You gotta have heart, miles and miles of heart (and persistence combined with a little vision for the future is good too.)
Under the bright, positive, innovative leadership of Mayor Doug Athas, Garland is becoming greener and greener. A few weeks ago, members of Loving Garland Green appealed to various grocery stores in Garland to donate their spoiled vegetable produce. We need this produce to use as green manure to enrich our garden beds. We didn't have a lot of luck. Apparently these merchants don't understand that it is OK to do this in the City of Garland. In fact, some of them even told us they didn't allow pickup of spoiled veggie produce because the health department would fine them.
Naturally I complained to the Mayor as I always do and, as usual, the Mayor's office took swift action to follow up on my whining. He sent a query to Jason Chessher, Deputy Director of the Garland Health Department asking: " . . .are there any identifiable health interests into whether a grocer allows private individuals to take and recycle produce department wastes?"
And here was Deputy Chessher's prompt response (one hour later via email) to the Mayor: "22.30(M) Facilities for disposal and recycling community or individual facility. Solid waste not disposed of through sewage system such as through grinders and pulpers shall be recycled or disposed of in an approved public or private recycling or refuse facility; or solid waste shall be disposed of in an individual refuse facility such as a landfill or incinerator which is sized, constructed and maintained according to law."
"The only caveat is that the process cannot become a nuisance or create an ancillary issue such as attracting rodents because of storage or handling. Feel free to pass my contact information on to Ms. Berry for additional questions."
WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS TO CREATING A SERVICE FOR RECYCLING GREEN MANURE INTO GARDEN BEDS?
1. Get a volunteer from Loving Garland Green to be the project leader for this project. (This might even be a good reason to join Loving Garland Green if you want to lead this project.)
2. Meet with Deputy Director Jason Chessher to get his input regarding how he best thinks we should set up space at the Garland Community Garden to receive the produce. [Among other things, we will need covered containers. For these we need to contact Glenna Brown, Director of Garland's Environmental Waste Services. I've talked with her before and Glenna has told me she can set aside a few of the large green trash containers that are no longer suitable for use by residents. We can take these, repair them, perhaps decorate them and/or figure out some way to disguise them so they are not an eyesore, and use them to contain the vegetable waste that we mix with brown organic matter such as leaves for compost.]
3. Design the campaign along with some written materials for educating grocers in our community so they are not afraid to give us their spoiled vegetable produce.
4. Obtain enough community volunteers to support the project. We will need volunteers to pickup and also to receive the produce.
5. Put the plan in action and obtain produce from one grocer to begin. Monitor the project closely to enable the process of continuous improvement. Then apply the experience and lessons learned to the expansion of these activities.
Note: We might even be able to obtain a grant from a group like Kickstarter to assist us in funding this program.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE VISION AND POTENTIAL FOR THIS PROJECT?
Loving Garland Green is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization. We are the official stewards of the Garland Community Garden, the first community garden in Garland on City property. We view our community garden primarily as a test site, a giant experiment, to provide examples to our community of various opportunities that a plant-based economy can provide for not only enhancing the health of a community, but also for boosting our local economy. There is just something about growing gardens that leads to growing other things--like jobs and new businesses. None of us are trained horticulturists and we are learning as we go. Yet, even in our short year of existence, we have learned much. For one example: We have learned that loofahs grow like weeds in Garland. We grew one vine out of a five-gallon bucket and sold 12 loofahs from it at the Garland Marketplace in August of 2014 at $2 a piece. Thus, one of our projects for 2015 is to create a large loofah tunnel and grow many more.
As for the expansion of our recycling service, once we get a little success under our belts, we might work with other community gardens in the area to assist them in setting up similar collection services for their gardens. We might provide a section down at the Garland Community Garden where local Garland gardeners could pick up the compost for their gardens.
An even larger vision this project could springboard to is the creation of a Garland cooperative that picks up tons of this organic matter every week and processes it into compost that is sold by the bag to local residents and to folks in the region. This co-op could help stabilize our local economy and provide jobs for some of our citizens. Perhaps as part of their charter, they would agree to donate 10% of their product to community gardens and local Garland urban farmers. Cooperatives are very good business formats for local economies. It takes a good mix of business types to provide for a healthy stable local economy: small businesses; mom/pop shops; chain stores; corporations, and cooperatives. As in everything, there is great strength to be derived from diversity.