On Sept. 6, Cassville Middle School student Drake Thomas presented the Cassville City Council with his idea for a community garden. Drake hopes to organize a project that would bring together community members of all ages to learn about and experience growing their own fruits and vegetables. In order to make his idea a success, Drake will need the support of many people in our community. First, he will need a generous individual interested in donating the use of land for the establishment of the garden. Although Cassville resident Charlie Jackson has already stepped forward to offer his time and equipment to help prepare the land for the garden, the middle schooler will be required to find individuals interested in planting seeds and caring for individual plots in the garden. Other needs will arise as the project progresses and becomes more successful, but just the community garden's start-up efforts will require participation from many local residents.
I know that some of our readers will acknowledge that Drake has a great idea. They will likely even hope that he is successful in his conquest to begin a community garden, but they won't feel the need to get involved. The American Community Gardening Association offers several benefits of community gardens. According to the association, community gardens: improve the quality of life for participants; provide a catalyst for neighborhood and community development; stimulate social interaction; encourage self-reliance; beautify neighborhoods; produce nutritious foods; reduce family food budgets; conserve resources; create opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy and education; preserve green space; create income opportunities and economic development; and provide opportunities for intergenerational and cross-cultural connections.
Drake's vision for a Cassville community garden is a place where children can work alongside their parents, grandparents, friends, teachers and neighbors to learn about nature. He would like to see children have the opportunity to grow fruits and vegetables to enjoy with their family or sell through a farmers' market-style venue that would provide financial support for the community garden. He hopes to see this market be successful enough to allow participants to donate extra funds to a local charity. He also has plans to provide some fresh produce to local food pantries.
The middle schooler's vision might sound overly ambitious, but just think of what this could mean to our community if it were successful. Drake's community garden would offer a learning environment for youngsters and an opportunity for families to grow fresh produce for their dinner tables. It could also provide donations for some of the valuable organizations in our community, and allow youth in our community to learn about charity. With all these things in mind, isn't it more difficult to find a reason not to get involved and help Drake make his community garden a success? I believe a community garden is a great idea. I hope Cassville community members see it as an idea worth supporting.