This is Bobby Glenn, the newest Gaining Ground intern,with a progress update. It is my plan to post a new blog every Monday to give highlights from the previous week and weekend. I hope to brighten the audience’s dreary Monday with exciting events that are occurring throughout state.

I moved to the Buehlers Wednesday, August 3rd to begin working with Gaining Ground. Upon arriving in Starkville, I met with the six freshman Day One Leadership students from Mississippi State University that will be volunteering with us over the next semester. They will build sustainable educational tools out of recyclable materials paired with lesson plans for the bus. The students received a tour of both Marion and Alison’s homes to show them several examples of sustainable living and decided to meet every Friday at 2:30. The following Friday they used tin snips to cut tin cans into flowers, painted the them, and attached the flowers to tomato stakes. It is our plan to sell the flowers at various festivals across the South in order to raise funds for the bus. This past Friday our Day One volunteers made two worm bins, a model of a lasagana garden, and painted aprons (which are also for sale).

The bus still looked a mess from the cross-country fundraising tour so I spent Thursday and Friday cleaning it out. Now it is my job to convert the bus from a “dorm room on wheels” to a “farm on wheels.” Over the past week I have added various models of sustainability to the bus. It now contains a trash can that folds open to display “what is in our garbage.” The teaching tool breaks down what can be reduce, reused, recycled, and composted in order to reduce the amount of garbage in landfills. I have begun plans to build a chicken coop, vegetable gardens, an aquaponics system, and the rain water catchment/irrigation system. The aquaponics system will gravity feed rainwater into a fish pond with floating plants, a rock garden, another fish pond, and finally be pumped back into the rain barrel. I reused the wood from the bunk beds to build a raised container (for gravity feeding purposes) to fit over the tire well. I also added a bee hive (without bees in it of course), a compost tumbler, a worm bin, a lasagna garden, solar lights, and a few flats of seedlings.

After the Day One students left Friday, I prepared to drive to the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs, MS for the annual Hummingbird Festival. The cooler weather, while it allowed for a productive week, caused problems with starting the bus. Allison, Mike, and I had to heat the engine block using a blow dryer, a heat light, and mirrors. Much to my surprise, it worked and I was able to make the Hummingbird Festival. I was not, however, able to use vegetable oil and we had to buy diesel. Earlier this morning we did order a magnetic heater to heat the vegetable oil and engine so that we can use waste vegetable oil in cold weather. While we were not able to raise much funds at the festival, we were able to reach a decent crowd. Plenty of people showed interest in the organic gardening techniques and hopefully many of them will use these techniques in their home gardens.

The past week was productive and hopefully the new week will be equally successful, if not more so. This weekend I will be in Ocean Springs for the Feast of Flavors so if you live on the coast be sure to come see me. Remember that such an inspiring project comes at a cost and please donate. Thanks to those who have already supported us. Look for the bus to come to a town near you so you can see what you have helped create. Bring friends and pocket books as well! Thanks and tune in next Monday for another update.