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Start a Community Garden

Community-Garden-1We Can change the world—One person, one tribe, one neighborhood at a time. We wanted that change to start with us, at home, with our friends and families. The idea for a community garden sprung around last November’s election through articles like Michael Pollan’s “Farmer-in-Chief”. It had become very clear that our culture is dependent on foreign oil for fuel energy and in chemicals used to grow the food we eat. This impacts us in each of our homes. Producing our own food, from our own soil, would provide an educational window into the environment, healthy eating, and social and economic responsibility.

After many discussions over the reality of actually breaking ground last winter, the commitment was made. At the same time it was reported that Michelle Obama was going to follow the Depression Era Roosevelt White House and create a “Victory Garden.” Michael Pollan had suggested this of the new President, be it Obama or McCain, in November as an example to Americans that during our tough economic times it makes sense to get back to the responsibility of home economics and interdependence. So on a rain soaked day in mid-April, the plot was laid out and ground was broken. Two weeks later seeds were sown at the Garden in the back yard of John and Alena Dryden. Roger Stenman, a life-long gardener, lead the educational process, with laborers from the ages of 3 to 50. The Drydens and Stenman with wife Cathy, Matt and Lori Holm, Dan and Patty Vogel, and Meg Humphrey introduced the concept to their children as they worked in the dirt that would provide the food they would eat.

“This is a very valuable opportunity for me to teach my children about where food comes from”, said Cathy Stenman, “and they really enjoy the food they have grown!”Community-Garden-2

July 14 brought the first major harvest of broccoli, lettuce, onions, radishes, sweet pepper, zucchini, and cherry tomato. We celebrated, like we should with every harvest, with our first garden party. While there is a good deal of labor that goes into the project, sharing it and its fruits creates a sense of strength and togetherness. Our meals are healthier, and our understanding of how we can get back to, and sustaining, an era of prosperity is clear.

“I just love that I can go over and work in the garden and come home with the freshest, tastiest ingredients for lunch,” said Lori Holm.

As the growing season progressed, carrots, peppers, summer squash, sweet peas, Swiss chard, beets, many varieties of tomatoes were harvested. The families have endeavored in their first attempt at canning. Many jars of tomatoes were sealed, which will replace the need to buy processed and shipped tomato products for months to come.

“Not only do we get to watch our food grow, eat healthy food grown without pesticides and herbicides, and enjoy the tastiest veggies ever, but we know we are living more responsibly and strengthening our friendships,” said Meg Humphrey. “I would love to see this idea catch on and maybe even build a community garden in Batavia where we could all come together and enjoy the fruits of our labors.