completely by volunteers, and the garden is the primary source of fresh produce for our local food bank.  I thought this would be a great opportunity for our family to get some more gardening experience and knowledge while teaching our children about helping others.  After double-checking that it was a family-friendly activity and signing up for the email list, I waited for the dates and times to work for our schedule (mainly, that meant waiting until school was out).

Today was our first day at the food bank garden  We thought the rain would spoil our plans, but the clouds and thunder passed by quickly, so we decided to head on over.  The garden is very close to downtown, but once you get to the garden (which is on the grounds of a larger farm, which is part of a larger campus....), it's like being in the middle of the country.  You can't see or hear the city - just rolling hills, green grass, trees, and cows.  It's wonderful!

Tonight Mister J and I worked for about an hour, and then spent another 20 minutes or so just exploring different areas of the garden.  Big J and Miss M met us there briefly following their Daddy-Daughter Date Night - and I think they'll join us again next time.  I know Miss M is excited to break in her new gardening gloves!

Here are some cell phone snapshots of our evening.  I'll take a better camera on a future trip!

At the top of the garden - only a portion of it shows in the background

We helped out by re-seeding a row of cucumbers this evening - filling in the spaces where the initial plantings didn't grow.  We also learned that there's irrigation tubing under the plastic bed coverings.

I think the other volunteers were surprised to see such a young helper this evening.  A couple of folks called Mister J over to help pick some cucumbers, and then he started spotting them on his own!  Although I'd already discussed it with him, the other volunteers were so kind to explain to Mister J where the food would be going.  (On the drive over, we even discussed that healthy food sometimes costs more than 'junk' food - which Mister J has decided doesn't make much sense!)  It was great to have that reinforcement of what we'd just been discussing!

After we finished re-seeding and our little bit of harvesting, we explored some of the other parts of the garden.  There's a trial garden for tomatillos, bush beans, the Three Sisters method for corn, beans, and cucumbers, and much more.  There are rows and rows of tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, and corn.  There's an herb garden, and there's probably more that I haven't even seen!
We compared the leaves of the cantaloupe vines to the leaves of the watermelon vines.  The watermelon leaves are much fancier!
 There are sunflowers at the ends of many of the rows.  I hope I'll remember to take more shots with the sunflowers later in the season to compare their growth. 

We had a wonderful time tonight, and I'm looking forward to the time all four of us can go together.  I hope that's very soon - they harvest three times a week!  It's such a great opportunity to learn so many lessons - and I also appreciate the opportunity for my children to interact with (and learn from!) other adults outside of the school year. 

This post is also linked to Food on Fridays hosted by Ann Kroeker.


Heather said...

SOOOO cool. I am way jealous. What a great activity.

April@The 21st Century Housewife said...

That is fabulous that your local food bank has a garden! And what a great way to teach kids about so many things - from volunteering and community service to where their food comes from.