About Me

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Brevard, North Carolina, United States
I've been a full time studio potter and sculptor since 1994. I own The Duckpond Pottery, a retail pottery shop and venue for live original music located in the little mountain town of Brevard, North Carolina. "I've always wanted to be an old potter. I get closer to my goal everyday."--me

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kickstarter: Funding for the People, By the People!

If the Rolling Roots program is going to get legs I'm going to have to find some funding.  Right now I'm looking to Kickstarter.  This thing is Awesome!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

So, How Did The Mobile Garden Get Its Start?  

After a I finished my student teaching, a newly started holistic school in our area called Mountain Sun Community School asked that I'd visit their school and help them implement an interdisciplinary gardening program.  This school was only in its third year of operation and was currently running at a local church.  The school was in the process of locating their own property but in the meanwhile they had to abide by some restrictions inherent with their temporary location.  One of these was that no conventional in ground gardens could be created on the property.  Considering this obstacle, I began thinking of various configurations for a nimble style of gardening that would have absolutely no impact on the church grounds.  The thought soon occurred to me that some type of mobile container gardening would be the ticket, something that would meet the school's gardening needs and could also be evacuated from the property with little effort and minimal impact.  After considering different ideas for raised beds built on wheels, I then came to the idea of going vertical.

Earlier in the year I had come across a design in the blog, Container Gardening for a simple vertical garden using a sheet of plywood and attached plastic bottles.  I took that basic design, put it onto a fabricated chassis of salvaged bicycle tires, and voila', The Mobile Garden was born.  

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Mobile Garden: a trojan horse for the school garden movement?

I think The Mobile Garden might very well be the "Trojan Horse" that gets gardening into schools.  This thing  virtually rolls around (or over) most every obstacle traditional gardens face in a school environment.  Let's look at some of the more common of these obstacles:

Administrative Opposition 
This is likely to be the first, albeit the least, formidable of obstacles. Despite the considerable body of research documenting the positive impacts school gardening has on student learning, many administrators are concerned foremost with the outer appearance of their school.  They are very often sensitive to half-baked projects littering the school grounds and the negative impression these things might make on parents and higher ups in the system.  If the garden is not successful--if it is abandoned at some point--there will be a weed choked eye sore detracting from the schools otherwise orderly appearance.  And this will reflect on the Principal.  On the other hand, The Mobile Garden rolls in and at the end of the school year, it rolls out.  Simple as that.

Teacher Opposition 
Though you might have difficulty finding a teacher who openly disputes the value of a class garden, there is considerable resistance to starting class gardens for a number of reasons.  These include some of the following:
  • Lack of time:  Due in large part to greater class sizes and mandatory student assessment regiments, teachers are under an incredible amount of pressure just to accomplish what is put before them.  Taking on a major new project seemingly unrelated to "what students need to know for the test" can be a daunting proposition for a teacher.  The program I am proposing for The Mobile Garden brings a garden instructor into the classroom for an hour or so once a week. This actually buys the teacher a little time each week.
  • Lack of gardening expertise:  Many teachers express their own personal lack of gardening expertise as being a key reason for not starting a class garden.  It is a natural instinct among teachers to feel that mastery of a subject is necessary for them to teach it.  The visiting Mobile Garden instructor provides all the expertise.  The teacher can contribute as much or as little as is comfortable. 
  • Lack of funding:  A common misconception among teachers is that gardens have high start up costs.  Considering the current budget crisis in American schools, it is understandable that teachers would be hesitant to undertake an unfunded project that would cost them money personally.  Fortunately for the schools, the principle financial strategy for The Mobile Garden is to secure funding from private sources outside the already taxed school system.
Summer Vacation
Of all the potential obstacles a class garden will face, summer vacation is the granddaddy of them all.  No matter how successful a school gardening program might be through the spring, it will fail if neglected through the summer growing season. Abandonment of a much loved garden in the beginning of June is a surefire recipe for creating that weed choked eyesore in the fall.  Bad karma.  Who would want to start a new school year with a visual reminder of the project that failed from last spring?  Certainly not the Principal.  With The Mobile Garden, students simply take their plants home with them for the summer.  No muss, no fuss.

    The Soda Bottle Greenhouse Project

     Well before the idea for The Mobile Garden came along, I involved myself in a more traditional class garden--one that had a plastic bottle greenhouse as its central feature.  While doing my student teaching in a first grade classroom, I made classroom gardening a central part of my curriculum.   In mid January, the idea of building a greenhouse was very appealing as it would allow us to move gardening activities outdoors a full month earlier.

    While researching what design would best suit our class, I became fascinated with the idea of building a greenhouse built out of 2 liter plastic bottles.  I had seen such a design built at The National Botanic Garden of Wales as part of a recycling exposition.  A greenhouse of this kind had many attributes: 
    •  It would be very inexpensive.
    • The school was across the street from our greatest source of material, the dump.
    • The project would galvanize both parents and students alike as they would help in its building.
    • The greenhouse would be a powerful symbol of both recycling and gardening at the school.
    It took 2 months to build and ended up using some 1300 two liter bottles. As far as I know, this is the first one to be built in the U.S.  Also, notice the square foot gardening beds that went in as well.  We ended up having six 3x3 beds altogether.  A local television crew came out for the class garden christening party and did a fair job of documenting the event.  Needless to say, the kids were thrilled to make it on television.  Here's the link for that:


    COMING SOON........