Some Strawberries from the Garland Community Garden in 2014: We need your support for our garden so we can grow many more of these in 2015. Please contribute today with your time and money.
And the Benefits for you and your community?
- Community gardens have been shown to increase property values in the immediate vicinity where they are located. In Milwaukee, properties within 250 feet of gardens experienced an increase of $24.77 with every foot and the average garden was estimated to add approximately $9,000 a year to the city tax revenue (Bremer et al, 2003, p. 20; Chicago, 2003, p. 10; Sherer, 2006).
- Developing and maintaining garden space is less expensive than parkland area, in part because gardens require little land and 80% of their cost is labor. (Saylor,2005)
- Community gardens provide a place to retreat from the noise and commotion of urban environments and have been shown to attract small businesses looking to relocate. (Sherer, 2006)
- Community gardens provide employment, education and entrepreneurship opportunities for a wide variety of people including students, recent immigrants and homeless people.(Community Food Security Coalition, 2003)
- Gardening is considered to be a moderate to heavy intensity physical activity and has been linked to significant beneficial changes in cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and systolic blood pressure. (Armstrong, 2000)
- Reduces soil erosion and runoff, which lessens flooding and saves the city money. (Bremer 2003 at al p.50, 56 and Sherer, 2006
- Community gardens can serve as an outdoor classroom where youth can learn valuable skills like those that involve application of practical math, communication, responsibility and cooperation. They also provide the opportunity to learn about the importance of community, stewardship, and environmental responsibility. (I'm hoping early in 2015 that we will be able to work with a group of students together to figure out, given various plant placements in beds combined with our average rainfall, how much, on a month-to-month basis will be required for supplemental water to sustain that bed as well as what sort of rainwater catchment system we might develop to meet that need. Who knows? perhaps a local math teacher, retired or not, will step up to manage this project. I would like to see students who come from all Garland high schools working together on this and similar projects.)
Garland Texas is a majority minority working class community. We have a proud history of pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps since day one. Garland Power and Light is the City of Garland's locally owned and controlled electric utility. It was formed by a group of Garland citizens who bought a generator and set up a city utility. Then a $100,000 bond was voted in the early 1920s to finance a 2,300-foot well and an overhead storage tank so homes and businesses could have running water. We have a long proud history of our citizens pulling together to accomplish the impossible and doing it. Furthermore, to this day, we are one of the few cities in the USA who do it with a balanced budget for our citywide operations. We are not mired deeply in debt like many municipalities our size--thanks in great part to our City Manager, Bill Dollar, members of our City Council and our Mayor Douglas Athas as well as our other city leaders who have gone before them. We are a city who truly honor and celebrate the old-time American values on which our country was founded. If you don't believe me, attend our fabulous Fourth of July--one of the greatest family events in Texas, if not the USA. If you need further proof of how much we value labor and the working class, then attend our Labor Day Parade and celebration, our second largest city celebration of the year. In fact, as far as I know, Garland is one of the few, if any, cities in the DFW area who even have a Labor Day Parade. The Garland Labor Day Parade is the largest Labor Day Parade West of the Mississippi.
AND NOW WE HAVE OUR OWN COMMUNITY GARDEN ON CITY-OWNED PROPERTY AT 4022 NAAMAN SCHOOL ROAD
Like most of our other city sanctioned activities, and in keeping with other local ventures in our city, the Garland Community Garden is an experiment unlike any other community garden. Most community gardens are set up so that individuals wanting to garden there pay $40 to $70 a year for a garden plot. These gardens usually have a fence around them with a padlock to keep people out. The Garland Community Garden is truly a community garden that is open to the community. It has no fence and citizens are welcome to roam the area 24/7 from dawn to dusk. Residents who want to garden, or who want to come down to the garden to pull a few weeds or rake, or simply walk around the peaceful setting are not charged any money to do so. (If you want a garden plot, you will have to contact Loving Garland Green as they are the stewards of this property.) We don't even mind if you nibble a few strawberries in season while you are down there. Loving Garland Green, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization pays the water bill and promotes the garden and its activities on its website at http://lovinggarlandgreen.org. Unlike most organizations, Loving Garland Green does not charge a membership fee to join, thus anyone with the desire to garden together with others can come on in.
