Friday, October 30, 2015

Growing a Team


Straw bale garden
(Photo credit: Carson NF, Tres Piedras RD)

 Growing a Team

(Submitted as part of the 2015 Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge IGNITE the Spark for Leadership Contest)

Task

The main task of the Growing a Team project was to build, cultivate and share a straw bale garden. Straw bale gardening can be done anywhere water and sunlight are available. The bale is saturated, and then fertilized with very inexpensive nitrogen pellets. Within two weeks the bale starts to naturally decompose and become its own organic planting ground. The general gardening idea along with tips and tricks was derived from the book Straw Bale Gardens by Joel Karsten. Our team’s garden was constructed behind the fire cache at our ranger station in northern New Mexico. We substituted alfalfa bales for straw that were donated to the effort by the range program.

A zen space
(Photo credit: Carson NF, Tres Piedras RD)
Straw bale gardening
(Photo credit: Carson NF, Tres Piedras RD)


Purpose

The purpose was to put together an easy, minimum-effort garden. The garden was intended to serve as a “zen” spot. Anyone could escape to get away from their desk or away from the phone, snap into a string bean, take a breath of fresh air and reset the mind so they could more effectively tackle the rest of the day. The garden was to be constructed by multiple functions to create team input, buy-in, ownership, and mostly shared benefit.

Straw bale garden
(Photo credit: Carson NF, Tres Piedras RD)
Fresh vegetables
(Photo credit: Carson NF, Tres Piedras RD)

End State

The end state was to be a non-obtrusive but pleasant diversion for members of the office to reap some homegrown produce. I don’t know what it is exactly, but there seems to be a quiet joy and satisfaction derived from enjoying produce that is picked by the individual. It is instantly therapeutic. In this day and age when there is so much emphasis on natural foods and their health benefits, this provides the vehicle for your team to enjoy the benefits of an improved diet. This would take a well-planned and fairly prolific garden to successfully accomplish but is easily conceivable and theoretically not difficult. I don’t mean to plug the book, but detailing straw bale garden success would just be reinventing the wheel. Our garden was mildly successful but as most things go, the first try is usually less successful than desired. A larger group to share the burden would have been helpful but also the honest trial and error of garden placement will have an effect on results as well.

Aaron Livingston
Assistant Engine Captain
Carson National Forest, Tres Piedras Ranger District
For more information on the Growing a Team project contact Aaron @ alivingston@fs.fed.us

2015 Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge logo

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