Saturday, November 29, 2008

Groovy Gloves for Gifts!

Slip a pair of these Project Grow gloves in a gift box this holiday season, and know you’ve given one of the snazziest (yet practical) gifts a gardener could want. Little grippy dots help you hold onto that trowel that usually gets away, and these brightly colored gems won't get lost in the swiss chard. A bargain at $10 a pair and sure to put a smile on any gardener's face, they are currently only available at the Annual Greens Market on Thursday, December 4th at Mattheai Botanical Gardens.

Come find us at this great event put on by the Ann Arbor chapter of the National Woman’s Farm and Garden Association. You’ll find plenty of good stuff here to pair with these terrific gloves – plants, the freshest holiday greens ever, unique gifts, baked goods, and super informative demonstrations – and we hope to see you there!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gardeners Save Seeds and the World!

The Environment Report on Michigan Radio ran a great little piece recently about the surge of interest in organic and heirloom seed varieties. Choices as simple as this help maintain the diversity of fruits and vegetables and help ensure our food security now and into the future. So, don your superhero cape, sit down with your seed catalog, and carry on!

(Don't forget about Project Grow's great heirloom seed collection, too! And we offer some terrific classes on seed saving and gardening with heirloom vegetables. If seeds aren't your thing, you can always wear that cape to the Spring Plant Sale in May.)

Photo courtesy of Devo(lutio)n. For more pictures, check out Project Grow's photo pool on Flickr.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Full Frontal Gardening with Fritz Haeg

For most of us, the garden (especially the vegetable garden) is behind the house. Tucked in the back away from public view are tomatoes, herbs, squash, and cucumbers. Zucchini surges to the front only as we desperately try to give them away during peak season. The front yard is sacred space for a tree or two, maybe a flowerbed, and most definitely for grass.

Architect Fritz Haeg (with Melissa in photo at left) overturns that notion in Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn (2008). Exploring the perceived sanctity of the front lawn and what that tells us about ourselves, Edible Estates offers literal and figurative food for thought.

Speaking this past Saturday at an event co-hosted by Project Grow and Avalon Housing, Haeg revealed a gardeners dream as grassy front lawns became lush garden spaces. Strawberries bloom on a New Jersey street corner and okra lines a sidewalk in Kansas. Kumquat and lemon trees grow in Los Angeles along with melons, cucumbers, collards, and a bevy of other vegetables.

Haeg writes that “Food grown in our front yards will connect us to the seasons, the organic cycles of the earth, and our neighbors.” (pg. 22, Edible Estates) Each of the photos mentioned above contained not just plants, but people working the gardens together, sharing the joy of getting their hands dirty in the front yard.

Aiming to create a space where everyday people could build something collectively to express unity and cooperation in a time that Haeg desperately felt needed it, the Edible Estates project continues to turn heads while turning the soil. Gardens created in Salina, Kansas; Baltimore, Maryland; Los Angeles, as well as communal gardens in affordable housing complexes in Austin, Texas and London, UK, offer a simple strategy for bringing people together and possibly even changing the world.

Haeg believes turning empty grass into productive garden space creates possibility. From a first tomato plant to the first harvest, sharing seeds and then sharing stories, gardens like those created by Project Grow and Edible Estates create a common ground of cooperation and community – the building blocks of democracy as we often think of it - in a world where so often we only see what divides us. “Full frontal gardening” is a statement about what could be best in our society and unearthing what may be most essential.

“Politicians, architects, developers, urban citizens, we all crave permanent monuments that will give a sense of place and survive as a lasting testament to ourselves and our time. We were here! These monuments have their place, but their capacity to bring about meaningful change in the way we live is quite limited. A small garden of very modest means, humble materials, and a little effort can have a radical effect on the life of a family, how they spend their time and relate to their environment, whom they see, and how they eat. This singular local response to global issues can become a model. It can be enacted by anyone in the world and can have a monumental impact.” (pg. 27, Edible Estates)