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Nurse, Get Me a Hoe!

Earth Care International plans first response option for mobile garden surgery

March 10, 2010, 12:00 am

One of the better logic faux pas of 2010 has been pseudo rabble rouser Glenn Beck’s declaration that he learned the dangers of socialism and progressivism by checking out free books from the library.

Apparently Beck unwittingly supports communal property insofar as it abets his war against communal property. Here in Santa Fe, our traditional libraries are on regrettably tight budgets, but the urge to pool resources and share is nonetheless blossoming with a vigor that would terrify Beck. Tool lending is the latest form of local library to take root in Santa Fe.

Inspired by the recent flush of community gardens in parks, neighborhoods and affordable housing developments, Earth Care International is preparing to launch a mobile toolshed.

Angela Harris, outreach and development coordinator for Earth Care, says the nonprofit realized it’s impractical for people to transport heavy gardening tools to community garden plots, and many gardens don’t have the space or security for a toolshed. Using a modest grant from the California-based Foundation for Sustainability and Innovation, Earth Care plans to convert a government surplus ambulance into a toolshed with 210 horsepower.

Earth Care was founded in 2001 and has become increasingly active in Santa Fe since. It publishes the annual Sustainable Santa Fe resource guide and has a number of programs dedicated to engaging youth in sustainable practices.

Harris says one of the next projects will be the retrofit.

“We have big plans for changing out the emergency lights to green colors and for the kids we work with in our Youth Allies program to help repaint the exterior. They’re kind of into graffiti, so it might go in that direction,” she says.

The green machine will be outfitted with wheelbarrows, hoes, shovels, rakes, trowels, forks, hoses and replacement parts for irrigation systems. It will even have a powered rototiller on board.

“When garden groups and schools want to plan a big workday, they can call up and reserve the toolshed,” Harris says. “We hope the service will be completely free, but we might need the occasional contribution for gas and insurance. If businesses want to make contributions, we’re considering a sponsorship program that might include a logo on the toolshed.”

For those interested in creating a community garden or learning how to book the mobile toolshed, Harris says Earth Care will participate in the March 31 Green Drinks get-together dedicated to community gardening. “We’re also happy to meet people who’d like to donate tools,” Harris says.

When you’re not using it, Earth Care will.
Earth Care’s Youth Allies program currently serves approximately 45 youths, ages 13 to 19. They maintain their own garden plots in community gardens at Frenchy’s Field and the Railyard Park. This year, they’ll be expanding to a new community garden in Casa Solana. The students combine their produce with food that grocery stores would otherwise discard and twice a month join Food Not Bombs in serving meals to those in need. Then there’s caring for the spate of guerrilla gardens the group maintains in small plots adjacent to city bus stops. If you’ve ever been waiting for a bus while late for a meeting and been able to hit a moment of Zen by reaching out and picking a sweet strawberry, you have Youth Allies to thank.

Non-communal gardeners need tools, too.
It’s not really appropriate to call in the mobile toolshed for your private garden, so what do you do when you want to borrow a shovel and rake for personal use? How about a chop saw or an extension ladder or a leaf blower? On March 6, Habitat for Humanity opened a tool lending library at its ReStore (2414 Cerrillos Road, 505-473-1114). The inventory has kicked off with everything from small hand tools to serious power tools and is expected to grow over the coming year. Residents of Santa Fe County are allowed to join the library for a $10 annual fee. Expect to sign a liability waiver and show ID as well as proof of address (like a utility bill) before being allowed to check out tools for two to five days at a time.

Who’s driving?
Another nascent Earth Care International program involves creating a network of young farming interns. When your school group or community gardening cadre books a date with the mobile toolshed, it
just might be chauffeured by a spry, bright-eyed farmer-in-training who can swap tips and make sure everyone gets the most efficient use of all the tools.

Earth Care International
1235-D Siler Road

Green Drinks
Community gardens meeting
6:30 pm Wednesday, March 31

Backroad Pizza
1807 Second St.


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