Thursday, December 27, 2012
What an interesting year it has been at Unity Gardens! One of my favorite times of year is at the cusp of the New Year; a time to reflect on the successes of 2012 and a time to mobilize for all the new plans for 2013. Unity Gardens is known for growth. Growing vegetables, growing increased community cohesion, growing opportunities for everyone to be engaged in their community, and boy do we have the plans coming!
It is clear we are indebted to the community for the support we have received! There are so many ways people have helped us grow: monetary donations, in-kind gifts, publicity, and participation. We are so grateful for all the ways people involve themselves in Unity! In turn, it is clear we have a huge responsibility to continue our programs and mission. Through hard work, focused attention, and faith, we will continue to serve as the community guides us.
Our greatest emphasis for 2012 was our Outdoor Classroom/ Growing Health Program made possible with the support of the Community Foundation of Saint Joseph County, Memorial Hospital and many others. This ambitious program created the infrastructure at LaSalle Square Unity Garden to begin on-site education. Our expectations were high, but the reality was even better! The educational area hosted 18 different families, representing 5 countries! The summer kids club held every Saturday hosted 15 to 20 kids enjoying garden play, scheduled activities, and tasty garden treats! The outcomes from this project were unforeseen; growing a new community of people working together! Our families and kids shared their food on the sharing shelf, with passer-byes, and with each other! The program also launched our new model for neighborhood revitalization! Additionally, due to the generosity of Peace Bees, we added bee hives to 2 of our Unity Gardens and now sell local honey! Our bee keeping was so popular, we are adding an in-depth program to grow bee-keepers in 2013.
In 2013 our focus is all about enhancing our educational programs. Our Growing classes, starting in January will have added content and a new venue on Thursdays (The Potawatomi Conservatories), our Junior Master Gardeners classes will focus on vegetable gardening, and our specialty classes add bee keeping and back yard chickens! The Unity Gardens 2013 Greenhouse project, made possible by the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, includes adding on-site growing houses/ green house, season extending raised beds, composting stations, aquaponics demonstration systems, and solar energy in order to increase our sustainability. True to Unity Gardens style, we already see our first sprouts in the growing house!
The community looks toward Unity Gardens for growing community, a task we are prepared to do through our new, Neighborhood Enhancement Project. Look at our new website www.theunitygardens.org for more details regarding this exciting new hybrid Unity Gardens model designed to bring neighbors together to work toward their own neighborhood solutions. We are truly growing more than vegetables here!!