Like a perfect storm, elements have come together to foster an increased interest in community gardening. That’s why we hear the term more and more lately. Whether you just want to grow flowers or provide fresh food for your family, community gardens provide many more benefits than just the tangible ones.
Joe travels to Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio to speak with Bobby Wilson, President of the American Community Gardening Association. ACGA was founded just over 30 years ago to provide technical assistance to individuals and groups that have a desire and the means to grow fresh vegetables. Their website is chock full of information for anyone seeking to find a community garden in their area or to begin the process of creating one.
Bobby feels the White House Victory Garden and Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack have been a positive influence in the resurgence of community gardens. The White House garden is the first since the Victory Gardens of WWI and WWII and Secretary Vilsak is well versed in inner city gardens and their advantages. This, combined with individuals being concerned about where their food comes from, has been a catalyst driving more people than ever to grow their own food to feed their families. This year and last year alone, sales of vegetable seeds outweighed that of flower seeds.
But the tangibles pale in comparison to the spirit gardens bring to the inner city. Generational and cultural boundaries are transcended, teaching opportunities abound, neighborhoods are united, and ecosystems are created that provide green space.
Joe, Patti and Nathan visit the Interbay P-Patch in Seattle, Washington for an early spring look at what is taking place at this 37 year old community garden; the largest and most active in the area. Ray Schutte, Master Gardener and Site Coordinator, reveals some of the challenges and history of the garden telling Joe about the benefits he has witnessed for his community calling soil the “great equalizer”. An apt title as soil and weather don’t care if you are rich or poor or where you come from…everyone gets treated the same.
And it’s not gardening just to suit gardeners at Interbay. They are a very active organization that gives back to the community as well. Nathan speaks with Master Gardener Deb Rock who coordinates their charity program. Of the 70 gardens in the area, 48 – 50 have food bank plots and collectively donate 27-28,000 pounds of fresh organic produce to food banks, meals on wheels, transition housing and shelters for men and women every year. Now, that’s impressive!
Chef Nathan uses fresh kale from the garden in his recipe for Ribollita Soup, a hearty, comforting meal just right for those evenings when the temperatures dip.
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