By Emma Demosthens
Ready to get dirty?
Then I’ll let you in on a little secret: gardening is not just something your grandmother does for fun.
It can be a force for social change. There are numerous health, economic, and social benefits to growing your own produce. We all know that eating well and maintaining an active lifestyle is important to health. Community gardens can help to promote wellness by increasing access, affordability, and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, and by gardening, increase physical activity and improve mental and emotional health. And when it comes to social benefits of gardening, that’s where organizations like Growing Places step in.
Growing Places is an organization that helps low-income individuals in North Central Massachusetts by building sustainable food gardens. This program has helped many families and individuals struggling with food insecurity. Each garden is unique, designed to meet individual needs and built by volunteers. But they’re not just building gardens, they’re building a sense of community and “a world where we’re taking care of each other, while making a difference, one garden at a time”. The organization relies heavily on volunteers, but also partners with nonprofit organizations, schools, and other public agencies.
Another way GP is promoting community is through their pilot program, The Roots Network, a network that connects local gardeners and growers together. According to their website, their goal is that “by creating a space for gardeners to connect, it would lead to community ownership, engagement, and ultimately a self-sustaining community of gardeners.”
Growing Places also offers cooking lessons as a part of their teaching garden program. If you don’t know anything about gardening, that’s ok. Their teaching gardens are the place where beginners can learn all about gardening basics.
With the support of the Massachusetts Service Alliance, Growing Places is looking for volunteers who are willing to get their hands dirty this month to help with several garden improvement projects within the Fitchburg, Leominster & Clinton areas. Since Spring is finally here, and with April being National Volunteer Month, and Earth Day (April 22nd) fast approaching, what better way to welcome the season by getting your hands dirty and volunteering with Growing Places?
There are plenty of events to choose from in the area and a variety of skills are needed. This Friday, volunteers are needed to work with GP staff in Leominster for a variety of tasks at the GP warehouse. And mark your calendars for April 26th for the Spring Clean-Up and fruit garden installation at Prichard Street Community Gardens in Fitchburg.
To volunteer for these opportunities or to learn about future volunteer opportunities contact Regina@growingplaces.org
For more information on GP check out their website!