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
Toledo Botanical Garden
5403 Elmer Drive