Garden Project – Community Improvement & Educational Tool
The garden, located across from (and being built in partnership with) the North Richmond YMCA, will be used as an educational tool to teach children about sustainability, good agricultural practices, and the delight that comes with knowing how to grow one’s own food and work in a way that heals, not hurts, the planet.
The project has made extensive use of recycled materials. For instance, the raised beds in which the garden’s plants are grown were built from an old oak tree that had come down in a storm. The boxes are very solid, and the project took advantage of lumber that may have otherwise gone to waste, thereby both saving money and sensibly using a natural resource. “Biological woodsmen” practice something similar by adopting a “worst-first” mentality when cutting down trees in the forest, selecting trees that have been damaged by weather or disease. The lumber from such trees is still perfectly usable, and the felling of healthy, oxygen-producing trees is avoided to the greatest extent possible. In using a tree that had already toppled, we took the same approach.
The project’s volunteers are also in the process of building a garden shed in which to store the garden’s tools; you can see the progress we’ve made so far in the pictures. For the shed’s posts we used store-bought lumber, but much of the other material is coming from re-used lumber. For instance, the shed’s door came from a local salvage yard, and we managed to find a construction site that donated a supply of two-by-fours to use in the construction. Oftentimes you’ll find that in the process of saving money, you help the environment as well.
The local community has been extensively involved in this project. We have had volunteers painting the exterior siding for the garden shed, for instance, and numerous local businesses have donated materials. As the building of the shed progresses, we will have more volunteers on hand to help in the final phases of construction, and next spring there will be people supervising the cultivation of the garden itself and teaching young people about the benefits and virtues of living sustainability.
Perhaps a community garden’s best benefit lies in its name: it brings together a community working for a good cause. Such a gathering of people is not only good in and of itself, as it strengthens community bonds and helps people become aware of issues related to agriculture and sustainability, but it is also very fun— and you will get to eat some great produce!
If you happen to look around in your own neighborhood and see a disused or abandoned plot of land, consider investigating the possibility of starting a community garden on it; find out who owns it and if they would be interested in putting it to better use. The best agriculture makes the earth healthier, and the best community gardens make a community healthier, as well. Look into it!
About the Author: An English major, rabid reader and intensely dedicated locavore / greenie, Daniel divides most of his time between tending chickens, reading Sir Albert Howard and engaging in an eternal battle with the squirrels for supremacy over his backyard garden.