Welcome to updates for the Beautification Committee and Community Gardens for Wellington Heights Cedar Rapids, Iowa #WHCRIA
What Can We Say?
Day of Caring is an EPIC success. 75 volunteer hours. Two shifts. Four trucks. 19 incredible humans. Two non-profits and a business are part of our Beautification Committee fun. Staring two big beautiful community gardens: 390 and Peace Corner
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Great big thank you to Willis Dady residents. The mystery of who the helpful people picking up trash are is solved.
Since the winter countless helpers have loved on our community. The simple act of picking up trash makes this neighborhood a little prettier. Happier. Healthier.
Homelessness is not the end. It is the beginning of something new. Showing kindness when times are tough is appreciated. Thank you.
Meet Our Ambassador
A starving dying ferrel kitten the size of a baseball found under a porch. Rescued by a group of neighborhoods.
Now, a thriving local emerging celebrity. Please welcome Floofe' Flower to the Wellington Heights volunteer force. Ready to promote the community gardens and meet her adoring fans.
On her fourth official duty, Ms. Flower secured many donations. She picked up a Jeep load of produce to plant including multiple Rhubarb plants, and a bunch of Raspberry bushes from the Linn County Master Gardners who hosted an event at the Lowe's Center in Marion.
The More We Know
Since 1994 the community gardens have seen ups and downs. Covid and Derecho began nailing the coffin shut. Garden futures became uncertain. 29-year journey captured here.
The Beautification Committee surrounds itself with people in and outside of Wellington Heights. These seeds sometimes go unnoticed until the fruits of labor produce results.
So many nouns: people, places, and things are making our community gardens better.
Thank you for all your support to catapult us a year ahead of schedule. The future is bright.
Andria, Emma, Kristin, Dianna, Shanti, Joe, Cal, Jamie, Carly, Trevor, Mason, Lindsey, Rob, Preston, Raymond, Ann, Beula, Sheri, Charlotte, Suzanne, Dave, Phil, Bob, Sarah-Ann, John, Deb, Josh, Sarah, Daniel, and everyone else who jumped in to help tidy following the uninsured motorist fence crash.
Our first three #GrowParty -ing events happened and were a huge success. The first mini event began the journey early in the season following bed rehab.
Second, Friday, May 19th in the 390. Below is a taste of progress.
Third, Tuesday, the 23rd of May in Peace Corner was a huge success. We began the process of establishing perennials like Rhubarb and a humongous Raseberry Bush corner filled with many spouts among other products, and adding an herb garden, too.
Mid-June, forth #GrowParty landed on the 15th. Time to seed the places that didn't grow.
Stay tuned for photos, videos, and more from Peace Corner progress. The next blog release is September. For video releases sooner subscribe to our Youtube channel here
Contact Kim at (319) 308-8808 if you would like to take part to stay in the loop for future events.
You Will Never Guess
An uninsured motorist jumped the curb and took out a city sign, then the 390 bulletin board, and crashed into the front-facing fence, gate, and a recently restored little library.
From left to right: 2022 community garden fence in yellow. Rehabbed with the Little Library. Third from the top is after the crash. Bottom three were the clean up and temporary fix.
The Bulletin Board post is repaired. Restoring the board is a future project. We are thankful the electrical outlet was not damaged. While using materials on hand we recycled donated lattice to secure the area and maintain a short-term solution for 2023.
Free Farmer Markets
We will add a market space at both gardens. These are drop off locations for produce donations. These will be distributed to the families, veterans, and elderly first and volunteers who get first dibs on produce. Then, the remaining not claimed is dropped off at Feed Iowa First. Process according to their organizations regulations, and return food to the community fridge at the corner of 4th Ave SE and 16th St SE.
Distribution and all things Wellington Heights Community Gardens is an evolving process. Trial and error. Find what works. For now all systems are subject to change and adjust, as needed.
Limited deliveries to a few elderly, veterans, and families who signed up. Over time expand this program.
Seed to Table Cooking Show
The outdoor kitchen is being placed in Peace Corner. Episodes of the Seed to Table Cooking Show produced here. Or, on the road interviewing neighbors, urban farmers, and other guests. Encourage diverse growing better community together through food, fun, family, friends, and fitness.
Who needs a gym membership when we can garden for health and fitness? 😁
Friends in Many Places
The most difficult part of the community garden rehab project is grants, helpers, and set up. These are all blessings, but do require extra work through next spring. Then, the focus will be garden basics, such as grow and weed partying, developing an annual garden party, distribution, etc.
This is only the beginning. Kim, the Beautification Committee Chair partnered with Elizabeth from United Way to work toward developing a volunteer strategy that includes people from within Wellington Heights and throughout the city. Together we all are excited to grow better community together.
Thank you, Ann Tow, Bob Dvorak, Beula Dvorak for helping assemble the new bed Phil Pfister Precut. Plus, you did a beautiful job planting seeds, pollinators, and plants.
Total volunteer hours equal 16 hours
Sarah-Anne for behind the scenes work, such as, ordering a hose for Peace Corner.
Day of Caring: United Way, Master Gardeners, and Beautification Committee: Andria, Emma, Kristin, Dianna, Shanti, Joe, Cal, Jamie, Jaymie, Carly, Trevor, Lindsey, Mason, Rob, Preston, Raymond, Anne, Beula, and Kim.
