This month, I interviewed garden volunteers on why they volunteer. Although the general benefits of a community garden appear to be self-evident, our volunteers have a variety of reasons for participating. Many people may find it difficult to make the trek to city hall at 9am on Saturday mornings. We all have busy lives and can come up with multiple reasons why we can’t come on any given work day—I’m sleeping in, need more coffee, don’t feel like getting dirty, etc. But here are some reasons why our committed garden workers do keep coming.
Emma Eggleton of Jardin Street often brings her children to the garden to educate them on how vegetables grow. She said that the benefits of volunteering are “to get my kids involved and see where their food comes from and get them excited about eating vegetables.” She said that after learning how to grow cucumbers, they planted some at home. The children now have cucumbers in their lunch box. They also learned that tomatoes sometimes look like green apples and hopefully, too, that apples do not grow on bushes. Emma also appreciates the community aspects of the garden, which is different than growing vegetables in your own back yard. Coming from Perth, Australia, she was used to living in a tight community where they had communal chickens, which she likened to caring for communal vegetables. Note that she is not the first person to propose adding a chicken coop to the garden!
Another devoted garden member, Shala Farhat, lives in a townhouse and does not have the room to garden. Clearly a talented cook, Shala has harvested carrots, herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes, and beans from our garden and cooked them all in creative ways. Shala thinks that in addition to playgrounds and parks, it is critical to teach kids that “this is where the vegetables come from and not the grocery store. Everything tastes much better when you grow it.” She said “it is really important in urban areas, that we have vegetable gardens…Houston needs to have more places like this where we can grow stuff that you can actually use.” She suggested that more of our city parks include areas for raised beds. Shala is aware of both the individual health benefits and the environmental impact of the garden. She said, “It’s important being out in the environment, meeting new people, getting some sun.” In addition, the garden “has to be close enough because if you have to drive 20 miles, what point is that? You should be able to walk or bike to it.”
We do encourage all Southside Place residents to walk or bike to the garden, bring their kids, participate in the work days, and harvest what you can use. Work days are the first and third Saturday of each month, which are 9am in the summer and 2:30pm in the winter; and the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 8am. Perhaps you will find for yourself more benefits of community gardening.
Join the Southside Place Community Garden! Membership is free. Open to all—not just Southside Place residents. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org to join our club. Also you may join our facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/476972015691263/