Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

working on the new sign along Broadway

In Uncategorized on June 14, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Our artist talent, Rachel Nelson, went to work (once again) on the new sign along Broadway Street, now that our “old” sign is installed along the alley.  We are really excited about our new sign from KIB because it has a cork board in back for pictures and announcements.  It is also larger so that we can put our contact info on it.  Tyson had the great idea of a sunflower at the top where the sign is curved.  Here are some pics to see our artist-gardener at work.  If you want to see some of her (and her husband’s) creative activity, check out their great garden signs in their plot!


the artist-gardener at work!

sketching the sunflower

sketching the IndyTilth logo

preliminary product


work party with KIB visiting youth team

In Uncategorized on June 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm

We were privileged to work with a visiting youth group who was traveling across the country and volunteering on projects like the Broadway Community Garden.  They were hard workers, and we very much appreciate their help!  See below for some of the results of their work:

building a cistern stand with pavers

moving and spreading dirt in low spots

digging out invasive plants (and stumps!)

newly installed garden sign along the alley

lead tests complete

In Uncategorized on May 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm

A couple months ago, we collected soil samples to send off to the Filippelli lab.  Dr. Gabe Filippelli is an earth scientist with international expertise in soil lead contamination and works at IUPUI.  He is also a wonderful person and tremendous advocate for urban gardeners.  He provides a FREE service to the community by testing for soil lead contamination.  We decided to be ‘in the know’ and get our community garden soil tested.  Soil lead contamination is very common problem in Indianapolis and other urban areas due to lead-based paint, leaded gasoline and the presence of lead smelters.  We sampled along 3 east-west trajectories along the length of the lot (north, middle and south) in 4 places each (12 samples).  We took a generous sample of soil up to about 6 inches deep and sent it off.  Yesterday, Gabe contacted me with results:



Organic matter






































































































Average of all gardens








Unfortunately, we have lead-contaminated soil.  Thankfully, we took the appropriate precautions and anticipated this possibility.  The EPA says that it is not safe to plant vegetables in areas where the soils has more than 200 ppm of lead.  As shown above, we have several areas where this is the case.  Luckily, these are solely in areas where we do not have garden beds as they are shaded areas of the lot.  Even in the borderline middle areas, there are no beds as this is where our wood-chipped area for hanging out has been designated.  In the remaining areas, we have raised beds with a thick layer of cardboard beneath or the plan for fruit trees (soil lead contamination does not threaten fruit).  The other benefit learned from this soil testing is that our garden lot has higher than average organic matter.  This is surprising since the soil has not been amended.  In addition, we would only anticipate the organic matter will improve as we add compost to our beds over the years.  In any case, higher organic matter reduces the likelihood of individual plants to absorb lead thus further reducing the likelihood of food contamination.  We will reduce remaining risks by making sure raised beds are 12″ or more deep with clean topsoil/compost and, if not, refraining from planting root crops (carrots, radishes, etc).  We will also make sure to have covered surfaces throughout the lot – either woodchips, garden beds, or grass.  The bare ground offers another source of health risk, particularly for kids, who are more likely to ingest dirt while playing (or afterwards from not washing their hands).

For more information on Dr. Filippelli’s free soil lead testing program and other lead contamination resources, please check out the IndyTilth website under ‘local soil contaminant testing’.  We will keep you posted on whether we find ways to test our bounty for lead contamination – the true test of whether our soil remediation is successful.  Please stay tuned…

collaboration with Shortridge student gardeners

In Uncategorized on May 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm

I had long admired the Shortridge Magnet High School greenhouse but just a few months ago I realized that it didn’t seem to be used. Since this was around the time I was starting my own seeds indoors, I thought I would query some of the school’s teachers to see if they were interested in collaborating in a seed starting project together. I heard back almost immediately from Sheryl Miles and Leslie Fatum. We set up a 3 session tutorial on seed starting over a period of 2 weeks. And, with the help of the teachers, 5 Broadway Community Garden volunteers, and over 20 students, we planted around 200-300 pepper and tomato seeds. The students were divided into shifts to keep the young seedlings watered and they were growing beautifully. Unfortunately, over spring break they all died. I suspect they dried up but really anything could have happened. I was very disappointed but when I emailed the teachers, they offered to start some seeds again. This time a smaller group of students helped out and a now-well-seasoned volunteer – John Kerwin – and the teachers helped oversee the second seed planting. I just stopped by this last week to check on the seeds. They look great! This time instead of only peppers and tomatoes, the students started all sorts of plants – watermelon and cantaloup, squash, greens, and many more! We are now scheduling a field trip date to get them in the ground – likely toward the middle to end of May. We have a bed reserved for the Shortridge students. I hope some of them can continue participating in the garden over the summer.

