Archive for April, 2009

Gardens that cultivate community

Who says healthy local food is only accessible to the affluent? Yonat Shimron has an excellent feature in today’s Raleigh News and Observer about the proliferation of community gardens in the Triangle that entice all kinds of folks to grow food for themselves and for their neighbors. In each case, gardeners are discovering a new sense of community along with a home-grown diet that is good for the planet and their health.

Most of the community plots are associated with churches, Shimron reports. The most successful one was launched by Cedar Grove United Methodist Church in northern Orange County, as a way to heal the community after the murder of a local man in a nearby bait-and-tackle shop in 2005.

Anathoth Community Garden, now in its fourth season, sits on five acres and has about 75 member families, nearly half of them minorities. Last year they produced a ton of sweet potatoes, 800 pounds of Irish potatoes and an array of other fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers in a raised-bed garden and solar greenhouse.

This garden is a co-op; members pay $5 a year and must work at least two hours a week and they do not have to be church members. On Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the work day ends with a potluck supper in the church kitchen. Crops are divided among members with surplus food doanted to elderly families in the community.

The ministry intended to heal Cedar Grove is now spreading hope far beyond, writes Shimron. Eleven other churches from North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland, recently attended a conference at Anathoth on starting community gardens.

A majority of the community gardens in the Triangle area are associated with the Methodist Church. Fuquay-Varina United Methodist Church, which has a 1/4 acre community garden, says the concept is really catching on and other churches are calling for advice on how to get started. The Apex United Methodist Church consecrated its 10,000 square-foot garden on Saturday Produce will be shared among members with surplus given to the Western Wake Crisis Ministry. The N.C. Conference of the United Methodis Church has appoointed a task-force on food.

To learn more, read the rest of the story.

April 19, 2009 at 8:15 pm 3 comments

Seeding change?

Quote of the week, what USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said while helping Michelle Obama and a group of elementary school students plant the First Seeds in the First Veggie Garden:

“We’re going to try to make it so your meals are even better tasting and better for you than they have been….It is now the job of USDA and the administration to make sure that Congress gives us the resources, which I believe they will, to make sure that as we grow these fruits and vegetables, youngsters have access to them in their daily diets and that youngsters understand how important it is to have fruits and vegetables on their plate,” Vilsack said.

The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, which funds the School Lunch Program, is under review by Congress this session and Vilsack is lobbying for new funds to be budgeted to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. Now imagine what a boost it would be to local economies if the fresh produce came from local farms.

April 13, 2009 at 9:51 pm Leave a comment


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