Archive for 2010

This Saturday, Nov. 20, is our final garden clean-up for the year. We will be picking up and disposing of materials left in the garden, broadcasting winter wheat for a cover crop, and top dressing with worm castings.

We had fun in the chilly rain last Saturday. Thanks to all the hardy gardeners who showed up to pull out dead plants. Thanks also to Nathan Moomaw who brought the pop-up tent from Gardener’s Market so we had a dry place to set up our food. And what food! Thanks to Tess Kenney and her friends from Heartlove Place who brought us the pot of chile! That was welcome and warming!

So here we go – one last push for the year. Also, if you have fall crops like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale or cabbage, get out and harvest! That beautiful green stuff is as its best right now. Enjoy!

Garden Clean Up
Saturday, Nov 20
10AM – 3PM
Potluck at Noon


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We have garden clean-ups scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 13 and next Saturday, Nov. 20. The forecast is for showers tomorrow. The plan is to go out and try to at least get the dead plants out of the garden, then do top-dressing and winter wheat on Nov. 20.

Let’s get out there tomorrow and see what we can get done before we get rained out. See you then!

Garden Clean-Up
Saturday, Nov. 13
Saturday, Nov. 20
10AM – 3PM (or until we get rained out!)
Potluck at noon (Theresa’s famous chili!)

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Mark your calendars! Let’s plan some big garden clean ups for a couple of Saturdays in November!

We have a good “to-do” list for our clean up days. Here’s what’s on the list as we’re wrapping up for the winter:
> Remove all dead plants and put refuse on the compost pile along the west edge of the park.
> Top dress with organic fertilizer (will be provided).
> Plant winter “cover crop” of winter wheat (seed will be provided).
> Plant next year’s “wall of sunflowers” in our compost pile (seed will be provided).
> General clean-up of garden stuff, so everything’s neat for the winter and next spring.
> Take any refuse from garden to the dump – we could use a pick-up truck if anyone is willing to help out with that!

Let’s plan to get together the second and/or third weekend in November, and get our clean-up done!

Just a note – we want to thank all the folks who came and helped with our October 10 clean-up. Special thanks to our new friends from Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Mequon who helped so much!

Fall Garden Clean-Ups
Saturday, Nov 13
Saturday, Nov 20
10AM – 3PM
12 Noon – Potluck Lunch

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Will it freeze? Won’t it freeze? When will it freeze? Despite all the warnings, our gardens have escaped frost so far. Nevertheless, it’s time to start the clean-up process.

We have received the generous offer of some volunteer help for this Sunday, October 10. Volunteers from Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Mequon will be able to come and help us out from 10AM to 2PM as we begin our buttoning up process.

We will be finishing up distribution of the last of the wood chips on the garden paths of the older beds. We will also begin cleaning up any plants that are finished for the season.

Please come if you can. You can harvest your late veggies and work with our volunteers as we distribute the last of the wood chips and do some clean-up.

Pot Luck
We’ll also be having a pot luck lunch in the garden at noon. Please come and bring a dish to pass. This will be a great time to visit with our volunteers. They are very curious about urban agriculture and community gardens, so let’s take this opportunity to spread the word.

Upcoming Events
We are planning a big final clean-up for the first two weekends in November, when we’ll be removing the last of the spent garden plants and putting in our cover crop of winter wheat. Please mark your calendars for those big clean-up days – November 6 and November 13.

See you in the garden!

Volunteer Clean Up Day
Welcome volunteers from Crossroads Presbyterian Church
Saturday, October 10
10AM – 2PM
Pot Luck Lunch – Noon

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As some of you know, Milwaukee Urban Gardens is the organization that holds the lease for the Community Garden at Kilbourn Park.

This Sunday, Sept 12, Kilbourn Park will be one of the gardens on the 2010 Garden Tour. According to the itinerary, the tour should reach Kilbourn Garden at about 3:55. The garden tour flier and full itinerary are included below. If you can go, this is a great fundraiser for a vital cause, and a great introduction to some of our garden neighbors.

Garden Tour Flier and Itinerary
2010 Comy Garden Tour Flyer

Getting Ready for Company
There are a lot of garden beds that are just bursting with food over at Kilbourn. If you have a chance on Saturday, it would be a great time to go harvest some of your marvelous food, and neaten things up a bit so we’re “ready for company” on Sunday.

Also, we may want to think about declaring a “harvest day” where we go in and harvest any food that seems like it’s going to waste. Maybe Saturday, September 18? Let me know what you think about that…

What a great season it has been! We’re planning a couple of big clean-up days for October to put the garden to bed. Watch here for further plans.

