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Perhaps if we put more emphasis on working together and sharing instead of competition, we might all be better off.

In addition, we might want to rethink our current corporate agriculture system.  I think about that more these days when I shop at the grocery store and see the soaring prices of food.

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We have many versions of  Saint Fiacre, the Patron Saint of Gardeners--people who do good for our Garland Community Garden and for our community.  Some, like the countless citizens who leave fertilizer, plants, tools and other garden goodies at the garden, we may never know.   We just show up at the garden and lo and behold--presents that we can use to make the garden better have been left in our absence.


This morning when Jane Stroud delivered 23 one-gallon bags of greens from the Garden to Good Samaritans of Garland, she noticed in the book where people record their donations that just before us someone had donated 81 pounds in the name of Loving Garland Green.  We have no idea who this person is, but one of the volunteers at Good Sam’s said he is a man who donates regularly as Loving Garland Green.

 

TO OUR UNKNOWN SAINT FIACRE

THANK YOU. We appreciate you. Good Sam’s appreciates you and many people in our community appreciate you and what you are doing.  We will respect your apparent desire for anonymity.  Until you choose to reveal yourself, we will call you “Saint Fiacre”.

 

SPEAKING OF THE PATRON SAINTS THAT WE DO KNOW, TWO OF THEM SHOWED UP LAST SATURDAY AND CAME BEARING GIFTS OF PLANTS AND THE SERVICE OF THEIR LABOR:  Rich Resser and Alicia Carrillo.

Rich Resser and Alicia Carrillo

In addition to 34 tomato plants, 13 Jalapeno pepper plants, about 30 watermelon plant, Rich tilled up five beds and Alicia helped me plant the many plants they brought.

 

EVEN MORE SAINTS!

 

Pat Patel pulling weeds in his plot.  Pat, a former engineer, helps keep our faucets in good working order.

Many Members of Loving Garland Green also qualify as members of the garden sainthood.  For example, Nancy Seaberg donated 8 large healthy eggplants--now happily rooted at the Garland Community Garden.  Pat Patel just this morning volunteered to repair our leaky faucet. 

It takes a lot of saints to keep a garden going and even more volunteer saints at the Good Samaritans of Garland and other people in our community who donate to keep the hungry in our community fed.

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PLANT EXCHANGE AND GARDEN CHAT

 GALAND COMMUNITY GARDEN

4022 NAAMAN School Road (Brand and Naaman School Road

SATURDAY MAY 7 - 9AM TO  NOON
[If it rains, Sunday 1 to 4PM
 

I meet the most interesting people at the Garland Community Garden and they often inspire me undertake projects  I might not have otherwise done. Today  was one of those days.  Rich Resser stopped by the Garden today. Rich, like me, is a Garland resident and a gardener.

Rich and his girlfriend have a greenhouse where they grow orchids and other plants such as  aloe vera that they sell to local nurseries. I’m really looking forward to talking more with Rich on Saturday. After he left the garden today, I thought of so many nosey questions.  For example, do you think it would be possible for someone to make a living in Garland selling produce out of a greenhouse in their backyard?       

Rich has 34 tomato plants (a mix of cherry tomatoes and Beefsteak) to give away on Saturday as well as some watermelon plants that come with an interesting story.  I have about 50 luffa plants to share and also some lemon balm plants.  I’m sure other members of Loving Garland Green have plants to share too. Children are always welcome at the garden.  On Saturday it they want to perhaps they can plant some of Rich’s tomatoes in our area for children.

If you have ever grown wheat, I especially hope that you will come.  I would love to talk with you as I am planting a small field of winter wheat at the garden this fall.  If you want to learn more about this project, read my previous blog. It will be fun to watch it grow and follow the complete process for making it into flour.

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NOTES ABOUT LEMON BALM
I’ll bring some plants from my home too.  We have it growing all over the garden.  In our area it grows very well and is drought tolerant.

It was used as far back as the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort from indigestion (including gas and bloating, as well as colic). Even before the Middle Ages, lemon balm was steeped in wine to lift the spirits, help heal wounds, and treat venomous insect bites and stings. Today, lemon balm is often combined with other calming, soothing herbs, such as valerian, chamomile, and hops, to promote relaxation. It is also used in creams to treat cold sores (oral herpes).

