Youth Service Day was a blast! We had people young and old working together towards a common goal. There were some games, we made some progress on the new rock garden, and everyone had a great time.
One more reminder! Youth Service Day is TOMORROW. We will be working hard, but we also love to form community, goof off, and have a blast! So if this piques your interest, come join us in the garden from 8-10:30am.
Tonight, a few members of our team got to go and experience an end-of-summer celebration put on by Sarah Bush Lincoln's nutrition program. Everyone went to separate stations to help prepare the dinner, and some of the kids got to compete in games against the administrative team.
Today marked the last day of the summer that we will be spending with the kids from the Salvation Army day camp. We made the most of it, though! There was some rock-picking and some super fun games to wrap up our time together.
Youth Day is THIS SATURDAY!! The garden is wide open for youth and the young at heart all the time, but this Saturday is especially for kids looking for some weekend gardening fun! Come and join us from 8-10:30AM at the garden to garden, chat, and hang out with these hooligans -->
Today we had the opportunity to partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters in the garden. Today was the official kick off of the new rock garden and the kids were not only having a blast but also had the opportunity to learn about service. On another note, we have now harvested 600 pounds of produce, and it just keeps growing!
We picked and picked and picked and finally had enough produce to make it to the farmer's market! If you missed us today, don't worry; We will be back again next Friday.
Harvesting green beans:
On our way to market:
Selling our produce:
This week we were able to donate a bunch of our produce to a parent and child cooking class that was run by Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospital and hosted by the Fields Church. They taught the participants to cook healthy and easy meals that taste good too!
This past Saturday we had an abundance of volunteers and it was phenomenal! Please remember to come volunteer at any point during our Community Garden hours because we are always looking for helping hands and ready to make that next connection with you. All ages are welcome. All gardening skills (or lack thereof) are welcome. EVERYONE is welcome! We would love to see you!
We are having a blast seeing everyone at Bagelfest! We will still be there tomorrow so it's not too late to paint a rock animal, have your face painted, or participate in a Sink-or-Float activity. Come on down to see us starting bright and early to morning at 8 o'clock!
Molly performing her Sink-or-Float activity and wowing the crowd :D
Cayden and I showing off our face and "hand" paint
Today we were able to take some of the kids from the Salvation Army day camp to the water treatment plant to see the work that is put into providing clean water. They were also very helpful in pulling weeds and picking up rocks in the garden. The first picture shown is a couple of the student's reflecting on what they learned during the water tour, and the second is a couple of the kids standing next to all of the weeds they pulled today!
Today was full of fun and silliness. We started by going to Douglas Hart Nature Center and discussing the work they do to gain volunteers. It was reassuring to hear that we are doing the right things to move towards a great volunteer base! We also got a chance to hear a practice lesson from Molly Masulis which will be used for youth events in the future.
We made "Soil Sammy's" today with nylon socks that will have cute little faces with grass growing out the top posing as hair.
Fit-2-Serve will have a booth at Bagelfest this year!! There will be several activities such as rock animal making, a "Sink or Float" activity, and garden themed face painting. Pick out your face painting now and come on down Thursday, Friday, or Saturday to have it done!
We were fortunate enough today to see the raised-bed gardens behind Salvation Army. They are tended by several youth who attend the Salvation Army day camp. There are several plant varieties they are growing, and it is watched over by two ladies from the U of I extension office. We love to see what others in our community are doing in their gardens!
Today Fit-2-Serve had 23 youth volunteers from various organizations come together to work in the garden. The first picture shows youth from Broadway Christian Church and the second of a local boy scout troop working hard in the garden. Join us for the next youth service day on August 1st.
Yesterday we began planting pumpkins at Williams Elementary School. They will turn into a small pumpkin patch behind the school which will be used for lessons and hands-on experience.
Today our team was fortunate enough to have a tour of Mercy Gardens in Decatur, IL. They are an organization specializing in job training and urban gardening. We came home with lots of ideas and a new connection that will now be able to utilize in our future endeavors.
Today there were 21.5 pounds of harvested from the garden! This is such a massive amount and yet we strive to grow and to be able to harvest thousands of pounds per year. Have a fantastic Fourth of July everyone!
Recently we have had an influx of youngsters joining us at the garden. This week we were joined by the Salvation Army day camp as well as a group of kiddos from the local daycare.
Today, we were also very fortunate to see plans for a remodel of Lytle Park that will create an awesome place for kids and adults alike to play, exercise, and just be outside! One of their plans includes space for several raised beds that will create a community garden.
Yesterday, our team took a trip out to Lake Land College to see some of the sustainable resources they use on their campus. We were able to see how they run their community garden, and we were able to climb up onto the roof of one of their buildings which houses over 400 solar panels. It was great to see someone else accomplishing sustainable ideas so that we have a clearer idea of what we can strive for with Fit-2-Serve's project.
