Wednesday, November 2, 2011

First Year Garden Yield

Winter has come to Somers, Montana and although some plants are hanging in there, Robin Vogler (Food Services Director and Nutrition teacher) sent us the harvest totals:

120 pounds of zucchini-not counting a random few
114 pounds of pumpkins
23 pounds of buttercup squash
53 pounds of hubbard squash
15 pounds of potatoes- these were Delicious, served them oven roasted, olive oil & sea salt-YUMM for our Montana Harvest Menu Day
19 pounds of carrots-although very few of these were edible-strange deformed and bitter-unfortuneately
Broccoli is still alive
Cabbage- no yield,but nice foliage :)
5 pounds lettuce varieties
Onions/garlic still in the ground

We are SO excited about how much this garden produced, especially since none of our plants were able to get into the ground until July!  And we know the garden will get better every year. 
Thanks to everyone that helped to make the garden possible and have continued to sustain it!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Pictures and News Stories

School is back in session, and although we (Tory and Jean) are back on our respective home coasts, the garden is still growing, so much the beds can barely contain it! Robin and her Nutrition students harvested zucchinis and green onions the other day for a class project, and she took some photos of the garden growth (more photos below).

In addition to being a Blog of the Month for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, the garden has also been getting some nice local recognition, in the West Shore News, and as part of a story about the Montana Foodcorps in the Missoulian.

There are two amazing women that we need to thank for their roles in this project, and we’re so glad that they are featured in these stories: Robin Vogler, our site supervisor and the Food Services Director and Wellness Program Coordinator for the Somers/Lakeside School District, and Crissie McMullan, a founder of Montana Foodcorps. Both bring so much energy and passion to their work, and it was such an honor to be able to work with both of them for a summer. In Robin’s five years at the Somers Middle School she has transformed the school food service from reheated processed food to made-from-scratch, healthy food that the kids love. For more details on Robin’s amazing work, check out the piece she wrote for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. She buys produce from local farmers, but she wanted to reduce the food mileage even more and grow food right on campus. So she asked Crissie McMullan at Montana Foodcorps for volunteers to make the garden happen, and we were lucky enough to get selected. Crissie started Montana Foodcorps after the work she was doing to get local food into the University of Montana was so inspiring that people kept asking her to come to their community to get local food into their schools. And Crissie is amazing but can only be in one place at one time so she created Foodcorps to send volunteers to those communities. Montana Foodcorps is now a model for the National Foodcorps program, which is currently in 10 states. For more information, check out Crissie's Montana Foodcorps blog.

Finally, here are more new pictures of the garden! A white pumpkin looks like it will be ready for Halloween (below), the zucchini and potato towers are looking great (middle) and the chard is getting huge (far below)!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Our End of Service

Exciting news: our blog has been chosen as a Blog of the Month by Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution! We are so honored, Jamie is such an inspiration. We can't believe that a blog we started mostly so that our moms could stay updated on the progress of our garden is being recognized by one of our idols!

Today is our last day of service and the ending is bittersweet. We're glad we've accomplished all that we have and excited about what's next, but it's tough to leave this beautiful place! Below is a picture of the raised beds, the plants are beginning to spill out of them! Below left are our potato towers with lots of potatoes leafing out the sides. Below right is a sunflower in the courtyard.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Potluck Success!

Last night we had our potluck dinner at the school. Unfortunately it stormed so we moved the dinner into the cafeteria, but we were glad to be out of the rain! We had lots of great food and company and would like to thank all who attended and brought a yummy dish. If you weren't able to make it, be sure to stop by and see the garden sometime soon, the plants get bigger every day!

Our term of service ends Saturday and we'd like to thank everyone here for their help and support. This has been an incredible experience and definitely one that we'll never forget.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Courtyard and Ripe Tomatoes

Although the tomatoes above may not look ripe, they are a yellow variety we got from Terrapin Farms and are perfectly ripe! We picked them today and they were delicious! We also picked another zucchini, and more will be ready next week.

Also today we finished clearing out the grass and weeds from the courtyard beds. Much of it is now empty, but it gives us room to put new plants in. The bed below left has delphinium, mint, chamomile, tulips and forget-me-nots. The bed below right has corn, sunflowers, and lilies. We're glad to be done with the big tasks and so excited about how much the plants are growing!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Potluck and Our First Zucchini!

As our term of service wraps up, we would like to thank everyone who has made this project possible and extend an invitation to our Garden Potluck at the Somers School on Wednesday, August 10, 7-9pm!
Come see how much the garden has grown, eat delicious food and spend time with friends and neighbors. Please bring a dish to share with the group and feel free to bring your family and friends!

Speaking of how much the garden has grown, we picked the first zucchini today (below, right)! Just a week ago it was tiny, but the hot weather gave it a growth spurt. Our potato tower (below, left) has also grown significantly, the potatoes are leafing out on all sides. Our bed of broccoli, cauliflower and onions (below, center) is doing well and hopefully will start producing soon!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Building the Tipi Trellis

Inspired by tipi trellises that Tory built in urban community gardens back in Providence, RI, we decided to put one in the courtyard. The kids will be able to go inside of it and hopefully enjoy some shade provided by peas and climbing beans. We planted the peas we'd been growing in the greenhouse and found that we had some peapods (below). We had help building and planting from some neighborhood kids who stopped by to see what we were doing. They thought the peas tasted great too!

More Pictures From the Workparty!

