Monday, December 12, 2011

Spotlight: Genevieve Lodal

It's a long time coming, Harvest of Hope blog readers, but finally I've gathered the gumption to post an email interview with Genevieve Lodal. Genevieve is the daughter of Susan -- one of our selfless leaders -- and she works at an organic farm in Vermont. Susan suggested that I get in touch with Genevieve since what she does is so close to some of what we do at Harvest of Hope, and the following interview is the result.

Meet Genevieve! Many thanks to her for her willingness to share her time and wisdom with us here.

How did you find out about the farm and start apprenticing there/working there?
I found Berry Creek Farm and its owners Gerard and Rosemary Croizet through the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont's Apprentice and Farm Worker Program. After working for a full season at an organic fruit and vegetable farm in Southeastern Penn., I was interested in further learning how to farm organically through hands-on experience. I have family who live in Vermont and thought it was an area of the country where I might enjoy living and working.

Where did your interest in gardening begin?
I really became interested in growing my own food and gardening while volunteering and later working at a farmstand run by the non-profit Fair Food in Philadelphia. Their mission is to connect the Philadelphia marketplace to local growers and producers, and one way in which they fulfill this mission is through the operation of the Fair Food Farmstand in the historic Reading Terminal Market. It's open 7 days a week in a busy urban marketplace, and I just loved seeing the tangible connection between the fertile countryside and downtown Philly.

What's the most fulfilling part of your work there?
Particularly this year amidst the economic turmoil and freak weather patterns, I've found a great deal of satisfaction in being so rooted to my local environment. What we are able to grow in northern Vermont is quite different from my hometown and other areas I've lived, as our season is shorter and the temperatures generally cooler (we're in USDA Zone 3 versus Kingsport's 6b). As a result, you really come to appreciate each and every variety and type of vegetable and fruit as they come into season. This year, I feel like I waited forever for red bell peppers, but once they came, they couldn't have been sweeter (literally and figuratively)!

What would you want the Harvest of Hope gardeners to know if you could teach them/tell them one thing?
For me, the biggest obstacle has been (and in some ways continues to be) the learning curve. There is so much to know and understand about growing without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. I believe the plants and environment will tell you what you need to know, but it requires patience and awareness, which take time. These aren't skills and knowledge that can be known in a few months or even one season, but each season builds on the previous, and the connection built by paying attention and individually caring for your plants is priceless.

What's your favorite vegetable dish and would you share the recipe?
This is a hard one; a great side benefit to growing your own veg is the development of a love for previously unknown or unloved varieties. Right now, leeks are bountiful, so I'm eating a lot of them. One of my favorite ways to prepare them (other than just using them in place of onions in other recipes) is to braise them with chicken stock and herbs, as in this recipe:
Recipe: Braised Leeks Adapted from "Sunday Suppers at Lucques"
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
6 large leeks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
About ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup sliced shallots
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
½ cup dry white wine
1½ to 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Peel any bruised outer layers from leeks. Trim roots, leaving root end intact. Trim off tops on diagonal, leaving two inches of green. Cut in half lengthwise. Clean very well in water to remove internal grit. Pat dry with towel.
3. With cut sides up, season with 2 teaspoons salt and a few grindings of black pepper.
4. Heat pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Pour in ¼ cup oil and wait 1 minute. Place cut side down in pan without crowding them. (Make in two batches, and use more oil, if necessary.) Sear them 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, and turn over to cook 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer them, cut side up, to a gratin dish that will fit leeks and chicken, or use two dishes.
5. Pour ¼ cup oil into pan and heat over medium heat. Add shallots, thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, until just beginning to color. Add wine and reduce by half. Add 1½ cups stock, and bring to a boil over high heat.
6. Pour over leeks, without quite covering them.
7. Braise in oven 30 minutes, until tender.
Yield: 6 servings.

What's been the easiest thing to grow?
I think swiss chard is an easy crop. It goes in early in the spring and will give you plenty to eat throughout the season, until frost.

What's been the hardest thing to grow and why?
Tomatoes, while very rewarding and essential (in my book), are a bit difficult, as there are so many pests and ways the plants can be compromised, from fungi to insects to extremes in temperature. Ours are grafted and grown the greenhouse, as again, our season is not too long up here, and we take a great deal of care in cleaning and suckering (taking off new shoots so that the plants direct energy into fruit production and maturation) to produce wonderful, fresh tomatoes.

What's one unexpected thing you learned while apprenticing at the farm?
I didn't really have too many expectations when arriving here, as I knew that what I'd experienced last year on the farm in Pennsylvania was just the tip of an iceberg of ignorance. The greatest surprise I found is that blackcurrants, a small bush fruit with a distinct smoky-sweet flavor that is popular in the UK in a lot of flavorings (often it's the purple flavor in candy instead our standard grape over here), actually grow in the US! Visiting England and Scotland with my family and as a student over the years, I grew to love the flavor of blackcurrants and always brought back something with me and made it stretch as far as it could. When I arrived up here last April, I mentioned to my host family that I missed the flavor, and lo and behold, they had a row of blackcurrant bushes in the middle of their fields. So we've made jam and cassis (a French liqueur made from cooking down the juice of the berries with sugar and cognac), and I've been in heaven.

