I have had an idea floating around in my head for the last few months but I'm having problems nailing down exactly what I'm wanting to do with the idea. I've driven DH to the brink talking about it non-stop so I'm hoping maybe you girls wouldn't mind helping me out with it.
It all started while I was driving around town one day. I was watching people plant their vegetable gardens and thinking about my own (or rather DH's) and then I just so happened to drive by a government subsidized apartment complex and saw a lady tending to a hanging tomato plant precariously hung outside her window. As I drove I started noticing all these empty lots and also the huge lots businesses have that they don't do anything with but mow and I started thinking about how much we could do with all of that openness and how many people we could help with the fresh produce. DH used to work in a town about 35 minutes from here for the same company he works for now, but at that building his company had a lot they weren't doing anything with so they tilled it up and use it for a vegetable garden. Basically, the employees can get plots in it and they plant it and care for it themselves. Someone else comes in everyday to make sure it gets watered if it needs to be, but the employees tend their own veggies. It's a nice way for them to be able to have a garden if they don't live somewhere they can grow one. A lot of the employees take advantage of it.
I've also read recently an article about a community that has a community garden and a "rec center" type place stocked with canning stuff. They get together and can their stuff up for the winter. I remember thinking, wow, what a wonderful way to get people healthy food, teach some canning skills and help people save money. I really liked that idea. But even if I could get some type of community garden off the ground, a canning place would probably come much later.
I just can't shake this very vague idea or feeling that I could get something together and do something with this idea. My problem lies in the reasoning for the garden. Would it be better to try to do a community garden where people that want a garden come together and tend one great big garden or would it be more useful to have a volunteer based garden and get the produce to the people in need via food pantries (Catholic Charities, FISH, ect)?
Does anyone have any thoughts or concerns? Can you help me streamline my idea into one I can maybe do something with? Do you have any experience, personal or anecdotal? Do you know of any areas where they have something like either idea that I could look into?
I really appreciate any help or criticism I just don't know who to go to for help IRL. I did e-mail my chiro today who is very in to nutrition and I think he'll be interested, but whether he'll have time to help me with the idea is up in the air.
Thanks in advance!
There are actually quite a few community gardens around here. Some are at local parks, others at non-profit facilities and the homeless shelter, and others at churches. They all have raised beds and people rent them for a nominal fee. I think someone does all the watering and individual owners do the actual gardening themselves.
It would be awesome to create a garden to serve a food bank. There are lots of rules about what sorts of food they can take and serve though, so you'll need to look into that.
It is a good idea! Maybe start making inquiries at the local gov't level and with some non-profits at might be interested.
I asked the local food banks and they said they do take fresh produce.
We have a number of community gardens here. There are both ones where people tend their own patch for their own use, and where a collection of volunteers tend the whole thing for a common purpose, often a church or community center. Here are a few local articles that mention some of the grants & companies that have helped make them happen. I would suggest contacting some of them to see if they can offer help, either directly or by putting you in touch with a similar group in your area. Or at least Google some of their key terms plus your area... Good luck, what a great thing to put your time & energy into!
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I don't really have any experience or advice with community gardens (although there is one at the park that I sometimes run around and I love seeing all of the plants and produce popping up) but I just wanted to say that I think it's a fabulous idea and I would love to hear what you end up doing with it.
If possible, I think it would be great if you could get the actual community that would be served by the garden involved in maintaining it. Just because I think it would be really uplifting and really build a sense of community if everyone worked on it together and then shared the fruits of their labors.
-Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)
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A friend of mine brought up a really great point. I should get the U of I extension office involved or at the very least try to get some ideas from them. I have been talking to my chiro who is very interested and is going to get his wife involved. I have already had a couple people contact me with ideas on ground and some funding
I do think the idea about getting the community involved and making it "theirs", they tend it and reap the rewards, is a great idea too. I am really heading that direction (for now). I also want to try to do something along the lines of encouraging donations to the food banks for the "extras" that everyone always seems to have.
I also got another great idea/thought from someone I talked to in the community. The lady and her DH own a couple of the independent living facilities in town and she mentioned my idea to some of the people living there and there is a lot of interest coming from them. Like she said, some of them were used to always having a garden and it might be nice for them to have somewhere they can continue to garden. She is going to talk to the company that takes care of the transportation for her facilities and see if we can arrange transportation for them. She also said she would love to help in any way that she can!! Yay!!!!
Love the idea. When I lived in Seattle we rented rather than owned, and we used to participate in the p-patch program. http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/ppatch/ It was AWESOME both from a community/beautification/education/organic perspective as well as from a generating food for food banks program. It sounds a lot like what you are talking about, though it was not necessarily geared just towards low income families.
Go for it! In addition to the elderly, see if there is a local farm to school program near you http://www.farmtoschool.org/ I bet they would be all over getting involved in such a program!!!