Haley House Gardens

learn, grow, connect!

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Science in the Garden part 2


pointing out the warmest par

pointing out the warmest part of the garden


Over the past two Wednesdays, we’ve explored temperature in the garden. The school students ran around the garden, choosing what they believed to be the coolest and warmest areas based on the warmth of the concrete, the fences, the leaves, and other factors.

After the activity our resident temperature guide, Evan, constructed  a map based on the information the students gave us. (photo below, right)

McKinley Abstraction

McKinley Garden temperature abstraction map

The following Wednesday we escaped from the rain and painted a large 20″x28″ mural based on the map. Students added their own personal touches to the map, and we play to hang it in the garden for all to see.

Stop by to check it out! We are located at approximately 50 Montgomery Street, just around the corner from the Haley House Soup Kitchen on the corner of Dartmouth and Montgomery.


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Seaweed in the Garden

Nothing like sparkling lemonade on a hot October day!

IMG_2338It felt strange to repair our hoop houses and prepare for winter when it was nearly 70 degrees out on Saturday, but our crew from Northeastern & other garden friends were fantastic. We turned the soil in most of the beds, applying fish fertilizer, horse manure, and seaweed to replenish them.

Yes, it was fragrant.

Thanks to a farm in Scituate, we were able to get nearly 6 trash barrels full of manure as compost. The seaweed also came from Scituate–a harvesting session on one of their beautiful beaches.

Seaweed does a number of magical things for your soil: eliminates the need to water as often, repels weeds and bugs…read more about how to harvest and apply it in the eartheasy blog post.

Enjoy these photos of today’s crew. Courtesy of photographer, Rich:

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Science in the Garden

Our frequent garIMG_0017den and soup kitchen volunteer, Evan Kuras, joins us in the garden this month for a continuation of his grant-funded Hot or Not project in the South End. Evan, a recent Boston University graduate, is dubbed our resident temperature control man. His project involves measuring temperature changes through tests, educational lessons, walking tours, and personal narrative.

His knowledge of environmental science, combined with his enthusiasm for hearing personal story and teaching people about climate, works perfectly with our garden classes.

This October, we will measure the temperature differences between various control sites in our garden. We set up three thermometers (see photos below), and kids will gather data and create a data mural with our results. What’s a data mural, you ask? Stay tuned for the finished product!

In COMPOST news, our tumbler is working smoothly, and we are getting a steady stream of organic waste from our live-in community’s kitchen at the Haley House. Our worm friends are multiplying in dizzying numbers, and we get about 4-6 gallons of compost for our plants every few weeks. Check out our creepy crawl-y photos:

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What’s Growin’ On?

Happy Fall, everyone!

A busy summer was had in the garden this year, and I’ve found that the lifestyles of gardening and blogging are not always synchronistic.

Here are some highlights from the past 3 months (wow, has it been that long?!):

July: We hosted many excellent groups in the garden this summer, including students from Boston University and Boston College. My focus shifted from our school garden to our new urban farm in Roxbury, MA. Haley House began a pilot program with Hawthorne Youth Community Center this summer for middle and high school students. Through culinary, nutrition, and gardening classes, students were trained as peer leaders, sharing their new skills and knowledge with their own communities. We were proud to host 12 students this year.

August: We said goodbye to our wonderful interns, Stephanie and Kate. Thanks to their efforts, we have a marvelous curriculum for the McKinley Garden this year. We also said hello to a new live-in member and Garden Assistant, Karsten Frey. He will take over programming and development of our new Roxbury urban farm. If you have any questions about how to get involved in this work, please contact him at karsten@haleyhouse.org.

September: HARVEST! We were up to our eyes in tomatoes. The season was perfect, not a slug or sign of blight!

October: The season is closing for warm weather veggies, and we are preparing our beds for winter crops. Want to help out?

VOLUNTEER WITH US: Saturday, October 18th, 2014 from 10am-12pm at the McKinley Garden in the South End. RSVP with carmine@haleyhouse.org.

Enjoy these photos taken today in our garden:


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Work Hard, Play Hard

Happy Father’s Day from McKinley Garden!

Today’s garden workday included building a 4’x4′ sandbox and filling it with over 500 pounds of sand. We even had a little time to play in it!

DSC_0548Last week, McKinley students established three praying mantid nests in the notches of some of our trees. In 4 weeks, we will hopefully see  alien-like beneficial insects patrolling the grounds, protecting our garden from pests. We watched a National Geographic short in preparation, and learned that some martial artists model mantid behavior for their techniques.

Join us next weekend to see our mantid nests, deconstruct some raised beds, and plant some fruit trees & vegetable starts.

