Community Gardens, Ya Dig?
The Plant-Based road has led to San Antonio, Texas to again work temporarily as stadium seat installers. While construction is not our passion, it's a great opportunity to earn money to fund the Wandering Food Pharm, get physically fit, and spread the Plant-Based message to interested workers. The job includes housing in a historic neighborhood just north of downtown. Exploring the new eclectic food on foot, we were thrilled to discover the River Road Community Garden and popped in on the 3rd Saturday of the month, the activity day, as noted on the garden chalkboard.
We were greeted by Larry Clark, the garden steward, landscape architect, and abutting neighbor to the garden. He was full of information and super accommodating for an impromptu interview about this green oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle. In 2007 Larry aligned with Angela Hartsell, Community Gardens Manager at Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas. Together they wrote a grant to fund the garden, although Larry rallied his peers to donate all of the labor and materials required to start the project. Larry has a passion for history and explains that parallel to the garden runs the Alamo Madre acequia,which was built in 1776 as one of seven gravity irrigation ditches to serve nearby farms.
The River Road neighborhood has approximately 200 homes among which about 50 members pay the $10 annual fee. Of those 50 members, approximately 20% are active and work the required three garden days during each of the two growing seasons (this is Texas so they are able to grow year round!). On the day of our visit, Angela was directing a dozen plus volunteers digging footing holes for a harvest house to contain a table and stainless steel sink to process future garden bounties. The volunteers were neighbors and also architect students from three local universities, who designed the harvest house as part of the curriculum. It's this exchange of knowledge and labor that Angela says fuels the growth of community gardens.
When Angela began at Green Spaces Alliance in 2007, only three pilot community gardens existed. To date, 39 community gardens exist in the San Antonio area. Domestic and international groups alike are inspired by the progress in San Antonio and frequently seek advice and support from Green Spaces Alliance regarding use of sustainability and shared knowledge in establishing community gardens. To find a community garden in your area, visit the American Community Gardening Association website. If you can't find one in your area, perhaps it's time to dig a garden in YOUR community!
Your Plant Based Forks on the Road,
Matt & Erica, the Wandering Food Pharm
Matt & Erica are Plant Based Advocates & Writers. Always seeking new adventures, please Email Plant-Based destination suggestions!