I recently contacted via e-mail a new group forming in the Richmond area, Sprout of Control is Susan Isaacs, Wayne County's trustee, Jessica Clark of Porter Advertising, and Bethany Norwalt, who is busily at work many hours in a designated Sprout of Control greenhouse area. I thought it would be great to ask them some questions to get the scoop on Richmond's community gardening initiative! Susan Isaacs graciously answered me. Our transcript is below:
spearheaded by three local ladies:
I have to defer to Jessica and Bethany on this one - when I heard it I loved it, but I cannot say where the inspiration came from...
I'm so sad not to hear the back story on that, as I absolutely love the name! Kudos to the clever person for coining it! What prompted the formation of this community garden project? How did you all meet?
A community garden was started last year at Sylvan Nook Church through a partnership between my office (Wayne Twp Trustee) and the Sylvan Nook Church. This year, I believe Bethany and Jessica attended the BOOST event and became interested in (and then passionate about) starting community gardens in Richmond. Jessica heard about the Sylvan Nook garden and called me. The three of us decided that by merging resources and working together we could have a greater impact and Sprout of Control was born.
Are you interested in sustainability and organic gardening methods? If so what kinds of sustainable/organic actions are you implementing in your work?
We are very interested in all of the above! We hope to incorporate these things into the gardens as much as possible. Again, I think Jessica and Bethany may have more to say on this - they are very passionate about upcycling...
Jessica weighs in:
One thing we are doing is rain barrel systems for water conservation. Porter Advertising has donated parcels and polyethylene posters (ad poster materials) that we are using for many different projects. We have been using 2 liters pop bottles and pizza boxes in the seeding process. We will be using many up cycled materials such as wood pallets and rubber tires.
I can't wait to see further conservation and up cycling efforts made through your project. I think it has a real potential to empower people not just by growing their own food but also to empower them to really try out better environmental habits through their new awareness and experiences found in gardening.
I've heard your gardens will be included in the RAM's Garden Tour this year! I love to see existing groups working together in our community. Are there any plans in the works to collaborate more with existing companies or nonprofits? It would be great to see involvement with the Clear Creek Co-op!
We have many ideas for future collaboration - everything from gardening classes by local master gardeners (through Wayne County Extension) to canning events to end-of-season feasts. There are so many opportunities to do so much around the garden project. The community has been incredibly supportive of the garden project. The challenge so far is not lack of ideas and opportunities, it is simply making sure we stay focused on the gardens first - we have to do everything we can to make the gardens successful, which means we are focused on doing everything we can to get as many people involved in actually working in the gardens and helping them reap a wonderful harvest!
How can people apply for a plot? How much of a commitment do you expect from members?
Open Registration is Saturday April 13. People can also get registered by contacting any of the three of us - my office phone is 973-9392 or we can be reached at our sprout of control gmail address (email@example.com). In a nutshell, those who sign up for plots are expected to take care of them. We want the gardens to be kept up and we want them to be fruitful. There are not a lot of rules...
How would you encourage someone who doesn't necessarily have the time to commit to a community plot, but who is interested in being a part of Sprout of Control to get involved?
Everyone is welcome to come to our Big Dig days (tentatively set for April 27 but dependent on weather and soil readiness). People can donate tools and supplies. People can help spread the word. People can donate money too - we have to pay for our water usage and buy equipment and supplies that are not donated. People can like our Facebook page to help expand our reach. We need garden coordinators/directors for each garden. We need canning jars and supplies. Experienced gardeners can volunteer to be at a garden once a week or once a month to help inexperienced gardeners be more successful! Any and all are invited to participate in whatever way they are able!!!
What are your goals for this year? What are your goals in the next five?
This year we want our gardens to thrive and for the gardeners to have fun and enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of their labor. Two new gardens is a big challenge. We will also be supporting the Hope House garden and a garden at Noah's Ark daycare. For me, the goal is to get these gardens (and the Sylvan Nook garden) up and running - with plenty of gardeners and support.
In five years, I would be thrilled to see 10-15 neighborhood community gardens all over the city of Richmond. Every neighborhood has at least one garden. There are small flower gardens drizzled throughout the city. Where there once were drab, colorless signs of urban blight, there are now green and colorful gardens, sprouting out all over the city! I believe people are sick and tired of all the negative - establishing and nourishing the growth of community gardens does much more than produce veggies. Community gardens build neighborhood pride and a sense of community.
I agree, and I am sure the gardens will be something all of Richmond will take pride in! Thank you so much Susan Isaacs, and ladies of Sprout of Control for graciously answering my interview request! I wish all of the gardens this year a very abundant harvest!
If you are interested in learning more about Sprout of Control, "like" their community Facebook page to stay in the loop. Visit them at their informational/registration meetings held throughout Richmond next week on April 13th at the Richmond Farmer's Market in the Townsend Center, the Innovation Center or the Depot. Please feel free to check the Official Local-Lady Community Calendar for the dates, times and locations for these upcoming events and more!
This is a wonderful opportunity to beautify the city, engage and enrich the lives of our residents. Kudos, Sprout of Control!