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Re: Need some major advice....

  • Subject: Re: [cg] Need some major advice....
  • From: budge@magicaldesk.com
  • Date: Tue, 15 Oct 2002 03:36:13 +0800


I'm not sure if this will help you or not, but hey, you never know, right?

I am not part of a community garden, so I should probably say why I joined this list. I am the conservator of a woman with a developmental disability who lives in a group home with three other individuals. Two are in wheelchairs, one of those is also blind, and the third is, for all intents and purposes, a 6 foot tall toddler. The house that they live in has a large yard with a southern exposure. Unfortunately, the house sits on the high point of the lot with the yard sloping down to the street. It is too steep for the wheelchairs - or even my ward who has some difficulties getting around. It is also too open to allow our strapping, very fast friend (who is currently in the hospital after having abdominal surgery to remove something he shouldn't have eaten) out into it either. I have discussed the situation at some length with my brother in law, who is a landscape architect in another state, and he has agreed to do the necessary design work pro bono, but I need to come up with money and help from other gardeners to make it a success - group homes aren't exactly rolling in cash, so I need to figure out who might fund such an activity, as well as who has expertise locally (I'm from out of state, so even though I grew up gardening and have had a couple of hugely successful balcony gardens, I haven't worked much with the local soil conditions and also would prefer that this be a community activity because neither the residents nor the staff are going to be able to maintain it).

At any rate, I joined this list in hopes of learning things that might be useful in my quest to make this bit of land safe and enjoyable for my ward and her housemates.

To your questions - I'm not sure how to get people involved in this gardening project of mine, so if you figure that out, I'd be thrilled to learn it. However, I agree with your insight in to the nature of gardening and gardeners. The biggest drawback to me for a community garden is that I have never lived anywhere that had a garden close enough to walk to and with that being true, having to drive to one makes it seem too far away. There are two main reasons I love to grow things - I love to watch it. There's something miraculous about something the size of a tomato seed that can grow to be an 8 ft long vine and produce hundreds of delicious yellow plum tomatoes. It's fascinating and exciting to me.

Also, for me, pulling weeds, dead heading, watering, transplanting, potting up - all of that brings me a sense of quiet and calm that I have not been able to find in group activities. Gardening soothes my soul, it connects me to the earth the way nothing else here does. Gardening with others in tow would be enjoyable on a limited basis, but without the contemplative joy of it, I do not think I would enjoy it half so much.

So, here's my suggestion - have you considered contacting groups for the disabled? Day programs, group homes, half way houses for the mentally ill - all of those places and those people could, in my opinion, benefit greatly from the work of gardening, they are also, again in my opinion, quite likely to become devoted supporters and helpers once they get taken in by it. They may not be candidates for your board, but if you get the population involved, the staff is likely to follow.

Pamela Budge
St. Paul, MN

deborah@greencure.org wrote on 10/14/2002
Hello Everyone,

I am going to pose a few major questions that I need insight from gardeners
as a whole. I know nothing is carved in stone but an insight came to us
yesterday at our general meeting/mixer in support of Green Cure. The insight
was that gardening is a solitary sort of endeavor where many do not want the
"social" aspect of what a community garden can bring. As a result, when
rallying for support, often times the gardeners themselves are not there
because they are not the "type" of people to be "out front" in the public's
eye. This is neither "good" nor "bad" it is just so. If this is true, there
has to be another forum or "type" of people that will help. Of course their
motives will be different but how can I get to them and who the heck are

The goal of this gathering was to get more interested people on board
(literally and figuratively speaking). As an organization we are at that
awkward age of where we will "grow" or stay "status quo". Since I am the
founder, of course, I would like to see us grow and become stronger in our
community. My expertise really lies in creating and implementing gardening
programs. For example, youth garden and Horticultural therapy programs.
Presently I am serving as President and Executive Director, which is way too
much! Our most dire need is to find someone to take over being President and
to get more people involved so I don't have to do it all.

Aside from our community garden membership we have a general membership
where individuals receive our newsletter plus get discounts at two local
merchants and other educational material. Evidently it is enticing to some
but not enough to keep the memberships rolling in or the amount of
individuals to come out and help us when it is needed. The sense I get is
"Oh, Green Cure is doing great things and we support you" verbally of

My first question is how can we successfully recruit more individuals to
become members at large, board members etc. I feel we are hoeing down the
wrong row completely. Is it more incentives from merchants? Or more garden
talks that members can attend for free? What am I missing here?

My second question is, if the majority of gardeners themselves do not want
to get involved because they are loners who want to be with nature and not
people, where do I go to get people to help?

Lay it on me folks..

Thanks in advance,
Deborah Mills

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to Click to bookmark this address http://www.communitygarden.org

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