Plant community gardens
People who live in Williamson’s senior citizen apartments can raise vegetables in the community garden across the road. In Charleston, people with no garden space can now plant at more than a dozen community gardens, including a large garden that feeds the homeless. Huntington’s community garden group gives people gardening lessons.
“It’s about more than food. It’s about giving people a chance to grow food together and learn from each other,” said WVU Extension agent John Porter. Statewide, community gardens are spreading like weeds, organized by local groups and churches. People sign up for a plot, plant it, then harvest it.”
North Carolina State has compiled a list of research that shows that people who participate in community gardens are more likely to eat healthy diets. “It’s common sense,” Porter said.
Want to start or expand your community gardens? These links will help you:
The Manna Meal community garden in Charleston raised more than 3,000 pounds of produce for the soup kitchen!
- The American Community Garden Association: The American Community Garden Association has a wealth of useful information and resources. Check out their “Starting a community garden” page.
- The West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition: The WV Farm and Food Coalition can help you get acquainted with what other West Virginia communities are doing. This umbrella organization keeps up with what’s happening with small farms, gardens and fresh produce marketing in WV.
- Fresh ideas in action: videos from the WV Farm ad Food Coalition. Get glimpses of what other communities are doing: http://wvfoodandfarm.org/news-media/fresh-ideas/. See sample above!
How to build raised beds: a few good sources
*Eartheasy. Includes videos, great photos and detailed list of needed hardware.
* Sunset. This one also tells you how to install hoops for bird netting and cold-weather protection.
* Popular Mechanics. Careful detailed instructions and photos.
Learn about community gardening from other West Virginia communities:
- “Lessons learned” from six Kanawha community gardens: Find out what to do and not to do. http://wvhub.org/wvffc/news/lessons-learned-and-report-kanawha-community-garden-tour
- Let’s Move! Community Garden checklist. Highly recommented. http://www.letsmove.gov/community-garden-checklist
- Huntington Community Gardens. Here’s an inspiring Web site from people in the city doing a wide variety of great stuff to shed the “most obese” label: http://www.huntingtoncommunitygardens.com
- Need an argument for the health benefits of gardening? Read through this strong list of research, enough to convince anybody: http://www.huntingtoncommunitygardens.com/36.html
- Community gardens that supply food kitchens or pantries:
- Charleston volunteers tend a large garden that produces more than 3,000 pounds of vegetables for the Manna Meal feeding program at St. Johns Episcopal Church. http://www.mannameal.com. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PIIN2lpq-s&feature=youtu.be
- In Charles Town, Jefferson Community Ministries combines their food bank with a community garden for participants. Bob Shefner, director: (304) 725-3186, firstname.lastname@example.org
Develop your own master gardener trainers:
- Master Gardener training More than 1,200 West Virginians have been trained as master gardeners in 33 counties. The program operates through WVU Extension. Classes have been conducted at community gardens. Master gardeners must perform community service each year to keep their certification, so some of them might be glad to help you. Contact your local extension office for information on classes or contacts with master gardeners in your area.
Junior Master Gardener training. Master gardening for kids. If kids are involved in your community garden, look into the possibility of a junior master gardener course.
Other valuable resources:
- Gardening for and by children: SCRATCH program (Huntingon) Sustainable Community Revitalization in Appalachia Through Children’s Hands. This afterschool project teaches children to grow food and to understand garden technology and entrepreneurship. Children sell the food they produce at local fresh food distributor.
- See their facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/SCRATCHWV
The Kanawha Urban Ag Alliance: https://www.facebook.com/KUAAWV
- Charleston-based KEYS 4 Healthy Kids has sponsored school-based gardening projects in which kids worked on gardens together. http://keys4healthykids.com
- High tunnel community gardens: The Williamson Farmers Market is fed with fresh produce from a community high tunnel greenhouses operated in cooperation with Southern Community College. See high tunnel page.
- The American Horticultural Society has a lot of great resources on youth gardening, plants, and other subjects that arise once you get going.
- Community garden guide from the U.S. Department of Agriculture: http://www.plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/pubs/mipmcot9407.pdf
- Here’s a guide to helping kids plant a community garden from the United Way: http://www.unitedway.org/pages/kids-get-fit-cac-garden
- This “how-to-do-it” site features organic gardening: http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/community-garden.htm
* Combine community gardens with food preservation classes. See the Try This food preservation page.
See these other Try This Pages:
Add a community high-tunnel garden, encourage home gardening year-round, support the farmers market.
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