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.”

—Christine Patton, Seed (See Below!)

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.


Our CSA, affectionately called the Veggie Club, is supported by loyal and enthusiastic members, staff and volunteers. Our thanks go out to each of you! Although we’re full for this year, we’ve finally made our way through a long waiting list, and are now taking names for the 2018 season. Click here to learn more.

Garden School

Flowers, Flowers Everywhere!
Saturday, April 8th
11 am to noon, $5 payable on-site
3310 N. Olie
Have you always dreamed of having bouquets from your garden all summer long? We can help you do that! Lia grows thousands of stems of cut flowers every year, and will share her list of favorite, easy-to-grow flowers for our climate. Learn about old friends such as zinnias, sunflowers, marigolds and snapdragons, plus lesser-known beauties like Asiatic lilies, lisianthus and ammi.


Lia will share tips for planning and preparing your garden bed, how to succession plant for flowers all season long, and the best annuals and perennials for beginners to grow. We’ll finish by planting a few seedlings together in CommonWealth’s cut flower garden. Jody will engage kids in planting flower seeds to take home and grow, and making bouquets from the garden.

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.”

Turn Your Front Yard into an Edible Oasis
Saturday, April 15th
11 am to noon, $5 payable on-site
3310 N. Olie
Join us for a hands-on workshop on transforming your front yard into an edible haven of vegetables, fruits and herbs. Front yards are often the sunniest spot for a garden, and they offer common ground for neighbors to meet and for community to blossom. (Photos show the “before and after” of a front yard transformed from grass to edible .)


Lia will walk participants through the steps of planning a front yard garden, including the particular challenges and rewards of gardening in the public sphere. The second half of the workshop will be hands-on, as we dig in and plant a portion of a new front yard garden. Jody will lead kids in gardening activities, including planting seeds to take home and grow.


Tomato seedlings and berry plants available for sale.

Instructors: Elia Woods – co-founder and farm manager of CommonWealth Urban Farms Jody Lesch – CommonWealth volunteer, native plant enthusiast and resident “Bug Lady.”

Click here for the full schedule of CommonWealth’s Garden School this year, or to sign up for a season membership.

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.