Thursday, September 3, 2015

Our Garden Continues to Grow

Well, the Williams Street Community Garden has been going like gang busters for sure!! The two plots that WMHS staff is nurturing have given over 100 pounds of produce to the Western Maryland Food Bank. These donation included the following yummy selections:
  • crowns of broccoli
  • green beans
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes
  • green peppers
  • squash
  • cucumbers
  • onions
  • eggplants
  • cabbage
Tara and I are now recruiting for next year’s community partners. We already got an extremely generous donation from AES that we will talk more about in another blog. And the City of Cumberland has been wonderful and is looking at 3 different underused playgrounds in various areas for us to convert into gardens. 

We also are really being adventurous for next year and want to start an orchard on property already owned by the health system.  We hope that it will be close enough to one of the schools to encourage students to help us with the orchard and perhaps a small garden as well.

Katie Gattens, who works on a number of things and is our resident grant writer, has completed a grant request to Lowes, as well as a number of other companies that give grants for doing community gardens.

If you did not know about our garden this year and are interested in working a plot next year, stay tuned. We will be gearing up soon.

This pumpkin and the cantaloupes were recently donated to the
Western Maryland Food Bank and 
came from our children's garden plot.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Rain and Deer!!

Now I have been hearing lots of unhappiness about all the rain we are getting and the associated humidity. But I can tell you that the farmers and gardeners among us are very very happy for all the rain. It is really giving all the fruits and veggies a great start this season!  Just look at how are gardens grow.....

Oh and by the way, where we placed the garden is a spot that the deer like to frequent. But thanks to good advice from Sherry Frick from UMD Extension and hard work by Terry Beck, everything is safe behind our 8 foot fence!  Just look!!


Monday, June 15, 2015

The Garden is Looking Fantastic!!

Each time I go to the Williams Street Community Garden, I am taken by surprise at how much each plant and flower has grown since my last visit!! The tomatoes already have babies on them, as do the strawberries and peppers. I can't bring myself to eat these!! And things that I really could not tell apart are now growing up into onions, lettuce, broccoli, celery and all kinds of delicious things. Our fruit trees are growing straight and tall thanks to the placement of stakes by our own Sam Hershberger III, who works in dietary.  Cages that in the beginning dwarfed the baby tomato plants are now so covered in growth that you almost can’t see them!!

I am struck by a sense of peace and satisfaction when watering and weeding that often alludes me with other tasks that aren’t so easily completed in my regular work day. When I talk to the plants…I’m not exactly saying they talk back but just sometimes I hear answers that make a lot of sense.  

Any way ,last week Tara and I went on a great adventure. We visited several potential sites (photos below) for the future growing seasons to add to the Williams Street location. At one of the places I saw a SNAKE!!! Hard to say who was more scared…me or the snake. But we both quickly ran away from each other so there was no need to call 911 for either of us!! The City again is coming up trumps for us as a terrific partner. They suggested two former play grounds. The first is at the top of Pine Street. The second site sits above CMG on Fairmont Ave. Both looked like excellent locations. One of the things Tara and I want to do next year is make a garden area that is accessible for people in wheelchairs or who use walkers and for people that can’t easily bend down. Either of these would work out perfectly. We also have some plans for the 2017 growing season as well, but it is a little early to talk about that…it is just a seedling of an idea right now!! LOL!!!

Of course, we will be reaching out to our community partners for help and advice, and we plan on widening our circle of partners going forward. And we also have found that there are a lot of grants out there for  community G\gardens and we are going to get assistance from Katie Gattens, who works for the WMHS Foundation and is a champion grant writer. We also continue to think of ways to involve the younger community and have some thoughts to partner with some of the local schools. So as our garden grows, so do our ideas for making our community a healthier place to live and work!!


Friday, June 5, 2015

My tail is truly wagging

Jennifer Thomas in our Community Health and Wellness Department is working on a project to encourage people to get out and walk and to take a picture of themselves walking.  More information at #makewalkingeasy.

