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No, you can’t eat them!

At last!  The Monarch Wings are installed in the Garland Community Garden.  Yesterday, October 1, Charlie and I installed them.  It seemed forever to finish them although I will say these wings were a lot easier to execute than the 8-foot-tall Garden Wings installation in 2018-- the painting (which I did for both sets) and the construction and installation which Charlie mostly did with a little help from me. The Garden Wings held up well, lasting two years outdoors.  One of the difficulties with the Garden Wings was that they were original.  I had to design and think of all organic elements I wanted to paint on them.  Mother Nature has already told me what Monarch wings look like so I didn’t have to think about design.  All I had to do was copy Mother Nature as exactly as my limited artistic skills would allow me.

A few days ago, the leader for a Daisy Girl Scout troop stopped in when I was working in the garden.  Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, they were going to do an installation of painted rocks in our Children’s Garden area.  Now, today (Oct 2) they will install it, of course with different Daisies because pandemic or not, kids continue to march toward adulthood. I look forward to seeing what they do.  I hope they take advantage of our new Monarch wings.


Speaking of good things in our community, Charlie and I decided to wear our Good Samaritan’s volunteer shirts when posing for our wings photos to help advertise the good work they do.  Charlie and I volunteer there.  On Monday afternoons at 3PM I come and help fill boxes with nonperishable grocery items for the next day.  On Wednesdays at 1:30PM Charlie and I come after a truck makes a delivery and we unload a pallet of gallon milk and put it in the Good Sam refrigerators.  It’s a great feeling we always have on our way home from there--like we did just a little bit to make the world a better place.  I highly recommend community service.  It’s at least as good for us than the people who benefit from our work.  Call Pam Swendig, executive director at Good Sam’s of Garland and ask her what you can do.



We felt like it was also appropriate for us to wear our t-shirts for these photos because Loving Garland Green, official stewards of the Garland Community Garden, donate 50% of all the produce from the garden to Good Samaritans of Garland.

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WHAT IS A COMMUNITY GARDEN? 

Judging from several posts that appeared recently on NEXT DOOR, there are quite a few folks in Garland who do not understand what a Community Garden is and who “owns” the produce--It’s the gardeners who own the produce, not the visitors.  As shown in the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE definition below, community gardens are for the benefit of the people caring for the garden.

The “community” referenced in the title “Community Garden” is the “community of gardeners”. Not the community at large.  Thus, members of the community who do not have a plot at the Garland Community Garden are not free to come and pick the produce that others have worked hard to grow. I think the concept of the children’s tale about the Little Red Hen applies here.

In addition to taking care of our personal plots, the care of the garden also includes taking care of other plots such as our pollinator beds, the luffa tunnel, the Medicine wheel and the Multicultural plot.  Layered on top of that members mow to keep the weeds down.

That said, Loving Garland Green, the official stewards of the garden space at the junction of Brand and Naaman School Road, do offer many benefits to the community at large.  Here are a few:

A FEW BENEFITS FROM THE GARLAND COMMUNITY GARDEN FOR ALL

  1. If you are a resident of Garland, you can obtain a plot by contacting Loving Garland Green.  Unlike many community gardens, our plots are free but you do have to plant in them and keep your bed up or you will lose it and you do have to give 50% of your produce to a local food bank.

  2. If you are interested in growing some of the food you eat (a good idea) you are welcome to the garden any time to look at the various urban garden formats we have that range from lasagna beds to pots to homer buckets.  You do not have to create a raised bed with wooden sides, although we even have a few of those at the garden.

  3. If you just want peace and quiet, the garden is a great place for that.  Unlike most community gardens, we have picnic tables, chairs and shade.

  4. If you want to learn fun things such as--Did you know you can eat some weeds?  You can come down and see the Purslane we have growing along with a sign explaining what it is.  In another area of the garden, we have a sign that educates the public on the topic of growing hemp in Texas.

  5. Later on, in the fall, our members will leave seed packets from plants that we grew in 2022.  We encourage our neighbor gardeners to do the same.  The very best seeds to plant are from healthy plants that were grown in your community.

