Yes, I can tell that life in my urban gardens (1,2, and 3) is slowing down for the coming winter. I'm reminded of what Sydney Eddison wrote in her book, Gardening for a Lifetime:  "of all the lessons that gardening has taught me, the hardest to digest inwardly has been the acceptance of imperfection."  When it comes to gardening, I'm gradually learning to go with the flow and appreciate the glorious moments for what they are--brief and beautiful.  Ben Jonson understand that well.  Perhaps he was a gardener too--he once said, "In short measures life may perfect be."  Key phrase here is "short measures"--that's the part I still need to work on as I tend to expect "extended measures."


A lot of my pleasure in the garden comes from merely ambling around it wihout any special purpose--just looking at the plants and appreciating them and marveling at my ability to have tended them to maturity and fruition.  I just came inside after a walk through my garden this morning and, in spite of the fact that it is looking a bit raggedy around the edges, it still contains promise of more.

 I was surprised this morning to see the stirrings of a broccoli as I had given up hope on this plant.  Perhaps the lesson here is to have a little more faith.

And my ichiban eggplants (six of them) continue to produce.  I know that next year I'll be sure to plant them again and I'll encourage others who live in Garland to do the same.  Since this is my first garden ever, I can say with some certainty:  "If I can grow it, anyone can."

The only plant in my garden this year more prolific than the egglants has been the okra.  (I'm convinced that okra would survive in Death Valley if it were planted there.)  Below is a photo of one of the ichiban eggplants this morning busily producing more food for me.  As you can also see, the lemon herb plant has gone to seed.  I need to harvest those seeds for myself and the community garden.

 Below is a pot of mixed lettuce that I have growing in a container.  Again, the lessons for me here are twofold: accept imperfection,  keep the faith and don't give up hope as better times may be just around the corner.  Sometimes the best action is no action--although rarely the case in a garden.  Back in mid-September, I almost yanked this lettuce out of the pot.  It was looking so pathetic and had been for about a month. I had decided it would not grow and was on its way in the opposite direction.  However, I got busy with other things and left it alone.  Now, thanks in great part to my unintentional neglect, I'll have a nice salad for two from this pot.




As I may have mentioned before, central to the mission of Loving Garland Green is increasing our residents awareness of the virtues, pleasures, and importance of gardening. In fact, our byline is:  instead of a chicken in every pot, a garden on every lot.  Kellie Dyer, a science and math educator herself, will be heading up these efforts for Loving Garland Green.

As I continue to procrastinate my self-assigned task to clean out half my garage this morning, I'm looking over and reading again passages from some of my favorite garden books.  Because gardening is such a seasonal activity requiring that gardeners do certain things according to nature's timetable, I'm sure that all of our activities at the Garland Urban Agricultural Center will also follow nature's schedule--from actual gardening to our related educational activities.

Here is a delightful activity--for children and adults:  Making homes for lady bugs. This is an activity that should be undertaken in late August or early September.  Niall Edworthy in his informative and fun to read book, The Curious Gardener's Almanac, tells us how:  

". . . Lady bugs are gardeners good friends as they eat a lot of unwelcome insects.  It's simple to make a home for them to hibernate in over the winter. [Who knew Lady Bugs hibernated?] Wash thoroughly an old can such as one for baked beans. Pack it with wide drinking straws cut to the height of the can. Toward the end of the summer, place  it sideways a few feet off the ground so the rain does not get in. [Perhaps on top of a concrete block with rocks on either side so it doesn't roll off.]  The Lady Bugs, spiders and other insects will be happy to have a warm winter home."


Lady Bug Homes

Ever the proselytizer for urban agriculture and its positive impact on the local economy, I can't help but to point this out:

An enterprising entrepreneur could create Lady Bug homes and sell them to the public.  A community with 100,000 urban gardens would be a great local market for such a business. (Thus part of the business of Loving Garland Green is to prepare the soil of our local economy by helping to establish a market for product yet to be dreamed up and created.)

Of course, using our example of Lady Bug Homes, that company would have to come up with other garden-related products in order to grow their business, but perhaps if they distributed nationally, having a local market to establish their business might be all they needed.  


Gardens bring people together and increase community love while growing the local economy by stimulating the development of new markets.

Perhaps readers who didn't before will now see better how encouraging urban agriculture can stimulate the local economy--not just through the direct sale of the produce, but over many other related and local avenues including local investment and financing of many of these activities.  The garden is as infinite as nature in its ability to give and grow local economies.  I've only had a garden for two seasons, but I know enough to realize that no one has enough time to learn all the lessons a garden can teach--even if they were given two lifetimes. 

