Tag Archives: gardens

Here come the catalogs I love! Cheers to the still green peas!

By Edith Morgan

For the first time this winter, we have a bit of snow on the ground, with some ice beneath. Luckily, the schools are still out until after the New Year, and so the slippery sleet on the roads and sidewalks is not a danger to buses and cars  – at least not for the school children, and also not for college students, who are on their winter break, too.

But for those of us who are at home much of the day when the weather gets nasty, the ice and snow are a worry. So we stay in, and wait …

The mail arrives and brings its usual load of “begging” letters,  replete with address stickers, calendars, and all manner of appeals – all designed to pull money out of our pockets. I would have to spend a great deal of time checking out all these apparently worthy causes, with many having names so similar that it is easy to get fooled. So I have started to give directly and locally, to outfits I know, or to organizations that I know really well, and who have a track record of spending the funds I donate directly to their causes, without huge administrative costs and high-paid staffs. 

But intermingled now with all this mail that I usually toss out, the gardening catalogs have begun to arrive!

And with the early coming of night still, just days after the winter solstice, these seed and plant catalogs give me a boost and let me look forward to the coming of spring. (I am told that the very mild winter so far has caused some plants to become confused and to begin sprouting in the middle of winter.)

The seed catalogs are a joy to behold: so many mouth-watering vegetables in full color – pages of bright red and even yellow tomatoes, in all sizes and of varied pedigrees!! And I can get them in various stages of development, too! Further on, peppers too come in so many shapes, sizes and colors – not just the familiar green, but  yellow, orange, and all shades in between.

Not to be outdone, potatoes also take many shapes and colors now,  and last but not least, onions and their many relatives fill more pages with their infinite variety.

Beans too have branched out, into the yellows and purples, but the lowly pea has stayed true to its nature and remained bright green, though of various sizes. Lettuce still is dominated by greens, but sports an infinite variety of leaf shapes.

I have not even gotten to the cucumbers, squashes, carrots, beets and other  less frequently planted vegetables.

But just looking over this mouth-watering assortment is enough to take my mind off the weather outside and to realize that once again, the old saying that ”if winter comes, can spring be far behind?” is still true.

Maybe soon I can start to think about the flowers I want to raise in my back yard …

But for now, we can all watch the snow fall and dream of our gardens, as we would like them to be … soon.

Warm Summer Memories

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By Bettny Mazur

For those of you who I have yet to meet at a Farmer’s Market, Spring Garden Festival, or YouthGROW event, my name is Bettny Mazur, and I am the YouthGROW Farm Manager, starting my second year as an Americorps VISTA.

As our days are getting shorter and the winds chillier, I take a moment to reflect fondly on the summer that brought us so much laughter, growth, and pounds upon pounds of vegetables. It is also a time for me to reflect on my first complete season as the YouthGROW Farm Manager, and all that I learned and everyone I learned from. First shout-out goes to Mother Earth who cares little for how much water you need and when, yet is abundant in rain, sunshine, and the glorious living soil that supports it all. The second, and most important, shout-out goes to the amazing YouthGROWers, all 34 of them, who brought meaning to all of the work that I do.

When I am down, I think about all 16 youth at Bell Hill working together to support 50 feet of PCV pipes to funnel water gushing in the streets into our rainbarrels, which supplied us with water throughout the summer. I think of pulling our first garlic (finally!) and seeing the youths’ faces as they were able to see what was laying beneath those long stalks that were there all summer. I remember hearing first-year youth Manny give his first farm tour, insisting on being called Farmer Manny, as he explained what companion planting and herb spirals were, with so much excitement.

 These are the memories that get me through the long cold winters in the office, when I actually have to be inside in front of a computer instead of being outside getting sunburns and dirt under my fingernails. 

I’m reminded that creating spreadsheets with seed companies and vegetable varieties actually means thousands of seedlings that the community and school gardens will soon take home to grow in their own gardens, teaching children of all ages what it means to grow your own food. I know that the piece of paper with a farm outline is the basis for growing and learning about those seedlings with the YouthGROWers and harvesting them for tasty community meals and farmers market sales.

 These are the things that keep me going: thinking of the cycles and connectivity of it all. Sure I have learned a thing or two from having my own gardens and many googlings of “how to grow…” but the real learning comes from the youth who teach me how to be calm when things don’t always go your way, to go through so much strife and still greet the world with a smile, and how to work hard towards something you believe in for the betterment of your community. So I shout a huge THANK YOU into the chilly night sky for all that this opportunity as the YouthGROW Farm Manager has given me, and how I will never be the same from it.

