Fantasticfest at the Zion Street Community Garden!

Summer of Solutions is a youth lead urban farming nonprofit based out of Hartford’s Frog Hollow neighborhood. Summer of Solutions creates internship opportunities for young people to build community and school gardens. By maintaining a total of seven gardens, Summer of Solutions teaches young people, as well as members of the community, how to grow and prepare their own food.

On Friday, July 25th from 5-7pm Summer of Solutions will be holding its first “Fantasticfest” which will be a celebration of food, family, and fun. The event, held at Summer of Solutions’ community garden on Zion Street, will also feature a live puppet show, scavenger hunt, and a visit from the Frog Hollow Fire Department. The organization will also be fundraising by selling hot dogs, snacks and handcrafted goods. The event will highlight fantastic seasonal produce, grown by Summer of Solutions interns, volunteers, and participants.

 

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Garden tales

Our day started with standing  in the middle of 84 degrees and a frustrating pile of compost. Aidan and Sonsharae was working in our beautiful community garden on Zion St. Where the day’s task was to move the compost pile down a foot. We were hot and frustrated with the weather, and no shade was in the garden. Until a magical moment happen. Out of now where Aidan created a fine break spot. Although it was only under the tree, it seemed as if they were in a different place. The shade was perfect and so was the wind. Everything seemed more peaceful.

 

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Exhibit In a Day: 3 Ways to Grow Food in A Window

I’m on the team working at the Burns Latino Studies Academy and the Connecticut Trash Museum. Recently, we planned to build an indoor garden exhibit at the museum using recycled materials.

This is the wall where we installed the exhibit. It has three big windows. Step 1: Remove the window blinds

This is the wall where we installed the exhibit. It has three big windows. Step 1: Remove the window blinds

The exhibit is an inside garden used as an example of things you can create in your own garden, house, or apartment. The purpose of the exhibit is to show that you don’t need a lot of space to grow your own food and it can be as simple as hanging curtains on a window. We installed the garden in one big workday on June 27th as to interrupt the museum visitors as little as possible. We planted a variety of things that need just the right amount of space to grow in a box, gutter, or plastic bottle. We planted swiss chard, lettuce, parsley, rosemary, mint, strawberries, and succulents, cilantro, basil, and a few flowers.

This is Tenaya painting the gutter garden. The gutters were recycled from a construction project. We cut  them to 4 feet, drilled drainage holes and wire holes in the bottom, and cemented gutter caps to the edges.

This is Tenaya painting the gutter garden. The gutters were recycled from a construction project. We cut them to 4 feet, drilled drainage holes and wire holes in the bottom, and cemented gutter caps to the edges.

Step 3: We filled each gutter with soil and transplanted our seedlings. Next, we installed hooks over the window frame and hung the gutters. At home, you can just hang them, but because the museum has thousands of children visit each year, we also drilled the gutters into the window frame on each side, so they couldn't be tipped over.

We filled each gutter with soil and transplanted our seedlings. Next, we installed hooks over the window frame and hung the gutters. At home, you can just hang them, but because the museum has thousands of children visit each year, we also drilled the gutters into the window frame on each side, so they couldn’t be tipped over.

 

 

 

This is Brendan and Tenaya mixing compost and manure to make a soil mix for the gutters.

This is Brendan and Tenaya mixing compost and manure to make a soil mix for the gutters.

The first window holds a gutter garden. We built this by taking used gutters and drilling holes at the bottom. Next we strung the gutters with wire that was strong enough to hang from a window and hold the gutters once they were filled with plants and soil. After threading the wire through the gutter, we looped it at the top so the garden would have something to hang from. After assembling the garden we filled it with a mixture of manure and soil (you can use whatever you find suitable for what you want to grow) then transplanted all of our seedlings. With the help of all of our team members and volunteers we hung the gutter garden on fish hooks that we screwed to the top of the window.

Last year, Mike Roach carved a sign for the Zion Street Garden, renaming it in honor of our neighbor, Wesley Colbert. We built this box out of the scrap wood he used to practice the carving.

Last year, Mike Roach carved a sign for the Zion Street Garden, renaming it in honor of our neighbor, Wesley Colbert. We built this box out of the scrap wood he used to practice the carving.

In our second window we made a window box using recycled wood that we painted and lined with landscape fabric and plastic bags. This window will act as our activity station for children visiting the museum. Here we’ll teach them how to make recycled origami planters and more about what they can do to create a garden at home. We’ve also installed a shelf on the window to display samples and visitor creations.

First, Becky and Brendan cut holes in the bottoms and sides of recycled bottles.

First, Becky and Brendan cut holes in the bottoms and sides of recycled bottles. 

Next, we wove each bottle through recycled twine to make sure they were evenly suspended.

