1st meeting of the Redmond Collective Action Gardening Circle was held by Zoom on Sunday, May 1st, 2022. We introduced ourselves, and shared our favorite plants to grow. (Mentimeter results at bottom of post.)

R spoke about Grow A Row & Project Surplus. Participants are asked to plant a few more veggie plants than they will be able to use, and to donate their surplus produce to the Gardening Circle’s various goals of sharing food security and fresh food with neighbors, ingredients for Street Kitchen Sunday Picnic‘s, food preservation & storage projects, and donating fresh produce to Neighbor Impact Food Bank and/or local food pantries. We talked about making a list of plants that we would appreciate folks growing extras of, as well as which veggies are prolific producers that we do not need many of (like zucchini hahaha). Also spoke of things that take a lot of time to grow, but aren’t necessarily high yield, like potatoes or onions. It was noted that SKSP has a large salad donated each week, and that we do not need any salad greens for that project. We need to look at the recipes for the SKSP and see what we use the most of, like carrots, peas, & corn. Spoke of germinating some starts to share in RCA Facebook Group, and share in local community groups if we end up with more than we need. We spoke of needing volunteers to coordinate drop off locations 2-3 times per week for surplus produce, as well as volunteers ready to process them. Find out what folks need in order for them to grow their own gardens. Container gardens? Seeds? Starts? Soil? Reach out to local stores like Wilco for donations. It was noted that stores will sometimes give away bags of soil and such that have ripped, so we should reach out and ask after those types of donations as well. Spoke of gathering used coffee grounds from local coffee places to enhance and help soil nitrogen. Reaching out to local arbor companies and having them drop off their wood chips from the days work.

C spoke about an ancient technique for watering plants called Ollas. The principle is simple. A clay pot is buried with only the opening on top visible above the soil surface. It is then filled with water. The porous walls of the olla allow for water to dissipate into the soil as needed. Because the pores in the clay pot are small, the water does not freely flow out of the pot. A suction force is created by soil moisture tension as well as the plant roots. If soil is dry, the water inside the olla will release faster as the soil roots “pull” it out. Likewise, if there is a recent saturating rainfall the water in the olla will remain until the surrounding soil dries. Therefore, olla irrigation is extremely water efficient and prevents excessive evaporation and water runoff. C has made an inexpensive version of an Ollas system and has offered to host an Ollas building workshop. He will put together a list of supplies needed. Please fill out the questionnaire (also at the bottom of the post) if you would like to participate in the workshop!

S spoke about the Houseplant Propagation project. The goals of this project are to build community by creating a space to share knowledge; share and participate in a soothing, healing, & calming hobby that is a healthy outlet for stress; make houseplants more accessible; share rooted cuttings; gathering cuttings to root; Adopt A School gifts (make sure that the varieties of plants are allowed in schools); Houseplant community program for younger generations about plant knowledge care, teaching how to do plant propagation, and work on plants that can be taken home with them; change perception/stigma that you have to have expensive variegated varieties of plants in order to enjoy them.

The book Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard Into a Garden and Your Neighborhood Into a Community was suggested, and will be available to borrow upon request. You can also order local indie at Roundabout or Herringbone Bookstores.

L spoke about Community Mutual Aid Gardens. We are currently working on gathering repurposed & reclaimed wood or rocks, nails, soil, and extra supplies folks may have available to use to make garden beds. We have a yard space that has been offered up. We need someone to keep an eye out in local groups and various community resources for free or inexpensive supplies, as well as coordinate with the rest of us to bring a truck and folks to load/unload supplies. Can use wood chips mentioned above as well.

Our plan moving forward is to make social media posts for each of the projects and their identified needs. Grow the circle of community participants. Identify barriers that we can help folks overcome to have a garden. Germinate starts and up plant them into larger containers to share with others. Make supply list & spread the word about the Ollas building workshop. Identify a date for workshop. Identify volunteers to coordinate Project Surplus drop offs, and to source and coordinate supplies for the Community Mutual Aid Garden. It was noted that the results of our original 1st meeting questionnaire showed that the circle would like to meet in person at a park, and that Thursday evenings, Saturday mornings, or Sunday afternoons had the most responses. Next Gardening Circle meeting will be set once we have responses from the group.

Please fill out this questionnaire if you are interested in participating in the Gardening Circle!