Last week was the week of shadowing. I had the opportunity to leave the office every morning to shadow a different Local Matters program. The most hands-on experience, by far, was shadowing the Growing Matters program on Thursday.
Growing Matters’ mission is to help people grow food themselves and thereby increase the supply of local food. The program has multiple avenues by which it achieves this goal, but on Thursday morning we installed raised bed gardens in peoples’ front yards. Growing Matters has helped to install countless yard gardens in the Weinland Park and Near East Side areas of Columbus. The residents receiving the garden help with the installation, and they receive education on how to care for the garden long-term. This way, residents can increase the likelihood of a steady food supply and perhaps even install more gardens by themselves.
It was incredible to witness how quickly a raised bed garden can be installed. We loaded up the truck with supplies and drove to the house receiving the garden. The people who lived there, a woman and her teenage son, came out to assist us, and we proceeded to unload 15 bags of soil, 4 wooden planks, and various tools from the back of the truck. In less than an hour, we fastened the boards together to form a box, we placed it against their front porch, and we filled it up with soil. Then, the mother and her son planted a variety of vegetables in the plot. They were particularly excited about the sweet potato and pepper plants! Below is a photo of the completed raised bed garden:
After installing this garden, we drove around the Weinland Park area and marveled at the success of some of the yard gardens installed in the past. The residents have done awesome things with their plots, as evidenced in the photo below:
It was inspirational to watch Growing Matters in action. Everyone worked without complaint in 95 degree heat, smeared in soil, lifting heaving loads. The Growing Matters team labors every day to increase local foods in Columbus, and from what I saw during my couple hours of shadowing, they’re doing an incredible job.