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Fresh From the Forge

Lisa Martinez, BUG Garden Educator, had been delivering Forge produce to the HomeSafe shelter on a weekly basis when she realized there might be an opportunity to strengthen the connection between Bronco Urban Gardens (BUG) and the HomeSafe shelter. Lisa saw that the HomeSafe mothers demonstrated great interest in putting good, healthy and organic produce on their tables and felt there was no better way to support this than bring a garden to them. At the same time, Chai Talks, a club under SCU’s Multicultural Center, reached out to BUG, hopeful to help in the nearby San Jose community. The interest of the HomeSafe mothers, Chai Talks, and Lisa’s vision all came together at once to get the ball rolling.

Building the container garden took place over two days, one of which concentrated on brainstorming. Building a garden is only effective if it is planned for everyone’s needs and abilities. Not only did HomeSafe and BUG work together to lay out a sound garden layout, but also a maintenance plan. The garden currently features 6 half-barrel containers with the potential to add arching trellises--maximizing space is key in urban gardening! This container-style garden will be able to feature year-round vegetable crops, perfect for “farm-to-fork” nutritious eating.

This garden creates an opportunity for the mothers to take charge of what they put on their tables; they can plant, grow and harvest both what they want and need to promote a healthy lifestyle for their families and community. Fostering a garden at HomeSafe not only provides gardening skills to them, but also offers a wonderful opportunity for their children to learn a lifelong skill from them. As Lisa put it, “While tomatoes, hands-down, always taste better from a garden, the act of gardening together promotes happy, healthy families and communities...Community gardens require us to work together--to collaborate. This is not always comfortable and can require some compromise. Community gardens also provide common ground. In tending to the plants, caring for the earth, and harvesting its bounty, we are all one in our garden and working towards a shared goal to eat well and live well. The garden, especially when shared, addresses food production issues, increases food security and raises our ecological awareness. It is the kind of the garden that grows mindfulness and builds community.”

As the weather warms up, consider gathering with your family and friends to plan a community garden. Snacks in the sunshine could include homegrown watermelon or the weekly community gathering could feature fresh salsa from the garden. The opportunities are endless!

environmentaljustice, may16, non-feature, Forge Garden