Led by Co-Chairs Kishor Moorthy and Aarthi Krishnakumar, the OLI Intern team just had their first meeting to introduce the new members of the OLI family to our mission. The intern team has 21 brilliant teens ready to put their skills to work to help OLI eliminate food insecurity in our communities. OLI is excited to get help from teens and hopes to be able to continue to grow the OLI Intern program for years to come.
Fred Greenwood, President of the OLI, met with the world famous mural artist, Sam Kirk. Ms. Kirk will be one of 12 artists participating in the May 16-17 (2020) WWII exhibit at Naper Settlement in Naperville, Illinois. OLI is providing painted raised garden beds as exhibits with a WWII theme. The public will be able to vote for their favorite painted bed. Funds raised from the event will go towards the purchasing of materials to give Raised Garden Beds to organizations that work with food insecurity in their communities.
Volunteers of OLI purchase supplies for the Raised Garden Beds Art Gallery.
Home Depot is a major supporter of the OLI Raised Garden Beds project. A special thanks to Mr. Perez and Home Depot for their support in helping eliminate food insecurity in our communities.
September 2019. Fred Greenwood of the Obama Legacy Initiative and Aurora (Illinois) Mayor Irvin present a plaque Alderman Sherman Jenkins for supporting OLI's food pantries.
Featured left to right: Fred Greenwood, President of the Obama Legacy Initiative; Alderman Sherman Jenkins; Aurora (Illinois) Mayor Irvin; .
OLI Garden Season 2
Our second year of OLI gardening included two adjoining plots at the Naperville Community Gardens. As challenging as our inaugural year was in 2018, this year proved to be even more challenging. We hoped to please our food pantry customers by growing what they requested, lettuces and greens. So we planted a huge section with Red Sail Lettuce seeds in April. Torrential rains washed away almost all of the dozen long rows of seeds. Realizing that almost nothing was able to germinate, Fred ordered more seeds and we replanted. Within two weeks, monsoon-like rains of more than 5 inches poured down and repeated the washout. Sadly, we had to throw in the towel on the lettuce and switch to other crops.
We planted collard greens, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, onions, eggplant, radishes and okra. Many of the plants started out well but then began withering. We knew it was not from a lack of moisture, because when it didn’t rain, Fred diligently watered. We concluded it was the heavy clay, poor nutrient depleted soil. Under Marilyn’s oversight we amended the soil. Some of the plants rebounded and some did not. The collard greens and radishes suffered, but the green beans, peppers, onions, zucchini, eggplant, and okra recovered enough to provide some decent produce to deliver to the food pantry.
We are still somewhere on the learning curve with community gardening, but we now have more confidence going into planning for the next season, with better strategies to address the challenges we have experienced. It has been “1st year weep, 2nd year creep, and 3rd year LEAP!!
So, what did we learn! The climate is changing on a yearly to daily basis. The seasons are changing in respect to length and intensity. Soil can be good one year, but poor the next year due to erosion and depletion of nutrients. Yearly, soil amendment is critical. In addition to placing crops directly in the soil, mounding, raised beds, and raised gardens (waist high) are good ways to improve the survival of your drop.
Just watch us LEAP in 2020!
Read about how individuals can make a difference by organizing small food pantries in their neighborhoods. Story from Star Tribune. Click the image to read the story.
Columbia Public Schools creates a new position to bring the farm to the Schools
We have been busy with planting, weeding and harvesting at the Urban Farm. With the help of some dedicated volunteers, we have already donated over 1500 pounds of lettuce! Staff and volunteers have also been busy harvesting broccoli, collard greens, kohlrabi, bok choy, peas and more! This week we planted peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and okra. We're looking forward to donating more fresh produce this summer!
We were excited for our first 30 pounds of broccoli sent to the Food Bank's Central Pantry! This crop's a labor of love, and the payoff is a super nutrient-dense, fresh as it gets veggie! Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables around! It has a high content of soluble fiber, is high in vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Take a look at some photos from the Urban Farm, as we labor through this heat to make these harvests happen!
Learn more about how to support Planting for the Pantry: https://columbiaurbanag.org/planting4thepantry
The Obama Legacy Initiative's mission is to