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Beautification Update 4/2023

Welcome to updates for the Beautification and Community Gardens for Wellington Heights Cedar Rapids, Iowa #WHCRIA


Please enjoy the wildflowers and perennials being planted in partnership with Master Gardeners, United Way, and sponsors for neighbors, visitors, and our community. Consider subscribing and liking our Youtube channel to stay up to date on short new films. Thanks🌷



Dedication

In March 2018 Wellington Heights lost a special community garden advocate, Sonia Kendrick. The creator of Feed Iowa First. She inspired neighbors like Tommi Karma and Kim Phillips to learn more about food security and how Urban Farming is a way to create local connections to sourced food. Her encouragement to us all and inspiration are what drive the committee's efforts to revitalize what began in 1994 and expanded in 2015.


Sonia Kendrick at Wellington Heights community garden Cedar Rapids Iowa
Tommi and Sonia in Wellington Heights Community Garden at 390 15th St SE

We miss you

Sonia Kendrick
Sonia Kendrick, Feed Iowa First Founder

Sonia, you are loved, admired, and missed very much for your knowledge, service, and we miss your smile. Big hug and thank you for helping plant seeds in us to grow a better community together.


Prior to the sudden death of Sonia, she participated in a national interview with Woman's Day magazine. Read the full article here. Our garden at 390 15th is featured in a photo with then Resource Director Tommi Karma. We thank Sonia for planting seeds in our hearts to grow a better community together.


Making history

Many parts of the community garden story of Wellington Heights date from 1994 at 390 15th Street SE through today. Including expanding in 2015 into the corner of 4th Avenue and 15h Street SE at address 1449 4th Ave SE now known as Peace Corner.


This journey seemed to be headed for uncertain times and possibly the disappearance of the gardens altogether. Though the city may or may not install a community garden facilitated through them by 2033 in Huston Park at 3rd Ave and 15th, 1437 3rd Avenue SE.


The future looked bleak in 2022 for the community gardens due to the lack of a newly needed Garden Ambassador for the 390 location. Feed Iowa First created this position to assist the small bed garden as they were short-staffed. Peace Corner was adopted by the Beautification Committee and supported by the association in 2021. Merging these is the ideal.


2015

Wellington Heights Peace Corner began as Wellington Community Garden in 2015.

Read more about the effort here in this article titled New garden brings community together in Cedar Rapids neighborhood, published in August 2015.



2018

Following Sonia's passing in March of the same year, on the Day of Caring volunteers dismantled many beds in Peace Corner to relocate in the 390 15th St Garden due to water sourcing issues. Expanding the other garden by several beds.



2020

Tommi Karma did a fantastic job maintaining the garden throughout her tenure. Nadine Borngraeber as the community garden chair gave her time to supporting the garden and organizing volunteers for several years. She and Tommi moved on to new passions.

Between COVID, Derecho, and in 2021 no neighborhood resource person at the house things hit a wall.


2021

Feed Iowa First is invited by the new board president Eric Gutschmidt to care for the garden at 390 15th Street SE to fill the need during uncertain times. They painted the fence. Installed a shed with a fridge. The first-year volunteers stopped by twice a week to drop off produce. Tidy the garden. Help use the Community Garden to keep it alive.



2022

Limited volunteers from Feed Iowa First led to weed overgrowth and neglect. Refrigerator and shed removed.



Learning about the Garden Ambassador position the Beautification Committee Chair Kim Phillips coordinates with the association board to sign up with Feed Iowa First. Began cleaning the overgrown beds of weed infestations. While continuing to pursue relationships with Master Gardeners to guide upgrades and ideas to reclaim the gardens by 2023 supported by the board and neighbors.


Thanks to volunteers and donors, such as, Jayne, Sandy, Andrejka, Alissa, Sarah, Nathan, CJ, Ashe, Julie, Sheryl, Jackie, Randy, Tina, Sara and Restore, Lowes in Coralville, Ture’ and the countless others who gave time and resources in 2022. And, Norah for organizing volunteers on Day of Caring to clean up and spread mulch.


One more example moving forward toward committee dreams to revitalize, improve, and build a strong network for Wellington Heights food security and beautification efforts.


