Friday, May 18, 2012

Re-purposed Rabbit Hutches

Our community garden, Poppin' Fresh
acquired two young meat rabbits from a local breeder. 
Hutches were a necessity but with no funds,
we knew that ingenuity was key.

Why spend a bunch of cash on new materials
when you can get them for free?
There's a simple philosophy, once wide-spread
but quickly dissipating in America: 

Use what you've got to make what you need.

Some of you may remember this hutch Sean built:

Hutch #1, before shingles.

Compared to the traditional rabbit hutches for sale, 
this two-story abode is a luxury home
for our plump New Zealand bunnies! 

This week we delivered Hutch #2 to Poppin' Fresh,
and boy is it an upgrade!

Hutch #2, the  Bunny Palace.

 This hutch is mostly comprised of a discarded dormitory desk.
We got two desks for free from the MSU Surplus Store.
  (Side note: The Surplus Store is amazing and well worth a visit!)

Modest beginnings.

We fenced them in to deter
  neighborhood dogs and other dangers.
They're on the north side of our garage, 
so they're protected from the weather, too.

Fun fact: The wooden fence sections came to us from
a neighbor who was about to throw them away.
(Thanks, Mike)

We let the rabbits graze on our impressive
dandylion crop using our converted chicken / rabbit tractor!

We've been working on a few little projects
in addition to the big spring planting push.
There are plenty of greens in the ground
(Swiss Chard, lettuce, spinach, kale)
and our radishes are starting to crown
up out of the soil.

Arugula Flowers!

My favorite in-season treat this week
are the thousands of arugula flowers 
all over the Garden. Arugula leaves are edible and
often found in salads. They taste slightly peppery.
Their flowers are also edible!
I eat them like popcorn.

Yesterday we picked up about a dozen
Brussel Sprout starts from The Garden Project.
Pumpkins, squash, and other delicious things
are just starting to germinate in our hoop house.
Oh, and tomatoes!

 To help new volunteers find their way around,
I painted a sign for each bed.
They're a little quirky, but they work.

We've sort of neglected the front of Poppin' Fresh,
which probably irks the neighbors a bit.
This week I ripped the over-grown wildflowers
sown last year in "decorative" beds.
I replaced them with some Alyssum seedlings,
a few Thyme plants and a bunch of German Chamomile. 
Some Goblin seeds, too, but they won't
germinate for another week, at least.

One of two front beds, and the main gate.

The front gate looks a bit bare at the moment,
but we plan to train our cucumber plants up either side.
I hope it works!

The most important project of all was completed this week:


 If you don't have water, you don't have a garden.
It's as simple as that.
We don't have a well, and we certainly don't have
a hook-up to city water or the fire hydrant,
like other gardens in the area.

Our rain barrel set-up is our one
source of water for all of our plants.
Sean and friends "liberated" gutters
from a nearby house slotted to be demolished.
We connected them to our storage garage,
then hooked up a tiered rain-barrel system.
At the moment we have six barrels
attached to this garage, daisy-chained together
with an overflow system to collect
as much as possible during those torrential
Michigan rainstorms.

If only we had more than 
two watering cans...

If you live in the Lansing area you should come check it out!
We're always in need of a few extra hands.
We'll let you pet the bunnies, show you around our plot(s),
feed you some Arugula flowers and send you home with
some of whatever is ready to be harvested.
Email me and I'll tell you a bit more,
or keep an eye on the Learning Leaves Facebook page.

("Learning Leaves" encompasses Poppin' Fresh, Leaf Lot,
Marvin's Gardens and other bits of dirt we scratch at.)

See Also:Urban Farming and Community Gardening in Lansing, Michigan

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