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The Seedling - May 2019- Vol 1, No 3

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
Last week I got to work in one of our gardens with a group of energetic volunteers from Keller Williams Realty in Tucson. They decided to devote their annual “Volunteer in the Community” day to helping Community Gardens. They’re not gardeners. The ones I spoke with had never planted anything, were not into Farmer’s Markets or local organic food. They were regular Tucson folks who worked in offices, sat at computers, and talked on the phone. But for a few hours last week, they were gardeners!!!

They dug out Bermuda grass, cut back and pulled out cheeseweed, cleared the fence line, cleared old plants out of plots, and piled up lots of removed plants for further removal later.

What I like most about working with them was that they didn’t know anything about what we did in the garden. Some asked questions about crops, plants, soil, etc. But most just worked, digging and hauling, etc.

Why did I think this was so great?? Because it’s what we need to make our gardens grow. We need to connect with non-gardeners, the teachers at the schools where we have gardens, the parishioners at the churches, the neighbors surrounding our empty plots. I think the Keller WIlliams folks got the message without any sort of hard sell. 

Now they want two plots near one of their offices so they can grow veggies, not just make it possible for others to grow. But they made it possible for 3 or 4 other gardeners to grow at the garden we worked at. The plots had been overgrown after the winter rains. Now they are lookin’ good and ready to plant. 

The volunteers showed real community spirit and really helped us...even though they were back at the computers the next day. They may not be gardeners, but they were great garden facilitators!! Thanks Keller WIlliams!

Bruce Plenk
What to Plant
Here's what we recommend planting this month
(S = sow seeds, T = transplant, ST = sow seeds & transplant):
  • Black-eyed Peas (S)

  • Chinese Pole Beans (S)

  • Cucumber (Armenian) (ST)

  • Cucumber (ST)

  • Eggplant (T)

  • Jerusalem Artichoke (T)

  • Melons (ST)

  • Okra (ST)

  • Peppers (ST)

  • Pumpkin (ST)

  • Spinach (NZ & Malabar) (ST)

  • Squash (Summer) (ST)

  • Squash (Winter) (ST)

  • Sweet Potato (T)

Quinoa Summer Salad Recipe
Recipe Courtesy of CGT Board Member, Chef Harry Crane
(6 Servings as a vegetarian main dish or 8 as a side dish)

  • 1 cup Quinoa, cooked according to package directions
  • 3 Green onions, sliced thin
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • ½ cup Radish, diced
  • 1 pint Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (or equal amount of any fresh tomato diced)
  • 1 cup Italian Parsley, rough chopped
  • ½ cup Mint, leaves rough chopped
  • 2 Tbl Lemon juice
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ cup Olive oil, fruity extra virgin
  • To taste Pepper, black ground
  1. Place cooked quinoa, while still warm, in a large mixing bowl. Add sliced green onion and press the onion into the quinoa with a spoon to release the flavor. Set aside to cool while preparing remaining ingredients.
  2. Dice cucumber and radish to approximately ½-inch dice. Slice cherry tomatoes in half (or dice other tomato).
  3. Chop parsley and mint.
  4. Place lemon juice in a small bowl. Add salt and mix to dissolve. Whisk in olive oil.
  5. Add cucumber, radish, tomatoes, parsley and mint to the quinoa. Stir to disperse ingredients. Drizzle the olive oil dressing over the quinoa and stir to evenly distribute. Add a few grinds of black pepper to taste and mix. Taste and adjust seasoning with a little salt, if necessary.
  6. Cover and chill. Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves if desired.
Quinoa is a complete protein so it is perfect as a vegetarian main dish. It is a great side dish with roasted or grilled meats (especially lamb) or poultry. It is excellent served as an accompaniment to grilled or poached salmon.
Photo Of The Month
Chinese Long Beans from Chef Harry Crane's garden plot. According to Harry "they grow easily, take almost no care and produce like crazy."
We want your photos for next month's email! Send them to us here
Treasurer's Corner
Last month the Treasurer’s Corner made the fact-of-the-matter case that the Community Gardens of Tucson (CGT) would be out of business without the substantial ongoing contribution of the volunteer (as in NOT compensated) garden site coordinators. These folks do work that MUST be done for CGT to operate and they do for the sake of CGT and its garden community and their own fulfillment.

