ROCK ISLAND -- Drought damage hardly fazed growing numbers of weeds or refugees at a community garden.|
Dry conditions ''may have gotten the best of what we were growing,'' Broadway Presbyterian Church administrator Vikki Blair said. But it wasn't a total waste, she said.
''There was some type of weed we normally would have just pulled out, but it was something of a delicacy for African and Asian refugees,'' Ms. Blair said. ''They just loved cooking and eating it.''
It served as a lesson for church members and her to ''not take some things for granted,'' Ms. Blair said.
Other lessons learned by a Rock Island Community Garden Consortium in its first year of existence will be discussed at a 3 p.m. meeting Monday at the church, 710 23rd St.
Gardeners and other community members are invited to share in the conversation, Ms. Blair said.
''On the agenda will be how our gardens are doing, the farmers' markets, how to water in drought conditions, what needs the most water and replanting in the fall,'' according to a news release about the meeting.
A similar community garden at Franklin Field, near 9th Street at 13th Avenue, is faring better than the church's refugee garden, Ms. Blair said. The Franklin land is more fertile because it's been developed over the past six years or so, she said.
The church's garden at 25th Street and 9th Avenue, where the Valley Homes housing project once sat, needs additional clearing and compost to reach the same fertile point, she said.
The University of Illinois Extension and members of the Pioneering Healthy Communities organization have helped the church-based Quad City Resettlement Group get everything started, Ms. Blair said.
Pioneering Healthy Communities consists of a group of concerned people who want to make sure fresh produce is available for people living on the city's west end, ''a virtual food desert,'' she said.
Broadway's consortium is designed for anyone interested in gardening who wants to get together to share ideas and learn from each other, and who are interested in selling their produce at farmers' markets, one of which is held from 4 to 6 p.m. every Wednesday at the refugee garden site.
For information, call the church at (309) 786-2631 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A calendar of gardening classes also will be announced during Monday's meeting, Ms. Blair said. Classes will include greenhouse construction instructions, canning and preserving, gardening tips, recipes and cooking ideas and sustainable organic growing techniques.
They certainly don't want to use any pesticides or nonorganic methods, especially since their refugee clients even find one of the weeds so delicious, she said.
Some of the refugee immigrants also have brought seeds with them from their home lands to grow here, such as a plant used by Burmese people which costs $5 if bought at a store, Ms. Blair said. It's also a plant deer won't eat, she said.
Ms. Blair and other church volunteers often remind refugees to ''look out for deer'' in the garden. One woman from Nepal, though, had a different perspective about garden varmints, when she asked: ''What, you don't have any elephants?''
''And to think, we were worried about the deer,'' Ms. Blair said. ''It's really all about how you look at things.''
Rock island, IL Details
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