Gardens bring people together.

Increase urban gardens = increase markets for the local economy.

Increase markets for  local economy = increase the connectedness of the local residents.

Increase the connectedness of the residents = increase the love.

Increase the love = increase the safety, health, prosperity and well-being of all the residents.


Love of Place--a key factor in the success of any community

As Peter Kageyama points out in his book, For The Love of Cities:  " . . . We see the benefits of love in everything. When children, plants, pets, plants, and even objects are loved, they thrive.  (Compare a car owned by a car lover to one owned by the rest of us.)  The same is true of our places. When we love our city as when we love another person, we will go to extraordinary lengths for them.  When we have an emotional connection to a place, we are less likely to leave it and far more likely to champion it and defend it in the face of criticism. . . . When cities make themselves easier to connect with emotionally--when they make themselves more lovable--they invite the human heart to become the driver of community, economic and social development. . . To help us fall in love with our cities again, we need to see others who are in love with their communities. . . These people are critical to the overall health of their places."

And that is how I see the members of the Planning Committee for Loving Garland Green.  We love our community and we are inviting others to join us in Loving Garland Green.  Together we can grow plants and much more.


 Loving Garland Green--Instead of a "chicken in every pot", we support a "garden on every lot."

Last night the planning committee for the Garland Urban Agricultural Center and Community Garden met and voted on the name for the nonprofit corporation we are forming.  We aim to strengthen and increase urban agriculture within the boundaries of Garland, Texas.  Thus, our goal is to increase the number of gardens and urban farmers within our city limits by providing a place for residents of all ages to come together and learn by doing.

The more urban farmers and gardens a municipality has, the healthier, more connected, safer, and more prosperous the residents will be.  Among many other exciting things planned for our website, we will initially ask all Garland residents with vegetable gardens to please register on our site and to submit photos whenever possible.  We will track and also list the new gardens as they are built and submitted to our site. The website will be a central place for residents to share triumphs and challenges they face as urban gardeners in our community.

The approximate 3-acre Garland Urban Agricultural Center and Community Garden, to be located at 4022 Naaman School Road, will provide spaces for Garland residents to grow produce and share a portion of it with other members of our community.  In addition, this location will offer many hands-on learning opportunities such as setting up rainwater harvesting systems; growing food using aquaponic technology; learning how to turn their own backyards into woodland gardens; mulching; composting; worms as friends; and yes, even beekeeping.  

a pot of marigolds from iflizwerequeen urban garden one - 11/08/2013
Note:  The petals of marigolds are nutritious and add a colorful surprise to almost any dish.  Be sure to cut them just above the place where they connect to center as that little white/green tip is somewhat bitter.


A popular garden plant, Marigold has exceptional healing powers and is used in many therapeutic disciplines, as its unique anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties promote rapid healing. This remarkable herb is multi-healing, both internally and externally. It lifts the spirits, relaxes spasms, it is a common first aid treatment for cuts, grazes, and scalds, and is particularly helpful for skin problems.  SOURCE


Two more Garland residents have joined the planning committee for the Garland Urban Agricultural Center and Community Garden--Ken and Kellie Dyer.

I met both of them this August at the Garland Marketplace event on the square in downtown Garland and I'm looking forward to their participation on this project.  Kellie is a school teacher and Ken is a sign designer.  Look at a few of his preliminary designs for a logo (Using "loving Garland Green" as an example.)  Tonight I'm hoping we will decide on a name and a mission statement.

After establishing our identity, we will be able to move ahead full speed with creating the rest of our business plan and submitting it to Mayor Athas and other appropriate members of Garland city government.


Update on Pecan Gathering for Fund Raiser

To date I've gathered 24 pounds of Texas native pecans.  As the lead co-creator for fundraising, my goal is to double that poundage over the coming weekend and by next weekend I hope to have 100 pounds of Texas native pecans.  Eventually before this fund raiser is over mid-December, we hope to have sold over 300 pounds.  

Look for members of our team to hit the Garland streets the weekend before Thanksgiving.  We will be selling Texas native pecans at $3 a pound on street corners all over Garland.  This first fund raiser has a primary purpose of creating interest and public awareness of who we are and what we hope to accomplish.  Of course, we also plan to raise at least $900.  