Bettny Mazur is YouthGROW Farm Manager.

My inner-city neighbors are the best!!

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Sure the Canal District and surrounding area seems to have become a dumping ground for garbage galore and shooting gallery/stabbing/gun hot-spot! I am  on the horn almost every day with city officials and state reps asking for the garbage to be removed, the extra Worcester Police Department foot patrols to be deployed  …

But then there’s this HEAVEN-SENT stuff happening …

… A wonderful garden in my back yard (right where I found the used junky syringe!). Here’s Jett getting nosy with a lovely squash!! We’ve got tomatoes, too! And (had) sunflowers!

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… My downstairs neighbor is the sweetest! She gives me her cool clothes and pocketbooks! She’s quite the fashion plate and gets bored with her stuff real quick! So … Here I am several days ago, heading out the door to run InCity Times, wearing one of her pretty blouses!  Now mine! Thanks, in-city gal pal!

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My other downstairs neighbor came upstairs and gave me some Halloween cupcakes and cookies, along with this BEAUTIFUL card! I love the message PEACE FOREVER EVERYWHERE… This was after I went down to her place and gave her and her roommate a thank-you gift for a gift they had given me! How awesome are these people? Right in the middle of all the shootings and stabbings … all this love!

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And today I am making a Halloween fun gift for the kids across the street because they helped my roundup a homeless street kitten that needed a good home! These boys were the best! Here is Jett back at my shack being nosy (again) with their pumpkin I am about to fill with candy!

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The time to make up your mind about the hood is – NEVER!! 

From The Worcester Tree Initiative …

Join Congressman Jim McGovern … [and guests] as we celebrate the planting of our 30,000th tree! We are proud to say that we have accomplished that goal!

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Worcester Tree Initiative, Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), City of Worcester, and other agencies, we’ve met the goal, and 30,000 trees have been planted!!

To thank everyone who has helped us reach this milestone we will have a celebration on Monday, Oct 6,  9:30 am at Burncoat High School (179 Burncoat St.) – located in the heart of the ALB infestation area and the site of our very first Giveaway on April 25 2009.

Refreshments by Culinary Arts students from Worcester Technical High School will be provided.

The event will be accompanied by music from Burncoat High Students’ Quadrivium Chorus and String Ensemble along with a routine from the school’s Color Guard.

There is also a student art exhibit. Information from our local environmental groups will be provided at our tabling area.

The Celebration will be followed by an optional 30-minute bus tour of Reforested Burncoat and Greendale neighborhoods, courtesy of WRTA (RSVP required). Please join us as we celebrate this momentous achievement and thank you for your continuous support!

REC has lovely farmers markets throughout Worcester! They also have a HUGE community garden on Oread Street in Main South …

Yesterday, I was driving around the lovely Main South, and here is how the REC community garden grew! Cold out when I took the photos! Not a lot happening above ground! Veggies busy growing under terra!

The kids of REC’s YouthGROW program help plant and care for the “crops” – all organic – and sell them at REC’s farmers markets! How cool is that? Support the kids of YouthGROW!

Check out REC’s website  – CLICK HERE! –  to learn more and read about REC’s festivals and other great community celebrations.

– R. Tirella

Youth Growing Organics in Worcester

In 2003 REC’s Food Justice Program initiated YouthGROW, an urban agriculture-focused youth development and employment program for low-income teens. YouthGROW (Youth Growing Organics in Worcester) employs 32-40 low income high school age teens year-round who gain leadership and jobs skills as they maintain two urban organic farms.

YouthGROWers complete a curriculum focused on Professional Development, Leadership Skills, Urban Agriculture, and Social Justice (PLUS,) through participation in the 8-week summer session, monthly workshops, internships, and community service.

Each year 7 returning teens are selected as Youth Leaders and 4 teens with at least 2 years of program experience are given junior staff positions. These Youth Leaders and junior staff attend weekly meetings with adult staff before and after the intensive 8-week summer training program to plan the curriculum and activities. All decisions within YouthGROW are made using a consensus process which ensures that youth ideas and opinions are given real value in the decision-making process and that participants craft decisions that all can agree with.

The YouthGROW project is a model of participant-led design and implementation that has been shared at regional and national conferences.