Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Toledo GROWs is the community gardening outreach program of Toledo Botanical Garden with over 100 sites throughout the city. They work with local youths to turn vacant lots into vibrant edible gardens and farms that offer communities a variety of vegetables, fruits, chickens, eggs and honey. The youth learn the power of growing healthy and nutritious foods with their own hands while developing skills they can use for their entire lives.
Michael Szuberla has been managing Toledo GROWS for ten years and has seen a sea change in attitudes toward the project during that time, while teaching city youth the wonders of good food.
“Community gardens and urban agriculture have made unbelievable strides in the last ten years. The whole dialogue has changed. Ten years ago when I would sit down with city officials and talk about growing food in the city they would say something like 'let me get this straight, we pay farmers not to grow food and I can go to a grocery store 24 hours a day and get anything I want anytime I want for a low price. What are you talking about? What's the problem?' That was the overall attitude 10 years ago. That's completely changed. People now see agriculture as a core industry, as a way to build wealth, as a way to revitalize communities. There is a dramatic shift in consciousness and real radical change. It is a chance to highlight post-industrious regions like ours. Developing food is the single best thing we can do to improve our quality of life. It can do fabulous things in terms of expressing our region's uniqueness.”