As our first semester of 2016 came to an end we all gathered at the Colton Community Garden for one last evening together. With the objective of raising money for the garden we put the winter showcase together. With the help of all the class members, we were able to double the money made last year for the garden!
We had the opportunity to have amazing vendors at the showcase this year.
Araceli was one of the invited vendors. She displayed her different handmade jewelry at the showcase.
We also had our own booth, full of organic, locally made items, including clay masks, homemade chocolate, fruit preserves, and more.
We also had a local artist, Brittany, display and sell her wonderful artwork, as they reflected the attitude towards nature that we had learned to appreciate over the course of this semester.
Well we have finally reached the end of Growing Community. This whole semester in this particular class was an amazing experience, and one that I would definitely want to do over again, multiple times even. At the beginning of the showcase, all of us arrived by car, through carpooling, some of us came earlier than others in order for us to have sufficient time to set everything up. The tables and shelves ended up looking amazing.
When we finally got all set up inside, we started a small bonfire in a fire pit outside, it was really pretty and really relaxing just sitting around the fire talking with the good friends we have all made throughout this course. Apparently everyone else felt that way too (although most of them don’t look.. erm.. too happy).
After standing around and warming ourselves by the bonfire a little bit, we all decided that we should take some group pictures, play in the snow (or was was left of it anyways), and just take advantage of and soak up the gorgeous Arizona sunset put on display that night. Afterwards, some of us went back inside to explore.
At about 6 o’clock, after having been at the Colton Garden Showcase, we carpooled to Rosemary’s house for some chili, and of course some animal snuggles, be them from her very sweet dog Chaco, or her two… less sweet… but VERY cute and rambunctious goats, Petri and Pickles.
Later that night after we all stuffed ourselves full with Rosemary’s DELICIOUS chili, we headed out the door with hugs and pretty sad goodbyes, at least for me. I really enjoyed this class and the view ad atmosphere it provided everyday. I am honored to say that I was part of this class and part of something bigger than just a college course for a credit. I had so much fun and I will miss everyone involved. It was a great semester and good luck to everyone, and may only good things come your way.
On the first of December our Growing Community class all attended the 2016 FYS Symposium at 5 PM sharp, our first one ever at that. At first, we all came in slowly but eventually all of us got there to help set the table up.
At the beginning of the event, a well-known and obviously well-liked Professor took the microphone to introduce the event and explain what was going to happen throughout the course of it. First there was going to be a skit performed by his Civic Engagement class, then there was food served at 6:15, when we could also do some exploring around the different tables to see if any caught our attention, or were related to our class and what we learned. Then, we were to meet back at about 7:15. With all that time to explore, there were some booths that stood out to me, as we have talked and/or read about them in depth in Growing Community.
There were other interesting booths that caught my eye as well, but not because they had to do with what we learned per say, but with what I gathered and noticed from our class and the wonderful people in it.
Finally after we all got to walk around and see all of the tables and what they had to offer, we all sat down for a group activity where we sat in a circle and just basically talked the entire time about our classes and why we loved them. Turns out, that everyone really loves these FYS classes, and it is easy to see why. Each class itself is like a smaller community within a larger one, with people who become closer throughout the class and may even come out of their shell a bit. I thought that this was a really great event and I hope that everyone enjoyed it as much as I genuinely did.
The Growing Community Friday ALT’s group was able to visit the “Grow Flagstaff” Seed Library during our weekly hours. The Coconino County Cooperative Extension office not only is home to the seed library, but also has a bus stop garden right outside the building.
The seed library itself is a neatly organized set of 54 wooden drawers, that hold individual envelopes full of mostly localized seeds. Seeds in dark, dry, and cool environments like this are more apt to survive for longer period of time, and it was noted that the Seed Bank organizers have plans to store excess seeds in a small refrigerator so they last even longer.
A seed library sends a message to the community of Flagstaff that growing is possible, even with increased elevation, and that we can come together to make growing non-GMO, localized plants, more accessible to the entire city. Grow Flagstaff encourages citizens to borrow seeds, grow them in their own gardens, and then save seeds from their plants that are more diverse and localized to Flagstaff climate/soil. There is no penalty for not being able to save your seeds though, which makes the process a lot more welcoming for beginner gardeners who may not have any seed saving experience. Every gardener will have a different experience with their borrowed seeds, and each plant that has saved seeds will have its own story. Members of Grow Flagstaff have the opportunity of sharing that plants story, so that the next person who grows their seeds will be able to connect more to the growth of their plants community history.
