In the Garden:
Community gardens provide a place for residents to grow nutritious food, get exercise, and enjoy sharing knowledge, produce, and tall tales with their fellow gardeners.
Community Gardening is Alive and Well in Austin
Austin, Texas, is home to many great community gardens. This progressive city has been at the forefront of community gardening since the '70s and continues to offer residents the opportunity to join with other gardeners in several gardens across the city. Community gardens bring people together to not only grow plants, but to grow friendships, share knowledge, and have fun.
Sunshine garden is an all-organic community garden that began in the early '70s. Over 200 plots make it one of the largest community gardens in the country. Gardeners from the Sunshine garden can sell their produce at a booth at one of the local farmer's markets. Each spring the garden hosts a plant sale fundraiser where a wide variety of transplants offer area residents the opportunity to find rare and unusual varieties for their gardens.
Sustainable Food Center
The Sustainable Food Center in Austin oversees a number of community gardens, many of which are in low-income areas of the city. These areas have much fewer grocery stores offering fresh produce, and prices are typically higher than in other parts of town. The goals of their community gardens are therefore to:
1. increase access to fresh, local fruits and vegetables, especially in low-income areas;
2. Decrease food expenses for low-income families;
3. Provide green space in the community;
4. Act as the first step to a healthier lifestyle for disadvantaged communities;
5. Build community by bringing neighbors together around a common goal
Workshops and festivals promote and teach gardening principles while encouraging more residents to become gardeners. I have taught gardening classes for Sustainable Food Center and found it to be a great program that makes a difference in the lives of many residents.
In addition to gardens, the Sustainable Food Center has created La Cocina Alegre (the Happy Kitchen) where low-income families can learn to prepare fresh, healthy foods in easy, healthy ways through cooking and nutrition classes.
Green Corn Project
Another wonderful gardening project is The Green Corn Project. This non-profit organization founded in 1998 seeks to promote gardening in community and home gardens primarily in Austin's lower-income neighborhoods. Volunteers teach people natural, resource-efficient food-growing techniques in their own backyards. Their vision is that residents have nutritious, affordable food grown in ways that conserve natural resources, promote self-reliance, and strengthen their communities.
Redeemer Lutheran School Garden
Redeemer Lutheran School in Austin is home to a special garden for children. The teachers coordinate a Junior Master Gardener program in the school to teach children about gardening and nature. These industrious teachers and students have turned 7,500 square feet of the property into a teaching landscape using native and adapted plants. The gardens have been designated an official schoolyard habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Herbs from the garden are donated to the Meals on Wheels program where they provide yet another benefit to the community. This year they are adding an additional 300 square feet of planting space to meet the increased request for herbs by the people at Meals on Wheels.
These are but a few of our Austin community gardening projects that we are mighty proud of.
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