June 2009


The Crain gardeners: Tom (dad), Olivia (daughter #1), Cessily (daughter #2)

The Crain gardeners: Tom (dad), Olivia (daughter #1), Cessily (daughter #2)

June 17, 2009

As soon as the city tilled and mulched, the community gardeners were called in to plot and plant.  A deluge of rain that week ended up helping the new plants, but slowed down the city prep a bit for some of the other gardens.  

On Saturday morning, we drove on in to the community garden at Charles & Turner (near Howard & North) in the Elizabeth Park Valley neighborhood, shook hands with half a dozen of our new community garden friends and staked out our 10’ x 20’ plot. The garden is in an ideal spot situated in a scenic and secluded wooded valley surrounded by friendly neighbors in well-kept two-story homes willing to help when needed. A big and friendly watchdog and a working fire hydrant with attached hose were additional accessories.  What could be better?

The gardeners are already bonding—exchanging plants, helping each other out with staking and watering and even making plans together for the unclaimed dirt.  

 My crew (two daughters Olivia, 11, and Cessily, 8) laid down a variety of tomatoes, peppers and strawberries.  We got to bond with the resident watchdog (I believe there’s a wee bit of pit bull in him, so it’s important to win him over).  Who knows, maybe we can train him to bite the pants off of any tomato wranglers.  

 

The honeymoon period for gardening hasn’t worn off yet. Not enough time has passed for inevitable pesky weeds, chomped leaves from invading pests or drooping plants from lack of rain.  Ahhh…life is good.  Will it continue?  Stay tuned for the next steps in the growing season including getting to know the unique mix of fellow gardeners.

May 13, 2009

Larry Parker and Jerry EganMustard Seed Market and Cafe in Fairlawn stepped up as the new meeting site for the Entrepreneurs for Sustainability (E4S) networking events, now held regularly in Akron, alternating monthly with Cleveland. Apparently, Akron membership has grown too green for E4S to keep their events exclusively on the Big Lake.

The topic of the May meeting was all about the local food economy featuring Akron growing champs including Larry Parker of the Akron Cooperative and the new Akron Grows community garden project; Beth Knorr of the Countryside Conservancy; and Chris Norman, Akron Summit County Food Policy Coalition and director of Crown Pointe Farms.

Father and son, Phillip and Abe Nabors, were on hand to offer tours of their Mustard Seed Market, claimed to be NEO’s largest locally-owned natural and organic foods market. Phillip also spoke about his love for gardening and push to feature locally-grown food at his 28-year-old retail grocery.

NEO rarely sits in any Top 5 positive city rankings, but how about a stellar #2 for locally-grown foods second only to my hometown of Minneapolis? SustainLane, a popular national sustainability movement website came up with these rankings using data from the US Department of Agriculture for farmers’ markets and community gardens.

Many palatable ideas for sustainability in the Akron area are growing out of the local food movement.

Lance Schmidt

Lance Schmidt

May 28, 2009

When it comes to home building in Akron these days, efficient and passive is all the rage. So much so, that its local Home Builders Association showcased three trailblazing pioneers in sustainability for housing at their May 28th special “Going Green” homebuilding seminar .

Lance Schmidt, F.G. Ayers, Inc., synonymous with “The Passive House” who prides himself on being “that crazy environmental homebuilding rebel” is ushering in a German-born concept of a super-insulated, air tight, highly-efficient home that doesn’t need a conventional furnace and cuts winter monthly utility bills down to double digits only.

The great news about what Schmidt is up to is that he’s committed to bringing this cutting-edge concept to Akron’s urban core via retrofitting and hoping to build a demo house in the area.

Look out NEO homebuilders, he’s wielding some real power. He was recently elected VP of Summit-Portage County HBA and is getting known by Akron city officials for sitting on a key Board.

Joining Schmidt were Karl Balla, Energy Pros of Ohio, a certified Home Energy Rater, on how to get high marks on home energy audits, and Hallie Bowie, New Leaf Home Design, registered architect and certified Green Professional on Green Home Action Items for energy efficiency, indoor air quality and sustainability.

Kudos to Akron HBA. You are showing a bright shade of green these days when it comes to housing and remodeling.

home_builders_association

thumb plantOur mission is to educate, inspire and involve the average consumer in the green sustainability movement. Through our programs and services, everyone, regardless of age, race, religion, income or any other demographic factor can participate in the sustainability movement to enrich their lives including saving money, improving health, protecting the planet and building community

What makes this sustainability project different? Each practice, product and service is available and affordable to the average household in the urban corridor. In some instances, an initial outlay of cash may be necessary with the understanding that ROI must come to full fruition within a year’s time. If it’s not affordable, practical, or easy-to-apply, we’ll see to it that it gets the Green Thumbs Down.

Selecting seed packets for the community garden

Selecting seed packets for the community garden

The City of Akron together with the Akron Cooperative and Ohio State University Extension is breaking ground to offer community garden plots for its residents.

Eight city-owned lots scattered about town are being tilled, furrowed and sown to move closer to a vision of one day sustaining a third of the dietary needs of its citizens.

The Summer of ’09 is the revival of a program now taking on the challenge of getting enough participants at each site to ante up $20-30. Larry Parker, director of Akron Cooperative says, “That initial investment will be repaid to urban gardeners many times over. Keep in mind that for $20 or $30 you can produce a couple hundred dollars worth of fresh veggies.”

So far, plenty of gardening go-getters have formally registered to get their fingernails dirty working those spades and hoes to reap a bounty of homegrown veggies and/or colorful sprays of flowers.

At the 11th hour, I stepped up as a participant, running my app. over to the city planning office. Kurt Mulhauser, urban planner and the city’s head hoe-downer, tipped me off that an orientation was taking place that very evening at the Highland Square Library.

Listening to the enthusiastic and encouraging words from Kurt, Larry and Denise Ellsworth, OSU Extension master gardener, and grabbing a handful of seed packets and a $15 live plants/seed packets voucher from the City of Akron to Donzell’s, Graf Growers or Pettiti garden centers, and later, starter plants donated from Crown Pointe Ecology Center in Bath (I already got my initial investment back!), I can’t wait to dig in!

Can a greenhorned gardener like me pull up at least one radish by harvest time? What kind of “garden-variety” angels will be stepping forward inside and outside of the community garden neighborhoods to aid the cause?

Get all the latest digs right here on the community gardens adventure as the project continues to grow!