November 14, 2009 - a dark horse running on a dark race course

Due to unseasonably beautiful weather with temps in the upper 60's and plenty of sun, we decided to work INDOORS in the art room. REALLY.

The work date had actually been planned last month and several of the crew had gathered between times to glue more tiles on our dark horse. Our goal today was to grout between the tiles and we got a good portion completed but ran out of black grout. Hands got really dirty and it was messy work but with the help of our fantastic beta's and our normal crew, we had a lot of fun and I dare say I was not the only one completely amazed at how beautiful this piece is going to be once completed.

While most of the students knew each other, there were
several whose names I didn't but I did catch the "love" on one beautiful young woman's arm. Looking over all the photos I took today, this one is truly a favorite. Ms. Eller started us off by reading the instructions on the bag of grout then James used a drill attachment to mix the mess in a big plastic bucket. He then proceeded to clean the mixer attachment as only James can do - spotlessly. We used plastic bags filled with grout and a hole cut in the edge to squeeze the grout between the tiles (think decorating cookies with icing) as well as spackling knives and slapping the grout on with plastic gloves. The horse was soon completely black but as the grout hardened Jessica (aka "Jaz") started wiping across the horse with her hands and we watched with fascination as the color and design started to reappear.

While James ran from the group photo (actually he was taking his own pics with Gracie's camera) everyone gathered to proudly display the transformation of a red fiberglass horse into something uber cool and getting closer to being on display at the Dunbar Memorial Garden - including the darling budding artist and Miss Manners extraordinare, Lily! Be sure to click on the photo to bring up a larger version that gives a nicer view of how "shiny" the dark horse has become.

After we helped clean up the art room several of us meandered out to the garden to prune and clean up. Truthfully, I pruned while Jessica, James and Grace used huge stalks from the cup plant to battle up and down the hillside. Thankfully no one was injured in the brawl and no trees were climbed. *Jab to Gracie*

The battle crew did pull through in the end and help pitch the cuttings down the back forty where we will see next year an old sink hole transform into a native plant haven.

Love to all. Good work was done today.

Jesse's Mom

The girls are back in town (oh and boys too) - October 24, 2009

The forecast called for a cold day but not rain and when we left for the garden this morning - in the rain - we hardly expected any one to show. But show they did.

James had another commitment but advised that I should swing by and pick up his sister who needed the "community service hours." Chris was off in Sparta. But while Erika and I sat in the car at the garden safe from the drizzle waiting for Jerome to arrive here comes Gracie with her gangsta-gang hat on.

We unloaded and prepared for digging some plants when Matt showed followed by his brother Richard and then Tyler in from EKU looking sleepy eyed but advising he'd slept "like a baby" at his folks house. Finally, our darling Sarah showed having slept in too - which is exactly what a college student should be doing on their fall break.

Then while we were all hugging and catching up (while Matt was digging transplants of coreopsis and wild bergamot and Jerome was trying to loosen the soil around the persimmon tree that's been trying to block our view of Hannah's beautyber
ry and Gracie went off to climb a tree and Richard was pulling polk plants with roots as big as fists) who on earth should come around the bend but our little "twinkie" Ellidia on break from the rigors of Vandy. Wow. Hugs galore.

While it never matters if our work force is great or small, it's a beautiful day when our old cohorts are near. They dug a hole and scraped away gravel. They divided plants and cleaned off picnic tables. They pruned and took photos and goofed off and ate breakfast burrito's. They talked college life and highschool life and love life and were just full of life. Then they moved a tree. Miranda gave her expertise and we hope it survives but like everything else at the garden, I don't know how it couldn't with all that love there.

Can you tell it was a good day?

This will likely be one of the last posts for the garden this season as we stop our work at Dunbar and start our work with Mindtriggerz. It was a helluva way to close the season. "Good times" as Erika taught me to say, "good times."

P.S. For the record, our "gleaning session" last weekend got us an article posted in Ace Weekly. Check it out at Click the "food" heading then download the pdf to see a pic of our crew and their friend the chicken!