One of our supervisors and a co-founder of Montana FoodCorps, Crissie McMullan, came to our Workparty and sent us some pictures. Above is a shot of Tory, Robin, and Jean in the garden after a long, successful day of work. Below left, Robin is digging in a bed in the courtyard to make room for the mint and chamomile. Below right, Tory, Jean and a local high school student are planting corn.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Workparty Success!

Our WorkParty was on Saturday and it was a great success! We had 20 people throughout the day and got a lot done. With all the extra hands we got five planters (below, left) filled with peppers, tomatoes, French tarragon, and marigolds (to keep the bugs away). We also used the rototiller and got the raspberries planted (below, right). We cleared space in the courtyard and planted corn, sunflowers, delphinium, mint, chamomile, and more marigolds (far below, left). It felt great to have so many people in the garden and we couldn't believe how fast the work got done with so many extra hands. If you missed the workparty but still want to see the garden, come by any week day, we're usually around 9-5 or leave a comment on the blog!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New Garden Growth

The weather has heated up here in Somers and the plants are starting to perk up. Our squash plants have a ton of blossoms on them (above), we have our first tomato ripening (below right), our first potato is leafing out the side of one of the potato towers (below left), and the lettuce and carrots are growing happily (below center). We are looking forward to our first Work Party this Saturday, July 23, 10 am- 3pm. Come by and see the plants, get your hands dirty and enjoy the beautiful weather! Bring water and garden gloves and a spade if you have one, and invite your family, friends and neighbors. We look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Fence Is Finally Done!

Today we completed one of the most difficult tasks to date, we completed installing the chain link fence! This involved pounding in metal fence posts and lashing the chain link panels to the posts (no easy feat for just two people, on a slope, with donated materials). Though it was stressful at times, we're glad that it will keep the deer out of the garden. Robin was here to help and took a picture of us "stuck" in the garden as a thunderstorm was threatening.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We're on the Fence!

Although it may not look much like a garden right now, we're on the home stretch! After some initial difficulty, we started to put up our chain link deer fence (thanks to Tim Rogge for donating the fence panels and expertise!). Once the fence is complete we will be able to remove the remay cloth from the beds and our plants will be able to get some direct sunlight! Yesterday we also patched the drip irrigation system in the flower garden in front of the school. The delphinium are blooming and we pulled out a bunch of weeds to let the flowers thrive!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Additions and Revisions

We'd love to say that everything works perfectly the first time, but that's not the way that gardening (or most of life) goes. After the weekend, we returned to find that we'd built the Leaning Tower of Potatoes. Concerned that it would topple downhill, we decided to build a second tower and split the original one in half. We also added extra supports on the sides, hopefully this will keep the towers vertical!

Our peas are some of the few plants still in the greenhouse, but they are doing well. Today they sprouted their first blossom (below left). In the beds we also have some new blossoms, including two on our jalepeno plant, which is also sprouting a pepper (below right).

Friday, July 8, 2011

Building a Potato Tower

Inspired by the Hayes Valley Farm in San Francisco, today we built a Potato Tower. Instead of planting potatoes in a traditional manner, in a potato tower you plant them vertically in a tower made of chicken wire and straw. We layered seed potatoes and topsoil into the tower. In the picture above you can see the first layer of potatoes we put down. Below (left) is the tower as we are building it, and on the right is the finished product. Hopefully soon the potatoes will start leafing out the sides!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Work Party!

Now that we have our garden beds planted, we'd like to welcome everyone to join in the fun and get your hands dirty. Volunteers are welcome at any time, you can usually find us on the South Slope of the Somers School weekdays 9-5. We are also having a Work Party on Saturday July 23, 10am- 3pm. You can come whenever you like and stay as long as you like. Bring your friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and anyone else. We'll be on the South Side of the Somers School, at 315 School Addition Road. Don't miss this great opportunity to have fun outdoors and help the community!

For more information you can email Tory at or Jean at

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

All Six Beds Planted!

Today was so exciting, we got all 6 beds planted! We planted tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, onions, pumpkins, zucchini, hubbard squash, jalepenos, habanero peppers, chard, more carrots and lettuce, and basil. We picked our first strawberries today and they were delicious!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Dirt Is In!

Today we hit a milestone, we got all six beds filled with straw, manure and soil! Although it was back-breaking work, we're glad to have it done! It also meant that today we got to start planting. We filled one bed with lettuce, spinach and carrots. We then covered the bed with remay cloth to protect the plants from deer and too much sun. It was a windy afternoon and the remay kept billowing up, so we decided to only plant one bed today. Although things rarely go as planned, we're thrilled that our garden is starting to really look like a garden!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Greenhouse Update

The weather has gotten warmer and our plants are nearly bursting out of their containers! They are very ready to get into the ground. Above are the peas, carrots, lettuce and squash.

The first blooms are appearing on the raspberry plants!

The seeds we started are on the left (below), most of them are coming up! We bought tomato starts (below, right) from Terrapin Farms in Whitefish, they were very gererous and informative!

We weren't planning to get any strawberry plants, but when we saw Bunting Farms' plants we knew we had to get some! A few are getting ripe already.

Six Beds Done!

All six beds are done! In the bottom of each bed we've put wire mesh to keep out pesky burrowing rodents. After this picture was taken we put in PVC pipe to hold up protective covers for the plants. We're hoping the covers will protect the plants from deer while we get the fence up. The next step is to fill the beds!