Whether you prefer begonias or broccoli, petunias or peas, roses or radishes , an ornamental, native, even a therapeutic garden, there’s something for you at the 5th Annual Parade of Community Gardens sponsored by the nonprofit organization Gardening Matters. “Community gardening isn’t just about growing vegetables and flowers. It’s about growing community, both in and around the garden space,” says Margaret Shields, Communications Intern at Gardening Matters. “The Parade of Community Gardens presents the opportunity to connect the garden to the neighborhood and the neighborhood to the garden.”
To celebrate the riches of this community’s gardens, walk or bike to as many of the 66 participating gardens you can visit during the four-hour parade that stretches throughout the metro area from 10:00 a.m. till 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 21.
Gardening Matters has produced a Parade Guide that is loaded with details about the featured gardens. There’s a great map divided by neighborhood. Each entry has a brief description of the garden and the gardeners responsible. The Parade is on rain or shine with backup plans in case of severe weather. Everything is free and open to all gardeners, admirers and green thumb wannabes.
In addition to the Parade Guide, Gardening Matters offers a wealth of related information and communications and education tools. “The mission of Gardening Matters is to connect gardeners with each other, with their communities and with the tools they need to ensure the long-term success of their community garden,” says Shields. There’s an online garden directory, a virtual library of resources about gardening and more, a listserv to connect with community gardeners, monthly learning networks, a workshop on how to start a community garden and regular email and newsletters.
Look for Community Gardens on Parade throughout the cities – places of worship, parks, railroad land, senior centers, schools, businesses and vacant lots. No matter who owns the land, “gardens, neighbors and novices are all encouraged to come out and celebrate the Parade of Community Gardens and feel the sense of pride and shared ownership in these important community spaces,” says Shields.
When you visit Gardens on Parade, ask the community gardeners on hand about their reasons for participating. Some want to improve the neighborhood and enhance the involvement of neighbors. Others see community gardening as a pleasant and productive road to health. An increasing number find that one answer to the rising cost of groceries, coupled with today’s focus on nutrition, inspire them to dig, prune, weed – now pick and enjoy – their own produce.
Don’t forget your camera on Saturday. There’s a Community Garden Photo Contest sponsored by Bike Walk Twin Cities (BWTC), an initiative of Transit for Livable Communities. Sponsors encourage you to submit photos of you, your shoes, your bike, your family and friends enjoying the Parade and touring the gardens. Deadline for photo submission if Friday, August 27th. Winners will be drawn on Monday, August 30th. Prizes include a Burley Travoy, a NiceRide MN subscription, t-shirts, reflective arm/leg bands, and a bike light set.
BWTC also created special walking and biking routes for select self-guided tours to gardens on the Parade. So, put on your comfort shoes, slather on the sunscreen and bug spray, then head out to walk or bike to meet your neighborhood community gardeners at as many of the 66 participating gardens you can visit during the Parade.
Check it all out online or call Gardening Matters at 612 821 2358.
And have a glorious ride or walk through your neighborhood – or learn about another community – by joining the Parade of Community Gardens next weekend.