  6. As for more giving to the Community, Loving Garland Green’s policy is to donate 50% of all we grow to the Good Samaritans of Garland.  In 2019 we donated approximately 600 pounds of fresh produce and hard goods.  With COVID, unfortunately, our gathering and donating was not allowed.  In 2022 we are picking up speed again. Despite our severe drought, to date for this year we have a total donation of 256 pounds of produce and dry goods.  We gather the produce from the garden every Friday and deliver it to Good Sam’s of Garland--a great organization that can always use volunteers



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THE GARLAND COMMUNITY GARDEN IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE and the overwhelming majority of people who visit it are beautiful and like the garden itself, they teach me lessons every day.

I’m glad that so many people come to enjoy our garden.  If we had not installed our cameras, we would only know the tip of the iceberg about our visitors--the ones who come to the garden when we are there.  Over the last week since we installed our cameras, the Garland Community garden has had 30 visitors.  I had no idea. I would have guessed 30 people a month, not a week.

Here is one of the many lessons I recently learned (for about the 1000th time in my life) from the garden and a pair of its visitors:

Don’t make hasty judgements based on appearances. 

For example, one of our cameras recorded a video of two men walking through our garden.  I have to admit that I was suspicious and wondered: “What are they doing?”  I couldn’t see from the video taken by one of the cameras what they were doing, but when I downloaded videos from another one of our cameras, I saw.  They had brought wooden stakes and a hammer and were repairing fencing that we have around one of our beds.

The Garden also has night visitors.  Our cameras captured three teenage night sprites frolicking in the shadows of the garden.

 

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UPDATE AUGUST 23:  We filed a Garland police report on them this morning.  At the least it will establish an official record.  We are hoping it will enable us to file a restraining order against them to ever enter the Garland Community Garden again.

This will discourage any poacher from taking from any community garden in our area.  Up until now, there have been no consequences for these people. A conviction for violating a protective order (restraining order) is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. However, if you have two or more previous convictions, it becomes a third-degree felony, carrying a possible 2 to 10 year prison sentence.

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THE THIEVES HAVE BEEN CAPTURED ON CAMERA AT THE GARLAND COMMUNITY GARDEN. 

We know what they look like and what kind of car they drive—a white Cadillac Escalade. There were two of them.  A man and a woman.  They came in a white Cadillac Escalade. We don’t know their names yet but we do know that they 1) knew they were stealing and 2) knew that we have 24-hour camera surveillance. in the garden.  They were warned that they were being captured on video camera.

 

HOW DO WE KNOW THEY KNEW THEY WERE STEALING?

We had a brick right in the large pot of kale that they stripped. The brick reads: “Don’t steal this kale.”  I put that brick in the kale bed that I steward because on May 22, this plant was stripped of 95% of its leaves and almost died. [Kale will produce for up to two years if it is well-maintained and harvested in a responsible way.]

 

HOW DO WE KNOW THEY KNEW THEY WERE BEING SURVEILLED?

We have signs planted all over the garden warning people that we have 24-hour camera surveillance. I guess they thought we were bluffing and/or they don't care if people see them stealing.




They entered the garden on Saturday, August 20 at 3:31PM and left about ten to fifteen minutes later.  We have videos of them stealing other produce from the garden, not just stripping kale.

This couple have been to the garden before because both Charlie and I have seen them there walking around.  They know the layout of the garden and they knew what they were coming for.  It would appear they came prepared to steal because that is just what they did and in a short time.

 We have a video of the woman carrying three large squashes from one of our gardener’s plot, Pat Patel.  Pat was saving the larger squash for seed for next year.  This is a special squash grown in India.  You cannot obtain these seed local.  There is a sign right in front of Pat's plot that reads "if you didn't plant it, don't pick it."  This couple didn’t just steal food that didn’t belong to them, they even stole the future of food for next year by harvesting seed plants.

