The farm only has two full-time paid staff, and the rest are volunteers. Some volunteers help grow food and tend to the plants, and others help with promotion, communications, volunteer coordination, events, and workshop coordination. Pictured: Common Good City Farm youth education coordinator (volunteer) Chris Soriano and executive director Pertula George creating a trellis for pole beans. [Photo by Dena Blickstein]
I started volunteering with the garden/farm when it first opened in 2007. I came weekly to help tend to the plants because I wanted to further urban agriculture. I wanted to turn our cement and asphalt cities into green spaces filled with oxygen-producing, carbon-sequestering life. And, I figured, if I’m going to grow plants, I might as well grow something we can eat. After a few years of volunteering in the dirt, I started coordinating the workshop program as well.
Pictured: Shireen Karimi with Waynika Cain at one of the farm’s community events.
[Photo by Dena Blickstein]
When I tell people about our workshops, they are interested and intrigued. Once they attend one, they are eager to apply what they’ve learned. Pictured: Prince Charles and Shireen (shaking his hand) talk about eating the food grown on the farm along with the farm’s cooking and nutrition workshops on His Royal Highness’s spring 2011 visit to Common Good City Farm. [Photo by Deedy Ogden]
The children who come to visit the farm are particularly excited to try purple-colored beans, pull up carrots out of the ground, and eat cherry tomatoes plucked off the vine. They can be interested in good food if they are given the chance.
Throughout my years of volunteering at Common Good City Farm, I’ve learned that the simple act of maintaining a garden, whether with edibles or not, helps combat erosion, toxic run-off, pavement heat, and climate change, as well as provide some natural serenity in the midst of hectic urban lives.
I’ve also learned that anyone can plant a few things and get a bit of high-quality, healthy, fresh food, even with just a few pots on a patio. Gardening is accessible to anyone, even if you’re in a city apartment.
I started “gardening” years ago in a second-story apartment with no yard but a balcony. All it took was pots, soil, seeds, and the faith and desire to create life. It is so amazing and inspiring after days of watering boring brown soil to watch the first tiniest bits of green pop out, and then see them uncurl and grow a bit more each day. Going outside and just picking lettuce or tomato or parsley directly from the plant and making your dinner, from a plant that you yourself started from seed and nurtured and cared for, is a wonderful experience. It truly is the magic of Mother Nature before your eyes. [Photo by Dena Blickstein]