Total volunteer hours equal 75.
Tuesday the 23rd, 6-8
Seven friends, equal 14 work hours
Tuesday the 30th, 6- 7:30
Sheri, Ann, Dave, Beula, Suzanne, Charlotte, Kim spread bales of hay and set up rain barrel locations for peace Corner. Since 390 has water sourcing at the moment we switched to Peace Corner for barrels and wine bottles will help maintain moisture.
Total volunteer hours equal 11.5
June 15th #GrowParty
Two friends, equal four work hours
June 23rd Flower Box Build
Two friends, equal six work hours
June 26th Flower Box Build part 2
Two friends, equal six hours
Throughout the season water, weeding, and cleaning tasks include many hours weekly usually between 5 am and 7 am. Average week total five hours.
Thank you to Phil, neighbor, who fixed the gate latch at Peace Corner.
Hi Ho Hi Ho
This year the focus is #MissionTidy. One and done projects to add beauty and improvements to the gardens and their surrounding terrain. Such as, landscaping with mulch, paver trim repurposed, a shed and farmers markets added, and so on.
Anyone is welcome to join in regardless of ability or background. Give a call or text (319) 308-8808 for more information and find out ways take part.
🌱Volunteers get first dibs on delicious organic produce.
🌱Distribution to elderly, veterans, and families is a priority. Limited sign up in process similar to CSA’s aka Community Supported Agriculture. Random door knock sharing. Including ice cream truck style delivery throughout the community being organized.
🌱Overabundance to Feed Iowa First. Who donate food to the community fridge at the corner of 16th St SE and 4th Ave SE. This helps preserve produce in the heat of summer and from rotting. Though, composting is part of our process, as well.
💰Cost comparison to grocery stores will be posted per season. It pays to donate time 😁
The More We Know
Wine bottles filled with water flipped upside down offer a slow trickle of water over several days in hot weather. Helping the Raseberry spouts to tomatoes moist and happy. This technique is helpful when water sourcing is dependent on rain barrels.
Small half gallon containers with drill holes and inserted into the ground around areas like the tomatoes. Acting as tiny rain barrels to assist distributing water on hot days.
Two HUGE grant blessings in two months 🙌🏼
The neighborhood community gardens received another generous grant that covers the cost of installing garden beds back to Peace Corner.
In 2015 this area became a community garden.
Read more about the effort here in this article titled New garden brings community together in Cedar Rapids neighborhood, published in August 2015.
In 2018 this garden is dismantled and relocated to the 390. Leaving the corner in shambles.
Today, we are making a more water resilient community garden in Peace Corner thanks to our partnership with the Master Gardeners, United Way, and generous donors.
The experience, resources, and enthusiasm is a huge part of what is possible.
Where Do We Go From Here?
We have made adjustments to the water sourcing plan.
Peace Corner does not have a spigot. The six rain barrels we have are set up here. 390 still has spigot access. We are working to build a rain barrel system dependent on rain when possible. This set up will be a work in progress. Stay tuned.
Long term water independence is the goal. Our work is in process.
Continuing to improve the appearance with more mulch to 390 and paver weed removal. We are trying an idea found using high acidic vinegar to kill weeds. Mixed with table salt and dish soap. If you have an environmentally safe method please share.
As things improve at 390 our focus of obsession moves to Peace Corner. We are a year ahead of schedule thanks to McGrath Auto's help with four trucks and their generous donation of two steel wheel barrels.
United Way Support
Connected with Elizabeth who is assisting with the volunteer management planning and committee organizational development. Whether a beginner, intermediate, or advanced skill all are welcomed and supported in learning new things in the journey of joy helping.
Our goal is establishing healthy connections with people who enjoy visits to the gardens at their convenience and ability helping week or participate in tasks they enjoy. Monthly #WeedParty events to tidy areas that need extra care. Share treats and fellowship.
Once the garden routine is established move on to artistic expression via murals and mosaic projects in development.
August brings with it visiting Master Gardeners from the state. We're excited. Scurrying to finish tidying our 390 garden in July. Then, move onto building a small shed for Peace Corner, Free Farmer Markets for drop off donations to distribute, and setting up the strawberry and garlic gardens. Of which, garlic plants in fall. Continue mulching. Build relationships as we develop the distribution model for produce.
No meeting in July or August while we focus on current goals preparing for the state MG visit. Monthly planning corresponds to MG and or group event scheduling until further notice.
In-person or digital meetings and rebroadcasting on the Youtube channel are being considered. If interested and for more information text or call (319) 308-8808.
Next blog update will arrive in September. This will include progress on the Youtube channel and blog here for your reading pleasure. Subscribe to the channel for visual updates arriving between blogs.
Thank you, generosity of people, donations of materials, and a lot of one and done projects to set up the gardens. We appreciate volunteers. Working on strategies for laying the foundation of community gardening based on what works and adjust when needed.
We appreciate your dedication to keeping up to date by subscribing to our youtube channel and visiting the blog 😁
Once the Free Farmers Market is set up extra produce is welcome 24/7. Seeds for the FOMO Seed Library when we announce this is set up. Whether a weed queen, king, whatever your interest, or a cash donation we appreciate any support you can offer.
🌱Volunteers get first dibs on delicious organic produce. It pays to donate time ❤️
Questions or interest in helping text or call (319) 308-8808. Please share your name, email, and the best time to chat.