Friday, June 27, 2014

Trip to Prasco and weeding!

Box gardens at Prasco

stones help keep the weeds down

 This week was a special week as the Alliance Garden interns got to go on a field trip to Prasco down in Cincinnati. Prasco is a family run pharmaceutical company with a strong missions mindset. The family foundation has funded the IWU Alliance Garden and this trip was designed for our students to get an idea of why we do what we do and who helps make that possible. While we did get a tour and were treated to an awesome lunch, we did help transplant melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash. The trip was not long but it was well worth the trip for the interns to see a company that lives their Christian walk the whole week, not just Sunday. For more information on Prasco and their affiliates check out these websites.

Free Bible and Christian literature booth at Prasco Park
Back in Marion have just been on a weeding frenzy. That and we have hundreds of tomato volunteers. We have been transplanting the biggest and the best while uprooting the others. I have no idea what they will be but I am sure we will find out soon! Our blackberry and raspberry bushes are starting to fruit and they taste really good! We are harvesting arugula, lettuce, swiss chard, collards, and a quailgrass spinach hybrid. It basically grows like a weed and can feed people anywhere under adverse traditions. Growing this plant is one way many groups are combating hunger across the globe. Our strawberries are basically done now thanks to all the rain and muggy weather. They get overdosed on water and just start rotting and attracting bugs. We have transplanted more flowers and have added some more peppers. With all of the tomatoes we should be making lots of salsa and tomato and pasta sauce.

Side notes: We will be bringing our produce to Saturday farmer's markets starting tomorrow so be sure to visit the Marion community gardens booth.
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In ground garden that we helped with
Garden Manager
Zach Arington

Lunch break at Quatman's

Patrick harvesting arugula

Katie adding top soil to new tire gardens

Hannah weeding

38th st


Peppers and tomatoes


Friday, June 20, 2014

Vermiculture and Milkshakes

Vermiculture lab

 This week was the first week of several things that we have planted being ready for harvest. While this is wonderful and what we have set out to do this can become too much of a good thing. Take our strawberries for example. Right now we are getting 25 lbs. give or take every other day! What are we to do with this abundance when they will go bad very VERY quickly after we pick them.We do not have lots of fridge, freezer space otherwise we could freeze them and make them into jams and jellies later or just eat them at a reasonable pace. Thankfully Victory Acres has the fridge space and we are bringing our strawberries to them so that they can sell them. They donate the money back to us and they can give their customers something they do not grow themselves. We also decided to make some milkshakes for the people working at IWU, going to camp, or conferences this week. They started out strawberry banana, then just strawberry, then vanilla. This was great promotion and we made some money off of it. They were really good. We will be doing similar promotions at IWU in the student center when we have more variety later this summer. For those of you who want to know when that starts just check out the blog weekly and I will let you know.

Patrick training grapes
Not even all we picked today!
What did we do with our swiss chard and lettuce you might ask. Well they were all donated to St. Martins. They will be used in lunch for those who come to get a meal at St. Martin's. Often the stuff we do not use or is not taken during our promotional time at IWU goes to them. We also sometimes let the community gardens sell our produce at farmer's markets. We do not have enough cherries to be worth selling or donating so they will just go into a pie (hopefully) this week.

Future pickles of America

This week we were also able to weed, transplant, and reseed as it was dry enough to get into the ground. Some of the seeds were old and just did not take. The kale and brussels sprouts were basically total no shows and have been replaced by carrots, radishes, and turnips. We transplanted more tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, and eggplant. The weeds are mostly gone at 46th and you can see what we are growing again.

We hope to see you out at our gardens soon! Please let us know if you follow us and tell your friends and family! I do not like people not knowing that we are here at IWU.

