Archive for category: Garden Updates

Casco Bay Wealth Advisors Volunteer at the TSCG

On a recent Saturday morning, our friends at Casco Bay Wealth Advisors came to the Community Garden to help us  by putting the Tom Settlemire Community Garden to bed for the season. The volunteers cleared garden paths, weeded overgrown plots and spread fresh wood chips.

We greatly appreciate our everything that our local businesses do for us, and thank you  Casco Bay Weath Advisors for helping to put the “community” in our Community Garden!

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Connects Kids and Carrots

Land Trust works to engage youth at Community Garden 

BY LIZ PIERSON
2017-08-25

“Mine’s got dirt on it!”

“Mine has two legs, like a funny little man!”

The first-time carrot harvesters — two nine-year-old boys — squealed with laughter. They beamed, held their carrots high, and knelt down to pull a few more.

It was a beautiful August day at Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Tom Settlemire Community Garden at Crystal Spring Farm. The carrot harvesters were 14 children and a few parents from Perryman Village Family Housing in Brunswick. Earlier this summer, with a grant from the Senter Fund, the Land Trust donated the lumber and soil for raised beds in front yards at the village. Land Trust staff and volunteers built the beds, and families helped fill and plant them with seedlings donated by several local farms.

Now, a group of these novice gardeners were touring the Land Trust’s own Community Garden. The group also picked peas, made their own wraps from local vegetables, and escaped the heat with a shady walk on a nearby Land Trust trail. Another group of Perryman kids had come to the garden in July.

Well-tended raised bed at Perryman Village

For most of the kids, it was their first visit, but for a few, they proudly explained, it was old hat. In June, all of the first-graders at Brunswick’s Coffin Elementary School visited the garden to transplant 240 squash, pumpkins, and sunflowers they had started in their classrooms earlier in the spring. The squash harvest will be donated to Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, and the sunflowers and pumpkins will be harvested this fall by Coffin students.

The new raised beds at Perryman Village are also producing food.

“They look amazing. And the kids are doing the bulk of the work in them,” the Land Trust’s Outreach and Education Coordinator Lee Cataldo said recently. “It’s so wonderful to see the kids so engaged and drawing their parents in with their excitement and pride.”

The project, now in its second year, resulted from a partnership between the Land Trust and Art- Van, a local nonprofit that promotes the arts in low-income communities.

“We started by doing some environmental art at Perryman, and the gardening idea grew from that,” Cataldo said. She sees the project as an opportunity to open new doors and share ideas about what can be done with a garden, by anyone. “Growing your own food is empowering. Every kids deserves to have that experience.”

The project also reflects the expanding role of the Land Trust’s garden as a community-wide resource. In addition to its 80 plots for community members, the garden includes a large plot where food is grown for MCHPP primarily by volunteers. This summer, Curtis Memorial Library is hosting a series of gardening workshops in their demonstration plots at the garden. One of the newest partners is Brunswick High School, which also has a large plot for the summer farm program it runs for at-risk students. With every new activity and workshop offered, the Land Trust believes the garden strengthens its ties in the community.

Cataldo expects the satellite project at Perryman Village to expand next year.

“There’s demand,” she said. “In the two days we were there installing the beds, a lot more families said they’d like one.” She also hopes to add more field trips, including to local farms and the Land Trust’s farmers market.

Now in its fourth decade, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust strives to provide a diverse array of programs that serve the needs of as many segments of the community as possible. As for those young carrot harvesters? Cataldo smiled broadly.

“They’re great,” she said. “Some may become gardeners and some won’t. But all of our work with kids is an investment in the next generation of land stewards and a healthy community.”

For more information on the Land Trust’s Tom Settlemire Community Garden, visit www.btlt.org/community-garden.

Coffin Students Visit Land Trust’s Community Garden

120 First Graders plant seedlings for their community.

Taking advantage of recent a rare sunny day, six first grade classes from Coffin Elementary School set off on foot for Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Tom Settlemire Community Garden (TSCG).  Their goal was to transplant approximately 240 squash, pumpkin, sunflower and nasturtium plants that they had seeded earlier in the spring.  With this goal in mind, along with the opportunity for outdoor, experiential learning, they dug into this task with gusto.

TSCG is located on Crystal Spring Farm, a property owned and managed by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust. Through the Garden, the Land Trust strives to provide intergenerational gardening opportunities, increase the availability of locally grown food for area food pantries, and offer experiential gardening opportunities for the community.

With the help of a dedicated crew of volunteers, the young students transplanted all of their seedlings into the Garden. The squash harvest will be donated to Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, while the pumpkins and sunflowers will be harvested for further study by Coffin Students in the fall.

Staff from the Land Trust, Nikkilee (Lee) Cataldo and Caroline Elliot, were on hand to give tours of the Garden, including the composting and solar powered watering facilities that are on site.  “We love having kids in the Garden!” said Cataldo. “It is import to our mission as a land trust to have young folks get their hands dirty doing something good for the community, and to just enjoy the natural beauty of this amazing community asset.”

As this school year nears its end, students were able to stay engaged in their learning while participating in a service project for their community.  First graders have spent time this spring learning about plant life cycles, plant parts, and growing requirements.  Coffin teachers appreciated the opportunity for their students to experience the next phase in the gardening process by transplanting the plants they had grown in the classroom.  Most students enjoyed digging in the dirt and finding earthworms, but eating watermelon was a unanimous success.  First grader Sylus Pillsbury beamed as he said, “This is really fun!”

