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August 2016 - Children at the Puddling Pool - Garland Community Garden [It is believed that butterflies congregate on mud and other substances primarily for salts and amino acids absorbed in mud-puddling that play various roles in butterfly ecology. Native Mason bees, also important pollinators, use the mud in our puddling pool to make the egg chambers on their nests.]

Prologue

At our first meeting on January 3, 2017, I will be passing the torch for the leadership of Loving Garland Green over to Jane Stroud.

The only tiny regret I have about my dedication and involvement in Loving Garland Green is that I will lose my certification as a Dallas County Master Gardener this year. There are only so many hours in a day. This year has been a particularly busy year for me as I was also out of town for the month of August helping out a friend in California who broke her arm. In order to maintain certification with the Master Gardeners, one has to document 70 hours of community service working in gardens that are approved and certified by Master Gardeners.

We all choose our priorities and when it comes to volunteer work, the Garland Community Garden has been and likely will always remain as my Number One Choice. At the same time I certainly don’t regret all the knowledge I got by qualifying to be a Master Gardener. That program is the best possible if you want to learn how to garden in Dallas County. It is associated with the Texas AgriLife Extension Department. If you ever have any gardening questions:

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu

One of the funniest assumptions that people make about me is that I’ve been gardening all my life. The truth is that I planted my first garden in my life in June of 2013. Just about all I’ve learned about gardening has been from that experience and from the Master Gardeners.

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THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE GARLAND COMMUNITY GARDEN – April 12, 2014

Mayor Athas told Loving Garland Green in October of 2013 that we could have the parcel of land located at 4055 Naaman School Road—an approximated 3 acres. But as it turned out there was a difference of opinion within the Neighborhood Vitality office and the Parks and Recreation Department as to whether this land should be used for a community garden. As with most differences of opinion among civilized folk, a compromise was extracted and Loving Garland Green ended up with about three-fourths of an acre to steward. We are grateful for this and I feel that we have made the most of this great opportunity to grow and learn about urban farming with our community.

About the Garland Community Garden Today

We’ve come a long way in less than three years. Since the installation of our first bed down at the garden on April 14, 2014, the garden is now growing over 1,000 plants each year and many of these plants are perennials that will return year after year. Some of these plants include 25 blackberry bushes; three pear trees, two peach trees; one apricot tree, one pomegranate tree; a two-year old grape vine with four strong plants; and one jujube tree; three lavender bushes; three Mexican Tarragon plants; three huge beds of mint; four large bushes of lemon grass. In addition to these edibles, we also have many clumps of native grasses throughout the garden and a large pollinator garden filled with native perennials such as lantana, Turk’s cap, native milkweed, many varieties of Salvia and more.

The Garland Community Garden, an organic garden, is a living example illustrating many of the various urban gardening formats and methods available to an urban resident: square foot gardening; lasagna beds; container gardens; spiral herb garden; several hugelkulturs; and keyhole garden.

Features in the Garden

Features in the garden include a Medicine Wheel which is a small version of the ones built by Native Americans that dotted the landscapes of North America for hundreds of years before the Europeans arrived; a loofah tunnel built by one of our founding members, Charles Bevilacqua; our spiral herb garden built by Margie Rodgers and Marie Mathis (the spiral garden is an ancient permaculture structure that was introduced to the world by monks during the Middle Ages); a children’s garden with a puddling pool built by member Cheryl Andres; a Blackland Prairie plot featuring native grasses; and of course our pollinator garden.

Loving Garland Green’s Interactions with the Community

At the garden we feature native plants and edibles that will grow well and easily in Garland. Our mission is to increase the number of Garland residents who grow some of the food they eat as it is a proven fact these activities will grow the local economy and will also increase food security in our community. We also like to demonstrate the potential of commercial value to be derived from the sale of organically grown urban produce. Last year, for example, we earned $24 dollars selling loofah sponges at our local farmers’ market. We’ve also experimented with various crops such as hops to see if they can be grown in our urban environment. [Yes, hops grow well in Garland.]

Over the past two and a half years we have done a lot of work with the students in the Garland ISD: We’ve taught a six weeks botany election for students at Beaver Tech; we donated and helped to install a pollinator garden at North Garland High School; we hosted 100 Watson Tech students on a two hour tour of the Garland Community Garden; we assisted the students at Watson in building a hugelkultur (a type of garden bed that is great for areas such as ours that are prone to drought); we’ve donated two olive trees, one orange tree and one lemon tree to the Watson greenhouse (both citrus trees had fruit on them); and we’ve held classes down at the garden for home scholars on topics such as the importance of our native bees. In addition to these activities, we have participated in many community educational events such as health fairs—and we’ve supported other nonprofit organizations as well such as The Good Samaritans and Keep Garland Beautiful.

Public Awareness Campaigns

Pollinator Awareness

Loving Garland Green has been very active these past two years in raising public awareness regarding the importance of pollinators. In addition to assisting schools in planting pollinator gardens, our members have been very active in rescuing Monarch caterpillars, tagging and releasing them. To day over the past two years we have successfully rescued and released about fifty Monarch butterflies. As for our native bees, we have six homes for them down at the Garland Community Garden. As for the European honeybee, another important pollinator, we have a hive of them down at the garden as well.

Leaf Awareness

One of our latest ventures into public awareness campaigns for reducing our community eco-footprint was our recent 2016 November Leaf Awareness Campaign. The goal of this campaign was to first get the word out to residents of Garland that the leaves they put curbside in plastic bags go to the local landfill. This is not a good thing, but we found that just about everyone we asked mistakenly believed these leaves were recycled. We collected leaves from the Firewheel area over the month of November and collected over 600 bags. In addition, residents left bags of leaves down at the garden. Thus far into December we have 1,008 bags of leaves that have been deposited at the garden. This, of course, is an infinitesimal amount compared to the bags of leaves still being taken to the landfill (estimated at about 800,000 bags). We are happy to report that citizens continue to bring these leaf bags to the garden.

Ideally leaves should remain where they fall to help rebuild the soil as they contain nutrients and minerals needed to not only replenish but also to make new soil. Soil (and particularly urban soil) is an endangered resource.

We think that Garland’s solution to the leaf issue might be simple: 1) Educate people to only put leaves (no trash such as plastic bottles) into large paper sacks curbside—or to compost at least some of these leaves in their own yards. 2) The city could pick up these paper bags of leaves just as they pick up the leaves in the plastic bags. Instead of taking them to the landfill, they could process these leaves with the trash and shrubbery trimmings they now pick up and mulch. The resulting compost could be shared with Garland residents. 

Donate $12 to Loving Garland Green and receive a one-pound bag of native pecans.  

If you live in Garland, Call 972-571-4497 for Delivery. 

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Donate $35 to Loving Garland Green and receive a three foot by 3 foot by 18 inches deep doll house furnished with Barbie furniture. (Furniture includes dining room table with turkey, outdoor grill and picnic table, bedroom set and more.

Call 972-571-4497 to see if it's still available. 

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Donate $125 to Loving Garland Green and receive Yamaha Grand piano keyboard like new with case, stand, pedal and necessary cords.

Call 972-571-4497 to see if it's still available.

 

 

 

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