The idea of a community garden is certainly not ours to claim. In the past few decades,
community gardens have sprung up all over the United States. The FACS community garden project is a little different, however. Rather than providing land space for individuals to plant as they see fit, our garden is dedicated, first, to providing fresh produce for local foodbanks, and second, to providing education for community groups who wish to grow their own produce. The unfortunate reality is that foodbanks must rely heavily upon processed, non-perishable food items. These tend to be low in nutrition, and high in salt, fat and empty carbohydrates. As our foodbank serves the poorest and, therefore, most vulnerable populations in our county, we have long been saddened to see young mothers who must feed their children these unhealthy foods for lack of the means to provide better. It is to improve the health of these young families that our Garden Coordinator, Steve Palecki, began this garden project. Everything that this garden yields will, in some way, benefit the local foodbanks with fresh produce.
The garden is open to community groups, and sign- up is free. Each group agrees to contribute a tenth of their yield, and this will be divided between St. Joseph’s Food Pantry, and our foodbank here at FACS.
The garden is also beginning to support itself financially. We recently received our registration as an organic garden. As a result, we can sell our yield as registered organic produce. Steve has already found local buyers for most of our garlic, and all of this money goes to improving the garden.
More than this, though, we are using the garden as an opportunity to educate others on how to grow their own, more nutritious produce. The Hispanic diabetic support group has been with us from the beginning, all of them interested in learning how to improve their health through changes in their diet. More than this, though, Steve Palecki is using the garden as working with troubled young people from the Eel River Community School. He also does educational presentations for grade schools throughout the area, teaching kids where food comes from and the advantages of growing their own food.