Thursday, June 7, 2012

I grow, therefore I am....

I've been gone for few days and have come back recharged and ready to take on the world.  We went to Austin to participate in a three day training session developed by the Sustainable Food Center, focusing on school and community gardens, farmer outreach and a program called The Happy Kitchen (La Cocina Alegre).

 The program included field trips and what we saw was amazing.  Austin has managed (with the help of the SFC) to create a vibrant, growing (pun intended) community around growing your own food.  I was completely amazed by the sheer number of community gardens in Austin.

One of the gardens we visited was Festival Beach.  A lot of thought was put into planning the garden and how it fits into the community.  Flower beds were placed on the edges of the garden for the neighborhood to enjoy, and they were blooming in full force.  They had also taken taken note of how water moved through the garden and placed swailes and berms to channel the rainwater where they wanted it - no sense wasting it.  Austin gives recognized community gardens a break on their water bills; they don't pay stormwater drainage fees.
Corn at Festival Beach
Each of the gardens had a donation plot that everyone agreed to work in as a condition of using the garden, and they are all organic by design.  No chemicals here!  
Some of the largest kale we had ever seen
The New Day Community Garden
The New Day Community Garden had some amazing kale, and a number of gardeners using vertical systems.  I had never seen a bean wall as high as the one we found there, and the tomatoes were placed just behind it, shading them from the hot afternoon sun.  This is a lot of food!
It's always important to have a place to relax and chat with fellow gardeners.
The gardens really inspired me.  We have some great community gardens here in Dallas (more on that later) but I think we need more.  The biggest part of the garden is not the plants, it's the community, and we can never have enough of that.


Brian Gallimore said...

Sounds like a great learning experience. I want to hear more about what you learned! Is there a 'starting a community garden for dummies' book?

the Seed Starter said...

Actually, there is! The American Community Gardening Association has some great resources ( and the Sustainable Food Center in Austin ( has some great info on their website. SFC even has a community garden leadership training program.

H.L. Nelson said...

Isn't it amazing in Austin? We just love it here. :) I hope DFW starts to shape up a bit. Looks like you all are doing some good work.

the Seed Starter said...

Austin is wonderful...but Dallas is rocking right now! Lot's of great stuff happening in the DFW area! You won't recognize it when you visit!