Earth Day 2017: EG Soil Event

Update 4/22:  This event has been postponed to Sunday, April 23rd at 3-5 PM due to the weather.  All other details of the event remain the same.

There aren’t many better ways to spend Earth Day than getting your hands in the soil and learning about gardening at a community farming project. Join Everybody Grows and DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services on Saturday April 22nd from 3:00-5:00 PM for an open volunteer session at the fire station farm at Engine 26 at 1340 Rhode Island Avenue Northeast DC (don’t forget the northeast part!).   This is an all ages event and everybody is welcome!

The main tasks of the day will all be soil related.  We will be adding garden soil to our new raised beds we constructed with Sidwell Friends Middle School students.  We will also be amending the older beds with compost and worm castings.  All soil is locally sourced from Veteran Compost.

While we will be providing a limited number of tools, we encourage you to bring your favorite bucket and shovel, especially if you are bringing young children.   Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty!  For any questions email jake@everybodygrows.org and jonny@everybodygrows.org

See you in the garden!

 

 

Fire Station First Aid Garden Workshop

Using Herbs for First Aid
Cuts? Scrapes? Colds? Fevers? Upset stomach? Discover the ways that medicinal herbs can be your garden first-aid kit. What better place to learn these skills than at the Everybody Grows fire station farm surrounded by EMTs and firefighters? Participants will become familiar with several easy-to-grow herbs and how to use them as teas, compresses, poultices, and salves. You’ll bring home recipes for medicine-making, and a healing salve.
What to bring?
– a notebook and pen or pencil if you’d like to take notes
– a sturdy cup or mug for sipping herbal tea
– comfortable shoes, and clothes that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty or oily
– bug spray, sunscreen, and water

Cost for the workshop is 30 dollars, and includes a jar of a healing salve that we will prepare together. No one will be turned away based on a lack of funds, but space is limited, so reserve a spot by donating at  http://everybodygrows.org/donate-today/.

Email Jake@everybodygrows.org with any questions about the workshop.


1:30 “pre-game” – outside in the garden
Come early to join Everybody Grows and Leafyhead staff as we plant the Firehouse medicinal herb garden.

2:00-3:10 – outside in the garden; shade structure provided
Meet the medicinal herbs, discover how and why herbs work to support the body, and learn techniques to harvest and dry your herbs for future use.

3:30-5:00 – come inside the Firehouse kitchen for hands-on demos of herbal infusions, compresses, poultices, infused oils, and salves.

BIO:

Tricia McCauley is an herbalist, nutritionist, and yoga teacher. She holds a master’s degree in herbal medicine from the Tai Sophia Institute (now the Maryland University of Integrative Health), where she taught herbal preparations for two years and is currently a supervisor in the integrative nutrition masters’ program student clinic. She also attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and is a certified health coach, Certified Nutrition Specialist, a Licensed Nutritionist, and a yoga teacher at the E-RYT-200 level. Based in Washington, DC, she’s been the resident herbalist at Common Good City Farm for 7 seasons, and is the owner of two herbal product lines: Leafyhead Lotions & Potions and District Devil.

She specializes in food sensitivities, stress management, to connecting people to the cycles of the earth and the cycles of their bodies, and to empowering her students to find creative solutions to improving health and happiness. Tricia is also passionate about growing things, making things, dancing, biking around the city, being near water, curry, sunshine, bare feet, red wine, laughing too loudly, and smiling at strangers.

Everybody Grows May 2016 Planting Days

Come out and get your hands dirty at four Everybody Grows planting events in May!  Our fire station planting events will both begin at Engine 26 at 1340 Rhode Island Avenue Northeast DC.  Stoddard Baptist Nursing Home is located at 1818 Newton Street Northwest DC.

Volunteers will be helping with the hands-on work of planting a garden.  We will share information about soil health, companion planting and rotational strategies as we work.

Please email Jake@everybodygrows.org and Jonny@everybodygrows.org to let us know if you will make it  or if you have any questions.  See you in the garden!

