Last week at Dig It

diamonde and tanisha leading a group


Last Wednesday we hosted 2 groups of volunteers at Bell Garden– one group from New Hope Presbyterian Church, and the other a group of teens from the Baden West Florissant Development Corporation. Dig It crew members Diamond and TaNisha gave great tours for those groups, and the rest of Dig It showed them how to use power tools to build compost bins. After that, we enjoyed a wonderful lunch from the garden. On Thursday, we worked at Clay Elementary pulling some nasty weeds, and in the afternoon we had a soils workshop. We sampled soil from around Bell Garden, did a ‘shake test’, and identified the different components in our soil. We did drainage tests for sand, clay, and organic matter, and learned why organic matter is so important! On Friday, we followed up this workshop by learning about the different plant families that garden vegetables and fruits belong to. Crew went through Bell Garden and labeled all the plants in the demo beds with their name and their plant family. Saturday we hosted a field trip with a Lincoln University after school program, another field trip at Mallinckrodt Elementary Garden, and did some maintenance tasks around Bell Garden.


tenisha showing volunteer how to use tools

This marked the official halfway point of Dig It! The summer is flying by. For the remaining month of the program, we are challenging our crew members to take the lead. Through our variety of daily tasks and team building activities, we have identified where our group works well together, and where we struggle. Now it’s up to the crew to turn the group’s challenges into our strengths.


Dig It, From the Eyes of Alexander

Hello my name is Alexander Harper I’m a 17 year old that attends Clyde C.Miller Career Academy. My school is a career and technical high school.This means we have career clusters such as Bio-Tech, Nursing, and Business Administration. Students are able to decide what we would like to study when we attend college.


In addition to programs like Future Business Leaders of America, National Honor Society, and Student Council, I love to garden at home. Once I heard about Dig-It I knew I would like to jump on board. One of my favorite things to grow is vegetables and being in this program has given me more insight about maintaing a vegetable garden. I am truly enjoying my time here so far.


This week with Dig-It has been awesome. Although, it has been raining cats and dogs, we have been steadfast with our duties. On Wednesday, all of the crew met in Bell Garden, stepping slowly on the soaked grass for our daily morning meeting. It had already rained nonstop for two days. I’m sure everyone was looking forward to a “laid-back week” but Kathleen quickly busted our bubble. She entered the circle with a grin on her face saying “I know you guys think we’re not doing much but we are sticking to the weeks schedule.” I quickly thought to myself “she must be crazy, we are going to be drowning in water!” By the look of others they were thinking the same exact thing. Kathleen continued with a smile saying “get those raincoats and ponchos ready!” It wasn’t two minutes after her saying this that it began raining, we had to run to quickly to the carriage house and of course received duties for the week.


Thursday June 18, 2015 was the best day I had with Dig-It. Blue group, consisting of four crew members and two crew leaders, set out on a trip to Crown Center to help assist with the senior’s garden and green house. What a day it was… We arrived around 9:30 a.m. and the weather appeared to clear as we began walking to the small garden, speckles of rain started to come down down. I said “Oh Lord!” Everyone bursted out laughing. Kathleen, who was one of crew leaders, said “Okay, we’ve got work to do.” She stated all the things we had to do, went in with our crew member Emmanuel and they began working inside with the seniors. Kortez, another crew leader, and Michael, a crew member, decided to stay outside and harvest the overgrown carrots, greens, and lettuce. Christine, a crew member, and I decided to clean and organize the greenhouse. We thought we were getting out of the rain but the house had leaks. Imagine walking and a big cold drop of water suddenly falling on your head!


After everything was harvested and distributed into bags we had to take fresh produce to the residents. Then we went back down to the floor to meet our peers and have a group discussion. In that group discussion, we all realized we like the independence Kathleen gave us, older people are fun to be around, and we should always push through things in order to get the job done. Next week I look forward to learning how to build things and more fun encounters.

Dig It STL Recap by Crew Leader Meg Holmes:

image-9 This week at Dig It, we’ve been focused on reaching out and building new skills. Wednesday was our first day of power tools training and construction! Youth got a great start building many of the parts we need for the raised beds we’ll be awarding to gardens in the fall. We were delighted to work with Chef Josh on Wednesday as well, making a delicious watermelon salad and potato bacon braise with tons of veggies from Bell Garden.image-7

Thursday we divided into two groups, learning about cover cropping at Clay Elementary and about composting at Cote Brilliante Elementary as we worked in their gardens, getting them in shape for Saturday’s garden tour. We got a ton of work done despite the sweltering heat. At one point we took a break in the shade to practice a tool called the Elevator Speech.
Friday we took our awesome ‘space van’ with the whole crew inside over to 3 Rivers Community Farm in Elsah, IL. It’s an amazing 300-member CSA farm run by Amy Cloud and Segue Lara (full disclosure, Carolyn used to work there before joining Gateway Greening!). We planted rows and rows of tomatoes and harvested peas, while learning about the huge differences between community gardening and farming for market.
Finally, on Saturday, the Dig It crew helped us host a Youth Garden Tour of 5 school gardens in North City. We had a wonderful time and got a lot of work done!

Summer Maintenance at Cote Brillante Youth Garden


Cote Brillante School Garden is located in North Saint Louis, the part of the town where most folks ‘south’ of Delmar choose not to go. A year and a half ago, I decided to challenge myself and started looking after this school garden. It has been a meaningful and also a very safe experience for my three young children and me. This spring a second grade and after school garden club did a lot of planting at the garden and loved every minute of it. We are asking for your help this summer to keep this garden alive by watering and weeding. The food grown here is donated to the neighborhood families and the neighborhood food pantry over the summer.

This garden is also on the Gateway Greening’s Youth Garden Tour this spring. Here is a link to sign up for the tour. This would be a great way to check out the garden. If you are interested please contact me and I would love nothing more than to show you around this garden.

If you would like to help with Cote Brillante Garden this summer, click here to sign up.