Thursday, May 26, 2011

Closer to the Earth Gardening Project Part One: At the Farm

Bob sets us up for our interview with Rachel Kastner at Closer to the Earth
Production stills by Daniel Lay in this blogpost

We are back in New Mexico after 21 straight days of intensive, non-stop travel and filming but I still have so much to tell you about the people and places we visited in Oklahoma and then will also be 'grabbing' stills from Bob's footage for future blogs about our sometimes very challenging process in the making of this documentary and also my installation for the show at the Mabee- Gerrer Museum of Art as it enfolds. The documentary will premiere at the museum in Fall 2011 and a show of my installation and the work of other creative individuals we interviewed will be at the museum in Fall 2012. Our deep thanks to the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art for their sponsorship and also to the Museum of the Red River for lodging and feeding us while we were in Idabel. More on both of these museums and their collections in future blogs.
But now.....our final stop in our trip to hear about an innovative gardening program for youth and a community garden that has saved and brought together an urban neighborhood that was in decline in Oklahoma City brought together all of the ideas and concepts we are trying to promote in our Creative-Native Project series. It was a gratifying and inspirational end to our shooting schedule.

We met Rachel at the farm that is part of an innovative gardening program for at-risk youth. In our next blog we will take you to the community garden and native plant median plantings that are also part of this program and interview Allen Parleir, Coordinator of Closer to Earth Youth Gardens and you will hear about how their program restored an inner city neighborhood. This is a link to some of this year's projects.

Rachel in the garden at the farm
This program brings together ar risk youth from all different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds to learn about organic gardening and create organic gardens using methods such as composting and worm castings. It brings together youth who might never have the chance to interact with each other normally and also engages them in this program to give them an alternative to gang or criminal activity. 

The children take fresh produce home to their families many of whom have never had access to fresh produce especially organic. The rest of the produce is split between local food pantries and sold to local restaurants.

They do extensive composting and recycling as well as assisting in zero waste events and using all of their waste for their compost including cardboard.

All of the rich loamy earth in these two pictures is made up of worm castings which is literally the waste from worms which creates rich and healthy soil. You can see the worms in these two pictures if you look closely. Organic gardening emphasizes building the soil and crop rotation and diversity to create healthy plants without the use of pesticides.

The farm has a greenhouse which does not use a heating source, extensive composting, the worm compost and a quarter acre garden.

Rachel and I relax and talk after our interview and tour of the farm. Tomorrow we take you to the Community Gardens and the six block highway median that the youth have planted in Oklahoma native plants and also see the youth at work and hear about how this program revived a community.
This link will take you to an update on Closer to the Earth and the $5000 grant they received from the Green Foundation and how they have put it to great use.


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