Tuesday, October 14, 2014

enriching the earth

We gather to enrich the earth of the Kitchen Garden on Sunday, October 19, at 11:30. Join us!

Enriching the Earth

by Wendell Berry

To enrich the earth I have sowed clover and grass
to grow and die. I have plowed in the seeds 

of winter grains and of various legumes,
their growth to be plowed in to enrich the earth.
I have stirred into the ground the offal 

and the decay of the growth of past seasons
and so mended the earth and made its yield increase.
All this serves the dark. I am slowly falling 

into the fund of things. And yet to serve the earth,
not knowing what I serve, gives a wideness
and a delight to the air, and my days 

do not wholly pass. It is the mind's service,
for when the will fails so do the hands
and one lives at the expense of life.
After death, willing or not, the body serves,
entering the earth. And so what was heaviest
and most mute is at last raised up into song.

"Enriching the Earth" by Wendell Berry, from Collected Poems. © North Point Press, 1985. Reprinted with the permission of the author. 

 Critics and scholars have acknowledged Wendell Berry as a master of many literary genres, but whether he is writing poetry, fiction, or essays, his message is essentially the same: humans must learn to live in harmony with the natural rhythms of the earth or perish. MORE

Monday, August 4, 2014

Garden Party Recollections

We had a potluck dinner in the Kitchen Garden last week to celebrate the harvest and our community.  We had a loose agenda for everyone to talk about their gardening traditions.  But mostly we just wanted to have fun.

The evening unfolded freely, and the discussions happened on their own with no programming other than a warm introduction from Lenore.

We had a great turnout, including Roots & Wings regulars, Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry volunteers, Cabrini Immigrant Services families, some of whom use the pantry and some of whom have worked from time to time in the garden, staff and kids from Children's Village who grew some of our plants in their greenhouse, Spring Community Partners, Springhurst School, Transition Hastings, Curious on Hudson (which has hosted permaculture and sustainability events), and some South Church families who until that night weren't quite sure what Roots & Wings was about.

Robin Larkins, of Cabrini Immigrant Services, told us that some of the Cabrini families did not know what a potluck was, but when they learned they were happy to come. And come they did, some with empanadas, many with kids. There were lots of interesting dishes.

Marcello led a garden tour.  The kids picked cherry tomatoes with great excitement.  One proudly displayed an eggplant he picked. As the sun set, they roasted marshmallows and made s'mores and ran and played in the playground.  People felt safe and happy and full (in spirit as well as stomach).

Organizers of community gardens say:
Community gardening is a resource used to build community, foster social and environmental justice, mitigate hunger through increased food security, empower communities, break down racial and ethnic barriers, provide adequate health and nutrition, promote and enhance education and otherwise create sustainable communities. For many across the country, a community garden is the only connection they have to outdoor space.

Our event emodied all of this.  The Kitchen Garden is evolving from a well intentioned community food pantry where users were somewhat timid and apprehensive and people were unsure how to relate to one another, to a community where families and food workers are known to one another, where there is openness friendship and respect and support, where there is excitement about fresh food from the garden, sharing of recipes, sharing of stories of working on family farms in other countries, rekindling of warm memories, renewed interest in being in touch with the land and working side by side with people in the community.

There were lots of cultural connections.  I spoke with a man from El Salvador who met his wife, from Ecuador, in Yonkers at church.  He talked about chores on his grandfather's farm in El Salvador and said he wanted to come and help us.  Two Barbaras talked to two Marks about music and food in Jamaica.  One Children's Village kids asked about an unfamiliar taste in one of the dishes (Els put an edible weed called lambs quarters into something that looked like spanakopita).  But we came to find out that they grow all kinds of stuff on the Children's Village campus and are not strangers to exotic vegetables.  Other people talked about the importance of food in cultural events and festivals.

The caring and the cared for seemed to share a warm embrace.

Robin Larkin talked about progress in attitudes in our community. It used to be people did not like seeing the word Immigrant on the door of their office because of what it connotes.  She has gone from fear of losing her office space to a new relationship with a new building owner who is glad to have them there, who was drawn to the community because he wants to live sustainably, walk to train, and share stories with neighbors.  She talked about how Cabrini has relationships with people from 150 countries.  How she partners with other groups in the community, like Spring Community Partners, and how they share their talents (she helped incorporate them as a 501c3). How they energize and look out for one another.

These were just some of my discussions, and my bet is that everyone there was having similar discussions enriched by the multi-cultural fabric.

- Mark Pennington

Monday, July 21, 2014

Garden Party Invitation

please join us at Roots & Wings' 


this Thursday, July 24, 6 - 9 PM 
in The Kitchen Garden 
located behind South Church 
343 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry

A celebration of our gardening traditions featuring 
a garden tour, live music and s’mores. All are welcome! 
Bring a dish to share and a mug. 


Barbara Chakmakjian
Sharon Deep
Robin Larkin
Chris Cole Olsewski
Mark Pennington
Lenore Lelah Person
Marcello Taiano
Els Vandenbosch 
Solange Viggiano
MJ Wilson

for more information, contact Lenore at
Lenore.Person@gmail.com / 914 420 6864


Sunday, July 20, 2014

notes from the garden

this week's harvest--given to the Food Pantry
Els, Solange and I met this past Saturday to continue with the work at the garden.  We did the usual weeding, cutting the grass around the beds, and pruning of plants. Els brought over a natural pesticide that we applied to some of the vegetables that were being eaten by the insects. We noticed some new cucumbers, peppers and a lot of tomatoes that are nearly ready to be harvested. 

We will need to continue with the watering although last week due to the torrential rains watering was reduced.  I will be at the garden this Saturday from 9 am to noon --we'll turn the compost and cover some of the beds with hay or mulch.

There is a quite a bit of Kale, Swiss chard, cucumbers and herbs that can be harvested for the food pantry.  I will stop by Tuesday and harvest some of these vegetables and leave them in a basket near the pantry.   


The wind began to switch . . . The (green) house, to pitch

As you may have heard, the wind blew the Kitchen Garden's greenhouse into South Church's driveway circle on July 8.  Even though I had staked it into ground with 4 ten inch stakes.  The wind was just too strong.  

Several of the windows were blown out and the frame was twisted and damaged, with at least one of the vertical metal pieces sheared off completely.  Dave Person and I inspected it the next evening and repaired the fence temporarily.  We moved the greenhouse back behind the compost bins.

The greenhouse was a generous donation by Chris Cole Olsewski, but it is may be more of a liability than a help at this location, with the exposure to the wind.  Windows keep blowing out, and once they do, the whole house is vulnerable to getting picked up and moved by the wind.  It would require quite a bit of work to fix, and we could have the same problem again.

Next spring we will need to start seedlings in homes and/or with our partners at Children's Village, and not use the greenhouse at all.   
--Mark Pennington

The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Dorothy: It really was no miracle. What happened was just this… Dorothy: [singing] The wind began to switch / The house, to pitch / And suddenly the hinges started to unhitch / Just then the Witch / To satisfy an itch / Went flying on her broomstick, thumbing for a hitch! Munchkin: And, oh, what happened then was rich! Munchkins: [singing] The house began to pitch / The kitchen took a slich / It landed on the Wicked Witch in the middle of a ditch / Which was not a happy situation for the Wicked Witch!