Community Garden Organization

Community Gardening

One of the largest facets of our organization is the cultivation of locally aware consumerism. We strive to help local communities understand some basic principles that will allow them to not only develop products and services that will help benefit their respective communities but also provide an incentive to consumers to spend money locally.

One of the many ways we do this is to help local citizens understand not only the means but also the value, of organizing a community garden. Such endeavors by local citizenry not only works to bond together communities with their leaders but also to help spread the awareness and reliance of a community among itself rather than outside sources. This type of inward dependence can help to strengthen ties among communities and better fortify them against exterior economic circumstances. While there are certainly many means to conduct such a strengthening of community, the construction and active upkeep of a community garden are one of the best places to start; many people understand the concept and are excited to begin learning how they can get involved. We are going to outline a simple, yet basic, approach for helping your community get set up with a shared garden that can help boost ties and community resilience.

Communication

Don’t be the group that everyone has to wonder who they are—make sure you are actively talking with other members of your community regarding your groups’ projects and goals. There is no resistance stronger to community outreach than a non-receptive community. We’ve found that the most influential factor of this equation that works against most groups is that people are simply leery of the unfamiliar. Your group may be doing something truly great and magnanimous but if no one is aware of what’s going on you will receive little support and, more often than not, rude remarks from people that notice your group in action yet are unaware of what is going on.

The best way to counter these types of issues is to simply talk to members of the community that is closest to the location of your project. For instance, if your group is planning on building a community garden near a city park, you may want to spend one Saturday afternoon at that park meeting some of the residents and asking them how they would like to see the project evolve. Through our years of outreach, we noticed that while many people are silent regarding community projects, most are very willing to share their input if asked. There is an almost predictable majority of those that respond to such questions that will also offer to lend their services in the cultivation of projects.

Respond to Feedback

Don’t just ask questions of the community without regard for their responses; it is important to address the content of these responses as valuable contributions to the direction of your organization’s goals. Many groups can often get caught up in the details of their projects to a degree that they forget the end goal is always to serve the community. While it may be hard to do if for instance, the majority of the community members say they wouldn’t want a community garden, be prepared to drastically alter your project goals and logistics. If a community doesn’t want a community garden, then don’t press them for a community garden—it’d end up being solely your group’s garden anyway…

Stay Strong

Sometimes, the response of communities can be underwhelming to say the least and doesn’t provide much motivation to those seeking to impact it. While a positive response from members of your project’s community is great, we’ve found it functionally-beneficial to approach each new project with the understanding that we may be the only ones that ever get involved with it. Not only does this help one’s group focus on their own motivations for doing positive actions for a community, but it also helps shape the planning stages which can help increase the longevity of projects. For instance, if you assume no one will be watering your new community garden on a regular basis, you may account for solar-powered water pump systems to help automate the gardens ability to survive a bit of negligence from the community. This is just a simple example but illustrates the principle of hedging your groups’ goals to help achieve the greatest overall impact across the board.

The Power of Organic Foods

Organic Produce Foods

In our previous post, Community Garden Organization, we discussed the powerful impact that a community garden can have for unifying local commerce and interests. We also discussed some of the finer points associated with the logistics of such an endeavor. However, one point that we didn’t elaborate on too deeply was that of the importance of organic practices while cultivating foods that are intended for consumption. Organic gardening is a powerful means of ensuring the food you are growing is exposed to as few toxic chemicals as possible while being grown.

What Does ‘Organic’ Mean

Organic agriculture is a classification for produce, meats, and other consumables that have been produced in a manner that meets USDA Organic guidelines, which outline accepted best-practices for having as clean a product as possible. Organic foods are cultivated in synthetic chemical free areas, are free to be subjected to chemical pesticides like RoundUp, and are certified to contain no GMO ingredients. While many of these commonly used agents and chemicals are commonplace among other consumer products, they are not allowed to be included in Organic foods that have been certified by the USDA

While the science to prove the direct relationship between these chemicals and adverse health conditions is difficult to muster; there has been a growing concern as of late that our dependence of commercially produced agents such as Glyphosate may have put us all at risk. For example, fields many miles away from fields having roundup sprayed on them test positive for the chemical, and it shows up in trace amounts in almost all non-organic produce and foods. There is a great chance that if you had your blood tested for Glyphosate, you would test positive.

The Benefit of Eating Organic

One of the most reverberating phrases within the medical profession is Primum non-Nocere, which means “first, do no harm.” While greatly removed from modern Western medicine in practice, it was originally a credo; a philosophy, that meant while addressing medical conditions it would be a practitioner’s prime objective to avoid causing further harm. An abstract of this saying, more relevant to food, would be “first, prove safety.” GMO foods are largely described as safe by their makers while being largely contested against by consumers. Money has gotten involved, as well as media, and it seems now there is overwhelming research and data to prove either side of the case, depending on whom you trust.

When an argument’s logic becomes so convoluted that belief and sentiment are the deciding factors, you can almost be certain someone is full of it. Typically, the financial interest is the party found to be most at-fault in these types of cases. With this in mind, consider that forever drug that the FDA has ever recalled due to adverse effects, it has first approved based upon data provided in test studies. The fact is, commerce would cease to exist if every food product had to be proven to be safe for a decade, or two, or three’s usage before hitting the shelves. That is an easy argument to make and wins in nearly every sense of objection.

To eat Organic Foods, you are simply choosing to remove as much uncertainty from the equation as possible—a very practical decision in modern times. Rather than waiting 30 years to understand the deadly effects of chemicals such as Agent Orange, DDT, or Asbestos, just choose to eat foods in their natural forms as found in nature. Commercial agriculture would surely be crippled, but maybe the foods we put in our bodies should never have been de-localized in the first place. It’s important to remember, that not just foods fall into this category but organic supplementscosmetics, and even organic clothing are all capable of helping you avoid having dangerous levels of toxic chemicals in your body.

Organic Gardens

The point of all this discussion is to help hammer home the importance of incorporating Organic Gardening into your organization’s outreach programs. Help teach communities that they need to think, learn, and act for themselves based upon critical thinking rather than simply floating by the concepts they’ve seen on television or other horrible health websites such as Livestrong and other convoluted giants concerned more with money than quality. At the end of the day, people that stand to make a profit from a product tend to make it sound safe, wonderful, and capable of boosting your life quality in some regard. When there is an issue with that product, however, they are usually the last to admit it. Find the power in self-reliance and apply it to your group’s practices and programs. Good luck out there, and remember to Do Good!