52 Community Garden Dispatches

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Jeff Spurier has just finished a year long project for the LA Times reporting on the Community Gardens across Southern California.  Here is his final post.

Community Gardens Dispatch No. 52: The end

It’s transition time in the garden. For me, that means the end of my year in the community garden.

This series began after I graduated from the UC Cooperative Extension’s master gardener class in spring 2010. My education continued in community gardens from Ventura to Long Beach, from the foothills to the coast, from the inner city to the ex-urbs.

Microclimates, demographics and histories of the gardens may have differed, but one commonality stood out: No matter the ZIP Code, gardeners were generous with their time, expertise, seedlings and harvest. It sounds like a cliche (or a statement of the obvious) to say that community gardens build community, but after seeing how these gardens can be good neighbors, raising property values and welcoming newcomers with open arms (and full sun), the cliche just sounds like fact.

…And though just about everyone grew tomatoes and beets, spinach and cauliflower, I always found a surprise planted in there too: minari, a Korean herb used in kimchee; the diminutive dog’s tooth pepper, which packs a wallop;  moringa, a fast-growing, drought-tolerant tree. And did you know you can grow coffee, tea and all types of mango and papaya here? I didn’t.

This vast variety of edibles, flowers and other flora from around the world will be the subject of my new series for L.A. at Home: the Global Garden, a trip down a cross-cultural path that winds through Southern California. In many ways the new series will be an extension of this one — a reflection of our community as seen through what we plant. Stay tuned.

Read it all here.

You Say Potato

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Very cool article in The Smithsonian about How the Potato Changed the World.

Many researchers believe that the potato’s arrival in northern Europe spelled an end to famine there. (Corn, another American crop, played a similar but smaller role in southern Europe.) More than that, as the historian William H. McNeill has argued, the potato led to empire: “By feeding rapidly growing populations, [it] permitted a handful of European nations to assert dominion over most of the world between 1750 and 1950.” The potato, in other words, fueled the rise of the West.

Read more.

Ashland Nature Center

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Ashland has more going for it than the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  For instance they have an inspiring, educational, nature center with demonstration gardens each designed with a unique theme: the Butterfly Garden, Reptile and Amphibian Garden, Herb Garden, Heirloom Garden, Native Plant Garden and Bird Buffet.  Interpretive materials help learners of all ages self-navigate the garden.  In addition to building community, this Outdoor Learning Center shares information about local wildlife, sustainable agriculture and native plants.  Lots of great ideas for us to build on in Lafayette.

Ashland Nature Center


Raspberries!

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The California Garden Web is another great resource for gardeners.  Go here for their advice on growing raspberries.

UC Botanical Garden

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UC Berkeley’s Botanical Garden has a great website.  Features include their calendar and their interactive map.

Now Showing!

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Check out the slideshow below then click on donate.

A Pearfect Metaphor

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Siamack Sioshansi and his merry band of volunteer gleaners from Urban Farmers has struck again.  Lamorinda Weekly reports that over two weekends in August, they harvested nearly 1,000 pounds of pears from private gardens across Lafayette.  Siamack said:

70 percent of the weight of a fruit tree is made of carbon that the tree extracted from our polluted atmosphere,” he explains, “after a few years it will feed those who planted it, then it will continue to grow and feed a community. Long after those who planted it are gone, it continues to give plentifully if it is taken care of. Fruit trees are a perfect metaphor for life at its best on our planet.

Read more here.

Check out the video here.

Gleaners!