Gardening with Gabby: Welcome to Our Garden

This summer, we invite readers of Austin Weekly News to follow along with 12 year-old Gabriel Perry as she and her young neighbors manage an organic garden in the lot next to their apartment building in the 4900 block of W. Quincy.

Gabby and her peers are part of an afterschool and summer program offered by Mercy Housing Lakefront, a nonprofit affordable housing provider committed to improving neighborhoods where they serve. Through Mercy Housing’s program, Gabby will learn how to plant, care for, and harvest an organic garden. When the plants are ready, the students will sell their crops to the chefs at KitchFix, a meal delivery service specializing in organic, local foods.

As the leader of the program, I hope this experience teaches Gabby and her friends about where their food comes from and how to make healthy choices. I also hope it teaches the students about entrepreneurship; they may be young, but they will learn the basics of being a smart business leader.

You can follow along with Gabby and our garden through her regular posts, starting with this introduction from Gabby.

-Dominique Davis, Resident Services Manager, Mercy Housing Lakefront

Early May

Hello, my name is Gabriel Perry but people call me ”Gabby.” I will be blogging all summer about the garden: what we will grow in the garden, what we do in the garden and the fun things to do. We will learn how to rake and grow plants and put seeds in the bends, and more fun things!

Our garden has about 20 raised beds. The kids get their own beds and pick what they want to learn about. Last year we grew bell peppers, tomatoes and cumbers. We made dill pickles and it was in a jar for $10 dollars. The adults take care of the beds when we need help.

Gardening is not easy. I like being able to pick what I grow so I can get to know more about it. This year, I’m excited that I get to grow bell peppers.

Gardening takes commitment, too. We will be out there two days a week to watch the garden. 

Late May

For the past two weeks, we have been watering and pulling weeds and looking at what is growing and what is not growing. We gave people the beds for the summer to monitor. 

Most of the plants are growing. Some of the plants are dying, but we protect them so they won’t die. One way we protect a plant is to put a cage over it. Some of the lettuce has not grown much, but others have. The Bibb lettuce is doing well and the Chard, but the gourmet lettuce is not growing as well.

We have also painted the gazebo light blue. Above is a picture of my friend Tyrese in the gazebo, right before we gave it a new coat of paint. 

Early June

Since the kick off, we have been monitoring the garden. We added soil to the beds, and water the plants every other day. Last Friday was our first harvest of lettuce. We sold 7 pounds of Bibb Lettuce and .71 pounds of Swiss Chard. In total, we made $14 dollars in profit. My co-group leader looked up vegetable and fruit prices from the US Department of Agriculture and we set the prices of our produce for the garden based off of their price list.

For my own garden bed, I decided to grow bell peppers. This week we could finally see them budding!

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