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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Communities

Our neighborhood community garden....the Eastside Sprout....hosted a garden workshop on Saturday.  It was a little wet and chilly but gardeners are a tough breed and we survived the morning. The topics of the workshop were around creating and maintaining sustainable gardens.  The notion behind this is to create a garden using plants or trees that produce year over year, such as fruit trees or perennial plants that come back every year.  In other words, with good care, good soil, proper plant selection your garden can survive, thrive and sustain itself even with the extreme weather we sometimes experience in South Texas. In practical terms, sustainable gardening requires that you learn to understand the environment you're planting your garden in, learn what plants work best, have a good understanding of soil and nutrient requirements and understand how all these things come together to create a healthy garden. There a little bit of science and art involved when gardening so gardeners need to have a good integrative approach when working a garden.

Garden Workshop
Planting a Bare Root Pear Tree
Learning in the Drizzle!
The idea of creating a sustainable garden made me think of how similar the notion of creating sustainable communities are to each other. At a very basic level, sustainability of a community is built on creating and maintaining its economic and environmental health and most importantly, encouraging citizen participation to create a collective vision for the future. Communities or neighborhoods need to learn how partner with institutions that can bring valuable resources into a community to further enhance that sense of sustainability. In other words, you need an integrative approach to building sustainable communities.

In our little corner of the world, we're at the threshold of a wonderful opportunity of reaping what we have sown (pun intended!). For the last 3 years neighborhood residents and newcomers have worked hard to bring new life back to the 'hood and we are starting to see results. The mayor and city government have made a commitment to bring much needed investment to the Eastside. With the coming implementation of the Promise Neighborhood grant and other initiatives that includes housing and safety enhancements, I can see where we are reaching a tipping point. Critical to all these trends coming together is sustainability. While we all must work carefully to change and improve our communities we  need to always keep in mind that the changes we seek are pointless if can't find a way to sustain them.

There's a lot you can learn from gardening if you're trying to change the world!

"We must be the change we wish to see in the world."— Mahatma Gandhi
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