Posts filed under ‘children’s gardens’
Tonight catch a screening of “Taking Root, the Vision of Wangari Maathai.” It’s the kick-off for a new community garden at the Davey Lopes Rec. Center in Providence.
The invitation says: “This powerful documentary film tells the inspiring story of Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner who is internationally recognized for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace. Wangari founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya Africa with women whose simple act of planting trees and food gardens grew into a nationwide movement to protect human rights and defend democracy.”
The event is free, and there will be refreshments (home-made ginger beer, lemonade, farm-fresh salad, and apples).
Where: Davey Lopes Recreation Center, 227 Dudley St, Providence
Apologies to KISS…
Yesterday, I went to a meeting for Providence’s Urban Agriculture Task Force. Launched 4-5 years ago, it’s a confederation of state, local, non-profit, and individual representatives. Some of the projects initiated and/or completed by members include:
- installing new community gardens around the city, including sites at Sessions St. Park, Early St, Davis Park, Pearl St., Riverside Park, and more
- introducing urban agriculture in community planning meetings, the Mayor’s Green plan, and the Providence Comprehensive Plan
- launching a citywide Community Gardens Network
- developing strategies to integrate food gardens with affordable housing
- holding 50-mile meals at Mount Hope Farm, Local 121, and Providence College
- creating the RI Farm To School Project to connect local farms with school lunch programs
- planning an edible landscape (an orchard!) in Locust Grove Cemetery
- working with the RI Dept of Health and Statewide Planning to ensure that urban agriculture is in local comprehensive plans
- preparing a series of reports on Providence Urban Agriculture
Amazing projects in Providence and beyond. And more to come. If you want to get involved, contact the UATF via Southside Community Land Trust.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by Firehouse 13 last night for Green Zones: From the War Garden to Your Garden and the first-ever Urban Ag Spring Start Party.
The talks and discussion went over really well, and the seed-swapping table was hopping. I got a chance to connect with gardeners, historians, and gardening historians from all over.
A spring party was a great outlet for gardeners with seeds, plants, and stories to share. As RI’s food gardening network continues to grow, imagine another garden event this fall?!?!?!?!
Hats off to Providence Journal Business editor John Kostrzewa for today’s column on “A seed of hope and easy to plant.” Kostrzewa suggests that in this time of economic crisis, hope is in short supply. While we work on the big-picture, long-term, structural fixes, why not engage in a more immediate way to improve Rhode Island: “Dedicate plots of land throughout the state for community gardens.”
His column puts forward a number of initiatives that may seem groundbreaking, but they all have precedents in Rhode Island’s recent history. For instance:
“How about using some of the highly visible sloping land that runs away from the State House. Or what about the 4.5 acres across the street from the Amtrak station.”
Done: Around 1920-21, the Rhode Island Normal School had a demonstration school garden on its grounds southwest of the State House–where Providence Place Mall stands today (see photo above).
“Make community gardens a statewide project. Make it a competition among each of the cities and towns to design and plant their own plots.”
Done: In 1916, Governor R. Livingston Beeckman initiated an annual garden contest among mill towns. Prizes were awarded for best vegetable garden, garden, and village appearance.
“Pick the sites from available public land.”
Done. In 1908, the city installed school gardens at Roger Williams Park. In 1943, the RI Senate passed a resolution “to formulate and promulgate a plan and program of procedure for the state of Rhode Island victory gardens upon state-owned land.”
“The seeds and plants can be donated.”
Done: In 1908, Congressman Daniel Granger secured donations of seeds for the Roger Williams Park school gardens. In 1932, RI Congressmen arranged for the US Dept. of Agriculture to distribute seeds to RI gardeners.
“Once the gardens have been planted, turn over the maintenance to service organizations, such as the scouts or fraternal groups.”
Done: During World War I, local organizations that participated in the War Garden movement included: RI Horticultural Society, Providence Housewives League, RI Boy Scouts (who guarded the gardens), and the League of Improvement Societies–not to mention dozens of factories and schools.
“And with so many unemployed people, let them work in a garden until they find a job.”
Done: During the Great Depression, state and local governments organized a statewide subsistence garden program of “private backyard gardens, vacant lot gardens, community plots divided into individual gardens, industrial gardens, industrial gardens for part-time workers, and community gardens not divided into individual plots but worked by unemployed men in return for food orders.”
As Kostrzewa notes, we’re on our way, thanks to the work of groups like Southside Community Land Trust and the Children’s Garden Network. I’ll add my two cents: just look to the past to learn how green Rhode Island can be.
Bibliographic note: The photograph of the demonstration garden at the RI Normal School comes from the League of Improvement Societies in RI Year Book for 1920-21. All other historical information derived from articles in the Providence Journal, 1906-1943.
You heard it here second (maybe first?), the Obamas will plant a vegetable garden on the White House grounds. Maybe that’s why the fountain perhaps predicted this new development by spouting green water earlier this week.
You can read all about it in the upcoming O, The Oprah Magazine:
Michelle Obama: We’re also working on a wonderful new garden project.
Oprah: Will kids get to visit the garden?
Michelle Obama: We want to use it as a point of education, to talk about health and how delicious it is to eat fresh food, and how you can take that food and make it part of a healthy diet. You know, the tomato that’s from your garden tastes very different from one that isn’t. And peas – what is it like to eat peas in season? So we want the White House to be a place of education and awareness. And hopefully kids will be interested because there are kids living here.
Just keep repeating, O, The Oprah Magazine. O, The Oprah Magazine. O, The O…
Got a little distracted. Congratulations to the “Eat the View” campaign. And best wishes to the Obamas, our First Gardeners.
