The anticipation of spring is a thrill for many community gardeners who await the opportunity to grow their own food and build meaningful relationships in the garden. While urban agriculture and community gardening may be a relatively new concept for many in our region, it is a phenomenon that has been sweeping through the country for many years. Muskingum County’s strong agricultural roots and our Appalachian heritage lends itself nicely to this model of community development.
Urban agriculture is a movement comprised of individuals who care about issues such as environmentalism, food insecurity, community development, and social justice among others. At its core, it is a platform by which people of different backgrounds and interests collide around the concept of growing food in urban environments. The idea of growing food in the city is not new. Many individuals and families have been growing fruits and vegetables in their backyard for decades. Yet, as our food system has become more mechanized and removed from our daily lives, many are looking to get in touch with where their food comes from.
The significance and impact of community gardens runs much deeper than growing food. It engages folks in the foundational, life-giving practices of agriculture and simple living. It also brings people together across differences around a common goal. This may seem elementary, but in a time when much of our daily lives are politicized, togetherness and community are more important than ever. We desperately need to return to the art of living well together.
This season, several local community gardens will be available to the public for the purpose of growing healthy food. More established gardens like Brighton Grows Community Garden, Maple-Harding Community Garden, and Bethel Community Garden have been around for several seasons and are great resources for community members looking to become involved in the movement. Additionally, there will be several new gardens popping up in Muskingum County this season, all with different focuses. For instance, a Farm to School garden will be developed at Zanesville Community High School and a garden to engage the homeless population will be installed at First United Methodist Church. Individual garden plots can be reserved for personal use at Putnam Gardens, a garden located at Restoration Park on Muskingum Avenue and at Eastside Community Ministry. New Concord is even getting in on the action as a local group of passionate community members are working hard to develop a garden there.
Muskingum County is fortunate to have many passionate advocates working hard to ensure all residents have access to fresh, local food. For those looking to get involved, joining the movement will mean befriending people they may have never encountered otherwise. For others, it will entail growing their own food for the first time. If anything is certain, we all need food and one another to truly thrive. That is what community gardening and urban agriculture is all about. Together we can live into a better future where all are have the opportunity to live well!