A group of gardeners has banded together to create the Inland Northwest Community Gardens group to help people create their own community or school gardens and promote community gardening.
“It’s a group of people who had been working together on gardening things for a while,” said the group’s president, Kathleen Callum. “Most of us are (WSU) Master Gardeners.”
Community gardens have been growing in popularity in recent years but sometimes the gardens fade away after they are created, Callum said. Her group wants to help promote the gardens and revive interest in those that have gone dormant or are being underused. “It really depends on the garden need,” she said.
Ninety percent of a community garden’s success is the community, she said. “The community has to be wanting a garden,” she said. “A lot of gardens were built that really didn’t have a community.”
The group provides speakers on a variety of topics, including growing and maintaining a community garden, the basics of harvesting, identifying common weeds, composting, organic gardening and basic vegetable gardening.
The benefits of community gardens are many, Callum said. On average food travels 1,500 miles before it reaches your plate, but a community garden creates local food sources. “It pares down the food miles,” she said. “This is a gateway to opening up the local food network.”
Community gardens provide a food source for those who might have difficulty affording fresh vegetables and they also help preserve green space, she said.
“It gets people outdoors,” she said. “It’s just good all around for our activity levels. People can experience nature in them.”
They can also be educational for children, teaching them about where their food comes from and exposing them to something that can’t be found in a classroom. “Kids can touch a worm,” Callum said.
The group’s resources can also be used by those who have a backyard garden, but they’re focused on promoting community gardens that give access to people who don’t have a yard. “It gives people who don’t have access to land access to land to grow things,” Callum said. “Our whole thing is to grow edible food gardening.”
The group has community meetings and potlucks twice a year. The spring meeting and potluck is set for April 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the WSU Extension Office, 222 N. Havana St. Thom and Torie Foote of Footehill Farms will be speaking on “Creating the Small Permaculture Market Garden Farm.”
The public is invited to attend the 6 p.m. lecture, which is free. Members are invited to stay for a potluck dinner, seed swap, prizes, a silent auction and resource tables. Yearly membership will be offered for a discounted rate of $8 during the evening. The normal membership price is $10.
Group members receive discounts of between 10 and 15 percent at local garden stores. The group also offers gardening programs for kids throughout the year.
“We’re hoping people walk in the doors and hook up to the local food network,” Callum said.
Inland Northwest Community Gardens is updating its website at incgincommunitygardens.org that will feature a complete list of local community gardens when it is finished so people can easily connect with a garden in their area. Upcoming events are also announced on their Facebook page.
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