The Marines were in town! Hundreds of Marines came to St. Louis to take part in community service projects and perform various exhibitions throughout the city. A group of them were assigned to help with Gateway Greening gardens, and Gateway Greening sent them to us. This is our first year gardening, and we've taken on three defunct community gardens, so the work load this year was massive. Before the Marines came, we still had one garden unplanted.
Ten Marines landed in Hyde Park on Monday, June 20. They laid mulch around our beds at the garden on Newhouse. They cleared the fence lines, trimmed trees, helped assemble a support for our monstrous tomato plants, and mowed the lot. In the midst of the action, a group of kids that live a block over stopped by to see what was happening. They met the Marines and helped us plant some cabbage and lettuce.
From there we went to the Clay School Opportunity Garden. This one has caused us the most trouble. It was in the worse shape and had many delays, including late compost delivery, uncooperative weather, and a massively busy schedule. We cleared the beds of weeds (for the fifth time) and planted mostly cucurbits and peppers.
You can read here about the Marines' view of what they did this week.
The plants in the other two gardens are growing very well. We've harvested greens numerous times, had a huge crop of lettuce, picked some sugar snap peas, and taste tested our first two ripe cherry tomatoes. They had huge flavor. Our flowers are blooming, and the herbs have finally stabilized.
This week, we also installed a 12x16 foot pergola at the Boyle-Laclede Community Garden, made entirely of recycled pallet wood. This was our biggest wood project to date, containing over 280 wooden parts and 1260 exterior screws, and it went fairly painlessly.
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011
We are ready to embark on the next phase of the Isaiah 61 Initiative. Since the inception of the vision we have known that we would need a public place to display products from the Opportunity Center. This space would act as a retail incubator for those we work to empower.
A retail incubator would be a difficult concept to have as a stand alone that would produce enough revenue to sustain itself. Our concept from the beginning has been to combine the retail incubator with a cafe. The cafe would serve coffee, ice cream and full meals. The revenue from the cafe would help offset the cost of the retail space. It would also give us a commercial kitchen to provide opportunity and training to the community.
Once in place, this space would unlock potential in the community unlike any other endevour we have seen. It will allow us to train residents, help them design and produce a product, and give them exposure to their product. When this space is combined with the power of the existing Opportunity Center facilities we believe there will be an unleashing of new income opportunities in our impoverished area.
We know we have a big project ahead of us. Our missionaries are already in place to run the operation. We have ServeSafe® Certified staff, an experienced barrista, several with kitchen and deli experience, and years of business management experience. What we need to do next is raise the money to start the project.
We feel that every great coffee shop must start with great coffee. So starting today we offer you Sun Roast Coffee and we begin with Hyde Park Blend. The proceeds from the coffee sales will help us establish the Sun Cafe & Market. We plan to open in late spring of 2012. Our location has not been set so we don't have a full cost of the project yet. We plan to finance the start up through donations, product sales, and grants. You can help us by purchasing rpoducts or making donations.