Native to Europe, lemon balm is grown all over the world.  The plant grows up to 2 feet high, sometimes higher if not maintained. In the spring and summer, clusters of small, light-yellow flowers grow where the leaves meet the stem. If not carefully controlled, lemon balm can quickly become invasive in the garden. Often, people mistakenly think that lemon balm is invasive due to its roots, like its cousins peppermint and spearmint, but in fact it’s the seeds of the lemon balm plant that cause this herb to suddenly take over a garden. Removing the flowers of the plant as soon as they appear will make your lemon balm far less invasive.

 

 

 

RECIPE:  Lemon Balm Pesto

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup lemon balm leaves firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 TB lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh chives
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1.              Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

2.              Add salt and pepper to taste.

3.              Store in an airtight container for up to one week in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer.

 

ENJOY THE PICTURES FOR NOW.
THEN COME ON SATURDAY TO SEE THE REAL THING AND MAYBE GET SOME FREE PLANTS!

Rich Resser in front of the Medicine Wheel at the Garland Community Garden

ORCHIDS  IN RICH'S GREENHOUSE

 

 

 

 

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Apr 29 @ 8:13 am

Now, more than ever, is the time for urbanites to grow some of the food they eat. . . and to even consider growing unconventional crops normally reserved for farmers such as wheat.

It is ironic and sad to consider all the potential we have within the boundaries of all our cities in the USA that goes to waste.  Theoretically, we could feed every person in our city on the food we could grow in our parks and our yards.  Yet many people in urban areas go hungry. We need to get better organized for humanity.

As the billionaire astrophysicist and entrepreneur, David Friedberg, said in a widely-circulated video, the entirety of the planet's food supply operates on only a 90-day cycle which constantly replenishes. With people consuming produce made and exported from that previous cycle, any delay or obstruction to the current or next cycle greatly impacts the amount of food and commodities supplied to populations. In short, "humans run out of food in 90 days".

To put the situation into perspective, the spring planting season for wheat began weeks ago, at the end of March and beginning of April. Due to the war in Ukraine, the breadbasket for Europe, there has reportedly not been an adequate amount of planting being undertaken, spelling disaster for the summer of 2022 and beyond.

When approximately 30 per cent of the world's total wheat supply – and 15 per cent of the world's total calories consumed – is cut off from export and the seriousness of the situation begins to properly set in within the coming months, the number of those stuck in food insecurity and potential starvation is predicted to enter the billions.

Agricultural setbacks and monopolies are not just seen in the US, but throughout most of the world where four corporations possess control of over 50 per cent of the world's seed supply – and, therefore, the world's food supply.

Yes, you can grow wheat in your yard.

GROWING WHEAT

NOTE:  This article is adapted from The Backyard Homestead, edited by Carleen Madigan AND an article that appeared in a 2009 issue of Mother Earth.

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How long does it take to grow wheat? Typically, spring wheat takes a minimum of 90 days to reach full maturity, but most farmers wait for the 100-day mark to ensure the plant has gotten enough sunlight. Most wheat is a cool-season crop. Winter wheat should be planted 6-8 weeks before the first fall frost. Spring wheat can be planted once the ground is ready to work in early spring. This can tolerate heat better, but still should be able to develop before it reaches scorching temperatures.

According to some sources for Winter Wheat which is planted in the fall, usually between October and December, and grows over the winter to be harvested in the spring or early summer. Typically, it takes about seven to eight months to reach maturity and it creates pretty golden contrast in spring gardens.

If you try, you will discover wheat is easy to grow almost anywhere in the United States, even as a wide-row crop in your garden. One gardener in Vermont attests to having planted 30 pounds of winter wheat on one-eighth of an acre and harvesting 250 pounds of grain in July.

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 Among other benefits, it allows you to get away from the commercial process that grows a perfectly good grain, then scrapes off the bran, peels out the germ, bleaches the flour, and sells all those things back to you separately.

If you try, you will discover wheat is easy to grow almost anywhere in the United States, even as a wide-row crop in your garden. One gardener in Vermont attests to having planted 30 pounds of winter wheat on one-eighth of an acre and harvesting 250 pounds of grain in July. On a somewhat smaller scale, even if you have a front yard that’s 20 feet by 50 feet, you could plant 6 pounds of wheat and harvest nearly 50 pounds of grain.

