Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Another Great Volunteer Day

We picked up trash, cleaned up beds, tilled the earth, sowed cover crop seeds, spread straw and leaves, mulched paths between the beds.

The Americana Community Garden would like to thank 
 David Weigel, James Brown, Elliott Sternberg, Josh Drake, Lindsay Krebs, Kevin Goins, Evan Buch, Sean Daugherty, Ian Soucy, Colleen Stewart, Brian Ebenschwieger, Dennis Maury, Jordan Murphy, Alex Emery, Duncan Sebastian, Miller Kraps, Zach Baugher, and Nathan Morris for all their hard work. Some of the volunteers came representing the Middletown Christian Church, Trinity High School, and Phi Delta Theta at University of Louisville.

One of the rats that lives under our shed has passed.


We Won! Project Learning Tree Grant!

We’ve won a grant to build an outdoor classroom at the Americana Community Center from Project Learning Tree.  Here is what we hope to accomplish and how we hope to accomplish it:

The Outdoor Garden project will benefit nearly 150 students K-6 who are involved in Kids Garden programming which is part of the greater Summer School and Afterschool programming at the Americana Community Center. In addition, it will benefit some 75 community gardeners who are part of the Americana Community Garden and the Louisville Refugee Agricultural Partnership program. Lastly, it will benefit the participants of the Americana Family Education program whom maintain a plot in the community garden.
The Outdoor Classroom will provide a space for environmental education through lessons, workshops, and demonstrations located within our fifth of an acre Community Garden space next to the Kids Garden, which is maintained by the participants of the program.
It will provide a place to sit, workbenches to use, and a chalkboard outside in the environment about which lessons, workshops, and demonstrations are centered. Often, it is necessary to provide Kids Garden lessons inside the classroom to make use of tables, chairs, and chalkboard. Currently, without this space there exists a disconnect between what is being learned and what is being seen. An Outdoor Classroom provides the space to watch and engage with what is being taught. It will make it possible to teach classes on seed saving while the students look at the tomato patch in the garden from which they have just plucked the ripe tomatoes. Lessons regarding compost can be given while the children are able to see the compost. In addition, an Outdoor Classroom will lessen the amount of time it takes to move from classroom to garden.
The Outdoor Garden will be built in the Spring of 2013. We enlist artists and landscape designers in the community to help us design the outdoor classroom. These ideas will be presented to the students, the community gardeners, and the family education participants for their approval. The designs will be voted upon. The Community Garden Coordinator will collect and buy the materials. Community Gardeners, Kids Garden Students, Community Partners and regular Americana Community Center volunteers will provide labor for its construction.
A survey will be given to the students, asking them what they think a perfect outdoor classroom might look like. During fall Kids Garden program, we will spend one class reviewing pictures of other Outdoor Gardens. Students will be asked to describe the specific items of those classrooms that they like and what they do not like. Their ideas will be considered during the design.
Students will review the designs of the Outdoor Classroom and choose which one best suits them and provide further ideas for what they want in the classroom.
When the design has been chosen, students will be responsible for helping to construct the Outdoor classroom with the volunteers, Community Gardeners, Family Education Participants, and Community Partners.
Teen participants at the Americana Community Center will be trained to become mentors and instructors for the Kids Garden program as well. In addition, Environmental Education will make them leaders in their community. For example, education regarding recycling and composting will provide them with the vocabulary and drive to both lead by example and convince others in their community to recycle and compost. Part of the Kids Garden program will include compost and recycling projects in which the students recycle waste. Students will be responsible for creating presentations exhibiting their environmental projects to the Community Gardeners and the Family Education participants.”

WE NEED YOUR HELP! If you are interested in helping design or construct the outdoor classroom, please email

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


We've harvested everything.

We've saved the tomato seeds.

We’ve cut down the plants.

We’ve chopped up the plants.

We’ve tilled and turned the land.

We’ve planted the cover crop. (Red Clover, Winter Wheat, Austrian Winter Pea, Hairy Vetch, and Mammoth Red Radish. Thanks to Bunton's Seed Company and Fresh Start for the low prices on cover crop seed.)

We’ve covered it with straw.

What shall we do next?


