It’s four months into our garden project at Seidman, and I still get the same question nearly every day.
“What’s that?” They say, pointing to our peppers or tomatoes. They run over, inspect the plants, feel the texture of the leaves, run their hands through the soil, and smell the plant and its fruit. They pepper staff with questions revealing that deep and sincere curiosity that only children have. How long does it take to grow? How many plants do we have? Have you eaten them yet? How do the tomatoes taste?
They ask about the compost, too. What’s in it? Why do we do it? How does it work? And, oh look, worms!
The compost and garden projects are a perfect example of successful programming. It’s a microcosm of our organization, encapsulating many of the essential elements that help us serve our community.
It introduces something novel and encourages our members to dig deeper, metaphorically, and, well, sometimes literally. These projects spark critical conversations about healthy lifestyles and good citizenship, two of our primary programming goals. It’s also a response to real needs in our community. Access to healthy, pesticide free, non-GMO foods remains a significant challenge facing urban communities, and our garden, however small, helps us raise awareness of this issue with our members. Our compost helps us show our members a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way to dispose of waste, too. Both of these issues are taking on increasing importance, and the earlier we bring them to our members’ attention, the better.
And through these programs, we’ve been able to reinforce ties with neighboring organizations, such as Urban Roots, which provided critical knowledge and materials at the onset of our composting project. Their support, and the support of other businesses and organizations, was crucial and helped us provide our members with the best programming possible.
Perhaps most importantly, these projects were fun. From painting our buckets to harvesting our vegetables, the project contained many different elements that catered to kids’ various interests. Next year we plan on expanding our garden project and diversifying our crop supply, and we expect participation to be even bigger. With a little luck and some rain, we will start a cooking class in the club with our very own, naturally grown vegetables to further encourage healthy lifestyles among our members.
We hope that community partners will be with us again next year, committed to supporting our mission and our work.