This post relates to our episode number 121 on community gardening. If you haven’t seen the episode yet, it’s available for viewing on our website here. Our challenge to tell the story of community gardening in America was daunting. With such a surge of interest in this topic, selling viewers on the benefits of these special places almost seemed like old news. Yet, every garden has a story and community gardens have the best.
The Interbay P-Patch in Seattle, Washington was no exception. With a long history and a very active and loyal community of volunteers and gardeners behind it, our entire episode could have started and finished here. And it just about did. Viewers will enjoy not only seeing the gardens, but meeting some of the regular cast of characters that pour their heart and soul into Interbay; a place they all come to love in a very short time. As much as we thoroughly enjoyed our day at Interbay, our plan for the show was to feature several gardens, presenting a different angle on each.
But for the purposes of this post, allow me to share with you a community garden project near and dear to my heart. Just imagine…a new community garden installed from start to finish in eight hours– bare ground that’s transformed into 20 (20×20) raised beds, thousands of bedding plants, hundreds of ornamental shrubs and vegetable seedlings from Burpee Home Gardens and a dozen or so trees. And to make sure it all happens in less than a day, throw in about 80 volunteers who descend upon the site as the sun is just breaking over the horizon.
That image is reality, and it happened in Portland, Oregon this May. It was just one of several installed this year by Fiskars and the ninth in the last two. You know the company—think orange and black. They’re the ones with the amazing pruners and other gardening tools and scissors. Dubbed Project Orange Thumb, they go around the country, identifying cities and communities that would benefit in a special way by having a turnkey community garden, all installed in a day.
Even more, these gardens aren’t just thrown together. The planning process begins months ahead and culminates in a well-orchestrated event. Thanks to the generous contribution of POT partners, the budget is huge for each garden. Suffice it to say, if you were rounding up, the cost of each project would have five zero’s!
Extravagant? I think not. How do measure the value that will no doubt come from the years of benefits to follow? Countless new and seasoned gardeners will cultivate the soil, care for their crops, converse with new friends and neighbors and build community with each other. Families will break ground together, harvest the fruits of their labor, and enjoy the bounty around the dinner table. It matters not the age, religion, race, political views or economic status of those who share space and time in a community garden. It is all good and that my friends is priceless.
Think you know of an area that would benefit from a community garden such as this? Apply directly to Fiskars to be considered for one of their Project Orange Thumb grants.