1. CHOOSE THE TYPE OF WHEAT YOU WILL GROW

WINTER WHEAT AND SPRING WHEAT

After you’ve decided how much wheat to plant, you’ll need to decide which type to plant. It’s easy to get confused about types of wheat. Winter wheat is planted in the fall and harvested from mid-May in the South to late July in the North. Spring wheat is planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. Both spring and winter wheat are further divided into soft wheat (lacking a high gluten content and used primarily for pastries and crackers), hard wheat (with a high gluten content and used for breads), and durum wheat (used for pasta). The variety you select will depend on where you live. Check with your local cooperative extension agent to learn which varieties are best for your region.

2. PREPARE SOIL AND PLANT

Plant winter wheat in fall to allow for six to eight weeks of growth before the soil freezes. This allows time for good root development. If the wheat is planted too early, it may smother itself the following spring and it could be vulnerable to some late-summer insects that won’t be an issue in the cooler fall weather. If winter wheat is planted too late, it will not overwinter well.

Spring wheat should be planted as early as the ground can be worked in spring. Do the initial plowing in the fall, then till and sow in the spring. To ensure an evenly distributed crop, figure out the amount of seed you’ll need, divide it into two piles, and broadcast one part in one direction, such as from east to west. Then broadcast the remainder from north to south. A cyclone crank seeder will do an even job, but broadcasting by hand is fine for a small plot. You also can plant it in rows like other crops.

Cover the seed by rototilling or raking it in to a depth of 2 to 2 1/2 inches for winter wheat and 1 to 1 1/2 inches for spring wheat. For best results, roll or otherwise firm the bed to ensure good seed-soil contact.

3. HARVEST THE GRAIN

3.1Testing for when its ready to harvest.

As you admire your wheat stand, you’ll notice in midsummer (later for spring wheat) that the color of the stalks turns from green to yellow or brown. The heads, heavy with grain, tip toward the earth. This means it’s time to test the grain. Choose a head, pick out a few grains, and pop them into your mouth. If they are soft and doughy, the grain is not yet ready. Keep testing. One day the grains will be firm and crunchy, and it will be time to harvest.

3.2 Cutting the wheat

At harvest, how should you cut the wheat? If you have a small enough plot, you’ll just snip the heads of wheat off the stems. It goes quickly if your wheat field is no larger than about 6 feet wide by 25 feet long. 

 Using a scythe. If you like the old-time way of doing things and are going to harvest a larger amount of grain, you might use a scythe and cradle. The cradle is a series of long wooden fingers mounted above the scythe blade. The scythe cuts the wheat, and then the cradle carries the cut wheat to the end of each swing and deposits it in a neat pile, stacked with all the heads grouped together. You could cut with the scythe alone, but you would spend a lot of time picking up the cut wheat and arranging it for easier handling.

Harvesting with a sickle. Grab and cut. Hold a handful of wheat in your left hand and swing the sickle with your right to cut the plants at nearly ground level. It’s possible to kneel or crouch in various positions to avoid getting too tired. As you cut handfuls, lay them in small piles with all the heads pointed in the same direction.

3.3 Binding the wheat

Binding sheaves. The next step is to bind the grain into sheaves, each about 12 to 14 inches in circumference — a bunch you can hold comfortably in your hands. Bind the same day you cut the wheat. It’s nice to have two people taking turns cutting and binding. You can bind with cord or baler’s twine or even with some of the wheat stems, twisting them in a way that holds the bundle firm.

 

4. CURE THE GRAIN

Curing the grain. Stack sheaves upright in a well-ventilated, dry location safe from grain-eating animals. Our ancestors stacked sheaves to make shocks in the field, but with small quantities, it’s easy to bring the sheaves in out of the weather. The grain has been cured when it is hard, shatters easily, and cannot be dented with your thumbnail.

 

5. THRESH THE GRAIN

Threshing. Separate the straw and chaff from it. You can go about this in any number of ways. One method is flailing. A flail consists of one piece of wood about 3 feet long — the handle — attached with a leather thong to a shorter piece about 2 feet long. The shorter piece is flung at the heads of grain repeatedly, shattering a few heads each time. If you are using this method, you can expect to produce about 3 pounds of wheat in 20 to 25 minutes. That’s slow work. Also, there’s a trick to learning to swing the tail without rapping yourself on the head.

