Welcome! Green Acres Village is a growing node within Green Acres Neighborhood. Our weekly dinners resume September 14, every Thursday until June 2018. 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. All neighbors and friends invited. You are welcome to visit anytime. Just call or email ahead.

The dinners are not potlucks, but giftings. However, you are welcome to bring food, drink or a donation, if that works for you. In any case, not necessary! Or maybe your guitar or banjo? In any case, come.

Green Acres Village

Want to build community, live sustainably, and, above all, have fun? Life in our growing ecovillage connects you on a daily basis with others who choose to live lightly on the land while deepening their connections with each other and the natural world.

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Green Acres Urban Farm

The Green Acres Neighborhood Garden (GANG) was established in the Spring of 2009, at the corner of DeKist and Overhill, Bloomington, Indiana. In the spring of 2016, while still continuing as a neighborhood garden, it evolved into the Green Acres Urban Farm.

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Green Acres Neighborhood Association

In 2006, in dialogue with the city of Bloomington, Green Acres created an official plan that is featured on the city gov website, and remains as the first and only neighborhood to feature the philosophy of sustainability in its official vision statement.

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Harvest News and more: Garden Tower planting, repurposed SWAT team tank, Army/Navy store purchase, dinner in the dark, and tiny shroom altar. YES!

If you recall, we had a work party in the dead of night last Tuesday evening filling Garden Towers with soil.

On the morning after, Rebecca started to plant the Towers with the greens we will eat this winter.

Meanwhile, Dan went on the hunt, and landed an insulated food carrier from the Army/Navy store for $50! (Internet price: $150.) This contraption is to work as his new tempeh incubator.

That afternoon, Dan harvested all the rest of the basil, and made pesto.

Speaking of which, all the rest of the vegetables, except for kale, need to be harvested by tonight, since the temp is supposed to go down to 32°. Last night’s work party featured harvests, of peppers and (still green) tomatoes.

I’ll get what remains of tomatillos and summer squashes this afternoon.

Last Thursday’s community dinner featured a guest and his unusual home-on-wheels. Chris is presently working as an agent for the woofer website, documenting woofer sites in the Ohio Valley. We are one of them. He took lots of pictures of the place. Meanwhile, I took lots of pictures of him —

— and his home, an old SWAT team vehicle!

What a great repurposing job! He painted it over, but you can see through the paint.

The truck (or is it a tank?) is huge, expensive on gas, but features a million-mile engine (with 200,000 miles on it now), and cost him at auction only $4475. Wow! He reworked it himself for his comfort, and as you can imagine, gets lots of stares as he tools down the road.

While taking a picture of the right front door, I saw something sticking from the handle . . .

What is it? Aha!

Love the artistry of the dirtied hands.

Unfortunately, nightfall was just around the corner, and by the time we ate, it was pitch dark.

But, beforehand, I did manage to notice the little altar Rebecca has created from the vast shroom that erupted out of the old elm stump. Remember it from last week’s post on Thursday evening dinner?

Well, now it looks like this:

Zooming in . . .

Yep. It’s the little things that count the most.

Mid-October work party as scheduled, in “the dead of night”!

But . . . I have a feeling that is the last work party of the season at 7 p.m. Tuesdays. Especially once DST ends and the dark shifts back even earlier.

Actually, yesterday evening’s work party started out late, but a bit ahead of the 7 p.m. start time and not yet dark. Here’s the compost guys, Dan and Sam, hamming it up before they tackle making yet another compost pile.

 

They proceeded to show me the VERY active pile with steam coming off it! (the grey ashy looking stuff on top is actually steam!).

 

 

Part of the secret of our successful composting is that we are now getting spent grains from a local brewery. Here’s the spent grain pile, which now hosts thousands of maggots . . .

 

 

. . . which the two of them decided to pick out and feed to the chickens.

 

 

Okay, the evening was wearing on. And one of the scheduled activities was me and Sam teaming up to learn how to set rat traps. Shy shows us how. (I’m going to remove the dead rats; Sam will set the traps.) We’ve decided that unless we can manage to get the rat population way down (they are a problem throughout Bloomington), then the chickens will have to go, since the first one appeared when we started to feed a rabbit outside. We are also spraying with peppermint, planting fritillaria (has a stinky smell that no rodent likes), and will obtain a young rat terrier or jack russell to help Max, our maine coon cat, get rats. Plus the most important: when feeding the chickens, take the food away after a half hour, putting it back in the rat-proof container. Hopefully, these protocols will make the situation manageable.

 

 

Okay, now on to the main event: filling the new Garden Towers in the new greenhouse, so that we can grow our winter greens in them. This is a job we can do at night, with suitable lighting.

 

First, get the straw bales (remember that expedition?) and put them around the greenhouse to help with insulation: We set the three pianists from the new third house at 2616 E. DeKist on that task. And yes, it’s definitely getting dark.

 

Andreas.

 

Setting up the lighting for the Garden Tower filling job took probably 15 minutes, as various plugs and extension cords, plus two lamps from my bedroom were all pressed into service. Then, whoopee, we were good to go, with a soil mixer we had rented for 24 hours and a recipe that son Colin (inventor of the Garden Tower) told me we might want to use from local Michael Simmons, who has been experimenting with soil for Garden Towers: So I emailed Michael. And got this response.

