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
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.
Thanks again Jim.
All my best,
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
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
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
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
Seinfeld (well kind of, NYC) volunteers in the garden
The Okra Pickin' Engineer or
Community Garden harvested record tomato crop after
spraying the plants with a defoliant.
Most stories are not as long as the one
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
Film at 11.