 

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UPDATE

One of Loving Garland Green advisors has told to us file a police report. Since the garden is a grounds lease and Loving Garland Green are the operators, this likely falls under theft of private property.    

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ONCE AGAIN SOMEONE STEALS FOOD THAT DOES NOT BELONG TO THEM AT THE GARLAND COMMUNITY GARDEN.

On May 22 of this year someone came and stripped 95% of the leaves off two kale plans in my plot at the garden.  One hundred percent of all the produce grown in my plot goes to the Good Samaritans.  The problem with taking so many leaves from one plant is that it stresses the plant and often kills it.  Kale, if you take care of it, can produce leaves for up to 18 months or more.  It took the plant on the left almost two months to recover.  During that time, we did not harvest from it for the Good Samaritans. Almost two months means approximately 20 servings of kale from that one plant were not delivered to people who needed it.

Yesterday, in between 2 and 7 PM we believe that same thief came to the garden and did it again as you can see from the plant on the right.  This person knew what they were doing.  We have bricks in the pots that read “Do not steal this kale.”  They knew and apparently didn’t care.

This is more than taking food, this is willful destruction of plants in the community garden--in other words, property that does not belong to them.  I don’t know if this is a punishable misdemeanor or not, but we are checking into that.  It’s one thing to steal a tomato (and not a good thing) but it is quite another to destroy a plant, and/or hamper its productivity for two months.

The produce from a community garden does not belong to the public.  The public may come to the garden and enjoy it, but the produce belongs to the people who come out in the heat to garden and tend these plants.  Visitors are not to harvest—not produce, not seeds from the plants and not cuttings.  And in the case of the Garland Community Garden, we give 50% of our produce to the Good Samaritans of Garland.

If you have any knowledge of who is doing this, please leave a message at the Lovinggarlandgreen.org website.  Thank you.

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HOW HOT IS It REALLY? 
[As far as a vegetable garden goes,  it's hot enough to water twice a day.]

When I do things as I did yesterday, I soothe my bruised ego by telling myself things such as: “Smart people make as many mistakes as other people; the difference is that smart people learn from their mistakes and correct them.  Smart people have a healthy dose of self-doubt in their systems and often check out the veracity of their own actions. etc.”

Such was the case yesterday. For those who may not know me, I live in Garland Texas and I am the current interim president of a non-profit that I founded in 2013, Loving Garland Green.  We are the stewards of the Garland Community Garden.  This community garden is unlike most.  For starters, we don’t have a bunch of coffin-like raised beds all line up in a straight row.  Our beds are all shapes and sizes and many of our member grow plants in pots of all sizes and shapes.  Our mission is to encourage people to grow some of the food they eat. We donate half of our produce to a local food bank, The Good Samaritans.  Although our mission is not food production for the community, we still average about 600 pounds of produce donated to the Good Samaritans each year--which is another important part of supporting one's community:  Every little bit adds up.  No donation is too small.

Back to yesterday. I decided to put two thermometers down at the garden:  one in the sun on our garden sign, and one in the shade on a tree.   The purpose of this thermometer experiment was so that people could compare the difference in sun and shade and perhaps spark conversations regarding the impact of deforestation on our planet and other conversations regarding climate change and its impact on our lives.

At 5PM yesterday, I took readings from both sites.  The thermometer in the sun read 117 degrees F and the one in the shade read 93 degrees.  I knew something was wrong.  My cell phone told me the temperature was 102 F.  Also, I wasn’t buying a 24 degree difference from being in the full sun and underneath the canopy of a large tree.  So, when I went home I googled ‘proper placement of thermometers’ and found that if you want an accurate reading, don’t put them in the sun.

I may remove the thermometer I placed in the sun to a more protected area of the garden, or I may leave it where it is with a label beneath it that reads: “feels like temperature”.  That way I can still be “right” and my ego will be saved.

Which brings up another question:  How the heck do these weather-people arrive at their “feels like” temperatures?  Do they have some scientific formula, or is it just more baloney from corporate media?

