Posts tagged ‘community gardens’
It’s the birthday of the USA, and it’s one year since I launched the Green Zone website.
What a difference a year makes. We have a new president, and there’s a thriving vegetable garden on the grounds of the White House.
New gardens are sprouting everywhere! A brand-new community garden in Davis Park, a new garden in the works for the Davey Lopes Rec Center in South Providence, and a bunch of new school gardens here and there. And so many first-time backyard growers, too.
In the Summit neighborhood, there are flowerboxes full of vegetables on porches, and so many people have dug up their front lawns to plant ornamentals or grow their own food.
I spied this brand new neighborhood garden in Mt. Hope (3 top photos). Neighbors have taken over an empty lot. Guerrilla gardeners? Dig the ankle high dry-laid stone wall and the badminton court, not to mention the used-tire composter. And not far away is the MLK School Garden, which looks on target to harvest A LOT of delicious vegetables.
On this Independence Day, get independent. In a pot or in a plot, grow your own food.
Tonight catch a screening of “Taking Root, the Vision of Wangari Maathai.” It’s the kick-off for a new community garden at the Davey Lopes Rec. Center in Providence.
The invitation says: “This powerful documentary film tells the inspiring story of Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner who is internationally recognized for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace. Wangari founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya Africa with women whose simple act of planting trees and food gardens grew into a nationwide movement to protect human rights and defend democracy.”
The event is free, and there will be refreshments (home-made ginger beer, lemonade, farm-fresh salad, and apples).
Where: Davey Lopes Recreation Center, 227 Dudley St, Providence
It rains so much in Providence nowadays that I spend more time with the newspapers and online and less time in the garden. First the newspaper…
Yesterday, the Providence Journal ran a story on recession gardens. Southside Community Land Trust is expanding the Prairie Street Community Garden to accommodate more plots, and URI Master Gardener Coordinator Roseanne Sherry is hearing from more and more new gardeners this year. And the trend is national, with seed companies reporting record sales in 2009.
The last upsurge in food gardening took place during the economic crises of the 1970s. In Rhode Island, Bristol legislator Gaetano Parella put forth four resolutions to make underused local, state, and federal land available for individual gardens in 1974. Reflecting on the victory gardens of WWII, Parella said there was “no reason why our citizens cannot do the same thing now to fight rising food costs.” A ProJo article from the same year described “Rhode Island’s growing army of backyard farmers.”
Now that you have read this newspaper article (online, perhaps), try googling “recession garden,” “recession gardens,” or “recession gardening.” Expect this term to start competing with victory garden/s/ing.
Speaking of googling, if you enter “Victory Garden,” the first entry to pop up is PBS’s television show. “The Victory Garden” began broadcasting in the mid-1970s; it was America’s first gardening program on tv. The goal was to encourage Americans to fight the recession by growing their own food. By using the name “Victory Garden,” the creators evoked nostalgia for the can-do spirit of wartime gardens. And I suppose that in 1975, nobody wanted to watch a show called “The Recession Garden.”
In 2009, we just might.
My vacation from Prov became a vacation from blog. And then working in my garden became a vacation from the blog. To get back in the grind and on the grid, I want to let you know about:
Fox Point Community Garden seed swap
Sunday June 7th from 4-5:30pm
Gano Street Park, Providence
Says Christie, the garden coordinator: “come by and swap some seeds, share some advice, and get to know your fellow gardeners.”
Sounds good to me…I just dug up some irises. Plus I have some volunteer tomatoes and dill, and some other flowers from seed to share. On the lookout for parsley, cilantro, and what have you. I don’t have a plot at Fox Point, but like many community gardens, the gardeners there are tremendously proud of their work, delighted to give tours, and happy to connect with other local gardeners. See you there!