Upcoming Fund Raisers 

As part of our business plan, we have several seasonal fund raisers planned.  Put the Love and History of Texas Native Pecans in Your Holiday Baking by supporting Love Garland Green --our Thanksgiving and Christmas fund raiser.  Other fund raisers planned include: Give Us Your Best New Year's Resolution; Give Garland Your Heart on Valentine's Day; DFW Community Gardens Tour--Spring 2014; A Midsummer's Night Dream in Garland; and Fall for Garland.  These will be recurring annual events.

In addition to these fund raisers, we will of course apply for various grants that suit our profile and mission as a nonprofit.  I am also exploring the possibility of appealing to people through online funding tools such as Kickstarter.

Julia Childs was quoted as once saying: "You can never have too much butter."

You can quote iflizwerequeen as saying:  "A nonprofit doing good for the community can never have too much money."  And that's why I'm in charge of fund-raising for our group. 


Pin on Pinterest

Today, in our continuing quest to learn how others manage their community gardens in the DFW area, Charlie and I visited the Plano Community Garden--and what a learning experience that was!  I'll tell the story of our visit in captions to photos that I took there today.

As we entered the garden we saw the sign for the Plano Community Garden flanked by two huge rose bushes.  Very pretty. The Plano Community Garden began in 2005 as a cooperative partnership between the Junior League of Plano and the City of Plano's Sustainability and Environmental Services department. The garden's 50 raised beds provide fresh produce to community food pantries and present hands-on educational opportunities for local schools, children's organizations and organic gardeners.  If you wish to visit, they are located at 4030 W. Plano Parkway - Plano, TX 75093

The photos above are featured on the other side of the road as you enter the Plano Commmunity Garden.



One of several large fruitful pomegranate bushes in the Common Orchard at the Plano Community Garden

Meet the People We Met Today:

Patty Pierce and Mark O. were the first urban gardener volunteers we met there today.  They were in the orchard choosing pomegranates from the several pomegranate trees in the common orchard.  They really looked yummy.  I almost asked for one for myself.  I also noticed fig bushes, pear trees, and peach trees in the orchard.  Although the  orchard is still young, it is already producing fruit.

Patty is one of about 25 volunteers who keep the 50 garden plots of the Plano Community Garden going.  Like all urban gardeners I've met so far, Patty is knowledgeable, cheerful and willing to share her knowledge.

Below is a photo of Mark and Patty.  Mark was spraying some tomato trees with a pesticide sprayer marked "Roundup".  Of course, I just about fainted. When I recovered from the shock I asked him what was in the container.  He told me that it was "BT" which is an organic bacteria that kills bugs that infest tomatoes.  I guess Monsanto sells those spray containers branded "Roundup" but you don't necessarily need to put Roundup in it to spray your plants.

BT stands for Bacillus thuringiensis.  Not all agree that BT is safe, however.  Here is more information on that if you care to know and decide for yourself. [Source]  I am of the opinion that bugs don't eat that much so I let them have their way in my garden.  I'm finding there is still more than enough left for me to eat.

Below is a photo of Juanita Freeman--another urban gardener volunteer at the Plano Community Garden.  Juanita, Patty and I discussed the differences in what people view as "acceptable" food.  Juanita, who grew up in the New Orleans area, said that her father always had a large garden and among the vegetables were turnips.  Her family only ate the turnips.  They threw away the greens. She said she was surprised to learn from her classmates that they ate the turnip greens.  Patty said that her experience was just the opposite.  She didn't eat the turnips, but instead ate the greens.  (I couldn't help but wonder later what they might think of Anita and I eating raw okra pods picked fresh from my urban garden a few nights ago.)

Below is a photo of Erin  Hoffer, Environmental Education Coordinator and Master Gardener. Erin is standing inside the Environmental Education Center (City Of Plano) at 4116 W. Plano Parkway Plano.  I'll say more about the Center and Erin later.  For now, let us finish our tour of the Plano Community Garden.


Continuing the Tour of the Plano Community Garden - November 2, 2013

Asparagus and lots of it in the garden.  I was impressed with the amount of asparagus growing all over the various garden plots.  In my opinion--a very good thing since asparagus is a perennial vegetable.  

Inspriration for Garden Decorative Borders:  Throughout the garden, several urban gardeners have filled colored bottles with sand and inserted them into the soil bottoms up.  It makes for a colorful and interesting border to plant beds.  If you look carefully in the shadows of the phot below, you can see them.


