Thursday, April 25, 2013

Environmental Excellence

Striving for environmental excellence while creating and providing a community garden space is something we should all take seriously.  Many people grow vegetable gardens to avoid the pesticide and herbicide residues created in traditionally grown produce.  Certified Organic produce can be cost prohibitive and community gardening is one way for families to achieve high quality produce without the price.  Many of us are also gardening on public land and this comes with a responsibility towards good stewardship of the soil.  Those who garden after us should be assured that the soil comes to them free of contaminates and in good health.  Earth Day has brought a great deal of awareness to us all and in a community garden setting we can prove that growing organically is both realistic and achievable.

The Meridian Co-op Gardeners and the Community Garden at Kliener Park have been recognized for Environmental Excellence in 2012 by the City of Meridian.  I am very proud of what my efforts and my garden have achieved.  With a partnership with a project for March Against Hunger we have provided more than 5,000 lbs of organic quality produce to the Meridian Food Bank.  We have provided education and recreation for our gardeners and those passing through the park.  Many groups have enjoyed our garden while preforming community service projects.  Our garden covers near 3/4 of an acre and shows how productive gardening in Idaho can be.

Last year we had a very small core group of 10 families participating in the garden.  This year we are having to limit our number to 30 families.  Next year it is likely that we will have a waiting list.  As the public becomes aware of the benefits of community gardening and sees our successful garden it is my hope that the program will expand to other parks in our city.

This year I am spearheading an effort to bring the first public seed bank to the Meridian Library.  The idea is to give out free seeds, which gardeners will take home and grow, at the end of the season the gardeners will return quality seeds to the seed bank to be made available next year.  I will be teaching a seed saving class next week and have quite a challenge in determining how to manage this new project.  I need to build a seed book describing the seeds available and their individual needs.  I need to find away to keep track of where the seeds go and to encourage the participants to return seeds at the end of the season.  I can not tell you how excited I am to have a new project to work on!