Two groups undertake gardening to help community
by Terra Temple
Jul 02, 2012 | 1112 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
What was once a common sight at the corner of Front and Freunghusyen streets is there again thanks to a group of volunteers —  including, from left, Rozann Wilkins, Glenda Sullivan and Tish Lewis — who've planted a community garden at the site. The majority of the crop will be shared with COPE.
— Planet photo by Terra Temple
What was once a common sight at the corner of Front and Freunghusyen streets is there again thanks to a group of volunteers —  including, from left, Rozann Wilkins, Glenda Sullivan and Tish Lewis — who've planted a community garden at the site. The majority of the crop will be shared with COPE. — Planet photo by Terra Temple
slideshow
Jack Hankins, left, puts zucchini and squash in a bucket while Bob Bryan and Jackie Lange check on other vegetables in the community garden being raised by First Baptist Church. The garden's bounty will soon be ready to share with the community.                         — Planet photo by Terra Temple
Jack Hankins, left, puts zucchini and squash in a bucket while Bob Bryan and Jackie Lange check on other vegetables in the community garden being raised by First Baptist Church. The garden's bounty will soon be ready to share with the community. — Planet photo by Terra Temple
slideshow
There was a time when gardens were part of the common backyard landscape.

But as lives got busier and living spaces became smaller, gardening became less common.

Enter the community garden — an alloted space providing groups the opportunity to plant produce for themselves or to share with others.

Two groups have taken on the task this summer to cultivate and help others.

What is a

community garden?

According to the American Community Garden Association, a community garden is any piece of land gardened by a group of people. It can be a community plot or many individual plots used by a variety of organizations or groups to grow flowers or vegetables. The purpose and benefits of a community garden can be as wide as its definition — from growing produce for market to producing nutritious food to improving the quality of life.

According to the community gardening toolkit produced by University of Missouri Extension, community gardens in the United States can be traced to 1890s' Detroit. At the time, the gardens began as a way to provide land and technical assistance to unemployed workers in large cities and to teach civics and good work habits in youth. They also provided food as Americans moved to the suburbs and away from food sources.

Almost 30 years later during World War I, the government promoted community gardens to supplement the domestic food supply. During the Great Depression, community gardens provided a means for the unemployed to grow their own food. World War II's Victory Gardens encouraged people to grow food for personal consumption, recreation and to improve morale.

As a response to urban abandonment, rising inflation, environmental concerns and a desire to build neighborly connections, community gardens saw rebirth in the 1970s. Citywide organizations assisted people with acquiring land, constructing gardens and developing educational programming.

Local residents used gardens to rebuild neighborhoods and expand green spaces. Although common themes of food production, income generation, recreation, education and beautification still provided a strong rationale for gardening, a new focus was placed on rebuilding social networks and the infrastructure of blighted urban communities.

While more commonly associated with urban areas, research is showing the use of community gardens today is growing in rural areas.

For organizations like COPE, community gardens are providing a different avenue in assisting those in need.

Located in Metropolis, COPE, which stands for Christian Outreach Program Emergency, is a food pantry with the sole purpose of feeding people. The 100 percent volunteer organization is largely funded through donations made by the community's churches, organizations and individuals.

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