Interest in gardening is on the rise, from my neighbors growing tomatoes in patio containers to community gardens bursting with multiple produce plots. Increasingly there’s a practical need to provide access to affordable food through growing your own. Early this week I attended an intimate event honoring a local community gardening hero. It was by far one of the more inspiring evenings I’ve spent in a while, whose honoree proves that persistence to a simple idea and dedication to helping others can result in good for all.
For the past three years, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi has supported Giving Through Growing, a partnership program with the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA). This year they’ve awarded $40,000 to four community gardening ‘Heroes’ who made the grade in a nationwide contest, and Arlington’s Alison Kindler of the Fort Barnard Community Garden is one. Top Chef alum Candice Kumai is the GTG ambassador, and she was also on hand to salute Kindler’s efforts to enrich our community through growing fresh food for urban families. Fort Barnard has been in operation since 1975 – they even have their own bee hives! The garden works closely with the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), which helps provide groceries to families in need. Some 8% of Arlingtonians live below the poverty line and the percentage is increasing – AFAC distributes to over 1,200 families each week. Fort Barnard dedicates one of their garden plots exclusively to AFAC.
Kindler started gardening at Fort Barnard some twenty years ago, with a plot as a Father’s Day present for her husband. “Here, honey, you can go play in the dirt,” she quipped, but her main motivation at the time was really to grow organic produce and be able to put “healthy, safe food on the table.” Continue reading