Just three months into the development of a community garden with our partner, at the Hilltop Landings Community (Pasco Housing Authority) in Dade City, and already great strides have been made. Community members have taken over all of the watering responsibilities, and behavioral changes have already been noted. Three different households are using the produce from the garden to cook daily meals. The most popular crop: kale! One community gardener/volunteer uses the kale to make daily salads for herself, while in a second household, a mother of three, uses the kale and peppers available in the garden to make stir-fry for her family dinners. The latter was inspired by a kale cooking demonstration performed on site by the Pasco Family Consumer Science Agent as a combination gardening/cooking class. A third family uses the peppers to make a traditional sofrito sauce. In just a couple of weeks, dozens of Japanese eggplants will be ready to harvest along with the red cabbage. This will bring yet another opportunity to involve new community residents in the garden, and host an additional cooking demonstration. Community gardening takes initiative, ambition, and an “anchor” volunteer (or employee) to start the garden, provide opportunities for learning, and trigger others to take responsibility for the food being grown in their community. It is possible to start a sustainable garden with little more than a hose, some seed, and the will to help a community grow and provide for families.
E. Santiago-Gomez and W. Elmore