For 31 years, The Garden Project, a program of the Greater Lansing Food Bank, has been a mainstay in community, serving the greater Lansing region and beyond.
Since 1979, the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) has also been a grassroots, collective effort and a leading voice in the community garden movement. Run by a passionate volunteer board, the ACGA provides education, advocacy, networking and a variety of other benefits to gardeners on a national scale.
On Aug. 9-10, The Garden Project’s Alex Bryan and Julie Lehman were able to honor those years by attending the 35th annual ACGA Anniversary Conference in Chicago, where ACGA first began. Joining more than 400 other leaders from all over North America and many foreign countries, the event brought inspiring new ideas for community engagement as well as a reaffirmation of the immeasurable benefits that community gardening provides.
Both Bryan and Lehman left feeling inspired to continue the good work of developing a healthier food system and proud that our community has supported the Greater Lansing Food Bank in this mission for so many years.
More than one jaw dropped when they shared how long the Garden Project has been helping those in need to grow their own healthy food.
The conference offered opportunities to tour a wide variety of community gardens, each serving as a gateway into a unique neighborhood. From the KAM Isaiah Israel Garden, on the grounds of one of the oldest synagogues in the nation and across the street from the Obama family residence, volunteers have poured more than 9,000 pounds of organically grown produce into three neighborhood food pantries.
The Growing Pride Tour in North Chicago, where immigrants are drawn from Puerto Rico and many other countries, featured gardens rich in diversity and magnetism.
“To be immersed for four days with new friends that shared a common vision of building community by increasing and enhancing community gardening, was a powerful experience,” said Lehman. “What made it even more meaningful was reflecting on the unique perspectives each participant had as well, many which were shared during some great lectures.”
Presentations ranged from how to use a garden to recover traditional heritage, to the challenges and solutions that gardening in a rural community provides.
The Garden Project offered the workshop, How to Operate a Tool & Resource Library as a Means to Fight Hunger, highlighting the Resource Center and the commitment to providing resources to grow healthy food for gardeners who are most in need.
“In all, it was inspiring experience and one that further instilled the truth that together, our impact is much greater than one’s individual contributions,” said Bryan.
“I hope that at least for a moment this season, whether it be weeding with a new gardener, sharing a basket of extra produce from your harvest, or taking the time to be still with a child in a place of natural beauty, that you too will feel the connections that you are a part of,” said Lehman.
To learn more about the Garden Project; our resources, our gardens & our work, visit: http://greaterlansingfoodbank.org/programs/the-garden-project/ or call us at 853-7809.