Each April, the National Gardening Association (NGA), sponsors National Garden Month to encourage individuals to garden.
Gardening not only improves our health and nutrition, but it also grows community spirit. To foster this spirit, the NGA encourages everyone to join in this monthly celebration to make “America a greener, healthier, more livable place.”
Here are five things that will help you get into the community spirit:
- “Plant a Row For The Hungry.” As I wrote about in January, the Garden Writers Association created the “Plant A Row for The Hungry,” campaign that asks garden writers to encourage their readers/listeners to plant an extra row of produce each year and donate their surplus to local food banks, soup kitchens, and other service organizations to help feed America’s hungry. As you plan your vegetable garden, plant a few extra rows that will give you enough bounty to share with your local shelter or soup kitchen. Or, share your garden’s bounty with a neighbor who might need it.
- Organize a yard share in your community. One of the newest trends to hit the gardening world is yard sharing. Yard sharing is basically pairing people without yards with people who have them so they can grow their own food. One of the best places to find information on yard sharing is via “Hyperlocavore” Liz McLellan, who even tweets under the name “Hyperlocavore” and who has created the web site http://hyperlocavore.wordpress.com/ a free yard sharing community. As she explains on her site, “Yard sharing is an arrangement between people to share skills and gardening resources; space, time, strength, tools or skills, in order to grow food as locally as possible, to make neighborhoods resilient, kids healthy and food much cheaper!” The site has the resources you need to join or start a yard share in your own community. And, if you become part of a yard share, you can even organize a drive to collect excess produce from your friends and neighbors for those in need
- Garden with a friend or neighbor or start a neighborhood garden club. If a yard share is a bit too formal for you, this is a great way to share resources and information with other gardeners. One of the great things about joining forces with other people is that you can buy products in bulk quantities, including compost or mulch, or you might even be more inspired to start your own compost pile or bin if you are working with someone else. You also get the benefit of trying different veggies you might not have grown yourself.
- Clean out your potting bench, garden shed or garage, and take an inventory of all of your gardening “stuff.” This includes everything you would use to garden; seeds, pots, gloves, potting soil, plant markers, etc. After keeping those things that you absolutely need, donate any excess to a community or school garden program.
- Organize a flower “brigade” to bring fresh-cut flowers to a nursing home, care facility, or a local hospital. If you have some of your own fresh flowers you can bring them or you can buy fresh flowers or see if a local flower grower or florist would be willing to donate to help spread the community spirit!