Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blueberry Festival on Aspinwall Hill

Bountiful Brookline board member and friend of Aspinwall Hill, Peggy Ueda, reports:

Co-organizer Peggy Ueda removes bird netting
from the blueberry bushes
The Friends of the Paths and Park on Aspinwall Hill celebrated the new blueberry bushes that now top our hill in Schick Park.  On a day that saw temperatures reach into the 90’s, neighbors gathered to enjoy ice cream and blueberries as well as good companionship, sports and games.  People brought their own dishes and utensils or used cones to make this a no-impact event.

The large multi-generational crowd admired the five handsome, high-bush blueberry bushes planted by the Town on request by the Friends, who were in the first place inspired by Bountiful Brookline to seek edible plantings in the park.  In fact the Friends group, which maintains and improves Aspinwall Hill’s unique network of seven paths and Schick Park, was formed last year on Bountiful Brookline’s challenge to identify edible potentials in Brookline neighborhoods.  We send a big thanks to Bountiful Brookline for getting us started!

Co-organizer Jenn Meader serves ice cream and blueberries while neighbor Reed Ueda looks on and Jenn's dog Rosie is at the ready for any droppings.

Nicky McCatty enjoys a dish of ice cream and blueberries while Mark Lowenstein shakes a mixture to make his own ice cream.

Neighbors Karen Halvorsen, her mother and
Connie Regolino relax in the shade

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Garden report & Teens Grow Food

Brendan and the Beanstalk at Greenside Out Garden
Bountiful Brookline's demonstration gardens are doing well, the Greenside Out Garden paths are freshly mulched, and we've had several great harvests in the past couple of weeks. Here below are a couple of shots taken in late June of the beans, squash, and pumpkins looking good over at the Goodwin Garden .
Goodin Garden & Shed
Goodwin Garden Growing
July has kicked our garden activities into high gear. Bountiful Brookline is especially excited to announce the 2nd season of Teens Grow Food (TGF), which started on Tuesday, July 5th. The goal of this 8 week summer program is to employ and empower area teenagers to grow food, engage their community, and further Bountiful Brookline's vision of a local food system accessible to all. We are very excited to have a crew of 6 youth who will work at BB's gardens and at several Public Housing sites to establish and support gardens and other growing efforts throughout town. The teens will handle regular maintenance and harvest duties from Tuesday-Thursday at both of BB's gardens.

Tomatoes on the Vine at Greenside Out
However, we still very much need volunteer help from Friday-Monday for routine garden maintenance. We have a regular volunteer crew, but summertime brings vacations and weekend outings, so anyone interested in helping out please contact JD at [email protected] , Garden Volunteer in the subject line..

Going forward, there will be the occasional workdays for big plantings and projects as well as some garden-focused events and fundraisers.

Garden Wish List:
Our gardens need the following. If you can help, please contact JD at [email protected] please put Garden Materials in the subject line:
-Clean produce packing bags and boxes-save some of those clear plastic bags and clear plastic containers from your food purchases, we can use them (and rubber bands too).
-Tools, specifically we need scissors, hammers, screwdrivers, and pliers. .
-Some paints and paint brushes for making garden signs, labeling beds, and other projects. Most size brushes will do, but waterproof paint is a must.
J.D. Hutchison-Maxwell
Garden Coordinator, Bountiful Brookline

High Street Veterans Community Garden

HSVCG is also looking bountiful. Thanks to Kathleen Nichols for the photos.

Beyond Brookline: Connecting around the table in New Orleans

Impressively hot, humid weather can make the summer in New Orleans a painfully slow-moving season. The peaches, tomatoes, okra, blueberries, and mustard greens aren’t complaining, though.

I’m here for summer research, mapping food assets in and around the city, and mostly getting an earful. A stranger spent fifteen minutes at a roadside produce stand telling me how to cook okra right. Fishermen at the Westwego market explained that some of their best customers are people who relocated after Katrina and return to their new homes with ice chests of Gulf seafood. With a long subtropical growing season and food traditions from Cajun to Creole to Vietnamese, New Orleans knows food. Still, healthy and affordable groceries are miles from many neighborhoods. As in most US cities, corner stores here stock a lot of beer and a lot of packaged snack food.

I spent an afternoon in June at a lively “food roundtable” conversation among a group of about 30 rural and urban growers, educators, chefs, students, policy workers and community members in the area. The questions explored, broadly, were: How do we connect within the food system? How can we strengthen these connections and effect change?

At Hollygrove Market & Farm in northwest New Orleans, the local-produce CSA boxes overflow. Hollygrove’s setup allows patrons to choose either a generous prix-fixe box of produce or per-pound and per-piece fruits and vegetables. Unlike a typical CSA arrangement, however, which generally functions between individuals and a single farm, HM&F allows customers to support a network of farmers and producers in the region, while the farm space leads community education and outreach through demonstration gardens and plots for interested neighborhood gardeners.

Market manager Alyssa makes weekly produce runs to farms, packing impressive amounts of melons and mustard greens (this week) into the market’s only van, and farmers who sell to other markets in the city can drop off at their convenience. Close relationships with farmers allow Alyssa to move effectively between consumers, chefs, and growers, even making planting recommendations and communicating to growers, for instance, marketgoers’ desire to see more natural and organic produce – no easy feat in a state where agriculture research is heavily funded by the same companies that make synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. On the market side, too, Alyssa’s firsthand knowledge of these farms means she can vouch for growing practices. Last Friday I volunteered doing market setup, and as I bagged Cajun Grain rice (a blend of wild red and jasmine rices, grown in Kinder, LA), farmers delivered herbs and mushrooms, chefs stopped in for boxes of greens and figs, and community members watered their basil starts.

