School Gardens Lesson Plans for MA Standards!

Thanks to folks at Community Harvest Project for letting us know about this great resource they pulled together, and for letting us put it up on a wiki to start getting the word out! Pass it on to all the teachers you know working with gardens! http://wiki.community-harvest.org/index.php/Lesson_Plans_for_School_Gardens

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Spring Garden Festival!

Don’t miss this great event!  Visit the REC website to sign up to be on their email list so you get notice of these great events right to your inbox!

 

REC Spring Garden Festival

Saturday, April 16

11:00am-3:00pm

The REC Office & Castle Street Garden

9 Castle Street

Worcester, MA

garden forum group

 

How are you celebrating spring?  Join the REC along with long-time and first-time gardeners as we kick off the gardening season together with workshops, community gardener awards and so much more! This year’s workshops include:
*How to start a school garden

*How to Grow a Healthy Garden

*Build Your Own Rain Barrel for Less than $30

*Backyard Chickening

*Composting in Your Own Backyard

 

We will also hold a Community Gardener Panel and invite all participants to share best practices and troubleshoot obstacles they encounter while gardening.

 

An exclusive benefit to all who attend: Get the best selection of seedlings by placing your order for the REC Plant Sale Fundraiser before it is avaliable to everyone else. Use your REC Membership for a discount.  Need to renew?  Renew your membership now!

 

JuliusFor more information, contact REC’s Community Gardens Network Coordinator, Julius Jones at 508-799-9139 or ugrow@recworcester.org

 

Rising Food Costs & Gardening

It’s easy to notice the increase in price at the gas pump, but the increase in price in food doesn’t jump out at us as quickly sometimes.  Those of us that buy the same things each week and know the prices by heart will notice right away, but those of us whose shopping habits vary a bit more week by week may not notice until the total rings at the register and it seems to be just a bit more than we expected.  For folks with a fixed income or a dependence on SNAP benefits this can be quite a struggle. 

The Boston Globe ran an Associated Press piece this morning on the rising cost of food and the figure are staggering.  According to the story on whole sale food prices alone, “The Producer Price Index rose a seasonally adjusted 1.6 percent in February, the Labor Department said Wednesday. That’s double the rise from the previous month and the biggest increase since June 2009. Food prices soared 3.9 percent last month, the biggest gain since November 1974. Harsh winter freezes in Florida, Texas and other southern states sent fresh vegetable prices soaring, representing 70 percent of the increase. Tomatoes, green peppers and lettuce all more than doubled in price.”

So how do we balance the need for all people to have access to affordable, healthy food with the fact that many people are struggling financially?  Will the state of the economy continue to push overweight and obesity numbers upward, as people turn to cheap food that’s good for our wallets and tough on our waistlines?  Or is this a time to capitalize on, just as was done in this country during World War II?

Many folks think that this is just the beginning.  Or at least another manifestation of the food crisis of 2008 when we most recently saw huge spikes in food prices worldwide, and many suffered as a result.  Because of the dependency of our food system on petroleum products, and because oil is not as abundant as it once was, our food and oil prices will continue to rise. 

However, we don’t need to panic. During World War II there was a huge campaign to plant Victory Gardens.  We are again in a place where the food system is strained and consumers are experiencing the pain as a result, and its time to be resourceful.  By planting a garden at your house, your school, in a plot in a community garden, or growing in your windowsill, in buckets on your porch or from old soda bottles hanging upside down in a window or porch area (the DIY topsy turvey!), you can save money on expensive fruits and veggies, and get them fresher and more delicious than any supermarket can provide.  This can also help ensure that your health doesn’t have to suffer as a result of rising prices. 

If you’re at a loss for how to get started, consider attending the REC’s Spring Garden Festival on April 16th at the Woo Church on Main Street.  They’ll have all sorts of information, workshops, a seed exchange and more!  There are lots of resources for gardening right here in Worcester, and Spring is coming, so what better time to start than now?

Spring is coming!

So maybe that title is a bit of wishful thinking on a slushy, rainy, snowy February morning.  But receiving the Regional Environmental Council’s quarterly newsletter yesterday really had me convinced!  If you want to sign up to receive news of their work and upcoming events, just go to their website and sign up!  You’ll find news of their upcoming unveiling of the Community Mural Project that was completed at the Main South and Great Brook Valley Farmers’ Markets this past summer (see our Events page) as well as the dates for the Spring Garden Festival and the Plant Sale.  Because even though it seems as though we won’t see grass until May with all that snow out there, right now is really the time to start planning your garden!  What are you going to plant? And where?  Whether you have a big backyard or just a windowsill or porch, you can always find ways to grow some food.  Whether you go with raised beds, buckets, or soda bottle planters, growing some of your own food is good for your belly, your soul, and your wallet!   I grew food in old food-grade buckets one summer (see the link above) and while it takes some time to collect and assemble the materials, the self-irrigated design works fabulously!  I haven’t tried the soda bottle planters yet, but maybe this is the year… what will you grow? And where?