The Garden that Gives
“Members get to come here and play in the dirt with us and make sure people aren’t hungry.” Pam Williams, Executive Director
Name of Project: Davis Y Community Giving Garden
YMCA: Davis Family YMCA
Partner: Wal-Mart; Scripps; WATE; FISH Pantry; Home Federal Bank; Cokesbury Church; Child & Family; Smith Fencing; King Hydroponics...
In 2011, Pam Williams needed a way to relate to her mostly affluent community about the work and potential of the Y. Being a self-identified “tree-hugger,” she began thinking about ways the Y could extend their impact while improving their environment.
That year, the Y secured a $1,000 Wal-Mart grant to start a raised-bed garden. Produce from the garden was donated to an afterschool site that served kids from low-income households, introducing the kids to zucchini, eggplant and red peppers. These are vegetables that many of them had never seen or eaten before.
Since then, many partners and members have stepped forward to contribute their resources and time to cultivating and building the garden. One member donated hydroponic equipment and expertise to grow lettuce and other vegetables without soil. Staff member Ellen Morar, who is also a master gardener, plans work days for members to work with her in the garden, growing plants from seed, checking on watering systems, harvesting produc, and delivering food to area food banks. Over 3,000 pounds of produce has been donated to five area food banks to provide healthy, organic produce to people in need. Children in the Y’s Child Watch help out with planting, weeding and harvesting. Ellen also teaches children the importance of the recently-added chickens. The chickens are a working part of the garden. They work hard in our compost bins by adding natural fertilizer and continually turning waste materials. Their scratching and digging provides air to help break down waste materials and turn it in to rich, fertile soil. This soil is then added to the raised beds to provide nutrients to plants. In 2014, the Y has expanded the garden to the Cansler Y resulting in over 500 volunteer hours. This project has been an extraordinary example of how the Y can bring people together to serve community needs.