Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Comes Early to the SACG.

I think it was Marcel Proust who said “let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

Thanksgiving has come early to the SACG this year due to the generosity of the Scotts Miracle-Gro Community Garden Fund at The Columbus Foundation. We have many needs at the SACG, but lack the funds to improve and expand the Garden as much as we would like to do so. As the growing season was winding down last October, I approached Veronica Anthony at next-door Build the Bridge of Ohio.Org about working together to seek a grant from the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company through the Columbus Foundation. Thankfully, she readily agreed. I made a wish-list of what we needed to improve our existing site and drafted a description of our history and what we would like to accomplish in 2010. Some very nice ladies, including Dr. Lisa Schweitzer Courtice, from The Columbus Foundation paid us a visit, admired our Garden and took some notes. About two weeks ago, I received the great news that our grant request was being funded in full. Yippee! I am very grateful for these charming gardeners.

Because of the generosity of the Scotts Miracle-Gro Community Garden Fund of The Columbus Foundation, we will be able to purchase garden tools to keep at the Garden for the benefit of the neighbor gardeners who lack tools of their own and have had to borrow tools from others in the past year. In particular, we plan to purchase a shovel, garden rake, hoes, watering can and utility cart (for hauling compost and mulch) to keep at the Garden on a full-time basis. We also have a little funding with which to purchase or build a small, portable shed to store those tools during the year and the stakes, etc. during the winter season. (I have found a tiny shed within our budget. However, with a little additional research we might be able to buy a slightly larger new or used shed and could even build our own shed within our budget if we are blessed with sufficiently skilled and motivated volunteers. It would be particularly nice to have a shed with a slanted roof that could divert rain water into a rain barrel. Let me know as soon as possible if you are interested in helping us build a shed).

One of our SACG neighbors from Morrison Avenue commiserated with me last summer about the weedy area along Cherry Street. Now, we will be able to improve the appearance of that section of our lot by building more raised beds along Cherry Street. We can then move the strawberry patch to that section (so the neighborhood kids will have an easier time poaching ripe strawberries) and have space for a few additional gardeners. Our grant even includes funds to pay for delivery fees for additional compost and to further approve the appearance of the Garden by placing a rose bush on the sides of each gate.

We will also be building a raised garden bed at each of BTBO’s group homes so that its client residents can learn to grow their own food, improve their diets and reduce their own food bills like the rest of us.

Of course, we were not the only local community garden to benefit from the generosity of the Scotts Miracle-Gro Community Garden Fund of The Columbus Foundation. It also funded 15 other community gardens and gardening projects, including the Good Seed Community Garden program of the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in the northland area, the George’s Creek community garden and the North of Broad Community Vegetable Garden supported by Columbus Housing Partnership, the Sharing Garden of the Columbus Torah Academy, the Community Housing Network’s gardening education program, the Livingston Garden supported by the Crossroads Community Development Program, the Hilltop Highland Community Garden supported by the Hilltop Christian Community Development Corporation, the Pinecrest Community Garden-Park of the Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio, the Otterbein College garden education program, the Upper Arlington Lutheran Church Garden at Mill Run, Urban Concern’s Hope Grows’ outreach program, Urbancrest Community Improvement Corporation’s community garden outreach program as well as the new Bexley Community Garden, the Growing Hearts and Hands Care Group Community Garden and the Southfield Community Garden Phase II Kingdom Business which were all supported by the amazing Four Seasons City Farm.

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Community Garden Fund of The Columbus Foundation also funds the Urban Garden Academy at the Franklin Park Conservatory. Grant recipients were encouraged to send a representative to each of the four two-hour community garden seminars, which started on February 10. Luckily for us, Rayna volunteered to represent the SAGC and has been taking copious notes to share with all of us (or at least me).

We are very blessed to have a generous benefactor in our community. Many community garden grants are focused almost exclusively on youth gardening programs and are not available for community gardens like ours. Of course, as excited as I am about our February blessing, if we have a lot more people sign up for the Garden in March, we will need to expand the garden more than currently contemplated and raise additional funding.

You can read more about the Scotts Miracle-Gro Community Garden Fund of The Columbus Foundation on its website.