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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Winter Gardening



Winter Gardening:

Meeting with the Hill Garden Club


New England’s long winters are a trial for all of us. For gardeners and others with green thumbs, the winters can seem especially long.


So what’s a gardener to do when the ground is still frozen and covered with snow?

Members of the Hill Garden Club meet monthly, year-round, to discuss gardening tactics, strategies, successes, and challenges. Their March meeting took place at the Wilson Branch Library, and the topic du jour was preserving harvested food. 


Our AmeriCorps VISTA Members were on hand to help concoct the perfect way to preserve crops so that they can be enjoyed year-round. The gardeners shared their pickling and fermentation know-how and old family traditions. Together, the club looked through instructional books and online forums for the perfect pickling recipe.

 
The club then tried their hand at pickling a head of cauliflower, following a simple recipe that required only salt, water, and slight seasonings to allow the natural flavor of the cauliflower to come through. Everyone agreed that the pickling process was easy – and a fun activity to replicate at future meetings with different types of vegetables!

 
If you’re interested in gardening and would like to swap ideas, seeds, and stories with other avid gardeners, come to the next meeting of the Garden Club! The next meeting will be on Thursday, April 16 at the Hill Museum of Arts at 210 West Street.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Visiting North Guilford Nurseries



Visiting North Guilford Nurseries

by Chandel Gibbs, Resident Engagement AmeriCorps VISTA Member

Last week, our Community Building and Organizing (CB&O) team and gardeners from the Ivy Street Community Garden paid a visit to North Guilford Nurseries, a farm owned and operated by a small family. Set in the hills of North Guilford, the farm operates as a wholesale greenhouse. After our experience bringing a greenhouse to the Ivy Street Community Garden, we were curious to see the larger-scale activities produced by this particular greenhouse.

We met with owner Cody Christensen and his two sons, all of whom work as full-time staff at the farm. They told us the history of their farm and its business model, along with their involvement in the retail industry. They also discussed the obstacles faced in operating a greenhouse, such as when their greenhouse was destroyed in 2013 after a huge snowstorm. The family rebuilt the greenhouse with new and improved equipment, giving us plenty to keep in mind as we discuss the future operations of our own greenhouse.


Towards the end of our visit, they showed us some features of the greenhouse. The greenhouse was equipped with a heating system, irrigation via a local pond, and various heavy-duty equipment and machinery for greenhouse operations. It is important to note that the entire greenhouse, including the electrical work, was rebuilt and constructed by the family. The family aims to explore new possibilities, and they have many interesting ideas on how to grow and expand their business. 

We were so excited to engage with this family and to discuss ideas about farming and planting.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spring Break Immersion: Volunteers from Yale Chaplain's Office



 Spring Break Immersion:
Volunteers from Yale University Chaplain's Office


On Monday, March 9, NHS hosted 9 volunteer participants from the Yale University Chaplain’s Office Spring Break Immersion Program.

These tireless volunteers worked with us from 10:00am-3:00pm. We started the morning with introductions and a conversation about the student’s interest in participating in the program. The volunteers all agreed that they shared a desire to explore and better understand the city that they currently call home. 




We then geared up with a host of shovels to tackle the snow and ice in the driveways and walkways around two NHS-owned properties on County Street. While shoveling, we explained NHS’ neighborhood revitalization philosophy, emphasizing how renovating clusters of houses on a block can have a greater impact than renovating just one house. Volunteers also got to see the quality of work NHS puts into its rehabs.





At lunch, we continued our conversation on housing issues in New Haven and how they connect to issues of socio-economic inequalities, access to healthy food, community and economic development, and transportation. 


We were so excited to engage with this group of volunteers and share such a productive day with them.