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Be sure and visit the Garland Community Garden this Saturday (August 20)

You can get some free canna rhizomes to plant now (hummingbirds love them), see a pot of edible weeds, learn all about growing hemp in Texas, and get a list of all the seeds you can still plant in a North Texas fall garden.

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FOOD FOR HUMMINGBIRDS AND PEOPLE. 

BRING A NON-PERISHABLE FOOD ITEM. [canned goods; milk that is packaged for non-refrigerated shelf life; boxes of raisins, etc.  Think homeless without a stove or refrigerator like you have.] All the food will be donated to the Good Samaritans of Garland. 

COME HELP US RESCUE HUNDREDS OF CANNA RHIZOMES FOR HUMMINGBIRDS!

One of the many friends of the Garland Community Garden, Rich Resser, has secured hundreds of beautiful canna rhizomes from a company that sells them.  The season for planting Cannas ends the last day of August so the dealer is unable to sell them.  Planting near the end of August still gives them the 10 to 12 weeks they need to establish before the first frost in our area which typically comes around November 16.  Your bed of Cannas will come back year after year.

BENEFITS FOR YOU AND ANY CHILD YOU MAY BRING TO THIS EVENT
You will have the contented feeling that comes from being an active part of your community and . . .

  • as many free canna rhizomes as you want.
  • the opportunity to learn about the relationship between cannas and pollinators.
  • the opportunity to learn about the magic of the Garland Community Garden:  Our Little Free Library and its new annex; information about hemp, a plant that is now legal to grow in the USA; you can see and even taste an edible weed; and more.
  • Free information about what to plant in your fall garden; how to plant cannas; all about hummingbirds; how to get a license in the state of Texas to grow hemp; and how to plant a small field of wheat and then turn it into flour.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU ON SATURDAY!

We will be set up in the shade of one of the large old trees by our turquoise picnic table that Good Sam’s of Garland donated to us.  It is always cool under the protected canopy of a large old tree.

The Garland Community Garden is located at the junction of Brand and Naaman School Road. The entrance s up at the eastern end of the property where all the construction equipment is.  Just drive on in and park where you see other cars parked.  Rain check day on Sunday 1-4 PM.

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EXPANDING THE CONCEPT FOR WHAT YOU CAN GROW IN A FIVE-GALLON BUCKET.

You don’t need a lot of space to grow vegetables—even if you live in an apartment or townhome and only have a patio or small deck with good sun.  Our great Okra experiment has proven that you can grow a considerable amount of Okra in only six five-gallon pots (plastic buckets from your local hardware store).  So far, we have raised 19 pounds of Okra this way for a current total market value of $87.00.  You could also grow many other vegetables from a five-gallon bucket.

Next on my list will be potatoes that are not sweet potatoes.  A few years ago, I grew non-sweet potatoes but it was such a production I didn’t do it again.  It involved getting chicken wire and stakes to make a tower, then buying straw to line the wire sides and filling with soil as the vine grew.  I think it will be much easier and less expensive to grow the potatoes out of a five-gallon bucket.

 

1.    Step 1: Choose Seed Potatoes (from a nursery or online seed company.  (Don’t use those from the grocery store as they have often been treated with chemicals.)

2.    Step 2: Separate the Eyes. ...

3.    Step 3: Cure the Cut Pieces. (Let pieces dry out for a day)

4.    Step 4:  Put about 7 to 8 inches of soil in bottom of bucket and plant eyes

5.    Step 5:  Plant two per five-gallon bucket and then weed out the weaker one when the leaves appear.

6.    Step 6:  Once stem is about 6 inches or so, add soil to top of leaves.

7.    Step 7:  Continue doing so until soil is at the top of the pot.

8.    When leaves are totally dead, dump the bucket on a tarp and sort out your treasure.

 

NOTE: Some stores carry vinyl bags designed to grow potatoes.  I tried one in 2019 for sweet potatoes that even had a clever trap door for harvesting.   The sweet potato vine died in the bag half-way through the season.  I have had no luck growing things including tomatoes out of vinyl bags but to each his own.  You may have a different experience.