Schedule:

All events start at 2 PM.

Tuesday May 10th: Stoddard Nursing Home First Planting Day

Saturday  May 14th: Planting day at Engine 26 and one other station

Sunday May 22nd: Planting day at Engine 26 and two other stations

 Monday May 23rd: Stoddard Nursing Home Second Planting Day

Sheet Mulching at Engine 26

A common question that arises in raised bed gardening is what to do when you have a bed completely overgrown with weeds and grasses.  Josh Singer, the urban garden specialist with DC Parks and Recreation, recommends sheet mulching the bed.   Sheet mulching is great because it kills the weeds and grasses and improves the soil, while using just recycled and natural materials.   We put this permaculture technique into practice on Saturday at Engine 26.  I was aided by a new firefighter at the station named Henry, and Everybody Grows volunteers Joel and Liat.

Henry and I started by cutting down the tops weeds and grasses.20150829_120510

We cut back most of the weeds, particularly where they had gone to seed.  Next we added layers of cardboard.  Most shipping cardboard biodegrades safely.  It also forms a sturdy weed block.20150829_121409
We stacked the multiple layers cardboard so the overlapped to cover gaps, and we cut back the weeds that protruded from the sides.  After the cardboard, it was time for a layer of compost.  We used Leafgro compost.  Joel and Henry poured the compost directly on top of the cardboard.20150829_123106


The last layer we applied was mulch.  I got a good deal on some Earthgro Red Mulch, which is what we used here.  Even though it has coloring to make it red, it is a wood mulch and safe to use in a vegetable garden.  I expect it to work well. 20150829_133522 

By getting an early start on this process for next year, I am intentionally leaving plenty of time to adjust it or supplement it.  I will report back on our sheet mulching experiment in future blogs, so stay tuned!

 

Coming Together in the Gardens Week of 8-7-2015

Volunteering is an opportunity to learn new skills and to interact with people and communities that otherwise you may never encounter.  At Everybody Grows, we regularly work at our nursing home and fire station inspiration gardens with groups of volunteers.  For some of our volunteers, working in our gardens is their first experience growing food.  Other volunteers bring many gardening ideas and experiences to share, and we love to get their input and feedback.

At Stoddard Baptist Nursing Home this past week, we harvested from the garden and served a tasting session to the residents so everyone there could enjoy the food they planted and helped to grow.IMG_0597

At the fire stations, firefighters joined us to plant spinach, lettuce, beets, and other cold-resistant crops for the fall.

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Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers that have come out to support our inspiration gardens across the city. We truly enjoy growing food and sharing our work with each of you. If you are interested in volunteering, go to everybodygrows.org/volunteer. We always welcome any new volunteers.IMG_0667IMG_0528IMG_0331IMG_0337

Volunteer Training Event

All gardens benefit from watchful, caring gardeners.  Our inspiration gardens are no exception.  When I visited all of them recently, I was reminded that the more caretakers each of our gardens has, the more it will flourish and provide a great experience for everyone.   It is in this spirit that we have created a program to help volunteers grow their urban agriculture skills in order to support our gardens and the people that live with them everyday.

Everybody Grows  is happy to announce we will be holding a volunteer training event to brief both experienced and new volunteers on the skills and routines we use to maintain our inspiration gardens.  We will go over harvesting, transplanting, and pruning techniques in order to prepare volunteers to work in our gardens.   The event will be Sunday July 12th at 2 PM at Engine 26, 1340 Rhode Island Ave, NE.

Please email jake@everybodygrows.org to RSVP if you will be attending.  We will keep you updated on future volunteer training events through our website and social media.

