• A Day at the Garden: The power of partnerships

    Posted on June 28, 2013 by in Blog, Events, Lee County

    by Kathryn Rosenbaum

    Great turnout for the ribbon cutting, even though it rained!

    Last Saturday (June 22nd, 2013), a coalition of partners came together to support the Peace and Unity Community Garden in Sanford for a ribbon-cutting event: “A Day at the Garden.”  There was a fantastic turnout, especially given the amount of rain that kept coming down.  We all had a great time dancing, eating, face painting, touring the garden and more!

    In addition to having a lot of fun, this was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the garden as a real asset to the community.  What I took away from it most was the power of partnerships and collaboration.

    The day truly was a community effort. Along with Voices into Action mentors Crystal and Renee, residents from the surrounding neighborhood came out early in the morning or sent their children to help with set-up. Several of these young men and women helped other volunteers with the registration table, or by donning plastic gloves and helping with the food preparation for the food demonstration from the NC Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).

    EFNEP’s Debbie Stephenson helps kids make healthy sandwich wraps with produce from the garden!

    Volunteers braved the rain to share knowledge about programs and different resources in Lee County. Local businesses donated prizes for a raffle drawing, including the grand prize drawing of a month free membership at the YMCA!  Regular Peace and Unity garden volunteers were out in full force, helping to clean up and set up for the big event. The YMCA, Larry’s Organic Fertilizer, Lee County Cooperative Extension, EFNEP, and the Master Gardeners all came and had booths with information and activities that included face painting, canning class information, food demonstrations and more.  The Lee County Health Department and Brick Capital were instrumental in getting word out and helping to organize the event. DJ TC provided us with music in the rain, and Monica Monroe led a fantastic Zumba demonstration, which she does regularly at First Baptist Church of Sanford.  The event could not have happened without garden coordinator and Voices into Action mentor, Crystal McIver.



    As reporter Will Doran with the Sanford Herald described it:

    Saturday’s ceremony brought out an eclectic group of politicians, business leaders, agricultural experts and regular folks. It was hosted by the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce, and Sanford Mayor Cornelia Olive and Mayor Pro Tem Samuel Gaskins came to show their support, as did Lee County Commissioner Kirk Smith, who said he was especially interested in getting fertilizing tips for his own garden. But the crowd was mostly made up of those who have helped tend a plot at the garden themselves, from toddlers to senior citizens.
    Almost everyone stayed after the ribbon was cut, too, braving the rain to take advantage of various activities. There was face painting, hula-hooping and music, plus booths with master gardeners from the Lee County Cooperative Extension giving out tips on how to grow and cook healthy foods. There was also a tent playing off the gardening theme and soliciting “budding ideas” from people in attendance as to how their neighborhood might improve.
    Adults wrote things like “closer grocery stores” and children advocated for bike lanes and basketball courts, but the common theme was one of a neighborhood with a greater sense of community. That’s exactly what McIver — who also works as a life coach as well as a human resources development instructor at Central Carolina Community College — intended when she started a garden in this same spot a year ago. She told The Herald at the time she hoped the garden would allow people in the neighborhood, especially children, to “see something creative, not destructive.”

    Read the entire article here.

    All in all, it was a fantastic celebration and kick-off to show some of the great work that we can accomplish with the help of committed partners, community members, and dedicated volunteers.  We at Voices into Action are excited to see what great things will come from this dedicated group of partners, and we are grateful to be a part of such a collaborative project!  View more photos of the event and share your experiences on our Facebook page!

    Community members young and old participating in “Budding Ideas” to share what they would like to see in their neighborhood.

    The YMCA came out to paint faces and play games!

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