Volunteering at the Growhouse

Growhouse is a community garden in Downtown Phoenix that is a part of the Roosevelt Row District.  On November 17th, 2013 I had the chance to volunteer at Growhouse with students from Downtown Barrett. Growhouse has partnered with the Roosevelt Row District to create a community location for community members to come together and work to grow a garden that benefits them.

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Growhouse consists of a community garden, private plots for gardeners in the community, a boutique called the GROWop boutique, a chicken coop, a compost area and a beehive.  The GROWop boutique sells handmade vintage and local goods as well as houses local artists art work.

Kenny Barrett, the co-founder of Growhouse and programs manager for Roosevelt Row CDC,  started Growhouse with another artist, Kelly Placke in 2008.  “We didn’t have any experience when we started” he says. “Phoenix is super accessible, especially right now, it’s an exciting time of year because you can really get in and start something right now.” He spoke to BLAST’D, The Barrett Leadership and Service Team Downtown, before they went out and volunteered at Growhouse where they weeded plants, helped paint the house, and planted plants. “Once we started growing enough we started selling our vegetables at the farmers market and now we sell to local restaurants and cafes, like Carly’s” Barrett says. “We get all kinds of people out there volunteering…doing this has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had and it has led to a lot of interesting things.”

“The Growhouse itself is just a magnet of awesome, there is so many beautiful things that have happened as a result of having that place for people to go, to learn about the community and in retrospect to really understand that there is growth within gardens in Downtown Phoenix” says Nicole Underwood Director of operations for the Roosevelt Row CDC, who also spoke to students about Growhouse and Roosevelt Row. “Growhouse kind of comes underneath the A.R.T.S Market Program…and that stands for Activating Temporary Reusable Space and basically we [Roosevelt Row CDC] as an organization saw the dirt lots, not as a deficit but as an opportunity for growth, to activate, to get people involved downtown.”

Bailey Scalise, a student who volunteered at Growhouse, says “It was nice to do volunteer work that was more physical and had an immediate impact on the community.”

Growhouse has many opportunities to volunteer. Every Sunday from 10 am until noon, August thought May, they have a Garden Day at Growhouse. On these days volunteers can help with preparing garden beds, planting, weeding, building things to use within the garden and other projects. To sign up to volunteer contact Kenny Barrett at kenny@rooseveltrow.org.

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A Local Urban Gardener

Kim Kunasek lives in the Phoenix Metro Area and has her own urban garden in her backyard. She has cultivated and tended to her garden to the point that she wants to share it with others. She decided to do this by joining a group of individual families who put on urban garden tours.  Over the years she has participated in many different urban garden tours and had hundreds of guests tour her garden.  Kunasek has a passion for gardening and growing edibles, plants that you can eat, and raising chickens. Kunasek and her garden were even featured in the Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine. Her garden started off with just plants and then grew to also have chickens as well as other animals. Check out her story.

My Urban Farming Experience

Baby Chicks

For the past few years urban farming has become a large part of my life and my community. I have learned many things about chicken farming, including gardening. Urban farming has become a trend that is starting to grow throughout the Phoenix Metro area. It involves many aspects, including backyard poultry, other animals, and backyard gardens.

Before I go on with my blog let me tell you a little bit of my background story. In 2010, my Dad brought home a dozen baby chickens for my 17th birthday. At this point we already had three cats, two bunny rabbits, and a baby tortoise, so adding more animals wasn’t a big deal. What I didn’t realize is that this would open up a whole new world for me, the world of urban farming.

Once, the chicks were old enough to become free range, we built a coop to house them and started spending more and more time outside, creating a garden that we could potentially eat from. We started eating more fresh vegetables and organic eggs, something that I never expected to happen.

Our flock of chickens continued to grow and at some point we had over twenty-five chickens, four roosters, and two ducks. The roosters produced an alarming amount of baby chicks, which is how the name of my blog came about, Populating The Community. Because there were so many chicks, we started giving them away to any good home that would take them.

I decided to write this blog because I wanted to learn more the community that I had joined when my Dad brought home these chickens. There are now several organizations such as Valley Permaculture Alliance and Grow House that are around to support and promote urban farming. I will be writing about these organizations in the future.

I hope to gain more insight about urban farming and share it with the world so that others can learn about these organizations. I would like to find and share resources such as, Urban Sustainable Living Magazine, for readers to learn more about urban farming.