20 June 2010

Our Community Garden

Many months ago I mentioned to some of our retired neighbors that they should take advantage of an empty space in the park at the end of our street to start a community garden. They finally hooked a hose up to the faucet there and started planting decorative and fruit-bearing trees pretty randomly around the garden space. When they mentioned that they would soon need planting soil if they wanted to grow vegetables, we devised a composting scheme.

So, we set up a compost area and then put these two bins near it. Kitchen waste gets dumped in the blue bin and then covered by some scoops of dried leaves from the red bin. Once a day I empty the blue bin into the compost area shown below. This photo represents approximately 5 weeks worth of composting.

The sticks you see on top of the compost are dead vines from my maracuya (passion fruit) plant that I put as a first layer to aerate the mix. On top goes the kitchen waste which is then covered with a layer of dry leaves.

The neighbors have done a nice job recruiting other neighbors to recycle their kitchen waste so now there are 7 families participating. Our goal is for ten families to participate so that we can learn how much waste a typical family collects per day, how often they dump their waste and how much that adds up to in all (measured in bins per day). We also have to learn how many dried leaves we can get the housing development gardeners (they prune people’s yards and trees and collect fallen leaves) to take to our garden as they can’t imagine why we would want such "garbage" and so they don’t collaborate very easily. After a few months we hope to have a better idea how it will work so we can get more families involved.

The garden looks like this right now, which is a huge improvement over the gravel-covered barren land that characterizes the rest of the park as you can see in the foreground.