The central sticking point of much food work – that is, that ethically-produced local and/or organic food remains inaccessible for poor communities – is certainly present at Hollygrove, too. Much of the surrounding neighborhood shops for groceries at Walmart, a recent survey showed, despite the cross-town commute and HM&F’s discounts on CSA boxes for neighbors. By physically rooting down in the local community, though, Hollygrove Market & Farm is dedicated to becoming an institution, supporting local and ethical growing while facilitating a connection to good seasonal eating for all.

The food roundtable’s initial task was to define roles within the food system. Who plays a part, and how? Backyard gardeners? Teachers? Grocery chain managers? Chicken farmers? Being a very temporary resident, I mostly observed. Still, the discussion reminded me of my capacities as student, gardener, and cook. The people in that room represented various ways to enter the food system. For many of us, such interactions involve growing a few of our own vegetables, supporting regional growers, getting excited about eating seasonally. In New Orleans, and anywhere, these choices can be as much economic and political as they can be tasty and joyful.
Isabel Neal is a student at Pitzer College.
She will be in New Orleans until August researching the regional food system.

On Blueberry Hill

On Wednesday July 20 from 5-7 p.m the Friends of the Paths and Park on Aspinwall Hill will celebrate the edible additions to Schick Park.

Parks Department crew planting blueberries

In June the Brookline Parks Department planted 5 high bush blueberry bushes for the community to share on the hillock in Schick park.between the ball field and the playground. The blueberry bushes are now in fruit!  Join the Friends in cooling off with ice cream and blueberries in the park on Wednesday evening. If you like, bring a blueberry dish or recipe to share.  This event is free and no impact—so please bring your own dish and spoon.  And bring balls, mitts, frisbees etc. for some sports and games; there will be a badminton net, too.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Help us spread the word about Bountiful Brookline at the Brookline Farmers Market

If you have not already heard, Bountiful Brookline has been tabling at the Brookline Farmer's Market every Thursday!  At our table at the market we will be finishing up a Brookline Foods Initiative survey and continuing to spread the word about our organization's gardening and community program opportunities. We hope you will be able to join us at the market to share your BB experiences with our community.

We need volunteers throughout the market season for three (flexible) shifts:
1:30 pm - 3 pm   *   3 pm - 4:30 pm   *   4:30 pm - 6 pm
Thursdays at the Centre Street parking lot in Coolidge Corner

We have a volunteer sign-up schedule at this link

Please provide your name, email, and the times you would like to volunteer.

Our most pressing date for volunteers is tomorrow, Thursday, July 7th.  If you are available at any time during the market please sign up on the schedule (link above).  Of course, if you can't stay for the entire time that is fine.  We all have different schedules!  Just email [email protected] with your availability.  Also, feel free to sign up for more shifts if you would like to stay longer!

Even if you are able to volunteer for only a couple of shifts in the next few months, your participation and presence would be a great help for furthering BB's work!  Also, be sure to sign up on the schedule in advance if your availability permits it.

Thank you for all your support.  Hope to see you at the market!
Margolit Sands, Bountiful Brookline Administrative & Programs Intern

PS:  Don't forget to fill out the Bountiful Brookline Survey by July 15 at

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Four Revolutionary Gardeners for the Fourth of July

With the British fleet gathering at New York, George Washington took time from his command of the revolutionary army to write a letter home to his gardener, with instructions to plant a new garden containing only native plants. This bit of history was unearthed in a recently published book, The Founding Gardeners , by Andrea Wulf.  On NPR's Science Friday for July 1, Wulf discussed her book, which portrays Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison as farmers and gardeners in their personal lives who also held a larger vision of farming and gardening as a critical part of the American identity and as a necessary endeavor for the economic well-being and self-sufficiency of the young nation.

Peter Hatch, Director of Gardens and Grounds at Jefferson's home Monticello, who also appeared on the Science Friday show, said that Jefferson was a staunch supporter of the local farmers' market and on his own estate grew over 300 varieties of vegetables and 170 varieties of fruit, keeping careful records of both successes and failures.  Of course, as the radio guests acknowledged, the heaviest work was performed by slaves, but they claimed that these four Founding Fathers were involved with their farms and gardens in a hands-on way. Jefferson sowed seed; Madison described the patched up holes in his gardening trousers, indicating said Wulf, that he spent a fair amount of time down on his knees in the dirt. An early environmentalist, Madison warned Americans to be careful not to destroy the forests or deplete the soil.

Having often passed by the the Adams family homes while growing up in Quincy, MA, I was disappointed that more was not said about John Adams (who did not own slaves). Perhaps there is more in the book - we know from the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams that he was very involved in the details of family life and he relied on her to run the farm and household during his many absences for business and political purposes.

While in Europe for diplom atic purposes, Adams and Jefferson undertook a tour of British farms, which were well known and well regarded. Fearing that access would soon be curtailed due to the impending war of independence, their trip was intense and purposeful.  To their surprise, they found many plants that had been imported to England from America. A uniquely American contribution to garden design was the combination of useful and ornamental plants grown together in a common coordinated setting.
Listen to the Science Friday segment online: " Growing A Revolution: America’s Founding Gardeners"
The book is The Founding Gardeners , by Andrea Wulf (Knopf, 2011)
Check out the Monticello website for more information about Jefferson's gardens and the
Center for Historic Plants at Monticello which "collects, preserves, and distributes historic plant varieties" and sells seeds online for varieties that Jefferson favored.

D on't forget to fill out the Bountiful Brookline Survey
between now and July 15 at the link below.