Unite4Health garden bed rehabilitation makes room for more gardeners!
As we look forward and prepare for another season of community gardens, we’re looking back at what was accomplished this year. Thanks to the efforts of one of our garden leaders at Unite4Health garden, Cheryl Jensen, there will be additional garden spots available next spring!
Cheryl’s tireless efforts, along with the help of Anne Jacobson, have really turned that garden into a little paradise for their gardeners! Cheryl had help from our favorite CCUA employee (and our newest board member) Mallary Lieber, and yours truly’s husband, Matt Knowlton, who loaded and delivered some primo compost for these beds. Then, visiting volunteers from AmeriCorps met with Cheryl to do the rehab!
Another example of the lovely synergy that exists within our community and beyond!
As we wrap up our 39th year, the Community Garden Coalition is participating in the CoMoGives local giving campaign! Please consider a making a donation to support next year’s gardens through CoMoGives! You can also give directly through PayPalor snail mail at P.O. Box 7051, Columbia, MO, 65205.
AmeriCorps volunteers helped us get two gardens back in shape!
As I mentioned in a previous post, the City recently asked us to re-establish the Britt/Hall community garden by Fire Station 8. That’s a big request because normally that sort of garden work would be done by the gardeners themselves — who, in this case, weren’t an existing group yet.
However, board members, Lindsey Smith and Cheryl Jensen were not deterred, and not only stepped up to organize the work but found a wonderful crew of volunteers from AmeriCorps to come in and get this garden ready for spring planting! It wasn’t the warmest November day, but these volunteers from all over the US got to work and got it done! Then a week later these wonderful volunteers came over to the Unite4Health garden and worked their magic there, rehabilitating some more garden beds!
Our thanks go out to: Hanna (MN), Rowan (VT), Kenyon (MS), Jessica (WI), Dylan (PA), Charlie (IL), Arx (FL), and Cassie (NY)
Recently, the city asked the Community Garden Coalition to take over and revamp a community garden site they had established next to Fire Station 8 at 2301 E. Nifong. Normally, the CGC doesn’t start gardens from scratch, but rather helps interested groups establish or run gardens. Community gardens need a person or people willing to be garden leaders who serve as liaisons with us. In this case, the Britt/Hall garden had no established group or leader. Still, we said we’d try to take on the project.
Board member Cheryl Jensen remembered that one of her past gardeners had moved to that area and has quickly found a willing garden leader by the name of Anh Thu Nguyen. We are so happy to have Thu on board and excited to see how this garden develops next year!
Thu and her husband Huy came to the U.S. from Vietnam in 2014 so that Huy could pursue his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at MU. Like many who come to school here, they found Columbia so wonderful that they decided to stay after he completed his degree. They have two children, a daughter, Bella, who likes reading and drawing, and a son, Leo, who plays piano and roller skates. Huy enjoys playing tennis and soccer while Thu likes to cook and craft. They all enjoy working in the garden growing vegetables and are looking forward to meeting the new people who join this garden.
Situated next to the Columbia/Boone County Health Department on City-owned property, the Unite4Health Garden offers individual plots to people from all over the community. The CGC is so happy to partner with the City of Columbia to support this large garden.
This year, we asked gardeners to share their thoughts about why they valued community gardening. A few Unite4Health gardeners shared what their community garden plots have meant to them.
“I can grow the best quality vegetables, and save an enormous amount of money, while enjoying self-sufficiency and the nurturing of a garden.” ~ Anne Jacobson, Garden Co-Leader
“The community garden has provided benefits beyond my expectations. There’s the exercise in biking or walking to and from the site along with the outside work required. I have shared the whole experience with my granddaughter as we have produced outstanding home grown tomatoes and other vegetables to savor and share with friends and neighbors. A bonus has been meeting like-minded gardeners and everyone has been extremely helpful.” ~ J.R. Holliday
“I am so grateful for my community garden plot at the Unite4Health garden. I don’t have enough sun in my yard to have one at home, and I missed gardening. I also love that I can control what goes into and on my food–no pesticides or chemical residues. There’s nothing like your own produce straight from the garden you grew yourself, and it’s so much more delicious and nutritious than store-bought. And it’s wonderful to dig in the dirt for your mental and physical health.” ~ Amanda Sprochi
There are still a few days left to show your love to community gardens in Columbia with a gift to CGC via the CoMoGives local giving campaign! We are directing half of what we raise this year to the Friendship Gardens group and the rest will help us continue supporting great gardens like Unite4Health.