Lucky for us, our monthly volunteer day and the citywide Brightside Community Cleanup Day coincided this year. We did less work in the garden than past volunteer days and instead focused our attention to the aesthetics of the Americana campus outside the garden fence. We picked up trash, weeded flower beds, and  mulched flower beds. (Thanks to Limbwalkers Tree Service for the mulch)
We greatly appreciate our volunteers: 
Olivia Welsh
Jessica Thomas
Samantha Oritz
Sean Klosterman
Sanon Taylor
Rachel Ellis
Christ Moo
Alex Schulz

Americana Community Gardeners joined us as well to clean up their gardens and sow cover crop. Ah Pyu came by, The Adhikari family came by, Annie Kac came by, and so did the Dhakal family. They received help from volunteers Rachel Ellis and Sanon Taylor, both of which received some of the fine harvest for their help.

We usually hold our volunteer day on the 4th Saturday of every month, but we’ll be holding our next volunteer day the 3rd Saturday of November, the 17th, so as to not interfere with anybody’s Thanksgiving weekend.


We’re done with market. All the gardens have been put to bed, but it’s been a better run this year than last. The market lasted longer, the gardeners made more money, the community bought more produce.  We hope to start the market a little earlier next year, maybe in early June, AND we are looking for a new name for the market. Bluegrass Global Growers Market sure is a mouthful and we’d like a name that’s easier to remember but still conveys the international background of our growers.

SO! We’re having a contest for renaming our market. Please comment here to submit or email We’ll collect submissions until March of 2013 and then hold a vote on the Americana Community Center Facebook page and on this blog. The prizes for the winner have not been determined, but we’ll figure out something good.


During the Bluegrass Global Growers Market, sometime in September, some of the gals from the Americana Afterschool Program wanted me to buy them some plums.  I said no. But then I looked around the grassy fields on campus and saw all the liter, liter everywhere. Liter everywhere though I’d just picked up all the trash on campus that morning. EUREKA! I told the gals I’d buy them the plums if they picked up every bit of trash on campus. The ran to the opportunity and were running and yelling while picking up trash, having a lot of fun while doing it. They returned to trash cans with heaps of litter again and again, until they began to tire. They said, “this is TOO much trash!” They didn’t realize what they’d gotten themselves into. They demanded that they get paid more than plums for their work, but I told them we’d already made the agreement. So they ventured on and picked up every last bit of trash from the entrance to our parking lot to the far corners of the soccer field. Finally, they were rewarded handsomely with a mighty bushel of plums.

They complained to me, “people litter too much.” I agreed and responded, “when you see folks litter, you should ask them not to.” An idea was born! It was mostly Raildy’s idea. (She is photographed). The gals would form a litter patrol and meet each afternoon after they finished their homework to pick up litter around campus and patrol the grounds watching for litterers. 

It was an idea all their own and a good reminder of kid’s ingenuity and drive.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012


On the 4th Saturday of every month, the Americana Community Center holds a special Volunteer day from 10 am to 2 pm. Throughout every month, the Americana Community Garden receives many volunteers. (Thus far this year, we've had the luck of receiving over 7000 hours of community service in our garden and on our campus.) We hold the monthly volunteer day so that volunteers can get to know one another and possibly get to know some of our gardeners.

Elliot Sternberg and Josh Drake put in order all them corn stalks  and turn the compost

This past Saturday, we were joined by Elliot Sternberg, Josh Drake, Rebecca Katz, Colleen Stewart, Caitlin Brown, Emily Benken, Zach and Elijah McKenzi.

We picked up trash, mulched garden pathways, turned the compost, tilled, planted, and mulched cover crop seed donated to us by Fresh Start Growers Supply. We plant a winter cover crop so that the cold winter won't harden the soil, and whatever crops grow in the winter will be chopped and incorporated into the soil during the spring adding a great many nutrients.
(Read more about the uses of cover crop here and here)

Caitlin Brown and Emily Benken weed our mulched paths

Colleen Stewart, her first time on a tiller

The author, proud of this new machine

Sowing the cover crop seed
For cover crop we use a mix of winter wheat, vetch, and red clover

Thanks to our volunteers!
Our Next Volunteer Day will be on OCTOBER 27th from 10 am to 2 pm and will coincide with a Brightside Service Day at the Americana! Do Come!