“It all started with a butternut squash,” she said. About a year ago I got a call from Nina Girvetz asking for help on a garden project. She said that vacant lot next door to her church was the perfect place for a garden, and when her friend Dru Hammer handed her a butternut squash, they knew it had to happen.
The residents of the Dream Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping inner cities, have taken refuge there for a number of reasons, but all have come with the hopes of getting their lives back in order. The women of the Dream Center heard about the possibility of getting a garden and were thrilled with the idea.
Nina Girvetz (left front) and me (top middle) with the ladies of the Dream Center Discipleship and soil and fertilizer donated by Kellogg Garden Products.
One of the first things the gals said they wanted were fruit trees, so I designed a garden surrounded by nectarines, peaches, plums, apples, apricots and avocado trees. Nina graciously donated 10 bare-root organic fruit trees to the garden and in January 2010, we planted them together.
Prepping the planting holes for the bare-root trees. The stick on the ground in front is a tree!
The gals prepared for the trees by digging huge holes (a little overkill, but they were excited) which we filled with organic planting soil and organic fertilizer specifically for fruit trees. We placed each tree in the hole and lined up the grafting point with the soil line, then backfilled with more soil.
Planting a bare-root fruit tree
The ladies had a collection of bricks on hand to finish off the planting area once the trees were in the ground. There was such a pride of ownership as we stood there looking over the work that had been done. The faces in the picture below show it all.
A newly planted apple tree. For some, this was their first time planting anything.
Since January the trees have nearly doubled in size and some even produced fruit this season. They are still young trees so they have a ways to go before they will start feeding the residents of the Dream Center, but eventually the plan is to incorporate food from the garden into the kitchen where they feed hundreds of people each day.
At this writing, we are about to install raised beds, and we’ll begin planting their first garden this November if all goes according to plan. Since January, Nina and the Dream Center have secured donations and discounted materials from Home Depot, Bourget Brothers, Jimmy Williams of Hayground Organics, The Hammer Foundation, Kellogg Garden Products and Gardener’s Supply.
The women of the Dream Center can’t wait to get growin’. To be continued…