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December 2013
In This Issue
Registration for the 2014 Season Begins in January
Possible New Garden Site Near Ellsworth and Stone School
Winter Potluck January 26th
Organic Gardening Classes and Certificate
Craig Urwin Joins the Project Grow Board
Where Do You Get Your Seeds?
A Successful Year for Project Grow and its Gardeners

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Registration for the 2014 Season Begins on January 1st

The slowest months for gardening are November and December.   Most of us are worn out from a long season of working outside and welcome staying inside for the long nights, cold weather and of course holiday get-togethers with friends and family.  

In less than a month, though, we will start everything all over again!  Spring seed catalogs start arriving and the 2014 Project Grow registration will open on January 1st.  Project Grow will send everyone who had a garden with us in 2013 a reminder to register and a link to the application on January 1st or 2nd.  If we don't hear from you, we'll send a couple more reminders.  Returning gardeners are asked to register by February 1st.  By mid-February we assume that anyone who wants to return has registered and make any plots not spoken for available to new gardeners.

The new gardener application will be also available on the website by January 1st.  If you have not gardened with Project Grow before, you can also be added to the wait list by sending an e-mail to info@projectgrowgardens.org.  People on the wait list will receive the new gardener application link a couple days before the end of the year so they can be at or near the head of the line of new gardeners seeking plots at their favorite site.

Possible New Garden Site Near Ellsworth and Stone School 
We are considering developing a new garden site behind the Community Support and Treatment Center just east of the Ellsworth/Stone School intersection. While we still need final approval from Washtenaw County, we hope to have things finalized by the time 2014 garden registration begins.

We will probably locate 10 full-size gardens at the south end of the property. The soil appears to be a deep, sand/clay loam, and most of the area is well-drained and enjoys full sun. An added advantage is that it is right next to a large parking lot, but still in a quiet, secluded location.

We are also considering eventually adding some accessible raised beds like the ones at the County Farm Park Discovery Gardens because this site is so close to a parking lot and would be especially accessible. 

Winter Potluck January 26th

It is a long way off now, but Project Grow will be holding our popular Winter Potluck on Sunday, January 26th. Alice Telesnitsky has again generously offered to host this event at her house.  We will print all the details in January's newsletter. 
Organic Gardening Classes and Certificate

Project Grow Community Gardens, in partnership with the Washtenaw Community College, offers an Organic Gardener Certification Program during WCC's winter term. This program gives home gardeners and professional landscapers the knowledge and skills needed to establish and maintain lawns, vegetable gardens and ornamental gardens organically. Classes can be taken individually or as a series leading to the certificate. Individuals who complete the required 8 classes, a final exam and a 20-hour volunteer component receive a certificate in Organic Gardening. Students have a year and a half to complete their volunteer hours.

Required Courses:
Organic Gardening: An Introduction
Organic Gardening: Soils, Compost and Organic Fertilizer
Organic Gardening: Organic Vegetable Gardening
Organic Gardening: Organic Fruit Growing Made Easy
Organic Gardening: Landscaping with Native Plants
Organic Gardening: Organic Pest and Disease Management
Organic Gardening: Organic Weed Control
Organic Gardening: Organic Lawn Care

Organic Gardener Certificate students must buy a course pack and two additional texts.  All of these are available at the WCC Bookstore. A separate course pack is recommended for non-certificate students.

Learn more and register!  Please be aware of some errors on the WCC website:

  • The link takes you to all gardening classes.  The classes for the Organic Gardening Certificate are the eight classes beginning with "Organic Gardening:"
  • Landscaping with Native Plants meets twice, not four times,

For registration questions, please call WCC's Economic and Community Development help desk 

at (734) 677-5060.

Craig Urwin Joins the Project Grow Board

Craig Urwin has been appointed to the board position that opened upon Nicole Premo's resignation last year.  Craig has had a very successful garden at West Park since the site opened in 2011 and will also become the 2014 site coordinator for West Park.

Where Do You Get Your Seeds?

Please send your favorite seed and plant sources to info@projectgrowgardens.org  and and we will print them next month.  You can tell us why you like certain places but just a name is enough.
A Successful Year for Project Grow and Its Gardeners

Despite some wet and cool weather, this past year was a good season for both Project Grow as an organization and Project Grow gardeners. 

Some highlights for the organization include:

Community Gardens
Platt Road Site 
Because of the planned demolition of the old juvenile detention center, the Platt Road site moved but was still active and successful.   Special thanks to board member Eric Meves who worked closely with the county to keep the site going despite the demolition work.   

Airport Site
Airport was revived as an active garden site this past year and plots were available at a deep discount.  We expect the site will remain open but probably for special projects.  The board will discuss plans for the site at the December meeting.

Gardener Survey
For the first time in many, many years Project Grow surveyed gardeners at the end of the year to find out how we could do a better job. Nearly a third of our gardeners responded to the survey and we will be printing the results over the next several months.

Volunteer Projects
Plant Sale 
sale plants

This year's plant sale was a great success. Some highlights include:
  • Offered 91 heirloom varieties of tomatoes, peppers, basil
  • Raised 3600 seedlings
  • More than half the plants were sold through advance orders
  • Raised over $7,000 for Project Grow though sales
The Plant Sale Committee and volunteers continue to improve the process for taking and filling advance orders.   We also took a complete inventory after each stage of the sale and will adjust how many plants we grow based on that.  

This was the second year Project Grow used the hoop house constructed at Dawn Farms in 2011 to raise the seedlings. Having access to this hoop house allowed us to better manage our volunteer days, and include several weekend volunteer days, which was never previously possible.  

Tomato Tastings
Project Grow held our 13th Annual Tomato Tasting at the 2013 HomeGrown Festival on September 9th at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. The HomeGrown Festival tasting was a big project involving more than a dozen volunteers. For the tasting. we collected heirloom varieties from Farmers Market vendors as well as our own gardeners.

Festival attendees enjoyed more than 300 pounds of tomatoes!

Cobblestone Farm Giving Garden
The Giving Garden at Cobblestone Farm had its second successful year.  This year nearly all the produce went to the Back Door Pantry.

During the 2013 season, the Giving Garden produced and donated: 

9.5 pounds of  peas

17 pounds of  corn
25 pounds of green beans

40 pounds of melons

50 pounds of broccoli

132 pounds of  kale and collards

295 pounds of tomatoes


This is quite a bit more than was produced last year and is especially impressive because almost half of the garden was planted in perennial strawberries, raspberries and asparagus which won't begin yielding until next year.  Adding all that compost in the fall of 2012 obviously helped!


Gardener Education 
Organic Gardener Certification

The program completed its ninth year of instruction in organic gardening to the citizens of southeast Michigan, including many Project Grow members.  Over this period, there have been some changes in instructors.  However, our commitment to high quality teaching and full coverage of the field remains steadfast.

Master Composter Program 


Project Grow began administering the Master Composter Program this year.   The class was very popular and was completed by 24 students.  Special thanks to instructors Nancy Stone, Chris Simmons, Lisa Perschke and Jesse Raudenbush for sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm.