Fall SOUP is TEEN Edition!
Fall SOUP is TEEN Edition!

Meet Our Presenters: Project 3

STEM-to-STEAM: It’s All in the Garden


1) What’s your group’s background?
My husband, CMadison, died May 20, 2013. We were married 36 years, 8 months and 22 days. Our sons, nephews and I built a 4k, sq. ft., bio-diverse, organic garden behind our church in his memory. Our church’s in a food desert and provides our land and water. We built 38 raised beds from untreated lumber, lined them with cardboard for organic weed control, filled them with 40 tons of organic soil and installed a drip irrigation system on a solar-powered timer.  We lined 4’ walkways between the beds with cardboard and filled them with 40 tons of gravel, then planted 3K seeds and 100 live plants.
Our mission and methods:
  • Increase access to affordable, organic food. Sell the organic produce @$1lb at our onsite Farmer’s Market;
  • Increase access to STEM studies. Host free Saturday Science in the Garden classes, monthly Early Gardener Programs for preschoolers and a weekly science/service program for 9th graders.
  • Increase cultural & spiritual connections to gardening-with hashtags.
 #WeWereBroughtHeretoCultivate #DeliveredbutnotHealed #HeStartedUsinaGardenforaReason
CMNMG@CCAF opened 2014. Franklin Park Conservatory named us Community Garden of the Year and one of 12 Hub Gardens in Central Ohio in 2015. Here’s a peek with pics of 2016: http://bit.ly/2dmQQNh 
2) Describe your Community Initiative Project.
This urban food desert is populated by young adults entering their most productive earning years and lots of school children. Both need clean food!
USDA identifies CMNMG@CCAF’s zip code, 43219 as “low income/low access” with 33% of the households at the poverty level, 13% without a car and the distance to the closest supermarkets is 4.3 miles (Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods). The church, founded 105+ years ago by descendants of formerly enslaved Africans in America is, according to U.S. Census data, a match with the community that’s 72.8%  Black. But it’s not all black…
  • 17.6% is Caucasian-White;
  • 5.9% is Hispanic or Latino of any race;
  • 3.9% self-describes as “Other”;
  • 3.4% cite two or more races;
  • 1.9% are Asian and
  • 0.3% are American Indian or Alaska Native.
The median age is 32 years old, 25% of the households are “Husband, Wife and Family”; 33% are “Single Guardian”; 34% are Single and 7% are Single with a roommate.  
There are 6,258 children ages 3 to 18:
  • 1,378  are 3-5 years old;
  • 1,618 are 6-9;
  • 1,078 are 10-12;
  • 1,024 are 13-15; and
  • 1,160 are 16-18.
3) What is your goal for this project?
The goal is to add culinary “A”rt with onsite solar cooking demonstrations as part of our 2016-2017 theme, “STEM-to-STEAM: It’s All in the Garden”.  During 2016 we added music as one Art element. Blue Spectrum, young adult musicians on the autism spectrum, gave a great concert as did Urban Strings Columbus, a group of middle and high school musicians who play violin, viola, cello and bass. We plan to have more concerts in 2017 along with “plein air” painting, spoken word and maybe theater. But our primary focus is Culinary Arts. 
Objectives: Increase awareness and ease of cooking fresh, organic veggies seasoned with fresh, organic herbs.
Outcomes: A reduction in nutrition related rates of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Benefits: A better quality of life, greater food security and greater economic stability.
We have solar cooking equipment and the newly donated Jim and Maggie Creek Greenhouse. We need a solar powered generator to provide electricity to heat and irrigate the greenhouse to grow food all winter and get a jump on next season. We want to begin solar cooking demos in May and continue through next November.
4) How much money do you need and what will you use it for?
We need $2,889.99 to buy the Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Generator Kit to power the incredible 8’ x 12’ Jim and Maggie Creek Greenhouse. Jim customized the greenhouse, it’s wired for power to run interior fans, grow lamps and irrigation. But CMNMG@CCAF’s 300’ from the closest outlet. CCAF provides our land and water for free but the electrical costs of running the greenhouse is too much to ask.  This solar powered generator can power everything needed in the greenhouse, power tools and as son Damon’s enabled wifi across the church and garden, students can use and power their laptops when doing research there.
With 4.7 of 5 stars on Amazon it’s gas-free, silent (it won’t disturb the tranquility) and safe with no harmful fumes (big concern with young children around.)  The kit includes:
  • 4X Solar Panel: BOULDER 30 to capture solar energy;
  • Power Pack: YETI 1250 to store & use energy;
  • 2X Fabric Carrying Case to transport the solar panels & Roll Cart;
  • Wall Charge Cable for optional wall charge;
  • 3X Light-a-life LED portable Lamps;
  • 1 Tripod for mounting the solar panels + easy movement for sun alignment;
  • 10 Clips to attach the solar panels together.
It’s a move towards perfection, just like CMNMG@CCAF!