Next, we wove each bottle through recycled twine to make sure they were evenly suspended.

We installed a hook in the window frame for each column of bottles.

We installed a hook in the window frame for each column of bottles.

The last window in the exhibit holds our bottle garden. We used recycled beverage bottles and removed the label, giving the roots of the plants an opportunity to show. We removed the top off the bottle, giving ourselves enough room to insert soil and plant inside of the bottles. Next, we poked holes onto the side of the bottom so we could have a way to hang our bottles in the window. We then threaded string vertically through the holes we poked each bottle so they’d hang about 4 inches away from each other, allowing what we planted to have room to grow. We filled the bottles with soil, transplanted our seedlings, and then hung each set of bottles on a fish hook from our window. Once the bottles were hung it created a beautiful stained glass effect that can be a great accent in any apartment or garden.

Here is our exhibit at the end of the day!

Here is our exhibit at the end of the day!

We are so grateful to our extra volunteers who came out to help us pull it off in one day! Thanks Brendan, Diane, and Joey!

We are so grateful to our extra volunteers who came out to help us pull it off in one day! Thanks Brendan, Diane, and Joey

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CT March Against Monsanto

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Last week we participated in the March Against Monsanto put on by Activate CT! March Against Monsanto is a world-wide day of action against the biotech company Monsanto. They were the makers of Agent Orange, DDT, PCBs, and rBGH, and now they are the leading producer of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The safety of GMOs is still up in the air, with Monsanto and the FDA saying they are safe, but independent scientists and concerned activists don’t think their studies have been through enough. When the history of Monsanto is taken into consideration, it makes sense that people would be worried about the safety of their products. For more information, check out the pamphlet below. We were in Hartford near the Old State House on May 23 handing out these pamphlets to people on the street and holding signs about Monsanto and GMOs to raise awareness. We handed out 300 pamphlets to people on the street and had some great conversations. We also included information about all the farmers’ markets and community gardens in Hartford to help residents find access to fresh, local, GMO-free produce.

 

Discovering Edible Weeds

My team works at Burns Latino Studies Academy in Hartford. On Wednesdays, we teach 5 classes ranging from kindergarten to seventh grade. Our seventh grade class is learning about genetics and planted pea plants, constructed trellises, and recorded data to keep track of their progress.

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We had some extra time this week so we used it to weed the garden. I was weeding with a group of girls and I pointed out wild carrots and they thought it was really cool that you could eat something in nature. We talked about the genetics of wild carrots versus the conventional ones you can buy in the grocery store and how the traits that provide the big root we’re used to were selected for over time. Wild carrots are used more for their greens than their roots. Since they were so interested in the wild carrots, I then told them about dandelion greens. I picked one and ate it while I was explaining how they are edible and they freaked out. So I handed them one and told them to try it. They ripped it in half, each took a piece, counted down, put it in their mouth and…they liked it! They kept weeding and at the end of the class they ran over to me with some plants in their hands and excitedly asked me if it was wild carrots.

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They had dug up the whole root, but a lot of the leaves were missing, so I couldn’t really tell, so I did what any curious scientist does, and smelled it. It was definitely carrots and I told the girls to give it a good sniff. They were so excited that they could pick out wild carrots now, and they asked if they could take their carrot home, which of course I allowed.

Being a Intern with SOS

Being at Intern with SOS

I think working in the garden is interesting and fun . I’ve learned a lot of things I didn’t know before . For example there are different ways to plant. Working in the garden has impacted me in a large way because it made me more of a caring individual and I care about the earth more than I did before working with summer solutions.
It’s really important for me to apart of the garden because it feels like I’m actually making something happen . Showing people there’s more to gardening then they think . It feels good knowing I can make something come to life with my two hands .

- Monet Rivera

Cleaning up

Cleaning up

Last Friday SOS Hartford spent 6 hours in the garden, Tidying the space for the community. Putting compose in all the raise beds as well as picking up trash, and planting foods and flower. We are so excited for the nice weather! Come and volunteer at the Wesley Cobert Zion St Garden 3:30 – 5:30 Mondays and Wednesdays.

Working w/ Burns School

Working w/ Burns school

The Burns school team moved 4 yards of compost without a wheelbarrow! Getting ready to plant with kindergarteners this week!!!

Wesley Colbert Zion St Community Garden

Wesley Colbert Zion St Community Garden

Preparing are community garden for our neighbors. Creating available space is fun and exciting especially if you find roots as big as this one

#SustainableSelfies

#SustainableSelfies

This week was Summer of Solutions Hartford’s first week with our brand new internship. We had a blast. Spent day one with a meet and great. But then we day 2 was all about getting dirty. Here is our Zion St interns cleaning the community garden companied by good weather

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