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Community Outreach

Garden Edition: Offering opportunities for growth, change, and beauty—planting one seed at a time



Fresh Produce year-round


What some of us eat during the winter is heavily based on what is available from local farms and stores. We all may be feeling the pinch of a disrupted supply chain but eating local can really help to strengthen and enhance your neighboring economy. What about greens? Greens in the winter? Have you seen what is going on with the weather and the climate? Yes, and so, it has been my mission to work on raising awareness and visibility of the possibilities and opportunities of fresh food, year-round. Enter the Lettuce Grow Farm stand.



Fresh Bites

Recently, I was working on a grant for an art-inspired children's garden full of edible delights. I found out about a side opportunity to apply for a Lettuce Grow Hydroponic Farm Stand. Sounds incredible, right? People keep asking, how is nature connected to art? Honestly, I have never separated the two. When we talk about texture, form, line, color, hue, shade, shape, perspective, transformation—are we addressing nature or art? Can you identify a leaf or plant in botany without addressing the margin, shape, texture, color, size, angles? Nature is the most basic and complex model of everything and art is the language used to understand and describe it. If you are an artist, a gardener, a foodie and you see these Lettuce Grow Farm Stands I find it hard to believe you wouldn't swoon for a second. How do we teach children where food comes, identify the beauty and awe of growing year round, and express our gratitude to the earth for providing everything we need? We grow organic, fresh produce inside the children's wing of our local library and start an "Art in the Garden" children's club to encourage exploration, investigation, and self-sufficiency concerning food security. We integrate art, observation, tastings, story time, and recipe creation opportunities and we have taken the first steps to making an impact, raising awareness, and igniting a spark. We have planted a seed.


Little Greens, Big taste

Imagine as a child, you are visiting your local library. Maybe you have to go, or you love to read so you asked your parents to take you. You walk into the children's wing and in front of you is a glowing, starship of wonder and color. What is this beautiful white vessel hosting—are those plants, inside, in winter? When I found out that we had been awarded the Lettuce Grow Stand I was so excited. But our main Borough building was under construction and I needed a worthy forever home. The Children's wing of the Emmaus Public Library would be perfect! We, as the Emmaus Arts Commission, had already been working on beautification programs within our town and wanted to incorporate the Library as a hub of investigation, growth, security, and fun. We don't have a community center so the Library is really the place were many people gather and grow as a collective. I contacted the director right away to let her know our window of opportunity was small and I would like to donate something wonderful to the library. It worked out splendidly as our library already has had a longtime running program in partnership with local seed companies who send extra packs to the library, they then use an old card catalogue as a seed library for the community. It was a win-win.


The tower arrived a few days later and with the help of my co-chair, Dalton, we set up the stand. We were very careful to consider which plants needed shade, would grow shoots, or needed extra space. After assembling the tower, we placed each of the 24 plants around in their designated spots. It was so exciting. My mind was thinking of all the great things we could do in the future.



Here are various stages of growth of 24 fresh produce sprouts at the Emmaus Public Library in the Children's wing. The Lettuce Grow Hydroponic Farm Stand was donated by the Emmaus Arts Commission in an effort to create awareness, raise visibility, and make connections between art, nature, and food. The farm stand is available for observation and sampling of the produce. Please ask a librarian for assistance as the farm stand is quite heavy. Keep an eye open for upcoming events!




Planting seeds of change


In our town, the motto is, "A community for progress." For me, that means anyone that has the ability, the talents, the gifts, or time— will choose to offer some of those to create opportunities for the betterment of all. I want to offer opportunities for everyone, but it is important to start at the bottom and work up. Offering new experiences for children, raising awareness and visibility of important topics, and opening a world of wonder are great ways to positively impact your local community. A child who has the ability to try new produce at the library for free— that child is going to ask about fresh foods, see that food can come from seeds and grow, notice that a plant that flowered later grew fruit, and recognize that some of the plants do have tiny insects and where did they come from? Planting seeds of wonder encourages growth and change. Children are naturally inquisitive but if they don't have opportunities to ask questions or learn new things, they will not know to even investigate in those areas of learning. A year-round place indoors and outdoors where plants grow, nature occurs, exploration takes place, and open conversations emerge is a place of safety, security, growth, learning, and community.




What next?

We are in the process of starting an "Art in the Garden" Club at the library. We would like to offer, facilitate, and curate opportunities for members of the community to come talk to children and families at the library. We are looking to grow a committee of gardeners, farmers, environmentalists, horticulturalists, herbalists, artists, and teachers to work together on this garden initiative. We want to plant seeds of growth, change, and beauty in and around the library and in the other public parks and spaces of Emmaus. The indoor, hydroponic garden was the first step at piquing interest, igniting a spark, and gaining some participation in, what we hope, would be a robust program.


We will be working together with the library to implement a morning story time and garden art lesson twice a month by either an EAC member or a member of our Art in the Garden committee. We would like to offer one talk a month from a local farmer, artist, botanist, or anyone involved in the beauty of the natural world. We are working on and planning other outdoor spaces that would offer security, a safe place to gather, and a nature-rich space to grow a community of all ages and abilities. There are so many free resources that encompass these areas of learning that offer free lesson plans, activities, reading connections, extensions, and differentiations. I have been compiling a list of such resources and cannot wait to start utilizing them in my own community.




 

Stay tuned for my next post where I get back to my "Thirsty for Good Vibes Thursday: Interview Edition" and I talk to local artist, activist, parkour instructor, and movement play enthusiast, Melissa Way.


Thank you for joining this entry. I have taken some time off to re-evaluate my mission, host a community festival, celebrate my children for two weeks, and to recharge. Today's entry was short but just enough time to say hi, spread some love, and introduce or reintroduce you to the wonderful world of community outreach. If you live in the area and are interested in participating, please reach out to me at info@thefindingplace-LV.com or Lindsey.emmausarts@gmail.com


Remember to Grow, Plant, Eat, Soil, and repeat. Be sure to return all unwanted growing medium and roots to your compost or garden. Have fun and eat your greens.


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