FEED THE SOIL, NOT THE PLANT!! Learning from January 15th Winter Gardening Workshop

By Emily Swan, BTLT Board Secretary and Community Engagement and Programs Committee Chair.

Emily Swan

“Feed the soil, not the plant. If there’s one thing you take away from this lecture, this is it!” Master Gardener Linton Studdiford told the capacity crowd gathered to hear his talk about organic soil management in the St. Paul’s Church parish hall on a chilly January afternoon.

This may have been the most important message of the inaugural workshop in BTLT’s 2017 Winter Gardening Workshop series, but it was far from the only thing the 80 or so assembled gardeners learned about soils.

I came away with this practical trilogy of garden principles:
1. Feed the soil, not the plant.
2. To nourish soil, add organic matter.
3. Before you do anything, get a soil test!
And this amazing fact about the biological richness of healthy soil: there are more bacteria in one tablespoon of soil than there are people in Africa, China, and India!

And this fact sure to dampen the arrogance of any soil know-it-alls that may have been lurking in the hall: We only know 10% of the animal and plant species living in soil!

Linton’s knowledge of all aspects of gardening is encyclopedic, and we all came away with a much clearer understanding of the science of soil. But his practical knowledge of gardening is equally vast, based both on study and on decades of gardening experience, and I left with a long to-do list to improve my extremely humble garden and compost pile. I’ve just scrawled on my October calendar – “Don’t forget to use the mower bag to collect chopped leaves to add to the compost pile next winter!” For November – “Dig leaves into garden,” and for May – “Apply compost but don’t overtill!!” For April/May – “The time to add nitrogen is in late spring to stimulate plant growth when the soil is still cold.” And the list goes on and on.

What better time than the depths of winter to expand your gardening knowledge? Now I’m just chomping at the bit to get into the garden and put it all into practice!

The next Winter Gardening Workshop is Sunday, January 29, and will be an opportunity to learn about Permaculture from one of the region’s leading experts, Jesse Watson. Learn more at:www.btlt.org/wgw-permaculture

Botanical Explorer: Event Follow Up Information

Thank you to all of you who were able to attend the event with the Botanical Explorer. I know that I was inspired and went home with a lot of interesting ideas to contemplate!

Below are a few links I thought would be helpful. Perhaps the most important is the Review for Joseph.There is also information about a couple of food plants that can be grown in Maine, a great Maine seed saver that Joseph mentioned last night, and information about resources for growing rare seeds to collect and share in our community.

Finally, if you enjoyed the free program, please consider becoming a member of BTLT and CREA so we can continue to make these events possible.

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Critique The Botanical Explorer
Visit www.greatgardenspeakers.comand post a review of last night’s presentation to help Joseph get to other communities like ours around the globe. Scroll down below his list of topics, and you will see Rate This Speaker in orange. It just takes a few moments and is an important way to say thank you!

Kajari Melon, Baker Creek Seeds
Remember this stunning beauty that Joseph mentioned might be a good candidate for growing in Maine? With a growing season as short at 70 days, maybe! Let’s try…
You can get seeds here: Baker Creek Seeds

Will Bonsall, Khadigar Farm
A great Mainer doing important work protecting the diversity in our food system. Through his Scatterseed Project, a great deal of  the seedstock of vegetables, legumes, small grains, and tree fruits, which we are able to grow in a cold Maine climate, are still able to be acquired because of Will. Read more HERE or watch the VIDEO. (Jo Josephson photo)

Sunchoke
Also known as the Jerusalem Artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus, is a North American native that grows well in Maine (some might say too well!). The tuber is harvested in the spring and has a mild flavor and texture like a potato. Read more about the sunchoke HERE and place an ORDER through Fedco.

Are you interested in growing rare and heirloom seeds for community?
Would you like to get involved in growing rare seeds and saving them for wider distribution? Get in touch! We have community garden space that could be perfect for this type of effort and we would love to help make it happen! Contact Lee Cataldo any time or call 729-7694.

Thank you for another successful Plant Sale!

To all the generous and helpful Tom Settlemire Community Garden volunteers and community members who made donations that contributed to the fantastic success of the Fifth Annual TAKING ROOT PLANT SALE: Thank you! Thank you, one and all.

We were once again so fortunate to have a spectacular community building Taking Root Plant Sale…..initial accounting reveals at least $6,000 raised in support of this “community gem” (as one volunteer stated) the Tom Settlemire Community Garden!

So many generous folks contributed to make this success:

  • Bonnie Studdiford and Claudia Adams, co-chairs of the Taking Root Plant Sale Planning Team
  • All the committee chairs and their crews
  • Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program Staff
  • Master Gardeners
  • Plant donors/diggers/potters
  • Flyer/poster/banner distributors
  • Bake/book donors/volunteers
  • White Elephant/ volunteers
  • We Compost It!
  • Set up/break down crews
  • Label/sign makers
  • The Masons,particularly Frank Hilton.

And of course our loyal customers who came and bought……

We hope this sincere Thank You reaches everyone who helped. We’ve already begun planning next year’s sale and as always hope to improve it based on our experience and folk’s observations and suggestions.

Stay tuned and we hope you will again help with next year’s sale.