Susan Bokan Honored

Community Garden founder Susan Bokan, pictured at right, was honored with the “Tom Sawyer” Conservation Hero award at the Feast of the Fields dinner benefiting Saratoga P.L.A.N.  tonight at the Saratoga National Golf Course.

The award was presented by Barbara Glaser, Saratoga P.L.A.N.  Board Emeritus, to Susan for her Tom Sawyer-like abilities in getting so many people involved in the creation of the new community garden at Wesley in much the same way as Mark Twain’s character cajoled others into helping him paint Aunt Polly’s white picket fence.

At least a dozen of the volunteers were at the reception and raised paintbrushes in a salute to Susan for her successful project.  These included Brian Nealon, Wesley CEO; Mike Ingersoll, who design the overall raised bed plan; volunteers from the Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit in Milton and Steve Valentine who constructed the garden beds, Blogger and Master Gardener Natalie Walsh and members of the Saratoga Foundation.

In the photo above, Susan is shown receiving a hand-painted bird house.

Congratulations Susan for a job well done.

Jim Norton, Gardener and National Weather Service Observer

If you ask Jim Norton, “How’s the weather?” you may get more information than you expect.

Jim has been gathering statistics on the weather for the Albany Weather Forecast Office for at least 25 years as part of a nationwide program that depends on the observations of its volunteers.

The gardener of plot #10 at the Saratoga Springs Community Garden at Wesley, Jim has kept his eye on the sky since he was a youth. And every morning at 7 a.m. he carefully collects and records information on precipitation, wind direction,  sun and cloud cover, and the maximum, minimum and present temperature.  The rain gauge records the precipitation to within a hundredth of an inch. His reports are sent daily to the Albany weather office.

The data he, and about 100-150 other regional observers, collect provide scientists and researchers with continuous climatic observations that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Ray O’Keefe, Meteorologist in Charge, said these observers are “very important”  to the Albany Weather Forecast Office.

He explained that the observers fill in gaps and enrich what the the weather service’s satellite technology is reporting. For example, he noted the technology can warn that hail is likely, but the observers are the ones who report on the hail’s size, where and whether it is hitting the ground. “They provide us with the ground truth,” he said.

As a gardener, Jim is in good company with other record keepers. Thomas Jefferson kept nearly perfect weather records between 1776 and 1816. George Washington recorded weather observations, too. “I enjoy looking at the sky, watching. This is being part of nature,” he said.

Jim added that as a youth he had hoped to become an astronaut but by the time he applied he discovered he was considered too old. Instead he worked for 45 years for GE in a research lab taking pictures of integrated circuits. “They were just being developed then, now they are in everything,” he said.

In his garden plot at the community garden, Jim is growing corn, two kinds of lettuce, tomatoes, chives and more. He obviously is enjoying himself, “Oh my gosh, this is fantastic. It’s fun to be a part of this garden. I love it,” he said.

Raised Beds!

About a dozen people, including volunteers from the Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit and friends of Susan Bokan, started working on the raised beds today.

The raised beds are made of a rot resistant hemlock. The volunteers constructed the beds, moved them into place, leveled them and got them ready to be filled with soil.

Everyone worked hard and by the end of the day more than a dozen raised beds were constructed and the planting of the ‘Welcome Circle,’  a butterfly garden, was started. The garden is beginning to take shape. Hats off to the volunteers!

A crew will be at Wesley tomorrow continuing the job.

See the mound of soil in the second photo? It won’t be long before we are filling the beds and planting our first crops.