What do you wish for Kingsport in terms of gardening/growing things/overall health?
I'm sure the foundations of my love for the outdoors and for establishing and maintaining a healthy community were laid while growing up in Kingsport. I have fond and vivid memories of playing outside under our black walnut tree and going to snip fresh chives or winter savoury for a dinner my mom was preparing. Kingsport, like many other cities and towns, has a strong and caring citizen base. As we as Americans have become increasingly disconnected to our food sources, I hope a focus on growing food locally, support of community garden efforts, and general understanding of our connectedness to each other and our environment will strengthen the health in and of Kingsport's community.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bags to Benches for Bays Mountain Park PSA

In celebration of America Recycles Day, which is nationally recognized on November 15, Keep Kingsport Beautiful is sponsoring “Bags to Benches for Bays Mountain Park.”  November 14-18, bring your plastic grocery & shopping bags to collections sites around the city and make your bags into benches for Bays Mountain!  Collection barrels for the public will be located at Kingsport City Hall, Bays Mountain Park, the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce, the Kingsport Public Library and Kroger.  Stop by and drop off your plastic bags and wraps for recycling and help out Bays Mountain Park at the same time.  Kingsport City Schools, Rock Springs Elementary, Domtar, and Eastman Chemical Company, an ENERGY STAR Partner, are also participating in “Bags to Benches for Bays Mountain.”  For every 30,000 bags collected, The Trex Company will give Bays Mountain Park a free park bench. 

Also, now is a great time to become a part of Keep Kingsport Beautiful by joining The Clean Team and supporting all of the many environmental and beautification endeavors of Keep Kingsport Beautiful.  Our Clean Team Fundraising Campaign continues through the end of January 2012.  Citizens and businesses can contribute at a various levels to support Keep Kingsport Beautiful and programs like Trashbusters, The Fun Fest Trash Barrel Paint-In, Santa Train Cardboard Recycling, “Bags to Benches for Bays Mountain Park,” the annual Beautification Awards, Tree Fund semi-annual tree plantings, and more!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Good things

Two things I've got to share with you all.

1. The City of Kingsport has composted leaves! You have to go get them, as there are liability issues amok if the city were to bring them to you, but for $20, you can fill a pickup truck bed, or a trailer, or whatever other large transport mechanism you can muster with composted leaves. And at least in our experience, this  is a rich material -- think dirt rather than leaves. If you need more info, call 224.2818 and ask for Mr. Bob Fickle (I believe this is his last name).

2. A recipe, of course. I harvested our family's bounty of sweet potatoes not long ago, and tonight I'm channeling Thanksgiving goodness with this easy favorite from my mom's friend Nancy.

Nancy A's Sweet Potato Souffle

4 or 5 large sweet potatoes (You can bake them or steam them. I peel and steam them.)
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1 egg (we are out so I used a couple of Tbsp peanut butter instead and we'll see how that goes)
1/2 stick butter, melted

Mix ingredients and pour into a lightly greased dish. Bake 25 minutes at 425 degrees.

Happy day!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Chicken Revolution

Sam Jones and Emily Katt, co-founders of the Chickens on our Property (C.O.O.P.) Group, bring us this announcement:

Join us this Friday for a rousing, FREE movie showing with a lively discussion afterward ~ The Chicken Revolution is a well-done, eye-opening yet entertaining documentary showing the crazy protracted struggles of Salem OR's group C.I.T.Y. (Chickens In The Yard) to get the city to allow backyard flocks of 3 hens. As we gear up to approach our various city and zoning commissions, this movie couldn't come at a better time.

What: The C.O.O.P. Group is proud to present a free movie event entitled: The Chicken Revolution
When: THIS FRIDAY 11/11/11 from 7pm to 9pm
Where: Next Door to the Acoustic Coffeehouse, 415 W. Walnut Street in Johnson City

Brown rice and black bean casserole

No, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth -- just taking a short breather since the gung-ho growing season is done and celebrated. I won't try to post every day here, but will try to when I come across something garden-news-worthy. I welcome suggestions, too! If you come across a recipe or a newsy bit that would play well here, please make me aware.

For today, I'll share a recipe my friend Kristi served. I made it for my family last night and almost everyone ate it right up. I chopped the zucchini and onion very small and no one was the wiser. It's delicious! Thanks to Kristi for sharing. Happy day.

Brown Rice and Black Bean Casserole

  • 1/3 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup chicken broth (preferably homemade – that’s what I used)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1 large zucchini (or two medium), chopped into chunks
  • 2 cooked skinless boneless chicken breast halves, chopped (see note below)
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (I used Baby Bellas)
  • ¼ - ½ teaspoon cumin
  • salt to taste
  • ground cayenne pepper to taste, (optional, see note below)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
*For the cooked chicken, I first cut up the chicken and marinate it in olive oil, 1 beaten egg, some garlic powder, paprika, cumin, salt seasoning (I make my own, you can just use regular salt), and cornstarch.  Mix well and leave at least one hour.  Sometimes I do it the day before.  Then stir fry it and add to recipe.
*The original recipe called for ½ tsp cumin, but since I put some cumin on the chicken, I only put ¼ in the casserole.  Just do to your taste.
*I did not add cayenne pepper because I used salt seasoning instead of regular salt, and the seasoning has cayenne pepper in it already.  Again, just go with your personal preference of spiciness. 


