One of the ways that the Community Garden Coalition gets funding for our efforts (besides your generous donations) is through a small grant from the City of Columbia. To receive this grant, we must apply every two years and go through the same rigorous process as agencies with paid employees. Part of the review process includes taking Health Department commissioners on a tour of one of our gardens. This year, Garden Leader Hari Poudel and other gardeners hosted this tour at the Ash Street Garden, and I went along.
That tour was a revelation for me! I wish that everyone could have been along to see how important this garden is to so many people. I always knew that we helped people grow tasty and healthful produce for themselves, family and friends, but I didn’t realize how many people originally from other countries used our gardens to grow their native produce and medicinal plants. According to Hari, there are thirty different families gardening at Ash Street, many of whom came from Nepal, Bangladesh, Taiwan, South Korea and China.
I recently asked Hari if he would mind answering the following questions so more folks could get a glimpse of the Ash Street gardening community.
Q: What inspired you to become the garden leader at Ash Street?
Hari: First, I am very glad to serve as a garden leader in the Ash St garden. The key motivational factor is my intention of serving local communities where I live. Second, when I am at the garden, I feel it is my second home. It is also a place to meet people from different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures. More importantly, a community garden can serve as a social network place which helps in enhancing social ties and building a greater feeling of community. Lastly, I am able to learn different vegetable farming practices from people from different countries. It’s a great learning opportunity.
Q: Please describe the gardeners at Ash St. and how you think the garden helps them and their families.
Hari: The garden has a broad impact at the community level. About 30 households, including 67 family members, are actively involved in Ash St garden. Gardeners have grown a wide variety of vegetables. More than 50% have been gardening for more than four years. We always have new applicants on our waiting list. The planting season starts right after our garden kick-off day in April and it will go until late October or early November. During my four year experience as a garden leader, I would say more than 90% of the gardeners depend on fresh vegetables for about 5-6 months on the garden. Thus, I would say that our garden has significantly contributed to help in providing fresh vegetables to our gardeners. I am also one of the beneficiaries.
Thanks to Hari and all the gardeners at Ash St., the Health Department commissioners were very pleased with their garden tour, and the City has once again awarded the CGC with a social services grant to continue our support for gardens like these.
This December, you can also show that you support community gardening by making a donation to the CGC through the CoMoGives local giving project. Your dollars go directly to pay for water, tools, mulch and more at gardens like Ash Street. Find our CoMoGives page here, and don’t forget to donate by December 31!