Tag Archive | fruits

Planting seeds to grow a community

As I have previously stated, I started a list of goals for 2014 back in December.  Some are personal goals.  Some are financial goals.  Some are household goals.  And, some are ‘pay it forward’ goals.

One of these pay it forward goals is that I would like to start a community fruit and vegetable garden.  While it is not a new idea, it is something that I believe would benefit many people here in my local area.  People like single parents, un/under employed, dual income families with just too many ends to make meet each month– basically, anyone and everyone.  Even though I am unemployed, I do not qualify for benefits such as SNAP or WIC because a piece of paper states an amount that I should be receiving to support my children.  Sometimes I get this income.  Sometimes I do not.  It’s not at all regular, but, because that piece of paper says I get it, it leaves me unable to qualify for assistance.  I know that I could benefit from a community garden to help offset the cost of groceries for the children and I.

This garden would not be charity, though.  Quite the contrary, actually.  This garden would allow those to proud to apply for assistance an opportunity to ‘work’ for their shares of fruits and veggies.  This garden would allow those that get assistance an opportunity to stretch their benefits a bit further.  This garden would give parents a teaching opportunity for their children on what it means to work for a living.  This garden would allow children to see how awesome our environment is and how to use it to provide sustenance.   This garden would bring a community together and allow for networking and new friendships and relationships.  This garden would be a community effort– one that is as functional as it is beautiful.

I envision plots of tomatoes and vines of squash.  I picture blueberry bushes and strawberry patches.  I dream of peppers and lettuces and broccoli and cucumbers and carrots and more.  I imagine children laughing and smiling as they sneak green beans and snap peas to nibble.   I see beautiful flowering plants and overflowing baskets of healthy, ripe, delicious vegetation.  And, I visualize the family recipes being utilized to create meals that fill the bellies and hearts of all whom partake of the community garden.

When the seasons start to change, and the growing season slows, the community garden is just warming up!  While I cannot, I know there are many that can and do can fruits and veggies from harvests.  The garden will have its harvest, and the remaining bounty can be made into salsa and jams and canned tomatoes, peppers, and more.  This effort will enable the community to enjoy the labors of the summer months well into the long, cold winter.  One of my favorite Christmas gifts this past December was a jar of homemade salsa from a dear friend.  When I cracked the seal on the jar and poured out the fresh tomatoes, peppers and cilantro into a bowl, I remembered my friend and our talks and our stories.  It was comforting– and delicious!!

The problem is, though, that I do not know the first thing about taking on a project like this.  This is all that I know:  I would have to find a location and get zoning.  I would have to get word out so that we could build our list of ‘community helpers’ to get gardens prepped and sectioned off.  We would need tools and gloves and knee pads for us *ahem* older helpers.  We would need to have seedlings started– or maybe we could get donations from some of the local stores.  We would need to create schedules of weeding, watering, and general maintenance of the space.  When the plants begin to produce, we would need help harvesting and sorting and packaging.  We would need to divide the harvest amongst the community garden helpers and families.  Anything left over could be donated to a shelter or soup kitchen, I’m sure, or, used in early canning batches.

One thing that I would like to see happen–besides the community coming together to grow relationships and food–is a community dinner created from our harvest.   I can think of nothing better than coming together to share in the reward of our hard work.

Has anyone ever started anything like this?  Any advice or input?  Would you participate in a community garden?

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I must be crazy– or financially ruined!

I have decided, as I previously blogged, that I’m taking this time since the breakup to get myself healthy both physically and emotionally.  It is certainly quite the effort since I have let myself go for so long.  I have become attached to so many bad habits that I am struggling to figure out where to even begin.  Some days, I wake up so utterly exhausted I can barely drag myself out of bed by the fifth round of the snooze button.  Other days, I wake up so ready to start my day with an awesome workout on Tread followed by an awesome high protein breakfast or delicious fruit/veggie juice combination.

I suppose this is better than even just three months ago.  I was sleeping no more than an hour or two a night.  I was smoking approximately a pack of cigarettes a day.  I ate junk food for breakfast– usually some packaged goody I picked up at the local convenience store–if I ate breakfast at all.  I would start my day with a diet soda and a smoke.  I absolutely did not exercise.  I was a walking disaster.  I fell asleep randomly throughout the day.  I felt narcoleptic.  I felt nothing short of completely out of control.  As awful as it sounds, and absolutely is, there were days I wished I would not wake up.

No one should every feel like that.  Ever.

One of the things the ex-boyfriend and I had agreed to do together was get healthy.  While that obviously fell through, I remain determined to make it happen.  I do, after all, have three amazing little people for which to care!  So, I push myself to get out of bed in the morning and get the kids off to school.  I push myself to get on the treadmill.  I make myself eat or juice.  I work.  I pick up the children and begin the nightly routine of getting things ready for the next morning, taking care of the pups, getting the kids to bed, and then getting on the treadmill again.  It is a battle of willpower, and unfortunately, willpower is not always the victor.  I can say, though, that my desire to finally get rid of this excess weight and the medical complications that have surfaced because of it is getting stronger by the day.

It better be, or else I will never be ready to run that 5K in June!!  AAACK!

But, see, I have an issue with this whole health kick thing.  How the heck is a single mother with a not-so-financially-sufficient job supposed to afford it?!?  I received a letter from the insurance company– apparently Diabetic education is NOT a covered service.  I suppose I should be thrilled that they only let me go two times before informing me they weren’t going to be paying for any of it.  Uggh.  And this healthy eating crap?  Yeah.  About that….

There’s kale, spinach, red cabbage, white cabbage, celery, cucumbers, ginger, mint, carrots, oranges, mangoes, strawberries, pears, red apples, green apples, pineapple, bananas, spaghetti squash, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, cauliflower, green/red/yellow peppers, lemons and limes.   This trip to the grocery store produce section cost me a pretty $130.  Not sure what the kids will be eating…. 😉  Actually, the kids are loving being able to make juice concoctions!  So far, their favorites are straight grape, kiwi/strawberry, and carrot/pear/apple/cucumber.

I am looking forward to the farmers markets where I can purchase all these yummy fruits and veggies.  It makes me happy to stroll through all of the booths and support local farmers rather than the big name grocery stores.  I’d actually like to start a community garden where we all work together to produce a bountiful harvest.  Not only would it provide me with home-grown sustenance, but it would provide a much-needed boost of neighborly interaction.

Has anyone tried this before??  I don’t just mean the community garden idea– but the life transformation from unhealthy and icky to healthy and hot!  I’d love to hear from everyone what they did and what sparked their decisions…