Category Archives: Community Gardens

Imagination

Last night, creative city making champion Charles Landry spoke to a packed house. I had the pleasure of being in the audience along with most of the usual suspects (govt., real estate development, business, downtownies, a few artists & SCAD folk) . . . you were probably there too. He was worth standing up for, even if my feet are paying the price today.

For those of you who couldn’t make it, I’ll briefly summarize. Landry defines creative cities as those in which ordinary people (along with their local bureaucracies) solve problems (or rather, create opportunities) in imaginative ways.

I really appreciated his notion that creative cities strive not to be the best in the world, but the best for the world.

Creative cities are made deliberately; they require inclusion, collaboration, motivation, public places, respect of history & culture, openness (open to difference, change, ideas, emotions), holistic thinking, ownership (as in, this is my town and I’m responsible for what goes on in it), bravery, values and imagination. Imagination is key.  I wonder if Charles Landry likes Spongebob as much as I do.

Spongebob
“I-ma-gin-aaaaaaaaaaa-tion!”

What did ya’ll think?

Green Bridge gets green light

452987795_9a2b7fc719_m2.jpg From Effingham County one morning this week, Michael Maddox wrote in his blog, “After many long months, or more correctly years, I finally have approval from the Effingham County Commission to proceed with my project.”

The project, Green Bridge Farm, is one I have mentioned here before, and it’s been covered in local news.

Initial resistance from the county stemmed from Maddox’s request for a variance to have the community road paved with recycled concrete rather than asphalt. The variance was hard won and took many months to secure as an act of conservation. But it was worth, it, Maddox says: “This will pave the way for the future … for subdivisions [that are environmentally concerned].”

As a resident of a Wilmington Island neighborhood that was, 10 years ago, a big beautiful chunk of woods, I appreciate Maddox’s commitment to respect his property by limiting tree clearance and creating other eco-friendly covenants for home builders. The other new homes are nice, but they are haunted by the trees.

Another highlight of the project is that Maddox’s own organic garden and orchard will anchor the community of nine residential lots. Residents will be encouraged to participate in a community garden maintained by the association, offering a unique opportunity for people to grow their own food.

This is a little green gem worth checking out. Located not far from the rapidly developing areas of Pooler, Bloomingdale and Guyton, it seems a safe haven. Hopefully, it will get noticed and become a good example for communities to come.

Photo courtesy Conlawprof via flickr.com

Savannah Food Co-op Active, Almost

Some of us in Savannah have been poking around for a local/regional produce box program (that delivers) and/or a CSA ready to sprout. In the meantime, we are following the tenets of Square Foot Gardening, reading classics like One Acre and Security: How to Live Off the Earth Without Ruining It or The New Self-Sufficient Gardener, and doing what we can at home. Some of us have taken over a plot at a county park West of the city, and others are harvesting produce in exchange for free labor at friends’ places.

Clearly what we’ve needed is a community organizer. Michelle Solomon-Ceo, a fairly new resident of Savannah, has recently formed the Savannah Food Co-op, a group of parents/students/people young and old who are interested in having regular access to local (or at least regional), sustainable, healthy, organic produce at affordable prices—for starters.

The co-op is also organizing a monthly buying group to purchase natural pharmacy items and is continuing research of opportunities to offer meats, eggs and dairy products from our region.

To participate, you can sign up for the Yahoo Users Group called “Savannah Co-op (but with no hyphen).” In order to receive its first shipment, the group must have 25 orders. At this time, there are plenty of orders ready to go but there a couple of major elements still missing.

The co-op needs a location for truck delivery and member pickup of the produce. Can anyone suggest a community organization facility, church, a workplace, that could offer space a couple of times a month for this purpose? The co-op also needs volunteers.
Download a .pdf of group’s information sheet here.

From little seeds …

430716741_ba4c7afa52_m.jpgJust got off the phone with the local parks service and tomorrow I go to check out the garden plots available for planting—free of charge—by Chatham County residents. The director of recreation told me these plots just west of the city used to fill up every year but that over time the number of active planters (from the “older generation”) has declined.

He hopes some new ones will crop up.

Perhaps my desire to grow my own food, and to do so organically, is just a romantic pipe dream. But I am sure it’s best to find out ASAP with the assistance of county experts who are willing to teach me. I don’t have my own acreage yet, anyway.

Georgia’s “first organic farmer,” Shirley Daughtry, got started on 20 acres in Effingham County after a career in teaching. Since 1990, Heritage Organic Farm in Guyton has been growing and marketing certified organic produce. They offer a box program, and also service area co-ops and health food stores.

Even the most established grower had to start somewhere. According to an online article at www.georgiaorganics.org, Shirley attended conferences in North Carolina and California to learn about sustainable growing practices. These days one may not have to travel so far. The site hosts an extensive listing of growing events and workshops taking place around the state. From small-scale poultry training to composting and herbs-from-seed, a lot of it may be in Decatur, but Georgia’s got it going on.

I am inspired by Shirley and others who continue to learn and draw from the complexity/simplicity of nature. Even as an amateur gardener I have discovered that if I mix up the right “batter” and “tea” for my plantings, they will thrive—way moreso than if I shower them with fertilizers. This much, at least, I have already figured out on my own.

Maybe I have started somewhere.

Photo credit: pictoscribe via www.flickr.com.

Buzzword, Locavore. Ironic Fallacy?

Eat Local Food ButtonThe words of the year for 2007 have been determined. The Oxford American Dictionary picks “locavore” (noun) • one who eats food grown or produced locally or within a certain radius such as 50, 100, or 150 miles.

The term “locavore” was coined two years ago in San Francisco by a group whose official membership has since grown to include participants all over the world, including several in Georgia. The group exchanges tips and celebrates their respective foodsheds (path from supplier to table and everything in between).

While trying to zero in on my foodshed, I learned that the modern U.S. foodshed includes the whole world, and found a lot of other interesting information as well as a link to an online community food store at www.foodroutes.org. Looking at the agricultural system in terms of the origins and pathways of food items, it seems feasible to focus them at the local level.

But a couple of comments about the Oxford dictionary word choice reflect cynicism and frustration with the “do-good fad” of locavoreing. One man writes:

“I once tried being a locavore, researching local sources online, going to farmers’ markets and soforth. But what I found is that the electricity I used doing my research, and the gasoline I burned driving to the markets, probably increased my carbon footprint tenfold for the specific task of grocery shopping. I think the concept of being a locavore is an ironic fallacy …”

Ouch.

Here I am, all excited and ready to aim high. I have studied the guidelines:

If not locally produced, then organic.
If not organic, then family farm.
If not family farm, then local business.
If not local business, then terroir (i.e. Parmesan from Parma)

And, taking advice from the experts who started the 100-mile diet, I am starting small. One night, one meal. Make it New Year’s Eve. The menu includes a few pounds of local shrimp easily obtainable 2 miles from home. I’ll also cook up some turnips and winter greens I retrieved from an organic farmer 28.3 miles away near the Marlow area of South Effingham County. For a modified lowcountry boil I’ll get some sausage from Hinson’s Georgia Market in Rincon (23.2 miles). At that same store I would like to pick up some Thomasville cheese (234 miles) and corn meal from Helen (335 miles) for muffins, but they come from too far away. I will take the wine from Statesboro (55 miles) and go home.

Maybe an in-state diet would be more diverse but this menu doesn’t look half bad … A few more days until New Year’s and I’d like to add some more items, appetizers mostly. But now here I am, calculating the gas mileage and anxious to shut down the computer.

Photo credit: Roland via Flickr.