You can get an idea of the size of these three big hoop houses here. You can also see how wet things have been lately!Read More
“To Everything There Is A Season” is not exactly an original line, but so true, especially in a garden. At this point in September however, we see both summer and fall crops co-mingling in the beds and that is something I certainly have occasion to enjoy.
While I’m not yet tired of tomatoes, I surely am happy to see lettuces and other greens that prefer the cooler nights and days coming into their own. Last night we enjoyed fresh young turnip greens with our field peas, sliced tomatoes and grilled sweet peppers. The best of both worlds!
While the favorites of both seasons have their brief moments of co-existing, it is clear the days are coming when heat loving summer vegetables will be finished. In the meantime, it is nice to see the bright green of the turnips and lettuces next to the struggling okra stalks.
Sparta had the pleasure of hosting about 25 old Model A Fords and their proud owners this past weekend. A number of historic houses were open for touring on Saturday, including 15 Elm Street, the home of Elm Street Gardens. This house tour, sponsored by the Sparta Historical Society, was open to any who were interested as well as the Model A group who enhanced the Sparta streets with their old cars.
Robert and I enjoyed our various guests during the house tour that day and talking about the house we love as well as showing off the gardens. We also had the pleasure of being the location for dinner for the Model A touring group.
As dinner time approached however, so did the afternoon thunderstorms and the rain made it impossible to set up on the lawn as originally planned for dinner. We moved the rented tables and chairs to the dining room and the connecting front parlor and everyone fit in just fine. We now know there is a way to seat 54 people for dinner in our house.
We had a grand day. And hope we get to do it again!
We had our 5th annual Hancock Community Labor Day Picnic here on Elm Street on the appropriate day. The temperatures were right up there to make it one of the hottest days we have had this summer (I chose not to look and find out just how hot it was). It has been very dry here and we have spent a lot of time wishing the rain would pour down, but instead we got the sun pouring down on us.
Despite the hydrangeas looking a bit crispy, it all worked out very well with lots of good potluck dishes and pork and chicken barbeque as well as a whole lot of very nice people sharing in the work and visiting with old friends and new. And that is what it is all about: The community coming together.
For the second summer in a row, Elm Street Gardens and Sparta Imperial Mushrooms have had the experience of hosting students from Oglethorpe University and Agnes Scott College. For the month of June five students spent their time with us in Hancock County. They worked at farming, growing mushrooms, finding out what it takes to raise grass fed beef and sheep as well as experiencing what middle Georgia has to offer for its citizens.
We shared these good workers with Fort Creek Farm where Bob and Susan Woodall and Chris Jackson raise grass fed beef, goats, and chickens as well as diligently work on preserving the history of this old Hancock plantation. The interns also spent some time with Lyle Lansdell at Forest Grove Farm, her old family farm in Sandersville, where in addition to fruits and vegetables, she raises sheep. They spent a morning with Debbie Waugh of Salamander Springs Farm near Milledgeville and were awed by her practice of permaculture and ability to live off the grid. Forester Jeff Lacksen gave them an afternoon’s view of the forestry industry in Hancock County.
This was a terrific group of students who were articulate, interested in the world around them and agreeable to whatever task was assigned to them. They had the opportunity of attending farmers markets, working at Helping Hands (a Hancock food bank) and cleaning up the grounds at the Hancock Library as well as exploring parts of middle Georgia that were new to them.
I’m going to take the liberty to share some of the comments made by the interns on their evaluations at the end of the experience:
“I really enjoyed getting to know the other interns and learning how to farm. I left the internship with a solid idea of how to maintain a farm. I also enjoyed the stars, the rock quarry and the slow pace of life.”
“ working on Forest Grove farm was interesting to see how one woman is able to do so much with what was given to her.”
“It is also important to experience the poverty in Hancock County. It's one thing to intellectually understand poverty but it is another thing to experience it. That aspect of the internship cannot be replicated.”
“For the most part this experience met my expectations. I think there could have been more educational materials and hands on learning. Instead, we mostly did hands on work with little explanation. The level of work was as I expected.”
“The people. Hanging out with my peers. Working and learning with the Currey's, Jim, Liz, Brian, Jonathan, Chris, The Woodalls, Tom, Mr. Ned, Ms. Lyle, and Karina. This honestly was the best part, I made connections and relationship that will help me facilitate my endeavors and will be friends and support.”
“I feel like I got a bit of Hancock in my blood now.”
We were pleasantly surprised with the comments made by the interns on their evaluations, but they almost all nailed us on our greatest weakness: Which was the fact that they would have liked more educational instruction on farming. I agree that we and the schools could have done more in that department. I am pretty sure that they learned that farming is a lot of work and we will try to throw in more “book learning” and explanation of the processes involved next time.
I have invited them and hope they will be able to return to Elm Street Gardens and Hancock County whenever they wish, but most especially for our Community Labor Day Picnic. I was so impressed with these students and their attitudes and insights. They certainly made this old soul feel good about this generation that is coming along!
Below I am sharing some pictures Betty Longdergan (wife of Oglethorpe University President and skilled photographer among other accomplishments) took during a visit to Elm Street Gardens at the end of the interns’ third week here.
One thing for sure is that we can’t complain about being lonely here on Elm Street these days: We have had so many folks come by to see the gardens in the past couple of months! Some are folks we know, some are strangers, but all turn out to be friends.
We are lucky to have all this attention, but I know it will slow down considerably as the weather reaches increased summer levels of heat. Some days are already there. (But often we still have our “fall line” wind to help cool us a bit on many days.)
We have enjoyed visits from the Good Earth Garden Club from Swainsboro/Metter with middle Georgia fruit expert and good friend, Jerry Larson, in attendance. There was a great group of ladies from the Holiday Shores Garden Club here in Hancock County, the dream team Bragg riders from Dublin, Georgia, friends of our Sparta/Athens friend Dale Couch who are accomplished restoration experts and so many others, I know I am forgetting some. Lots of folks who came in ones or twos to check things out at Elm Street Gardens and Sparta Imperial Mushrooms were here on impromptu visits or scheduled tours. Love them all!
Very near and dear to my heart are the groups who came from a summer gardening course at the Hancock public schools. These middle school students showed encouraging interest in growing their food, eating well and organic principles.
Unfortunately, I have not been too good at taking pictures of these events. Too busy talking, I guess. I do have a few to show you here and I won’t try to substitute a thousand words for the lack of pictures. Hope we can interest more folks to visit and see what can be done and grown here in Sparta, Georgia!