Here We Grow
This is a new program that speaks to our times and dovetails with our Take Root initiative that informs and inspires people to plant trees – the best way to drawdown CO2 from our atmosphere. With Here We Grow we will introduce a modern-day Victory Garden project to encourage people to value the land and nature by installing, developing or updating their gardens to provide beauty, food, and pollinator habitat. This meets our overall organizational mission and will resonate with many people who are doing two things during this crisis: gardening and cooking.
Here We Grow is a natural progression from how we have developed the garden at our office on State Circle and Maryland Avenue, the Annapolis Green House. We began three years ago by removing all non-natives and replanting to make it a pollinator friendly habitat. Two years ago we met the author of Foodscape Revolution and planted edibles in with the native flowering plants. The concept of making this garden the cornerstone of an area-wide movement came to fruition in the past few months as the following became clear due to the pandemic:
- The industrial food distribution system is easily disrupted and will likely get worse with Climate Change.
- People need to connect to nature and understand where their food comes from in order to be willing to take action to protect the environment.
- There is growing interest in gardening and cooking during this time – a trend that is likely to continue.
Over the last few years our garden has been a beautiful example of urban gardening – fueled by our “secret ingredient,” the compost we sell comprised of waste from many of our Responsible Events and Festivals. It only makes sense to have our garden serve as the centerpiece and demonstration garden.
Our spring compost and organic potting mix is available for sale, $10 per bag. Read more.
This program will educate, provide resources, and inspire, both online and in-person, and create a “club” to build momentum supported by social media. Once we obtain funding, we will form a “Charter Club” of individuals who will also sign on to serve as mentors and comprise the first 25 gardens that will receive a “Starter Kit.”
After the first 25, additional club members will have access to resources (partner organization/business discounts for example) and receive their sought-after Here We Grow garden marker for a donation.
This project will increase local food accessibility. With the pandemic, concentrated national food distribution systems have proven to be fragile and easily broken. The pandemic has made it clear that local food availability is more important than ever and this can be expected to continue to manifest itself as the climate changes. Further, gardening, particularly food gardening, connects people with Nature – something that modern fast-paced life has lost, much to the detriment of our environment. All of these benefits fit into our ongoing information program about mitigation of Climate Change impacts.
With funding, our guidance will be applicable to urban and suburban settings and will bring together many partners to provide expertise, compost, potting soil, seeds, plants, alternatives to pesticides and herbicides, and fun as well as a nutritious harvest. We will encourage gardeners to donate excess food to local food pantries, food banks and shelters for those in need and will require that they keep track of the scope of their harvest so we can establish a baseline. Virtual interaction will be a huge component. As conditions allow, tours of Here We Grow gardens and local farms will be arranged along with flower, veggie and seed exchanges (swaps).
We will partner with a number of organizations including homeowners’ associations, garden clubs, environmental nonprofits, the City of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, beekeepers, bird clubs, and others.
At the end of this year’s growing season, we hope to showcase the extent of the community-wide harvest. The news would be how much food was produced in individual small gardens and testimonials from those involved – particularly families. Through success and individual engagement we will be ready to “grow” the gardening trend into 2021 and beyond.
Do you belong to an organization that needs funding for a garden? Unity Gardens may be able to help. For information about Unity Gardens’ grant program click here.
No birds in your garden?
Are you providing the right habitat? Are you using pesticides that destroy the food they need — that is, insects and their larvae? Little guys like this Yellow Warbler play a vital role in Nature’s balancing act by keeping insect populations down and even helping with pollination. And besides, they are fun to watch and listen to. Read about a recent study by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
Don’t miss our page all about trees, Take Root.