Contributed by Lana Zepponi, Community Garden Expansion with GrowMemphis Chair
What is an auger? Have you ever used a post hole digger? Have you seen what asparagus looks like before it’s cut and bundled in those pretty purple rubber bands? Maybe you are three for three, but these things were all new to me. I was ecstatic to be asked to chair the Community Garden Expansion with GrowMemphis committee because I love gardening, even though I’m limited to planting in pots on a balcony. The idea of helping grow food for the community sounded like the perfect way to expand my love for growing things, and it meant I could finally garden in the actual ground. Those things have been really great, but I still couldn’t have known how rewarding this placement could be.
While it’s easy to confuse GrowMemphis with our G.R.O.W. programs, GrowMemphis is something different entirely. GrowMemphis is a local non-profit that partners with existing community gardens around the city offering support through education and funding. Their mission is to educate people about growing food and end the problem of food insecurity in our area. The Junior League of Memphis (JLM) has partnered with GrowMemphis, giving them a grant and volunteer hours to be applied to special projects in GrowMemphis-affiliated gardens.
Already this year, we have worked in the beds at McMerton Gardens in Binghampton, helped to rebuild handicap-accessible raised beds at Angelus Street Community Gardens, built a compost tumbler at St. Mary’s Garden, helped to rejuvenate a large hoop house at Washington Bottoms Garden, and built a greenhouse and a brick pathway at CBU Peace Gardens. Having these projects completed helps each of these gardens grow more food and serve more people.
In addition to making an impact in these gardens, a remarkable thing for me has been being part of a group of women showing up for these shifts eager to roll up her sleeves, get a little dirty, and do something she may not have done before, with a can-do attitude. I can’t speak for everyone, but I would feel safe betting that most of us have never been faced with the task of building a compost tumbler or a green house before. However, we do it together, we have fun and the work gets done. To me, accomplishing these tasks together is inspiring and empowering. It goes to show that you don’t have to already know how, you don’t have to be outdoorsy or athletic to do this, (again, I’m zero for three here), you just have to be willing. If that doesn’t grow the potential of women, I don’t know what does.