Gardening connects community (Google / Coloradoan)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20090822/COLUMNISTS93/908220350

Gardening connects community

Michelle Provaznik

Community gardening has become an important grassroots movement across the country. So much so, that next week is National Community Gardening Week as proclaimed by Thomas Vilsack, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The benefits of community gardening are many:

> They can transform desolate, vacant land into functional and beautiful spaces that enhance the neighborhood.

> Gardening is recognized as a terrific form of exercise and connects people to their local environment.

> Growing healthy, nutritious fruits and vegetables can improve diets and reduce food costs for families.

> Encourages local consumption, which can help conserve our natural resources.

> Builds community relationships.

USDA’s proclamation states that “community gardening provides an estimated 1 million American households the opportunity to connect with the land … and earn an average annual return of approximately $500.”

Community gardens take on many different forms, which makes perfect sense when you think of the uniqueness of each community. Fort Collins is no different. Here at the Gardens on Spring Creek, we showcase two versions.

First, in September we will be opening what I consider the ultimate community garden, the Garden of Eatin’. This fruit and vegetable garden has been planted by volunteers from across all segments of the community. Students from Turning Point and the Larimer County Youth Conservation Corps were instrumental in building this garden. The business community has donated plants, services, and money and several businesses and the Chamber of Commerce have donated their time. Many individuals have contributed to this garden in a variety of ways.

In addition to the educational opportunities this garden provides to the community, the primary beneficiaries of the fresh produce growing in this garden are the clients of the Food Bank for Larimer County. I believe this is a terrific example of community giving back to community.

Another option community gardening provides is for local residents to rent space to garden. At The Gardens, we have 35 plots that community members can rent to grow their own vegetables, herbs and flowers. It is such a pleasure to see young families try gardening for the first time and seniors who don’t have a yard to garden in enjoy their long-time passion. The best is watching experienced gardeners share their secrets with the novices in the group.

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Michelle Provaznik is the director of the Gardens on Spring Creek. She can be reached at (970) 416-2486 or send e-mail to mprovaznik@msn.com.

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.