Anita and Robert's three raised vegetable beds
Today I dropped by the home of Anita and Robert Opel who live in the Coomer Creek Neighborhood of Garland, Texas to drop off the proceeds from our Loving Garland Green yard sale yesterday. Anita also is the Treasurer of Loving Garland Green. Her husband, Robert, is a member of the board. Anita and Robert, like all officers and members of the board of directors of Loving Garland Green will participate in one of our programs, Another Urban Garden.* Just eye-balling their yard, I estimate the Opels already have approximately 350 square feet of their back yard set aside for growing edibles. In addition to the beds shown above in which they will plant vegetables this spring, they also have other beds in their yard that include a raspberry bush, wild strawberries, a butterfly bush, rosemary, and some type of perennial spinach that I'll have to learn more about.
Ed and Becky Downing, also members in Loving Garland Green, will work with two other members of Loving Garland Green in setting up their urban garden. Charlie, a master gardener, and I visited their home last Wednesday and worked with Ed and Becky to map out their plan for their urban garden. Every garden is unique. Ed and Becky will have one 4 x 8 foot vegetable bed. Then in another bed they will have cantaloupe and watermelon along with an herb garden. Their back yard is quite small and is dwarfed by a huge old native Texas pecan tree.
It will be interesting to track the produce throughout the season from all our gardens as well as from the gardens of other residents who participate in our "Another Urban Garden" program.
Another Urban Garden is a program that Loving Garland Green is offering to the residents of Garland. This program is designed to increase the number of urban gardens in our community by making the setup easier and more affordable and by increasing community awareness of the benefits of urban gardens. The program has many levels of participation and will evolve as we learn from our successes and mistakes.
1. One level of participation includes those who already garden. These people can register their urban garden with Loving Garland Green. The garden must be located in Garland. The urban gardener measures the total square footage of the garden and provides information regarding what is planted in each plot. The gardener then agrees to keep records and report regarding the plant yields and estimated market value of the yields.
2. Another level of participation includes those who do not garden, but who would like to garden. These people can contact Loving Garland Green (a nonprofit corporation). We will work with the resident to create one raised bed in their yard for the first year. For those who prefer to get started by themselves, we recommend http://www.smartgardener.com/ for great online assistance. If you prefer to work with a person, we will assign a Loving Garland Green volunteer to work with you.* Regardless your choice, we hope you will keep records of your crop yields and market value of your harvests and that you will participate in our program by reporting this information to Loving Garland Green. Together we can promote a healthier local economy as well as a healthier populace.
*Note: Loving Garland Green will be applying for grant money to help us fund the establishment of gardens for anyone living in Garland who wants a garden, but who doesn't know how to get started; anyone who does not have the physical ability to set up a garden; and/or those who may not be able to afford the initial set-up costs for the garden. If urban gardens are set up properly, almost anyone can manage one. After the first year most gardens can operate at a profit for the urban gardener. (Often this is possible even in the first year.)
In late May of this year, Loving Garland Green will sponsor a tour of Urban Gardens in Garland. Gardens connect people and bond them to their community and to their neighbors. Gardens also strengthen local economies. We hope to eventually see many urban farmers markets springing up in neighborhoods all over Garland--places were neighbors can gather to share and sell from the bounty of their gardens.