Tuesday, June 23, 2009

GRG On The Road: Destination - Faith and Tomatoes

This past Monday, Art and H2 loaded their old truck with buckets and tools. I picked up seedlings, potting mix, and fertilizer. Once we had all the materials, we headed south, to 8100 S. Dante Avenue, and met up with a group of people at Avalon Park Community Church.

Time to make some 2 bucket SIPs...

There's no doubt that certain religious organizations are doing important environmental work; while none of the GRGers are churched, we jumped at the chance to put our ideas in practice.

The class was facilitated by Veronica Kyle at Faith In Place. Katy Regalado, who attended one of our previous workshops and works for the organization, linked us up.


Did I mention it was hot? And also that the church had a perfect location for a SIP garden: a southern exposure against a natural trellis--a chain link fence.


We did our demonstration and then they got to it, drilling out and planting 10 SIPs made with 20 white food-grade buckets donated by our friends from Jewel-Osco.


Veronica Kyle noticed it was the kids leading the way. They loved getting their hands dirty.

Here's the youth crew, goofin' for a group shot with the extra shower caps they made from a potting mix bag.


Our charming group of adult gardeners got their hands dirty too while they learned about the advantages of SIP growing: no stooping to weed (no weeds!), less watering, and greater yield. Like H2, these gardeners had decades of experience gardening in the ground, but they were all open to this new way of growing food.


Collards, beans, tomatoes, melons, Sweet Chocolate peppers, Pingtung Long eggplant, kale, broccoli, and summer squash. We had more plant starts, many brought from church members' gardens, than SIPs.

The final test was for the group to build their own SIP out of two of our recycled Vienna Beef yellow pickle buckets and some leftover supplies. Needless to say, they passed with flying colors.

This class member, a natural-born SIP maker, skillfully improvised the shower cap and tie-down, using plastic from the potting mix and tape to secure.

See one. Do one. Teach one.


Thanks to everyone who made the day a success.

We'd like to especially mention Florence, at center in the picture above, for helping us with so many things once we arrived. Her wheelbarrow and water hose were crucial, but even more important was her generous spirit.

And thanks to Rev Paul Robeson Ford for welcoming us to the church.

After our work was done, Rev Paul talked to the young people a little bit about the importance of leadership and sharing their new skills with others in the community. And then he said a blessing over the new church garden.


A few of these photos were taken by Amanda Baugh, a Northwestern Univ. Doctoral Candidate studying the intersection of the environmental and religious communities. She was nice enough to share the rest of her pictures in this Picasa album.

Finally, a word about Stan Goff. What we did on the south side of Chicago is an echo of the work he (and others) are doing in Cedar Grove, NC. Thanks for the inspiration Stan.


Mr. Homegrown said...

Spreading the SIP gospel. You guys are great!

Unknown said...

Sounds like a great, productive field trip. And, thanks for the link to the Anathoth garden essay. Moving and, yes, inspirational. I may pinch it for my own blog -- with all due credit of course!

H2 said...

Hi Martha and Erik:
Like all our workshops, we barely make it through the explanation before people grasp the concept and we have to essentially get out of their way and watch them dive in. I think we have as much fun (maybe more!) as we hope class members do.

By the way: Avalon Park is a gorgeous neighborhood, with old shady trees, brick bungalows, and lots of green.

Bruce said...

Fun with numbers -

Avalon Park median income - $50,188

West Town (including our Wicker Park neighborhood) median income - $38,915

Anonymous said...

Awesome job.

Especially because it was done in a church setting.

H2 said...

Thanks, Mr BT. The inherent organization of the church and its garden group made SIPs an ideal project. We had a great time.