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The Seedling - April 2019 - Vol 1, No 2

Welcome to The Seedling, the Community Gardens of Tucson's monthly email update for our growing community of gardeners. In this and future mailings, we will be keeping all of you updated on things that are going on with the organization. Thank you all for your support of Community Gardens of Tucson!
Board Chair's Corner
Gardens as classrooms (not just for kids!!)

Over my desk I have a quote from a friend: “The world is a classroom and school is never out!”
He’s right, of course, for promoting constant curiosity, but at CGT, it’s the garden that is the classroom and never on vacation. And not just for the kids at our school gardens
So, for example, I’m still trying to figure out why I have an artichoke plant the size of Godzilla (and still growing!!) pushing out my leeks, cabbages, and everything else! What is driving that beast plant?? World domination?  And why do garbanzos  come one bean to a pod rather than 6 or 8 like snowpeas?? Are they so special in the bean/pea world so they get their own pod? And what’s up with cabbage this year? We had 3 whose heads never got bigger than a fist.
Or why didn’t anyone tell me how good fresh fava beans are? I had to get them sautéed in olive oil with a little salt at a farmers’ market to find out! I don’t have a clue to any of these, but if you do, please let me know!
So in this springtime atmosphere, let your curiosity run wild, plant something strange, ponder the vagaries of your garden, watch the bees enjoy your arugula laziness, and, most of all, have fun in the garden!!! Isn’t that really the point? And it’s not just for kids….

Bruce Plenk
Upcoming Events
  • April 19th 4-7pm - IRC Festival @ Literacy Connects Garden (200 E Yavapai Rd, Tucson, AZ 85705)
Jessica's Corner
One of our missions at the Community Gardens of Tucson is education. With that in mind, I have been reaching out to the schools where we have gardens, and attending faculty meetings. My goal is to raise interest and excitement around bringing students into the garden and using it as a classroom. Almost every faculty meeting I have attended has yielded positive results.

Five months ago, Ventana Vista Garden had almost no involvement from teachers and students. Now, with a lot of help from Andrea, the site coordinator, there are many classes that visit the garden weekly, as well as a garden club. After meeting with the site coordinator and faculty at Mary Meredith garden a month ago, we just had our first garden day where 8 different classes came into the garden and participated in a clean up and spring garden prep. I am inspired by all the students, teachers, parents, and site coordinators who are working together to turn our gardens into environments for learning and growth!

Not all the schools have a budget for activities in the garden, and donations from our CGT community enable educational outreach to those students and teachers. If you are able to assist with this work please click through one of the donate buttons below where every donation of $5.00 or more is very much appreciated.

Photo of the Month
Snow capped Catalina mountains at Ventana Vista Garden in February. Photo submitted by Linda Goode
We want your photos! Send them to us here
Treasurer's Corner
Here is a hat tip from all the stakeholders of the Community Gardens of Tucson (CGT) to the band of 19 Volunteer Site Coordinators (SCs) who step up to the task(s) of maintaining good order at CGTs 20 garden sites. The SCs monitor water meters and the integrity of site’s irrigation system. This is a big deal as water usage consumes a bit less than 1/4 of CGTs nearly $63,000 2019 expense budget. SCs see to the good general appearance and maintenance of gardens and provide a welcoming presence that enhances the experience of the CGT community.

But ‘What If’ CGT had to pay for the services that are provided by the 19 Volunteer Site Coordinators at the 20 CGT sites? Let's base compensation at the current Arizona minimum wage of $11/hour. Estimating the engagement of the 19 CGT Site Coordinator at 6 hours/month, SCs provide CGT value equal to $1,254/month and $15,048/year. If we allow the SCs 4 hours/month, SCs contribute $836/month and $10,032/year to CGT.

So, it is fair to say that the Volunteer SCs contribute to CGT about as much as CGT spends for water. And CGT could do without Site Coordinators just about as easily as it could do without water. Absent Volunteer SCs, CGT is out of business. So, indeed, if you appreciate your gardening opportunity, a tip of the garden hat to your Site Coordinator is in order.