Below you'll see a metal can (about 5 gal) buried in the soil.  There are many of these cans scattered through the Plano Community Garden.  For more information on this method of composting table scraps view this site from the City of Davis, CA.  [Source]

Below is a covered area where volunteers gather in the summer to get water, visit and escape the heat.  When I asked Patty if this was where they held the classes, she said, "Oh no, we do that at our environmental education center."  She later took me on a tour of that facility and introducted me to Erin Hoffer.  I had envisioned a similar structure, only 2/3's this size for an outdoor classroom at our facility here in Garland.

Below is the view one sees from the perspective of the roof-covered area in the photo above.  Notice the red painted cable spindle in the foreground--another of many examples of re-use in their garden.


Ideas Ideas and More Ideas for Urban Gardening

Hoop covering from Fencing Material

I loved all the creative uses of materials and resulting functional designs.  For example below is wire fencing that has been bent over leafy greens (I think swiss chard).  Then the gardener put netting over the wire to keep pests out.  This same simple design would suffice to protect plants from light frosts too.  Instead of netting, plastic sheeting would be used.  Bricks are then placed to secure the netting (or plastic covering).


 Fences using PVC pipe, ty-wraps, chicken wire, and rebars

This design is lightweight and mobile--very easy to open up access to a garden area.  You just lift the section up off its rebar.


Notice how ty-wraps secure the chicken wire to the PVC pipe.

The photo below provides a larger view of the overall appearance of this highly mobile fence.


More Photos of Produce from the Plano Community Garden

Below Patty shows us one of her bell peppers.

And here we see Patty's Kale--beautiful and healthy.

And here we have a lush bed of tarragon.

The Plano Community Garden is beautiful, charming and practical.  It's a great place to make you feel better--even when you are already feeling great.  Here are a few more photos for you to enjoy, but it is much better to see in person.

Yes, they have beehives too.  If you look carefully in the photo below, you will see them in the distance near the middle of the photo.




 This is another whole, yet connected story.  This LEED certified building is located a short distance from the community garden.  It is what happens when citizens love their city and its environment enough to pass a bond issue to ensure that it continues to become greener and greener and healthier and healthier for its citizens.  Erin Hoffer took me on a tour of this wonderful center--almost all of which was built from repurposed and recycled materials.  It is fantastic.  The roof that you see in the foreground supports solar panels that provide energy for the center and there is so much more--a living roof, rainwater harvesting, etc.

Charlie and I plan to revisit this building and I will write more about it at that time.  Even from today there is so much more to tell--for example, about the Plano Recycling center. . .   

Rainwater Harvesting

Did you ever see such a beautiful cistern for collecting rainwater?  This one collects rainwater from the roof of the center and then it is pumped to the back of the building where it is stored in a 20,000 gallon storage tank.

This is the 20,000 gallon storage tank where the harvested rainwater is stored.


In closing, the center has a lovely art piece--a sculpture of butterflies fashioned from aluminum cans.  A collection of led lights cast shadows that move across the background of the sculpture.


Taken 10/31/2013 10:30 am - Iflizwerequeen Urban Garden One - Title:  Even Bees Like Okra 


Last night we had the second successful meeting of the Planning Committee for establishing a nonprofit corporation to support a Garland Community Garden.  After the meeting, Anita Opel, one of the members of our committee, lingered and among other things we discussed the value of eating raw food.

While I am introducing more raw food into my diet, I have not gone as far as Anita and her husband, Robert, whose diet now is vegan and almost entirely raw food.  However, last night I took a daring step and ate a whole raw oka pod from my Urban Garden One with Anita!  

If there is an afterlife, my mother and both my grandmothers have fainted as all of them fried okra until it was burnt and/or boiled it until it was gray and indistinguishable slime floating in the gumbo--or worse, served as a side dish.  

Raw Okra tastes great!

In fact I was so surprised and enthusiastic about the great taste of the okra that I ate another, just to make sure. Last night I ate two raw okra pods.  Embolded by my own bravery, I also ate a raw Japanese eggplant and several green tomatoes from my garden.  They all tasted wonderful.

I don't know that I'll ever convert to a 100% raw diet because I love spices in cooked foods, but I'll definitely explore the possibility of adding more raw foods to my diet--especially those that I've thought of as being in the "must be cooked" category.

Another benefit from our adventure in the garden last night

One of the classes we will likely bring to the educational offerings of our Garland Community Garden will be:  Rethink Your Relationship to Food--Raw is Healthy.  For this class we will let the participants pick a raw vegetable from the garden (one that is normally cooked such as okra, green beans, egg plant, etc.) and eat it raw.  We will record the participant's reactions and keep a file of them on our website.  Of course there will be more to the class than this, but this exercise will be the fun part.


