It has been quite the year here at CFI and our Community Gardens. We all learned and accomplished a lot, and our gardens are looking better than ever before! Here’s a rundown of all the things that we’ve accomplished since March:

Stuff we did:

• Transplanted several hundred everbearing raspberry bushes into several of our community gardens, as well as several school gardens in the area. It was a pretty harsh year on them, but we’re expecting some tasty berries next summer from the ones that made it this far
• At our annual seed potato giveaway, we gave 30,250 pounds of seed potatoes (to plant in gardens) to 140 people, reaching over 635 families in Athens, Fairfield, Gallia, Hocking, Meigs, Morgan, Perry, Ross, Vinton and Washington Counties
• Gave away over 3000 vegetable plant starts for local community members to plant in their home gardens
• Planted new fruit trees at the Westside Community Gardens
• Installed a big, fancy, new water storage tank for the Southside Community Gardens
• Expanded the size of the Chauncey Community Gardens from 5 raised beds to 11 raised beds, more than doubling the available gardening space!
• Rebuilt all the dilapidated raised beds at the Glouster Community Gardens with nice new white oak boards
• Community gardeners harvested several thousand pounds of fresh local produce from their plots this year. Nine of our gardeners actually kept track of their harvests throughout the year, totaling over 3000 lbs of produce from their gardens.
o Through their use of small-scale season extension technologies and training, several of these nine gardeners STILL AREN’T DONE HARVESTING for the year! Impressive!
• Planted cover crop mixtures in large areas of three different community gardens to improve the soil conditions and reduce weed pressure.
o These spaces will be used to grow fresh produce that will go directly to CFI’s Donation Station and be distributed to hungry families in our area through local food pantries.

Stuff we learned:

• How to make some of the most common weeds in our gardens into delicious and nutritious meals!
• How to preserve our bountiful garden harvests through freezing, dehydration, fermentation, water bath canning, and pressure canning
• Effective methods for utilizing small garden spaces to efficiently maximize vegetable production
• Useful planning techniques and tools to properly time and pace the planting and harvesting of garden crops
• The basics of soil characteristics/nutrition and how to effectively manage the health of organic garden soils
• Integrated organic methods for controlling weeds and pest insects in the garden
• The construction and proper usage of small-scale season extension technology to prolong the growing season in garden spaces
• Tips for how to best put your garden to rest before the winter and prepare for starting again in the spring

We’re looking forward to another great and successful year starting early next spring. Enjoy the winter everyone!