As president of our Rose Roots Community Garden, I have been remiss in sharing with you my vision, goals and focus for our community in alignment with our garden motto “Gardeners Creating Community” and our mission to create an inclusive community growing local organic foods, supporting pollinators, and bringing many generations up appreciating, respecting, and nurturing nature.
First, though, I’d like to share some background on how I developed these ideas over time. As a new Rose Roots gardener, these were some of my experiences:
My sons were raised eating dirt in the garden, gaining independence and confidence, developing a diverse gut biota, and learning how food can be grown supporting healthy soils and a healthy environment. The garden gave us (and still does) one of our most peaceful outlets as a family.
I’ve met incredibly inspiring, inclusive and thoughtful people who are doing wonderful work towards growing community with a focus on inclusivity and equality and a passion for caring for Mother Nature.
I’ve gardened now with three generations and found our garden is a great place to spend peaceful time together and integrate multiple generations with local community.
Over time, I've seen the challenges of any young non-profit community group play out.
I've heard marginalizing comments about young people, other leaders, our founders, new gardeners, gardeners with big ideas, families who don’t “do enough” and members who “don’t have follow through”.
I’ve seen leaders chased out, I’ve seen mediation required between gardeners, I’ve seen entire groups of gardeners aim to separate and start their own garden due to lack of trust, I’ve seen whole leadership teams quit and I’ve seen notices come to gardeners that the garden will be dissolved if “someone else doesn’t step up”.
I’ve seen individual gardeners called out on social media and in meetings for perceived infractions
I’ve seen age-ism towards all ages, and classism with an Us and Them mentality.
I’ve seen my neighbors quit because they "can’t handle the drama”.
I’ve seen more and more signs go up telling gardeners the Do’s and Don’ts and signs torn down in sign wars
I’ve seen pumpkins stolen from plots every few years and, gardener’s vegetables vandalized.
I’ve seen turf wars, exclusive behavior and private decisions made behind seemingly closed doors.
Forever A New Gardener
While I may have misperceived some of these interactions, I felt like a “new” gardener for many years. I didn’t really understand where to get information or updates. I didn’t understand garden processes or know how to seek out resources to become a better gardener. I didn’t know how to integrate into the community. That may have been partially my fault. Having undergone 6 major surgeries in my first years gardening resulting in major physical limitations for some years, and having two small boys running me ragged, I may have missed a few monthly newsletters in my rammed Inbox. I can see how young families struggle to read anything that comes at them (you know who you are and I get you! If you can’t find it in your inbox, check out our website or Kiosk!)
You’re Not Alone