Re: Selling the Garden
- Subject: Re: [cg] Selling the Garden
- From: Adam36055@aol.com
- Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2002 08:58:36 EST
I looked at the City Year website and found it to be awfully impressive,
(i.e., young, idealistic folks giving a year of their lives in a program
similar to Vista, but organized as freestanding, non-for profit like Habitat
for Humanity serving urban communities). A great program. America is better
because you exist.
I'd first like to send a thank-you to everyone who sent me resources on
starting up a garden. While planning has gone well, the garden project that
City Year is working on in Columbia, SC is experiencing a big hang-up.
We've managed to talk to potential sponsors and received some positive
feedback, but finding an actual location has been difficult. Both
low-income housing developments we've called are quite reluctant to give up
the space, and the neighborhood we've focused on has community members that
are, for one reason or another, resistant.
We've scheduled a speaking time at one community meeting. I've also put in
some calls to city council. Does anyone have good tips on selling the idea
of a garden >>
This is in addition to the wonderful suggestions that Jim Call of the CASA
gardens in Alabama sent you.
I'm playing devil's advocate here: As someone who has seen "gifts" given to
communities that don't understand them devolve into something worse, I
suggest you reevaluate your proposal in the face of the neighborhood
opposition you are experiencing. Perhaps, rather than putting on your green
cape and setting all these folks to doing something the community is
opposing, you might ask what the perceived needs are in that community and
work to address them in your "year."
I have found that community gardens have a greater chance of success and
sustainability when they are started by neighborhood residents, when they
grow from the roots up. Because, when the outsiders go away, if there's no
grassroots support, you have an empty lot again.
Community gardens can be started in one season, but their establishment as
vital, community connected entities takes a few years to make happen. The
symbiosis between a garden and a community takes time -- it's like a
Please forgive me for assuming, but if you're not local, there may be some
opposition from an outsider who looks, talks and maybe prays differently than
the target community and is bringing in a whole bunch of "outsiders" to do
something that the affected members of the community may think is on the odd
Please understand that "community gardening is good for you" is one of my
core beliefs. ( My rabbi, who doesn't see me much on Saturdays during the
summer suspects that this may be THE core belief, a no-no for a monotheist.
Doing both can be amusing in the fall when I sometimes appear at early
afternoon garden preservation rallies dressed in coat and tie, not like a
gardener -- hard on the shoe shine, especially when I have to prune
something. Adam does need to go back to the garden...)
O.K. You really want to do this - All politics is local: Maybe before you
make your presentation, you should talk to some South Carolinian master
gardeners who have community gardened this in the region.
This was culled from a gardening page on the Carolina living web page:
1) In South Carolina, Greenville County Master Gardeners have created a
community garden to feed local residents. Master Gardeners Carol McLaurin and
Kris Burton, with help and encouragement from Master Gardener Jim Wilson, a
gardening celebrity and spokesperson for the "Plant a Row" program, organized
their fellow Master Gardeners to create a community garden in the backyard of
the Project Host Soup Kitchen downtown. Nine raised beds located just a few
steps from the kitchen provide fresh vegetables from spring to early winter.
Everyone is welcome to work in the garden and no prior experience is
required, Ms. McLaurin says. "Besides Master Gardeners, we've had all kinds
of local groups and individuals sharing their time here."
2) A Senior Citizen's community garden has been started in what I believe is
a more affluent community. Why not talk to these folks? A former corporate
executive or attorney who's gotten the community garden bug might be an
interesting advocate for the city fathers, especially if he's Republican and
" A much younger, 21st Century community garden was created at Sun City
Hilton Head in Bluffton, South Carolina. The residents of this
state-of-the-art retirement community enjoy the same benefits common to all
who participate in a community garden: fresh produce and flowers, exercise,
and fellowship. Their gardening group, organized by Bob and Nancy Ann
Ciehanski, calls themselves the "Okatie Farmers." They rent garden plots to
residents for a nominal fee.
"The purpose of our community garden is twofold," says Mr. Ciehanski. "First,
we want to have a variety of fresh, homegrown vegetables available to our
residents. Second, we're here to have fun!" A long waiting list for gardening
acreage has prompted the Ciehanskis and Sun City staff to begin planning more
space than its current 54 plots." [Hint - ACGA membership and development
committee, maybe you might visit with these folks if you're in the area. ]
Good luck. If you don't get buy-in for the CG project, the South Carolina
"Harvest Hope Food Bank" could certainly use the volunteers.
I also read on the City Year website that you are planning an initiative in
Little Rock in spring 2003. Your organization may want to contact the
AUGER community garden program (and my good buddy Pratt Remmell of the
Dunbar gardens) <A HREF="http://www.auger-ar.org/">AUGER.</A> If you really
want to make an impact in Little Rock, you might want to contact the good
folks at the Arkansas Hunger Coalition, <A
HREF="http://www.arkansashunger.org/index.html">Arkansas Hunger Coalition</A>
which serves as a clearing house for food security efforts in Little Rock and
through out the whole state. The work done by food security workers in this
state (mostly volunteers) is remarkable.
And while setting up a community garden would be my idea of a great way to
spend a year, maybe you should ask the locals what they need, what they want,
rather than "selling" them something. The approach is different: Rather
than, "look what we're giving you, " it's really more like, "how can I help?"
. If you're the people who help fix up grandma's house, educate the kids or
feed people, this won't keep you from community gardening on a small piece of
forgotten land on the side.
Many of the best community gardens have been efforts created "on the side" by
very busy people. I belong to one.
Volunteer <A HREF="http://www.clintoncommunitygarden.org/">Clinton Community
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