THE MISSION OF THE GARLAND COMMUNITY GARDEN AND LOVING GARLAND GREEN IS THE SAME: TO ENCOURAGE GARLAND CITIZENS TO GROW AT LEAST SOME EDIBLES IN THEIR YARDS, ON THEIR PATIOS, OR DOWN AT THE GARDEN
And in these efforts, nothing succeeds like success. Loving Garland Green members don't just talk about growing edibles, we grow them and we also report on our successes and failures. Members of Loving Garland Green are well on the road to discovering what grows well in our area. You can read about many of these discoveries right here on my blog for Eat Green DFW. You can also read about them at the Loving Garland Green website.
Another thing to keep in mind about members of Loving Garland Green is that currently none of us are experts or trained horticulturists. We are average Garland citizens who believe in the value of growing some of the food that we eat--to sustain own health as well as that of our local economy. I started the first vegetable garden of my life in my front yard in mid June of 2013. I am learning as I go. However, while I definitely prize the knowledge I learn first-hand in the field, I also value the education that can be attained from experts. That is why I'm enrolled in the Texas Master Gardener Class for 2015 here in Dallas County. I also look forward to putting in a lot of volunteer time working with them in a community garden they will be stewarding that is also located here in Garland (south Garland). Garland is fast on its way to becoming the educational center for urban farming in Dallas County which brings us almost to the point of achieving a dream I've had for about three years: for our community to establish the Garland Urban Agricultural Center. Who knows? perhaps in 2015 we will get to see vertical vegetable gardens growing on sides of our downtown buildings.
ABOUT THE GARLAND COMMUNITY GARDEN TODAY AND WHAT YOU SEE DOWN THERE
As president of Loving Garland Green, I obviously did not get the word out well enough in the beginning to the residents of Garland regarding the leaf bags and cardboard that folks see down there. If I had, then perhaps some people would have not been so upset. Had they asked me, I would have been glad to tell them. Then they would have understood there are leaves in the bags and not trash and they would have understood that both the leaves and cardboard were temporary chaos on the garden scene--organic materials that would soon be used to construct more beds at the garden. It is true that we often condemn and judge based on appearances and not fact. As for my part, I could have been more patient and understanding.
However, as a tribute to our Garland residents, I have to say that once they understood the situation, many of them rose to the occasion to support the garden. Since I wrote the article regarding the complainers and explained about these bags and how they would be used to create lasagna beds, citizens have been dropping off so many leaf bags that I now have to say: Please don't bring any more leaf bags. At least for now we have plenty. Since I wrote that article a few days ago, people have dropped off close to 100 leaf bags. I love my city and its people. You are great!
We are counting on Garland Residents to step up and support the Garland Community Garden in 2015. Twenty-two people, most of whom work full-time can only do so much.
ABOUT OUR FUTURE PLANS AND HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT US
First of all we are increasing by one-third the number of garden beds down at the garden over December and January. While we have enough leaves and cardboard, we need 1) rabbit manure and 2) vegetable scraps (not from cooked veggies but from the fresh produce in your refrigerator that may have gone bad before you had a chance to eat it). If you bring it down to the garden you can leave it beside the compost containers. Just dump it on the ground will be fine or right into the containers if there is room. Someone will be down daily to move it into the beds. This material is needed to speed up the composting process in the leaf and cardboard beds. These beds will be covered with 6 mil black plastic sheetings. The nitrogen in the rabbit manure and veggie scraps, combined with the black plastic covering to keep the heat in will speed up the decomposition process. By the middle of March, with the additions of a little top soil, we will be ready to plant.
Here is a wish list of things we need:
1. Rabbit Manure (Call 972--571-4497 if you need for us to pick this or anything else up)
2. Veggie scraps.
3. Money - Checks made payable to "Loving Garland Green" and sent to Loving Garland Green, 216 East Kingsbridge Drive, Garland, Texas 75040. Loving Garland Green is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization and donations are tax deductible according to state and federal law.
Here are just a few of the ways that we would put your money to use:
1) Installing two self-standing rain barrels with catchment systems to supply water for the two existing square foot garden plots in the area.
2) Building 330 gallon rainwater catchment and reservoir systems from IBC totes to supplement water needs for the winding garden.
3) To purchase more food-producing perennials for the garden including fruit trees to begin the establishment of a woodland garden. (Note: We currently have planted nine blackberry bushes down at the park. We need to add some perennial vegetables such as asparagus as well.)
4) Building a spiral herb garden
5) To purchase materials to build the structure for a Loofah tunnel.
6) To purchase materials to build the structure for a Hops garden
7) To purchase seeds and some transplants for the spring garden