As mentioned in my last post, I am volunteering with Hardacre Community Garden here in my hometown of Tipton, Iowa this summer, and in addition to general gardening duties will be putting my communication skills to work in conducting a public relations campaign. Most of this will be focused on social media (facebook, twitter) and through a newly created blog that I got up and running last night. The facebook page will offer photos and quick snipets of what’s going on in the garden, while the blog will allow a more in depth look at things, including a focus on sustainable practices, gardening techniques, and historical connections. I am really excited to be working with this project, and to finally (after moving back two and a half years ago) feel like I’m doing something to be a part of this community again.
Hardacre Community Garden really is an amazing (though I feel under-recognized) asset to Tipton, Cedar County, and surrounding areas. Local resident Mike Boyle is the driving force behind the project and has continually maintained and built the garden since its inception in 2009. Kris Clark, who owns the historic Hardacre property and generously allows use of the grounds, has also been closely involved and instramental in the projects success. Along with a small gathering of other local volunteers, these gardeners have worked very hard in offering their free time to grow produce for the benefit of neighbors in need. Last year, these efforts resulted in nearly five and a half tons(!) of healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables that were distributed to food pantries, nursing homes, churches, and other area non-profits.
There are several other benefits of Hardacre Community Garden. From a sustainability standpoint, the significance of this local food source cannot be underestimated. The garden is also utilized by local high school students as an open air classroom, giving them first hand experience in an age when some kids don’t even know where their food comes from. (As Mike says, there is absolutely no excuse for this to happen in Iowa.) Furthermore, the garden offers wonderful social opportunity, the chance for neighbors to gather in support of a worthy cause.
Like I say, I moved back to Iowa about two and a half years ago, and closer to Tipton the year after that. There are both goods and bads about small town Iowa life, and it’s easy to get caught up or frustrated with the negative. You’re probably not going to see me sitting in the bar every Friday and Saturday night. I’m not going to get drawn into any little gossip circles, and I could care less about the deeply entrenched social strata resonating from popularity rankings in high school. That’s not going to be how I spend my time here. Instead, I want to focus my energy on what is special about this place. Neighbors helping neighbors. Honest, hard working unpretentious people. Making an extra effort to do what’s right. These values are embodied by the Hardacre Community Garden project. It is through involvement like this that I choose to be a member of this community.
So in the months to come, at least through the growing season, I will be splitting my attention between these two blogs. For this one, I will return to more of a focus on sharing my photography, which seems to be of the most interest to people, but will continue to post occassional writings as well. Until recently I was trying to maintain a strict two entry a week schedule and I hope to get back to that, though they will probably no longer be on set days.
The garden blog will focus on what’s going on out at the Hardacre farm, but also discuss topics such as Sustainability, local history, gardening and canning techniques (not to mention lots of photos for a taste of life out on the rural route!) I hope to make it appealing to anyone willing to follow; not just those here in eastern Iowa, but friends across the country and around the world. I will most likely post notice of new entries to the garden blog on this page, but also eagerly invite you to follow the garden blog directly if these topics are of interest to you. That can be found at http://hardacregarden.wordpress.com/
Also, if you’re a facebook user I’d love to have you check out and become a fan of the Hardacre Community Garden facebook page. It’s important to build a larger audience there, as the more people who interact with a page, the more prominently posts get displayed. I’ve been working at this for the past month or so, and have been surprised (and a little disappointed) by how difficult it’s been to attract new followers. It amazes me how willing people are to pass along viral photos or videos on facebook, yet getting them to show support for a humble cause is like pulling teeth. (Sorry, the soap box was just there…) Anyway, like the blog I think the facebook page has potential to be interesting to a wide-spread audience, not just local residents. On it, I will post links to blog updates, garden happenings, photos, and articles covering sustainable agriculture and related topics. You can check it out at www.facebook.com/hardacregarden
Thanks to everyone who has been following this blog. I hope it will continue to be of interest to you, and hope you’ll join me on the new Hardacre Community Garden site as well!