In order to check out seeds, a community member would just have to complete a couple of steps. First, filling out a membership form in their Grow Flagstaff binder will allow you access to the entire variety of seeds in their library. However when you do check out seeds, there is a limit of five packets of seeds per visit. Next, signing in to the logbook located on the front desk is important so that they have public record of the amount of community members who are using the library.
The bus stop garden outside of the extension office was beautiful, harboring a wide variety of plants (such as kale, tomatillos, tomatoes, etc). With its close proximity to public transportation and an elementary school, the whole community has great access to the garden. They even encourage those who may need food or want to get into gardening to eat some of the produce from their garden beds. Anything that is not consumed from the garden goes to seed, and then is stored in new envelopes for the library.
Growing localized seeds that have been shared throughout the community is a very special experience each gardener can have. Flagstaff is lucky to have such an amazing seed library, and if you would like to get involved with Grow Flagstaff Seed Library, you can get more information and updates on their facebook page:
While we were at Forestdale Farm on our field trip we built cordwood walls for the newly constructed chicken coop. This method is very inexpensive and only required Aspen logs that were cut into pieces 8 inches long, clay located on the ground right below our feet, mixed with pine needles and water.
We were shown by Rylan how to construct these walls by hand. He showed us to dig up some clay from right in front of the coop, sprinkle it with the dead pine needles that laid on the ground all around us, and then dump just enough water on it to give it the right consistency to be a cordwood wall!
Working with our hands building a structure for these birds (chickens) was a rewarding experience. It was amazing to see what could be accomplished in such a short period of time. We were all covered in mud by the end of the day, but that was part of what made it so much fun! Once the wall is complete, it is only a matter of time until the clay dries around the wood to become a hard, solid rock like substance. After that, the walls around the structure create a very effective weatherproof structure that insulates heat for the poultry that will be living there.
There are two different breeds of chickens that Rylan has on his farm. One breed, the Java chickens, are the second oldest breed of chickens that exist. These are great foraging chickens, which is perfect for Flagstaff’s environment. They all have access to water, shelter, and organic feed, while still foraging for more food.
At Forestdale Farm, Narragansett turkeys live with the chickens and help to produce eggs for the farm. These are heritage turkeys and yield very high egg production. They sleep up in the pine trees and also sit on their eggs in the Spring to reproduce the flock. These birds are very low maintenance and great for the mountain environment. We loved being able to tour Rylan’s farm and get to know a little bit more about him and how people can contribute to sustainable living in Flagstaff, Arizona.
The Chicken Coop group met with a contracting wiz, Fritz, who generously allowed our group to visit her home to show us her chicken coop. She clued us in on how to take care of chickens and how to get the most out of them.
Her coop was built from an existing playground that was built for her daughter. The base of the front of the coop was the sandbox, but now it is used to keep predators from digging up into the coop. The back part of the coop is raised off the ground because the bottom can be pulled down to easily collect the chicken poop, which can be used as fertilizer.
Next to the coop is this innovative feeding garden bed that Fritz invented for the chickens.
Fritz accented the coop herself.
Inside, on the right (above) is a designated spot for the chickens to lay their eggs, because it is a drawer that slides out (below) so the eggs can be accessed more easily. On the left side (above) is the roosting bar which is where the chickens spend most of their time.
We later met up with Fritz to discuss our plans for the chicken coop. She calculated the cost of the supplies that would be needed for our coop (see earlier blog, “Chicken Coop How-To”)
The Chicken Group (Inka Knittle, Benjamin Burch, Angelo Camacho, Allison Altsisi) worked on designing the plans for a future chicken coop in the Colton Community Garden.
The coop has been designated a 20ft by 20ft spot in the southwest corner of the garden (above). The coop itself (below) is about 8ft by 6ft and the rest of the space will be used for a run and space for the chickens to run around.
They make nitrogen-rich waste that makes great fertilizer
They are very entertaining
They are helpful in turning over the soil and getting it ready for planting
They do not require much attention
These chickens will be very beneficial to the garden because we hope they will be able to bring more people to the garden, and by doing so, also bringing the Flagstaff community closer together. The chickens will be taken care of Lissa Buyske in the summer and volunteers will take care of them in the winter.
For this coop to be built we need funding for supplies like concrete, chicken wire, roofing panels, and cinder blocks. We are getting lumber donations from a soon-to-be torn down Art Barn. We estimate our total needs will be $350. To donate please go to