Aug 222013

Growing FriendshipsGrowing Friendships in the Faith & Grace Garden

On Thursday mornings from May through September, the Faith & Grace Garden is filled with laughing, talking, and singing as 10 – 12 refugees from Burma, also known as Myanmar, spend time together working in the garden. Our new friends, who are all 60+ years old, were farmers in their homeland and love gardening now that they are living in Iowa.  Their path to Iowa was not an easy one. After our Burmese friends fled ethnic cleansing and oppression in their native land, they endured years of living in a crowded Vietnamese refugee camp. Life in the USA began in East St. Louis. There the refugees were robbed and heard gunfire all around them at night. The refugees said, “If we stay here we will die.” So they left suddenly under the cover of darkness and came north, and finally settled in Des Moines. Life is better now, especially when they can leave their apartments and work with their hands in the soil again.

Lutheran Services of Iowa (LSI) is our wonderful partner in this project and provides program coordination, a meeting place for the refugees, and a helpful language interpreter.

As we have worked with our Burmese friends over the summer we have learned much about their culture and community. They have taught us about new ways to garden and about new foods and how to prepare them.

We want to thank the many garden volunteers who greet and host our friends or transport them to and from the garden on Thursday mornings:

Faye Akers, 10:30am driver
Bev Blaha,  garden host
John Bloom, 8am driver
John Eft,  back-up driver
Celeste Egger, 10:30am driver
Ambre Grund,  back-up driver
John Kibet,  garden host/8 am driver
Susan Pohl,  garden host
Katie Ryan,  LSI contact & program coordinator
Karen Voss,  host gardener, back-up driver
The gardeners take home vegetables for their families at the end of the morning on Thursday.
Here’s list of garden production and donations through August 19:

Units in Lbs
Peas 75 Bush Beans 125 Pole Beans 75 Broccoli 10 Cabbage 48 Cucumbers 63 Lettuce 275 Strawberries 52 Okra 24 Onions 674 Tomatoes 601 Purslane 42 Peppers 5 Cantalope 4 Watermelon 168 Zucchini 95 White Potatoes 1,000 Radishes 335 Turnips 20
Total Harvested 3,691

Trinity 2,095
Lutheran Social Services 295
Family Violence Shelter 25
Catholic Workers 150
Cottage Grove Pres 100
WDM Human Services 912
Total Donated 3,691

Volunteer hours in the Faith & Grace Garden are M – F, 6:30pm – 8:30pm. If you have any questions about the garden, please contact Tim Goldman at or by calling 745-9842, Mark Marshall or by calling 988-5381 or John Eft or by calling 491-0422.

TreeKeepers Update from Trees Forever

Interested in learning more about how to take care of the trees in your backyard, your neighborhood, and the entire community? Trees Forever is hosting TreeKeepers  in the Des Moines metro area on Saturday, October 5. TreeKeepers is a volunteer training program designed to teach the basics of tree care such as proper planting, tree care, tree biology, benefits of trees, and much more. Trained volunteers are the eyes and ears for our community’s trees. Join over 60 Des Moines-area  TreeKeepers who are already speaking for the trees. {Editor’s note: I can tell you from personal experience, this is a wonderful program and the training is first rate. Tim}


**********Links of interest from our friends at The Lord’s Acre******************

Check out The Bug Files and more at Dave’s Garden

FOOD SLEUTH RADIO – Helping People Think Beyond Their Plates. Great interviews with those in the forefront of the food movement are recorded and posted here  on Public Radio Exchange for your convenience and enjoyment. If you like what you hear, please forward a link to your local community and public radio stations.  Food Sleuth Radio is available and aired on community and public radio stations nationwide via Pacifica and Public Radio Exchange. Here it is   on iTunes.

This video – What Plants Talk About  – came to us this week from friends at the Organic Grower’s School as “Highly Recommended”. I confess, we haven’t watched it yet but with the rain that is coming, it looks like a great rainy day activity.  ”When we think about plants, we don’t often associate a term like “behavior” with them, but experimental plant ecologist JC Cahill wants to change that. The University of Alberta professor maintains that plants do behave and lead anything but solitary and sedentary lives. What Plants Talk About teaches us all that plants are “smarter” and much more interactive than we thought!”


Aug 27, 2-3:30pm Centrl is an introductory webinar that will enable you to combine your love of cooking and teaching kids into a marketable skill. Taught by nutritionist and wellness expert, Julie Negrin. All you need is a phone and access to the internet!  Julie Negrin , MS.  NOTE: Recording of webinar available to all registrants. For more info and to  TO REGISTER for this webinar, go here

You’ll learn:

• The three biggest mistakes people make when creating a cooking program and how to avoid them.
• The five questions you MUST be able to answer before deciding on menus for your classes.
• The bare bones cooking equipment you need to teach cooking to kids in any classroom.
• The best recipes to introduce to new students and which recipes to avoid when your students are still learning to trust you.
• How to get the ball rolling with your own cooking classes and/or program when you have no idea where to start

See you in the garden!

 Posted by at 3:12 am