Another way is to beat the individual sheaves against the inside of a large, clean trash can. In two hours a thresher can produce a can full of wheat, but with a lot of chaff and even solid heads in it. This is faster than flailing, but produces more debris that has to be separated from the wheat.

 

6. WINNOW THE GRAIN

Winnowing. The usual method for winnowing is pouring the grain from one container to another, letting either the wind or the breeze from an electric fan push the lighter chaff out of the grain. Repeat the process a few times to get the grain as chaff-free as possible.

 

7. STORE THE GRAIN

The Best Ways to Store Wheat

The way you store grain depends on how much you’re dealing with. Storing it properly means protecting it from heat, light, and moisture, as well as from rats, mice, and insects. You can keep a small amount of grain in plastic bags in the freezer practically forever, but it takes more effort to store larger amounts.

The general recommendation is to store hard winter or spring wheat with less than a 10 percent moisture content — a moisture level that is actually difficult to attain without additional drying (see below). Five-gallon metal or plastic buckets with friction lids are ideal for storing all grains. One hundred pounds of grain can be stored in three of these containers. (Garbage cans are not good for storage because making them bug-proof is difficult.)

These cans prevent insects from getting into the grain, but you must take another step to eliminate any eggs or larvae already in the grain. A simple method is to heat the grain in the oven for 30 minutes at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which also will help reduce the moisture content. If you’re not sure about the accuracy of your oven’s thermostat, check it with an oven thermometer: temperatures higher than 140 degrees may damage the grain.

 

8. GRIND THE GRAIN

Some books suggest using a blender to grind the grain, but that doesn’t work well. You won’t be able to make nice, fine flour — only a coarse meal with particles of uneven size. At first, buying an inexpensive, hand-cranked mill sounds right and romantic — back to nature all the way! But how much flour are you going to be grinding? You’d have to grind all afternoon to get enough flour for six loaves of bread, and that’s apt to discourage you from baking at all after the first few tries. Using an electric flour mill is a better way to grind large quantities. When you’re selecting a mill, ask the following questions:

8.1 Select a Mill

Will it handle the amount of flour you expect to grind in a reasonable amount of time?

Does it grind without overheating the grain?

Can it be adjusted to grind different degrees of coarseness?

Is it easy to use and clean?

Will replacement parts be available if you need them?

Is it manufactured by a reputable company that will honor the warranty?

When grinding grain, avoid the temptation to grind large amounts for future use. Grind what you need for perhaps a week, and refrigerate the unused portion in an airtight container. Whole grains can be stored for months without loss of taste or nutrition, but this is not true of whole grain flour.

 

Additional Sources for growing wheat;


https://www.land.com/owning/habitat/winter-wheat/

https://www.epicgardening.com/growing-wheat/#:~:text=Wheat%20grows%20best%20in%20full,square%20foot%20can%20be%20done.

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HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY TO THE GARLAND COMMUNITY GARDEN!  WE ARE 8 YEARS OLD!

April 2022, marks the 8th year for The Garland Community Garden  For some confused reason I’ve been laboring under the mistaken belief that the date was the 24th of April but thanks to this blog I’ve kept ever since we even started thinking about a community garden, we have a trustworthy record of our journey.

Following is a true report of the official opening of the Garland Community Garden.  Do you believe that we didn’t even had water on our site when be started--now that is indeed faith.

[Written April 13, 2014-- the day after the installation]

Four Raised Beds Installed at the Garland Community Garden

The installation of the first raised beds was completed yesterday!  Loving Garland Green members all congregated at 4022 Naaman School Road to install a 4' x 7' raised bed.  The larger of the four beds is divided by twine into 28 squares and each of our members brought a plant or seeds for planting.  Note this type of raised bed is called 'SQUARE FOOT GARDEN". [Several of my posts provide more detail about this type of bed.

 

The three smaller beds are each two-foot squares--made from untreated pine that we were given. In them we planted sunflowers, corn, marigolds and blackberry vines.  In a few weeks we will install the trellis for the blackberry plants as well as a trellis for the cucumber plants in the larger bed.