  1. Mix the rice and chicken broth in a pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 45 minutes, or until rice is tender.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a large casserole dish.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the onion until tender. Mix in the zucchini, cooked chicken, and mushrooms. Season with cumin, salt, and ground cayenne pepper. Cook and stir until zucchini is lightly browned and chicken is heated through.
  4. In large bowl, mix the cooked rice, onion, zucchini, chicken, mushrooms, beans, carrots, and 1/2 the cheddar cheese. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  5. Cover casserole loosely with foil, and bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Uncover, and continue baking 10 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Celebration success!

Yesterday brought us a beautiful, crisp autumn morning and a successful Harvest Celebration. The garden team gathered at 9 a.m. to get things set up and an hour later our attendees began to join us. There were several people there from the neighborhood and community, as well as representatives from Healthy Kingsport, community organizations and non-profits, Interfaith Hospitality Network, Kitchen of Hope and the mayor of the City of Kingsport.

Margot Seay from AARP talked about the season's success, Charlie Glass from Healthy Kingsport talked about that group and introduced Mayor Dennis Phillips, and then Mayor Phillips, on behalf of Healthy Kingsport, recognized the garden's major sponsors for their contribution to the community through Harvest of Hope. 

Susan Lodal read a congratulatory statement from Steven Hopp of The Harvest Table Restaurant in Meadowview, Va. and then unveiled a new program and logo called Feed Kingsport -- an effort that will serve to raise awareness of hunger in Kingsport as well as coordinate resources and outreach to the hungry. 

Alison from our garden team awarded gardeners for their efforts -- both in gardening and helping us with data collection. Paul (previously profiled on the blog) received an award for regularly turning in garden reports (and helping us with the garden). Master Gardener Nancy received a pot of mums for her office co-workers and her leadership over the Kitchen of Hope garden. That garden turned in more reports than anyone else! Since seven gardeners were present at the celebration, each one receive an award. Shirlene had a generous supply of giveaways, so we had many winners among the gardeners and also the rest of the group when we drew for door prizes. 

We had lots of food -- some of it included muffins given to us by The Mustard Seed, muffins made by our garden team, Tennessee caviar from UT Extension Agent Shirlene, and locally made goat cheese by Andrea and Jack from Ziegenwald Dairy.

Shirlene doubled as a lovely broccoli, and brought lots of information and materials from the Extension Service on healthy eating. She had goodies for kids and parents to take away. A few people picked up packets for gardens next year.

Kroger and Earth Fare donated reusable grocery bags and everyone got to take one. There were displays of information and giveaways from AARP, Tennessee Master Gardeners, Ziegenwald Dairy and the UT Extension.

Rick Wagner from the Times-News and a cameraman were also present. There's a story on the garden on the front of the Life section of the paper today. 

Thanks again go out to God, to all the gardeners and to everyone who has put forth effort to make our garden so successful. Please pray for our further growth and success in 2012, and please come grow with us!

Monday, October 17, 2011

What looks like cleaning up ...

 ... is really construction.

A few things for today.

1. Please join us next Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon for the Harvest Celebration!

2. In preparation for the party, a group of us got together yesterday to do some weeding and tidying up. The weather graced us and I dare say I had fun pulling up spiny amaranth (with a thank you to the Atlas glove company for protecting my paws). Thanks to all involved! See pics.

3. Your title. Yesterday in church I was thankful for the community and the silence to mull over some of the chaos in my brain, and a thought occurred to me: we're building cathedrals. I was admiring the bright sunlight of my chosen sanctuary and thinking of the great cathedrals I've seen and how, if the builders of those decided to quit because of petty bickering or personal upheaval, we'd never have these great, glorious works to admire. And a lot of those builders didn't even live to see their works completed.

I must learn patience and perseverance. In all things -- marriage, parenthood, life: it's a cathedral I'm after. So too with the garden. Stay focused on the cathedral, self (and all of you).

4. After leaving the garden yesterday I was troubling over how I would get there with my mower to mow edges, and I happened upon a fellow mowing at a local business, so I pulled over and asked him if I could pay him to do it for me (he was already out, already close, yada yada). He did. And later he called me to tell me there'd be no charge. And that he might want to volunteer to work in the garden some, too.

Let me share his info in case you need yard help, ever:

Tipton Landscape and Lawn Service

5. Well, it seems like there was something else, but whatever it was has completely escaped me. I recognize that there are only short periods of lucidity at this point in my life, and that this particular one must have ended. Happy day!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Harvest Celebration reminder

I've been flying by the seat of my pants lately and haven't had a lot of time to post, but I wanted to take a minute to remind everyone --

Please come to our Harvest Celebration!
Saturday, October 22
10 a.m. to noon
At the garden. There will be fun, food, and plenty of info about the garden.

