11 Oaks seeks new name

From staff reports

Local Leelanau group 11 Oaks has been teaching subsistence farmers in developing countries how to use recycled water and simple drip irrigation to grow vegetables during drought. Since 2005, working in Africa and Central America, the non-profit charity has installed nearly 20 miles of pipe at orphanages, schools, hospitals, and in villages.

“11 Oaks has historically worked in hard-to-reach places where access to modern technology is very limited,” says Mike Binsfeld, an officer of the NGO. “Our simple techniques for growing food year round are appropriate for those situations. But there are millions suffering from food insecurity in urban locations as well, and we are expanding our work to include them. It’s time for a name change that better reflects our global mission”.

To that end, 11 Oaks is having a contest to come up with a new name and here’s your chance to get involved. The winner will receive two plane tickets to accompany a local group that will visit Safe Passage in Guatemala in February.

The ideal new title would represent 11 Oaks concerns with growing vegetables in both urban and rural situations under the most difficult of circumstances. It should also Google well and be a unique website.

11 Oaks co-founder Susan Skellenger explains that, “the original name, back in 2005, was intentionally vague because we were not completely sure where the future would lead. Our research farm in Empire, where we developed our irrigation methods, had 11 oak trees growing along the driveway. We knew that someday we’d need a new name, and that time has come.”

Executive Director Chris Skellenger spent some time last winter at the ECHO Global Research Farm in Florida where he was able to study time-tested urban food growing methods. “We’re excited to partner with a great locally based group, Great Lakes Friends of Safe Passage, to work in the urban ghetto surrounding the garbage dump in Guatemala City. We’ve been studying and experimenting with rooftop, often soil-less, gardening techniques that are appropriate for crowded, contaminated conditions. The winner who submits the new name for 11 Oaks will be awarded plane tickets to accompany some Great Lakes Friends to Guatemala and be in for a heart-warming, eye-opening experience. It’s very inspirational, I know, because I’ve been there.”

The new name and its author will be announced at 11 Oaks sixth annual fundraiser, to be held Sept. 11 on the deck at Boonedocks in Glen Arbor, from 3 to 6 p.m. This is a great community event and a great time to come out and see all your friends and neighbors after the busy summer season. Don’t miss it.

The deadline to submit new name suggestions is Aug. 31. Please visit www.11Oaks.org and submit your suggestions through any of the ‘Contact Us’ buttons. Put your thinking cap on and ‘Good Luck’. Learn more about the Urban Garden Project at www.safepassage.org and www.echonet.org/content/urbanGardening.