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LOTS OF TIME TO PLANT A FALL GARDEN IN GARLAND

This morning I’ve been reviewing all the edibles that we can plant for a fall garden.  Here is a list and plant by dates:

 

Snap Bush Beans September 1

Lima Bush Beans August 20

Beets October 15

Brussels sprouts. Sept1

Cabbage Sept 1

Carrots November 10

Cauliflower (transplant) Sept 1

Swiss Chard Oct 1

Collards October 10

Sweet corn August 20

Cucumber Sept 1

Kohlrabi Sept 10

Lettuce October 10

Mustard November 1 

Okra August 1

Onion (seed) Nov 1

Parsley October 10

Potato Sept 1

Radish Nov 25

Spinach Nov 15

Summer squash Sept 10

Winter squash Aug 10

Turnip November 1

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WHY DO I LOVE THE GARDEN SO MUCH?

Everything that you need to learn about anything that is important can be found in nature.  In an urban setting, the closest you will get to nature is a wild community garden such as that of the Garland Community Garden that shares its border with an untamed riparian area by a creek, home to many creatures, including a resident owl and leaping frogs.

Mother Nature is the profound professor for those who care to listen. Nature provides the ultimate example of risk management.  One of the basic principles of risk management is to not put all your eggs in one basket—have as many backup plans as possible.

The design of plant seeds is the perfect example of this.  If you’ve ever walked through the woods around the Garland area, you are likely to return home with a few seeds of “Beggar’s Lice” stuck to your clothing.Hackelia virginiana, [Beggar’s Lice] is a biennial plant.  The seeds are burs, and are very sticky. The plant is native but a well-known nuisance in deciduous forests of the eastern U.S. because the seeds can be difficult to remove from clothing and especially pet fur.  The seeding part of the plant—the upper stem—dies earlier than most other plants, and becomes very brittle. Often the entire seed stem, or even the entire plant will come out of the ground if the seeds catch on clothing or fur, aiding seed dispersion.

 

The seed pods of the Common Milkweed [Asclepias syriaca L.] are another great example of nature’s risk management to ensure the lineage of her various plants continues.  Each plant of the Common Milkweed produces several pods and within each pod there are usually are 50 to over a hundred seeds. Each seed is attached to some feathery down.  The pod dries, cracks open, and releases hundreds of seeds from just one plant.  Most of these seeds will never complete their full life cycle into a plant, but a few will.  And therein lies the lesson for humans:  One good idea is rarely enough. You need to produce many good ideas in order for one of them to find a home and come to fruition. So don’t give up when one of your ideas fails or is reject by others.

Risk management is but one of thousands of skills and lessons to be demonstrated and learned in a garden.  A few of the other lessons include compassion, patience, mindfulness, conservation, appreciation, gratitude, appropriate timing and placement of things and events, generosity, love of the planet and many more.

Nature is also an inspiration for design of inventions that help human beings. The VELCRO® brand of hook and loop was invented by a man named George de Mestral in the 1940's while hunting in the Jura mountains in Switzerland. Mr. de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, realized that the tiny hooks of the cockle-burs were stuck on his pants and in his dog's fur and wondered how they attached themselves.

Provide an exception if you can, but as far as I know, the Garland Community Garden is the most unique community garden in Dallas County in that 1) it shares its space bordered by a riparian area on one side and a busy urban thoroughfare (Naaman School Road) on the other side. 2) There are no design requirements for our beds.  Thus, you will see vegetables growing in pots, in a keyhole garden, a raised bed fashioned from concrete blocks, lasagna beds, and other styles.  This fits with the purpose of Loving Garland Green, a nonprofit organization who are the official stewards of this space.  Our garden is designed not to maximize production, but rather to inspire the citizens of Garland to grow some of the food they eat—in their homes or in this garden by presenting different methods, plants and bed designs to inspire them.