Please join us!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Breakfast unexpected

My kids don't like avocado, but this morning I made this chocolate, banana, avocado smoothie, and they're yumming it up!

Happy day.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Veggies for breakfast

Through a new friend, I've found a new resourse -- Kitchen Stewardship. I'll probably pull and share more of her advice in the future, but for today, here are some recipes that bring veggies to breakfast!

Happy day.

Squash Pancakes
1 c. cooked, pureed squash*
4-5 eggs**
¼ c. coconut flour OR whole wheat flour OR 1/3 c. sourdough starterOR brown rice flour
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1-2 Tbs. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
Separate eggs. In one bowl, whip egg whites a few minutes until frothy/foamy.
In a separate bowl, combine yolks with squash, flour, sweetener, vanilla and spices. Fold in egg whites.
Fry slowly in lots of fat in a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat OR on a griddle with a bit of butter at about 300-350F. Watch for the bottoms to begin browning when the edges look dry and flip once. If you find the pancakes are very thin and breaking apart, add a bit more flour or sourdough starter to the batter.
The lazy way: Instead of separating the eggs, just mix everything together willy nilly in one bowl. The pancakes might not have as much height or fluff, but they’re still perfectly fine, especially for a weekday morning! I often use my stick blender to whiz it all together, especially if I have un-pureed squash or sweet potato.
Makes about 20 small pancakes. (I almost always double it!)

One-Bowl Pumpkin Muffins, Healthy Recipe Remake
3/4 cup honey                                    ½ t. cinnamon
2 eggs                                                   ½ t. nutmeg
¼ t. baking powder                          1 2/3 c. whole wheat flour*
1 t. baking soda                                  ½ c. melted butter or coconut oil**
¾ t. salt                                               1/4 c. cold water
½ t. cloves                                          1 c. pumpkin (about half a 15 oz can)
1 Tbs molasses
Baking Change: Only bake muffins for 30 minutes – honey browns faster!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Got some bright ideas?

Hey folks, sorry I've been lollygagging on the posts here at Harvest of Hope. I overdid it with running plus my own family gardening during the weekend and I'm still catching up!

I've been planning for a few weeks to share with you a community garden my sister and brother-in-law told me about in D.C. I think this is it: Common Good City Farm. They (sis and bro-in-law) took a training session to become volunteers there. I haven't spent a lot of time clicking around the website, but when I saw them a couple of weeks ago my brother-in-law said that this group has the garden and what it provides, but also has a catering company staffed by people who use the garden. Wouldn't that be cool if we could do it in Kingsport?

That makes me think of a program that used to exist near my hometown -- kids in the special education program made cinnamon rolls that they sold every Sunday to raise money to support their extracurricular activities.

I know Kingsport has a lot of great stuff going on -- more than I know about since I've so often got my head in the parenting sand. But new ideas are fun to toss around, eh?

How about this place: Pie Lab? I forget where I read about it, but go check it out. Wouldn't something like this be lovely in Kingsport?

Send me your ideas -- neat things you've read about -- stuff we can mull over. I'm always looking for things to share here. If I get enough people responding, I might offer a prize next time. Bring it on!

Your picture, by the way -- this is Mr. Phil, who spoke to our garden group one rainy Monday night a month or two ago -- he was at The Exchange Place garden last weekend during the Fall Festival there. Here he's helping my two favorite boys dig up some baby carrots to take home.

Happy day!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall = soup weather

Since today's the autumnal equinox, I offer you a couple of soup ideas.

One was sent to me by my friend Amber. It's Pinto Bean, Tomato and Butternut Squash soup. I haven't made it yet, but I plan to this weekend. Amber says she added Swiss Chard from her garden.

While I'm at it, here's our family's favorite chicken noodle soup. I make the stock homemade, too, which means that I probably make this soup about three times a year, but we're gearing up to make a batch this weekend since we'll be smoking a beer-can bird and I will use his/her carcass to make the stock (which you can link to from the soup page). It's the best chicken noodle we've ever had. The kiddos request it sometimes. I end up freezing about half the stock to make a second batch later, too, so you don't have to do the stock every time. I've also frozen the soup, noodles and all, and it works out well.

Finally, last night I made some Tuscan Minestrone soup from a mix I'd almost forgotten I had. It was great, and no salt added (which is a biggie for me, b/c too much salt tends to give me a hangover in the morning!). The company that makes it is Bountiful Pantry. One bag of mix is about $8, which isn't bad when you consider it'll feed a family of five and there will be leftovers. I went online and ordered some more, plus a few new kinds to try. You can add vegs or whatever else you want -- last night I added a can of beans and some ground turkey I needed to use up. Next time we'll leave off the meat, though.

Happy fall!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A dinner, and a few books

Last night we had a new recipe, and it was so good and easy I thought I'd share:

Italian Garden Frittata
from Taste of Home Healthy Cooking 2009 annual recipes (Thanks, Sarah.)

