Thursday, May 26, 2011

1st Escalante Community Garden Potluck/Build Day!

The Escalante Community Garden is excited to announce the kick-off of our Community Potlucks on the 2nd & 4th Saturday of every month.  This Saturday, May 28th will be our very first event!

From 8am-11am, we'll work on a variety of garden projects, including: constructing shade structures, making gabions, planting, and harvesting.  At around 11am, we’ll come together for a community potluckPlease bring a labeled dish to pass, plate, and reusable flatware if you are able to.  TCAA has refrigeration capabilities, and will also provide water and iced tea to drink.

In the spirit of potlucks, here are a few delicious potluck-friendly recipes that utilize some veggies & herbs that are currently in season in Arizona:

Orange, Radish and Mint Salad

Makes 4 Servings

  • 4 oranges
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  1. Cut the top and bottom off of each orange. Stand the orange on 1 end on a cutting board and, following the curve of the fruit, cut away the skin and pith of the orange. Cut each orange section out of its pith.
  2. In a medium bowl toss together the orange sections, onion, radishes, and mint leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Cucumber Salad

Makes 6 Servings

  • 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
1.     Combine cucumbers and onions in a medium bowl.
2.     Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well combined.
3.     Add dressing to cucumbers, chill until very cold, and serve.

Pear and Spinach Salad

Makes 4 Servings

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 Bosc pear, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 heaping teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup walnuts halves, toasted
1.    Add the spinach and pear slices to a medium bowl.
2.    In another small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, olive oil, and shallot. Season with salt and pepper.
3.    Toss the spinach and pears with the dressing. Divide the salad between the plates and top with the toasted walnuts. Serve immediately.

*Note: if you plan on bringing a salad to the potluck, please bring the dressing seperately to mix at the last minute*

Blackberry Crumble

Makes 8 Servings

  • 4 cups fresh blackberries
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 sticks cold butter, diced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.     Place berries in a 2 quart baking dish.
3.     Sprinkle with lemon juice.
4.     In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, and butter, until the butter is the size of peas.
5.     Crumble topping over berries.
6.     Bake uncovered for 45-50 minutes or until the crust is light brown.

Low-Fat Carrot Cake

Makes 10 Servings

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 1/3 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 4 ounces 1/3 fat cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9X13 inch pan with non-fat cooking spray. 
  2. In large mixing bowl, beat egg whites.  Slowly beat in sugar, then applesauce, skim milk, and vanilla.  Stir in cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda, and flour.  Stir in, one ingredient at a time, pineapple (with juice), carrots, walnuts, and raisins.  Pour into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 35-40 minutes in the preheated oven.  It is done when toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Once the cake is removed from the oven, let it cool for 20 minutes prior to frosting.
  4. While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting.  With an electric mixer or a whisk, beat together cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and lemon zest until smooth and creamy.
  5. Once the cake is cooled, frost it with cream cheese frosting.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The ECG's Very First Harvest!

On Wednesday, May 18th, some Escalante Community Garden volunteers harvested our very first veggies... RADISHES!

ECG Volunteers are some of the happiest people :)

Bundling radishes for ECG members

We have hundreds of radishes!

A basket of bundled radishes ready to be picked up by ECG members

Joyce was the first member to pick up her radishes & packet of radish recipes... Enjoy!
In accordance with the ECG's mission, the first batch of radishes harvested will go to the ECG's members who volunteer 2 hours a week in the garden.  Any remaining radishes will be donated to Tempe Community Action Agency's food pantry for distribution in their food boxes.

Members who come for their radishes will also receive a packet of recipes that utilize radishes!  Here is one of those recipes (adapted from Gourmet):

Sautéed Radishes
Makes 4 Servings

  • 4 bunches radishes with greens attached
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter OR olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (optional)
1.     Cut greens from radishes and coarsely chop. Trim radishes and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch wedges.
2.     Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then sauté radish wedges with salt, stirring, until crisp-tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a platter and keep warm, loosely covered.
3.     Sauté garlic in remaining tablespoon butter in skillet over moderately high heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add greens and sauté, stirring, until wilted, about 1 minute.
4.     Return radish wedges to skillet.  If desired, stir in chives.

