How a Pepper Plant Created a Community

This past summer, my Aunt Karen gave me four pepper plants, a mint plant, and a cucumber plant. I don’t have a green thumb, but I thought, “Hey, why not see where it goes? Worst case, I lose the plants and have to continue to get my greens from the grocery store.” Long story short, the cucumber and mint didn’t have a chance. The peppers, on the other hand, survived and thrived! 

In the summer of 2021, I harvested a couple dozen peppers (that’s a lot for a first-timer) and gave all but one away. Originally my plan was to use them all for myself, but then I thought there are others out there that could use these more than I could. I ended up giving them to family and neighbors. One of my neighbors reached out to me a few weeks after thanking me. They said they didn’t have the courage to mention it at the time, but things were rough and having something green in their meal was a blessing. I had no idea they were struggling, but I was thankful to be able to help out. 

After creating my mini garden and being half-successful along with my neighbors’ story, I thought, what if our town created a community garden? How cool would it be for anyone to come as they please, take what they need, and have the opportunity to eat healthy at home without worrying about the bill? After this thought, I started doing a bunch of research on community gardens and how they are run. 

During this research, I came across a few success stories and found inspiration in them. I wanted to share one in particular that inspired me to hopefully have a successful garden with my team in the near future. Carolyn Beans had no experience with a vegetable garden of her own but knew she was the right person to tame a 4×8 foot bed she found. She was honest. Her first year was miserable, a failure, but she didn’t let that defeat her dream of having a beautiful community garden. She reached out for help and decided to share her advice for all of those who would like to start their own gardens.

After being inspired by Carolyn, I want to encourage all of you to get your community together and see who else would be interested to start a garden. It doesn’t have to be big. Gather a few people and plants, see what you can do in one season, then let it grow from there. There is no garden out in this world that is too big or too small. Anything that you and your community can contribute to will help tremendously. 

5 steps to get YOUR community garden started

  1. Get a team together – you can do this on your own, however, it is always better to work with your community and create forever lasting relationships with them. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to help.
  2. Research – before you jump into your project, research what needs to be done, when you should start, and what equipment/items you need.
  3. Choose your location – this could be your front yard or an empty plot in your neighborhood (you may need to get permission for this).
  4. Find a sponsor – this isn’t 100% necessary, however, maybe someone is able to help fund your project. Explain to them what your idea is and see what they can assist you with.
  5. Prepare the site for planting – clear the site from debris, weeds, turn the soil, etc. 

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