6 egg whites
4 eggs
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese, divided (I used Parmesan-Reggiano and Asiago)
1 Tbsp minced fresh sage (I used dried, a few shakes)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 small zucchini, sliced
(I added 1 small yellow squash, sliced)
2 green onions, sliced (I used one small yellow onion, sliced)
1 tsp olive oil
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced

1. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites, eggs, 1/4 cup cheese, sage, salt and pepper; set aside.

2. In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet coated with cooking spray (I used cast iron skillet and a drizzle of olive oil), saute zucchini and onions (and squash?) in oil for 2 minutes. Add egg mixture; cover and cook for 4-6 minutes or until eggs are nearly set.

3. Uncover; top with tomato slices and remaining cheese. Broil 3-4 inches from the heat for 2-3 minutes or until eggs are completely set. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges.

We also had waffles and fruit -- gotta love the breakfast for dinner. But the frittata was the best part, I think.

Part II:
Some books -- I have heard or read of these lately and am intrigued -- maybe you will be, too. I haven't yet checked the Kingsport library, but maybe one or all of these is floating around in our system, available for checkout. If not, I'd be willing to ask for them, or to purchase and donate.

Forks over Knives. This is also a documentary, for you Netflix patrons. This book is by the same Dr. Colin Campbell who wrote The China Study. In both books he advocates a whole-foods, plant-based diet. I haven't read it yet, but I'm intrigued/would like to know more. 

The Okinawa Program -- this is a whole book about the longevity study done on the island of Okinawa (between Japan and Taiwan), where residents typically live active lives well into their 90s and 100s. Their rates of obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, memory loss and breast and colon and prostate cancer rank far below the rates for these illnesses in America and other industrialized countries. 

The book is said to reveal the "secrets," which are really things a lot of us know at least something about -- mostly plant-based, low-fat diet; exercise; stress management; strong social and family ties and spiritual connectedness. 

Finally, one I bought: Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. My family practice physician recommended this one, and I got it -- haven't read more than the first page yet -- must find a night when I can keep my eyes open by means other than toothpicks! But I'll share some of what I find. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Take a load off

I popped by the garden one morning last week since it'd been a while, and lo and behold, we have benches! I'd been hearing for a while about Eagle Scout Zach and the benches he and his crew were building for us, but I didn't know when they would show, so this was a happy surprise. They are sturdy and handsome, and have arrived at the best sitting weather one could ask for, just about. Come, have a seat! Thanks so much, Zach!

While I was there I snapped a few fall-garden pictures.

Also, another tidbit. I managed to read a magazine article last night before conking out -- it talked about the people of Okinawa, Japan, and their longevity and overall good health. I can't find the exact article online, but I did find this piece on that talks about their overall lifestyle. Fresh veggies and fruit are, as you might figure, part of the puzzle.

Happy day!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bays Mountain Recycle

What to do with all your plastic grocery bags and/or used Ziplocs? Here's a
worthy cause!

Bays Mountain Park is excited to announce that we have contacted a company
that makes recycled outdoor furniture and we are going to be working in
conjunction with them to get free park benches! We need your help! It
takes 10,000 plastic shopping bags to make a park bench and we need you to
bring in as many as you can along with any of the other items listed below.
10 full 30-gallon yard bags makes a bench so start saving now!

You can leave the bags at the gatehouse or bring it up to the Nature Center
gift shop. If you're just dropping off bags, you shouldn't be charged

What Can be Recycled:

Plastic Grocery Bags
Plastic department store bags
Newspaper sleeves
Dry-cleaning bags
Plastic Bread bags
Plastic Produce bags

Toilet paper/Paper towel over-wrap
Stretch film (no household saran wrap)
Zip lock bags

(All material must be clean, dry and free of food residue.)

Here's a link to a news story about this effort. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Garden Builder

As I’m focusing on weaving together the profile of today’s garden superman, a line from a song I sing at church popped in my head and seems appropriate: “We are many parts, we are all one body.” What and whom we’ve needed in the garden, God has assembled there.

Larry is one strong example – an answer to a prayer and a garden “body part” without which the garden would not be whole.

Another song that comes to mind when I think of Larry is the Indigo Girls tune Hammer and a Nail – “Gotta get out of bed and get a hammer and a nail, learn how to use my hands … now I know a refuge never grows from a chin in a hand and a thoughtful pose, got to tend the earth if you want a rose …”

Early start

Larry is a master gardener, and he’s been the primary “hammer-and-a-nail” guy who has sweated and toiled and built and worked and gotten things done in the garden this summer.

Larry says he’s always been interested in gardening – the first house he lived in after college, in the country in western Pennsylvania, had a big garden. Since then he’s lived in nine different houses and in every one has had a garden.

Larry grew up in western Pennsylvania, went to college there and lived there till his late 20s. He had a corporate career during which he and his family moved 13 times. They wound up in Kingsport in the late 80s/early 90s when Larry worked with Arcata Graphics. They moved away from the area but came back again in the early 2000s.