Note: this is semi-annual billing time for CGT. We know that there have been some issues of on-line access for payment of plot fees between end-March and early-April. We think that a fix is in place. The security of the site was not an issue. Please confirm that your payment is current. Advise your Site Coordinator of any issues or connect directly to CGT:  Please accept CGTs apologies for this inconvenience.

And BTW: please scroll down the page to the 'Donate' buttons. If the mood incites and the means allow, please consider putting a few dollars into CGTs hat. The money will be put to good use for your CGT about which more will be said in coming months.

Jim Harkin
Planting Guide
Here's what we recommend planting this month (S = sow seeds, T = transplants, ST = sow seeds & transplant):
  • Bush beans (S)
  • Black-eyed peas (S)
  • Carrots (S)
  • Chinese pole beans (S)
  • Cucumber (Armenian) (T)
  • Cucumber (ST)
  • Eggplant (T)
  • Jerusalem artichoke (T)
  • Melons (T)
  • Peppers (T)
  • Pumpkins (ST)
  • Radish (S)
  • Spinach (NZ & Malabar) (ST)
  • Squash (Summer) (ST)
  • Squash (Winter) (ST)
  • Tomato (T)
Want a Successful School Gardening Program:
Think Organization and Dedication
At Sunrise Garden there is a very special relationship between the school and the CGT. There are fourteen (14) CGT gardener’s plots and sixteen (16) plots used by classes at the school. Each class has a plot where the kids chose what to plant, tend their garden and harvest their crops. Part of the school curriculum includes gardening – it isn’t an extra-curricular activity but an integral part of the school program. It all works because the Sunrise Drive School community fully supports the program and has developed a support structure of students, teachers, teacher garden liaison, parents, a Family Faculty Organization (FFO) and a teacher FFO Chairperson.

Support comes from the administration. Next is the important role of liaison performed by Debra Berk. Deb is the link between the CGT, FFO and the teachers. Deb communicates to the teachers about work in the garden. The school principal, Andrea Davidson, says, “Deb makes gardening doable for the teachers in their busy schedules.” She communicates information to teachers from the CGT and coordinates plots and planting with the FFO Chairperson. She also attends local gardening classes and brings back information to share. For example, she developed the Sunrise worm program after attending an event at the UA Demonstration Garden.

Emily Franklin is the FFO Garden Chairperson. She finds volunteers and facilitates school wide events such as the fall garden clean up, securing materials and supplies and spring planting for the Fine Arts Festival. She manages the budget allocated by the FFO and writes grants when more funds are needed. And she facilitates Garden Club on Wednesdays for students who want to spend more time in the garden.

In addition to these active teachers, Andrea feels that the parent volunteer group is very important in supporting the success of the garden on a daily basis. For example, on one afternoon Andrea said that, “She saw three grade levels working with parent volunteers.” Parent volunteers lead the Garden Club at lunch and recess. The parent organization (FFO) funds the garden so that teachers do not need to finance seeds, tools, hoses, etc. And Andrea commented that,” We appreciate the partnership with CGT which supports irrigation and productive relationships with the community gardeners.”

The bottom line to having a successful school gardening program is organization and dedication. CGT feels lucky to have this successful partnership. Emily Franklin sums up the Sunrise Garden philosophy very well. She said, “The kids love coming to the garden. It offers a safe, peaceful place for the kids to interact with their natural world … dig for worms, grow their own food, socialize with new friends and parents, and cooperate with their peers working towards a common good. The garden has so much to offer.”

Harry Crane
Sunrise Garden Site Coordinator and CGT Board Member
Consider making a donation to Community Gardens of Tucson
Community Gardens of Tucson has a proud 35-year history of voluntarism and self-effort that has introduced thousands of Tucsonans to ‘The Joys of Gardening.’ With more means CGT can broaden and deepen its reach. Please consider helping. If you are a gardener please consider clicking agreement to cover the costs of processing your plot fee payment. And could you perhaps add $5 or $10 or more to your payment? Donations are gratefully appreciated from non-active gardeners of whom many have generously contributed to CGTs work over the years. Contributions above plot fees may be tax deductible. Please consult your tax advisor for details.
Donate Now
CGT Website
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Copyright © 2019 Community Gardens of Tucson, All rights reserved.

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