Community Garden

Most people know what a garden is, but just in case you don’t, it is defined as a piece of ground used for growing flowers, fruit, or vegetables. Gardens are usually for one household and not shared with neighbors. But a community garden is just that. It’s a public place where several people can use the land to grow their own produce, especially when a living space like apartments or condos don’t have land to cultivate fresh veggies.


Community gardens are becoming so popular that there is actually an association to help them grow! The American Community Garden Association. They aim to promote all of aspects of “community food and ornamental gardening, urban forestry, preservation and management of open space, and integrated planning and management of developing urban and rural lands.”

Benefits of a Community Garden

  • Saves money on groceries
  • Limits packaging and transportation costs of moving produce from farm to store
  • Increases economic value
  • Healthier food because you know everything that goes into making it
  • People who grow their own vegetables are more likely to eat more veggies
  • Being outdoors can improve productivity and also aid with stress, mental fatigue, blood pressure, ability to recover from injury/illness
  • Crime prevention
    • If people are interested in taking care of their plot in the community garden, they’re less likely to be out committing crimes
  • Adds beauty to the surrounding area
  • Heightens resident’s awareness of nature and its many benefits, even outside of just gardening
  • Filters rainwater by the microorganisms that live in the soil
  • In larger cities, community gardens provide a spot of green in the concrete jungle of the streets and buildings


Here at Ryves Up! we have seen a large increase in parent involvement because kids are excited to share their fresh produce with their families and even try more new foods. The Earth is more beautiful and healthier due to the diligent, yet fun work of the kids. Families involved with the program are saving money on groceries at the store. Ryves Up! is definitely making a difference!

The good guys

These are the real superheroes of the garden.

I know, I know I’m not supposed to take sides. Insects are amoral. They’re not inherently good or inherently evil. They’re doing what they can with what they have.

Squash bugs and corn aphids and fall armyworms aren’t TRYING to carry out a campaign of destruction. Lacewings and ladybugs aren’t choosing the path of righteousness, or deciding to be superheroes.
I know, I know.

But if there were a god of cucumber beetles, I would be in big trouble. I have been on my own campaign of destruction.

I’m the one who finds good and bad out there in things because I planted the corn and I want it to grow. What eats the corn I call “bad” and whatever eats what eats the corn I call “good.” That’s more about me than it is about the aphids.

But ladybugs are on my team. And every time I see larvae or those yellow eggs or those orange pupae, or those lovely dotty adults (the imaginal stage!), I cheer.

Fight the good fight, ladybugs.


Cindy took her pre-K classes outside this week.
They found the beans in the Three Sisters garden.

We have rattlesnake pole beans and Tongue of Fire beans, which both do double-duty: good fresh when they’re not too big, great dried after they’ve been left on the vine.
There are Kentucky Wonder beans out there, too.

Before the kids came out, those  were just Kentucky beans.

It’s the children who brought the wonder.

Garden Workshop

Today we met to plan, these brave teachers and me. They teach kids grades K through 5. They have ideas and energy. So much energy they couldn’t help themselves as we toured the butterfly garden. They started yanking out weeds left and right.

I took my sweet time talking while we were out there. Why turn down helpers?

stepping stones

You can make these without much trouble. The mixture is called hypertufa. It’s basically a light concrete, roughly equal parts Portland cement (for cohesion), coir or sphagnum moss (for texture), and perlite or vermiculite (for volume without weight).  Mix with water and pour into greased containers.

They have to cure for a few days. Then they have to be rinsed for a couple of weeks to let the lime leach out.

Rachel, Veronica, and Shengnan made these. I made them wear dust masks and gloves when handling the cement.

They do good work.

Afterschool Gardening at Franklin Elementary