Coming Together While Apart: Our Community Gardens Thrive
For many people, joining the gardens comes from a desire to learn how to grow their own food. For those who have been life-long gardeners, it's often a chance to meet others interested in healthy food and the opportunity to share their gardening experiences. But for all, the impact of growing, as a community, can have as many health benefits as the food they grow.
Our gardens include a diversity of members--families with young children, single and retired adults, those who have never planted a seed, and master gardeners. Our groups and organizations include a school, health agency, scout troops, and senior center. As one gardener recently noted, “We’re new here and excited to meet other people interested in gardening. It’s important to be able to sustain ourselves, especially during this time in the world.” Another gardener expressed their appreciation of the gardens. “It’s quiet and peaceful and the people are nice. I’m grateful to be here. This is the only place I go.”
These times certainly raise awareness of how fragile our current food supply chain is, with many people rethinking how they want to buy and consume food. Seed companies across the country are also feeling the impact of the overwhelming number of orders from home gardeners. We are grateful to have received a generous donation of seeds for our gardeners and future education programs from Seed Savers Exchange and Saratoga Organics & Hydroponics. This year, we’ll be saving seeds to begin a community seed bank; a first step toward increasing community access to seeds.
The impact of Covid-19 in the Community Gardens can be felt with the restrictions we’ve put in place in order to support families who want and need to grow their own food. Face masks and gloves are a requirement, as well as a limitation of 10 gardeners on-site at one time, all while practicing the 6’ social distancing recommendations. Instead of gathering together in the garden, we’re communicating via e-newsletters, meeting weekly via Zoom, and creating short “How to Garden” video clips.
But as limiting as this is, we are very grateful to be here planting our spring peas and such, waiting for warmer weather and the eventual opportunity to garden more fully as a community. After all, gardening is all about patience.
Community Gardens Director
*Community Gardener Rhonda Fein and son Jonathan visiting their plot recently pictured below