How Harvest of Hope?

Larry says he’s a member of the United Way of Greater Kingsport finance committee – one of the topics discussed by that group early in the year was funding available for the Harvest of Hope Garden and uncertainty of being able to execute the garden build – the United Way executive director asked Larry to get involved, and he answered the call.

“My approach is: do what has to be done,” Larry says.

Larry is a self-proclaimed builder and has plenty of practical, handy, hammer-and-nail skills, but he also has experience as a senior executive and a CPA, as a community supporter, a Christian, a master gardener and as an organizer and visionary.

As a broader coalition develops to foster more community gardening in Kingsport, Larry sees himself as a builder and a shaper – as one who will get new gardens going and fill gaps but not as the chief “tender” of the Harvest of Hope.

Gardeners needed

Paul, profiled earlier here, is one of the many who will be needed to maintain Harvest of Hope as other gardens grow from ideas to reality.

“We need to find a workgroup who wants to stay with and manage Harvest of Hope,” Larry says.

Of Paul, Larry says: “Paul’s a really neat guy. He’s got good common sense; innate intelligence. He just hasn’t has the same opportunities many others have had.”

Larry and Paul have spent a lot of time working together in the garden and have become friends. Larry sees the garden as a source of fulfillment for Paul, who is unemployed: “He’s able to provide value, maintain his self respect and associate with other people on a normal basis,” Larry says.

Fertile ground

The garden provides these same benefits to Larry, who is retired, and says he found himself initially “sitting in my basement” upon retiring from his job as a corporate executive.

This “challenge of retirement” is similar to but more of a problem for the unemployed like Paul, Larry says. The garden is an answer to that challenge – through the purpose and the connections it provides.

“Because of the diversity of the garden,” Larry says, “people from really wide backgrounds wind up interacting around a common interest. That is the core of friendship. Friendships don’t last and rarely develop without a common interest – that’s perhaps the key thing that will sustain the garden over time.

Soil sustenence

Not only is the garden a place for growing friendships, it’s a place where people can come together in the act of creation, says Larry, which he believes is key to the health of our society overall.

“There’s satisfaction in working with multiple senses to create something,” he says, “Be it a quilt, a woven cloth, a garden, a piece of furniture, literature, a poem …”

Working together in the garden, we create something of lasting value, Larry says.

Thanks to Larry for helping to create Harvest of Hope.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Carver Peace Gardens Event Coming Up

I'm just coming home from a great weekend away, so I'll be in catch-up mode for the next few days with (most likely) not a whole lot to say. I do have a quick newsy bit this morning, though. Sam Jones of the Johnson City Carver Peace Gardens wanted me to share with you that that garden, along with the Johnson City Tree Streets Garden, will be having a year-end potluck dinner on Wednesday, September 21. It'll be at 6 p.m. in the picnic pavilion at Carver Park near downtown JC. That's also International Day of Peace. If you'd like more info, please comment here and I'll get you connected to Sam. Happy day!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Good eats

Another recipe -- this one is fabulous and might do well with the addition of some spinach while everything's still warm enough to wilt it slightly:

Butternut squash, spinach & feta, orzo and chicken sausage.

I used a chicken & apple-flavored sausage once, too, and that's good. Adds a touch of sweet.

Happy weekend!

p.s. Here's a great article by Anne Lamott. If you have five minutes, take the time to read it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Another garden

A new garden came to be under the HoH purview on Saturday. Some dedicated parents and friends and one awesome administrator came together last weekend to plant a fall bed at a local school, with plans for expansion to raised beds in the spring.

I say it's the Harvest of Hope purview. I looked up the word this morning to make sure I'm not overstepping. It means: "the scope of the influence or concerns of something." I think that's accurate. Were it not for Harvest of Hope, the seeds of this little fall bed wound not have been planted just now.

Good stuff, this gardening business.

More good stuff to come, too. Yesterday I interviewed Larry so that I could post a profile of him here. I'll have to organize my thoughts, and that may take a few days, but watch for it in days to come. Larry's one of the many individuals who've come together to bless and inspire and build Harvest of Hope. I'm in awe of all the amazing people I've met as a result of this garden. We're a pretty cool bunch and we need you to join us!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Worth the trouble

So. Since I've come back to town from my grandmother's funeral trip, I've been battling the tomatoes. Joe vs. the Volcano? No. It's me vs. the tomatoes. Since before the trip there has been a spread of to-be-dealt-with tomatoes taking up half of our kitchen table. Going away for four days made it worse.

Don't get me wrong -- I love tomatoes. But there comes a time in the late-summer harvest season when one realizes that it would be ok if one did not see another tomato, ripening on the vine, for some time. Like till next year. I have reached that point.

