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single mothers gardening

  • Subject: [cg] single mothers gardening
  • From: Steve Smoot <steveshome@juno.com>
  • Date: Tue, 30 Mar 2004 07:10:14 -0800

Hi Everyone,

What is particularly compelling about the following story of a community garden is that the garden was initiated by a group of single mothers.

I'm pleased to be one of those local greenhouse owners "planning to provide seedlings for planting in May."

Steve, From My Garden

Monday, March 29, 2004


Agricultural revolution

Liz Kishimoto
Draceryn Fowler, 3, balances dirt on his plastic shovel as Jacinta Gau, left, and Melinda Roberts help create a new community garden on North Summit Boulevard.

Benjamin Shors - Staff writer

Next to an asphalt parking lot in north Spokane, a group of single mothers made plans for sweet peas, carrots and pumpkins on Sunday.

Jill Murray, 28, pushed a rototiller through the empty lot, churning the grass into soil. Jesika Fowler, 22, helped build frames for five vegetable beds. Nearby, toddlers dipped drinking cups into a mound of black soil and dumped them into a wheelbarrow.

"It's not even going to be a bath tonight," one mother said, sighing. "It's going to be mud."

The urban garden, behind Summit View Apartments at 820 N. Summit Blvd., was the idea of Fowler, whose sons love vegetables. She said she'd heard of other community gardens around the city.

"I said, `Why couldn't we do that here?"' Fowler said.

The women received help from the Spokane Regional Health District and Second Harvest Food Bank of the Inland Northwest. A landscaping company donated soil, and local greenhouses are planning to provide seedlings for planting in May.

The health district's Growing Neighborhood Action Team used funding from a University of Washington grant to pay for supplies. The program works to increase awareness about obesity.

Nationwide, the percent of overweight children ages 6 to 19 has tripled since 1980. In Spokane County, the number of obese adults rose from 14 percent to 26 percent in the past three years.

"It seems that children are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables if they have been part of the growing process," said Heleen Dewey, planning director for the health district. "Healthy habits are developed early in life."

Fowler said her children like fresh fruits and vegetables, but her limited budget can make them seem prohibitively costly.

"We all have the same goal, which is to give our children fresh fruit and vegetables," she said. "But they're expensive."

Murray said she spends about $250 a month on food for her family. She planned to plant tomatoes, carrots and peas.

"This will save so much money," she said. "If we can save on veggies, we can spend more on meat."

Skyler York, a community gardens coordinator for Second Harvest, said each of the five beds would provide enough produce for three people for the summer.

In addition to the Summit View garden, York is working on individual gardens with about 20 families -- most of whom were on a waiting list from last summer. He also plans to open a 30-bed community garden in northwest Spokane.

"At some point," he said, "I'd like to see community gardens in every neighborhood."

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