They say good fences make good neighbors, but community farming expert and entrepreneur Daron “Farmer D” Joffe, CFO and founder of Farmer D Organics in Atlanta, would say it’s good gardens that are the key.
By designing and developing community gardens, finding work for volunteers, and bringing neighbors together with a common goal, Joffe, and many other community garden fans around the country, are enhancing and uniting entire neighborhoods. Most important, they are also feeding underserved children and teaching them and their families lifetime skills for accessing healthy, economical food.
“By showing someone how to grow vegetables on their own, we provide them with the knowledge to continue this process for the rest of their lives,” says Joffe. “This positively influences their diets for life, rather than just a single meal.”
So just what is a “community garden?” It can be many things, but generally they are spaces owned and managed by non-profits, local governments or neighborhood associations. They can vary from what many Americans know as the small, World War II-style “victory gardens” of just vegetables, to conservation projects for preserving a natural space, to urban beautification work.
Joffe’s program, “Teach to Grow,” is one of the other rapidly developing movements—offering assistance to low-income families by helping them develop and grow their own sources of food and hope. Teach to Grow provides discounted or free community garden development in needy areas and teaches children to cultivate and sustain their own gardens—a rewarding activity both for the soul and the supper table.
Of course, like any community project, there are hurdles even for something as seemingly-simple as gardens: distinction between plots (vigorous plants like marigolds can extend into a friend’s plot), American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, and availability (the new Daybreak development in Salt Lake Valley, Utah has hundreds of plots—and still a waiting list).
But the results are well worth the effort when you see the friendships and healthy food that are shared. Read more about Joffe and these projects in Building Community Through Community Gardens.