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Re: The 150K Community Garden

  • Subject: Re: [cg] The 150K Community Garden
  • From: "Deborah Mills" deborah@greencure.org
  • Date: Thu, 24 Oct 2002 22:22:18 -0700

 
Jim,
 
I love your story. It's a story of how life sometimes goes.
 
Those who have the $$$'s do not have a "clue" and those who do, don't have the $$$'s. All of us, with the work we are doing, need to recognize the importance the situation we have laid out in front of us. Often times we all speak from the heart, which always (but sometimes does) doesn't bring us the funds we need. One little clue I have learned along my travels is: "Know who you are speaking to". In one public meeting, I couldn't stand it any longer, I got up and spoke from the heart. I clearly stated that community gardens are my passion, to try to drive home my point. Afterwards, a person "in standing" pointed out that chocolate can also be a passion. I should use the term "business" and not passion. Try it sometime.
 
Let me expand upon this concept. Often times many of us who do things from the heart, people do not place a value on it. I have learned that many people and groups love the concept of community gardening and/or gardening programs but they want us to do it all as a volunteer. Not only are we suppose to run the program we are also suppose to secure the funds etc. The way I have nipped this problem in the bud is by clearly stating, "Well of course this project sounds terrific and it can happen since this is what I do for a living!". The magic words are: "what I do for a living". Do not paraphrase it with other words. They have to be exact. When people hear these words they know a dollar amount is attached and if they expect you to do it for free, they will immediately shut-up and it goes no further.
 
I apologize for my rambling but age (one good thing about getting older) does have wisdom. We don't have the time to try to convince people of the "good" we do. They either "get it" or they don't. Move on.
 
This story reminds me of when I was in the restaurant business. Everyone in the world thinks it would be fantastic to own a restaurant. The vision of being the "owner" outweighs the fact of long hours, scrubbing floors and cleaning toilets. Not too glamorous. It's a nice thought but many don't want to go there.
 
As we all know, community gardens do come from the heart, we just need the right buzz words to get them going. As to the big $$'s, it's a moment in time and not based in reality. They missed the point completely. If we could learn how to secure the big $$'s we wouldn't have the opportunities to do the work we do because most likely we would have "sold out". It's like the Twilight Zone. Hmmmm.
 
Thanks again Jim.
 
All my best,
Deborah Mills
Green Cure, Inc.
 
PS Maybe this is my way of soothing the pain from missing out on all that dough! =)
 
 
 

 As previously promised (for Deborah Mills), the 150K Community Garden story (go get some coffee, this may take a while... AH).
 
A Little Background:  As many of you know, Alabama, for the most part is not exactly the metropolis of many of our northern states so therefore the term "community garden" for the most part is unknown in this state.  In fact, most of the folks in my city of Huntsville are unaware of the CASA Community Garden.  Ninety-eight percent (98 %) of those who know of our garden call it the CASA Garden, its original name.  About 3 or so years again, I asked CASA to change its name to the CASA Community Garden because its exist only because of community volunteers.
 
Here we go:  This past April, I received a call from a Master Gardener in a small town in LA, that's Lower Alabama in these parts.  This lady had been in the audience when I was conducting a session at our state MG conference.  She called to asked for help for a lady who was starting up a community garden in her small town of less than 5,000 (for privacy purposes, all names will remain anonymous).  So she begins to describe how this particular lady who hadn't lived in the town too long had received a federal grant for 150K to start up a community garden.  She had to spend about 50K per year (3 years) on this program.  So as I understood it, she had been granted the used of an abandoned football field (hard to believe in Alabama) and had spent money on prepping the site and installing an underground sprinkler system with individual spigots for individual plots.  The purpose of the grant was to help provide vegetables to the poor (most were) in this rural town/county. 
 
Envision This:  So... here we sit with a huge open field primed for planting in the height of spring all ready for these community gardeners to pay $25.00 per year to garden in their individual irrigated plot.  What a deal, if you live in downtown NY, but in rural Alabama, well you guessed it, nobody was interested.  This lady had group meetings with church and civic groups to try to convince them to come to her "community" garden.  So, this lady on the phone was asking me for advice on correcting the problem.  I told her "you can't put a round peg in a square hole".  Period.   I asked her why would anyone in their right mind want to drive their old broken down gas guzzler (most rural poor do not own the most gas efficient vehicles) half away across the county to garden in a small plot.  Plus, someone is asking them to pay money to use this tiny plot.  You got to be kidding.  Most small town folks have a garden 10 times this size in their backyard.  It's right outside their backdoor and "Hey, its free!".
 
I asked how this lady had gotten the idea that a  "community garden" of this type would work in this environment?  "Well" she said. "she doesn't come from these parts".  I said, "where did she come from?".  She said she lived most of her life in a northern state where they used to have gardens like this. 
 
I'm not sure how they resolved their dilemma, but I wish (as most of you do) the CASA Community Garden could have some of that grant money.  I never heard from her again.
 
When I get some time, maybe I will tell about:   Gino, the Italian photographer and his models comes to the garden or
                                                                     Seinfeld (well kind of, NYC) volunteers in the garden    or
                                                                     The Okra Pickin' Engineer    or
                                                                     CASA Community Garden harvested record tomato crop after
                                                                           spraying the plants with a defoliant.
Most stories are not as long as the one
above. I plan to update the www.casagarden.com
website this winter.  I want to add a special
page dedicated to short stores and advice in the garden.
 
Hope you enjoyed, 
 
Jim Call, CASA Community Garden Volunteer Director
 
PS - cross your fingers, if it doesn't rain tonight, the "ripper" is coming to the garden.  (http://www.casagarden.com/ripper.html)
Film at 11. 
 
 
 


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