However. I am not one to quit. I carry on. And Friday, I swung the battle back toward my camp. At least for now. I made sauce. I made minestrone. And I made this -- it's the greatest of the victories:

Roasted Roma Tomatoes
From the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving
Yield: about 4 quarts -- for me it did 3 plus a 2-cup freezer container

12 pounds Roma tomatoes
4 bulbs garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp. minced fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
Bottled lemon juice

Roast tomatoes on grill or in broiler until skins begin to wrinkle and become lightly blackened in spots, turning to roast evenly on all sides. Remove from heat. Place roasted tomatoes in a paper bag and close tightly (I didn't do this. I just left them on the cookie sheets I'd roasted them on, set on the stovetop, while I went to do the school pickup). Cool tomatoes until they're easy to handle, about 15 minutes. Slip skins off tomatoes, cut in half and remove seeds (this I did only half-heartedly; I hope that won't mess up any canning juju -- read: create botulism). Cut into 1/2-inch chunks, set aside. Place garlic on aluminum foil and drizzle olive oil over garlic. Wrap foil around garlic, sealing edges tightly. Roast garlic at 350 F until tender, about 30 minutes. Cool garlic until it is easy to handle. Separate cloves of garlic and remove papery skins (messy, but my hands didn't smell like garlic in the morning so it's all good). Add garlic to tomatoes. Stir in remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat until hot throughout. Here's a little added step I usually do -- I pureed it all with an immersion blender before canning. My kiddos won't eat something they perceive to be an actual tomato unless it no longer resembles a solid. Not sure why it's like this, but I was the same way when I was a kid. Add 2 Tbsp. bottled lemon juice to each quart jar. Ladle hot tomatoes into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process quarts 1 hour and 25 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A garden guest

Last week as part of the AARP Drive to End Hunger, AARP Foundation President Jo Ann Jenkins visited Harvest of Hope. AARP has been one of the contributors to our garden efforts and we're so thankful for that organization's commitment to our success.

Here are Ms. Jenkins with our own celebrities, Margot and Larry. Below are a couple more pictures from Ms. Jenkins' visit.

In other news, we're starting to plan our harvest party/garden coalition kick-off. Remember to mark Oct. 22 in your calendar -- 10 to noon -- and please come to the garden! You'll be glad you did!

Happy day.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A garden getting ready for fall

Today I give you some pictures from yesterday morning. I stopped by to put up a poster promoting Prayer in the Garden -- see? -- and then snapped a few pics. I'm having a hard time with it being September already. Anyone else? I love the approach of crisp mornings, if only I had the time to sit down and enjoy them. We always appreciate things more when they're harder to get to, don't we?

I hope to call and set up interviews with at least two more gardeners this week, so be watching for those in days to come. It may take a few days, or it may take many, but I'll keep trying! One of the problems is that my own home garden is overwhelming me with abundance. Yesterday I canned salsa. Recipe below.

A fall bed:
The lushness of the garden:
Good morning, tomato!
And our finished storage bins -- thanks again to Larry and Paul!

Chunky Salsa from Taste of Home Healthy Cooking magazine

5 lbs tomatoes
4 large green peppers, chopped
3 large onions, chopped
2 large sweet red peppers, chopped
2 habanero peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup white vinegar
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
3 tsp salt

 1. Fill a Dutch oven two-thirds with water; bring to a boil. Score an "X" on the bottom of each tomato. Using a slotted spoon, place your tomatoes, one at a time, in boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Remove tomatoes and immediately plunge in ice water. Discard peel; chop tomatoes.

 2. In a stockpot, combine the remaining ingredients. Stir in tomatoes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until desired thickness. See note below for tip from my friend Sam.

 3. Carefully ladle hot mixture into hot 1-pint jars (I used quarts b/c had no pints -- oops), leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles; wipe rims and adjust lids. Process for 15 minutes (I did more like 30 b/c of the bigger jars) in a boiling-water canner.

  Note from Sam: In calling her (again) to ask if it was ok to add cilantro to the salsa, which I did -- but Sam says per her references that cilantro addition does better just prior to serving -- the taste is better captured there and may disappear somewhat during cooking/canning -- Sam told me that she tried a new trick to get thicker salsa. I didn't do this yesterday but the next batch will get this treatment. Yesterday I just ladeled out some of the excess liquid. Anyway: Sam's trick -- put your cooked salsa in a Crockpot overnight with the lid off, heat on low. The salsa will cook down and be thicker and I am sure, tasty-and-a-half. Thanks, Sam!

 Happy day, everyone. Tomorrow (or otherwise soon), watch for pictures from last week's visit to the garden by AARP Foundation President Jo Ann Jenkins!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mark your calendar

Among other things, yesterday's meeting yielded a date and time for our Harvest Celebration. Mark your calendars now, and please join us! Info upcoming on what the celebration will entail, but we'll make sure it's fun.

October 22, 2011
10 a.m. to Noon
@ the Harvest of Hope Community Garden

Happy day!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Meeting today

We'll have a Harvest of Hope steering committee meeting today at noon at the United Way of Greater Kingsport. If you want to help, please join us.

Happy day!

Monday, August 29, 2011


I'm back and will be at the blog again this week. I attended the funeral of my grandmother on Thursday. She was a gardener, and many of my reflections on her involve her legacy as it influences the continual greening (I hope!) of my thumb.

