My 2014 resolution is to help transform Gulfport Florida’s currently empty and unused community garden into a beautiful, abundant space which grows not just food, but also kinship, culture, and self-sufficiency….
Big changes are coming. Big changes are here: Peak oil, climate change, depreciation of the dollar, the looming age demographic shift. All of which have enormous implications for the future of Mankind and The Planet Earth.
We can either educate ourselves and meet these challenges prepared and head-on, or we can stick our heads in the sand and suffer the inevitable consequences (some of which will undoubtedly include: scarcity of food and resources, increased conflict and crime, and even loss of lives)….. Community gardens have the potential to strengthen communities and prepare people for the big environmental and economic changes ahead.
-By preparing and educating ourselves, not only can we avoid the negative consequences of (continued) irresponsible, unsustainable living, but we can also create and enjoy the natural, healthy abundance which I believe is the birth right of every living creature.
Below are some specific ideas / goals for making the Gulfport community garden into a place which will “grease the wheels” of Big Change and Transition.
GOALS FOR THE (Placemaking of the) GULFPORT COMMUNITY GARDEN: ——————————————————————————————————-
*Create a platform for community members to host and participate in hands-on sustainable living and community building workshops, covering such topics as: Organic gardening, urban farming, renewable energies, natural building, permaculture, alternative economies, resource management, and craft skills.
*Create a Seed Library –Having free seeds available and nearby will make participation easier, and encourage the growing of food, while also increasing the city’s food security –Harvesting and saving heirloom seeds will–overtime–create varieties of fruits and vegetables which are highly adapted to the local climate (and therefore more hardy, abundant and successful…also increasing food security).
*Create an atmosphere which fosters Intergenerational and intercultural Relationships. –Facilitate after school intergenerational activities. (Parents are still at work, kids need direction, and elderly have much to offer and need a sense of purpose). –Host monthly potlucks with specific cultural / ethnic themes. –Pair pre-teens and teens with senior citizens in a project to record oral histories. (House them at the local history museum or at the city library). –Once a month have an outdoor film viewing. –Have open mic and story telling events.
*Have local restaurants sponsor the Garden and grow certain food items for their menu.
*Integrate the work of local artists into the garden’s landscape. –This will serve to support and enrich local culture and also create a beautiful / inviting atmosphere which will encourage participation.
*Eventually create another community garden in Clymer Park. –The central location of Clymer Park, and the fact that it is located along city transit lines (having a bus stop just across the street) makes it easily accessible to all . (Consider the fact that not everyone drives–particularly senior citizens, children, and those with very little expendable income). –Clymer park is also located next to the Senior Center, several youth centers, the library and the local theater… It makes sense that the community garden would also be near by…. See the permaculture principle of “Connect”, dealing with Relative Location. –Clymer park is highly visible (self-promoting), and has lots of unused open space. Currently, city taxes are being used to maintain the park’s grass lawn. Why not put some of that money toward an irrigation system and support the growing of food instead of grass? –Currently the garden is inconveniently located–neither highly visible or easily accessible. As a matter of fact, many people we’ve spoken to aren’t even aware there is a community garden.
*Encourage the conversion of empty lots throughout the city into gardens/edible landscapes. (Encourage the city to give tax breaks to land owners who allow their land to be use for this purpose). This will create more food security for Gulfport Residents and also create more opportunities to stimulate the local economy. (Food security will become a real issue as food prices continue to rise as a result of Peak Oil).
*Gain 501-c-3 Status for the garden –Gaining non-profit status will make the garden eligible for many public and private grants.
Keep an eye out for press releases in Gulfport’s newspaper, The Gabber, which will tell of upcoming community garden meetings and events.