Update from our Germination Corps. correspondent Mark Boyd, on this past weekend in North Carolina:
We built some stuff (plant backpacks & giant vegetable puppets), hauled over to the Yancey County library, built a little more stuff (plant backpacks & shoulder bags) and did a little teaching and informing on the the fly (food security and accessibility, how and why to grow your own, where to distribute the extra to share, recycling and reuse, community gardening), THEN hauled on over to Dig In Yancey! for our first garden event. The weather graced us with a break in the rains so we could take a few pictures and march around the garden
This coming week Germination Corps spreads like kudzu into the schools to work with 120 elementary school kids! Each child will receive a plant shoulder bag generously fabricated and donated by Quality Plus Apparel (many thanks!) based on Jessica’s original design. (Only in a small tight knit community would a local manufacturer step up and provide such a generous donation. This is the power of neighbors helping neighbors!) We’ll then have a short teach-in about plant propagation, community gardens, and food security and sustainability. After that we’ll transplant seedlings (started with the assistance of the local ag extension service, more neighbors!) into the bags, then have a parade along the creekwalk to the site of the new 4H community garden. At the garden, we’ll transplant seedlings event. Here’s hoping for a sunny day!
And stay tuned, next Thursday we’re doing a big wrap up event at Dig In Yancey! during the afternoon. Details coming here soon.
If you are afar and don’t know Dig In! Yancy Community Garden, let me introduce you.
The Dig In! Yancey Community Garden was born one evening in 2009 when two friends – both activists for hunger relief – looked out over three acres of unused land belonging to one of them, and said…
“Gee – this field would be a great place for a Community Garden!”
In that moment, Dig In! was born. In April of 2010, ground was broken, and by June produce from the garden was being served in a local soup kitchen feeding almost 200 people each Monday.
In our first year we delivered over 2000 lbs of fresh vegetables to soup kitchens and other agencies in Yancey County. The 2012 growing season put us over the 9000 lb. mark. As community involvement grows, so will our production.
Germination Corps. will be having a field day at Dig In! this Saturday the 11th from 2-4 p.m. right after the Back Pack drop-in workshop at the Yancy County Public Library. Participants will be planting their backpacks with vegetable seedlings, and seeds. I will be demonstrating and building some vertical palate gardens and we will have some large puppet making and flag bearing to get ready for future Germination Corps. Plant Parades. We will even parade around the garden.
Come out and see what a beautiful and giving farm this is. It is also a destination for you WWOOFers out there.
We have been making plant backpacks out of every type of material here at the North Carolina residency, including used belts and old backpacks that get ripped up and recycled into the plant backpack pattern. A great deal of the fabric for this project in Yancy and Mitchell counties was donated by Glen Raven Technical Fabrics in Burnsville. They make things like Sunbrella and super fabrics for Jansport and the US forces. If you have any old backpacks or suitcases or belts that you would like to donate, bring them by the Green Plum gallery this week from 1-5 p.m. We can make them into a Germination Corps. Plant Backpack!
Here is the pattern table in the gallery workshop. You can see all the woven belts we found and are using for shoulder straps on the right. Old shopping bags work well for the pattern pieces.
Some kids-sized shoulder plant bags made with the Glen Raven donated fabric. The emblem of the Germination Corps., the three leafed sprout, is a necessary component of each bag and is a quick identifier of the project.
It’s raining today but it usually looks like this around here in Yancy and Mitchell Counties.
Let’s hope for sun this week, although we all know the rain is good for the plants.
Germination Corps. has partnered up with the elementary school in Bakersville, North Carolina. I am doing a workshop there for the 2nd and 3rd graders. The school wanted to have a backpack for each student to have to participate in the plant parade and Germination Corps. events. They have been germinating seeds this spring and we will transfer them to the plant backpacks as soon as they are ready.
Bakersville is also the home to a great manufacturing operation called Quality Plus Apparel that has been making things like limited edition Levi’s jeans and other Made in America heavy weight apparel runs. They have all the equipment and know how to take my designs and make a ton of plant backpacks for the elementary school project. Here are some photos of Lisa, of The Catalyst Collective, and me and the owners of Quality Plus making the test bags in their facility.
We took my patterns and some generously donated fabric from Glen Raven Technical Fabrics in Burnsville, NC to the folks at Quality Plus. The next day we walked in and they had three prototypes made from the pattern I had given them. We asked how fast they could make the bags and they said a week! They also said they would donate all the bags to the elemetery school for the project. WOW! That’s 120 plant backpacks! Thank You Quality Plus! That’s amazing.
These are the pattern flats
They even had a binding in a color combo that I would have used for my own work. Great minds think alike!
Placing a pocket on and basting. You can see they are set up for jean hemming and binding above.
Sewing the gusset on the bag. Quality Plus is sewing a shoulder bag pattern since we only have a week to get the 120 bags to the school. They would have loved to make the actual backpack, but my pattern was too complicated in the time frame we had. Still, this is very generous and nice of them to give back to the community they are imbedded in. I am so glad they are still making a go of it, although we talked a lot about the loss of manufacturing from cheaper overseas labor. A lot of the business that Quality Plus gets now is the job of fixing the products that come back from overseas markets to bring them up to standards for the US market. They still are the primary manufacturer of Levi’s brand jeans and produced the special edition pairs where Levi’s reproduced the first pair of Levi’s ever, that they found in a mine in California. Quality Plus made 501 pairs and they were sold for 501 dollars each.
Germination Corps. has been in Yancy County, North Carolina for 5 days and things are moving along at lightning speed here.
The gallery and studio is up and running at Green Plum Collaboratory in Spruce Pine. Stop in to see my work and make a plant backpack. I am there in the afternoons and the store hours are posted on the front door. Yesterday we had a number of community people come in, including a group of Montessori kids that looked around and investigated the plant backpack business.
Any one is welcome to come in and watch me working and is also invited to help make a plant backpack or two that will go in the big Dig In Yancy garden field day on Saturday the 11th of May. Also, Germination Corps. will be making bags at the Library in Burnsville, NC on the 11th from 10 to 1 p.m. You can meet us there and then follow us to Dig In!