As agricultural lands shrinks and urban
density swells, and an increase of health problems results from poor diets,
Wasatch Community Gardens (WCG) presses forward with its mission of empowering
people of all ages and incomes to grow and eat healthy, organic, local food.
Gardens has served Salt Lake residents since 1989 with the belief that the
quality of a community is directly related to the quality of its food. WCG offers garden space, educational programs,
and community events that empower people to grow, harvest, preserve, and
prepare fresh, healthy food through its Community Garden, Youth Garden, School
Garden, GREEN TEAM, and Community Education programs. These five programs reach over 10,000
community members annually, with a little help from 2,300 volunteers donating
more than 19,000 hours of their time.
In the Youth Garden and School Garden programs,
more than 5,000 children learn how to make healthier food choices and become
more physically active through hands-on gardening, nutrition, and food
preparation education. Gardens are a
great way for children to explore and experiment with nature, taste healthy
foods, and release creative energy.
The Community Garden Program connects
more than 1,500 individuals to 14 community gardens where they can grow their
own fresh produce, and approximately 60% of these individuals qualify as low-
or moderate-income households. Additionally,
WCG assists community groups to start and sustain their own community gardens
through a seven-week Growing Community
Gardens training series offered the beginning of each year.
The Community Education Program offers a wide-range
of free and low-cost workshops on basic organic gardening, cooking, and food
preservation. Workshop participants
learn tried and true techniques for successful vegetable gardening by getting
their hands dirty in demonstration garden beds.
The GREEN TEAM Farm Project works with a
handful of women who are facing homelessness to develop and increase their
employability by growing food on a 1-acre farm.
That food is then sold to local Head Start schools.
In addition to these programs, WCG hosts
a number of community events. These
events focus on gardening and living sustainably, while building community and
celebrating fresh, local food. In the
spring, WCG sells more than 30,000 heirloom vegetable plants at their Spring
Plant Sale. In the summer, residents can join the Urban Garden & Farm Tour,
a self-guided tour into some of Salt Lake’s most interesting and inspiring
private growing space, community gardens, and small-scale farms with the aim of
generating energy, raising awareness, and inspiring ideas.
And of course, this Saturday, September
10 from 11 am – 2 pm at the Grateful Tomato Garden on 800 S 600 E, WCG celebrates
the preeminent Tomato Sandwich Party, a free community event where people are
invited to eat delicious heirloom tomato sandwiches – WCG’s way of saying thank
you to the community that has supported them for 27 years.
Gardens continues to work hard as they progress towards the ultimate vision of
providing access to healthy food for all in the community. For more information about Wasatch Community
Gardens, visit wasatchgardens.org.
-Felecia Maxfield Barrett
Maxfield-Barrett is the Volunteer & Outreach Director for Wasatch Community
Gardens whose mission is to empower people of all ages and incomes to grow and
eat healthy, organic, local food.