A Closing Note on the Nutritional Value of Okra--Just in case someone is saying "ugh"

Daily Requirements from Okra, Serving size 255 grams:  71 calories  (and no, this is not 255 grams of Okra deep-fried in lard)

Vitamin A = 17%
Vitamin C = 52%
Calcium = 24%
Iron = 9%

This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Protein, Niacin, Iron, Phosphorus, Zinc and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese.



Margie [my neighbor across the street and also a member of the Garland Urban Agricultural Center and Community Garden planning committee] and I hiked around an area of the site today that is located in what I call the "panhandle" of the property.  The mission was to find an old abandoned cistern that Margie thought was on the site in this area.  

Turns out that Margie was right.  The property does have an old abandoned cistern and it is not filled in with dirt--yea!  It will be easier to restore.  Still, there is a lot of repair needed to the brick and morter work of its interior.  It will be Mark Farley who is in charge of researching sources for our water supply, and the team who join him to determine if the system is salvagable.  I'm hoping that it will be.  If so, we could run PVC pipe from the cistern down into the area where the gardens will be located.  The cistern looks fairly large and deep--about six to eight feet in diameter.


A Gnome Home

Near the abandoned cistern (about 15 feet away) we saw a gnome home.  Margie and I discussed at some length the possibility that the gnomes, second cousins to trolls,  were responsible for the damage to the cistern.  I knocked on the door, but no one was home. No doubt the gnomes were out making more mischief.



 Lessons in Nature from Margie and Nature Today

We saw Beggars Lice.

During our walk, I noticed a lot of white things sticking to my legs.  "Oh that's just beggar's lice." Margie informed me.  At first I was horrified at the mention of lice, but it turns out that beggar's lice is the name for small sticky seeds from some plants that attach to clothing. I can see how they got their name as they are white (but much larger than lice).

I did a little more research on beggar lice when I got home (just to make sure Margie was right) and learned that it is a great forage crop, especially for deer. Desmodiums, better known as a large group of plants called “beggar’s lice,” “tick-trefoil,” or “stick-tights,” deliver comparable nutritional value as soybeans, are naturally-occurring nitrogen-fixing legumes available to deer at the same time as soybeans, and are among the most important native forage species for a variety of wildlife across eastern North America. [SOURCE]

Who knew?  Certainly not I.  Below is a photo I took of the beggar lice on my pants leg.



We saw maybe Virginia Creeper?

If you can identify this one, let me know.


We saw a mushroom.

I looked in my mushroom book when I got home but I was unable to identify it. Can you?


We saw lots of horse apples.

In fact Margie brought about 15 of them back home with her.  Margie's home is not on a slab, thus she has crawl space underneath.  Apparently cockroaches, other insects and even mice are reported to dislike the smell of horse apples.  Thus people toss them in their crawl spaces as a pest deterrent.


Have I mentioned yet today how excited I am about being a co-creator for the Garland Urban Agricultural Center and Community Garden?

Well, I am.  We still have room for 7 more people on the Planning Committee. At the moment we have a baker's dozen.  If you are a Garland resident and would like to be on our team, please RSVP to

Our second meeting is tomorrow night:  Wednesday, October 30 at 6:30 at my home.

After we have the full 20 people, people will still have the opportunity to join one of the subcommittees headed up by members of the planning committee.



12th eggplant from this 10 gallon container and still promising more with 23 blooms

As I mentioned in a previous post, I grew three of the best-tasting cantaloupes from a five gallon pot this summer.  You don't even have to spend a lot of money for a pot.  For example you can purchase a five gallon Homer bucket for five dollars or less, drill a few holes in it, fill it with some half-way decent soil and voila!  You have everything you need but the seed to grow just about anything--from tomatoes to eggplants.  If you wish to get fancy, you can cover the outside of the bucket with colored cotton fabric, using Elmers glue and then seal the covering.  You can even use the bucket for a mold and create many concrete pots for your garden.


Charlie's Container Garden

Poor Charlie.  Instead of soil he has a salt-water pool in his back yard.  Instead of grass, his back yard is flagstone. [Yes, it is a little difficult to muster up pity for someone with a salt water pool but I pretend to feel sorry for him.]

In the spring Charlie built several wooden containers and planted a great garden.  He just built some wooden frames, put them on top of the flagstone, filled them with dirt, and planted seeds.  Over Labor Day he broke his foot in a motorcycle accident.  Here in Texas, our two best growing seasons are spring and fall. In a moment of weakness, I took pity on Charlie and planted his fall garden (albeit a little late).