With unexpected time off from the routine last week, I thought a little about how getting away from the work of our hands has been detrimental to society. We spent too little time outside, working, and too much time inside in front of a screen. How good for us the garden is. We need to be outside planting, working, interacting with our neighbors and with things that are green. Aerating our minds.

When my Gran had to stop working her big garden plot, she brought what she could of it inside -- her house was a garden -- sometimes a jungle -- of potted plants that she cared for well. Green is good for us.

I believe that a group from the state offices of AARP visited the garden Friday -- I hope they were amazed! And tomorrow is a meeting of the garden's steering group -- 12 to 1:30 at the United Way of Greater Kingsport. Please come if you're interested in helping us!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Listen in

My radio debut begins airing today. Yesterday I did a short interview about the garden with Jeff at WCSK, FM 90.3, the Voice of Kingsport City Schools. It's about the garden. I may sound like a goofball. But listen in if you'd like!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Front page news

Harvest of Hope made the front page of the Sunday Times-News. Pete and Susan scanned it in and share this link so you can see it if you didn't already!

Sunday night we had an intimate gathering for Prayer in the Garden. We will be testing other times to see if we can make that gathering more convenient for more folks.

Larry sent the following progress report from yesterday:

A.  Completed the siding on the bin.
B. Removed the spent bean plants from the IHN garden. SA and KofH previously cleared their beans.  Removed all litter and tilled the beds.
C. Repaired the broken fence behind the shed.
D. Built the remaining tomato cage
E. Planted mums in the childrens garden.
F. Assisted gardener in removing her beans and planting broccoli.
G. Planted a demonstration fall garden in one of the 4x12 plots. Cabbage, broccoli, kale, and spinach.  
H. Removed beans from small demonstration garden and planted cabbage as replacement.
I. Mowed lawn inside and outside of garden
J. Fertilized all lawn areas. 
K. Weeded small beds as required.
L Sprayed all weeds in the aisles.

Thank you, Larry. Over and over again. And, I imagine, Paul was there working too. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Today I will do a short radio interview about the garden with Jeff from WCSK 90.3 FM. Say a prayer for me!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Garden Watcher

If you need proof that the garden feeds good and good feeds the garden, read the story of Paul – the Garden Watcher.

                                Spreading chat

Born in Johnson City, Paul moved to Drexel, N.C., as a child and went to school there. Following a divorce 16 years ago, he returned to east Tennessee and settled in Kingsport. He lived through tough years and experiences and had begun to get back on his feet when he lost his job a year-and-a-half ago because of a local company closure.

Kermit Addington, a community member who was an early advocate for Harvest of Hope, stopped at Paul’s apartment building down the street from Harvest of Hope early in the summer to talk to the residents there about getting involved with the community garden.

“At first I was skeptical,” Paul says. “I didn’t know how much I’d be able to help. But I decided to go for it and hope that it works out. I decided that at 47 years old, I’m going to see this thing through.”

He planted tomatoes, green beans, eggplant, okra and onions. As the plants grew, so did Paul.

                                                 Paul's garden

Paul didn't stop with planting things, either. Paul visits the garden at least twice a day to make sure everything's alright and that dry beds get water. He comes once in the morning at dawn, once in the evening, and oftentimes he's there in between -- sometimes for hours at a time to help with a job.

Paul says his work with the garden has been life changing.

“I didn’t know how much I appreciated this garden until I stuck it out,” he says. “It’s been a rejuvenating experience – it’s given me something to do with my idle time. It’s been a spiritual awakening – it’s given me a breath of fresh air.

“I have been so blessed to be a part of your garden, our garden, it has actually had such a spiritual impact on my life that my relationship with people, neighbors, community and most of all God, has been overwhelming,” Paul wrote in a letter to the group overseeing the garden.

Forging friendships

“I’ve developed a lot of relationships in this garden,” Paul says. “People from different walks of life come together here. It’s good to see people come together for one reason – there’s fellowship.”

One relationship that has developed in the garden is the friendship between Paul and Larry, the master gardener who’s been the coordinator for much of the physical work going on. Paul and Larry have worked side by side to build and fill fall garden beds, spread chat, and construct storage bins, among other tasks.

                                                        Helping Larry build storage bins

“People like Larry have become my good friends,” Paul says.

“Paul’s a terrific guy,” Larry says. “He knows how to work. That’s really, really rare.”

Paul’s also fed his relationships with friends and neighbors – literally – by sharing his harvest.

Paul says he grew up in a garden and that Harvest of Hope has taken him back to when he was a kid.

“The garden has always been a positive experience in my life,” he says. “It would do the whole world good to take a step back,” Paul says. “Some of the best folk I’ve known were people who had gardens. The garden is nourishing. It’s pure. It doesn’t ask for a lot.”

Growing on and on

“I grew up learning that if you can make a difference to even one person, it’s worth it,” Paul says.

This garden has made a difference to him.

“I hope it continues next year and the year after that," he says. "As long as I’m here, I’ll put in an application.”