by Jasmine Johnson
The only farming experience I had prior to my internship at ECHO was a few failed attempts in my family’s backyard. We planted watermelon and pumpkin seeds too close to the woods, so the deer munched off all of the produce before we got the chance to collect anything.
Urban Garden Intern Gabe LePage invited a few new ECHO members to start our own garden. He wanted to try a new technique while also teaching us in the process.
When we met up after work one evening, Gabe had already set up some cement parking blocks in a small square area with layered mulch and manure compost filling the space. We were then able to dump the soil in right away.
Once everything was packed down, we used branches, logs and cinder blocks to fill in any gaps or cracks along the edges of the space. Gabe explained that he did not want the soil to wash away during heavy rainstorms.
Using the cinder blocks to preserve the soil also allowed for further gardening space. We used the same layering pattern of manure, mulch and soil in the blocks’ holes to grow additional plants.
We then walked over to the seed bank and each picked out some flowers and herbs to include. When looking at the variety of options, we made sure to choose plants that would thrive in extended sun exposure and not smother any neighboring sprouts.
Although this cement enclosure is one way to garden, there are many other options demonstrated around the urban and community garden spaces at ECHO.
While retrieving more soil for the garden bed, Gabe asked me where I would garden at home. I thought of an area in our backyard next to our rabbit’s cage that would work very well. Since Gabe uses rabbit manure for the urban garden at ECHO, this could also be applied to my future garden in Minnesota.
After arriving at home and catching up with my family, I discovered that my dad had already planted a few different vegetables in the exact spot I had mentioned to Gabe! I cannot wait to join my dad in caring for the plants and continue growing my green thumb.
Gardening is just one of the many things I have observed and learned during my time at ECHO. Many of these agricultural lessons were not as complicated as I originally thought they would be.
When starting up any garden, Gabe told us to remember four important things: abundant sunlight, fertile soil, a water source, and the plants themselves.
Anyone can grow a garden, no matter the climate or location. Whoever you are and whatever your story may be, do not be afraid to dive into the beauty of God’s creation and observe the physical fruits (or vegetables) of your labor!
If you would like to learn more about the multitude of gardening options, consider taking a tour at ECHO’s Global Farm to learn more about the gardening methods that interest you. While you are there, stop by the bookstore to pick up some seeds to try at home!
What do you want to grow?