The wonderful life of a garden cooperative
As a parent, we want the best for our children. For me, part of it is feeding them with organic local produce. We are lucky to have in town a few farmers’ markets to choose from and a locally-owned Supermarket offering a wide selection of quality and locally grown produce.
But I wanted to understand and experience the process of directly providing for my family. Being an apprentice organic gardener, I started in my backyard, reading, seeking advice from my friends and even taking classes at my local Extension Office. Despite my eager to succeed and after three failed attempts to grow a garden at home due to too much shade and squirrels, I decided to explore other options to provide organic food to my family.
What is a cooperative?
1. People choose to participate
2. Members are given the opportunity to vote and discuss changes
3. Members contribute $ to the garden.
4. There is place for individuality withing the group.
5. Teaching and learning opportunities are available.
6. Members cooperate.
7. There is a general concern for the community.
This definition of a cooperative seems to fit in my definition as well, which implies caring for others and our environments now and for a prosperous future. Teamwork is what makes our community garden appealing and thriving. I was surprised how many gardeners stopped by the “newbie” plot to provide advice or tips – some provided in body language due to difference in spoken ones.
Joy and philosophy of the cooperative
I enjoy being part of a community that shares knowledge, manpower and utilizes every members strengths to help the garden reach its full potential. I would not be able to be so bold in my gardening or have so many proper tools on hand if I was at home. Also, I like the idea of having a life cycle heaven like bees, birds, insects etc., that are attracted by such a healthy environment.
I am fond of the way they describe the befits of nourishing the soil to grow healthy plants versus using non-organic method of fertilizing. Per our Pesticides in the Organic Garden Coop, document, “Chemical pesticides are not allowed. All too often, these products kill discriminately, and, by eliminating beneficial insects, birds, etc., upset a delicate balance. In nature, generally the strong prey upon the weak; it follows that destructive insects will prefer poorly-cultivated, undernourished plants. A clean,carefully cultivated garden in high state of fertility is our best defense against predators. Companion plantings and crop rotation are also effective measures.”
For $15 per semester and participation to 3 work parties (6 hours total), members in our garden get to enjoy a full plot (12 x 25 feet) to garden, plus access to community tools, water, compost, some seeds, and a shared herb garden.
Work parties are mandatory and meant to maintain, repair or develop the garden such as mow paths, collect trash, repair tools, work on compost pile (consolidate and water), sweep out and organize shed. If you have a specific interest, a few specialty groups are there to satisfy curiosity and provide enrichment, like:Beekeeping Working Group.