Love y'all,
Jesse's Mom

When actions speak louder than words - October 17, 2009 (Satellite Saturday)

On a greater-than-dreary October Saturday morning, cold and rain-filled, a collection of volunteers gathered at the farm “Berries on Bryan Station” ( to glean the fields of peppers, onions, greens and tomatoes. Erik Walles and Gayle Tomkinson had kindly agreed to allow the harvesting of their CSA’s fields with the proceeds benefiting a local soup kitchen to feed our area homeless.

What makes this unique is not simply the fact that a local farmer would allow us to harvest what was left over after his season. Not even the fact that the wonderful produce was organically grown. Nor was it that the synching of food surplus with a forecasted hard freeze equated to feeding those in need. What made this day special for those involved was that it involved young people full of energy, undaunted by the weather, and filled with great pride that what they did was harvest 185 pounds of beautiful produce to feed those whose lives are less fortunate than their own.

In late September Miranda Hileman (featured in ACE 7/16/09) coordinated with “Berries” to glean the fields in keeping with one of her many goals as the 2009 Compton Mentor Fellow: to promote the value of sustainable agriculture, the importance of school
gardens and the reconnection we must maintain with our natural environment - where our food comes from and why it is important to know.

Miranda volunteered at Berries on several occasions over the summer – assisting with harvesting and preparing baskets for the CSA members. She exchanged information and expertise with Erik and his family of workers and volunteers. Through her connections with the Catholic Action Center and her work on its vegetable garden located on the campus of BCTC Leestown Road she arranged to have what otherwise could have gone to waste instead feed others.

Emails were exchanged among volunteers and potential volunteers and a date was set for gleaning on October 14th. Unfortunately, that day dawned miserable, cold and wet – the rain incessant and unforgiving. Temperatures hovered at 40 degrees. Miranda wore her galoshes. Erik gathered eggs and several cartons of his incredible homemade berry preserves. We got wet. Really wet. But harvested 80 pounds of eggplant, 71 pounds of peppers and ba
skets of greens and dried beans. It was a motley crew of three - but we worked hard.

While standing in the field covered in mud with red frozen hands I asked Miranda to not be disappointed in our numbers. It is easy to be a volunteer on a warm, sunny day but not so much when it is bitter and dismal. I reminded her (as well as myself) that “the homeless are no less hungry simply because it’s cold and wet outside.”

This became our afternoon mantra and saw us through the next two and a half hours of work. When it became evident that three people could not possibly harvest what was left on the farm we made a Plan B to return again over the weekend.

Anyone who knows Miranda knows that she spreads herself thin. More importantly, they know that she is energetic, optimistic, an incredible worker and filled with beautifu
l, altruistic and far-reaching goals. She’s spent many a Saturday pitching in at the Dunbar Memorial Garden – a native plant community garden located on the campus of Dunbar High School that is dedicated to the memories of students who left us too soon. During that time she’s formed a strong connection to us, to the students and to the many others involved in our project.

So on Saturday morning, while many others enjoyed a warm bed and sleeping in – the Dunbar Memorial Garden changed its work schedule, went to “Plan B” and several of our regulars gathered at Berries to help Miranda glean the fields. Among the crew: two
Dunbar Seniors, one Dunbar Sophomore and one Dunbar graduate home on Fall Break from the University of Michigan. They chased chickens and laughed in the cold. They picked and weighed produce. They gathered eggs. They left the farm knowing that what they did was important and good and they didn’t begrudge those who stayed home in comfort. They did what they did because they love hard and unconditionally. Because we’ve learned working together at Dunbar that we lean on each other and help each other in every way we can. Don’t ever let anyone say: “the youth of this generation don’t care” because we’ve seen first hand that they do.

And they worked. Jaz and James, Natalia and Chris. With a few of us old-timers and Miranda the impetus.

Sometimes you just have to act. We did. Next year I hope to read of incredible gleanings on farms all over Lexington with people who want their actions to speak louder than their words. In Jesse’s words “that would be awesomeness” and yeah, I think it would.

