COLUMBUS, Ohio – More faith-based organizations are turning to community gardening as a way to increase access to healthy, local foods for their members, to donate to food pantries or to give to people who live in nearby communities that may be in a so-called “food desert,” according to an expert in urban agriculture with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.
In fact, many faith-based organizations have community gardens and some even offer farmers markets on site that sell produce grown in their gardens, said Mike Hogan, an Ohio State University Extension educator and sustainable agriculture coordinator.
OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the college.
“More communities of faith are creating community gardens as a way of increasing the supply of fresh, local foods in some areas where there are shortage of fresh foods,” Hogan said. “Some faith-based organizations may have land they aren’t using, and planting a community garden is one way to put that unused land to good use.”
To help more faith-based organizations learn how to start or expand a community garden, OSU Extension is offering “Planting Seeds and Harvesting Hope,” a community garden workshop for leaders of faith-based organizations. The workshop is also designed to address hunger as faith-based organizations look to address the needs of their surrounding communities, he said.
“In the workshop, participants will learn what it takes to grow and sustain a garden and will hear a panel discussion with leaders of faith-based organizations that have already benefited from successful community gardens,” Hogan said. “Participants can also learn about various grant resources that may be available to help them start or expand their community garden.”
Another benefit to attending the workshop is that leaders of faith-based organizations will be matched up with a Master Gardener from OSU Extension who can work with the organizations throughout the year to help them with their community garden, he said.
Hogan said the workshop is part of the college’s overall efforts to help expand agriculture into more urban areas and to help promote the understanding of how to create or expand agriculture-related business opportunities for people who want to get into the food and crop production industry.
“Urban agriculture and local food production is a growing phenomenon in many areas for several reasons including as an economic enterprise, for community building, to grow food for families, and as job training for young people and others,” Hogan said.
The event is from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on March 21 at the Grace United Church of Christ, 1226 Shady Lane Road, Columbus. The event will include local-food refreshments. Registration is $20 and can be done online by March 13 at regonline.com/communitygardenworkshop2015.
Contact Hogan at 614-866-6900 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.