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Carpenter Place and DietsInReview Had the Best Earth Day Ever

It’s safe to say that we had the best Earth Day ever yesterday! The day started bright and early (and chilly!) at Carpenter Place, where we gathered with a generous team of volunteers to plant vegetable gardens.

Last month, we learned that we’d be receiving a $1,000 grant from Kalso Earth Shoes to fund an Earth Day project. We chose to plant vegetable gardens at Carpenter Place, a local organization in Wichita, KS that provides residence and rehabilitation for young girls and women. Their budget doesn’t often allow for fruits and vegetable beyond those in cans, so by planting two gardens full of a variety of produce, we can ensure they’ve got healthy food all summer!


We had about 20 volunteers, including Carpenter Place residents, friends from the Wichita community, Brownies from Girl Scout troop 40693 in Andover, Kans., and a few of us from DIR. The wind was sweeping down the plains yesterday, but armed in hoodies and warm cups of coffee, we got to work, and in less than three hours gave the ladies of Carpenter Place more food than they’re going to know what to do with. We promised to take some off their hands if they get too much!
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Earth Day Garden Plans are Ready for Sunday!

We are less than 48 hours away from planting our vegetable gardens at Carpenter Place, and we’re really excited!

Last month, we won a $1,000 grant from Kalso Earth Shoes to fund an Earth Day project. We chose to outfit a local organization with fruit and vegetable gardens.

A garden center that has been in the Wichita community since the 1920s stepped up and has been a tremendous help. Johnson’s Garden Center has provided a 20% discount on our purchases, as well as made their incredible staff available to us to answer 101 questions. They’re even delivering everything to Carpenter Place for us completely free. We got pretty lucky with those guys.

I was there on Wednesday this week picking up seed potatoes and a few vegetable seeds, as well as making a game plan with Marty, one of the owners. Yesterday, I chopped the seed potatoes, per their careful instructions, so that they are ready for planting on Sunday morning. We’ll be planting Yukon Gold and red skin potatoes for the Carpenter Place girls.
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Preparing Our Vegetable Garden Build at Carpenter Place

This is no small undertaking we’ve gotten ourselves in to. When we were selected by Kalso Earth Shoes to receive a $1000 grant so that we could plant vegetables gardens at Carpenter Place on April 22, we thought we’d buy some seeds and dirt and soon serve our friends fresh vegetables. Like anything else, there’s a bit of work involved between now and then.

We’re working closely with Jennifer White, a Carpenter Place house parent, to pull off this exciting Earth Day project.

Last week, I sent out a survey to the residents of Carpenter Place to make sure we planted exactly the fruits and vegetables they would want to eat. No sense planting asparagus if no one is going to eat it, right? We’ll probably plant some new things for them, in hopes that they’ll try them!

Tomatoes were a unanimous choice for fruit, followed by melon and strawberries. The herbs were pretty widely accepted, with basil and cilantro being the most popular. We gave a very generous list of vegetables to choose from with about a dozen receiving unanimous selection, including beans, cucumbers, greens, okra, onions, peas, bell peppers, squash, zucchini, potatoes, and peppers like serrano and jalapeños.

We’re still confirming what can actually be planted in the Kansas soil, but feel pretty safe with this list.
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DietsInReview.com Chosen by Kalso Earth Shoes to Receive a $1000 Earth Day Grant

Earlier this month we learned that Kalso Earth Shoes was giving three $1,000 grants to three sites who aligned with their vision but ultimately who could do a whole heck of a lot of good with that money to celebrate Earth Day. The deadline was on a Thursday, we got wind of the promotion on a Tuesday. I was out sick, like at home, in bed, sick. But, I knew I wanted this for DietsInReview.com and I also knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. So I sucked it up, and against the wishes of my beloved caretaker, knocked out an article telling Kalso about DIR, about how thinking green is second nature to us, and how there was an organization that we really, really wanted to help with this money.

Working through a sick day paid off, because DietsInReview.com was chosen! This month, we’re receiving a $1,000 grant to do an Earth Day project. Just as we described in our Earth Day project application, we’ll be using the funds to build vegetable gardens at Carpenter Place, and we’re more or less stoked about it! We’re not alone, though. We already let Carpenter Place in on our little secret.

“We are so excited to have DietsInReview come help us with gardens for our campus!” Jennifer White, a Carpenter Place house mom, told us.
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Hey Kalso Earth Shoes! We’d Like to Plant Veggie Gardens at Carpenter Place this Earth Day

Here at DietsInReview.com, we pride ourselves on being a fairly conscientious bunch. Recycling is second nature, supporting our local community through CSA and farmers market purchases is a no-brainer, Meatless Monday is always on the calendar, buying organic whenever possible simply makes sense, and being an active part of the communities in which we live is something we truly enjoy. We do yoga, we bike to work, we run full and half marathons, and complete bi- and triathlons. We really do walk our talk!

When we learned about the Kalsø Earth Shoes “Project Earth Day” scholarships, our interest was immediately piqued and we knew we were a perfect fit for the $1,000 prize they’re offering. They said, “3 online bloggers will have the opportunity to carry the spirit of the company’s annual service day into their own local communities. All you need to do is create your own Earth Day-related service project plan.”

Before we’d finished reading the information we knew exactly what we wanted to do – build a vegetable garden at Carpenter Place in Wichita, KS, where our editorial team is based. In the past few months, this incredible organization has remade itself and we want to be a part of that by making fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs readily available. As in, right out their back door.

From CarpenterPlace.org, “Carpenter Place provides residential treatment for girls in crisis ages 6 – 21 in Wichita, KS. A faith-based agency affiliated with churches of Christ, services are provided in a family setting in four group homes on a 13-acre campus.” These young women come from a variety of backgrounds, and each one of them in dire need of setting their feet firmly in the right direction. Often, within days or even a week or two of arriving at Carpenter Place, they are completing GEDs, learning to drive, interviewing for jobs, and even considering running half marathons.

In January, I was invited to prepare a healthy homemade dinner for the young women who live in the private residences (which are furnished through donations of used furniture – a valuable way to recycle). Over chicken and black bean enchiladas with fresh guacamole (my specialty!), they learned how easy homemade meals can be, I learned how hard each one of them is working to put their lives on track. House parent Jennifer White passionately shares these girls’ successes through social media and makes all of us fall in love with them and support them.

As Carpenter Place is a privately funded, non-profit 501(c)(3) entity, money is tight, like it is for most non-profits. They often receive food donations and have to make grocery budgets stretch across multiple live-in residents (they can house up to 25 young women). Having their own supply of fruits and vegetables right out their backdoor would open up their grocery budget to buy other healthful and nutritious foods these girls need to heal their minds and bodies from the inside out.

During the creation of our fruit and vegetable garden, which we could do on Earth Day 2012 (April 20), we’ll have lively conversation about the benefits that even two or three small beds can provide for the consumers, as well as the impact it will have on the environment. We’ll also be giving these young women first-hand experience so that they can grow their own garden when they graduate to living on their own.

Our early plan is to create two or three raised bed gardens with a large variety of fruits and vegetables, and even herbs. Budget permitting, we’d like to set them up to compost as well, and reduce the amount of food waste and create rich soil so that the gardens can live on.

We hope Kalsø Earth Shoes will consider our application for one of the Earth Day scholarships, and allow us to plant seeds of hope, change, health, and veggies at Carpenter Place.