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Gene Rogers, one of Loving Garland Green members, has designed a drip watering system that we are experimenting with--or I should say "Gene is experimenting with."  Ollas are filled with water and then connected with small hoses to a larger reservoir which for now is a 5-gallon bucket.  

 

Perhaps in the future we will install a 55gallon reservoir for each garden plot.  That is another design Gene, a retired mechanical engineer, is working on--free-standing rain barrels.  Of course, the design would be a mosquito safe design. When needed, we would have a bucket brigade to bring water from home.  However, with appropriate rain harvesting techniques and given the annual rainfall here in Garland, there is more than enough water to nourish a garden for every family in Garland.  The rooftop of a 1,200 square foot home has the potential, given our annual rainfall, to yield 26,000 gallons of water annually. [Note: We currently in 2022 have city water.]

We have not yet officially applied for water service for the garden.  At least for now we are experimenting with the option of not being connected to city water.  As part of our mission to inspire and encourage Garland residents to grow their own food, we want to provide examples of creative ways to garden and produce more food from smaller spaces and with more self-reliance. 

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As you can see from my archived posts on my blog, I took a COVID hiatus  from March of 2020 until April of April 2021. And then a shorter one from November of 2021 until now.  Still the timeline follows rather closely all the adventures we’ve had over the past 8 years.

 

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Girl Scouts in Garland enjoying the Garden

A Great, Crisp Saturday in Garland!

I saw bunch of people at the garden this afternoon as I drove by to the grocery store.  it looked like they were having a picnic at the turquoise table that the Good Samaritans recently donated.  On my way home, I stopped by to say hello.  Turns out it was a bunch of our local Girl Scouts having a picnic.  Our garden is so many things to so many people in our community.  People in the area during the week often stop down at the garden to eat their lunch.  We are lucky to have such a great Parks Department who work with us to keep the garden going.

Charlie and I got four cases of vegetables with pop top lids; seven boxes of crackers;  and10 packages of tuna for our thanksgiving contributions tomorrow.

We hope to see you at the garden tomorrow.  1-3 PM

 

 

We are inviting the public to join us in sharing food items with those who are having economic challenges this season. In addition to about 50 pounds of sweet potatoes from the garden as well as fresh greens, we will also be collecting food items at the garden on this day .  These items will be transported to the Good Samaritans on Monday, November 15.


If you wonder what to bring, here is a list of items that a friend of mine made after asking people at a food shelter what they needed.

LIST OF SUGGESTED DONATIONS--BUT MOST ANY FOOD ITEM IS WELCOME 

1. Powdered milk

2. Cans of food with pop top lid since some may not have a can opener

3. Cooking oil (small size)

4. Spices (especially those you get from takeout and don’t use)

5. Sugar

6. Fresh produce --especially fruit like apples and oranges

7. Canned fruit with pop top lids

8. Tuna (especially the kind that comes in individual packages)

9. Crackers

10. Butter and margarine

11. Stove top stuffing

12. Hamburger Helper

13. Dishwashing soap

14. Feminine hygiene products

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We are inviting the public to join us in sharing food items with those who are having economic challenges this season. In addition to about 50 pounds of sweet potatoes from the garden as well as fresh greens, we will also be collecting food items at the garden on this day .  These items will be transported to the Good Samaritans on Monday, November 15.


If you wonder what to bring, here is a list of items that a friend of mine made after asking people at a food shelter what they needed.

LIST OF SUGGESTED DONATIONS--BUT MOST ANY FOOD ITEM IS WELCOME 

1. Powdered milk

2. Cans of food with pop top lid since some may not have a can opener

3. Cooking oil (small size)

4. Spices (especially those you get from takeout and don’t use)

5. Sugar

6. Fresh produce --especially fruit like apples and oranges

7. Canned fruit with pop top lids

8. Tuna (especially the kind that comes in individual packages)

9. Crackers

10. Butter and margarine

11. Stove top stuffing

12. Hamburger Helper

13. Dishwashing soap

14. Feminine hygiene products

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Margie Rogers with a fake sweet potato root beard
Gunvant Patel (Pat) approves-- I think.

TIME FLIES!  REPORT FROM SWEET POTATO EVENT OCTOBER 24TH

It’s already been two weeks since our great Sweet Potato/Luffa Harvesting event!  We now have about fifty pounds of sweet potatoes curing, getting ready for Thanksgiving dinners.