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An Update on Water Issues

As most of you know, the use of water from hydrants has become a major topic of conversation in Milwaukee. Here’s a brief overview of what has been happening, and an update on what’s coming next.

Several months ago, the city announced a change in policy which would cut off access to water from fire hydrants for community gardens. Notice of the proposed change was given to Milwaukee County Cooperative Extension (MCCE) in December, 2009. MCCE has 12 rental gardens providing more than 50 acres for cultivation county-wide.

Our garden at Kilbourn Park also uses water from a city hydrant located at the corner of Booth and Garfield.

After a series of discussions between the city and MCCE, the deadline was set aside while gardeners in the community worked toward finding new strategies for water sources. The first step in that process was a meeting between gardeners and representatives of the city on July 14.

As word spread about the meeting, gardeners became upset at the prospect of losing access to water from fire hydrants. They called the alderpersons. They called the press. The compost, as it were, was hitting the fan.

The Riverwest Currents published a front page article about hydrant usage in the July issue, and quickly became a source for other news organizations that were picking up the story. First the Milwaukee Buzz, Milwaukee Magazine’s online publication; then the Journal Sentinel and WUWM brought out stories as the day of the meeting approached. According to the sign-in sheets, 124 people came to the meeting, held at Independence First.

Carrie Lewis of Milwaukee Water Works and Mark Rohlfing, the new Fire Chief addressed the meeting to present the reasons for the proposed policy change and answer questions. Ron Doetch, a specialist in “water harvesting” and urban agriculture also addressed the group about water strategies. Gretchen Mead served as meeting facilitator.

The next step was a small group process to gather ideas for long- and short-term water use strategies. The groups came up with an array of solutions to address the concerns of the city – everything from simply turning off the hydrants except for specific times to exotic techniques like in-ground cisterns to capture rainwater. After the meeting Carrie Lewis commented that she was amazed at the variety and ingenuity of the ideas, and that “there was nothing suggested that would not be acceptable to Water Works.”

With this auspicious start, the next step was to set up a Strategies Committee to begin working on short-term ideas to begin to wean community gardens off water from fire hydrants, or to otherwise address the issues presented by the city. That group is set to meet on Wednesday, August 11 at 6PM.

Second, the group identified a number of people to serve on a Policy Committee, to begin to create a water policy for the city as it relates to urban agriculture. That group held its first meeting on Wednesday, August 4.

Since the July 14 meeting, at least one self-appointed study group has been researching city water policies regarding community gardens and urban agriculture from around the country. This is a first step in creating a new water policy for Milwaukee.

The need for a new water use policy was brought into sharp focus by the torrential rains received in July, culminating in the July 22 flood. There has been much discussion among gardeners and others about the possible role that urban gardens and water harvesting and collecting strategies could have on mitigating further devastating water events like the ones our city has endured for the past two years.

Over the past two weeks, there has also been one hydrant used by gardeners shut off by the city. That hydrant, in the 3100 block of 9th Street, served a city-lot sized garden called the DMZ Garden. This week, after discussions among the gardeners, Milwaukee Water Works and Milwaukee Urban Gardens, the misunderstanding that caused the shut-off was cleared up, and the hydrant was turned back on.

The initial water hydrant announcement from the city was met with considerable anger from gardeners, and much of that anger remains. However, that is a lot of enthusiasm and hope as people take on the task of creating the government policies we want to serve our needs.

There will be a strategies meeting tonight at Independence First. That meeting is open to anyone who wishes to attend and help plan our next steps in creating alternative strategies to water from hydrants.

I am happy to represent the Kilbourn Park Gardens at this meeting since I plan to attend all the Strategies and Policy meetings – probably for the next year or so. However, I would encourage anyone and everyone who wishes to attend to come – we need all the help we can get to make this transition!

Jan Christensen

Water Strategies Group
Wednesday, August 11, 6PM
Independence First
540 S 1st Street

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First, off, thanks to the gardeners who came to work on wood chips this weekend!

Our interns are working away at them, and we’ll eventually finish the additional layer on last year’s garden paths. Let’s just keep at it…

We’re Getting Press…
If you look at today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, you’ll see an article about an upcoming meeting concerning community gardens using water from city hydrants. The story starts off with a description of our garden.

I just talked to Susan Bence of WUWM, and there’s going to be a story about the water usage meeting on the radio on Wednesday morning.

I hope you’ll all come to the meeting on Wednesday. Here’s the invitation…
Community Meeting FINAL

This is our chance to come up with some great ideas about water use for community gardens in our city. Come and bring your brains…

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