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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Into the Street 2010

Every Autumn Term at Eckerd College, freshman show up three weeks early to participate in the Autumn Term, a three week short semester designed to introduce them to the rigors of college life and give them some time to adjust to the campus before the upper classmen arrive. One of the traditions of Autumn Term is a large scale service event called Into the Street, where almost 300 freshmen spend the afternoon providing help to an organization in St. Petersburg that is in need of labor. As you can see from some of these photographs and as I will affirm if you have never seen the Edible Peace Patch before, things are looking grassy and sedgy. We needed some help. We were able to hold the sedge at bay during the school year because we had many hands on the garden every day. No one has been to the garden since July and so almost two months and lots of rain and lots of things grow. We had covered the beds back in July with a 6 mil black plastic to try to minimize washout of our soils and to cook them a little bit to kill nematodes. We decided that we would work in pairs and two people would help weed out the watermelon plants that survived the summer heat, but are fighting for ground space against other fast growing weeds. Another two went to town on the three sister's garden, beginning the long back-breaking work of turning the soil. We'll do that twice more, once with horse manure, before we plant it. One student pruned the crape myrtle trees, very ncely, I'd say, and another helped me move the compost pile and begin spreading the new soil we made. One small bit of plant miracle took place. Last year during Into the Street, students had been pulling weed along the fence line and they accidentally pulled a Firebush that we had planted in honor of Science Coordinator Margaret McCabe. We stuck it back in the ground but all school year last year it just stood there like a dead hulk. No sign of life. When we returned to the garden with this year's group, the whole bush had resurrected. It is flourishing as if it never felt a thing. We consider it a good sign for the new year. Another good sign is the continued interest in the garden by Eckerd students and the continued interest in the garden by the teachers and administrators at Lakewood Elementary. One other promising sign, which you can see in a couple of the photographs, is the huge pile of new soil that we built out of the organic matter of last years plants. My eternal gratitude to the seven students who put in some very very hot hours under the steamy Florida sun to help us move closer to being ready for planting. It was a great day in the gaden and we look forward to another flourishing year. We hope you can join us.

The Edible Peace Patch 2010-2011 will officially begin in a few weeks. Watch out for new posts!