 

SPEAKING OF GARDEN INSPIRATIONS COMING SOON:

  1. MONARCH WINGS—Yes, I’m designing a pair for the garden that will be finished in time for Labor Day

  2. An Annex to our Little Free library.  It won’t be as lovely as the one we have but it will do until something better comes along.  Sometimes we have to operate on the “this is as good as it gets” principle. I hope to get the Little Free Library Annex installed this weekend.  In fact, we may end up with two annexes: one for the children and one for the adults. For now, however, one will do.

  3. Two thermometers:  One in a place that gets full sun and the other in a place that gets full shade.  This makes for a fun activity for parents and children.  They can compare the difference in the two temperatures.  I also plan to create a sign about mercury and how that works.

  4. I’m making an information sign about the purslane (edible weed) I have planted at the children’s garden, Then I will put small garden signs about the garden where it is grows naturally.  The children can then hunt and find it.

  5.  A sign with information about growing hemp in Texas.
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HEY Y'ALL, IT'S LEGAL TO GROW HEMP IN TEXAS!

Actually, growing hemp is legal in all of the USA.  President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law in December of that year—which legalizes industrial hemp after decades of the crop being caught up in broader cannabis prohibition.  The signing ceremony represented the culmination of a months-long debate over various provisions of the wide-ranging agriculture legislation. But after the House and Senate Agriculture Committees reconciled their respective versions, the final Farm Bill easily passed in full floor votes last week.

Hemp legalization, a provision of the bill championed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), received bipartisan support, with members on both sides of the aisle celebrating its inclusion in the now signed law.

 

 

But you do have to follow a few rules!

SO, WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF ALL THIS?

The implications are nothing short of changing the world.  Right now, the focus seems to be on growing hemp for CBD products, but that is a very limited focus.     Hemp can be and has been used as the base material for hundreds of products—wood for floors; fabric for clothing; hand lotion and other cosmetics; replacement for paper products; even material to replace plastic products.

In terms of quality and performance, hemp fiber stands out as probably the strongest and most durable fiber in nature. In addition to being 10 times stronger than wood fiber, hemp is four times stronger than cotton. Industrial hemp is lighter and less expensive to process than wood.

Trees take a long time to grow, which is why trees are being cut down faster than we can replace them. On average, trees are 10-30 years old before they are used for paper. Hemp, on the other hand, takes 60-90 days to reach maturity. Basically, hemp is ready to be harvested and made into paper after one season.

 

HEMP AND HUMAN IMAGINATION CAN TRANSFORM OUR WORLD.  IMAGINE THIS FOR GARLAND:

The ideal products for local economies and the environment are those that are consumable and create little or no waste and are manufactured and purchased locally, thus eliminating all the pollution and expense of transporting the product to 1,500 miles away.  Toilet paper made from hemp is just one such possibility.

What if leaders of local governments let go just a few of their conservative notions that government should not be involved in production and put some of the 57 square miles of unused land in Garland to use growing fields of hemp?  The fiber from these fields would be used to create the end-product of toilet paper.

A total of 2,000 Americans were polled on their single-use household item spending habits. On average, respondents spend $182 annually on toilet paper (plus an extra $15 per month since the pandemic started).  So, let’s say that roughly a little more than a third of the population of Garland (100,000) purchased their toilet paper from a local supplier.  That would be $18,200,000 annually in potential gross income.  That’s a lot of money flowing into a local economy from just one product.

Furthermore, it’s a proven fact that more of the money produced by locally held companies tends to stay and be recirculated in that economy. Real change tends to be the most meaningful to the individual at a local level. 

 

SO WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE WITH THE HEMP TOILET PAPER PROJECT?

The first step would be to create a feasibility study to determine the merit of this idea.  Some of the information included in the study would be identification of all the feasible land within the City of Garland (both city-owned and private) that would be available as acreage for growing hemp; estimated expense for establishing a plant to process and manufacture the hemp into toilet paper; evaluation of the market who would purchase the toilet paper; estimated profitability, etc.  Perhaps the business would be set up as a cooperative of the people of Garland which would involve job creation along with sharing some of the profit with the local government of the people whose leaders would then plow this income into projects that benefit the community.