Popeye is one of my cartoon heroes. For starters, we both love our spinach, and we’re fond of Olive Oyl. Though this Popeye short–”RATION fer the DURATION” (1943)–is kinda fuzzy and kinda long, it’s a hoot. From the opening pan over the “Spinach Victory Garden” to the crops of POTatoes, CANtaloupes, and the rest, you will enjoy. Go ahead and watch!
For the past few months I have been spending some quality time at the microfilm readers at the central (don’t make me call it Empire) Providence Public Library. The Rhode Island Collection includes a subject index to the Providence Journal. I am grateful to those generations of librarians who typed out article titles and dates and page numbers on catalog cards.
I have found hundreds of articles about WWI-era war gardens, WWII-era victory gardens, school gardens, community gardens, mill village gardens, and the like. And as I spin the microfilm reels to the next relevant page, it’s hard not to get distracted by all the other news and advertisements of the day.
This ad, run in the classified section on 15 May 1917, was a happy find. In 1917, Rhode Island had a case of gardenmania. In addition to all the organized garden programs–school gardens, Governor’s mill village garden contest, factory gardens, demonstration gardens, community gardens, and vacant lot gardens–individual citizens were planting “pocket-edition” gardens in their own backyards. Vegetable gardening was a statewide movement, or as the ad would have it, “a universal planting crusade.” The more I read about the Progressives’ impact on the urban environment in the 1900s and 1910s, the more I think about how it’s time to renew their goals for healthier cities and citizens today.
One hundred years ago…May 15, 1908, to be exact…the Providence Journal ran an illustrated article titled “Gardening a New Public School Study.” It noted that one of Providence’s first primary school gardens was established around 1900 by Principal Ella L. Sweeney at the Benefit Street School.
As the city’s Assistant Superintendent of primary grades in 1908, Miss Sweeney aimed to have a garden in every school so that every student could study and care for at least one plant. Ideally, each student would have his or her own garden. The initiative marked a shift in the popular “nature study” movement, which introduced the natural world inside the classroom. Miss Sweeney wanted students to take it outside.
She worked with others to secure a 1/2-acre plot at Roger Williams Park, soil from the RI College of Agriculture (now URI), and an instructor from the State Board of Agricluture. Students from Manton Avenue, Broad Street, Peace Street, Lexington Avenue, Vineyard Street, and Oxford Street schools were offered plots at the park and on vacant lots near their school to farm. According to the Journal, “The little gardens allotted to the children at the park are as much their own property as they would be were they started in their own back yards.”
Other school gardens noted in 1908 included the Open Air School on Meeting Street, Aldrich Street School for bad boys [heir words, not mine], vacant lots near Manton Avenue School, and a school in Pawtuxet Village.
One hundred years later, the Children’s Garden Network is aiming for a garden at every school and youth organization in Rhode Island by 2010. There are 40+ sites and counting. Furthermore, environmental advocates, education leaders, and government officials like Rhode Island’s Senator Jack Reed are supporting the “No Child Left Inside” initiative. Miss Sweeney had the right idea.
Green Zone has been slacking transitioning. As September winds down, I’ve slowed down on tending the garden and blog. I cooked up Green Zone’s kale and beet greens with a whole lot of garlic and oil for the Firehouse 13 potluck. How’s that for closure?
I still have some seed gathering to do: morning glories, bachelor’s button, dill, and black-and-pink scarlet runner bean beans. If you can get to Providence for a pickup, I’d be glad to set aside some Green Zone seeds for you!
Now, I’ve got to hit the books, looking for information on Rhode Island’s history of war gardens, liberty gardens, victory gardens, community gardens, school gardens, allotment gardens. If you’re familiar with an example in RI, please let me know. Is it true that there’s a guy who still tends his WWII-era Victory Garden in Bristol? Did your parents garden at school, or did your grandmother volunteer on a farm during during the war? Did you tune out during the Vietnam War and go back to the land?
I’ll share bits and pieces from my research as it progresses, and I’ll continue to blog sporadically about gardens I encounter. Doesn’t this look like an installation artist’s work on Parcel 12 (“triangle parcel” at Exchange St.)? A cluster of mossy bumps amidst the seven grassy hills (or was it six)? Actually it’s a bunch of those gorgeous Downtown flower and vine baskets dumped on the ground.
At the Bridgham-Westminster community garden potluck, I learned about the Niagara Street Garden from two of its gurus (and WBNA gardeners), Rachel and Greg. Rachel works for CommunityWorks Rhode Island, an Elmwood nonprofit that established the garden in 2003, and Greg is a teacher who spends his summers there working with kids. Located at the corner of Niagara and Laura streets in Providence’s Elmwood neighborhood, it’s an edible garden with raised beds and trellises growing delicious cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, herbs, strawberries, chard, and more.
Kids rule at Niagara Street Garden. For the first four years, kids planted, tended, picked, ate, and donated the produce. And they painted in gorgeous colors the raised beds, gate and fences, even the compost bin. A purple and yellow compost bin? You betcha.
In 2008, the kids showed up at two Providence restaurants and appealed to the owners and chefs. Since then, Local 121 and the Liberty Elm have purchased fresh and extremely local produce from these young gardeners and served it up. Last week, Local 121 hosted a dinner in honor of the gardeners and their families to showcase their delicious veg, herbs, and fruit. Course after course came out of the kitchen: pesto potatoes, green salad, tomato salad, zucchini fries, baba ganoush, and watermelon—all Niagara produce. And this was a meal for 60-70 people! Talk about biointensive (and yummy).