Apologies to KISS…
Yesterday, I went to a meeting for Providence’s Urban Agriculture Task Force. Launched 4-5 years ago, it’s a confederation of state, local, non-profit, and individual representatives. Some of the projects initiated and/or completed by members include:
- installing new community gardens around the city, including sites at Sessions St. Park, Early St, Davis Park, Pearl St., Riverside Park, and more
- introducing urban agriculture in community planning meetings, the Mayor’s Green plan, and the Providence Comprehensive Plan
- launching a citywide Community Gardens Network
- developing strategies to integrate food gardens with affordable housing
- holding 50-mile meals at Mount Hope Farm, Local 121, and Providence College
- creating the RI Farm To School Project to connect local farms with school lunch programs
- planning an edible landscape (an orchard!) in Locust Grove Cemetery
- working with the RI Dept of Health and Statewide Planning to ensure that urban agriculture is in local comprehensive plans
- preparing a series of reports on Providence Urban Agriculture
Amazing projects in Providence and beyond. And more to come. If you want to get involved, contact the UATF via Southside Community Land Trust.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by Firehouse 13 last night for Green Zones: From the War Garden to Your Garden and the first-ever Urban Ag Spring Start Party.
The talks and discussion went over really well, and the seed-swapping table was hopping. I got a chance to connect with gardeners, historians, and gardening historians from all over.
A spring party was a great outlet for gardeners with seeds, plants, and stories to share. As RI’s food gardening network continues to grow, imagine another garden event this fall?!?!?!?!
Brown University’s Center for Environmental Studies not only hosts a community garden for staff, students, and neighbors, but it also supports scholarship on gardening. Two Environmental Studies grad students are studying the impact of local food gardening. They are defending their masters theses next week, and the public is invited to attend.
Monday, April 13th at noon
Marie-Laure Couët on “Strengthening Providence with Community Gardens”
Tuesday, April 14 at 10am
Nora Buckman on “The Grass isn’t Greener: Exploring the Motivations and Barriers to Home Gardening in Rhode Island”
Both presentations take place at the Urban Environmental Lab, 135 Angell Street. Visit the garden if you stop by.
Check out the updated page for Green Zones: From the War Garden to Your Garden, a presentation on Victory Gardens, the Women’s Land Army of America, and how/why gardeners are growing their own food today. The event takes place on Tues., May 5, starting at 5:30pm at Firehouse 13, 41 Central St. in Providence.
A plan is stirring to hold an Urban Agriculture Spring Start Party afterwards. This will include seed/plant swapping, exchanging ideas, food, music, and kicking off the garden season together.
Community gardeners, backyard gardeners, local foodies, green folks, farmers, teachers, kids. . .can you help out with this emerging event? Contact me at szurier at wesleyan dot edu or leave a comment, and I’ll be in touch.
In 1943-45 (at least), a bunch of Kingston neighbors organized a victory garden with the help of a local RI State College (now University of Rhode Island) professor and several local property owners.
The group collaborated on the purchase of fertilizer, seeds, and rototilling. Each family could sign up for 4000- or 2000-square foot plots.
The same pattern of neighbors organizing community garden spaces together was repeated throughout Rhode Island and throughout the country. What was unique about the Kingston Victory Gardens was that the neighbors gardened side-by-side with professors from the the RI State College Extension Service. What the professors learned from their experience on the ground in Kingston, they could share with gardeners throughout the state through the outreach of the Extension Service. This program continues today as URI Cooperative Extension.
You can find correspondence, plot plans, gardener rosters, and other materials relating to the Kingston Victory Gardens at the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society in Kingston Village.
On Superbowl Oscar nite, pay attention to the Documentary Feature category. One of the five nominees is “The Garden” (director Scott Michael Kennedy) which follows the story of a community garden in South Central Los Angeles. The garden was established on 14-acres of city-owned landin the aftermath of the 1992 LA riots. It claims to be the largest community garden in the United States.* When the land was sold to a private developer in 2003, local citizens**, many of them Latino immigrants, rallied to protect the garden.
And, stay tuned for Green Zone the movie later in 2009. Synopsis: Matt Damon visits a certain Providence garden and eats some kale. Or in THEIR version, Matt Damon plays a warrant officer who helps a senior CIA officer searching for Weapons of Mass Destruction.
*Don’t get me started on talking about all the acres of community gardens in Rhode Island during World War I. Maybe there wasn’t one single 14-acre plot (THOUGH MAYBE THERE WAS), but, for example, Brown & Sharpe oversaw 30 acres of gardens in Providence’s Smith Hill neighborhood in 1917. Let’s just say that this LA garden is very very large.
**plus Dennis Kucinich, Willie Nelson, and other celebs.