By Helen Herrera
W.H. Davies once said, “the more help a person has in his garden, the less it belongs to him”. This resonates as I reflect on the wonderful gardens that the following agencies coordinate in Southeast Raleigh. I blush observing their beauty and feel warm watching the plethora of volunteers maintaining them. These gardens benefit the Southeast Raleigh community and beyond.
Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education
Poe Center’s mini-grant supported the “Poe and Grow Garden” where students can grow and learn about growing, harvesting, and consuming fruits and vegetables. Students are encouraged to use all five senses in the garden and are encouraged to harvest produce when the “Ready to Pick” signs are available. It is open to all WakeMed PlayWell Pack visitors as well. Maggie Perkins, a nutrition health educator and garden coordinator at the Poe Center, is working with several partners and volunteers to plant fall vegetables like kale and squash, after successful spring and summer harvests. The fruits and vegetables grown earlier this year were shared with park visitors or donated to Plant a Row for the Hungry. Maggie and the garden volunteers are also working on making compost and have expanded by adding edible perennials, like blueberries and blackberries. Maggie hopes that next year they will be able to grow even more food, and continue to develop new educational activities that combine garden and nutrition. Even more, Maggie is working to create a garden committee that would be responsible for raising funds to continue the garden’s operation and expansion.
Alliance Medical Ministry
Young fruits and vegetables are budding all over Alliance Medical Ministry’s spacious community garden! As garden volunteers prepared seedlings and cleared out weeds, Elizabeth Mitchener Daniel, Alliance’s Community Outreach Coordinator, showed us several raised beds brimming with plants. The food grown in the garden is prescribed to patients who are also given healthy recipes and then invited to fill a bag with produce. Community neighbors also share in the garden’s harvest. The garden features a compost bin to reduce waste and improve garden yield. This past Earth Day in April, the City of Raleigh recognized the Alliance Community Garden with an Urban Agriculture Award for “promoting personal and societal benefits” of gardening within their community. If you are interested in volunteering, Alliance’s garden workdays are held on the second Wednesday of each month from 5-6:30pm, and the last Saturday of each month from 9:30am-12pm. Thank you to Elizabeth, Alliance Medical Ministry, and all the volunteers to work to make the garden a success!
Passage Home has expanded their already thriving vegetable garden located in Southpark. Lester Clay, their new garden coordinator collaborates with Kristian Jones Murray to teach the children about gardening and vegetables. Through this collaboration, the children receive both a hands-on interaction with the garden and information and nutrition education about the properties, benefits, and methods of preparation for the various vegetables. Recently, the children have been creating menus to learn to integrate vegetables into healthy and delicious meals to prepare at home. In addition to this, the Raleigh Safety Club is also providing the students with health classes, provided by EFNEP, and a daily exercise component consisting of dances and other workouts. Kristian invited us to watch The Justice Theater production of Jack and the Beanstock, which was part of the youth summer program! It was truly a delight to see such young boys and girls perform with passion. We even got autographs from the young stars! They are making a huge difference in their community, but with more help could do even more. They are always looking for volunteers! Thank you Kristian and the Raleigh Safety and Community Club for all you do.