Similarly, our local Animal Shelter was working on a project to get people to come and walk shelter dogs through Wooftrax, which actually donates money to shelters that participate.  And GUESS WHAT??? Jennifer got together with Tina Rafferty, Executive Director of the Shelter, and the two programs are going to work together!! So if you would like to take a shelter dog with you on your walk you can do that. The Shelter has a trail you can walk or you can take your picked pooch (not to be confused with a pickled pepper!) with you and walk on the C&O Canal or the Great Allegheny Passage or around Downtown Cumberland. Anywhere you would like...just don't forget to take a picture of you and your dog pal walking, as well as to take a poop bag with you in case your new dog pal gets excited!!

So as you can see, we have some wonderful ways to get our communities to grow healthier...not just by what we choose to eat but also by what we choose to do!! Have a good one!!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Peter Piper Picked A Peck of Pickled Peppers

How Many Pickled Peppers Did Peter Piper Pick?

Well, he will be off to a great start if he gets his peppers at the Williams Street Community Garden!! LOL!! Here is our first pepper!!   Beautiful if I have to say so myself!!


Monday, May 18, 2015


Well no one sang the National Anthem and no one threw out a first pitch. but I would have to say that opening day at the Williams Street Community Garden was a grand slam!!  Things really started Friday afternoon when Valerie Bloss, Volunteer Director at WCI, came by to drop off over 150 seedlings of veggies, fruits and flowers. I met her along with facility and EVS staff, all of whom could not be more eager to help. We placed the seedlings in the garden, gave them all a nice drink and told them they would be in their new homes in the morning!!

I was very worried about the weather for Saturday (how about that...I'm already thinking like a farmer! LOL!!). At first it was an 80% chance of rain but we got lucky and the day dawned clear and cool, but that changed mighty fast and by 8 am it was sunny and things were starting to heat up. Tara and I were at the garden to meet those who had signed up for plots. Tara did an excellent job assigning plots, keeping track of keys and staying in touch with all of our gardeners.  She also got a lot of brownie points because she brought me some strawberries!  I mean I need to keep my strength up!!!

Most of the people who signed up for their plots came at some point between 8 in the morning and by noon we were just about done. But let me tell you about those 4 amazing hours.

We had people from all walks of life and all ages too! We had 7 children who were enchanted with the tea cup and sugar bowl children's garden. We let them pick whatever they wanted to grow. So far the children have planted peas and carrots and a single flower!  And then two wondrous things happened.   Nidhi Jain, who is married to one of our local physicians, has joined our team and with her 9-year-old will be overseeing the children's garden. Nidhi already has made a couple of suggestions for the children's garden that we are going to incorporate in the next week that will enable the children to plant even more of a variety of seeds.

And our next wondrous occurrence came in the form of Sue Rudd, who works at AES. Sue has a plot that will have contributions to the food bank. But even better...turns out AES has a very finely developed social conscious. And they are always looking for ways to help the community. And so Sue's role among other things is to seek out these opportunities to help. So Sue has via AES offered to provide funding and manpower towards our next community garden!!! WOWZERS!!!! I just knew planting those 4 leaf clovers would come in handy!!

What a fantastic community with caring people here in Cumberland!!!

We also were lucky enough to have Sherry Frick here today and 4 Master Gardeners. They spent their time helping to guide the picking of plants and the actual planting of them in each individual's garden. The Master Gardeners will be back periodically on Saturdays and during the week to give help and suggestions.

And I made friends with a very inquisitive and beautiful gray cat. The cat was very curious about what was happening. But he only stayed long enough to say hi. And then went on home.

And home is where I am headed too. I may not dream of sugar plums when I go to sleep tonight, but I will be dreaming of the Roma tomatoes and purple peas we planted!!

Come by and see the garden!! You will be very impressed!!  Jo