In 2012, a group of locals were inspired to begin a community gardening project. Now, after 3 years, the Sprout of Control Community Gardening Project has grown into over 15 separate locations across Wayne County. Porter Advertising has allowed the organization to permanently use one of their parcels to create one of the community gardens. Located at North 4th & “D” Street in the Historic Depot District in Richmond, IN, the parcel has been used traditionally for billboard advertising; however there was a large portion (approx. an 80’ x 50’ area) of the parcel that was just a field of grass. Once the organization was given the rights to use the land, it was dubbed, ‘The Depot District Community Garden’.
More recently, 2015 marked a milestone for the Depot Garden in particular, for they have entered into a partnership with Meridian Health Services. Meridian had participated in several of the gardens over the past few seasons, but this year the two organizations came to an agreement to where Meridian is guaranteed space at the Depot Garden, indefinitely. Meridian in return will cover any costs associated the garden. The ultimate outcome – a garden able to be sustained for future years to come.
“We (Meridian) are very excited for the partnership at the Depot Garden, considering that we had not been able to plant perennials in our gardens before, because we were unsure about the possibility of securing space for our clients in future years.” Said Shelia Jones, Case manager with Meridian, and co-coordinator at the Depot District Garden. “The plots were given on a first come, first serve basis, so if our clients delayed signing up, there was a real possibility that they may not get one.”
Now, with the partnership in full effect, the West half of the garden is reserved for Meridian clients and staff, and the East side is open to the public. There are also “community beds”, of which consist of corn, green beans, squash, watermelon, and cantaloupe. There are also pear trees and blueberry bushes that are open for anyone who is a current gardener to reap produce from.
“Collaboration is key. Partnerships are what make grass-root organizations like this work in a community. We are very glad that we have been able to make these types of partnerships in order to benefit the community, teach residents neighborhood pride, as well as how to be more self-sufficient.” Says Jessica Clark, Co-Founder and Co-coordinator of Depot District Garden, as well as an employee of Porter Advertising.
All of the gardeners take responsibility for their own plots, as well as have the understanding that the community beds must also be maintained, and will handle those on a need basis. From seeding, to weeding, watering, and ultimately harvesting, the gardeners are receiving hands on training on how to grow their own garden.
“Ultimately, we hope that the gardeners will be able to start and maintain their own garden at home. Understandably, not everyone has space at their homes, so if need be they are more than welcome to continue in their plots at the garden. Otherwise, we hope that they will spread their knowledge with others, and encourage them to also pursue the benefits of gardening.” Said Clark.
A research study by Van Den Berg, and Custers (2011) found that gardening greatly reduces acute stress in individuals. “The clients that were involved with the community garden really had a sense of pride due to planting, weeding, and picking the garden,” case manager Lois Howell was quoted saying in the May/June 2014 edition of Maximum Living.
“At Meridian Health Services, we believe in whole person health. Participating in the community garden not only aided our consumers in decreasing their mental health symptoms, but also improved their social and physical health. Our consumers came away from the project with increases self-esteem, pride, and understanding of food and healthy eating,” Regional Manager LCSW, Sayward Salazar, was quoted in the same article.
“Porter Advertising is a proud partner in the community initiative for environmental friendliness. Over the past four years, we have saved over 17,000 pounds of paper from going to the landfill with our recycling efforts. We are pleased to extend our efforts for environmentally friendliness by sharing our area with Sprout of Control, Community Gardening Project in order to support their efforts in this positive initiative for the community,” said Clark.