Community Gardens Are Sprouting Up Around the City

Community gardens are sprouting up around the city. Gardening has long been popular, and often necessary, in larger cities or urban areas where space is hard to come by. The idea is beginning to catch on in smaller cities, including Tulsa, with people who don’t have time to manage a backyard garden, don’t have the space to start a garden or with those who simply enjoy the process of gardening with others.

There’s a new crop of farmers around Tulsa. These community gardeners aren’t interested in making a profit, but rather working the land together to share the fruits of their labor.

Demalda Newsome of Newsome Community Farms has four community gardens around Tulsa, including one at Neighbor for Neighbor at 505 E. 36th St. North and another at her home and site of the North Tulsa Farmers’ Market at 2620 E. 56th St. North.

“People should know how to grow their own food. It’s a basic necessity that can’t be taken away from you,” Newsome said.

Newsome has made it her mission to open her gardens to low-income families, who she believes will benefit not only from the harvest, but from learning how to garden so they can pass it on to friends and family.

She has taken advantage of several grant opportunities that have provided the funds to keep her community gardens going, and has brought in funding to start two new community gardens in the fall.

Those new gardens are planned for Alcott Elementary and the Deborah Brown Community School, where, Newsome said children will be hands-on in the project from the beginning — from planting seeds, taking care of the seedlings and weeding, to harvesting the fruits and vegetables.

“It’s a value for life, and something they can pass on to generation after generation,” Newsome said.

Many of those who come to community gardens do not have farming or gardening backgrounds.

In fact, some of the students at a new community garden on the University of Tulsa campus had never even dug in the dirt before becoming full-fledged gardeners in their space around Fifth Street and Harvard Avenue.

TU student Chelsea Coleman knew a proposal for a community garden from a novice gardener like herself might be a hard sell to university officials, but her enthusiasm and ability to project how much interest it would generate among students ensured a piece of university-owned land.

In working with TU, Coleman and other students developed a 15-year plan to keep the garden going, and to extend its presence into the surrounding community.

It also helped that the students had guidance, and plant donations, from local farmers, including Emily Oakley and Mike Appel of Three Springs Farms.

Related  Act Today to Protect Food Safety Agency From Monsanto Operative!

At 9 a.m. on Saturdays and throughout the week, TU students work in the garden. The reward comes when their work is done, and they all take as many vegetables as they like. At times when there is an abundance of a particular crop, the students give away some of their produce. This summer, the students picked the entire crop of onions and donated it to Food for Thought for a dinner for the homeless.

Though it’s mostly TU students who are part of the garden, Coleman said anyone in the area is welcome.

“We want community-wide participation. There are no separate plots — it’s all taken care of communally,” Coleman said.

Some of Newsome’s gardens, including the garden at Neighbor for Neighbor, serve specific purposes. At Neighbor for Neighbor, the garden is a source for fresh vegetables in addition to the groceries already received from the food pantry. Also, those who have taken loans from Neighbor for Neighbor can pay off those loans by working in the community garden.

“Repaying their loans in exchange for working in the garden is the best choice for some,” said Anna Mowry, community projects coordinator for Neighbor for Neighbor. “When you plant a tomato plant, you’re helping in a number of ways — for the garden, for yourself. All you have to do is give a little of yourself.”

Newsome believes it’s important for community gardeners to understand their larger role in the discussion of community gardens and sustainable agriculture.

“People say ‘Why is it that I don’t have food?’ when we should look at how to grow it. Through the community garden, I want to teach people entrepreneurial ideas like growing their food and then selling it at a market,” she said. “We used to know how to plant our food, but somewhere we lost that, and now we’re going to take it back.”

Want to see community gardens sprouting around your city? see Starting a Community Garden

The Ready Store
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease" ~ Thomas Jefferson

1 thought on “Community Gardens Are Sprouting Up Around the City”

Leave a Comment