Rebecca Woloch is the President of the Jesse Higginbotham Technology Trust, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit dedicated to continuing the work of her son, who died in an automobile accident in April of 2007. The creation of the Dunbar Memorial Garden was one of her son’s many projects. Gleaning fields at Berries on Bryan Station, she thinks, is something her son would be infinitely proud of her for doing.

October 10, 2009 - Horse Whisperers

It was a cold and dreary morning in Lexington today so what better way to do work for the garden then to MOVE INDOORS and make art! We convened in Ms. Eller's room to break tiles, caulk glue and adhere pieces to the "horse." There was a nice crew of volunteers thanks in no small part to Ms. Davis and her Beta's!

While Gracie read "Final Exits" the rest of us set to work. Tables were moved to make room for the horse who's been relegated to a back room these past few weeks. Our experienced members loaded up the glue and got down to business in fast fashion. The pruning t
wins were in action (sans pruners and with Lindsay looking a little tired :P) and brought up the proverbial rear of the Beaumont Beta's - soon to be Dunbar students. Thankfully, we got to work with David and his big sis Beth who have been MIA the last couple of weeks but made up for their absence from 11 to noonish.

We missed Serena who was off taking boring SAT's but expect she'll be back next weekend when NATALIA RETURNS FOR FALL BREAK FROM MICHIGAN. w00t!

As always, thanks to everyone who came, worked, played, laughed and swept (Jaz, you are my broom hero). Shout out to Grace who is trying to resurrect the Dunbar GSA with help from James and others. This means a lot to me, as Jesse loved his participation in the original GSA.

And as a gift at days' end I had a late lunch with Jon at my favorite place the Coffebre@k Cafe where we were waited on by a young woman named Roselynn who shared her personal connecshun with Jesse. <3

Until next weekend. Luvz.
Jesse's Mom

October 3, 2009 - Divisionary tactics - NOT

Our "plan" today was to begin dividing some of our hugemongous native plants - the garden however, did not agree. With the recent rains and mild temperatures very little at the garden was ready for moving and shaking - everything was just too "green" or yellow, or purple, or pink. So we did what we do best and that is to go with it so instead of transplanting, we pulled weeds (miss you Sarah!).

Lindsay's dad dropped her off (along with filling the pickup with a plethora of Mindtriggerz donations, yeah and luvz) but she had to be a pruning twinless today as Kirby couldn't make it this weekend. While she went about expertly removing a few more sunflowers, Chris made a run for his house to fetch additional pruners. Jamie tagged along.

Serena's stay was short but productive - she got a call from her
manager at "work" who needed her skillz so we sent her off to earn money (begrudgingly!) and our small group got caught red-handed because of the tiny bugs on the oxeye sunflowers. They kind of squished up, a little gross but randomly funny. I regret I neglected to get a photo.

Gracie helped Jerome clear weeds from around the fringetrees and Josh's red maple while I cleared up around the shining sumacs. It was a windy, blustery day but included plenty of sunshine and beautiful smiles and giggles. During our "snack break" I shared the lulz of a PBS documentary that Jesse's dad told me about (and that I found, of course, on youtube) and Lindsay's laughter just egged me on (not pun intended!). When bored, or in need of laughter, please look for "The Natural History of The Chicken" video.

We spied the garden "kitteh" today that Jerome subsequently ran off b
ecause of his heckling "here kitty kitty" calls and a random couple wandered up with a very friendly dog who proceeded to jump up on me, having not receieved the memo that I am a cat lady! It was a nice day. Jerome has been so busy with Mindtriggerz that he hasn't been at the garden in SEVERAL weeks - it was a nice change of pace for him and we were all glad to have him back.

Next week we will convene indoors to work on the horse again. Hopefull
y we will get at least one more weekend outside again - Natalia will be home for fall break on the 17th so fingers will be crossed that we can all work outdoors again (she won't mind the weather considering it is freezing already in Michigan).