April community garden work day a success!

In Uncategorized on April 26, 2011 at 2:10 am

Thanks to a forgiving forecast, a generous supply of compost, woodchips and supplies from KIB, and a lot of very hard work on the part of our Broadway Community Gardeners, we laid over 2000 square feet of garden beds and paths on Saturday. Surprisingly, the holiday weekend (Easter) and threat of thunderstorms did not keep our neighbors away. (Although there were no KIB volunteers, they may be helping out at a future work party.) We had 14 or more very capable adults and too-many-to-count kids helping out. Before the event even begun, John had set up a tent and helped mark out the beds and Tyson made the quickly-becoming-tradition of Long’s donuts a reality by getting up bright and early to stand in line.

getting started on the herb garden excavation

Rachel and Josh joined in and brought their friend from Ft Wayne who was a total trouper – spending her vacation digging up sod and hauling dirt. Ms. Harris then joined in with her extended family – first with 2 of her sons and then several grandchildren!

Ms. Harris kept us going!

She not only was a hard worker but could be heard chuckling and, at one point, singing the tune to ‘Green Acres.’ Her grandkids helped Tyson install the sign.

installing the sign

Xavier was completely unstoppable! I am not sure he even stopped for donuts or water. He not only hauled compost and woodchips but several kids in the wheelbarrow.

getting a wheelbarrow ride

When they weren’t in the wheelbarrow, heading back to the pile to help with another load, they were in John’s tractor heading over hill and dale – around the garden or the block.

moving woodchips

Shane, a neighbor and master gardener who tends a community plot on N Park, helped out with his daughter Mona.

In addition to the tools, compost and woodchips, Ginny Roberts came through with a couple flats of herbs – some perennial and some annual.

garden preparation

Herb and Todd helped plant them after excavating the area by the sidewalk along with several other gardeners. Ginny also brought a paw paw and 2 persimmon trees. I am not sure the persimmon trees will end up on this lot but we will find them a good home in the neighborhood. These trees need full sun and 30-70 vertical feet to grow! This space is already spoken for by our other fruit trees and so we will stick to the paw paw (and hopefully a companion paw paw to pollinate it). We also have several other understory trees to plant in the shady area of the lot for the May 14th NeighborWoods planting. Hopefully we can work on the cistern stands at that time and lay the remaining garden beds.

It seemed like the time flew by and we made a lot of progress. We laid 7 beds and paths and a 30 foot diameter woodchipped common area which will ultimately have a firepit for socializing and food preparation. This is where we ultimately took a break for some pizza.

stopping for a quick lunch

Many had to take off but several die-hard gardeners carried on. John helped Bearly get some starts going in his plot.

Bearly protecting his newly-planted seedlings

Several others marked their plots for a soon-to-be return visit.

I really look forward to seeing people spending time at the Broadway Community Garden. It is really shaping up to be a very nice place thanks to the help of so many last Saturday! Stay tuned for our next community garden work party. In the meantime, let me know if you are interested in a plot or have some news to share on your own plot. Happy gardening!

cardboard from Office Furniture Mart

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2011 at 12:02 am

In preparation for our big work day on April 23, I have been calling around for cardboard. Why cardboard? Well, at the brilliant suggestion of Ginny at KIB, we will not be tilling our beds. Rather, we will be placing 12″ of compost on top of cardboard. The cardboard nicely suppresses the underlying grass (and in our case grass and weeds) and decomposes over the next 6-12 months into great nutrients for our garden beds. So, we will be covering almost our entire 50’x120′ lot with cardboard. That is a lot of cardboard!

cardboard at BCG!

