Farming is the very essence of civilization, the intersection of society and cultivation for the betterment of humanity. In the modern day, farming has been relegated to corporate interests and mass production of genetically modified, pesticide-treated crops. The social experience of harvesting food for the community, for your friends and neighbors, has slowly dwindled on the vine.
However, a longing for this kind of experience has been on the rise due to the prevalence of community gardens. An article by the journal Health & Place, published in 2009, analyzes how community gardens in Denver positively influenced neighborhoods. It defines community gardens as “any piece of land gardened by a group of people in urban, suburban or rural settings.” This same article illustrates the various benefits that such a garden may provide to any given a community. It states that “community gardens act as a catalyst for neighborhood activity, which supports a number of social processes.”
The resurgence of this practical farming comes during a time when post-industrialism has caused many in first world countries to lose touch with their agricultural roots.
Along with societal benefits, community gardens have many positive influences on the well-being of the environment. According to greenleafcommunities.org, community gardens can “help improve air and soil quality,” decrease the mileage needed to transport food, promote local biodiversity, and “positively impact the urban micro-climate.”
You might be wondering how this may relate to you or your work here on our campus. The answer is simple: UC Clermont has its very own community garden, located off College Drive.
The project, headed by Dr. Krista Clark, was launched in 2010 as part of an Earth Day initiative and has produced a total of six tons of freshly grown produce. The garden started with a budget of just $125 and has since raised $26,000 through grant funding. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are grown in this community garden, such as tomatoes, peppers, berries, asparagus, beans, corn, zucchini, watermelon, and cantaloupe. And what do they do with all of it? “We donate it all,” said Dr. Clark.
La Soupe, a food rescue organization, is also a partner in this community garden. La Soupe takes produce from the garden, the kind that’s not aesthetically appealing, and turns it into soup (as you might expect). “They send those out to local schools, nursing homes, after-school programs, all kinds of stuff,” Clark said. Because of this partnership, Clermont’s community garden provides an environmentally-friendly solution for underserved areas to receive fresh and nutritious food.
Generally, biology students run the garden throughout the year, but Dr. Clark said that it’s “totally open” to any student who wants to help. So, if you are interested in getting your hands dirty and being part of a worthwhile cause, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But what about your green thumb-related ambitions? Have you ever had a similar experience? Would you like to? As always, please reach out and share your stories. Email me at email@example.com.