Fire Station Planting Events Spring 2015

It was our great pleasure to once again organize and participate in the planting of five inspiration gardens at fire stations across Washington DC.   Before I go into the details of this year’s planting events, I want to first describe the value and purpose of these inspiration gardens.   Everybody Grows has partnered with DC Fire and EMS for the past two years to create inspiration gardens that serve important and connected goals. The fire station gardens are an opportunity for the firefighters and surrounding communities to come together and share the joy of growing their own food.  The healthy food the gardens produce benefit the health of firefighters and their neighbors.  Gardening can also have a therapeutic effect for firefighters who perform a demanding and essential job.  For Everybody Grows, inspiration gardens are an important way to connect with new gardeners, and the fire station gardens are a highly visible and inviting examples of this part of our work.Engine-30-1

This spring, the fire station planting events were spread out over two Saturdays.  The first three events occurred on April 25, and the last two were on May 2nd.  The gardeners that helped us at each site included firefighters, community members, and volunteers from our networks.   Each of these groups enjoyed meeting one another and talking about gardening.  We planted a range of seedlings and seeds in response to requests from neighbors and firefighter.  We also take into account what we know works well in our climate and in raised bed gardens.Engine-6-2 At Engine 6, I had an interesting conversation with a firefighter from the station named Sgt. Robs, who is already a gardener and is growing a large garden at his home.  He shared positive feedback on our inspiration gardens, saying “I think that this is a great idea. I think a lot people were inspired this year to garden.  It is a lot easier than it sounds, but it can be intimidating.”  This is a message that we hope all our work is sending, which is that gardening is easy and accessible.

Ms. Brenda, a friend of Everybody Grows and neighbor to the garden, organized an especially strong turnout from the neighborhood at Engine 32.   An experienced gardener, she also helped us direct the volunteers and plan the layout of garden.  It is always very helpful for us to have such an enthusiastic and supportive person help us with one of our gardens.  She not only helps ensure this garden’s success, but she also helps with our outreach efforts by connecting us to interested community members.Engine-6-4

While we were in the middle of planting at Engine 15, two children from the neighborhood stopped by and helped us plant one of the beds.  They knew what they were doing, and said they had “planted at school.”  The green movement in DC has a strong presence in schools and education, and it is great to connect this fantastic learning and work to our inspiration gardens.Engine-15-2We are looking forward to returning to the fire stations to share harvest and cooking techniques.  Keep an eye on our website, Facebook, and Twitter for information about these events and for updates on the progress of these gardens.

 

Garden Therapy

During our recent planting day at Stoddard Nursing Home, I had a moving conversation with a resident who told me how she had recently undergone surgery, and how the garden gave her an extra reason to recover the ability to walk.  She wanted to be able to help out as much as possible.  She also told me how great the sun felt, and how she was so happy to be outside in the garden.  Her words reminded me of the optimism that gardening can instill.Gardens-Everybody-Grows-Stoddard-Baptist-Home-02

 

Gardening certainly has therapeutic power.  The physical therapist at Stoddard, Michael Kramer, was highly supportive and interested in the garden.  On our planting day, he was the first staff member to plant in the garden, along with his patient Ms. Farley, who was the first resident to work with us in the garden.  I had an interesting conversation with Michael about the ways gardening can help in rehabilitation.  Gardening involves a variety of physical activities, ranging from the fine motor skills used to harvest herbs, to the gross motor skills of digging and watering.  I look forward to continuing a dialogue with Michael about how the garden, and by extension Everybody Grows, can be of assistance in his work with his patients.IMG_0090

 

I had another interesting conversation about the therapeutic power of gardening with deputy fire chief David Foust.  We talked about how firefighters work long shifts, and how their vital work can often be stressful and intense.  We discussed the potential of the garden to help enhance mindfulness and offer a temporary relief.  I know that in my work as a teacher the garden serves this role.  Leaving the classroom behind and leading a small group to work in the garden can be be a welcome change for me and for my students.  When we return to the classroom, we are refreshed and ready to learn and play.

 

I also want to share a recommendation for a book, called Accessible Gardening: Tips and Techniques for Seniors and the Disabled by Joann Woy that a staff member at Stoddard, Linda Ripley, shared with us.  Thanks to all of our gardening partners for generously teaching us about their fields!