Last Friday morning, I visited Astoria Park. Guided by the leadership of Merlin John Baptiste, new director of Astoria's afterschool program, they're organizing a school garden. My role was to present-- along with Ms Miaisha Mitchell, who's done extensive childhood obesity and diabetes work-- on the values (health, academic, behaviorial, etc) of gardens. By the end of the presentation two more teachers had volunteered to help make it happen.
Saturday, I took a trip to the UF Ag Extention in Quincy for an "Edible Landscape" workshop hosted by The Gardening Friends of the Big Bend, Inc.
Later that afternoon, I visited the FAMU Grape Harvest Festival with two students involved with Tallahassee Sustainability Group, an official Florida State student group. While walking the vineyards, we discussed how to find FAMU students talking/working on urban agriculture and community gardens in order that students from both FSU and FAMU might coordinate or eventually partner on common endeavors. How to network with FAM folks? But duh! We were walking on FAMU property.
Inside the research building we met Ms Harriet Paul, Dean of International Ag who has been involved with urban gardening for decades. (Next year her department will be starting an urban gardening program at four area high schools in four different counties. The students involved with the best garden will qualify to apply for a trip to visit South Africa's urban gardens.) Ms Paul also referred us to Dr Ray Mobley, FAMU Extension Agent responsible for community gardening and to Mr Damon Miller, who oversees the Orange Ave (FAMU) Community Garden.
Sunday, my friends, I took a day off.
Standing beside the road is just too much fun. From the rolled eyes, to the honks, to the questions ("What are you growing this fall?"), to the double-takes, to the lady saying, "I wish I could vote for you," to waves, congratulations, head nods, and looks of utter confusion; I love it all. Even the sweat at 12-noon in the middle of Apalachee Parkway. Every day since Monday, I've been out on the roadside at rush times and will be through Thursday afternoon. In between roadsiding...
Monday mid morning, I met with Marc Dick with TCC's Workforce Development. He offered me the opportunity to teach food gardening classes within the Workforce Development "Green Academy." I'm excited to see how this might develop.
Later Monday morning, I swung by to meet briefly with folks in the City of Tallahassee's Environmental Policy and Energy Resources Office to discuss the possibility of creating a sanctioned process for the establishment of community gardens on public land (e.g., vacant lots, city parks).
At noon on Monday, I joined the rest of the Tallahassee Food Policy Council (FPC) at Second Harvest Food Bank's new facility on Four Points Way to update one another on conferences (Small Farms conference in S. Florida, the American Community Gardening Association annual conference, and others), to talk about a "Local Food Guide" in development by members of the FPC, and to discuss how to link interested parties with already existing community garden and small farm space.
Tuesday, I joined up with students leaders in the Tallahassee Sustainability Group again-- this time at Ghazvini Learning Center's school garden and green house. Our task was to pull weeds and summer crops to prep the garden for fall planting. The Ghazvini teachers Gale Albritton and Shannon Gooden and the FSU students should get an award for their good work. In addition to overseeing the planting eight or ten raised beds by students, they also coordinate seedling and propagation activities in their green house-- plus have a demonstration hydroponic system they're looking to turn into an Aquaponic system complete with Tilapia.
For lunch on Tuesday, I met up with Mike Herrin, Goodwood Museum's Director of Horticulture. There's talk of hosting a Leon County horticultural afterschool program at Goodwood if a grant comes through. So we dreamed about possibilities.
Wednesday morning, I met with Tracy Haley, science teacher at Cobb Middle School. She dreams of having a school garden wherein every four kids could have their own 4x4 raised beds to maintain in order to observe, compare, experiment, etc.
And today, lunch, I met with Edward Accoff, representative to CONA, Council of Neighborhood Associations to plan for an upcoming presentation on Sept 13th regarding the Tallahassee Delegation's attendance to the American Community Gardening Association in early August.
Thing are moving forward y'all. It's hot. I'm sweating doing what I love. Garden Consultations Thursday Friday. Next week I'll be putting in my first fall garden. Get ready for fall.