What greater metaphor is there for change than planting a seed? You water it, and before long, it grows. Over time, it bears fruit. Finally, the wind or birds carry its seeds near and far, and more and more grows. Change in our communities is like that, too. Consider this little story of something I noticed recently. I drive by a certain home frequently that I always notice because a few years ago, a row of tomatoes suddenly appeared on the front lawn. Over time, I noticed the row got longer, and peppers had been added. Last year, I saw greens growing in the spring and the fall as well. Just yesterday when I went by, I noticed that the tomatoes had been removed for the season and fall crops were being planted. But then something amazing happened. As I was smiling to myself about that garden's success over the years, I noticed the next door neighbor's home. Where previously there had been only lawn, there was now a freshly-tilled row, ready for planting. The first gardener's idea had clearly grown.
Observe the community where you live--drive, walk, or ride your bike around your neighborhood and notice how many people with gardens have neighbors with gardens as well. It would be interesting to see if there are patterns showing "pockets of gardens," where, perhaps, one gardener had an effect on another, and so on. In fact, the Atlanta Local Food Initiative is mapping metro-Atlanta gardens right now. Add your home, school, or community garden to their data by filling out this simple survey and we'll get to see how many seeds of change are growing in metro-Atlanta.
The moral of the story? Every little seed you plant matters, in ways you may not know. Here are some ways you can sow seeds of change in your community.
1. Plant to share. If your neighborhood has a common area, ask to be in charge of it or get permission to at least plant a few things. Choose edibles like herbs and let your neighbors know they are there for the picking. Oregano, rosemary, lavender, lemon thyme, mint, lemon balm, and chives are all low-maintenance perennials that do well in our climate and are "pickable" during a good portion of the year. Of course, this idea works right around your mailbox as well. See our model mailbox garden at our store (pictured above).
2. Garden when people can see you. Do your front-yard gardening when you know people will be passing by, such as when the early-morning or after-work dog-walkers or joggers go by. This gives you the opportunity to wave and build relationships, or, if you have more time, to chat with them to answer questions, to share clippings, and to encourage their gardening interest. Especially consider doing your gardening when the school buses go by, if you're home, as little eyes are watching and learning from you more than you may realize.
3. Show up at city hall. Speak up in support of the amazing urban agriculture initiatives going on in our city and in the metro-Atlanta area. Write blog posts, add photos of gardens you visit on Facebook, and attend meetings where your voice may make a difference.
4. Get out in the community. Volunteer at community gardens such as the Wylde Center (formerly known as the Oakhurst Community Garden Project), where there are a diverse number of ways to get involved. Why not start out by going on the Urban Coop Tour on October 6 and 7, which is a fundraiser for the Wylde Center? You may even want to join the Wylde Center's Team Chicken after that, or get chickens of your own to enhance the fertility--and fun--of your own garden. (And guess what? We have everything you need.)
Come by our store and get ideas you can use in your home garden as well. We have raised beds and rows in all shapes and sizes growing behind the store. Visit the chickens, browse our extensive product selection, and ask us your gardening questions. See our website and blog for more helpful information about a wide variety of gardening topics. We're always happy to help plant seeds of change in our ever-growing community of gardeners.