Tag Archive | Well House

Well House hosts Urban Garden Design Workshop

Growing Food in Urban Spaces, Edible Landscaping and Urban Garden Design Workshop
6 – 9 p.m. Tuesday March 11
Well House, 600 Cass SE, Grand Rapids

Designed for people in the city with limited space to grow, this  workshop explores all the possible ways to grow food in an urban setting. Well House staff will  work with each participant to design a growing plan for their space.Participants need to bring either a drawing or digital images of the area(s) in which they are growing.

This workshop is limited to 15 people. To register, contact Well House at contact@wellhousegr.org. The cost is $20, which helps to fund the Well House food growing program. However, people with a limited income will not be turned away.

How Well House Planted an Orchard

Reposted from Grand Rapids Urban Forest Project

By Camilla Voelker

On November 9th the Well House gardeners and 27 others planted a 15-tree orchard of apples and pears on the property of one of the newest additions to the Well House homes and gardens, 239 Sycamore SE.

WELL HOUSE IS A NEIGHBORHOOD NON-PROFIT nested in the southeast side of Grand Rapids. South of Wealthy and east of Division, we offer safe and affordable housing to people experiencing homelessness. It is not a shelter, but permanent housing. Currently, we have four houses occupied by people who were living in shelters or on the streets.

Aside from the housing component of Well House, we also grow, prepare, and preserve food primarily for and with our tenants, but also for and with our neighbors and community. With a food justice lens, we are working towards growing as much food as we can in an urban setting and sharing knowledge on preparing and preserving our own food to counter the unhealthy options provided to us. . We believe our current food system inadequately provides healthy, nutritious food options for people, especially those in our neighborhood. So working with the folks who are most marginalized by our current food system is important to us in creating change.

Finding out about the mini grants offered through the Urban Forest Project of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, which supplies materials, support and trees for reforestation projects within the city, was a natural next step for continuing Well House’s vision for food growing. An Urban Orchard had been envisioned for the 239 Sycamore lot–which we had acquired from the Land Bank of Kent County–and it also hosts a home to be rehabilitated to house families that have been experiencing homelessness.

Expecting about 15 volunteers on this day, we were pleasantly surprised and thankful for the 27 that showed up – quite the opposite turn out than what most volunteer coordinators anticipate! With all of the fabulous volunteers, we managed to prepare the site quite quickly: trash was picked up, sod was dug up and hauled away, and holes were prepared.

Two Citizen Foresters who offered demonstrations on proper planting techniques and fruit tree care guided us into planting, adding fresh soil and mulching in the trees. Another volunteer watered them in, leaving a job well done. And as one volunteer noted, “Many hands make light work.” It surely did; the community support left a tremendous imprint on Well House’s project and spirit. We are so grateful.

Prepare & plant a fruit orchard with Well House

239 Sycamore SE, Grand Rapids 49503 - Google MapsReposted from Grand Rapids Urban Forest Project

SATURDAY|NOVEMBER 9, 2013|1:00 PM-4:00 PM|
Well House Garden 239 Sycamore SE, Grand Rapids 49503

Well House will be preparing a new lot for an urban orchard and mushroom beds for community education and use. Friends of Grand Rapids Parks has provided a mini-grant to support the development of an community orchard within their neighborhood. Friends and Well House are asking for interested volunteers to lend a hand, join a community, and have a great time.

Asking volunteers to come when they can and stay as long as they’d like.  Help us prep the site, plant the trees and spread mulch!  If you’d like to be involved please contact Camilla, Well House Urban Gardener, at CAMILLA@WELLHOUSEGR.ORG or616.245.3910 or sign up at the VOLUNTEER CENTER.

Well House Apple Sauce Workshop Monday evening

Join the urban farmers at Well House, 600 Cass Ave. SE,  for a workshop on how to make and can applesauce. The workshop takes place at 6 p.m. Monday Oct. 21. Participants will can regular and spiced applesauce and take a jar home.

The suggested donation is $20 for this workshop, but Well House welcomes everyone, even if they can’t contribute. Funds collected help sustain Well House’s Urban Garden Project.

Please register by sending an e-mail to contact@wellhousegr.org or calling 616.245.3910.

Celebrate World Food Day by saving seeds

Celebrated world wide every year on 16 October, World Food Day recognizes the anniversary of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization  (Oct. 16, 1945). Our Kitchen Table is participating in World Food Day by celebrating seed saving as part of  Navdanya‘s international World Food Day action, Fortnight for Seed Freedom and Food Freedom, a global action being promoted by internationally acclaimed seed warrior, Dr. Vandana Shiva.

Using handouts provided by the Well House Seed Saving Workshop, OKT is releasing a zine, “How to Save Seeds” that addresses not only the how-to but also the political, environmental and health reasons for saving our own seeds. You can read it below or download a copy to print.

How to Save Seeds web post 1

How to Save Seeds web post 2

Well House hosting farmers’ market on Wednesdays

Well House urban gardener, Camilla Voelker, vending at the Southeast Area Farmers' Market.

Well House urban gardener, Camilla Voelker, vending at the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market.