Below you can see photos of the garden I took this morning. It's a great example of just how successful a container garden can be.  This entire garden is a container garden.

The Big View of Charlie's Garden


Charlie's Tarragon



Charlie's radishes, peas and green beans  (Charlie is already eating the radishes.)


Charlie's Tomato and Chocolate Basil


Charlie's Brussel Sprouts, Onions and Marigolds

(By the way, did you know that the petals of marigolds are not only edible, they are also nutritious. Just cut the petals a little up from where they join to the hub and toss in a salad.)

I'm looking forward (and hoping) to see the brussel sprouts when they form as I've never seen a brussel sprout growing on the plant.


Charlie's Great Tomato Plants

Charlie has six tomato plants in his container garden.  Below you can see two of them on either end of the planter below.


 Nate Downey and his book

Harvest the Rain is the book I have been waiting for: a detailed "how to" for people and communities wanting to take a major step in saving the world's water written by a passionate water conservation advocate. 

Maude Barlow, author of Blue Covenent and Senior Advisor on Water
to the President of the United Nations General Assembly


Can there ever be "too much of a good thing"?  If so, then this weekend is certainly one of those times.  On Friday Charlie and I attended Nate Downey's lecture at Brookhaven College on Water Harvesting.  Then yesterday I attended "RETHINK COMMUNITY - Garland Texas" at the Hyatt here in Garland.  Both events were crammed with interesting and relevant content for anyone interested in improving the quality of their life and the lives of others in their community.

I've already raved about the RETHINK COMMUNITY event in Garland yesterday and now I'll  rave on about Nate's presentation on Water Harvesting.  Nate Downey is a permaculturist from Santa Fe.  His company, Permadesign is described in Nate's words as ". . .  a landscape-architecture firm for a new world. Wherever you are, we’ll help create comfortable outdoor environments packed with value. Nestled among luscious edible gardens or elegant low-maintenance landscapes, our projects usually start with “water harvesting” a critical step toward a sustainable future."   


Back in the spring (before I dug up my front lawn and replaced it with a garden of edibles) I calculated that at least for my geograhical place on the planet here in Garland Texas we have enough annual rainfall to grow just about anything.  Look at the graph below for our annual rainfall here in Garland and consider a 1000 square foot roof surface of an average-sized home yields 650 gallons of water from a 1 inch rainfall.  Thus, with adequate storage, every home in Garland could harvest approximately 26,000 gallons of water each year--more than enough water to support a garden to feed a family of four.

I find it somewhat sad that many people are so quick to embrace austerity as a solution and install rocks and cactus--when in many cases it is not necessary. The problem is not that we don't have enough water.  The problem is that we don't harvest and store it for later use when we do need it.  Instead, we let it run off, often eroding valuable topsoil.  I'm reminded of that famous dialogue from Auntie Mame:  "Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death."  We need to manage our resources more sensibly--and to make better use of resources we have in abundance (such as solar energy).

Annnual Rainfall in Garland Texas


NOTE:  The 12 design principles of permaculture are part of the guiding principles the planning committee for the Garland Urban Agricultural Center and Community Garden are dedicated to observing.

  1. Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
  2. Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
  3. Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature's abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
  6. Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
  7. Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
  8. Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
  9. Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
  10. Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
  11. Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
  12. Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time. [Source for summary of principles: Wiki]


 The availability of water is central to the health of any economy. In fact, water is central to the life of all the citizens in the community. This is a fact that leaders of cities going back as far as Aristotle recognized.  Aristotle admonished city leaders to not rely on the countryside for their water but to build cisterns within the city.  Furthermore, water, like love of place, can bring communities together.

Why Harvest Rain?

It's free.
Almost chemical-free and plants love it
Increases production --It's true.  Plant grow much faster and better with rain water than with water from the tap.  I've observed it myself in my own garden.


Books recommended by Nate  

Localization - a global manifesto  Colin Hines - Localization is a manifesto to unite all those who recognize the importance of cultural, social and ecological diversity for our future - and who do not aspire to a monolithic global consumer culture. The author challenges the claims that we have to be 'internationally competitive' to survive and describing the destructive consequences of globalization. This book is unique in going beyond simply criticizing free trade and globalization trends. It details self-reinforcing policies to create local self-sufficiency and shows clearly that there is an alternative to globalization - to protect the local, globally.

