There are many benefits of living in the city – entertainment venues, museums, unique restaurants, public transportation, the energy – but personal green space isn’t one of them. Fortunately, many cities around the country have recognized a need to not only preserve the limited amount of urban green space, but also provide community members with opportunities to make these spaces their own. As the farm to table movement continues to spread across America, many city dwellers have been inspired to create community gardens to provide fresh vegetables, herbs, and other homegrown foods for local restaurants, families, and farmers markets.
In Clark County, Ohio, there is a group of people who understand the need to grow and are willing to help other members of the community discover their inner gardener. Patti Mabelitini, garden director at Family and Youth Initiatives (FYI), and landscaper Peter Scarff have partnered to create a community garden on the small plot of land behind Scarff’s building just outside of New Carlisle, Ohio.
According to Mabelitini, the key to making food budgets stretch and living a healthier lifestyle is learning how to raise fresh produce and use it to create healthy meals. To help new farmers get off to a good start, Scarff plowed and prepared the land and divided it into neat 10 feet by 10 feet square plots. The plots are available to rent for $25 and Mabelitini’s organization provides vegetable seeds and seedlings as well as essential gardening equipment including tomato cages, bean poles, and rakes.
To uphold their end of the deal, participants are simply asked to plant the garden, maintain their plot, and harvest the vegetables. No more, no less. Plots that are abandoned by their renters become property of the community and them planted by another farmer. In addition to garden plots, the FYI also offers classes on gardening methods, nutrition, cooking, and preserving to members of the community.
For more information on FYI’s rent-a-plot program, visit http://www.familyandyouthinitiatives.org/gardeningforhealth.html