Kitchen Gardening for Life

2010 Annual Report for FNC09-787

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2009: $6,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Les Roggenbuck
East River Organic Farm

Kitchen Gardening for Life


The CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) has shared its seedlings with the greater community to support the creation of home kitchen gardens. The CSA itself served as a model garden and resource for education, problem solving, and feeding of this same community through donations to food banks throughout the season.

The CSA employed one garden manager and one intern as well as a farmer consultant, because our CSA is community organized by its members and is not organized by a farmer. The kitchen garden seedlings were raised in the farmer-consultant’s greenhouse. The garden manager and intern, as well as some CSA member volunteers, came up every week to water, repot and do all work necessary for the seedlings. The farmer-consultant was paid a total of $500 as a consulting fee and for working in the greenhouse and making his greenhouse available for our Kitchen garden seedlings. He was paid $250 for materials: water, electricity, seedling trays, soil, and greenhouse space.

He was paid $250 for travel, since the CSA garden is 1 hour and 45 minutes away by car.

The intern, Kathleen Duffield, was paid $500 for her work tending the seedlings and $220 for travel expenses, driving up one and a half hours each way to tend to the seedlings and to transport them back in May to the CSA site.

A website was created to communicate better with our local community, and weekly an email newsletter was mailed out to all CSA members, support organizations, and other interested members of our local community. Website development cost was $380.

A link was established with, a website that promotes local food initiatives.

At two local earth day events, the CSA set up a booth to attract members and to inform the community of the Kitchen garden project so people could sign up and order seedlings.
$200 was used to print pamphlets, a big poster, and other marketing material.

Thirty members and non-CSA members ordered 120 packs or 480 individual seedlings through the kitchen garden seedling program.

At the end of May 2010, after the last frost, all participants picked up their seedlings and were provided with a leaflet of how to plant and care for the seedlings.

All of the varieties of seedlings for sale that people took home to start their own kitchen garden were also planted in the CSA garden and participants were invited on several community outreach days to come see how to plant the seedlings, how to water them, and how to take care of pests, problems and harvest in a sustainable organic way.

Every week for 16 weeks members and non-CSA members were invited to work for two hours in the garden alongside the intern and garden manager as well as the farmer-consultant to see first hand how good care produces excellent vegetables.

At the end of the growing season we organized a canning class for 24 people. Cost $ 170.00 for rent, copies and supplies.

We teamed up with Margette Royce a local nutritionist. Together we rented the Rochester Community House kitchen and a room.

For weeks afterwards we found enthusiastic people telling us that they had canned for a week and that this was the first time they had done this. The major highlight was canning tomatoes in which all participants helped boil, de-skin and chop the tomatoes, can them in jars and boil them for preservation. Every participant took at least one jar of tomatoes home. Every participant received a leaflet with canning methods for various fruits and vegetables. Besides we showed how you can preserve vegetables by pickling.

Our second goal was realized when we had 80 members sign up for 50 full shares. We offered a variety of working and non-working shares and half shares. We produced 17,000 pounds of food and donated 450 pounds of vegetables to the food programs in our community.

We held several seminars throughout the season:
• Preparing a garden bed, planting and tending the seedlings; around 40 people attended the day-long session.
• Weeding and harvesting: done every Tuesday and Thursday for 16 weeks from 5-7 pm by CSA- members and other volunteers from our community.
• Savings Seeds; around 20 people attended.

Production for the demonstration CSA began in March of 2010 with the seeding of plug trays for transplants. Direct seeding of early vegetables such as potatoes and lettuce began in April 2010. The first harvest and share distribution commenced June 15th and continued on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 16 weeks until October 4th.

Seedling orders and sales were available via the CSA website and through other venues such booths at local sustainability events.

At the November 2010 CSA potluck meeting saved seeds were shared.

Farm Incubator:
Entering on the ground floor of this project, under the mentorship of Les Roggenbuck, Les offered Kathleen Duffield, intern and CSA core member a valuable opportunity to learn from a diverse growing season and all aspects of CSA production and organization.
This year 2011, Kathleen will head the CSA garden and oversee the seedling production.

The Kitchen Garden seedlings were well received. They grew wonderful vegetables in new vegetable gardens throughout our community. The seedlings lowered the bar for many people, new to gardening, to start a small kitchen garden. Many seeds were saved and are now replanted indoors for a fresh start of the 2011 season.

Our intern for 2010, Kathleen Duffield, is now our Head Garden Manager and has been instrumental with Les Roggenbuck in picking and ordering the seeds, planning the CSA garden for 2011 and starting the seedlings for the CSA and the kitchen garden project for 2011.

The Upland Hills School offered several CSA classes to its students. It bought two shares and harvested and cooked with the wonderful bounty that the CSA had in September, October and November 2010.

The CSA offered a children’s program and that will be continued and modified to incorporate a children’s garden where kitchen garden seedlings will be used to plant and teach the children how to grow a vegetable garden.

The website has attracted a lot of traffic and on the website is a link to photographs of the bounteous 2010 weekly shares, of the teamwork and community that were realized by all involved.

The classes, demonstrations and seminars have given confidence to people in our community who were new to vegetable gardening and preserving.

We will print the pamphlets again. To save costs, we will also print business cards for interested people to spread throughout the community. Business cards are cheaper, but they will point to our CSA website, through which new members and non-members may sign up for seedlings.

Seedlings for the 2011 kitchen garden program have been planted in the green house. Seedling orders and sales will be available via the CSA website and through other venues such as booths at local sustainability events. Seedlings can be picked up at the second workshop June 1, 2011.

We are exploring the possibility of donating seedlings to local food bank programs.

We will hold several seminars throughout the season:

• Soil testing
• Preparing a garden bed, planting and tending the seedlings
• Fertilizing and pruning plants, pest control
• Feeding, weeding, and watering the garden (mulch and compost);
• Cooking outside the box with different vegetables
• Harvesting/Storing/ Canning
• Composting
• Savings Seeds

Carolyn Young may be able, together with the Upland Hills School and some of its students, to start a podcast from the CSA garden. The grant will be used to cover small expenses.

Grant money will be used for the following: website, promotion, teaching aids, labor, supplies, travel, media and technology.

• Kitchen Garden Project in our greater-community has been started and is well received. It gives families the chance of self-sustainability and greater awareness of better food and health choices. We have seen a snowballing effect throughout the community where people share seeds, plants and produce, creating greater awareness, choice, and self sustainability.
• We have hosted and will continue to host workshops on sustainable food and kitchen gardens. These workshops are designed and presented in cooperation with Upland Hills CSA and other local players in the health food industry.
• We have created and will again exhibit at special green and local events such as earth day, local high school parent day, etc.
• Have kept and will keep photo and video journals of progress -- posting regular updates on CSA, farm, school and UHEAC websites.
• Coordinated a fall harvest event with pot luck and camp fire -- open to wider community.
• Events will be promoted through all three Upland Hills organizations, the food banks and the local, regional and statewide media.