Sunday, June 14, 2009

Feed My Sheep Community Garden

UPDATE: In spring 2011, due to the merger of Asbury Temple with another congregation and pending building renovation, the garden has moved to Eastway Elementary School, and will now serve educational goals as well as aiding food security in East Durham.

(the predecessor to CommunEcos) was a proud partner in the founding of the Feed My Sheep community garden at Asbury Temple UMC Church (corner of Angier & Alston Ave.). The first section of the raised bed organic garden was built in June 2009, the garden doubled in size in early July, and in early Dec. our raised bed space doubled again, thanks to a donation from NEEM in coordination with Durham's Community Development office, with funds from Glaxo Smith-Kline.!! The garden was a centerpiece in the church's Wright Room youth program in July and August 2009. YIKES! led morning workshops on sustainable approaches to gardening on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the 4-week program. [see below for fall activities of the garden crew]

The garden came about as a joint project of yikes!, Public Allies & Asbury Temple's Feed My Sheep food ministry. Three UNC service learning students, Linnie Greene, Jayme Strowd & Tavia Benjamin worked with Sandy on bio-intensive methods & container gardening in the spring of 2009 as part of an anthropology course titled "Inventing a Sustainable Agriculture." The students used container gardening to get a variety of seedlings underway; Our partners, the NCCU Public Allies organizers class (see Eric & Tionya above!) did neighborhood outreach and obtained a small grant to fund the project. The students gave a workshop with community members on biointensive methods in April. Rachel Hardy, who directs the "Feed My Sheep" food ministry at Asbury Temple, at corner of Alston and Angier in Durham, NC, secured permission for the garden on church grounds in May. Eric and Sandy did a presentation about the garden at a Feed My Sheep food distribution day. Many thanks to LeDarrell Murray, who brought his tiller to break ground on our first garden workday, and to David Arthur of Isaiah House/Jubilee Restoration Project who consulted with us on the entire project and built the frame for the raised bed.
During the July 2009 Wright Room youth program at Asbury Temple YIKES! volunteers Sandy & Nyota offered classes on community gardening and biointensive methods to young people (covering a range of ages from 1st through 12th grade) enrolled in the program two days a week. The young people filled the bed and planted the new portion of the garden and took care of it. We planted tomatoes, onions, cabbage, brocolli, green beans, swiss chard, squash, zuchinni and cucumbers. We ended the program with a tasting and sharing of recipes for healthy dishes made from fresh produce. Most vegetables we planted were very productive.

We held a fall garden workday to clear old annuals and plant winter vegetables. Later in Nov. Eric installed landscape fabric to protect plants from freezing weather. On Dec. 8th the staff from NEEM (Natural Ecological and Environmental Management) built and filled two additional raised beds, effectively doubling our space in preparation for the spring season. The new beds have a rich organic soil mix, with compost enriched from products of the Indian Neem tree, which stimulate root growth and contain natural pesticides. Our first spring planting of cool season veggies took place in March 2010, and we have set up a weekly watering schedule. Periodic workdays have taken place since, and once again the garden was a centerpiece of the Wright Room program. To join the garden co-op, email Rachel: rahardy0052 @ or Sandy: scsmith @