Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Glenn DeMott: Community Gardener of the Year!

Every year the Franklin Park Conservatory's Growing to Green Program makes awards to honor outstanding gardens and gardeners in Central Ohio. Tonight our own Glenn DeMott was recognized as the 2010 Community Gardener of the Year. Here's why:

Glenn’s contribution to our garden’s goals

We have two goals for this year: to increase the quantity and quality of food we produce for hunger relief programs and to involve more people in our garden. Glenn has been instrumental in helping us accomplish both.

He singlehandedly brought about a significant increase in the quantity and variety of our produce. Glenn dramatically increased the size of our spring crop, taking it from 200 Lbs. last year to 1,618.9 Lbs. this year—an 800% increase! He also expanded the range of produce that made up that crop. Last spring we only grew mustard greens and turnips. Glenn expanded that by introducing many new crops: peas, onions, beets, radishes, kohlrabi, spinach, potatoes, cabbage, garlic, and lettuce. All of that was Glenn’s doinghe pushed us to do a spring crop when some us didn’t want to, he expanded the range of vegetables grown, and he did the lion’s share of the work to get the crop planted, nurtured and harvested. His initiative and effort resulted in hunger programs receiving a lot of fresh produce at a time when it is generally unavailable (May and early June).

Glenn has also been successful in involving new people in our garden. Quantitatively, he has exponentially increased the number of core volunteers. We went from a group of 5 regulars last year to approximately about 20 this year. Qualitatively, he has increased the diversity of our group. We went from a homogeneous group of middle aged gardeners to a group that now includes young moms, school children, and retirees. Glenn brought those new faces into our garden and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Glenn’s unique focus on the “least among us” has intensified our impact

Glenn has made two unique contributions that have fine tuned our overall effort to serve the “least among us.” See Matthew 25:40.

The first is his focus on prison ministry. He has made a point of directing a portion of our produce to Harbor on the Hill, a ministry that helps ex-offenders grow into productive lives by helping them immediately after they’re released from prison. Glenn’s focus on that ministry helped feed folks that few others would give the time of day.

The second is his attention to children. He has made real efforts to get kids involved in our garden. He started a spin off garden for our church’s pre-school program, involved children from our vacation Bible school in our main garden, and brought junior high school students into help plant our spring crops.

Glenn helped us meet the challenges of relocating and expanding our garden

Our major challenge this year was relocating and expanding our garden. The land we previously gardened was sold, so we had to start from scratch at a new site. Further, we had significant “growing pains” because our new garden is twice the size of our old garden, and expansion brought its own issues. Glenn helped us meet those challenges in two ways.

First, he has devoted an incredible amount of time to the garden. That started last winter when he researched new techniques and crops, including many of the new spring crops discussed above. It continued through the spring as he recruited and worked with volunteers to do the hard work of getting our new beds in place and cleaned up. Since then he has spent countless hours thinning, watering, weeding, and harvesting our crops—most of which he planted! No other volunteer has put more time into our garden.

The second is in his generosity. He purchased seeds, tomato cages, and stakes for us. He has lent us many invaluable tools, everything from seed planters to tillers.

We simply couldn’t have accomplished all that we have without Glenn’s contributions of time and resources.

The specific impacts of Glenn’s contributions

There have been two specific sets of impacts from Glenn’s work this year, one tangible and intangible.

The tangible impacts are what we’ve been able to produce. So far this year we’ve generated 4,167.93 Lbs. of produce for hunger programs—That’s 192% more than we produced at this time last year. That has benefited homeless individuals fed by the Faith Mission, families served by Lutheran Social Services’ food pantries, ex-offenders trying to get on their feet through Harbor on the Hill, and Somali refugees served by the Hilliard Summer Lunch program. More than half of that food came from Glenn’s spring crop, he has been indispensable in producing our summer crop, and he is already planning our fall crop. Glenn is responsible for feeding a lot of people.

The intangible impact is on the “community” part of our community garden. Although we were pretty good at gardening, we weren’t too successful in building community before Glenn got involved. He changed that by bringing in many new folks, as discussed above. But beyond the raw numbers, he has really gotten the new people engaged. More than one has commented on how Glenn’s patient instruction helped them get into this new activity. That wouldn’t have happened without Glenn.

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