Zach Arington
Garden Manager

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mulch and Weed, Mulch and Weed

Look how weed free this section is!
Pepper with new sign
This week was a maintenance week. It rained often so it was mostly too wet to plant or transplant. We did get some more beans planted and tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, and eggplant transplanted but that was at the end of the week. Some of us worked on this Saturday because it looks to be wet this next week as well. Our arugula is coming in nicely so it had to be thinned. I have never had arugula before but I decided to try it as we picked it out. It tastes like a peppery, peanut-like spinach which is better then that might sound. Lots of our seeds are not doing as well however, and we think it might be because the seed we used is just older. Seeds become 10% less effective each year and we needed to get rid of some.

Grace explaining things on our weekly farm walk
Transplanted cucumbers
Bernard :(
 The weeds have done very well with this rain so weeding and mulching were very important this week. We couldn't get all of the weeds without messing up the soaked ground but it will be happening as soon as we can. When we are not outside due to rain, we are reading up on what we are growing, ways to prevent pests and diseases, and preserving the produce we have harvested. If you go out to our gardens you could pick our lettuce, strawberries, herbs, and swiss chard. You will know what to pick since we have made excellent signs to tell you what is what.

Our chickens love eating weeds! (And Frogs!)
We pick about this every other day
Our chickens have lasted longer then last year. You can celebrate that fact alone. The three hens are laying eggs, eating our scraps, weeds, and any frogs we might find and turning them into delicious eggs. They can no longer escape because they have had their wings clipped. This was a fascinating experience as our neighbor James ran through the process with us. This does not hurt the chickens and they can not jump out. It is similar to getting your fingernails cut. We tried making a water feeder for them out of 2 litter bottles but they could not figure it out.

We will hopefully start picking this next week!
The girls freezing in June
We have started harvesting swiss chard!
The cherries are coming in!
Last bit of good and sad news. Good news is that our rhubarb and blackberry bush that had been tilled under a few weeks ago have started making a comeback! It amazes me how vigorous some things are. Now the sad news. Not all things are quite as vigorous. We had been given a 3 week old rabbit to raise by facilities. Without their mother, rabbits have only a 10% chance of living. Even with all the care given to Bernard (we named him that) could not survive.
Our corn is loving the rain
Team dinner at Grace's house

Garden Manager
Zach Arington

Rainy day research

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Week 5: Chickens! and Volunteers!

I could work for Pinterest 
Hannah and Patrick digging up some mulch
Debbie and Kayla laying it down
It finally happened people. We have chickens again. Robert Sharp has donated 3 chickens to our cause and we will be raising them for the rest of the summer. If you recall last year we were overzealous and all 14 birds died in a week. We are hoping that we do better this year. We have already been blessed with an egg! We are still looking to get a bigger coop from Robert but with all of the rain this keeps getting postponed. We have added tree limbs to the fence to deter the chickens from jumping out and boards with cement blocks in front of them to prevent dogs from getting underneath. we have added straw to the ground to act as a diaper for the chicken poop so that it does not stink and can be used as compost. It is under a large tree o keep the chickens shaded from the sun. The three ladies are named Mary Brown, Juanita, and Bojangles.
38th street

We have officially gotten our first volunteer for our gardens. Her name is Debbie Renfro and she works with us Tuesday and Thursday mornings. She and her husband were missionaries in Kenya for the past many years and when they moved to Marion our interns from last year made them feel welcome by stopping by and delivering some of our produce. She had us over the other night so that we could meet her husband, eat cauliflower crust pizza, and watch Back to Eden. She is such a blessing and we hope to have many more like her in the coming months and years.

We are helping out with the community gardens on Tuesdays now and to start off we helped mulch at 30th and Cary gardens. Beth Ann is the instructor for this garden and she is very helpful.

It rained a lot this week which was good for our plants as well as the weeds. Our corn and okra are poking out of the ground and our strawberries are doubling every time we harvest. We weeded much of the week so that we can help our baby plants grow. Many of our rows were seeded with older seed so they are not coming in as well as we would like. We will probably reseed these rows to remedy this.

Thank you for reading our blog. We hope to see you out here sometime soon!

Zach Arington
Swiss chard
Garden Manager