As the holiday spirit enveloped Botanical Interests home office, our minds all started to shift towards food. We excitedly shared recipes, brought in food to taste, and even had a competition or two to see who could make the best or most interesting dish. My favorite aspect of the holidays is people coming together around food, and that alone made work a little more fun. While we were celebrating, it was obvious that we all had enough to eat and could afford some of the luxuries of the season. But what about those who don’t?
I am sure that we all have something special to give, so I had to ask, “What could Botanical Interests do to make a contribution in the spirit of the season but also reflect our special type of gift?” Then the answer came…SEEDS! But honestly that is my answer to a lot of questions in life…go figure. How could our seeds make a difference to those who have less, this time of year or any other?
We decided to donate LOTS of seed to organizations that help to feed people in our area and who also utilize gardens to help supplement peoples’ diets with healthful, local, fresh food. We found some really amazing organizations in our area to share with. We may have helped them fill some of the needs of their patrons, but they gave me a much appreciated understanding of who are in need, what is helpful, and a glimpse of the immense amount of compassion at work in our community.
The Sister Carmen Community Center has been serving communities in Eastern Boulder County for over 30 years. They provide a complete array of individual and family services to those in need without discrimination. The Botanical Interests seed donation I brought them will be used to enhance their Nutrition and Healthy Living program. This program includes their food bank, which is supplemented by the onsite organic garden. Fresh produce from the garden is used to supplement the food bank’s offerings but it does much more. The garden is a place where neighbors come to meet, learn about organic food production, and share in the gratifying process of providing their own food.
Talking to Dee Zucco, the Development Director, about the organic garden helped reinforce that, regardless of means, gardening is an important part of enriching the human experience. I also learned that the demographics of food bank patrons have changed in recent years. Many previously well-off people now struggle with food security on a daily basis and can look to their gardens as a practical means of sustenance during hard financial times. With this realization, I became even more grateful for the chance to have our seeds not only in the Sister Carmen organic garden, but also on the food bank shelves as a part of their holistic approach to nutrition and healthy living. The care and service that Sister Carmen Community Center provides to their community is a humbling thing and worth checking out for yourself at http://www.sistercarmen.org.
Growing Gardens is a local award winning organization that seeks to “enrich the lives of our community through sustainable urban agriculture”. When I met with Lauren Richardson, their Greenhouse Manager, it was a cold, snowy day, but the potential of the gardens was obvious. As we took photos in the manure spreader, she described their programs to me and I knew right away that this was a friendship and partnership that was meant to last. The only way to get a feel for their amazing programs is by looking for yourself at their website, www.growinggardens.org. They serve the agricultural needs of every segment of the local population; their contributions are impressive. Their 11 community gardens provide access to plots for over 1400 local gardeners. The “Children’s Peace Garden” program taught 3,800 kids about their food sources and how to grow and cook simple recipes from the gardens. They implemented a 50-member Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA), the “Cultiva Youth Project”. Teens planted, cultivated and harvested produce on their 2-acre garden. Many of the proceeds from the CSA were donated to those in need in the community. Over 3,100 low-income individuals received donations of over 10,000 plant starts, 400 seed packets and over 12,000 lbs. of produce were donated. WOW!
The potential of urban agriculture was evident in the passionate descriptions of programs by Lauren and measurable results of Growing Gardens. It is wonderful to know that Botanical Interests’ seeds are going to fuel this engine of change in our community.
It is humbling and refreshing to witness what people with a passion for community, horticulture, and giving of themselves can do to feed the bodies and hearts of their neighbors. If we all make a little contribution to the things we find important for our communities we can make sure everyone has what they need, regardless of time of year.
I feel honored to say thank you on behalf of Botanical Interests for letting us be part of bettering our community. We hope you get the same chance. In 2013 we look forward to joining you in your gardens, your communities and your hearts…you are in ours.