We are incredibly thankful to have had so many great volunteers lending a helping hand. A ton was accomplished in just one day, and we would love to have anyone come help for the weeks to come through the harvesting season!
Today, 20 volunteers from local churches came together to work in the community garden. Families worked side by side to form community and work towards the same goal of a flourishing garden. This weekend is SERVE weekend, so there are volunteers working all over Mattoon for a couple days to make our town a better place. However, volunteers are always welcome to make their way to the garden to work and form friendships. Our volunteer hours are Monday-Thursday from 4-6PM and Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 8-10:30AM.
As a result of this work, 100 strawberry plants were added to the land.
Today our team took a trip to a local day care to read stories and play with the kids. They are hoping to get out in the garden sometime soon, but because it has rained both times they had scheduled to come, we went to them. They got to here two stories and we had a blast playing games, eating pretend food, and enjoying a fashion show featuring a fireman, a police officer, a fairy, and a pirate. It is a great opportunity for us and for the kids to be connected through the garden.
Today our team delivered our first produce to sell at Mark's My Store. We were able to take a bunch of green onions, three packages of cut broccoli, and 3 orange zucchini. It's a small amount right now, but we will be taking much more in the coming months, so head over to My Store to snatch up our locally grown produce.
This picture shows Mark showing us where our produce will be stored when we take in a delivery.
This is the current corn at the garden! With all of the rain, it has had the opportunity to just shoot up. There has been so much growth in this area in the past week.
TJ was successful in replanting some of our pumpkins. We have had an abundance of pumpkins showing up recently, so now we have expanded their space.
Thanks to JJ for teaching us about planting "Three Sisters." A three sisters garden is a Native American tradition using squash, corn, and beans. According to Iroquois legend, corn, beans, and squash are three inseparable sisters who only grow and thrive together. For more information on this topic visit:
We have made it to social media! If you prefer Facebook, please come like our page. You will be able to see several events that we have planned for the week. If twitter is more your style, follow us: @_Fit2Serve_. We will be working towards daily tweets and plan on having an Instagram set up in the VERY NEAR future! You can like our Facebook and follow our tweets by looking in the top right hand corner of this webpage.
Today at Fit-2-Serve we were blessed with a big lunch from the Crossover church. It was an hour filled with fellowship and a very filling meal of pasta, salad, and cookies.
The second portion to our day was a book study of When Helping Hurts. We are able to come together as a group to learn each other's strengths and discuss how to better help the community without causing more hurt to those already affected by poverty.
A few days ago, a couple of us were able to go visit a local family's backyard garden. It was a great experience to be able to connect with local gardeners, see what they do differently, and talk about the work they may be able to do to help further development in the community garden.
We have had a fun-filled day! This morning we had a group of kids from the Salvation Army day camp come to Fit-2-Serve and learn how to wash, dry, weigh, and package newly harvested lettuce. They had a blast and were led in games by Gini and Lee. Each child was also sent home with a package of the lettuce that they prepared.
Right after them, a group from Big Brothers Big Sisters came by to have lunch and to learn how to make a vinaigrette dressing with fresh herbs grown right outside. Some of them weren't so sure if they wanted to eat salad but the dressing they were able to make may have sold them. They got to take home their dressing and a package of this morning's lettuce. If you want to make your own dressing, here's how we made ours:
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh herbs (we used sage, basil, cilantro, or thyme)
A pinch of salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients, seal the container, and shake it up!
We packaged our first produce yesterday! The starfish in the picture represents the unstoppable power of leaderless organizations as Fit-2-Serve simply seeks to equip people for works of service.
The picture above shows the extra half acre we have yet to plant. Even with the massive amount already accomplished, there is still a lot to go. It has taken 458 volunteer hours to become what it is today, but these hours will continue to add up and the garden will continue to grow and thrive.
This picture shows the rest of the land after it has been cultivated today by Ken Newby. He has used his tractor to cultivate the land three times this year. Ken has an auto body shop here in Mattoon (pictured below). A huge thanks to Ken for all of his hard work!
We want to give a HUGE thank you to deBuhr's Feed and Seed in Mattoon. They very graciously donated this pictured (above) truckload of plants for the community garden. The plants were relocated very quickly to their new home. Don't they look great?!
Another day in the garden and we got another slew of jobs finished. Although we were able to get a lot done, we are always looking for more volunteers to join us in our efforts!
Last night, a dinner was served including a course of salad made of only produce grown fresh in the garden. The garden is thriving! Today, the harvest consisted of 5.3 lbs of lettuce, 2 lbs of broccoli, 1.8 lbs of onions, and the plants just keep on growing!
This afternoon at Fit-2-Serve, there was quaint tea party complete with tea, cookies, and bingo. A big thanks to Becky Darling for organizing the event!