After lunch, they returned their tools back to the shed and found a mound of food ready for them to transport home. “This is too much!” said Skye, crouching down to look through the pile. “Your fair share,” said Sela, smiling. “If you get the chance, save the seeds and bring them back to me for the seed bank.” She was cleaning the tools as they were returned to the shed, scraping off the dirt that had accumulated during the day’s work, then rinsing and oiling them. “We’re an official seed saver for the Southern Seed Exchange.”
Veggie Club Turns 6!
Yep, Saturday was the beginning of our sixth year of offering a weekly CSA. Woo hoo! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, a term coined in the 1980s. CSA’s began as an alternative, locally-based way to feed ourselves—a model that brings farmers and consumers together as partners in supporting our individual health and the health of the earth.
Seedlings of our favorite varieties of cut flowers will be available for sale. Instructors: Elia Woods – co-founder and farm manager of CommonWealth Jody Lesch – volunteer, native plant enthusiast, and resident “Bug Lady.”
Instructors: Elia Woods – co-founder and farm manager of CommonWealth Urban Farms Jody Lesch – CommonWealth volunteer, native plant enthusiast and resident “Bug Lady.”
Meet our Apprentices: Blaze McKenzie
Musician Blaze McKenzie wasn’t exactly looking to learn about gardening when he returned to Oklahoma City last fall. But his girlfriend, Laal, was, and she encouraged them both to apply to be CommonWealth apprentices. They both were accepted. (More about Laal in a coming newsletter!)
The first day Blaze stepped into the Hoop House, he was quite anxious. “I don’t have a green thumb. Lia asked me to plant radishes and I had a hard time sleeping that night. I thought when I stepped in there everything was going to die. But the radishes grew!” Blaze has dabbled in gardening; too, his family did some slow composting when he was growing up. In 7th grade, he did an elaborate science fair project on earthworm castings for bean sprout growth.
But music is his passion and vocation; his degree is from the Berkley College of Music. His band, back in Brooklyn, NY, is called The Can’t Tells; soon, his solo singing album will be released. His skepticism about his ability to grow food has been transformed. “I’m learning and starting to apply what I am learning to our garden at home. Ultimately, I’d like to figure out how to grow as much food as possible in our back and front yards.” And, another surprise: not only can he grow radishes, he’s found through his apprenticeship at CommonWealth, the value of a community of people donating time working in a garden. “There’s something about the attitude here. If you see someone doing something, you jump in and help. There’s a spirit of generosity, kindness.” Glad you’re with us, Blaze!
Local Author’s first Novel: Seed
Oklahoma City Park Commissioner Christine Patton has published her first novel, Seed. It is set in the “Garden District” in Oklahoma City. Because Christine is a long-time friend and supporter of CommonWealth Urban Farms, we just had to ask if the fictional garden district was in any way related to CommonWealth. Yes, said Christine, on a visit to our community recently.
“CommonWealth was the inspiration. And then I created the Garden District to be what CommonWealth could be in another 10 years: with more greenhouses, everything proliferating, more community gardens and seed-saving.” Seed (subtitled Share. Steal. Survive) is set in our town during a catastrophe that causes the country’s bank closings for an extended period.
Following the 2008 financial crisis, Christine, who helped found Sustainable OKC, the Urban Ag Coalition and Transition OKC, had on her mind how a realistic catastrophe would play out in a more resilient community. In her Garden District, residents have a head-start with soil-building, seed-saving and a community spirit. “I wanted to make people aware of the fragility of the non-resilient systems we rely on,” she said. “You can’t plant a fruit tree and immediately get fruit. The seed bank in the Garden District is crucial. And they have already planted other kinds of seeds for growth. The hopefulness of the Garden District is that though they have disagreements, conflicts and different perspectives, they work together.”
A great read, Seed is available for Kindle here on Amazon; a paper version will be available in the next couple of months.