It turns out that most appliance stores no longer get their appliances delivered in cardboard boxes. This came as a shock to me but I am happy that there is some effort to reduce waste. We recented were ‘gifted’ some cardboard boxes from MFCDC when they got new office chairs. Yes, office chairs still come in cardboard boxes! So, I called Office Furniture Mart. Office Furniture Mart was great! All of the staff I met were so friendly. Mark Outcalt showed me the box truck FULL of cardboard and said, ‘will this be enough?’ Apparently, they had been collecting cardboard since about November. They were going to be taking it to be recycled (yes, they have recycled since the 70s!) when I came along. They thankfully were willing to bypass taking the cardboard to the recycler so that we could use it.

Tyrone was a HUGE help!

Saturday Tyrone (from Office Furniture Mart) loaded (and I tried to help – though he did ALL the heavy lifting) and I unloaded 3 van-fulls of cardboard. What an accomplishment! Now all we have to do is lay it all over the lot, tack it down with landscape staples, and spread about 30 cubic yards of compost and 30 cubic yards of wood chips on it!

cardboard loaded in the van

A BIG thank you to Office Furniture Mart and especially Mark & Tyrone for their help and generosity!

garden design

In Uncategorized on April 4, 2011 at 11:29 pm

After a few iterations with our crew, we sought professional input from Michelle Ray who is a design intern at KIB. Michelle has done wonders with our ‘sketches’, and we are very excited to put it into action on April 23rd. Thanks Michelle and KIB!!

Broadway Community Garden design

chip happened

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2010 at 2:15 am

We chipped *a lot* of brush Saturday and Sunday…and we’ll use the mulch at the future Broadway Community Garden at 3415 Broadway Street.

a lot of brush to be chipped...

In the meantime, the mulch pile (4 feet tall and 30 feet long – piled at the back of the lot directly adjacent to the alley) will act as a deterrent for those ne’er-do-wells that like to park on the lot to conduct…transactions.

We had a great time cutting brush from yards and alleyways in the 3300 and 3400 blocks of Broadway in the weeks prior, and several neighbors took advantage of the opportunity to trim junk trees and drop off the brush to be chipped. The chipping is always fun (if loud), and we now have plenty of raw material (as well as a nice, sunny lot) to support new garden beds next spring.

compost area (left) and wood chip "berm"

In the course of clearing brush at the site of community garden, we also uncovered some long-forgotten sections of chain-link fence – they are configured perfectly to serve as a bin for leaf composting, which will in turn provide us with rich soil.

all chipped - doesn't it look nice?

Special Thanks to neighbor John Kerwin who has worked diligently on the Broadway Community 

Garden from the first planning meeting to chipping brush all day both Saturday and Sunday, Philip Hooper who lent a hand (and his chainsaw) felling trees, and neighbor Charles who provided wonderful barbecued sausages and fixings before the rain came on Saturday.

Enjoy the pictures. We’ll do it again next year…Chip Happens 2011!

Tyson & Sarah

visioning event

In Uncategorized on August 8, 2010 at 2:27 am

sharing food and ideas about our community garden

Eight neighbors participated, all of whom lived within 1 block of the site. We ended up talking for over 3 hours about the project! One pair of residents who live across the street from each other (1 lived in that location for 8 years, the other for about 15 years) learned each others’ names for the first time. It was amazing to watch how this idea of a community garden excited us and stimulated our engagement in other ways. Two individuals agreed to sign up to be adopt-a-block coordinators. Six were interested in planting trees as part of our NeighborWoods application. Most importantly, we got to know each other – what we like and don’t like about living here and what we want to do to improve our area. One gentleman has no interest in gardening but came because he is supportive of the other (non-food) benefits of this plan. Immediately after the visioning event, three of us worked on trimming a tree which was diseased and had some dead limbs until it got too dark to work. Everyone asked about what they could do to help with the site including mowing, cutting back brush, etc. Any number of projects could probably have served this purpose but I believe community gardening particularly resonates with my neighbors because of their basic familiarity with gardening and its benefits. In addition, we are eager to use vacant land for a purpose, one which will unite and contribute positively to the area in many ways.

does this look like a community garden?

In Uncategorized on March 18, 2010 at 3:43 am

a community garden?

So, we purchased the lot.  That’s the easy part.  Now it’s time for engaging our neighbors and seeing what it might look like.  Does it even get enough sun?

no sunshine here...

Do we keep the tree in the middle?  What are we going to do about all the illegal dumping?  And drug dealing?