And, P.S., we are so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of CoMoGives and the Community Foundation of Central Missouri. They make it so easy to give to all your favorite nonprofits that make our community what it is!
This fall, my husband Matt and I took a tour of the Interfaith Garden with Lily Chan, the garden leader. This garden is located behind the Beth Shalom synagogue at 500 W. Green Meadows Road and is a collaboration between Beth Shalom and the Newman Center. Volunteers grow a wide variety of organic produce such as greens, beans, tomatoes, okra, sweet potatoes, herbs and even persimmons for the Central Missouri Food Pantry.
When Lily showed us some planters that the Boy Scouts had built for them, I couldn’t help noticing that they looked almost identical to the ones that my husband, Matt had been building this year for us and our neighbors. When Lily mentioned that they wished they had more of these planters, I filed it away for later to ask Matt if he was willing to build some more for them. (My happy relationship tip is never volunteer your spouse/significant other without asking first!) Matt was willing! He put together an estimate for two more planters, and the Community Garden Coalition approved it and paid for the supplies. A couple of weeks later, we delivered them to the garden.
Interfaith Garden board members and Matt Knowlton (center) pose at the garden with the raised planters
Here’s what Lily had to say:
Thank you so much for the beautifully made planters you donated to the Interfaith Garden. It was a work of art. Brent, Mike, Susan, I, and all our volunteers are very grateful to you both for your generosity and kindness towards us and for contributing to the Interfaith Garden’s mission of feeding the poor in our community. And the timing is so perfect, too. We can start putting plant remains in there and top them with leaves and compost so they will be ready to be planted by spring.
This is just one of the many ways that the Community Garden Coalition is helping to support our community. Please consider making a donation to support gardens like the Interfaith Garden this December.
It’s just over halfway through December, and we’ve raised more than half of our $5,000 goal through the CoMoGives local giving program!! Thank you for all you’ve given and for sharing our message with your friends!
Speaking of halves, we’re pledging half of what we raise to the Friendship Community Garden. Find out more about this diverse, resilient garden that is trying to improve the health of their neighbors and friends with this short video from the City of Columbia.
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!
The community garden on Claudell Lane has been part of the CGC network since 2000, but it was used as a neighborhood garden for decades before that. I recently found out a lot about the history of this garden by unearthing some photos and a newspaper article from the Columbia Daily Tribune.
According to the article neighbors had been informally using the vacant lots to garden since the 1950s and the Garden Coalition had been renting the properties for the token rent of $500 a year from owner Goldie Sims. When Sims put the lots up for sale in 1999 and the CGC raised more than $22,00 to purchase them.
“Most of the people who live on that block and need the garden are extremely low-income,” said Karen Graul, coalition treasurer. “So we raised the money ourselves.” The coalition received a $13,000 grant from the HeinkelCharitable Trust, a $5,000 grant from the Boone Electric Community Trust and $8,000 from the Boone County Community Trust. The group also raised about $1,000 from downtown business owners, including Eldon Benus, former owner of Cafe Time, which is now Das Kaffeehaus Cafe and Deli; Richard King of The Blue Note; Susan McQuilkin of Ninth Street Deli; John Pham of Bangkok Gardens; and Annette Weaver of Columbia Books.
Mrs. Sims also helped the project by taking the lots off the market while CGC raised money. And she apparently traveled from her home in Oklahoma to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the garden which was officially named after her late husband Claude.
These photos taken in 2000 or the following season, show a lush garden and a very diverse group of gardeners. Which is very similar to what you’ll see next spring if you happen down Claudell Lane.
The Circus Lyon Community Garden got its start in 2006, when owner Mark Stevenson opened it up for the coalition to start a garden with support from neighbors. That first year, kids from a City of Columbia youth camp helped plant some donated tomatoes and marigolds. The kids got to get their hands in the dirt and learn about how to place young plants in the ground and water them.
Check out these photos from that first year!
The garden has continued to thrive since then, with gardeners even going on a float trip together in 2017. Like all of our neighborhood gardens, plots are open to anyone in the community who applies. Gardeners plant and harvest from their individual plots, and are expected to contribute to the general upkeep of the garden, like mowing and mulching.
Here’s a crew of Circus Lyon gardeners this spring after a work day to mulch a common area.