Late May Update, 2011

After months, picking the brains of experts, reviewing ag. texts, drafting and trashing research protocols and rounding up materials, the trials were ready for install. Among other things, the install would call for lots of people climbing lots of stairs, hefting lots of soil in 5 gallon buckets. (Lots of buckets).

Buying plastic buckets for a one-day event seemed like a shame so after businesses curbed their recycling I’d been making trips to a Middle Eastern shop for empties – tahini, olives and feta. The empties  told the story of the day’s sales: 20 gallons of tahini, 15 gallons of olives, ten gallons of feta, piles of cans of stuffed grape leaves and so on. It took only 3 nights to wrangle 25 of them!

Saturday, May 7: Buckets scrubbed and materials staged. 23 phenomenal volunteers – a Dream Team of professional farmers, gardeners and arborists (as well as poets, architects and doctors) – showed up and wasted no time organizing themselves into various crews.

The mixology team attacked the Rooflitebiochar & compost, preparing the various growing media. The buns-of-steel crew ran the buckets to the third floor. The rooftop crew laid out pots, lined them with filter fabric and filled them to prescribed depths. Team Carpentry built platforms to elevate rain barrels and frames to stabilize the smaller pots. Go Dream Team!

The crews hummed along, adapting, taking care of things I hadn’t even considered. Two-way radios magically appeared allowing roof and ground to maintain easy contact. A stream of full buckets arrived at roof level as filled pots began to march out steady lines. A circular saw whined down below. Home made muffins appeared…and disappeared. A grill fired up. Mint Juleps in honor of Kentucky Derby day…

A few hours later it was done, and done better than I could have imagined.

Long distance award goes to Loraine Green who came all the way from Virginia to help with the install. Whew.
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