Tag Archives: Garden

Let’s Help the Community!

3 Dec

Occidental College, a private liberal arts institution, has always been dedicated to positively contributing to the Los Angeles community. A large community oriented advocacy organization based at this college is the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI), and within this organization is the sub-group called the Center for Food & Justice, or the CFJ.

The Center for Food & Justice is a very progress-oriented group with two main objectives. Firstly, they look to improve access to fresh, as well as healthy foods in all communities. For now, they are primarily focused on the underprivileged communities where access to healthy food is scarce, and for now, they are focusing on the Los Angeles area.

Their second objective is to promote community development, social justice, healthy eating habits, preserving the environment, and positive uses for land.

A USC community garden could prove very useful for the first objective. Imagine if children from the underprivileged schools were allowed to take trips to a USC-owned plot of land (a large one, preferably), where we could get master gardeners (like Florence Nishida) and others to teach them how to properly grow their own food. By doing this, the children could learn about how to eat healthily, and how to grow their own natural food. In addition to showing them how, all of the food grown in the USC garden could be donated to the children in these schools.

Currently, the CFJ partakes and leads many programs designed to accomplish their goals. One example of their programs is Farm to School which teaches communities how to pick up good farming practices. Another one, Project CAFE works to implement community-directed activities that relate to food and health in low-income areas within Los Angeles. The CFJ is also involved in the Grocery Accountability Project, or GAP, which engages in research and works to increase the performance of food retail corporations in the areas of food access, labeling, supply, health, and labor standards. Another program, which holds special interest for me (as it should with other Modernology students), is Project GROW. The main purpose of this is to explore the potential for gardens and healthy food as a way to improve the lives of clients and staff of grassroots domestic violence agencies. Young people literally jump with joy when they realize that as a result of their actions, some fruit or vegetable has grown.

I’m willing to bet that if a USC program similar to what I have described previously were to actually come to fruition, some bigger-named speakers would be willing to participate to help the community to help with the CFJ’s second objective. Let’s make it happen! Also, the CFJ, as well as all of their projects, are running quite low on funds. They are accepting any and all donations. For more information, please visit http://departments.oxy.edu/uepi/cfj/index.htm

Garden Instructions from 10/26

28 Oct

When we met in the garden today we had a number of things in mind to accomplish. The goals for today were:

– to clean up the debris in the garden

– harvest the vegetables that were ready

– to clear out the pumpkin plant to make room for other plants

What we actually ended up doing in the garden on Tuesday was pretty similar to what we had outlined and we were able to accomplish all the goals. We began by first watering the garden to moisten the dirt and make it easier to harvest and pull weeds. We first learned how to harvest the different types of vegetables; for example, to harvest bok choy, you have to leave the root in the ground and simply take off the leaf and stem. The same procedure is used for the mustard green leaves. The radishes should be harvested if they are red and large, sticking above the ground.

The pumpkin plant was tied to the the fence so that it wouldn’t take up space in the dirt. I went around asking the class how they were deciding whether to harvest their vegetables. Anuja pulled out a radish that looked ripe and when I tasted it, it tasted really good, just like a real radish. The group that just spread seeds throughout their plot in the “guerrilla gardening” had many radishes growing and a lot of them were harvested.

David attempted to harvest the daikon, but when it was pulled out it wasn’t ripe enough, so he decided to put it back in the ground and re harvest it later. People were also weeding their plots to make sure that the weeds don’t steal nutrients from the plants.

Finally, the last step was to lay down the hay to create walkways in the garden. Also, the hay kills weed by stopping the sun from getting to them and smothering them. The goals from today were pretty much met, and hopefully the notes from today will help people in the future when they harvest!

Parallel notes from Saarah:

Today, we accomplished quite a few things with the garden. We began, as usual, by watering the garden, making sure to moisten the dirt (providing an easier setting for harvesting). Then, we pulled out the weeds. Although the straw did help with weed prevention, there were still a lot of weeds throughout the garden that needed to be pulled. We also had to re-tie the tomato plant, making sure it was held straight.

After we took care of preliminary care, we began harvesting. When harvesting, we had to make sure we only harvested plants that were READY. If we harvest a premature plant, or pull it out the wrong way, we could kill it. Thus, we have to be really careful. We were taught a few simple things about harvesting different plants:

1.      Bok choy: you do not harvest the root, only the leaves

2.      Radishes: should be emerging from the soil, round and juicy- color may vary because of the various types of radishes planted

3.      Mustard green: do not harvest the root, only the leaves

4.      Tomatoes: if they look round and the color looks right, harvest them

5.      Pumpkin: must be the right size and color

6.      Daikon: must be ripe enough, pull out from ground carefully

We harvested what we could, and left the rest to grow. Overall, we ended up with a good amount of harvest that some people took home to make dishes out of.

All in all, it was a pretty successful day at the garden 🙂

Garden Update for September 12, 2010

12 Sep

The garden was in stand-up condition when I visited today. Nearly all the seeds that we planted this past week have sprouted and seem happy enough, particularly those in the southernmost portion of the bed, which seem a little larger and heartier than those in the sunnier, more northern portion.

The plants from the initial planting look to have grown since my last time at the garden, especially the Shishito and bok choi. The tomato plant has grown to an invasive extent; some of its vines had overtaken a bok choi plant, so I moved them away from any of our sprouts.

As to watering: The hose’s spigot still leaks high pressure water when turned on. I used the “spray” setting to approximate a shower on the plants, spending roughly twenty seconds on each plant or square section of plant. While allowing time for the soil to absorb that water, I watered the compost heap, which still looks like a pile of rotting stuff. I finished by repeating the showering circuit on the plants, making sure that the soil was well wet up to around my first knuckle. Some rotting stuffSome sprizzoutsThat soil is MOIST