Today I had the pleasure of meeting George Kilpatrick, the radio, television, and public speaking figure, who you might know from 570 AM WSYR. Kilpatrick also works with Urban Delights, a youth farm stand project that works with over a dozen youth to grow and market produce at the Southwest Community Farm, located on 100 Bellevue Ave. (To read a great article about Rhama Edible Forest Garden, the SW Community Farm, and other community gardens in Syracuse, check out this link: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2012/07/syracuse_urban_gardening.html
I spent nearly 2 hours down at Rhama with Kilpatrick and a cadre of enthusiastic youth from the Urban Delights program who decided to volunteer their time to aid in a variety of tasks. First, I gave them a tour of the property, taking care to explain the differences between permaculture and conventional urban farms, since they are well experienced in the latter. This difference in approaches to cultivation was apparent when we arrived and Kilpatrick stated “boy the garden looks like it needs a lot of work!” I laughed and stated how while the Rhama garden does not look like much right now, and perhaps looks a bit scraggly, in a few years it will be well on its way to being a forest garden, producing a surprising amount of edibles, and requiring little to no maintenance. In the process of the tour I also explained the mission of the Rhama Free Health Clinic, its connection with the garden, and how and why we sheet-mulched the space.
The first task we tackled was the removing of an invasive vine plant which was coming out of the ground next to a telephone pole, right near the street. This plant was problematic because not only is it not a part of the Rhama Garden, but it was obscuring oncoming traffic for a nearby cross street. Back in May, a concerned neighbor resident asked us to remove it for the aforementioned reasons once when we were down working in the garden. The plant had grow very large since then and was once again creating a hazard for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. After a long battle with the plant, three of us managed to cut it down to the roots, but failed, as we did in May, to fully remove it since the root system is under the cement. It is incredible the amount of trash, sand, soil, and other objects which had gathered underneath the leaves, vines, and around the base of the plant! Certainly we will have to resume this struggle again, hopefully not until next spring!
The next task we engaged in was pulling out weeds, grasses, and other undesired plants in the final area of the garden we will be sheet mulching on saturday from 12-2 PM (join us!). Gee, some of those weeds have incredibly strong roots! Some of the volunteers, conceding defeat, simply clipped them off at ground level. While there, we also took time to trim back the hedges and other vine plants between the garden and an abandoned house because we didn't want them to shade out/engulf some of the flora we planted on the periphery of the garden.
The final task we engaged in simply consisted of watering some of the plants and picking up trash. After we called it a day, we gathered together for a couple of group photos, enjoy!
Stay tuned for a whole lot more coming up soon from Alchemical, such as our annual clothing swap at the Westcott Street Fair, and our annual film screening during the Westcott Bulb project.
Sincerely, Andrew Greco
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