What do you get when you combine hummus, crayons, and laughter? A wealth of dreams.
Last week, just hours before our CGC team was to embark across the country to join families for the Thanksgiving holiday, we hosted a meeting specifically designated for us to dream up all the grand ideas we could conjure for the future of Community Garden Connections. We called it our “retreat.”
Meeting at the cozy home of our faithful advisor, Libby McCann, we started our dream session with a hike in the woods followed by local snacks. While these factors may sound trivial, they are indeed some of the most crucial components to encouraging our brains and hearts to entertain nearly unfathomable ideas.
We chose to separate this retreat into two areas of focus: first, this next year and second, a time period with no deadline. This first half of our session was important because, like it or not, CGC is always undergoing new leadership. It is simply the nature of being lead by graduate students. This time gave our seasoned leaders Maisie and Allan the chance to not only share their knowledge of a CGC with the new student leaders, Caity and Karen, but also to contribute the dreams and ideas that they have developed through their countless hours digging in the dirt, leading educational workshops, and planning for a healthier community.
While we knew that what we were discussing was indeed important, we were all eager to jump into the wild unknown of all the of the possibilities for our beloved CGC.
What was it doing well? What did we want to continue? What needed to end? Better yet, where did we want to see this endeavor go 5,10, 20 years down the road? How did we envision CGC growing, both figuratively and literally?
Well, what better way to encourage the surge of possibilities than with crayons and blank pieces of paper?
We want to see more gardens. At more places. In more communities.
We dream of:
- reaching youth groups, schools, the elderly, mentally and physically disabled
- serving those with low income or who are incarcerated
- building large community gardens for anyone to participate in
- having a presence at the farmer’s market
- developing roof top gardens. All over the city.
- incorporating more research to deliver a top-of-the-line service to our entire community
- enhancing community connections to the greater food system
- hosting a large community meal in the middle of main street incorporating food harvested from the numerous CGC gardens
- surpassing the boundaries of Keene
Of course the dreams did not stop here. However, smelling the metaphorical aroma of mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, the little time we had left we allotted to brainstorming just HOW we were going to go about making these dreams a reality. Especially if we are to successfully implement another season.
For what did we realize was our greatest roadblock to the creation of these new dreams?
We are growing. In fact, we are growing so fast that we don’t (yet!) have the infrastructure to support our success. While at times it certainly feels like growing pains, we cannot help but cheer with glee over the immediate reactions to this non-traditional approach to enacting food security.
But…just how are we going to go about this? Just how are we going to give wings to these young ideas?
Ready…set…write all of the ideas that rush to your head on as many post-it-notes as you can…and…go!
Here’s just a taste of some of the ideas we came up with:
- Don’t grow too fast
- Increase and nurture sustainability of current sites
- Clone Libby McCann
- Hire more staff
- 1 full time CGC coordinator
- Work with city of Keene to develop raised beds on bike trail side of AUNE building
- CGC storage facility/resource center
- Garden site presence at farmer’s market
- Work with C&S to use land for related programming
- Get City of Keene involved & Committed
- Partner with the City to run bigger gardens
- Create KSC internships in conjunction with CGC that encourages students professional development and provides community with fresh knowledge
- Build brand awareness for within CGC community
- Community kitchen space to host workshops/events
- Evaluate interest in CGC Leadership
- Help create curriculum for churches, businesses, on benefits of communal gardening
- Hands on education in community about growing/eating healthy foods
- Develop series of short videos and/or online workshops and post online re: plants, tending, harvesting, cooking, eating fresh food
- Experiment with community gardens that can be centers for public garden education, meeting, places to share
- Grow more than veggies (cheese, milk, eggs, chickens)
- Roof top gardens
- Fruit tree planting
- Neighborhood gardens
- Partner gardeners with farmers/ranchers to create CSA shares for families most in need
- …and much, much more!
Alas, the clock had struck “time-for-thanksgiving,” we left with our minds a’buzz, our mouths a’clatter, and our hearts full.
Do we have a lot to do in front of us? You bet. Absolutely.
But do we have eager hands and passionate hearts to eradicating hunger and nutritional deficiencies in our communities?
Want to know more about our ideas? Want to contribute in any way you can to this community effort? Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Know someone in Keene that might want to apply for gardens and education from CGC? Check out this link here for more information.