Monday, June 22, 2009

Saturday's Rain Garden Seminar at Gather Round Farm

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of waking up early to check out a Rain Garden Seminar at Gather Round Farm on 39th and Lorain in the Ohio City part of Cleveland. Cruising down Lorain after blocks of monotone decrepitness, Gather Round Farm stands out like a ray of light with its poppies and lilies in bloom and their anti-billboard marking their location.

Though the event was billed as a Rain Garden Seminar, it was more like a water cycle lecture that had a rain garden workshop at the end. The lecture can be briefly summarized as water is important; waterways are important; minimization of runoff to the lake/ocean is the goal with the intention of restoring the earth's water cycle and the prevention of feces/high nitrogen fert/car oil from going into the lake. Minimization can be done in a variety of ways: rain barrels/containment, gray water re-using, green roofing, and subsequently, rain gardens. As part of the lecture, we learned how to measure a piece of land's water potential, which can be boiled down to this formula:

((length X width of property in feet)/1000) X 683G X waterfall in inches at the property = Gallons of water potential on the property. I have no idea how I remembered that.

So what is a rain garden? In general, a rain garden is anyplace where voluminous rain causes giant puddles/mini-ponds. These areas can then be developed into a more formal pond structure that harbors water-loving plants that basically slow the release of runoff in a controlled manner, while also scrubbing some of the pollutants from the runoff. In wasn't clear to me whether or not these rain gardens can also be used for food production (perhaps rice?). But my guess is that they are not used for food.

I gotta admit that after a couple hours at Gather Round Farms I felt energized. They're doing the urban transformation/agriculture thing exceptionally well with a total DIY mentality. From the street side beautification to their 17 chickens to the transformation of an asphalt lot into a giant raised bed garden with all these cool whimsical structures to the rain barrels to the compost system to the choice plant selection and now the rain garden, Gather Round Farm is an amazing example of sustainability in Cleveland and people in action. I encourage everybody to go to Gather Round in July/Aug/Sept before going to the West Side Market and truly buy the freshest produce available in Cleveland.

Thanks to Meagan, Jean, Kate, the herb lady, and Tony Tomatillo.

1 comment:

  1. I'm diggin' the posts. Keep 'em comin'. On the subject of rain gardens, I've been involved with a few projects at work using constructed wetlands to treat stormwater. I can attest to the improvement in water quality they provide.