Nykkel, Danielle and I attended the annual Growing to Green Community Garden Awards at Franklin Park Conservatory tonight. Brianna and Jaden really wanted to come to, but Brianna had not arranged for me to check with her mother first in time to get there for our free dinner. Last year's ceremony was held in the Conservatory proper in September and this year it was held on the community garden campus on the south side of the FPC property under a tent.
We dropped off our contribution to the potluck and found some seats with volunteers from Scott's Miracle-Gro and the Yoga on High community garden (which raises thousands of pounds of produce in its garden for the pantry at a nearby Seventh-Day Adventist Church which supports 90 families).
Because I couldn't not get off work any earlier, we missed the early parts of the ceremony. Governor Strickland announced that the following week will be Ohio Harvest Days. Jim King from Scotts Miracle-Gro also made some remarks (which were quite memorable last year). Bill Dawson mentioned to me that Scotts will be donating 500 pounds in product to winning community gardens.
Bruce also mentioned that fresh produce makes up 20% of the food which the Mid-Ohio Food Bank delivers to pantries these days. Keep up planting a row for the hungry and donating garden produce to your local area pantry.
Bruce Harkney (the FPC's Executive Director) got up to explain that these awards are the Central Ohio community garden equivalent of the Oscars. Then someone piped up that they should be called "the Greenies." Anyway, the awards:
Neighborhood Improvement Project of the Year was presented by First Lady Frances Strickland. This $250 award goes to the park, gateway, streetscape, school or other community beautification project that does the most to beautify the surrounding community. It went to Plant Pride on Parsons for organizing 300 volunteers to pick up litter, and create individualized flower planters up and down Parson's Avenue between SR 104 and Livingston Avenue. It might be easier to list who and what is NOT involved in this project, but it included Ganther's Place, Children's Hospital, the City of Columbus, United Way, etc., etc., etc.
Education Garden of the Year is presented and sponsored by the Hinson Family Trust. This $500 award is given to a school or other organization that utilizes garden projects for educational purposes. It was given to the Granville Schools Sustainability Program. This started when a student asked why the school couldn't maintain a sustainable agriculture project. The students were not satisfied, however, with one raised bed. Instead, they have 26 beds (with over 420 square feet of garden space), a water garden, composting and a fruit orchard with 14 trees. Very Very impressive.
Paul B. Redman Youth Leadership Award is presented by the Franklin Park Conservatory's Women's Board and presents $250 to the youth (under the age of 18) for use for his/her community garden or his/her education in gardening. It is presented to an outstanding youth gardener. (Did I mention that Paul Redman and I were in the same Leadership Columbus class?) IT WAS AWARDED TO OUR VERY OWN NYKKEL!!! It came with a beautifully engraved trophy, a beautiful book on gardening from Paul and a personal letter from Paul. Nykkel even shared the stage with her sister, Danielle, for helping her with her garden plot. The Women's Board was impressed by the ambition she showed in her garden with so many varieties of vegetables and fruit. This was Nykkel's first garden and she spent a lot of time there. I also heard a lot of awwwws in the audience when Bruce read how she wanted to grow flowers for her mother's birthday and a "that's right" when he read about her first time cooking yellow squash in butter. Lots of people came to congratulate her, including Maggie Samuelson from Four Seasons City Farm & Friends of the Alum Creek Tributaries, Kojo from the Linden community garden project and New Harvest Cafe, Bruce Langer the Development Director from the City of Bexley and Ms. Pepper (who visited a few weeks ago). We're very excited for Nykkel and I shared our good news with a Dwain, Barb and few other of the Stoddart Avenue neighbors when we returned after the ceremony.
Community Gardener of the Year This $250 award for the community gardening project (sponsored by GreenScapes Landscape Co.) was to be awarded on account of a person who is exceptionally dedicated to his/her neighborhood garden and/or the movement of community gardening in central Ohio. This year it went to Glen Demott from the Upper Arlington Lutheran Church (not to be confused with Kelly Hern of the Upper Arlington Lutheran Church who won last year). Glenn organized some early Spring planting for the garden this year and increased the amount of food donated to LSS Food Pantry, the Faith Mission and a few other programs by over 1000 pounds.
Community Garden of the Year. This $500 award (sponsored by The Scotts-Miracle Gro Company) was to be awarded to the top neighborhood gardening project for beautification and/or food production. It went to the Franklinton Gardens. Started in 2007 as a single plot of land leased from the City of Columbus land bank for $1, it grew to a patchwork of gardens in the Franklinton area. Then, when the City began taking back the lots for economic development, they began to lease land and accepted a donated plot. They now have 4200 square feet of urban farms and one community garden plot area (for families). They also began a community garden farm stand (which accepts food stamps) and is open at least 2 hours every day of the week. This is an area of Columbus that has no grocery stores and depends on corner markets and gas stations to supply all of their food. Like the Granville project, they have also started their own fruit orchard with 14 trees and harvest 1000 gallons of rain water to support their garden (to compare to the 750 gallons harvested by the SACGJ. Very impressive. Lots of idealistic young people in Franklinton folks.