Other Projects, 2022

Assisting with the new Mural at 1600 4th AVE SE. Creating the Little Library Project to address problems with maintenance and book distribution among over a dozen community libraries. Phase one repair and restore community garden fences and both gardens.



Before and After

Phase one is complete. Fence renovation in 2022. Stay tuned for more upgrades 🌷



2023 Outlook

Off to a brilliant start. Partnering with Master Gardeners since 2022 plotting and planning. This year new association with United Way. Locating sponsors throughout the community to plant new seeds figuratively and literally.


Following several meetings, the plans are set for the next step. Assessing beds for repair and reinstallation by a friend of the MG, Phil. Financing for projects we can afford is in big part thanks to Linn County Master Gardeners, Beula, and Jane. This year we will do as much as we can. Building year upon year is the focus.


We are so thankful to all the many local Master Gardner's helping us get started this spring. And United Way's support for volunteer coordination through the seasons. Your generous contribution of time and resources is a welcome blessing after several uncertain years.


The Community Outreach Gardens Partner Meeting April 5th meet and greet is scheduled to bring together communities and Master Gardener's. Who will be supporting gardens, such as ours. Learning about the MG mission, expectations on working with Wellington Heights, and how to track produce grown or donated as well as share briefly about the gardens.


This blog is circulating as a resource at the meeting and for WH volunteers as a neighborhood gardens get acquainted resource.


United Way is enthusiastic to be a part of the forward motion. Supporting us with Day of Caring volunteers if needed, and other.


Securing the first huge sponsor. Stay tuned for the big reveal 😁


In Process Goals

  1. Garden restore beds with #NoMow expansion, weed, plant produce & flowers.

  2. Build distribution site, free farmers market at 390 15th Street SE.

  3. Schedule field trips to urban farms to learn, volunteer, and establish relationships.

  4. Build seed-sharing library and education hub digitally and physically.

  5. Organizing #WeedParty & #GrowParty events with music, cool beverage, and snacks.

  6. Production begins for Seed to Table cooking show segments with data collection.

  7. Plan independent water sourcing at 390 15th St & Peace Corner.

If any of these fancy your interest contact with details via text or call (319) 308-8808


City or CR Update

Huston Park at 1437 3rd Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403 is scheduled to become a city lead community garden where spots can be rented from the city by 2033. See more click:


If you would like to know more about the future of the city's beautification plan check out the new issue of Our CR here.


Prime Imperative

Building relationships begins with 'how may I be of service?'


Need support learning how to grow food in pots at the apartment or flowers in the yard? Need a lawn care service? Ideas or solutions for the vintage property?


Please ask for information about a resource or person who can assist. Allowing others to support you begins a relationships. If we do not have the answer can direct you to someone who has the solution.


We appreciate ideas for blogs and resources as we grow better community together.


Participation

We do not need perfect people. Willingness to build a better community together is the key.


Having fun, kindness, and sharing talents are appreciated. Whether focusing on where you live, digging into the community gardens, or a creative art project being planned. Everyone is a part of a happy healthy hungry for fresh local grown food community is the hope.


Committee member three ideals:

  1. do what makes you happy

  2. be kind to yourself & others

  3. pick a task & have fun


Happy, kind, and having fun is an inviting atmosphere. Plant seeds that grow and spread joy.


Again, special thanks: Jayne, Andrejka, Alissa, Sarah, Nathan, CJ, Ashe, Julie, Sheryl, Jackie, Randy, Tina, Sara, Ture’ and the countless others who gave time and resources in 2022.


Committee Meetings

April meeting follows the end of month work days, 24-26th. May is on Day of Caring, 11th. Monthly planning correspond to MG or group event scheduling until further notice.


In-person or digital meetings and rebroadcasting on the youtube channel is being considered. If interested and for more information text or call (319) 308-8808.


Donate

Once the Free Farmers Market is set up extra produce is accepted 24/7. Seeds will be accepted for the 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.


Questions or interest in helping text or call (319) 308-8808. Please share your name, email, and the best time to chat.


Happy Spring! Kind regards from the Beautification Committee and all our many members throughout the community. We welcome all regardless of ability or background. See you soon 😁


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