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Agency gardens....I need advice

  • Subject: [cg] Agency gardens....I need advice
  • From: "Shelly Collins" <tgrows@toledogarden.org>
  • Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2002 10:05:19 -0400

I'm Shelly, coordinator of community gardens in Toledo, and fairly new to this listserve.   In Toledo we have around 40 community gardens of different types--neighborhood gardens, children's gardens, donation-type gardens, rehab center gardens, etc.  Some gardens are well established, and all have either a volunteer leader or a staff of an agency who coordinates the garden.  We support these gardens by rototilling them, providing educational programs, and coordinating the distribution of resources, donations, volunteers, etc. 
One problem that I would love to get some input from others on is how to have more stable agency gardens.  One agency that is very supportive is our local housing authority.   There are gardens at most sites and they support them in many different ways including building raised beds as needed, hauling compost that we have donated, assigning staff to transport residents to garden meetings, etc. 
Other agencies flounder and struggle year after year because of staff changes, changes in clients/participants, etc.  Yesterday a visit to the Cherry Street Mission was a  big disappointment.  CSM is a homeless shelter, soup kitchen & rehab center in downtown Toledo.  They have had a garden for 6 years now, and some years it has been fabulous.  It was questionable whether or not they would even have a garden this year because of a change in executive directors.  I "talked them into it".  Maybe that's not the best thing to do but over the years we have invested alot into that garden--loads and loads of compost, staff time, fruit trees, grape arbor, etc., so I don't want to let the garden go (without a fight).  I found out yesterday that they had changed the person in charge of the garden (an intern in the rehab program).  The garden itself is a mess, and no one there can tell a cucumber plant from a tomato plant.  In order to save that garden this year, it will take alot of staff time on our part (plus I have a volunteer available a couple of hours a week.)  We need to get the rototiller in there and till the "lost cause" areas, and hold their hands through summer plantings and garden maintenance.  And suppose the exec. director has a change of heart next year and nixes the garden...?  I welcome ideas of how to better work with agencies who have gardens. 
We are stardust  .  .  . we are golden  .  .  . and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.
Shelly Collins
Toledo GROWs Manager
Toledo Botanical Garden
5403 Elmer Drive
Toledo, Ohio  43615

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