A Community of Gardeners
When Peterson Garden Project was born in 2010, I never suspected it would grow into the far-reaching educational organization it is today, including the addition of our Community Cooking School and expanding our mission to encompass a plot-to-plate approach to teach people how to grow AND cook their own food.
It’s important to remember that the inspiration for our first garden, and Peterson Garden Project as a whole, was VICTORY; reminding ourselves that we can band together, teach each other and help our communities thrive like the WW2 Victory Garden movement.
Some things have changed since 2010 – our political climate for one – but our core mission remains the same. The WW2 Victory Garden model still inspires us to use vacant urban land to teach people how to grow their own food and to learn meaningful skills as we gather for a meal together in the Community Cooking School.
Victory is still at the heart of PGP and, in 2017, we have new victories to achieve. First is making sure that our gardens are open and welcoming to everyone – no matter where you’re from, what language you speak, your income level, class, color or creed. It’s worth repeating, unequivocally: our program is and always will be open to everyone.
In Start a Community Food Garden: The Essential Handbook, I shared the lessons I learned from PGP about people being the most important part of our—and any successful—community garden program. Community is more important than ever.
While our core values remain the same, we’re also adjusting to changing times—and your feedback. First, this year’s revamped orientation program allows more gardeners from each garden to connect face-to-face. We’re also asking that everyone spend at least two to four hours volunteering over the course of the season to maintain the gardens and be actively involved. Finally, we’re making a concerted effort to recruit more community members to lead each garden more directly.
PGP is an educational and membership organization. We aren’t landlords – we don’t rent plots. We create an environment for learning and growth. Our mission is to teach everyone how to grow and cook their own food. A positive byproduct is helping our members lead and contribute to a healthy, neighborhood-based community. Teaching these skills is important since a lifelong skill benefits more than just the learner. The more people we teach, the more people there are to teach others. The more people who know how to mobilize their neighbors in positive ways, the better our communities, and our country, will be.
So here we go for our eighth season! As always, your opinion, participation and leadership matter. I’m always available for your questions and ideas – reach out any time to email@example.com.
Thank you for making PGP what it is today. When I’m speaking around the country I often say that I might have been the spark, but you are the kindling that keeps this fire burning.