As with most organizations, COVID 19 has flipped our world upside down. We’ve had to quickly adjust nearly everything about how we run our programs and the way we work. It's been a whirlwind, but sometimes you just have to be creative and find a new way to grow! Read on for updates about how we've adapted our programs since the crisis.
Growing Gardeners Workshops
The Growing Gardeners Workshop Series is an ongoing collaboration with The Big Garden that covers skills and techniques for every gardener and urban farmer: growing, cooking, preserving, and eating healthy, local food. During this time, we have been transitioning nearly all of our workshops to a virtual format through Facebook Live. While we miss seeing all your faces in-person, the unforeseen silver lining of these virtual classes is the ability to expand the number of people who can tune in at once! If you are interested in attending, our next virtual class will be Seed Saving Basics on Thursday, May 14th at 6pm. We hope many of you are able to join us during these sessions and continue to expand your gardening knowledge from home!
Little Sprouts Live
A Children's Program
Little Sprouts Live is a virtual gardening program designed for kids ages 3-8 and is hosted by our education manager, Anna, every Friday morning at 10am. So far, we’ve covered topics such as learning the parts of a flower, starting a garden, and painting colorful garden rocks.
The Little Sprouts Summer Program is currently scheduled to begin Saturday, May 30th at 9:00am. We are prepared to go virtual if need be, transitioning from Little Sprouts Live on Friday, May 22nd to the Summer Program the following Saturday, May 30th at 9:00am, as scheduled. We hope everyone is staying safe and still taking the time to explore the outdoors during this time!
Garden to Table
An Afterschool Program
Normally this time of year, we would be with our middle school students, teaching them about garden preparation, planting our Spring crops, and making healthy snacks together. Sadly this year, there are no students at the schools, leaving little room for hands-on gardening education.
However, this doesn’t mean our gardens have to go unplanted! With the approval of Omaha Public Schools, our education manager, Anna, has been visiting the school gardens at both King Science and Lewis and Clark middle schools to utilize the garden space to grow food. The gardens will continue to be planted throughout the Summer, leaving some crops to be harvested in early Autumn. Hopefully by then, school will be back in session so our students can learn in the gardens again. The gardens will be waiting and ready for the students to return back!
Our community gardens are full with a waiting list! We have a wonderful mix of new and returning gardeners this year and are so pleased with the enthusiasm and hard work of all these awesome folks. Our new bees have been installed in their hive at our north garden, the groundhog has made some impressive new holes, and fruit trees are in full bloom!
Volunteers are integral to the success of City Sprouts, and it has been challenging having to do without our large groups of volunteers this year. We have had a ton of interest in volunteer work the past few months and have been trying to figure out how to best utilize these generous folks while being safe and navigating our topsy turvy schedules. We will be reaching out to folks who have already requested to volunteer as well as our long-time volunteers to arrange small group and solo volunteer projects. If you are interested in volunteering with us this summer you can sign up through this form, and we will include you in any updates we have regarding volunteer opportunities. Thanks to everyone for your patience and generosity during this time!
We also want to give a big shout out to Nic Robbins of RCM Exteriors. He saw our request for a new chicken coop roof and sent out some of his crew to replace ours! It looks fantastic and will keep the chickens safe and cool for many more years. Thanks so much!!!
Summer Urban Farming Internship
We are moving forward with our Summer Urban Farming Internship, with some extra safety and sanitation precautions to keep everyone healthy. Small groups of 3-4 interns will work with a team lead at one on our farm worksites at a time.
Our two farm managers at City Sprouts, Aaron French and John Huebscher along with 3-4 aspiring farmer team leads will be helping run our farm sites and teach our interns. We're excited to work with these aspiring farmers and to have a new cohort of interns start in June!
You may have recently received Katie's email about our goal to grow 20,000 pounds of food in 2020. City Sprouts normally grows food solely at our two locations in North and South Omaha. This year however we will be working with some incredible partners to increase our production almost tenfold at three additional food production locations! City Sprouts North Decatur Urban Farm Our City Sprouts-owned, 1/10 acre urban farm will grow a variety of mixed vegetables and serves as a home base for our Summer Internship Program. While we usually wait to plant out the majority of the DUF, this year (due to the increased COVID related need) City Sprouts staff went full steam ahead with planting and are on track to blow away 2019 production numbers!
City Sprouts South City Sprouts South is located in the city-owned Dorothy Patach Environmental area. Since 2017 City Sprouts South has tripled its growing area. This spring we added 4 fruit trees, 3 hazelnuts, and 3 elderberry bushes. We are expanding our Free Farm and have finished our 5 large hugelkultur garden beds. We are excited to see how well these produce as we grow tomatoes, peppers, okra, beans, cucumbers, corn, and flowers on them!
Sky Ranch Sky Ranch is a half-acre of farmland in Northwest Omaha donated by Durand Investments and managed by the generous Ken and Jodi Welchert, who are incredibly experienced vegetable farmers themselves. The entire half-acre is now planted in potatoes which will be maintained by City Sprouts staff and Urban Farming interns.
Copper Farm This production area was made possible due to the generosity of the Omaha Home for Boys and John Porter, an agricultural extension agent with Nebraska Extension. City Sprouts will manage ⅛ of an acre, farming in conjunction with Whispering Roots and Lutheran Family Service's (LFS) Global Roots program who each have their own plots. This is especially exciting, as the Omaha Home for Boys has significantly established infrastructure that will make the kickstarting of this growing space much easier! Habitat for Humanity Our good friends at LFS’s Global Roots program secured this (incredible) partnership and have kindly offered City Sprouts a small plot directly behind the Habitat for Humanity offices on north 24th St (thanks Cait!). CS will manage a 50x50 plot for melons and other exciting fruits and vegetables.
We'd like to give endless thanks to all the organizations and partners who have shared their land with us, so we can help increase food security in our city!
These extra farm sites are going to take additional support to manage and successfully grow on. Consider donating today as we launch the Month of Giving to raise $20k for the 20k pounds of food we're growing this year!