Monday, February 16, 2015

Notes from the potluck

The Howard Area Community Garden held the Annual Member Potluck/Meeting on Feb. 7, 2015, at Just Harvest on Paulina and Jonquil.

The following gardeners attended: Katje Sabin and her husband Bill Gilliland, Jill Bjork and her son, and Geraldine Williams. Robin Cline from NeighborSpace also joined us, and Anthony Boatman from Just Harvest dropped in briefly.

Besides chowing down on all the yummy food everyone brought, we discussed a few ideas for our garden.

The garden is currently full, although we haven't heard back from a few members... so we might have a couple of spaces opening up. The entire waiting list from past years has been emptied, and new applicants will go onto a new waiting list. To apply, call or email the garden for an application form (

We have seven new gardeners this year! Please welcome Emily Deja, Fagin Prak, Derek Schumacher, Derek Barton, Arianna Soloway, Anastassiya Suslik, and William Garvutt to our garden!

We are very happy to welcome back the Howard Area Community Center's youth gardeners, led by HACC's youth program director Robert Conlen and nutritionist Katherine Wong. They will work one plot and the three raised beds, as well as assisting one of our elderly gardeners with her spot.

We also have a returning gardener, Chester Kos, who built our wonderful compost bin system. Welcome back!

The Leadership Team (currently Katje Sabin and Gina Carpenter, with help from Neighborspace) has been working on updating the garden's rules. There is a new application form, and a Gardener's Contract. Every gardener will receive a copy of the updated rules, along with the 2015 calendar, contact list, and plot map, around April (once each gardener has confirmed that they are returning for the 2015 gardening season).

If you had a garden in 2014 but didn't pay your fees, please don't worry... you won't lose your spot. But if you CAN pay now, please consider doing so. Fees go towards garden repairs, improvements, equipment, and administrative costs like paper, copying and mailing. The annual fee is $15, and you can mail it to:
Howard Area Community Garden
c/o Howard Area Community Center
7648 N. Pauline St.
Chicago IL 60626
(P.S. you are also welcome to pay your 2015 fee before the May 1 deadline!)

Bartlett Tree Service, the same company that donated 12 cubic yards of mulch last fall, has also volunteered to remove the large dying elm on the north edge of the garden. When they come in, we'll have about a week's notice... and we will need help to temporarily remove some fencing so they can have proper access. That should happen some time in February or March... stay tuned!

If you need the combination for the lock on the north gate, or a key for the west gate, please email

The Spring Opening Party is scheduled for Earth Day (Saturday, April 25), at 10 a.m. We will be doing some cleanup, share some snacks, have a seed swap, and hold a quick gardeners meeting.  We may also organize a cooperative seedling order from Garden Harvest Supply (they are willing to give us wholesale prices... check out this page to start thinking about which things we'd like to order:

One of the improvements suggested was a dog poop bag dispenser... we've all noticed the GIANT turds on the devil strip, and it would sure be nice if people cleaned up after their mutts. Something like this:

Our garden has officially joined the Rogers Park Garden Group (, an organization that gives out public walkway grants each year), the Chicago Community Garden Association (we're signed up for their annual conference; would anyone like to come with me?, and we've applied for a grant from Kitchen Gardeners International ( We're looking at other grants as well. Would anyone like to help with this?

Would someone be willing to translate our proposed rules into Spanish?

We'd like to look into worm bins (vermiculture). Does anyone have experience with this?

The whole garden had a problem with tomato blight last year, a fungus that kills the healthy plant at the peak of production. We'll be looking into organic ways to get past this, but for now... just be aware that we have it in our soil right now and that we need to plan on working together to get rid of it.

Robin said that NeighborSpace might be able to help us figure out a way to set up online membership payments and donations. And she also suggested that we start up a Friends of the Garden group, for people who can't garden but want to help support our efforts. Would anyone like to work on this project?

Donald Johnson has volunteered to arrange bringing a rototiller to the garden. Stay tuned for more info, and thank you, Donald!

We had a gardener give their space to someone outside the garden without informing the Leadership Team. Please don't do this! We have an established waiting list for folks who have asked to join the garden. If you don't want your space any longer, that's not a problem... just let us know so we can give it to the next person in line. And if you know someone who wants to join the garden, please ask them to send an email to for an application so they can get in line. Right now, there's only one or two people on the waiting list, so it won't be long. And we've had a number of people who have come to garden work days even though they were still on the waiting list... sweat equity. Let's keep things fair and honest; everyone can be involved even if they don't have a plot yet!

If you have any suggestions or would like to pitch in with any of the above projects or ideas, please drop a line to Many hands make light work!

Now we just need to wait for spring...

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