CGT also benefits from the compensated work of contract employees (i.e.: hourly workers without benefits) Gardens Manager Jessica Paul and Assistant Garden Manager Mikayla Williams. The CGT Board voted unanimously at its meeting of 04/17/2019 to increase the hourly pay rate of Assistant Garden Manager Mikayla Williams from $13/hour to $15/hour. Also, the Board voted to extend the combined work hours of Mikayla and Garden Manager Jessica Paul – whose hourly compensation rate is $20/ hour – from a maximum of 80 hours per month to a maximum of 100 hours per month. The Board expects that this new hourly limit will likely only be pushed in the work-heavy months of end-March-mid-May and end-September- mid-November to accommodate the Spring and Fall planting seasons.

These increases in pay rate and the cap on hours of employment recognize the vital contributions that Jessica and Mikayla make to the good operations of the CGT. Jessica and Mikayla literally do the heavy lifting for CGT, loading and unloading composting and alfalfa bales and seeing to the shredding of organic garden waste for compost and maintaining water systems, ETC., ETC., ETC. They also provide educational services within and without the CGT community, service to individual garden sites and they create CGTs organizational records. CGT and its gardeners are receiving extreme good value from Jessica and Mikayala. They may or may not be literally irreplaceable. But I would not want to test the question.

Yet, these compensation increases in rate and hours represent a risk for the CGT Board. Please recall from past communication that CGT is an operation where the shoestring is not very thick! Budgeted outlays approved by the Board for the calendar year in January 2019 amount to $60,564.50. Budgeted revenues from plot fees are targeted at $46,040.80. Indeed, for 2019 rather than raise plot fees, the Board took the risk in January 2019 of a budgeted deficit of $3,397.85. The Board estimates that the increase in hours and pay rate for Jessica and Mikayla will add another $3,500, plus to that deficit.

Some of this deficit can be made up by adding gardeners to the Community Gardens of Tucson. Many of CGTs 21-sites do have available plots. Please make your contacts aware of this opportunity. Among the responsibilities of site coordinators and Jessica and Mikayla is to assure that new gardeners are integrated into their chosen site with the very best prospects for genuine long term success.

New gardeners notwithstanding, out-of-pocket fund-raising remains a priority for CGT. Filling the hole of the bottom-line year-end CGT deficit must come from tax deductible donations from the extended CGT community supplemented by the occasional (modest) grant. This fund raising challenge is one that Board accepts, relying on the good will and support of the CGT community to keep the organization solvent. Failure to cover these deficits from fund-raising would force CGT to rely on its reserves to do so which is very much NOT the preferred outcome and which CGT could not do forever.

CGT did very well – I say with gratitude, surprisingly well - from the Arizona Gives Day event of 04/02/2019, gathering almost $1,500 in gifts. There will be additional opportunities and outreach by CGT for one-time fund raising later in 2019 through the Giving Tuesday on 12/03//2019 and an appeal for year-end gifts.

But something more is still needed to maintain CGT and expand its services in support of the Tucson gardening community. Consider this: CGT has about 400 gardeners working something more than 300 plots at its 21 garden sites. Begin with the assurance that CGT is not asking for anyone to go beyond means to make a gift to CGT. BUT...

What if one-half or 200 of those 400 gardeners would add another $10 to the semi-annual plot fees. The result: $4,000/year systematically added to CGTs coffers. What if the other half of the remaining 200 CGT gardeners or 100 gardeners would add $5/month by systematic additions via bank draw or credit card charge (which CGT can show anyone how to do). Voila: $6,000 in added funds. In combination from these two revenue streams would more than cover the 2019 budget deficit. CGT would then be dealing from surplus and, means in hand, able to consider ways to expand its services to its gardening community whose advice the board would surely seek for the use of such funds.

More detail on techniques ways to work together to build CGT will be offered in this space in coming months. For now, leave the discussion with CGTs Mission Statement: To create and support accessible community gardens with Tucsonans of diverse experience levels, abilities and cultures in order to educate, foster wellness, and enhance the environment for people, plants, and pollinators. Thank you for your help in making it happen.

Jim Harkin
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.
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