A few of the people at the Sweet Potato Harvest taking it easy while the rest of us dig potatoes 

For those who may not know:  After pulling sweet potatoes out of the ground (usually around Halloween) you must not wash them or handle them roughly at that time.  Instead, simply lightly brush most of the soil off each potato with your hand and store in a dark dry warm place for at least two weeks. During this time the potato cures and much of its starch is converted to sugar. After this time, you can rinse the dirt off, dry and store for up to 4 to 7 months.

If you don’t cure the sweet potato, it will have almost no taste--quite similar to the Hawaiian dish of poi which is made from tubers.

 

We are inviting the public to join us in sharing food items with those who are having economic challenges this season. In addition to about 50 pounds of sweet potatoes from the garden as well as fresh greens, we will also be collecting food items at the garden on this day .  These items will be transported to the Good Samaritans on Monday, November 15.


If you wonder what to bring, here is a list of items that a friend of mine made after asking people at a food shelter what they needed.

LIST OF SUGGESTED DONATIONS--BUT MOST ANY FOOD ITEM IS WELCOME 

1. Powdered milk

2. Cans of food with pop top lid since some may not have a can opener

3. Cooking oil (small size)

4. Spices (especially those you get from takeout and don’t use)

5. Sugar

6. Fresh produce --especially fruit like apples and oranges

7. Canned fruit with pop top lids

8. Tuna (especially the kind that comes in individual packages)

9. Crackers

10. Butter and margarine

11. Stove top stuffing

12. Hamburger Helper

13. Dishwashing soap

14. Feminine hygiene products

Below is just part of our haul of sweet potatoes from the garden.  We have more but you can never have too many sweet potatoes for a Thanksgiving celebration so if you have some you want to donate, bring 'um on down!

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LOVING GARLAND GREEN DELIVERY TO GOOD SAMARITAN’S OF GARLAND.  

This morning Loving Garland Green donated fifty pounds of produce and canned goods to the Good Samaritans of Garland.  If we all share, even a little, we can ease the pain of hunger. Our Garland Community Garden has the somewhat un-chic messy look of a mid-fall garden in North Texas as the leaves are beginning to fall but it is still producing.  Our produce today included 8 one-quart bags of kale; 3 one-quart bags of green beans; 6 one-quart bags of various peppers; 3 one-quart bags of okra; 1 one-quart bag of carrots; 2 one-quart bags of basil; 1 one-gallon bag of spinach and chard.

Easing the pain of hunger for the homeless by donating even a little food on a weekly basis is helpful if you can afford it.  But there are other things we can do to ease the pain of the homeless.  One thing that just occurred to me today is that non-profit groups can make an effort to be more inclusive by specifically inviting the homeless to their events.  We often forget that the homeless are as much a part of our community as home owners and those who can still afford to support their landlord’s investments. For the homeless, the pain of being shunned and shut out by the community is no doubt almost as painful as hunger.

Thinking about what I could do as an individual and as the current president of Loving Garland Green, I decided that at least for the moment I could thank Pam and her team of volunteers for what they do and let them know what we care about them and their clients as well.

So, I wrote a note to them to thank them for the picnic table and for their contributions to our community.

 

I also left a reminder for them of our next Garland Community Garden event which is coming up this Sunday, October 24. 1PM to 3PM.  I added “homeless are welcome”.  [Like Hamlet, I debated the merits with myself--going back and forth on whether to add this note.  On the one hand the argument could be made that the note calls attend to the homeless being treated as a separate group from our community and the fact that they are so often excluded from everything community but charity and on the other hand, this is actually true so they might just assume they are not welcome.]  I’ve decided that at least for the time being it is best to be clear and make the extra effort to communicate the homeless are welcome.

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COME ONE COME ALL TO THE GARLAND COMMUNITY GARDEN

OCTOBER 24 FROM 1-3PM

Sweet Potato Harvest

And

Luffa Shucking

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Volunteers and clients at Good Samaritans of Garland helped us load the new addition for the Garden.

Today Charlie and I picked up a picnic table donated to the garden by the Good Samaritans of Garland and unloaded it at the garden.

Like most food banks across the Good Sam’s have really been taxed to the max.  The need for food has increased 600%.  Insane, isn’t it?   And the need continues to be pressing.

