Monday, July 13, 2009

Gardening As a Movement

For the last six months, there's been an undeniable buzz in the Clinton County air that would otherwise have seemed foreign. Issues of sustainability and green development have appeared above the fold in the Wilmington News Journal almost as often as ribbon-cutting ceremonies and little-league victories. People are more conscious of their daily habits now than they ever have been, and they're thinking community-first. It can best be described as a new, community driven energy, and Wilmington has started to move.

One aspect of this movement is a focus on gardening and sustainable food production. Mark and Taylor have done a remarkable job marketing the benefits of gardening, whether backyard or in a community setting, and their support has been instrumental in the last few months. I suppose now would be a good time to introduce myself: I'm John Cropper, a Wilmington native, friend of Mark and Taylor and recent transplant who now serves as an AmeriCorps* VISTA volunteer at Wilmington College. I can honestly say that I am back in Wilmington, moved from Columbus, because of this fresh thinking: our project as VISTA volunteers is a community gardening and local food movement called Grow Food, Grow Hope. Sustainable food policy and production is enjoying a national media frenzy right now: whether in the White House kitchen garden or in movie theaters, where two new food documentaries, "Food, Inc." and "Fresh" are gaining widespread acclaim. And we can't help but think that Wilmington is already a leg-up.

Already, there is a laundry list of gardening projects happening around the city. There is the ECC demonstration garden at Denver Park; there is the Grow Food, Grow Hope community garden on the Wilmington College campus, where families come every week to harvest fresh vegetables and learn how to prepare them on site; there is the Wilmington College farm on Fife Avenue, where we are growing a number of different crops to be donated to local food pantries, and later this year, we are hoping to establish upwards of 30 backyard gardens at the homes of Clinton County residents, using our capacity to help build and facilitate the gardens. It can be confusing at times describing the various gardens to people who aren't familiar with our project. But that's not a bad thing. That there are enough gardening projects happening to make somebody confused is only a sign that we are doing something right.

It is our hope, at Wilmington College, at ECC, and throughout the community, that we can all come together to utilize whatever resources we have available. I will be blogging on the ECC garden blog as time progresses, and I would hope you would follow the Grow Food, Grow Hope blog as well, at


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