Lettuce Harvest at CommonWealth

“The principles of neighborhood and subsistence will be disparaged by the globalists as ‘protectionism’—and that is exactly what it is. It is a protectionism that is just and sound, because it protects local producers and is the best assurance of adequate supplies to local customers…The principle of neighborhood at home always implies the principle of charity abroad. And the principle of subsistence is in fact the best guarantee of giveable or marketable surpluses. This kind of protection is not ‘isolationism.'”

—Wendell Berry
The Great Pumpkin Smash!

Garden School

The Great Pumpkin Smash!

Saturday, Nov. 3
9 am to noon
1016 NW 32nd St.
Additional activities & door prizes starting at 11 am
Co-sponsored by Fertile Ground


What to do with all those pumpkins, once Halloween is over and the grins on those jack-o-lanterns start to droop? Bring them and the kids to CommonWealth, where we’ll make a big compost pile and everybody can toss and smash pumpkins to their hearts delight. Messy fun for the whole family! You can bring your leftover hay bales, too, and we’ll add them to the mix.

Starting at 11 am, we’ll also demonstrate what goes into a successful compost pile, and have some friendly, squirmy red wriggler worms for kids to touch and hold.

But wait, there’s more! All those fall leaves you’ve carefully bagged up? Don’t throw them into the trash! Learn about the many benefits of using them for compost, for mulch and as habitat for beneficial insects. We’ll show you how to look under magnification to glimpse the unseen world of tiny bugs and beetles that transform leaves into rich, fertile soil.

This family-friendly event is free for kids and adults! Bring your pumpkins to smash from 9:00 to 12:00 – programs and raffle will be from 11:00 to 12:00.

The Last Garden School for 2018:
Dried Flower Wreaths

Saturday, Nov. 17
11 am to noon
3310 N. Olie

Learn to create beautiful wreaths from dried flowers and greens. Edith has an uncommon talent for combining dried flowers and foliage with visually intricate and elegant results. Plus, they smell great! Using plants grown at CommonWealth, Edith will walk participants through the steps of making a wreath of their own to enjoy for months to come.
InstructorEdith Seimens  is a retired horticulturist who has turned her yard into a wonderland for butterflies, other pollinators, and the people who love them.

$10 per workshop, $15 per couple/pair; free to volunteers.
Additional $5 materials fee per person for this workshop.

What a lovely, down-home Day:
Pics of our 2018 Harvest Celebration!

Apprentice Spotlight: Rod Hartwig


NE OKC Farmers Market Festival of Greens

One thing led to another. Rod Hartwig grew up in Iowa where his father always grew a garden—a big garden. His mother canned the veggies and they kept root vegetables cool all winter in the basement.

20 years later, on leave from the Air Force, Rod visited his dad, who took him bird watching. He began to think about growing plants for birds and pollinators. Having developed a sensitivity to some foods, he also began to think about growing his own lettuce and spinach; foods he likes to eat.

Following Air Force assignments abroad and in the U.S., including a stint at Tinker Air Force Base (where he found the winters to be too cold,)
Rod retired but found himself back in Oklahoma City, where his girlfriend lived. He continued to do the calibrating work he’d done in the Air Force but with the advantage of the GI Bill, he eventually decided to go to school fulltime, to get a degree in horticulture at OSU-OKC.

His focus is sustainable crops. “At least, I want to be able to grow my own food,” he says. “At first I wasn’t very good at it. One day I went out and the spinach was all cut down. I decided I needed to learn how to grow my green thumb. (I now know that cut worms cut down the spinach.)”

He’s exploring many ways of growing food, including aquaponics and hydroponics. “You can do amazing things with a green house. I’m seeing more options.”

It was a couple of years ago that Rod was first introduced to CommonWealth Urban Farms, on the Oklahoma Garden TV Show. He was impressed about growing food in spaces that are not being used. When it came time to do an internship for his degree, he found the CommonWealth apprenticeship program.

“I think it’s important to grow our own food,” he says. “Food safety is an issue, with pesticide use and recalls due to harmful bacteria. I like to know what’s going into the soil.”

Nearing the end of his three-month apprenticeship, Rod says, “I’m learning about the process of managing a farm—what goes where and when,” he says. “I’m learning how it’s a team effort. I like that.”—Pat

Garden Spotlight: The Garter Snake

Sssssso, let’sssss talk about one of the most infamousssss characterssssss in the garden; the beloved sssssnake! The garter snake, to be exact.

This little fella, or lady, is usually so diminutive and miniature in size that it is enough to disarm and even charm the most staunch of herpetophobs (that means you are scared of snakes). They are a fan-favorite with kids and lovers of “cute little critters.”

These little guys aren’t just a nice pair of legs though;) they are actually considered beneficials in the garden. Someone should update the Sunday school lessons! They like to munch on a colorful diet of snails, slugs, worms, crickets, grasshoppers and even small mammals. In true Napoleon-complex fashion, they are known to dine on anything that they can overpower. No discrimination here.

In any case, these guys are quite docile and generally just want to be left alone. They rarely bite humans unless rudely antagonized, so you know, don’t do that. Also, they have long been considered to be a non-venomous species which has since been proven untrue. However, their venom, which acts as a neurotoxin for their prey, is harmless to humans.

Some fun facts!!! Garter snakes are the most common snake in North America, and they are highly adaptable to a wide range of habitats. They can even be found in Alaska. Snakes found in colder climates commonly hibernate in large groups of hundreds of snakes. They prefer to have a den and will often stay close to their den in case they need to hideout quickly. They are one of the few snakes that give birth to live young instead of laying eggs, and they can do so after storing the sperm in their bodies for years while waiting for ideal conditions to create offspring. How cool is that! Sounds like we got the short end of the evolutionary stick on that one.

Bottom line: Garter snakes are cool, they serve a purpose, and they are harmless. If you come across them in your yard or garden, rejoice and let them be, or if you are feeling especially grateful, sing their praises, they get a bad enough rap as it is. Cheers!—Christopher