14 December 2009

Well Hello There

Let the catching up begin.

It's been a while so I figured that I would start with the most insane of projects and then let the rest of what we've been up to settle in from there.

This is a Google Earth shot of where I teach. To the left of the photo is a large portion of the school's buildings and the tract of land on the right is what I hope the school will let me garden. I'm not sure how many acres in all we're looking at, but I walked it the other day and I gotta say that it's pretty massive.

Currently the area is mowed on a regular basis and sprayed for god knows what. One of my colleagues told me that there is some kind of law against dandelions in our area, so maybe the chemicals are to keep them down (yeah, let's not go there).

This is the field on the lower right corner of the Google Map and...

this is the field on the upper right corner.

This (I know the photo quality is terrible) is a pond-sized puddle that you can actually see in the Google image. If there is enough clay content to the ground I will probably propose that we take a backhoe to this spot and turn it into an actual pond so we can attract some wildlife and keep the amount of water in the area consistent.

My goal is not to plant food from fence to fence, but to create an area focused on wildlife, permaculture, and community garden food production. I'm still trying to figure out what that last one means. The school is dedicated to working with the community (the administration is pretty amazing) but I feel we could do more to teach people about basic sustainability.

Some of the ideas that have been tossed around are:

  • grow a meadow (the crosswinds might be conducive to this)
  • establish a grove of fruit and nut trees
  • try to increase the bird population
  • try to increase the beneficial insect population
  • dedicate a space for a community garden
There are a whole bunch of other ideas that we have floating around, but they really don't make enough sense to me now to put them in words. If this enormous dream takes legs I'll be sure to share the news.

It's good to be back. We missed you all.


Katie said...

Go big or go home.

We've missed you guys!

jimmycrackedcorn said...

Big project! Good for you! It is liberating when you learn first hand that you truly do not *NEED* the grocery store. Many folks have absolutely no idea that that is true. Teach them!!!

Randy Emmitt said...

Hope you get the school to go along with it. My Meg teaches too. I think you need to get a group together before you try to push this forward.

Era said...

Wow, that sounds incredible. I've missed your blog posts (though I'm mostly a lurker so you probably haven't missed me) so it's nice to have an update.

I would say that all of your ideas can work together, they're not mutually exclusive. A grove of fruit and nut trees can have a meadow growing under it, and attract birds, and attract beneficial insects, and be part of a larger community garden. And what about making an outdoor classroom space? A few wooden bleachers around the pond and viola! Outdoor classroom.

Keep us posted, this looks exciting!

our friend Ben said...

Wow, what an awesome project, guys! (And yes, of course we've missed you all, too. Welcome back!) Ahem, not to push our own faves or anything, but surely it would be possible to work a compost system, earthworm composters, and chickens into this scenario? Chickens are apparently ideal in an orchard setting, controlling pests and providing fertilizer. Just a thought... Anyway, fingers crossed for you and please keep us posted!

Kelly said...


It's damn good to here from you all.

I couldn't agree more. I mean hell, if you can't drive yourself crazy doing something, why bother doing it all.

Yeah I read an article one time about a woman who grew a garden at an inner-city elementary school and one of the things that struct me most was a student who didn't realize peas weren't made in cans. It's a little scary, but if someone isn't exposed to this kind of stuff, how are they expected to know it? Trust me, if this thing passes, there will be a whole lot of learnin' goin' on.

Right now there are two (soon to be three) of us developing the proposal. Our school has an Environmental Committee that will probable help us once this thing gets running.

The plan is to get all of these ideas running plus a few dozen more. However, I never thought about the outdoor classroom. I think it's effing brilliant and it is now on the to-do list. Thank you.

I certainly agree with your suggestions. My only hesitation would be the chickens. The field is very close to a neighborhood and I have a feeling that livestock might frighten the administration away. In addition, we have a pretty large hawk population around here (as you know) and I actually hope to attract more to keep down the number of rabbits and mice. However, if we do get enough support on this project, I could see chickens as part of a second phase proposal. We'll see.

el said...

Buddy, you better back up a minute and make sure you get really cozy with the Buildings and Grounds guys.

Back when I designed buildings for university and college clients, THESE were the blokes who literally had the keys to the city. Every decision I ever had to get passed had to pass muster with them. So: go find them if you haven't already, and start talking.

As a person who's taken on her kid's school's garden, I know well the desire to make it real. There's a lot of blank land out there and what appears to be nasty encroaching cul-de-sac hell as neighbors: I would say you have a great project on your hands.

Kelly said...

Hey El,
That's too funny and too true. Marv (he's the director of buildings and grounds) and I are on a first name basis, but we're not exactly coffee pals, yet. He's really cool, and you're right, I should get his take on the project. That conversation will certainly be on my list of updates. It's good to hear from you. Cheers.

Conny said...

Glad to see your back and that everything's okay. That's a big (and wonderful) project you're proposing. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas. Cheers ~ Conny

The Allotment Blogger said...

Wow, what a brilliant idea - and I love the idea of a meadow: most people have no idea of the wildlife value of grasslands and they are a fantastic ecosystem for many species. I really hope this goes ahead just as you plan!

Kelly said...

Hello Conny,
Thanks, it's good to be back. You have a Merry Christmas too.

Hey AB,
After we read Michael Pollen's Omnivore's Dilemma, we have been looking for a place to grow a meadow. The wildlife at my school is there (I think), gut I'm just not seeing it. I believe a meadow will certainly change that for the better.

Anonymous said...

You may want to leave out the fruit trees they can get pretty messy. With the mess comes the stench and the nasty worms and such that like to live in the fruit and Im pretty sure you don't want to spray pesticides on the trees. Smaller berry bushes and seed flowers would be great for birds. You could add heavy nectar producing flowers shrubs and trees for the hummingbirds and butterflies. Nut trees i think would be the way to go but with ground cover instead of grass beneath so mowing machines don't get broken. It sounds like a pretty awesome idea!