Blue Economy --10 years, 100 innovationa, 100 million jobs -- Gunter Pauli
Dr. Gunter Pauli is challenging the green movement he has been so much a part of to do better, to do more. He is the entrepreneur who launched Ecover; those products are probably in many of your homes. He built the largest ecologically-sound factory in the world. His participation in the Club of Rome and the founding of Zero Emissions Research Institute (ZERI) has made an immense contribution to sustainability both in terms of research, public awareness and articulating a visionary direction. He has dedicated himself to teaching and the hands-on implementation of projects that have brought healthy environments, good nutrition, health care and jobs in sustainable commerce to a myriad of places in the world.

Growing a Business - Paul Hawken
Nearly everyone harbors a secret dream of starting or owning a business. In fact, 1,000,000 businesses start in the United States every year. Many of them fail, but enough succeed so that small businesses are now adding millions of jobs to the economy at the same time that the Fortune 500 companies are actually losing jobs. 
Paul Hawken -- entrepreneur and best-selling author -- wrote Growing a Business for those who set out to make their dream a reality. He knows what he's talking about; he is his own best example of success. In the early 1970s, while he was still in his twenties, he founded Erewhon, the largest distributor of natural foods. More recently, he founded and still runs Smith & Hawken, the premier mail-order garden tools.  According to Hawken, a successful business is one that is an expression of an individual person.

Investing with Your Values:  Making Money and Making a Difference - Hal Bril and others
Investing With Your Values presents compelling evidence that values-inclusive investors can actually outperform the market and be a force for social change. The book's central concept of Natural Investing is a visionary practice that enables people across the entire philosophic and economic spectrum to identify their values and bring them into the financial arena.

 Thirst--Water and Power in the Ancient World - Steven Mithen
Water is an endangered resource, imperiled by population growth, mega-urbanization, and climate change. Scientists project that by 2050, freshwater shortages will affect 75 percent of the global population. Steven Mithen puts our current crisis in historical context by exploring 10,000 years of humankind’s management of water.  He suggests that we follow one of the most unheeded pieces of advice to come down from ancient times. In the words of Li Bing, whose waterworks have irrigated the Sichuan Basin since 256 bc, “Work with nature, not against it.”




Rainwater - The "Alternate" Water Source
click here for details!

Austin Texas November 4-8

The American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was founded in 1994 to promote rainwater catchment systems in the United States. Their memberships consist of professionals working in city, state, and federal government, academia, manufacturers and suppliers of rainwater harvesting equipment, consultants, and other interested individuals. Membership is not limited to the United States, and they encourage all rainwater harvesting practitioners and enthusiasts to join our organization

The American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association's mission is to promote sustainable rainwater harvesting practices to help solve potable, non-potable, stormwater and energy challenges throughout the world.


 *Carnegie Hall - Jim Dine - 1986

I began reading Peter Kageyama's book, "For the Love of Cities" last night.  Yes, I'm the kind of person who reads passages from books that I'm excited about--aloud to my family until they tell me to shut up.  I can't read aloud to you, my readers, but I will quote a few passages from the beginning of this award-winning book that no co-creater of their city should be without.

This wonderful how-to book is a story, actually a collection of stories about the love affair between people and their places. We hear a lot of talk these days about "livable" and "sustainable", but Peter Kageyama brings another level of depth to the way we view our standards for quality of life.  He says that instead of merely livable, we need to start thinking about how we can make our cities more lovable. He speaks of the importance of deepening the relationships we have with our cities and that our cities have with us.

Think about this quote from him for a minute:  "When we love something, we cherish it; we protect it; we do extraordinary things for it.  When we are loved, we flourish as people and are enabled to achieve great things.  This mutual love affair between people and their place is one of the most powerful influences in our lives, yet we rarely think of it in terms of a relationship. . . if we as citizens begin to consider our emotional connections with our places, we open up new possibilities in community, social and economic development."

In his own words, Kageyama's book is about ". . . what it means to have a relationship with a place, why it matters, how such a relationship grows, how it can die, and how to better understand it. "

Like Kageyama, I too believe that incredible things can happen when we fall in love with our city.  When it comes to city planning, we all need to add "love" to the vocabulary because love is the most powerful tool we have been given as human beings.


I'm especially excited to be among the co-creators for the Garland Urban Agricultural Center and Community Garden Cooperative. I'm also grateful for Douglas Athas, our Mayor.  Doug is a thinker and a hugger who is already following many of the principles for strengthening Garland's vitality and economy that Peter Kageyama advocates.  For example, Mayor Athas is willing to stick his neck out and take chances with artists and mavericks like me who come to him with unusual proposals.  Mayor Athas is the kind of Mayor who supports events such as the "RETHINK COMMUNITY - Garland Texas" and people like Peter Kageyama who focus on creating places worth loving.

