Tuesday, June 25, 2013

We're growing over here!

Things are popping out of the ground all around the place! Good and bad. The good things are really exciting! Now weed management is a huge task in our daily lives but we are getting it done. It brings so much satisfaction when a plant that you have been waiting on and worried about starts to pop out of the ground. It is such a great way to learn trust, patience, and perseverance.
The corn is loving that morning light!

Tomato's on the far left and beans on the right.

Another view of the tomato and pepper plants. 

Kale Chips

Last week was a big harvest week for Kale. Kale is a great dark green leafy vegetable which is super good for you. However, a lot of people think that it has a strange texture and taste. One easy way to change that is to make kale chips. There are a lot of great recipes online and it is a very quick process. We made some the other day and loved them!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Creator

Alyssa, one of the IWU interns this summer had an awesome experience the other night while she was watering the garden. When she came home and told me the story I asked her if she would share it for the blog! So here is Alyssa's story! Thanks for sharing this powerful story! 


*Names have been changed. 

I was in my zone of listening to music and watering the garden when I saw Sarah* trouncing toward the garden. Her friend Amber* walked several paces behind her. Both lived nearby the gardens and tended to hang around for company while we interns were there working. I slipped off my over-the-ear ear buds and shouted out, “Hey! What’s up?” Sarah covered the rest of the distance to me and asked in a chirpy voice if she could help. I told her “Sure”, and paused my watering with the hose to get her the watering can from the shed. Amber came up a minute later and wanted to join too, so I handed her a stirrup hoe. I pointed them both toward the watermelon patch, and let the girls get to work weeding and watering. 

A fantastic part of gardening that most people who have never tried it don’t realize is that it provides great opportunities for wholesome conversation. After a little while, Sarah (who is always asking questions) asked where water came from. Instead of following my almost-natural instinct in answering the question with a scientific response, I first told her that water was created by God. After creating water, He created the water cycle, which is how we always have water. Sarah wrinkled her nose in thought about the whole, “God created water” part. I gathered from her expression that she hadn’t grown up with this idea of God being the Creator. 

“Sarah, have you ever heard the story of creation? How the world first began?” I asked her enthusiastically. “No,” she replied with a shrug. “Well girls, let’s work a little longer and then we’ll sit down and read the story of creation together.” They both agreed, and although Amber already knew about Genesis, soon we were sitting down reading those soul-shaking first words:

“In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth…”

We read up to the sixth day. Every few verses, Sarah would stop me and ask a powerful question—questions I sometimes still ask myself: Who created God? What is the big bang? God created all of this?

It was a humbling and overwhelming experience to share the creation story with someone for the first time. Afterword I could only pray that some spiritual seed had been planted in Sarah’s heart and that the Word of God would water it and help it grow. We may be taking care of a garden this summer, but God’s reminding me that there’s a mission greater than the physical. As Luke 12:23 mentions, “The body is more than food, and the body more than clothes.” 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

And the Learning Continues

If there is one thing we value in this experience this summer it is learning. It seems like we are always learning in different ways which is great. Last week we had the privilege of hosting a little workshop here at IWU. Dr. Miller led the workshop on vermiculture. The use of vermiculture in gardens/farming has incredible benefits. It is a great alternative to regular composting because it really speeds it up. If you are unfamiliar with vermiculture it is the use of worms to break down compost that can be used to increase the nutrients in the soil. Dr. Miller teaches this as a lab in her crops and society classes and has seen it in action in many countries as well.

Those in attendance were the IWU interns, the Taylor University garden interns, and the Victory Acres staff. Participants even got their own vermiculture starter boxes to take home. It was a really great way to learn together in that community. We are looking forward to more workshops over the summer.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sad News

The duck raising life has been an interesting one! We can all say that we have learned a lot in just one week. The first night the ducks were outside in their hutch we lost three. They were killed by some animal but we are not sure. We realized that the first time we built the pen and home we created it to ensure that the ducks could not escape. After we lost three we rebuilt so that nothing could get in to kill them. You learn. That same day we also added two chickens to our flock. They were free to us and actually pretty cute. 

Then..another sad turn of events... one of the little chickens drowned in the kiddy pool. 

After the ducks were attacked we started looking into buying a goose with the hope that it would protect the flock. We found one that was pretty inexpensive and got it. Personally, I was frightened and had heard terrible things about geese but this one was sweet and really funny to watch. He knew he was the odd ball and would follow around the other birds who would run away from him. Along with the goose we got two more chickens from the same farm. 

Here is our appropriate technology at its finest. 
To recap we had 7 ducks, 3 hens, and 1 goose. Things were getting serious. We figured out creative ways to herd them into their house at night etc. 

Then a storm came. The storm took down a huge branch and it fell on our fence. So whenever that happend the hutch became fully available for creatures of all types to approach. And they did. One of our interns, Alyssa, went over to the bird pen in the morning and found all of the birds dead. Some of them were brutally attacked and other ones just looked like they had the life sucked out of them. So we took care of the bodies and facilities came and chopped up the huge limb. 

Storm damage

So for those of you doing math that is 15 birds dead in one week. We are clearly learning. Sometimes learning is very sad. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

It's a Duck Life

We have ducks! This week we bought 10 khaki ducks. Khaki ducks are great egg layers. We will also use their waste as manure..and eventually have a duck roast. It has already been quite the adventure getting them and getting their life in Marion all set up.

John and Alyssa getting ready to build the duck house!
Better pictures of the ducks to come!


When I first started this internship people were throwing around the term "CSA" like I really should know what it meant. In all reality I had no idea. But now I do! Here is where you can learn more. CSA stands for community sustained agriculture. Victory Acres is a part of CSA and we get to help out too! Each week we will set up tables of produce on campus for the Marion CSA members to pick up produce. This week was the first week. It was so exciting to see everyone so excited to pick things up! It was great to chat and be a part of the local market!

The Fruit of our Labor

We have so many stunning strawberries! One of the first tasks that myself (Paige) and Sydni worked on was weeding the strawberry patches. They have arrived and they are wonderful. It is incredibly encouraging to get these little joys and reminders that the labor we are putting in now will bear fruit.

We are looking for great jam recipes!

What's happening on 38th street?

This year the garden is expanding! We are going to have a second garden off of 38th street. It is an absolutely beautiful property. Only a few months ago there were 3 old abandoned houses on that lot but they have been torn down. There are tons of huge trees and a great garage that we can use for storage. Another perk of this garden is that its extremely close to the female intern house!

This year we are going to have our pumpkin patch in this garden. We are also growing a few things for victory acres in this spot.

We would love a picnic table at this garden! So if you know anyone looking to get rid of theirs send them our way!