Posted on 23 June 2011 by

Greening Up The Food Desert

By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

It is amazing how much can get done when one has a vision.

One vision I have had for years is for every community to have gardens.

No, I am not talking about those showy, non-native flowering gardens that every community has down their main street but instead gardens that tell the story of their individual roots.

These individual roots grow out from the concepts and ideas that each community has been built upon.

My community has seen Jonathan Jennings, Lewis and Clark and many other famous people that came before me and established the framework that we all can add to but choose not to.

We all wait until that right person steps up and does it. If it works, it was a great idea but if it does not then no one claims it. But being a person who takes pride in “thinking outside the box” and having no problem “sticking my neck out,” I decided to start a community garden.

Part of my drive was my Masters degree and the fact that suggestions for my thesis topic really did not interest me. I had visited many different community gardens in a large, metropolitan area in Kentucky and was not impressed. Part of my issue was I was still an angry aggie who wanted to know where all these good doers were when I was a teacher. Where were their collective, agriculture and environmental conscious?

Maybe if they had taken a stand for agriculture programs and their importance, the world would be a better place and kids would know where their food comes from, or at least schoolyard gardens would be constructed for the right reason and not because it is the “New Thing.” Well, it is time to get off my soapbox and move on to the present topic of community gardens.

As I was saying, I wanted to do something that mattered to me for my thesis so I created my own community garden. The process began in December 2010 and is still going on. With the help of the mayor, the perfect location was selected for the garden. The space is being leased by the city with the hope that in 10 years it can be turned into a public space.

The neatest thing though about the property is its past. It was involved in WWII not only for ammunition production but also as a German concentration camp. How honored I was to have a chance to turn a negative into a positive. We gardeners would bring back not only life but also a positive energy of hope to the land.

The city provided the gravel, landscape cloth and beautiful soil (5 year old manure). A boy scout was recruited to build the raised beds. He took the challenge by the roots and ran with it. He raised all the money for the beds ($1,000) without a negative word or complainant. His family cut the wood and we (boy scouts) met on a Saturday in April. We assembled them, trucked them to the site and created the community garden in one day. This day took 15 like-minded individuals 6 hours to complete the project plus all the city workers who worked behind the scenes to make this happen.

On May 7, 2011 the Charlestown Community Gardens will open for planting, weather permitting. A group of like-minded people are going to work together to improve their little piece of earth. Hopefully, we will be greening up our food desert that runs down the main street of town and, if Mother Nature permits, will have extra produce to donate to the local food bank. It is amazing what people can do when they act on their dream.

Explore the pictures of the Charlestown Community Gardens and if you like to see how our first season goes visit us on Facebook.

So until we blog again, check out your own community gardens and give them a try. Greening the planet one vegetable garden at a time.

Before the gardens.











Building the boxes.












Garden area complete, first phase.

Leave a Reply

Recent Comments