Saturday, June 20th from 9am-12pm. RSVP to carmine@haleyouse.org


Enjoy these photos by the talented Paul & Sean:


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Eat your weeds!

It’s a fine, fine week in the McKinley Garden. Lots of rain = lots of growth! And LOTS of weeds. Luckily, my 3rd, 6th, and 8th grade classes are become masterful weeders. They’re getting pretty good at identifying a weed from a little carrot or lettuce shoot. Although, we always make sure to eat a lot of the weeds.

That’s right, you can eat your garden weeds! Purslane, chickweed, goosefoot, Queen Anne’s lace, nettles, and even that darn Japanese knotweed is good for a snack.

Want to learn more about edible weeds? Check out our very own Haley House chef, Didi Emmon’s, radio interview on WBUR. Emmons talks about spending time on a farm in Dartmouth, MA called “Eva’s Garden,” where she tastes and explores and documents many plants in her book Wild Flavors: One Chef’s Transformative Year Cooking from Eva’s Farm.

I’m testing the kids’ knowledge of differentiating between a weed and a non-weed this week by putting some ReVision Farms transplants in the garden. We now have Bing cherry tomatoes, Beef tomatoes, cucumbers, nasturtiums, eggplant, cauliflower, basil, sweet peppers (and a hot one), butterfly weed, and many more looking fresh and promising in their new garden beds.

In addition to the McKinley garden, I’ve also taken on the task of starting our modest rooftop garden at Haley House Soup Kitchen. It is perched atop our favorite chocolatier’s shop, ChocoLee. In collaboration with Lee Napoli, the store’s owner, I am growing edible flowers and herbs that will compliment her artisan chocolate designs. So if you taste a ChocoLee sweet this summer with minty flavor, it may be coming from the chocolate mint growing on the roof!

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of our mommas out there, and to Mama Earth.

In celebration of those who nurture, our urban farm in Roxbury is livening and growing strong thanks to the attention and care of the neighbors of 95 Thornton Street.

Garden bed owners met on Saturday to construct a gravity-based rain barrel system using our locally sourced American Rain Barrels. They anticipate getting a full rain barrel with each rainfall, so here’s hoping for some rain this spring.

A sustainability group from New York’s St. Lawrence University sustainability crew visited to explore the thriving Roxbury community garden culture. Thanks for your help on the land, St. Lawrence students!

We also took a trip to ReVision Farm’s seedling sale to pick up our pre-ordered transplants, and ended up buying many more for friends & Mother’s Day gifts.

Please join us on Saturday, May 17th, our new Boston Shines date, to help us clean both the urban farm/community garden plot and our neighbor organization, Hawthorne Youth Community Center’s community garden. Garden party to follow!

For questions about volunteer time & to RSVP, please email carmine@haleyhouse.org.

Photos courtesy of Lorin Granger:


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Hey, May!

The garden is filling with colors, and the students from 3rd, 6th, and 8th grades spent some time today weeding, planting nasturtiums, sifting compost, and relaxing in the much anticipated sunshine.


This month, McKinley Garden received an excellent review on the Boston Teacher’s Union. Check out what they have to say and see some photos of the students at work and play in McKinley K-12 School.


This Saturday we look forward to picking up transplants from Revision Urban Farm in Dorchester, MA. They’re having a big sale, so be sure to stop by to support this local advocacy and urban ag program.

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Birdhouses for Spring

The mother/daughter volunteer team, the BondGirls, (including their personal paparazzi!) joined us today in the garden.

Many thanks to the amazing moms and daughters for hammering nails, digging a fence to protect our sunflowers, and painting new signs for the garden beds.

Garden Workday 4-19-2014-7

BondGirls rockin’ gardening gear

After the workday, I went on a Mattapan adventure to pick up two fruit tree donations from Boston Natural Areas Network. BNAN offers a lot of community garden support in Boston, as well as classes to help you become a more knowledgeable gardener.

Picking up fruit trees at City Natives

Picking up fruit trees at City Natives, a donation from BNAN


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Welcome to the McKinley Garden!

Another incredible weekend with some hardworking volunteers. Big thanks to Redemption City Church & friends, BranchOut Community Service, Bob, Kati, Paul, and Rachel for completing the design tasks for our garden. We finally have a welcome sign, and can’t wait to hang it this weekend.


the crew

Here comes our new rain barrel

Here comes our new rain barrel

Big thanks to Deena, too, who took the trip over to Hyde Park with me to pick up our much anticipated Great American Rain Barrels.

Join us next Saturday to map beds for a new soil shipment, and to help establish some newly acquired fruit trees.

RSVP for our Saturday 9am-1pm workday at carmine@haleyhouse.org

Photos from the amazing Paul Davey: