“It’s a day ON not OFF!”

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr, GardenCorps went out to the Hinkle-Garton Farmstead of  Bloomington Restorations. We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day. It was a service workday: organizing the barn and basement, chopping wood, and spreading compost. We experienced a few bumps and bruises, but everyone was jazzed after some good old manual labor! I love the body rush I get, and the accomplished feeling I get after does not measure up to any other workout. The farmstead produces maple syrup, and GardenCorps is excited to return when they tap the trees!



‘Tis the Season to be GREEN

“The poetry of the earth is never dead.” 
― John Keats


Even though it’s the winter season, GardenCorps has still met weekly in preparation of the spring. Though veggies are not ripening outside within our little nature patch, I have still experienced beauty and peacefulness from the garden experience through the other members and through tiny experiments (mainly with beets!!). We might be going on a quick hiatus due to break, but I am super duper excited for next semester. The GardenCorps has expanded and the atmosphere is full of energy and cheerfulness. It’s amazing to see other people so excited about sustainability awareness, and I know that through continual exposure to the garden I will continue to learn how to become a more sustainable individual. yay! ‘Tis the season. (:


P.S. This is a picture of the Chicken ‘N Bagels we saw on our field trip to Bread & Roses Nursery.



Different Grains!!

A nutritiously balanced diet includes a variety of foods. For example, try incorporating fruits and vegetables of every color into your diet on a weekly basis. Experiment with mashed cauliflower, bok choy and broccoli mixtures, fruit salads, and stuffed bell peppers. You can also choose from many types of beans such as kidney, lima, garbanzo, and black beans, as well as green split peas and lentils. Did you know that you can incorporate variety into your grains as well? Many people purchase refined white rice or white flour as their grain source. However, most of the nutrients are depleted during the refining process. Refined grains contain only the endosperm, consisting of starch and protein. On the other hand, whole grains contain the germ, endosperm, and the bran, which are packed with nutrients and fiber in addition to starch and protein.

This semester, I have started experimenting with different types of grains. I no longer automatically turn to rice for my stir-fries and burritos. There is a whole sea of different grains waiting to be discovered and used in the kitchen. More recently, my favorite grain is quinoa. It’s an herb that contains 50% more protein than rice. It is also a complete protein source, containing all of the essential amino acids needed in the diet. I use quinoa in salads with strawberries, almonds, and vegetables. It tastes fantastic in a mushroom, bell pepper, and onion stir fry! You can also use it to make vegetarian patties. The possibilities are endless!

Recently, we have started growing amaranth at the Campus Gardens. It is not technically a cereal grain, but it has nutritional properties very similar to grains. For instance, it is a good source of amino acids lysine and methionine. Lysine is usually absent in many grains. It is also gluten free, for those with a gluten sensitivity or intolerance. It is very easy to prepare amaranth. Try it in the recipe below:

Toasted Grain Pilaf

Traditionally a Middle Eastern pilaf is made with white rice, but here we use a healthful grain, toasting it first to bring out its flavor, and mixing in aromatic vegetables to create a delicious, more nutritious dish.


2 cups millet, quinoa, amaranth or a combination
1/8 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock(more, as needed)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (dried in a package, not in oil)
1/2 cup boiling purified water
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup shredded yellow summer squash
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped scallions or green onions
Salt to taste

Toast the millet (or other grains) in a large saucepan set over low heat, stirring it constantly until it turns a light brown color, less than 1 minute. Stir in the curry powder until it is blended in. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Add the chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer. Check after 20 minutes. If the stock has boiled away, add a little more. Cook until the millet has absorbed all the liquid, about 25 minutes in all.
Meanwhile, soak the dried tomatoes in the boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain them in a colander set over a bowl to reserve the liquid, then chop them. Mix the tomatoes, reserved liquid, zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, and scallions or green onions together in a small skillet set over low heat and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed. Pour into the cooked grain and toss until everything is completely mixed together. Taste and add salt if you think it is needed. Fluff with a fork and serve.

recipe: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/RCP02112/Toasted-Grain-Pilaf.html
other sources:

Alicia Richhart


LOVE our garden!

LOVE our garden!

I found these baby tomatoes in the garden office on the first day I got there, and I was fully moved at that time! Such a gift of nature! I posted this photo on Wechat(one of the Chinese social network site), I got tons likes! Felt pretty proud of our garden even if that is the first time I was in the garden and know that there is even a garden on campus! To be honest, I feel like each of us who are being spoiled are taking our daily food into granted, we even don’t think that much we we see glorious food. Our garden provides me knowledge of how vegetables are planted and how they like to grow. But since I am such a infant in this area, sometimes I got fall behind a bit…especially i have to remember all the English names of the veges! but I still love the garden, and I have met 5 fantastic girls who are so nice! I feel people who love nature are real people and always have cute personalities!
I think it was the Tuesday before last week, all the plants are died, and everything need to be taken out that day. When I took out the spinach out of the shelf, while I was sad, I even thought this is just the nature of the world. Everything comes and goes, we receive their beautifulness while we get the chance to see them at that time point.
Enjoy the gift of nature, and belong to the soil. 🙂

Lei Ma

Trees of Life

Saturday was possibly my favorite day at the garden. We planted a pear and an apple tree, two babies that will kick-off the orchard at Hilltop. We all held hands around the tree at the end of the day and sent it our good blessings. I didn’t realize how similar the tree is to a child, it must be watered and protected from the wind and pests. Someday however, the tree will be grand and tower over our heads, dropping delicious natural sweets. Inspired by the event, I picked a small peach-like fruit off a tree behind Ami’s later that day. Unfortunately, it tasted like cotton in my mouth. Call me crazy, but I embraced the adventure! 

There will be more tree plantings to come! I encourage you to come out and get inspired!


Green Thumbin’ It

IMG_3989 IMG_3993 IMG_4270When I tell my friends that I’m headed to the garden, they usually get this puzzled look on their faces not realizing that IU even had one. Well, they DO, and it’s AWESOME. Luckily, I fell upon this special gem in my attempt to find a place where sustainability and healthy lifestyles are celebrated.  Just being in Bloomington, it’s clear that this community is passionate about living in a conscious manner. Even though I didn’t know much about gardening before I joined gardencorps, I knew that just by being present at the garden I’d be able to learn. I’ve only been going for a short period, but I love it. I feel like my time at Hilltop is a positive energy booster. When I’m picking weeds or harvesting, I get the opportunity to just “be” ….It’s such a calming sensation. I love listening to the birds, and I love feeling the sun on my skin. Not only that, but I’ve met some really cool people too. I always find it interesting to discover the motives of why people garden. Some have to do it for class; others love eating fresh produce, while others like the chill company. No matter the reason, the Hilltop Garden has a place for you. Just beginning to form my green thumb, I’m excited to see where this takes me.

❤ ,

Coleen Gaughan, sophomore

And then, we harvest.

I don’t know if you’ve been out to the garden, but harvest has been a bit…slow.

It isn’t bad, or anything.  We’ve had our fair share of greens (kale and spinach and chard and mustard and ohgoodness lots and lots of green).  We’ve had a good amount of radishes and quite a few beets.  And let’s not even talk about garlic.  But…the melons.  And the cucumbers.  And the squash.  And the tomatoes.  They just weren’t comin’.

But one day, a few weeks ago, it happened.  I took my morning stroll through the garden, and I spotted one–one teeny tiny patty pan squash, peeking through the vines and calling my name.  And then I saw another one.  And with my shears, I plucked them, shared them, and was filled with immense joy.

patty pan

Ever since, things have been happening.  We’ve had a number of squash from a bajillion varieties, we’ve popped cherry tomatoes from the vine into our mouths, and we’ve even seen a cucumber or two.  Watermelons (I repeat, WATERMELONS) are growing on the plant’s many limbs, and our huge (massive, ginormous, gloriously impressive) heirloom tomatoes and starting to ripen.  We’re harvesting, and we’re eating, big time.

So please, please, please join us, explore with us, harvest with us, and you’ll get to taste incredible fresh produce.  That’s what it’s all about, right?