Helped are those who create anything at all, for they shall relive the thrill of their own conception and realize a partnership in the creation of the Universe that keeps them responsible and cheerful.  ~Alice Walker

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Where Is Your Planter’s Yardstick?

Planter's Yardstick...


You'll quickly come to rely on this simple garden tool. It's made from a four-inch-wide, four-foot-long board: Leave one of the long edges flat, or create a beveled edge by shaving it at a 45-degree angle with a table saw; you can also have a lumberyard cut it for you. Along the other long edge, cut alternating deep and shallow notches at 6-inch intervals. When planting seeds or setting out young plants, press the flat edge into the earth to make a furrow. Then lay the board on its side, and use the notches to help you space the seeds and seedlings evenly. For example, most lettuce seeds should be spaced 6 inches apart, so you can sow them at each notch. Tomatoes need 1 1/2 to 2 feet between plants, so put them in every three or four notches.

Variations: This idea is for those of us who live in an apartment, or those that don't have a use for a Planters Yardstick but would like to make a decorative yardstick.  Use a drill to drill a hole in the top of the yardstick so it can hang up in plain sight.  Then using the paint of your choice, paint it so the wood color doesn't show through.  Let it dry.  Using a stencil of your choice paint a decorative design on the yardstick.  Or if you have a scene to paint your yardstick, you can do that as well!

You might also use rubber stamps on your yardstick. You might want to stamp your design twice so it shows up more.. Be sure to use a stamp positioner so the stamp hits just right. These are just a few ideas to help you make your very own Decorative Planters Yardstick... ENJOY!

Written by: Loretta Watson
Adapted from: Martha Stewart Living, March 1998

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Escalante Community Garden Ribbon Cutting Celebration!

On Saturday, May 14th 2011, the Escalante Community Garden, in conjunction with Tempe Community Action Agency and Tempe Leadership Class XXVI hosted the ECG Ribbon Cutting Celebration!  The event, attended by about 175 diverse community members was a huge success.  Attendees enjoyed a delicious pancake breakfast made by Tempe Firefighters, a seed pinata filled with Humble Seed, face painting, speeches from various community members, and a garden tour.

Thank you to everyone who made this event possible:

The ECG Committee:  Farar Family, Loretta Watson, Puente-Reinhardt Family, Tucker Family, Nancy Buell, Carol Kronoff, Joyce Reigelsberger, Pam Knight, & Terry Brewer
 Volunteers:  Tempe Leadership Class XXVI, Public Allies Arizona, Bethany Community Church, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Girl Scouts of Tempe, ASU, Boeing, Grace Community Church, University Presbyterian Church, & the Tempe Firefighters.

Businesses: City of Tempe, EcoScraps, Home Depot, Sunbelt Rentals, Architekton, Paul's Ace Hardware, Phoenix Fence, Humble Seed, Tempe Power Equipment, Harper's Nursery, Goodman Fabrications, & Jumbo Graphics!

We released 18,000 lady bugs into our garden.  Click here to learn how ladybugs can benefit your garden.

Our first radishes ready to be harvested... many of the Ribbon Cutting attendees enjoyed a few delicious radishes throughout the morning :)

Lots o' lady bugs!

Our new ECG banner

Many varieties of lettuce

A garden warming gift we received!

Face painting at the Ribbon Cutting... thanks Dario and Adriana!

Our Lady Bug Pinata filled with Humble Seed's Tongue of Fire Bush Beans.

At the Celebration, we dedicated the community gathering area to the Puente-Reinhardt family for their unwavering support of the ECG.

Joel Navarro, Vice Mayor of the City of Tempe

Onnie Shekerjian, City of Tempe Council member

Adam Kress, Tempe Leadership Class XXVI

Dennis Farar, Escalante Community Garden member

The cutting of the ribbon!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

May 7th Build Day!

Since Saturday, February 5th 2011, the Escalante Community Garden Team has been working endlessly to create our garden.  Here are some pictures from our build day last Saturday, May 7th...

Tina planting a little love

A group of ECG volunteers planting some flowers in a grow tube before the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony this Saturday.  Click here for some more information on grow tubes.

Carla planting beautiful herb/flower pots.  Container gardens are an easy, inexpensive way to beautify your garden!

Pam giving our lettuce some much appreciated H2O

Luke doing a great job watering our flowers

Gretchen and Dario working on creating a beautiful water feature.  To protect our water system, we constructed a cage to place around the spiget and filled the cage with river rock.  It looks stunning and will be great protection for our irrigation system!

Beth and Luke found this beautiful snail while gardening on Saturday!  We enjoyed the snails company for a while and then relocated the snail to another area.  Click here for more information on managing snails and slugs in a garden.

The tomatoes are growing wonderfully in our salsa garden.  To grow your own salsa garden, just plant tomatoes, tomatillos, onion, garlic, cilantro, and a variety of peppers in a designated area and voilà... You've got yourself all of the ingredients for some delicious, homegrown salsa! 

Our community meeting after the workday
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."  -Margaret Mead

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Volunteering at the Escalante Community Garden

Volunteering at the Escalante Community Garden (ECG) is a great way to build community, learn about organic gardening in the desert, strengthen your body, and HAVE FUN!  There are two ways to volunteer with the ECG:

1.)  Send an email with "Volunteer" in the subject line to  This will add you to the ECG listserv, and you will receive updates about our upcoming volunteer events. 
2.)  Become a volunteer member!  To become a volunteer member, you simply agree to volunteer two hours a week at the ECG.  In return, you are eligible to receive a free share of all of the fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers that are harvested on any particular week. For more information about becoming a volunteer member at the Escalante Community Garden, contact Alyssa Brooke-Gay at 480-350-5830 or

Starting May 28th, the ECG will begin hosting 2nd & 4th Saturday Work-Day/Barbeques.  All of the volunteers present at these events will work in the garden for a few hours (approx. 9:00-11:00am), and then celebrate with a community potluck afterwards.  Please bring a dish to pass for the potluck if you are able to.

There is no age limit to volunteer at the ECG, so bring your whole family along!  Please wear weather-appropriate apparel for working in the garden (proper footwear, layered clothing, a hat, gloves).  We’ll provide plenty of drinking water, snacks and all of the necessary tools and equipment.

"The garden touches a core of humanness. Because of all the war and terrorist activities and means of mass destruction, people think human nature at its core is warring. But there is a lot of evidence that human beings are really wonderfully put-together cosmic creatures. When I see all this volunteerism, it gives me confidence that a peaceful society is possible." 
-Karl Linn

Planting our first seedlings in their new homes... meticulously constructed raised garden beds!

Volunteers from Bethany Community Church working hard and having fun in the garden

Carol painting recycled tires to be used for planters

Tracy digging a hole for our irrigation system

Michael teaching Hannah how to use an electric drill

Magda rolling sod... a true skill!

Dennis and his brother cutting wood for our ADA raised table beds

ECG friends planting our very first seedlings back in January

Having a great time at the ECG

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ribbon Cutting Celebration on May 14th!

After 9 long, hard months of meeting, planning, designing, digging, raking, transplanting, shoveling, painting, planting, and growing community, the Escalante Community Garden is FINALLY ready to be unveiled!  

Come celebrate this exciting occasion on Saturday, May 14th from 8-10am at the Escalante Community Garden.  The event will feature a community breakfast, a garden tour, and fun youth activities (a seed piñata, rock painting, and a lady bug release).

Please RSVP at the Evite!

See you on the 14th!