Hi Ann,
 
I use the 3-B mix sold at May’s.  To that mix, which has no soil in it, I add compost (about one-fourth by volume), together with rock phosphate, greensand, and gypsum.  When appropriate, I add Happy Frog fertilizer (Fruit and Flower, Acid-Loving, General Purpose, etc.) in amounts recommended on the package.
 
Best,
Michael
Rebecca then got more info from him about proportions of phosphate, greensand, and gypsum — and we were good to go! That was way back in August. Now we were finally ready to fill the Towers.
Here are some photos. The job of mixing the soil, and then filling the four that were not yet in use and moving one that was in use into the greenhouse (that came with a snafu, as documented), took about an hour. Amazing what you can accomplish when you have a big, willing group! Not just a bunch of us villagers, but friends Shy, Payton and Christina were also on hand. A fun time, and very productive!
The scene on the patio, with the pink mixer on hand.
The scene inside the greenhouse, managed by the three pianists, Dario, John and Andreas, plus Sam (also a musician; he had spent the day in Indy, recording songs in a studio).
(Overheard, from Andreas: “Gee! An hour ago I was playing the piano. And now I’ve got my hands in the dirt!” Andreas practices piano six hours per day, will be finished with his doctoral degree next spring.)
The snafu came when we tried to get the fifth Tower, already filled with dirt and plants, into the greenhouse. While crossing the threshold, it fell over, came apart, and it took awhile to right it. Broke a couple of little thingies on it, and some of the plastic ball bearings that allow it to rotate fell out — but it still works, and rotates, though a bit roughly. Live and learn!

 

Oh, and yes, I’ve been meaning to take a pic of the gorgeous shroom blooming on the old elm tree stump that, years ago, supplied two gigantic hugelkultur beds with its dead trunk.

 

 

Here’s one of those hugelkulture beds today, still thrumming with this season’s kale. Rebecca tells me to wait until we’ve had several frosts before final harvest, since kale turns sweeter with the cold. One of millions of facts that she knows and that the rest of us are gradually picking up.

 

 

 

Romance, Community Dinner, and Straw Bale Expedition

Okay, first I need you to know that the romance between puppy Shadow and Stevie Nix next door continues. In the middle of his life Shadow is learning how to play with the little prancer dancer vixen. Very exciting for him, though his relationship with her is very much love/hate.

Community Dinner

Meanwhile, I had promised in last post to give the story of last week’s Community Dinner, though it was so long ago (four days!) that I almost forgot. To wit: we decided to eat inside, since it looked like it might rain again, and the entire patio area was still wet from that morning. And since it was my housemate Dan’s turn to be the lead, the dinner would be in our house. He made one of his signature dishes, black eyed peas and collards. Yum! I complimented that with our garden squash stuffed with rice and mushrooms, laced with our pesto and topped with our tomato sauce.

And of course, all sorts of others brought all sorts of other food and drink. Our Community Dinners are now so full and rich that we hardly have to think about them. We just DO. People start to arrive around 6:30. We start to eat around 7 p.m., and sometimes the entire whinding is over by 9 p.m. Like this one. Not that it petered out, just that it suddenly ended, the finish as full of life as the beginning. I went to bed, as usual. Rebecca hopped on the back of Forest’s motorcycle and went downtown.

Some photos:

Puppy Shadow loves Andreas, who lived here briefly before the new DeKist house was ready. Lucky dog is tribal. Meanwhile, oops! She’s back!

Straw Bale Expedition

I had ordered two dozen straw bales awhile ago, a group order made by community-minded Tom Gallagher, bales for $4.25 each. A good deal. We are going to line the new greenhouse from the Garden Tower Project with straw bales as part of our effort to winterize it, and will use the other bales in all sorts of ways, still to be determined.

But:  we had to figure out a way to get them. Voila! Logan and Carissa, across the street, have a pickup truck, and made it available. I told them they would get two bales in exchange.

We were going to pick them up yesterday evening, but I couldn’t find Tom’s phone number to locate the bales. So we headed over in the direction that we knew he lived, and scouted about, finally, yes, rang the right doorbell (he was in his pajamas, watching the 3:58 minute Tom Petty Netflix video), and discovered that the bales were at another property he owned. Could we return in the morning? Okay.

So, at 10:30 today, Dan and I pulled up in the truck at Tom’s other place, which it turns out is three houses with deep back lawns, on one of which he has placed a massive 30′ x 40′ hoop house that he got through an F.D.A. grant; it’s big enough to feed multitudes, and has been erected by volunteers who know what they were doing. “Which makes me wonder,” says Tom to me, in deep gratitude, “how else can we help each other?” Exactly.

The way Tom talks about his plans for that three home property, it reminds me of what we’re doing here. Another little community seed of regeneration in Bloomington!

A few pics from the expedition, which involved two trips across town to get the 24 bales. Done in 90 minutes. Not bad!

Here’s Dan, with straw on his face, driving home with the first load.

I texted Rebecca on the way to ask if someone else could help unload. “I’m already out here,” she texted back.

We stacked them along an interior fence until we use them.

 

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a lot of manual work involved to get one’s feet on the ground and stay there! And it is SO worth it! Fun, especially when we work together, and who knows what’s next.