staff, leaders, volunteers, and Master Gardeners spent the weekend at the KAMII Social Justice Conference in Chicago.What a great way to reflect on our mission and count our blessings through the eyes of others! From planning a garden for a homeless shelter to use to help their neighborhood have access to healthy food,to listening to the many classes on urban farming, the entire conference was one delight after another.It was both
educational and reinforcing.We learned so much from others, but also saw how much we had to offer!
Academic discussions on what it meant to give and to receive, discussions on empowerment, social inequity, and dignity all helped reinforce the Unity Gardens model.By day 2, when I was scheduled to speak about our framework and journey, I was eager to share!Seeing Unity Gardens through the eyes of others helped me appreciate how far our community has come
and what wonderful opportunities for “growth” we still have.
The Unity Gardens story enthralled those who heard the story.I could visibly see hope grow in the eyes of those listening.
In a full room, the questions started flying:How
do we make sure there is enough food, what about funding, and more.Each
group of questions led to more discussion as people there, just like in our
community struggled with the concepts of free food and social inequity.People who did not believe they could have an urban garden without fences took pause and inquired further.Social
justice leaders from across the country asked if we had grown throughout the
United States, and others asked for our information so they could learn
One of the most common threads of inquiry, second to the overall framework was about funding.How did Unity Gardens survive fiscally?This line of questioning is why I am
Unity Gardens survives because this community, our community, believes we are sprouting something special.We are growing a new way of living together and caring for one another.
While pursuing a grant, I was asked, “How does Unity Gardens hope to move
beyond grant dependence?”I replied that I could only wish to write so well as to be mostly grant supported!Unity Gardens major source of revenue and in kind donations come from hundreds and
thousands of people giving what they can.
Every donation to Unity Gardens; $25.00, the purchase of a T-shirt, or the donation of a garden tool,
weeding, even attending a fund raiser, EVERY donation, is what keeps us growing.
I am so grateful for those who come and help us garden, the volunteers who help
teach our classes, the interns who take on projects or even the other
non-profits who share their expertise.Every single person in our community makes the
difference! Through the eyes of Chicago
I was able to see what a truly remarkable project we have grown. Our community
may have more community gardens than any other in the nation.We
do this by growing each other. Please reflect on what you value and take the
time to offer part of yourself to make our world better.
I would be honored if you choose to give back through Unity
may be mailed to
PO Box 10022
Bend, IN 46680