Last night we had our monthly Sustainable Neighborhood meeting, where we set out our goals for the coming year. I headed the “Food” Section, where we focused on local food and gardening. As we continue further into difficult economic times, food security and helping local businesses are becoming increasingly important in our community. We came up with a great list of ideas last night, so I thought I’d share them with you.
1. New Community Garden Partnerships. There are 2 potentially new community gardens going into our neighborhood soon, though they’ve been having some funding trouble. Since these “P-Patches” are so high in demand (each with a 2-5 year wait list!), we’re going to contact the city and find out how we can help expedite the process by volunteering labor, materials, etc.
At the same time, we’ll be keeping an eye out for any new potential sites, as there are funding opportunities through the city’s Department of Neighborhoods program.
2. Adopt a Roundabout or Median. There are many boulevard medians and small roundabouts in our neighborhood, some of which definitely need care. Through the City, we’re going to adopt one or two and fill them with native and/or edible plants.
3. Help Local Farmers Bring Food To Market. Small organic farmers are definitely struggling in the current economy. So when our local farmer’s market returns in May, we’ll be asking the farmers how we can help them person their booths, get the word out, or otherwise help in any way.
4. Get Fresh, Unused Food To Those Who Need It. Recently local farmers and backyard gardeners have had fruits they can’t pick, which means healthy fruit is left to rot on the trees or on the ground. We’re going to partner with a local organization who already has a Community Fruit Tree Harvest operation in other neighborhoods. Additionally, we’ll be seeking out local farmers with whom to partner.
When we bring these foods to families, we’ll also provide easy, healthy recipes so that they are more likely to use and enjoy the foods we bring.
5. Food Education. We’ll be starting an initiative to educate neighbors about the link between the food we eat and climate change, obesity, energy, etc. We’ve started with information on local eating on our website (written by yours truly), but we’ll be adding a section that focusses on the health benefits of eating local, seasonal, unprocessed foods.
At our annual Sustainability Festival, we’ll have a booth dedicated to educating our neighbors about local food resources and the many health and environmental benefits of eating locally.
Additionally, we’ll be looking for a local location to host seasonal cooking classes. These will likely include some of the simple recipes I’ve been collecting!
6. Plant Natives and Remove Invasives In Our Neighborhood Greenbelt. You’ve visited this area with me before! We’ll be joining regular work parties each month to recuperate this important 14 acre wildlife corridor.
7. Urban Gardening Tour. It is our hope to inspire our dense urban area that we can garden in fire escapes and window boxes, indoors, on stoops, in alleys, and wherever there is a bit of space. Our first Urban Gardening Tour will likely coincide with our neighborhood garage sale, so that people can take a break from shopping to check out gardens! We’ve already contacted a local restaurant with a beautiful herb garden in the parking lot, and we’re hoping to find a few more businesses in addition to residences.
8. Edible Wild Herb Tour. Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it? In the past, before I arrived in my neighborhood, there was a wonderful botanist that held this tour of the neighborhood, pointing out edible wild plants and herbs, and describing how to use them. We’re hoping to get him to do it again!
9. School Gardening Projects. We all know that cultivating gardeners early is important, so we’re hoping to partner with a local school or two to help the set up edible gardens and teach kids how to garden, or help to maintain gardens that have been neglected. We haven’t figured out the logistics of this yet, but hope to know more about how we’ll do it soon!
10. Urban Gardening Classes. I’ll be partnering with a friend to teach a beginning class on gardening in small spaces, at the local Community College. We’re also planning to partner with the local library for another class, as a part of their 2009 Sustainability Series. Additionally, we’re hoping we can find neighbors with the skills to teach composting and native plant classes, or to teach us so that we can teach the classes!