Love, love and always love. The garden is beautiful and so is our crew!


The rain, rain, rain came down, down, down - September 26, 2009

Torrential downpours with a side of thunder kept us from working at the Dunbar Garden today - but mere puddles and flash flood watches could not keep us apart! Jaz and James helped Jesse's dad set up the Mindtriggerz Training Lab then came by the house where soon to follow came Tyler, then Christopher and then finally, Sarah who entertained us with her dancing feet and tales of stalkers and everything in between from her Ball State experience.

Tyler had his own tales of lulz about some not-so-bright student on the EKU campus who tried to tak
e a cell phone pic of a skunk but who found out that was NOT the smartest thing to attempt and Chris provided a cd of pics taken recently at the garden and so since we missed our "Gracie's" presence today, well, this photo seems appropriate to include in our post :P

She had a lot of fun playing in the water but rest assured, she did manage to do more than dance in droplets last Saturday - she washed down all the picnic tables and besides looking beautiful and perfect and young and happy, she added her own touch to making the garden a beautiful place to be. <3

While we got nothing "done" at Liverpool today the house was filled with the sounds of laughter - and we convened on the lab to help Jerome break down in record time. Then he bought us all lunch! W00t. It was and always is good to be surrounded by our particularly wonderful collective, even though it's always better AT THE GARDEN. Oh well, we'll try again next weekend.

Jerome and Jaz delivered a couple of computers to a couple of families that prior to today didn't have one so "work" did get done. It always does, even when we are not paying attention (or seemingly just having fun).

Jesse's Mom

Baba Ganoush to you too - September 19, 2009

Updating the blog was put on hold (or rather, I got caught up in a game of "FarmVille" as well as cleaning computer components for Mindtriggerz) but we'll back space and get caught up!

Last Saturday we convened on Ms. Eller's art room to help bring to fruition a project her art club began but was unable to complete. One of the original "Horsemania" horses had been donated to the school and students collaborated on a design and decided to use broken tiles to
decorate it. With assistance from SEVERAL Beta Club students along with their wondermous sponsor teacher Ms. Davis as well as our regular "crew", we pretty much saddled that pony (sorry, couldn't resist). Having completely forgotten my camera, Rachel thankfully shared a few of hers. It was a great day of great collaboration among caulk guns filled with glue, hammer meisters who broke the tiles, and some of us (ME) as an observer. We pounded and adhered away and left with dusty fingers and a horse making great strides to finding a spot in the garden soon! We'll continue working over the winter on this project - a million thanks to Ms. Eller and all our "artistes" (even the ones who didn't pose for the camera!).

So this week we moved back out into fresh air and sunshine to prune and sweep (thank you, Serena!) and throw bamboo stake javelins (Chris and James, thank you very much). We had a small crowd including the aforementioned as well as Katelyn's younger sister Lindsay who brought another future Dunbar student, her Beaumont Middle classmate, Kirby. They are now officially known as "the pruner twins" - they did a remarkable job on some sunflowers, beardtongue and random stray dead branches. After Gracie's major/minor issue was resolved with a little help from her friends, Chris fetched some extra pruners from his house and we all set out dead heading - this time being careful to collect the seed heads from the oxeye sunflower so they potentially won't sprout all over the garden next spring. Oh, and Gracie cleaned all the picnic tables and did a little romping in the water while she was at it. :)

On several fronts today I was reminded how very important our connecshuns are - not only in this space but in each others' lives. I am thankful to these young people who are my family. I would do anything for each one of them.

A special shout-out to Serena's mom who showed up at the end of the day with some homemade hummus and Baba Ganoush for yours truly. I appreciate every chance I get to nurture and feed these young ones, what an incredible bonus to have that returned!

Chris promises a few pics from today to add later - Jesse's dad has my camera tonight since while he and Jaz delivered THREE MINDTRIGGERZ COMPUTERS this afternoon, they forgot to bring it back. Rather, Jerome did. Boo!

Peace and love and flowers. <3
Jesse's Mom

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