Community gardening in Columbus, Ohio
By Marilyn Shreffler and Margaret Mwale
“The Self-Development of People grant has been crucial in helping our community to have fresh food,” so says Peggy Murphy who is part of the Self-Development of People funded group called Green on Go, a community gardening project located in Columbus, Ohio. Peggy attended a Self-Development of People community workshop (information session) at the United Way of Central Ohio's Neighborhood Partnership Center a couple of years ago. She had recently lost her job working at a local recreation center which focused on an after school program, a summer program and on alcohol, tobacco and drug prevention. Peggy approached me (Marilyn) at the workshop to ask whether she along with others from her surrounding community could apply for a Self- Development of People grant from the Presbytery of Scioto Valley SDOP Committee. Unfortunately, because the committee had already awarded a grant to another project, as local SDOP Chairperson, I encouraged her and her group to submit a grant application to the National SDOP Committee.
The afterschool and summer programs Peggy had worked with included a gardening component for neighborhood children and their families. When the city closed down the recreation center and parks in February 2009, this also ended the community gardening. However, around eleven neighbors decided to come together after Peggy shared what she learnt at the community workshop about Self-Development of People partnerships with low-income community groups seeking to change their lives and communities. Most of these residents had children and their desire was to have a garden to help feed themselves and their families. Green on Go submitted a grant application and was awarded a grant which enabled the group members to start a community garden in a city lot and a church property. The SDOP grant enabled the group to purchase machinery, fertilizer, barn manure and top soil, tools and other supplies. The garden did so well that in 2009 the group was awarded the Columbus, Ohio “Growing to Green Award” for community garden of the year! The garden has helped group members to develop relationships with other organizations as well. Today the group is trying to figure out a way to keep the garden growing by selling some of its produce to a local Farmers Market.
Peggy says the group members are grateful that SDOP has given them an opportunity to become something more than they thought they could become because they have realized that they can help themselves rather than going to a food pantry by growing their own food. The project has also provided an opportunity for teenagers and other youth to be involved in it. In Peggy’s words, “Self-Development of People has been used by God to help us grow this garden and to help us help ourselves and that is a blessing! I hope it has been a blessing to you as it has been to us. We are grateful to be recipients of the Self-Development of People grant.”
Are you a member of a group of low-income persons working on issues of importance to you and your community, will working on these issues result in long-term positive change? Are you in need of financial assistance? Contact SDOP at (502) 569-5782 we would welcome talking with you and possibly hosting a community workshop in your area.
Marilyn Shreffler serves as Chair of the Presbytery of the Scioto Valley. She resides in Columbus, Ohio.
Margaret Mwale is associate for community relations with Self Development of People.
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