IN-KIND children’s garden helps build community

(Plain Press, July 2004) Members of the W. 47 th Street Block Club have turned their community garden on W. 45 th and Wales Court into a haven for neighborhood children. The Inner City Kids Increasing Neighborhood Development (IN-KIND) Children’s Garden began planting seeds in mid-April this year. On June 15 th when children gathered for activities at the garden, the garden already featured many mature plants.

Garden Coordinator Carrie Piper says the Summer Sprout garden now has seven children who are full-time gardeners at the site. Piper says ten adult gardeners serve as mentors to the children and also help schedule activities for the children. In the spring and summer field trips are planned. Each Tuesday children can meet at the garden for activities such as puppet shows, storytelling, science experiments, books, and arts and crafts.

The garden is a community effort, says Piper. Neighbor Dale Pitrman donated fencing to help secure the garden. Eddie’s Hardware has also donated many supplies used by gardeners. A number of neighborhood adults in addition to Piper volunteer at the garden.

The neighborhood children helped to plan the garden and activities. Youth liaisons Everett Amie, age 13, and George Duncan, age 11, help to reach out to children in the neighborhood to let them know about what the garden offers.

As children prepared to enter the garden on Tuesday June 15 th, Youth Liason Duncan urged them to “be kind and be nice” once inside the garden. He talked about the philosophy of the garden of “bringing people together in understanding and respect.” He spoke of the rewards of gardening and harvesting food, and the opportunity the arts and crafts program provided for creative expression.

Before coming in the garden to participate in activities, children pledge to “be kind and be nice” and sign in on the sidewalk in chalk. On June 15 th about a dozen children ages 4 to 13 signed in. Special guest Ward 13 Councilman Joe Cimperman joined the children on the sidewalk signing “Joe” with a piece of chalk. Cimperman had just two words to say to describe the community effort at the garden, “It’s awesome.”

 

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