I hope you are well! I wanted to offer a short update and a few photos from our Back-Farms Program this year. Currently, all but one of our 40 gardens are ready to be planted! They’ve been weeded, the soil prepped, and irrigation installed. We’ve begun direct seeding lots of fun crops – beets, carrots, cucumbers, greens, etc. This week, we will continue transplanting tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and herbs, as well as direct seeding warm-season crops like corn, squash, okra, and melons. We will finish most of our planting in the next two weeks!
While COVID-19 has resulted in quieter gardens and fewer helping hands, the garden staff have been working incredibly hard to get all of the tasks completed in a timely manner. We’ve missed working alongside our volunteers, teaching them and learning from them. We currently have about 25 garden apprentices signed up, patiently waiting to get some time in the gardens. We’ve done 3 weeks of “virtual gardening,” which consists of a guide/update on the tasks we are completing in the gardens in the form of electronic handouts, photos, and videos. These include topics such as spring soil prep, irrigation, planting, and transplanting. Our goal is to begin meeting with Garden Apprentices in the gardens starting on June 1st. We will enact safety precautions to help keep our seniors, volunteers, and staff safe & healthy. This will include mask-wearing, hand-washing, sanitizing vehicles and tools, and maintaining safe distances.
While our volunteers haven’t been out yet, our seniors have been more involved than ever. Many have been coming out to sit and chat or even pull some weeds, and it has been lovely to catch up with familiar faces and get to know the new program participants. Our gardens directly serve 55 seniors, with the excess produce reaching many more than that!
It’s likely that COVID-19 will also change our produce distribution this season. While the seniors and Garden Apprentices will still benefit from the produce grown in each garden, the local senior centers are currently closed and do not have an anticipated re-opening date. We are currently seeking ways to distribute the produce that would have gone to our Free Farm Stands. This may involve pre-packaging shares of vegetables, fruits, and greens, and passing them out in a curbside pick-up manner at the senior centers, as well as doing home delivery. Stay tuned.
While we adapt to these changes day-by-day, we’re focusing on the essential tasks at hand – growing food, distributing it to those who need it, and teaching those who want to learn how to grow food. Thank you so much for your time, energy, and continued support. We look forward to a beautiful season. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.
The Green Urban Lunch Box Team