Market operates Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. at 600 Cass Avenue SE.

In addition to vending at the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market, Well House is now hosting its own farmers’ market, Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. at 600 Cass Avenue SE. Well House works with homeless people by providing safe, affordable, long-term housing. Thirteen people currently call Well House home.  “We are sensitive to the very limited options for finding healthy, nutritious food in our neighborhood,” says Camilla Voelker, Well House urban gardener.  “We are growing that kind of food at Well House, organically and spray-free, and using the space as a place to learn how to grow, prepare and preserve food.”

The Well House market will offer canned goods, seeds, seedlings and
fresh produce. Groundswell Farm will also offer fresh produce at the
market on occasion. In addition, those visiting the market can sign up
for upcoming food justice workshops. “The idea behind this market is
to connect the food stuffs grown and made at Well House with our
neighbors,” Voelker said.

Well House also shares gardening skills and resources with tenants and
neighbors so they can grow, prepare and preserve their own fresh,
nutritious food. Its organic garden uses heirloom seeds that are saved
from year to year, securing food for years to come. These seeds have
not been tampered with, that is they have no genetic modifications for
disease or pest resistance.

The Well House farm staff recently built 30 raised beds on two vacant
lots on Pleasant and Sheldon acquired from the Kent County Land Bank.
This Well House Neighborhood Garden is open to neighbors who want to
grow their own food—or benefit from what grows there. For information,
email contact@wellhousegr.org or call 616-245-3910.

Seed Saving Workshop at Well House Sept. 30

“Seed is the first link in the food chain. Seed is the ultimate symbol of food security. Free exchange of seed among farmers has been the basis of maintaining biodiversity as well as food security. This exchange is based on cooperation and reciprocity.”From Seed Freedom: A Global Citizens Report, coordinated by Navdanya

1236462_657749657569146_1000651918_nOctober 2 is the kick-off date for Navdanya‘s Fortnight for Seed Freedom and Food Freedom, a global action being promoted by internationally acclaimed seed warrior, Dr. Vandana Shiva. One way we here in the Grand Rapids can participate is by learning about saving seeds.

We are fortunate to have experienced seed-savers among us. Two of them work as urban farmers at Well House, Jeff Smith and Camilla Voelker. They will be facilitating a Seed Saving Workshop 6 p.m. Monday September 30 at Well House, 600 Cass SE in Grand Rapids.

The workshop will address the importance of saving seeds and how to save them. Participants will will look at a variety of ways to save seeds and discuss the importance of non-GMO/heirloom seeds.

To sign up for this workshop, please contact Well House at 616-245-3910 or contact@wellhouse.org. Well Houses asks  for a donation of $20 per person, but also offers scholarships so that money will not be a barrier for people to sign up. The money raised from Well House workshops is used to sustain its urban gardening projects.


OKT gardeners and Well House residents learn about composting

WellHouseCompostClass.7On Monday July 22, biochemist and OKT collaborative partner, Clinton Boyd PhD, taught a group Well House members, OKT gardeners and neighborhood residents the true nature of compost and how to end up with the rich humus that gardens need.  He offered samples for participants to touch, smell and even taste.

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What is compost?  According to Boyd, compost is an overused term not clearly defined by those using it.  Commercial industries, backyard gardeners and community gardens say that they are composting but that’s not always the case. Boyd says that real composting results in fluffy humus, rich in carbon.  While similar to potting soil in texture and color, it is healthier for your garden.

Camilla Voelker, Well House urban farmer, said that she gained a lot of knowledge from Clinton will help her improve Well House’s composting practices. Well House provides safe, affordable housing to the homeless. Like OKT, Well House believes that food is everyone’s right … not a privilege for those who can afford it.

Well House on board as Southeast Area Farmer’ Market vendor

The Well House greenhouse is growing a wide variety of food plants

The Well House greenhouse is growing a wide variety of food plants

Well House, a group of homes on Grand Rapids’ southeast side that provide safe, affordable housing for people who have been homeless, is expanding its gardening program at 600 Cass Ave. SE and will sell produce at the 2013 Southeast Area Farmers’ Market. According to Jeff Smith and Camilla Voelkers, Well House’s urban farmers and food justice educators, the garden program continues the legacy of its founder, Miriam Clemens, to engage in self-sufficient practices such as growing food, saving seeds and canning. “These activities support Well House residents, the adjacent neighborhood and, to some degree, the community at large,” Smith says. (He is also an OKT collaborative partner.)

“Were working on creating a … closed loop garden where wastes are composted and put back into the garden,” Voelkers adds. “We’re planting fruit trees and berry bushes, too.”

The community that frequents the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market will benefit from a wide variety of Well House produce: greens, heirloom tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, squash, cucumbers, carrots, beets, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, herbs and two varieties of mushrooms—shiitake and oyster.

Profits from market sales will go back into the Well House garden program and its other projects. “Selling at this market in parts of the city where there is the least amount of access to fresh produce is a food justice matter,” Smith says. “(and it will) spread the word about what we’re doing here at Well House. Smith and Voelkers invite community members to join them for Well House garden activities. For information, call them at 616-245-3910.