  

ABOUT THE TURQUOISE TABLE--the table that started a movement.

Kristin Schell of Austin wanted to connect with her neighbors and build friendships, so she put an ordinary picnic table in her front yard, painted it turquoise, and began inviting friends and neighbors to join her.  

Like many movements, the Turquoise Table movement had a serendipitous beginning. Kristin was planning an outdoor party and ordered an inexpensive picnic table from Lowe’s. The delivery guy unloaded it on her front lawn and asked her where she wanted it.  On a whim she kept in in the front yard. She slapped a can of turquoise paint on it and was soon was meeting many more of her neighbors. People are always curious and ask me, ‘Why do you have a turquoise table in your front yard?’ I tell them, ‘To meet people like you…’ And they just open up and sit down.”

It’s a throwback to another time of front porch sitting and conversations with people passing. “There’s something magical that happens when we take time to sit down face-to-face for conversation,” she said. “We all long for a place to belong, to connect in authentic and meaningful ways with one another.”  Turquoise Tables have become a movement. They are now registered in all 50 states.

 

A PARALLEL UNIVERSE IN GARLAND TEXAS - March 2013

While Kristin was having her front yard experience in 2013, I was also having mine about  213 miles to the north. I decided to dig up my lawn and plant a garden in my front yard. There is far too much shade from the trees in my back yard to grow anything. After about the third day of digging, people driving and walking by began to stop and ask questions.  It was amazing. I had lived there for 5 years and often was in my front yard--getting mail, mowing my lawn and trimming the shrubs.  No one had ever stopped once to chat.

Digging up one’s front yard lawn in the USA is far outside the world of status quo.  Front lawns are the most grown crop in the U.S. and you  can’t even eat them. Their primary purpose is cosmetic. The state of a homeowner’s lawn is important in relation to the owner’s status. They’re viewed as an indicator of socio-economic character, which translates into property- and resale values. Thus, a properly maintained lawn tells others you are a good neighbor. So, what are we to think of a person who digs up their front lawn or dares to put a turquoise picnic table on it?

Digging up one’s front yard and replacing it with an orchard and vegetable garden is as alien to Americans as a turquoise table on one’s front lawn. No wonder Kristin and I got visitors. People are curious.  Picnic tables belong in the back yard, not the front yard.  Gardens belong in the back yard, not the front yard.

Both Kristin and I were violating unspoken laws of the front lawn:  You keep it fertilized and mowed. You don’t put lawn furniture on it, and you certainly don’t dig it up.  Unlike Kristin, I was not trying to attract people, and yet they came anyway.  Before the end of the first week people walking by stopped to chat and ask me what I was doing. And during that first week a few people driving by in their cars stopped and got out to chat with me.

Of course, the main topic of our conversations was gardening. After about two weeks, I began keeping track of how many stopped.  By the time I finished near the end of May, 122  people had stopped to talk during that time.  It was also from these conversations that a core group was formed and we ended up establishing a Community Garden here in Garland on April 24, 2014.

THREE PATHS CROSS IN 2021

Somehow it seems fitting that the serendipitous journey of two women, living 213 miles apart who decided to repurpose their front yards in 2013 should be united by a turquoise picnic table. It was Pam Swendig, Executive Director of Good Samaritans of Garland  who tied the whole experience together. Pam is in charge of the operations of a non-profit food distribution service in Garland.  The Good Samaritans of Garland feed the homeless and the hungry in our community.  They operate out of an old refurbished residential home near downtown. We give several hundred pounds of food from our garden and pantries to Good Sam’s every year.

A while back, Pam decided to put a lot of turquoise picnic tables around the side of their facility for people to sit in the shade--particularly the homeless who have nowhere to go.  She may be hoping that these turquoise tables, like the one in the yard of Kristin Schell of Austin would attract people of the neighborhood walking by to stop and chat with the homeless.  I don’t know.  I do know that when people stop and take the time to actually talk with one another, magical things happen.

I’m thrilled that we now have one of these lovely tables in our garden. Thank you, Pam!  And I thank all the volunteers at the Good Samaritans of Garland for all the wonderful and selfless work that you do.  I fully expect the turquoise table you gave us to bring even more magic to our Garland Community Garden.