In the mix of what the Garland Urban Agricultural Center and Community Garden Cooperative are planning there will be strong threads of art and culture.  We have just begun the plans for a unique place that we hope all our citizens will love and profit from.  Our Planning Committee met last Thursday, October 24 in my home.  On Wednesday, October 30, we will have our second meeting in my home.  We still have 8 places on the planning committee.  If you are a Garland resident and would like to join this committee, please RSVP at or call me at 972-571-4497. 


*About the Heart

 The heart shown above is from the huge collection of hearts over the years created by artist Jim Dine.  Among the fundraising plans for our Urban Agricultural Center and Community Garden we are planning a fundraiser for February themed:  "Loving Your Place."  We will feature a contest whereby all citizens of Garland can submit drawings of any size that feature a heart.  Folks can submit as many drawings as they wish, but each drawing must be an original piece, created by a Garland Citizen and submitted with a $5  entry fee.

A panel of judges will select the best 20 and these 20 will be featured in our Urban Agricultural Center and Community Garden when it opens in April of 2014.  Some of these drawings may be created as posters and then sold on an ongoing basis at the Garland Urban Agricultural Center and Community Garden.  Also, it is possible that we may have some of the hearts created and painted on metal and installed as permanent sculptures in our community garden.

Below is an example of one of many heart sculptures also created by Jim Dine. If it's true that we are only limited by our imaginations and our capacity for love, then we have no limits.  Let's get out there and start figuring out ways to show how much we love our city.




2013 Garland Neighborhood Summit 

I just returned homr from an inspiring community event sponsored by City of Garland Environmental Waste Services, Garland Power & Light, and North Central Texas APA.

Peter Kageyama, author of for THE LOVE of CITIES, was the keynote speaker.  Peter is a community and economic development consultant based in St. Petersburg, Florida.  He has spoken all over the world about bottom up community development and the amazing people that are making change happen.

Peter's approach to improving cities is to look at what makes cities lovable and what motivates people to do extraordinary things for their places.  His book, For the Love of Cities, was recognized by Planetizen as a Top 10 Book for 2012 in urban planning, design and development.

My head is still swimming with all the information and insights from this special event which lasted from 8 AM to 2PM today.  In addition to Peter's presentation, participants were able to choose two more presentations to attend from several.  I chose Glenna Brown's and Lexie Okeke's presentations.  Glenna is the Programs Manger for the City of Garland Environmental Waste Services Department.  Lexie is the founder of BE the Delta, a company dedicated to serving individuals, non-profit organizations, and social impact concerned businesses.  Her presentation focused on how to inspire and keep volunteers and Glenna's focused on waste management from the citizen's viewpoint.


 Peter's approach to urban development is centered around finding ways to increase the love of citizens for their community, and one of the primary ways he recommends to achieve this is to look for the fun.  He believes that most folks tend to overthink solutions. They often believe they need a lot of money to bring forth viable solution.  He told the story of a community that wanted a water park, but could not afford one.  Then someone suggested bringing a garden hose to the park.  Remember the hot summer days when you played in the back yard with the garden hose?  Well if you do, you will know how much fun the children had in the park that Peter spoke of.  He suggested that we need to bring more opportunities to play to our communities.  One of the ways to do this is to ask ourselves:  What is the garden hose solution?


During the seminar, we were provided with opportunities to come up with our own versions of "garden hose" solutions.  Here are a few from one exercise we did:

For $500 or less, design a "garden hose' solution to engage the citizens in your community:


Purchase a 20' x 30' square of artificial turf, put a blackboard on it, furnish chalk, and move it around from week to week to various areas in the neighborhood.  Maybe have one side of it for children to draw on and the other side for their parents to record "bucket lists"  BEFORE THE YEAR IS OUT I WANT TO. . . .




I learned so much and had a great time today.  It was fun to touch base with so many people from city hall again: Mayor Athas, BJ Williams, Scott LeMay, Anita Goebel, Beth Dattomo and others whom I haven't seen for the past couple of months.  It was also great to meet and make many new friends.

I recruited a new person for the Planning Committee for the Garland Urban Agricultural Center and Community garden--speaking of which, I also won a door prize that I'll pick up on Tuesday, just in time for our Wednesday, October 30 meeting at my home.  Hope to see you all back and with lots to share!