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Posted on Mon, Nov 22, 2010 : 8:21 a.m.

I am thankful for Edible Avalon

By Corinna Borden

Borden - Parkhurst edible avalon

This Edible Avalon site has nine raised beds growing chard, sunflowers, strawberries, basil, etc. —all pushing back against the lawn.

Corinna Borden | Contributor

Last summer was the third summer of Avalon Housing’s Edible Avalon program (in honor of the book Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn by Fritz Haeg), managed by Program Coordinator Kris Kaul. From one garden in 2008, the program has grown to 12 Avalon sites. Co-sponsored by Food Gatherers and Project Grow; there were 14 site coordinators who worked with community members to adopt a garden.

For those Avalon Housing residents interested in having a garden plot, a pre-planting meeting took place where potential seeds were vetted. Once seeds were chosen, a plan was created for the space according to the Square Foot Gardening method. In each plot of fertile compost a variety of different combinations were placed, according to the desire of the resident participant: broccoli, beets, carrots, lettuce, borage, sunflowers, basil, chard, brussel sprouts, swiss chard, ornamental flowers, cauliflower, potatoes, etc. As such, each plot was a unique compilation of the culinary curiosity and diet desire of the residents.

Though each resident participant was responsible for his or her individual plot at each site, in terms of tending and watering, volunteer site coordinators “adopted” the entire garden site for the summer. Coordinators made regular weekly visits to help with the gardening: answer questions, provide recipes for what is ripe, and share information on upcoming classes and events.

Site coordinators worked with the residents to plant the garden, water the growing plants, remove weeds and harvest the bounty. There were classes in food preservation, a fieldtrip to Tantre Farms, and recipes shared. This year dietician interns from University of Michigan provided “free nutrition consultations… and doing cooking classes every day… it [was] quite popular,” shared Kris Kaul.

Kaul has a background in forest ecology and is certified in organic gardening and Permaculture. More than 2,200 pounds of organic produce were grown in the raised beds this season under her benevolent guidance.

Emily Canosa, two-season veteran site coordinator, enjoyed working with the children — helping to expand their horizons.

“One of my favorite plants was borage, and it is not because borage is my favorite plant, although it is a really good beneficial plant for the other plants around it. But it’s because one of the girls who was growing the borage just really loved it. We ate it together, we talked about the texture…Hopefully she knows what a cucumber is, but before she could identify any other plant she knew what borage was, which was really unique and special.”

I learned a great deal from the program in my role as a site coordinator and in this season of thanks, I am thankful to Edible Avalon.

If you are interested in being a Site Coordinator in 2011, contact Kris Kaul, Program coordinator, at, or Jude Walton, Avalon Outreach Coordinator, at 734-663-5858.

Corinna wrote a book about many things, works with the Westside Farmers Market, and spoils her backyard chickens.